Category_Collecting, Category_Groovy Stuff, Category_Horror, Category_VHS, Category_Weirdness -

10 VHS That Made Me the Videovore I am Today featuring Steve Kain and the legacy of Bridgeton, NJs Video Vision!

Steve Kain is a guy that I’ve been acquainted with since I was a freshman in high school. We were born and raised in the same out-of-the-way South Jersey town, rode our bikes around the same neighborhoods, and as I’ve come to find out, rented from the same video store as young Videovores. I’ve seen Steve around at some parties in our hometown over the past year or so, and we’ve discovered we share a bond based on our love for obscure films, the VHS format and general weirdness. I think it’s super-rad that we found the majority of VHS flicks that have helped shape our appreciation for film in the exact same place, and I asked him to create a little piece detailing the flicks that have made him the Videovore he is today. So, without any further ado, here’s my fellow hometown Videovore and his foundational flicks, all courtesy of Bridgeton, NJ’s Video Vision! Take it away, Steve! Nowadays any half-ass fledgling film fan with a computer can Google “craziest movie of all time” and then download that Alejandro Jodorowsky film within an hour. For all purposes and intents, this is good: it gives movies that were almost lost a century ago a certain well-deserved immortality. I worry about these lazy little critters, though. Us old-heads had to rummage through hours of shit from our local video stores in order to find that majestic gem. Maybe months later you’d discover you were now part of a cult following, but because these movies were so unknown, there was a sense of ownership; you truly felt they belonged to you. This is my list of ten movies that made me fall in love with cinema and VHS as a format, romanticize the memory of the Mom and Pop video stores, and help me become the great American and Videovore I am today. Some of these can now be found on DVD, but when I saw them, they had to be rewound after viewing. You have to admit though: before we realized we missed our ex-girlfriend, the VCR, and drunkenly called her at 3AM, we were ecstatic to find out our favorite flicks were getting the DVD treatment, chock-full of boring commentaries by old directors trying to remember a film shoot they did 30 years ago while they were on a coke binge.

The tagline on this slice O' analog glory is worth the price alone!

Summer Camp Nightmare (1987) I always had a thing for horror movies that took place at camps. Summer Camp Nightmare was a movie adaptation of a book, The Butterfly Revolution, which was kind of a big rip-off of Lord of the Flies. A couple of counselors in training are fed up with the new camp owner played by Chuck Connors (the fucking Rifleman himself!) and decide to tie up all the adults so they can party-hardy and dance to bad 80s music. Eventually the revolution turns into a fascist government state and those who speak out against it are punished. I guess this film is a distant cousin and predecessor to Camp Nowhere. Summer Camp Nightmare’s not really a horror movie, but was marketed as such. Highlight: a talent show where two kids lip synch to Fear’s classic song “Beef Bologna.”

This psycho surgeon's about to bring the hammer down and flatline this chick. Dig it.

Hospital Massacre (1982) Released a year after Michael Myers chased Laurie Strode through a hospital in Halloween II, Hospital Massacre was obscured in the glut of slasher flicks from a dime-a-dozen, take-a-penny-leave-a-penny era. Hospital is a whodunit-style flick featuring a psychopath chasing a Playboy bunny (Barbi Benton). The piss poor lighting made me have to shine a flashlight at my television screen to what the hell’s going on. Most notably, Hospital rips off Friday the 13ths signature “cha cha ha ha” sound by having a softly whispered chant “He sees her, he sees her” played during times of suspense. Part funny, part annoying, this movie is so bad that it’s God awful… so God awful that it works!

An absolute classic that no Videovore should be without. The gateway drug of horror VHS obsession.

Friday the 13th Series (1980-1993 / Parts 1 - 9) Lunchmeat may be dedicated to obscure, hard-to-find VHS tapes, but I’ll be damned if every Videovore’s love affair didn’t begin with one of the big three: Freddy, Michael or Jason, the arguable Universal Monsters of the 80s and 90s. Just like if you’re listening to weird-ass, avant-garde music with wind chimes and wonky guitars right now, at some point, you were a stoned 13-year-old jamming Dark Side of the Moon. As a small child, walking into the horror section of a video store was like entering an art gallery. Unavoidable was the lengthy space sacrificed for 8 or 9 Friday the 13th video boxes. The same thing that made older folks dismiss this series (its endless number of sequels) made it very attractive to a younger audience (me). You wanted to see them all and you did and it probably wasn’t in chronological order. When I’d sneak into the horror section as a 5-year-old I didn’t understand the roman numerals displayed on the boxes. (I decided not to use any roman numerals in this list in dedication). Between that and the confusion of having a Final Chapter and a Final Friday, I was forced to pay attention to the year stated on the back of the box to make sense of the series order. Since then, memorizing the exact year a movie was released became a habit.

Steve may not dig on this one, but personally, this one's a classic for me. This paired with BRAINSCAN was a dual rental that occurred many-a-time during Video Vision's heyday.

Arcade (1993) Because I hate this movie, I must recognize it. You can’t hate something unless there is a passion there. I must have caught the tail end of Arcade when I was very young, late at night on the Sci-Fi Channel. When you’re a kid, anything even remotely related to video games grabs your attention. Your ego rests on the fact that you can beat your best friend at Mortal Kombat 2. Arcade’s plot centers around a group of teenagers that are given free samples of a home console game to test out and consequently get imprisoned inside the perilous virtual reality world. It’s interesting to look at the early CGI technology still in its infantile and now laughable stage. I looked a long while for a copy of this movie and I hated what I found. It made me not trust Full Moon Entertainment… as if they were meant to be trusted in the first place.

