Tag Archives: video store

ARTISTS BEHIND THE IMAGE: Bob Larkin

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ARTISTS BEHIND THE IMAGE is intended to put a name (and sometimes face) to the talented men and women who created the most iconic images to adorn horror VHS boxes and posters from ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. Their art is vital; it’s the reason I (and many of you, certainly) fell in love with horror movies in the first place. This is not only intended as a tribute, but also a minor compendium, meant to collect their works in one single spot. Corrections, additions, or other info? Email me.

I know what you’re thinking: Bob Larkin? The Bob Larkin? The same Bob Larkin that played Martin the gravedigger in Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives? No, this is a different Bob Larkin.

Now I realize I say this every time I do one of these, but I really think Bob Larkin may be the most prolific artist I’ve featured yet. Continue reading ARTISTS BEHIND THE IMAGE: Bob Larkin

Horror VHS Promo Videos!

If, like most Americans in the mid to late-’80s, you quit your law firm in the city to move to the boonies and open a video store amid the Great VHS Boom, you were probably fairly clueless on the subject and immediately found yourself struck with the most imperative decision of your new business venture: what do you stock your shop with?

You turn to your family for answers: your boy says “Freddy”, whoever that is; your daughter suggests anything with Johnny Depp; your wife offers something classic. All fine suggestions, but what do the people want? At a retail price of $99.95 a piece, video cassettes at the time were too pricey to simply buy blindly. That’s where promotional videos come in. In a pre-Google world, movie distribution companies — wanting to secure some video store shelf space — would send these promotional tapes directly to video store proprietors. Continue reading Horror VHS Promo Videos!

Horror Video Ads from the ’80s!

Long before the Internet — before Google, Wikipedia, Facebook, and whatever else people use to search and share information nowadays — details on the latest movies releases (especially the more obscure titles, especially horror titles) were a lot harder to come by. A lot harder. There were newspapers and word of mouth, of course. But if you were a gorehound or looking for info on more underground stuff, having a subscription to a magazine like Fangoria or Starlog was a necessity — especially if you wanted to buy these movies. (There were other movie-centric publications, like Movieline which was actually pretty decent, but the best genre-specific info required genre-specific magazines.) Continue reading Horror Video Ads from the ’80s!

BLOOD LAKE – 13 Days of Shot on Video! (#2)

With 13 Days of Shot On Video I’ll be reviewing a new shot-on-video horror film every weekday for the last two weeks of October. You can view all entries HERE.

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Despite there not being a whole lot of information about Blood Lake to be found online, the scant reviews I did find on various horror blogs made one thing abundantly clear: people do not like this movie. I must be in the minority, because I didn’t mind it so much!

Blood Lake is almost identical to an earlier SOV release (and one I reviewed at the beginning of my “13 Days of Shot on Video” run), Sledgehammer. Both films see a group of young kids headed to a remote cabin for a weekend getaway filled with drinking, partying, and sex. And naturally, both movies see an evil presence stalking and killing them one by one. Both movies also feature tons of unnecessarily long, drawn out shots that were most likely left unedited to pad out the run time. However, there are certain elements about Blood Lake that give it an edge over Sledgehammer. Continue reading BLOOD LAKE – 13 Days of Shot on Video! (#2)

CAPTIVES – 13 Days of Shot on Video! (#3)

With 13 Days of Shot On Video I’ll be reviewing a new shot-on-video horror film every weekday for the last two weeks of October. You can view all entries HERE.

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I just finished watching Gary P. Cohen’s “lost” home invasion movie from 1988, Captives, aka Mama’s House, and I gotta say: I didn’t really enjoy it. Perhaps it’s the fact that I was fresh off the surprisingly great shot-on-video home invasion flick, Venus Flytrap — or maybe it’s because I love Gary P. Cohen’s other two movies so much (Video Violence and Video Violence 2) that, when compared to the aforementioned SOV flicks, Captives can’t help but fall a little flat.

The movie follows three intruders (all siblings) who break into the home of a young couple. The husband has just left for work and the wife is home alone with the baby when, all of a sudden, she’s being terrorized by these three maniacs. Soon, the young girl’s mother-in-law pays a visit to the house. The old lady is quickly tied up, and the intruders lead the young wife to believe there’s more to this grandmotherly woman than she lets on. Continue reading CAPTIVES – 13 Days of Shot on Video! (#3)

WOODCHIPPER MASSACRE – 13 Days of Shot on Video! (#7)

With 13 Days of Shot On Video I’ll be reviewing a new shot-on-video horror film every weekday for the last two weeks of October. You can view all entries HERE.

