Rupert Pupkin Speaks: VHS Gems Guest Post: Brad Henderson ""

Thursday, September 13, 2012

VHS Gems Guest Post: Brad Henderson

Brad Henderson should be followed on twitter @bradfhenderson...



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As a child, I would walk aimlessly down the aisles of our local video store. More than any other, I would venture visits to the horror section. The years have passed, and I’ve forgotten the titles but have retained the vivid memory of unusual VHS cover art. When I stumble across some of these gems, I am always brought back to the happy days of childhood wandering. Gator Bait, The Sleeping Car, Demons, Prince of Darkness, Toxic Zombies, are just a few of the boxes that I can recall. My parents would rent one from time to time for me, but I never got to view the stores entire catalogue. Through the years, with the DVD boom, I have been privileged to see some of these films again and see ones that I had missed. However, of all the films released to VHS, only half of those titles have made it to DVD or Blu-ray. The titles that have not resurfaced now hide in warehouses and the basements of old men and women, where they were stored after the closing of many good mom and pop video stores. Being a horror film and VHS aficionado, I have been on the prowl for these titles. I rummage through attics, basements, flea markets, and thrift stores, any nook my body will squeeze in to find these gems. Throughout the years, some of those VHS boxes have resurfaced, and I have finally been able to see them. I have also come across many titles that I had never heard of before. Throughout my expeditions, I have picked up both bizarre and glitzy examples of cover art. Yet, underneath those dusty box covers is where I’ve found what movies are made of. The following titles have stuck, like an inoperable Siamese bond, with me since childhood.


1. Death Valley (1982)
It is frustrating to me that this film is neither considered a “cult classic” nor spoken about more regularly. I saw Death Valley for the first time when I was a young boy and thought it was chilling. I watched it time and time again for a few years and then eventually forgot about it. I recently picked up my VHS copy and viewed it once more. We have these films where kids see monsters, ghouls, goblins, and ghosts. Children are often aware of impending mythic/paranormal/monstrous danger, while adults sit back in disbelief. In this film, a child is aware of a serial killer, a non-fictitious danger, making the intensity of the entire story far more terrifying. As far as I can see, this film is not available on DVD, but I’m sure you may find bootlegs of this and the others listed below at horror conventions. However, when this film does emerge on DVD, I will buy it… but I’ll continue to watch my VHS copy ‘till it breaks.


2. The Mutilator (1985)
Don’t be fooled by the bootleg that is on Amazon. Yes, it is uncut and looks decent, but don’t spend your dollars on it. The Mutilator is a wonderful slasher with goofy music and terrible acting, but these characteristics make it one of my favorites. Just the cover art of this film, the typical spastastic and colorful gore of the eighties, will give you enough information on what to expect from this underrated horror classic.


3. Bodycount (1987)
Ruggero Deodato has made his impact in cinema with many films that have been fucking with our minds for three decades. He is the mastermind behind Cannibal Holocaust and many other films, including Raiders of Atlantis, featured on my “’Bad’ Movies We Love” list. Bodycount is one of my favorite slashers, and it contains one of my favorite horror themes, courtesy of Claudio Simonetti of Goblin. This “supernatural” horror flick has the legendary David Hess and the beautiful, but late, Cynthia Thompson (Eba from Cavegirl). Discard the bootlegs that have spawned over the past few years from underground companies. Do me a favor; find the VHS, and track down the OST.


4. The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)
Based on a true story and spoken highly of amongst the horror community, The Town That Dreaded Sundown has failed to make a DVD appearance. A small town in fear with a killer on the loose is every horror fan’s most trusted, yet clich├ęd, plot. But it works. I have owned this film for years and I love the hell out of it. The unique cinematography, produced on a low budget, has inspired me as a filmmaker. Yes, the film is a little on the slow side compared to twenty-first century ideals, but it still maintains the same energy that it did when viewed during the days of the Drive-In.


5. Without Warning (1980)
Jack Palance and Martin Landau star in this horror sci-fi flick, one of the best sci-fi films of the 80’s. Both actors went on to star in another favorite horror film of mine, Alone In The Dark (check it out immediately, it’s fantastic) . I don’t want to speak about this film too much, because it has a few surprises. It did make an appearance on @sleestakk’s “’Bad’ Movie We Love” list, so that should tell you something. Enjoy.


6. Hospital Massacre (1982)
Boaz Davidson made two astounding flicks in 1982. First was my favorite teen film of the 80’s, The Last American Virgin, and then a run of the mill slasher flick, Hospital Massacre. I only say run of the mill because the plot is nothing major and it follows the simple “killer formula”. The killer himself is over the top, but it works because that is what we expect from these gems. I will say that it is extremely fun to watch Barbie Benton run for her life. There were many admirable slasher flicks from the 80’s; some over shadow others, and the latter get lost. Hospital Massacre is one of the lost ones, and it needs to remerge to get the credit that it deserves.


7. Hide And Go Shriek (1988)
Hide And Go Shriek’s plot is enough to give you that rumbling feeling in the pit of your stomach (you know, when you hear something about a film, and you get so excited that you just can’t sit still.) Intrigued? Some teens spend the night in a furniture store, and a killer is inside. Boom. That is all you need to know to watch this flick and enjoy the shit out of it. If you live in Australia, you have this available on DVD. Everyone else will have to track down the VHS. The cover is very recognizable. It may just bring back your own childhood, aisle-walking memories.

5 comments:

laird said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sleestakk said...

Great list, Brad. Always nice to see Without Warning getting some love. Just picked up The Mutilator last weekend. Hide and Go Shriek I have on VHS but can't remember last time I viewed... last year maybe. Cool flick.

sleestakk said...

Great list, Brad. Always nice to see Without Warning getting some love. Just picked up The Mutilator last weekend. Hide and Go Shriek I have on VHS but can't remember last time I viewed... last year maybe. Cool flick.

sleestakk said...

Great list, Brad. Always nice to see Without Warning getting some love. Just picked up The Mutilator last weekend. Hide and Go Shriek I have on VHS but can't remember last time I viewed... last year maybe. Cool flick.

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