It's like this guy is staring deep into your soul and commanding you to rent. Worked for Steve, right? Damn skippy.

Class of 1999 (1990) Ya know, it’s a real shame they couldn’t get the rights for Prince’s “1999” for this movie, not that the punkish soundtrack would make way for it, anyway. This is Mark Lester’s sequel to his cult classic, Class of 1984. In an apocalyptic society, teachers have secretly been placed in the school to handle all of the out of control kids associated with some gang or another. The teachers go too far and the students get suspicious. Shit blows up: an essential ingredient for all bad ass pictures. Pam Grier and Malcolm McDowell kill bad actors. This movie actually had a budget and I always felt it should be more popular. I’m always intrigued by movies that nobody would ever release in an American theatre today, like a movie where teenagers bring machine guns to school.

This one's an absolute classic rental for me, as well, and undoubtedly on of my favorite VHS of all-time. I still recall the first time I watched this puppy with my Pop. Amazing, unforgettable times that forged an obsession.

Microwave Massacre (1983) When my parents finally allowed me to ride my bike to the local video shop and rent movies myself, I’d spend all day there assuming that one day I would work there and be the asshole know-all Tarantino type. Me? I rented strictly from the horror section. The owner of the store, a family friend, never said anything about my taste in cinema until I brought him his copy of Microwave Massacre. He looked down at the case and said,” You’re weird; you shouldn’t be renting garbage like this. Why don’t you try something more normal.” So, this is the movie that revealed to me that I was, indeed, strange.

A flick that must be seen to be believed. My favorite from Ken Russell, and an absolute classic in its own right. Crazy, lascivious nuns replete with a faux-demonic possession? Yes, please.

The Devils (1971) My first Amazon purchase was a VHS copy of The Devils: Ken Russell’s masterpiece where a covenant of French nutty nuns pretend to be demon possessed and point the finger at the town priest as being a warlock who has taken control of them. It’s all dirty politics with power hungry men using the nuns to take out the priest and take control of the town. Vanessa Redgrave does an outstanding job as a bat shit crazy nun in love and obsessed with the priest played by Oliver Reed. Are you reminded of Wynonna Ryder in some way? I hold this up high with movies like The Exorcist, meaning it’s in the mile high club of horror related pictures. Still no DVD release in the US. Warner Brothers’ doesn’t want to touch this with a 12 inch dildo. Cursing, masturbating nuns? They’ll pass. VHS it is.

A complete classic of the video-rental era and one of the coolest covers on this planet. First-aid kit not included.

Video Violence (1987) I’ll go on record for saying Video Violence isn’t so bad it’s good; it’s just good. It deserved a bigger budget and if it had one it would probably be considered a classic on a wider scale. Knowing that this was made as a labor of love by a video store clerk makes it more special. The idea’s been touched on before with library books (Stephen King + Twilight Zone = The Simpsons did it) but this is still a pretty original concept proving that all you need is a good idea to make a great piece of art. I apologize for using the ‘a’ word, but this movie deserves it.

I wonder how they cut the cake? I surmise with a machete. BOSS.

Psychos in Love (1987) I love, love, LOVE this movie! Two psychos who love horror movies and hate grapes finally meet after killing their way through every relationship they had been in. A romance story told in blood and gore. This is my Notebook, my Walk to Remember. If I ever find a girl that will sit down and watch this movie with me she will prove to be real wifey material. Lots of movie references and good gags make this movie a hoot and hellish holler. Makes me scared to mention grapes on a first date.

How could you not pick this up off the shelf? That bag O' tricks is too groovy. This'll make any Videovore pitch a proverbial tent.

Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers (1988) At one point, this was the holy grail of horror movies for me. Yeah, random. The first Sleepaway Camp warped my fragile little chronically masturbating 12-year-old mind. Sleepaway Camp 3 Teenage Wasteland was a fun shit in the park from the late 80s when slasher movies were becoming self-aware. The empty Sleepaway Camp 2 case sat snuggly between the other two in my local video store. A previous renter had lost, stolen, or destroyed the store’s only copy. I wished death on this unknown person so many times that I’m convinced it has given me a lifetime of bad karma. I had an unrealistic belief that this movie would be the greatest thing ever, inspired by the video cover of Angela holding a Freddy glove and Jason mask, and by the flashbacks from the third movie. I didn’t have the internet yet, so instead of using Amazon, I went a’hunting, visiting every video store in southern New Jersey searching for my prize. Throughout this journey I discovered that small, independently owned rental stores were going out-of-business everyday thanks to my worst enemy, those evil corporate suit and tie cocksuckers: Blockbuster. Since Blockbuster constantly sold their old inventory to make way for new movies I never had any use for them; I wanted the old stuff. Finally, at a rest stop on the way back from a family road trip to Tennessee, I found a copy at a video store in Virginia. I offered the owner my small fortune (50 dollars maybe?) who refused, stating it wasn’t for sale. I had a nervous breakdown until my Mom went in and talked the man into selling it for a reasonable 20 dollars. Of course, the movie could never live up to my expectations; but it landed me in many a video store and forced me to watch a lot of other horror movies instead. To this day I don’t understand why this movie was so damn hard-to-find. Somebody reading this right now probably has 50 copies of this flick collecting dust in their basement, all stolen from video stores in New Jersey.

Steve Kain also writes downer poetry and absurd short stories when he’s not busy feeding his VCR. Check him out in all is weird glory HERE. Groove on and on and on.

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