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Woodchipper Massacre, along with Cannibal Holocaust, I Spit on Your Grave, and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, should be included in the annals of horror history grouped under the heading, “Great Titles for a Horror Movie”. Sure, to call the events that take place in the movie a “woodchipper massacre” might be a bit of a stretch — but what a title! You can’t beat it.

Woodchipper Massacre is directed by and stars Jon McBride, a name which even first time shot-on-video consumers should immediately recognize; McBride was instrumental during the late-’80s and mid-’90s shot-on-video wave. (In fact, I already reviewed one of his movies for 13 Days of S.O.V.!) It also stars Tom Casiello — the redhead, bemulleted, brace-face with glasses — who would go on to win several Emmys writing for soap operas as an adult.

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Nice wig.

The movie sees a trio of youngsters (McBride, Casiello, and Denice Edeal) left alone for the weekend when their father goes out of town on a business trip. For whatever reason, the dad decides these kids need adult supervision (despite the fact that Jon McBride is clearly in his late-20s), so their Aunt Tess comes to watch them while he leaves on business. It’s clear from the get-go that Aunt Tess comes from an old-fashioned, more regimented upbringing — one she intends to enforce on the indifferent kids.

Later on in the movie, Aunt Tess’s son, Kim, shows up to the house, fresh from prison and in search of some money. The group, feeling threatened and unsure of when the dad will return, decide to put the woodchipper in the front yard to good use.

Now, Woodchipper Massacre is a hard to categorize film. It’s nowhere near what I would consider a “horror” film. And while there is a lot of humor, most of it falls flat or sometimes goes completely unnoticed because of how low-budget the presentation is; I found myself thinking many times, “Was what I just saw supposed to be intentionally funny, or was that just bad acting and poor production?” The one thing I can assert is that it definitely gave off a sitcom-style vibe: the kids left alone for the weekend, the single father, the older brother, the annoying aunt, her creepy son who pops up in the third act. They even have sitcom-style credits at the end, which just further solidified my feelings about it. I’d go as far as to say Woodchipper Massacre has invented its own genre: Sitcore. (Bleh, forget it. I’m not tryin’ to coin that.)

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While I’m sure there’s no definite correlation, Woodchipper Massacre seems like it inspired a few films (or at least, a few film scenes) that came after it: Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, Fargo, and The Mangler — all share plot points very reminiscent of what goes on in Woodchipper Massacre.

My complaints about the movie are typical of any shot-on-video horror flick I’ve seen: mainly shoddy writing combined with terrible, terrible acting. Everyone in the movie is basically just yelling their dialogue, rushing through their lines. Cousin Kim looks like some deranged combination of Gene Wilder and Jeff Daniels’ character ‘Harry’ from Dumb and Dumber. He’s so incredibly over-the-top, it makes me wonder: surely he had to know, right? Wasn’t he ever compelled to scale it back just a notch? And Aunt Tess — who looks like she could be their great grandmother (dear lord, that awful wig) — speaks mostly in antiquated aphorisms, idioms and proverbs. Half of them sound made up. “Sleep is good for the soul”, she says at one point. Who has ever said that? No one, because it’s not a phrase.

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Cousin Kim, bastard child of Gene Wilder and Harry Dunne.

However, Woodchipper Massacre does have one strong suit: incredible, incredible music! I mean, really, truly. The opening theme recalls influences from Harold Faltermeyer’s Fletch score. From there, the soundtrack bounces between weird video game sounding music to toe-tapping new wave style instrumentals. The closing credits sound like an Oingo Boingo demo — it’s amazing. All of it is surprisingly listenable.

Before I wrap this up, I wanted to point out two things:

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  • On multiple occasions we see the day and time onscreen. This is never relevant or vital to the plot in any way. Superfluous, amateur inclusion …or hilarious, multi-layered in-joke? You be the judge.

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  • The movie opens with a fake statistic crawl, ala The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. This is the third shot-on-video movie I’ve reviewed (Cannibal Campout and Redneck Zombies being the other two) that has referenced TCM. Just surprising that even amid the glut of ’80s slashers, these no-budget home movie auteurs were paying respects to the original no-budget exploitation classic.

If’n you ain’t seen Woodchipper Massacre, I suggest it for the music alone. But I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of the hammy acting, too. Just don’t expect any gore: the movie may have a brutal title, but much like its equally-brutally-titled inspiration, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre — it’s fairly bloodless.

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