Thursday, May 31, 2007

Video Violence (1987)

Ah, I remember being a wee tot in the ‘80s and standing in awe at our local mom and pop video store, staring at the tall stacks of VHS copies and the peeling posters on the walls. Whenever I could, I would sneak into the horror section, the ultimate forbidden zone, and just stand and stare at all the deliciously horrifying boxes. I was enthralled by pictures on the VHS boxes’ - blood and guts, the frozen screams on the faces of the pretty women that graced the covers and the menacing stances of the killers.

Back then, the VHS craze was in full swing, with straight-to-video, shot-on-video flicks cramming the shelves of the new video stores that were popping up all over the country. It seemed that everyone was picking up a bulky camcorder and making their own movies, or at least that’s what some of the movies looked like. While this might have been deemed no-budget trash back then, straight-to-video flicks nowadays make me sweetly reminisce about the golden age of VHS and being a kid again.

The Video Violence films, released recently by Camp Motion Pictures, take us down memory lane to revisit the down ‘n’ dirty shot-on-video horror films. Video Violence…When Renting is Not Enough is the first film in the series that warmed the cold cockles of my heart. A city couple moves to a small town to “get away from it all” and open their own video store. The video cassette has just been introduced to the public, but, oddly enough, everyone in this small town already owns a VHS player. Also odd is that the townsfolk only like to rent violent horror films, gory slasher flicks and the occasional triple X’er. Things take a sharp turn for the bizarre when a home video is returned to the video store...the owner and his employee decide to pop the tape in but soon find themselves watching a snuff film in which the hosts, Eli and Howard, torture and kill the local postmaster (who has supposedly retired to Florida). The owner, Steven, heads straight to the police, but when he gets back to the store he finds both the tape and his employee missing! The police don’t take him seriously, of course, so it’s up to Steven and wife Rachel to get to the bottom of the tape and the townspeople’s odd behavior.

In the second film on the disc, entitled Video Violence 2: The Exploitation, Eli and Howard, the two main killers in the first movie, return with their own pirated cable show in which they torture their guest, have skits and play clips for the audience.

The Video Violence movies are not for everyone, but those that want a big heaping serving of ‘80s cheesy goodness are highly encouraged to check these films out!! This is a shot-on-video movie from the ‘80s with a miniscule budget, so of course it is going to feature bad acting, horrible quality, silly gore and plot holes galore! See, though, that’s all part of its kitschy charm. Where else will you get to see a severed human arm sliced up in a deli as bologna?

Still, don’t expect crazy amounts of gore…I went in expecting to see ridiculously bloody scene after scene, but that ain’t happening on these slim-to-no budget affairs (rumor has it that Video Violence 2 was made for a measly $28…about the cost to go see a movie in the theater nowadays). Sure, you get your share of exploding heads, bodies being chopped to bits, electrocutions, poisonings and a fair amount of blood, but it’s just not enough for the average gore fiend.

While I enjoyed both films for their kicky kitsch, viewers should be warned (again) that the pacing is slow, the plot is silly, the acting can be cringe-worthy and the red stuff doesn’t flow as steadily or as often as one would like. There is one “skit” in Video Violence 2 that is a perfect example of what you are in for. A group of scantily clad women are having a sleep-over when they decide that they will kill the pizza deliver man when he arrives. They gab on and on about how they are going to do him in, but when he arrives, they decide to ease their way into the killing by offering him a joint, drinking some alcohol and having a dance party in their living room that, for some ungodly reason, was filmed in slow-mo. The good-looking pizza boy starts taking it off while the girls dance around him, and while I appreciated that there was FINALLY a male victim stripping down in a horror movie before getting killed, I just wished they would get on with it! When the frizzy-haired gals finally do get around the killing the pizza hunk, they don’t even show any of the good stuff!! That’s right, no blood, no gore, just a fade to black! These kinds of annoyances pepper the film, so consider yourselves warned!

Still, I enjoyed both Video Violence and Video Violence 2 for their ability to transport me back to the ‘80s. They made me feel like it was 1987 again and I had snuck Video Violence past my parents and watched it in secret with some pilfered snacks from the pantry. Ah, those were the days…

If you’d like to relieve some fond ‘80s memories by watching a bad movie, it can’t get any better than Video Violence and Video Violence 2!

Available on Amazon!

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