In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Blank Tape Bazaar Vol. 3

In the inaugural BTB post I mentioned that, much like their rental counterparts, recordable VHS often had colourful covers to catch the eye of the consumer. This week I wanted to showcase some of the louder examples and considering it was the eighties you can imagine they were cranked to eleven.

You may have noticed that black and grey were the industry standard so I think Polaroid had the right idea in shaking things up. Perhaps taking a cue from Key Video they added in an instantly recognizable rainbow motif.

Now thankfully - for archival's sake anyway - my mother still has totes full of tapes with old Days of our Lives episodes on them so if you're thinking that there would be several one-off brand VHS in them... well you would be correct!


Damn... Towers?! That is going back aways. That's it for now, but I've still got plenty more to post in the future so stay tuned.

Friday, June 14, 2019

In The Year Nineteen Ninety-Two!

This week's VHS is Charles Band's 1982 flick Parasite. I acquired one of those infamous Wizard “big boxes” while working the Full Moon booth last weekend and decided to crack it.

A scientist (Robert Glaudini) infected with his own creation escapes his captors and searches for a cure in the barren wastelands outside futuristic Los Angeles.

I had never seen this movie and almost immediately realized I had no idea what it was about. I watched Prophecy last year and am now pretty sure I may have always thought these two were the same movie. I certainly did not know this one was set in a post-apocalypse where cash was no longer accepted and the only three things on the menu were canned fruit, canned beer and canned soup. And this universe had laser guns by 1992. How progressive!

Parasite was originally released in 3D and much like my childhood watches of Friday the 13th Part III you can tell which parts are made to cash in on that - my fave bit being the guy who gets impaled by a length of pipe... and bleeds oil apparently.

Despite its low budget underpinning, it did possess a good amount of pedigree, as Stan Winston designed the creature, Richard Band did the score and boasted Demi Moore in her second ever role. Former Runaway Cherie Currie also turned up randomly as one of a gang of toughs.

Demi Moore as Pat Welles in Parasite

I appreciated the world building in this movie, even if the exchanges were a little stiff scene to scene, especially the ones between Moore and Glaudini. That's okay though, because once the creature got let out of its container, it became the star anyway. I feel like this giant tadpole with teeth motif got used a lot in the eighties, but like the saying goes - if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Parasite concluded with a cool full body burn and our heroes living happily ever after. Well, as happy as one can be in a post apocalyptic world I suppose.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Short of the Week #70: ABE

At E3 this week, Hammerhead Studios announced a VR game called ABE that is based on this 2013 short film of the same name by Rob McLellan.

I'm in. ABE first screened in 2013 so this project has obviously been gestating for some time. In the meantime, McLellan has been keeping himself busy as a visual effects artist as well as making a few more short films (Always the Sun in 2014 and Explorers in 2017). No release date for the game has been set, but this teaser has certainly piqued by interest.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Blank Tape Bazaar Vol. 2

Now as I said before, there are likely millions of blank VHS (if they haven't been melted down) made by dozens of different electronics companies languishing out there. At the end of their run, they cost peanuts, but in the early eighties they were actually quite expensive. When I was a kid, VHS tapes were often used as stocking stuffers at Christmas and oft requested items for birthdays.

I don't remember buying my own in great quantities until I started working at the video store. When it became a Blockbuster in 1992, they had their own brand and I frequently snapped them up using my employee discount. 

I found those orange ones above to be significantly good quality, so I used them for a lot of my important recordings.

I obviously just keep these first ten or so for nostalgic purposes, but I really liked how they looked all lined up on my shelf back in the day. About a decade later, after when the BBV brand stopped being made, I switched over to Memorex because their affordability and durability.

I think by the time VHS was on its way out, I could get a ten-pack of the gold one above for about $12.99 at Wal-Mart and they are definitely the ones I have the most of still. Memorex also gave you many different length options, which I appreciated because I was still recording tons of stuff.

I shudder to think about all the time I wasted re-dubbing televisions shows in order to take out the commercials so I could fit eight episodes per six-hour tape. And the final rub is that now I wish I had those commercials because of their historical value. You really can't win! 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Full Moon Over Niagara.

I worked the Full Moon booth at Niagara Comic Con yesterday and it was a gas. It had been sometime since I'd been to a non-horror con and the cosplayers were out in force. It's always fun to see what those crazy and creative cats come up with every year.

I should take this opportunity to mention The Deadly Ten. Full Moon is making ten features back-to-back all over the world. In fact, Halloweed Night starts shooting in Vegas tomorrow. Now, the really cool thing is that by going to the website you can watch live streams of these films being made.

Even if you're not a fan of the FM catalogue, you gotta admit that is kind of cool and unique. No one knows how this is gonna go, so why not check it out and be a part of history!

Anyhoo, enough shilling. I was chained to the booth most of the day, but I did get to grab a photo with this super soul swallowing re-enactment of the Evil Dead cabin. I asked if I could sit in the chair and read the book and they said, “sure, just not out loud.”

Good times!

Friday, June 7, 2019

Pulled From The Ashes.

This week's VHS was Paul Rinehard's super obscure 1993 flick Ashes To Ashes.

A grieving family moves into an old house/diner only to realize it is inhabited by some pretty angry spirits.

A cool cat by the name of Ben Ruffett has been screening rare VHS flicks at a bar in Hamilton for the past few years and this was his latest offering. Ashes To Ashes is a movie so rare it doesn't even have an online footprint so alas, gifs will not be present this week.

So this movie is by no means good, but it was still an intriguing watch. I could dwell on the father's bizarre hand gestures, the daughter's ill-timed facial expressions or the son's weird almost Canadian accent, but instead I'll focus on the positives.

A Google image search for “Ashes To Ashes 1993 VHS”

Interestingly, Ashes to Ashes was actually quite progressive in that I can't recall any other horror films where the lead character is a mute paraplegic. She spends most of the movie listening to her father and brother bicker over who should be taking care of her, but during the climax in the attic – even though from the exterior shot there clearly isn't one – she's the one who ultimately saves the day.

I did catch an Evil Dead vibe in the middle act. This had, of course, one-tenth the ingenuity of Raimi's debut, but I appreciated seeing another example of what can be done with a single location and a handful of enthusiastic comrades.

Ashes to Ashes is worth seeking out just for its scarcity alone, but I think fans of bargain basement yarns might also get a kick out of it.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Short of the Week #69: Wild

This week's short film is the latest from the super talented Morgana McKenzie entitled Wild. I programmed this for last year's SFFF and was happy to see it recently hit the Web.

McKenzie has been making short films since her early teens and what has always struck me is her dynamic visual vocabulary. In between her own projects - which last I heard include a feature version of Wild - she works steadily as a cinematographer.