Analog Aficionados Joseph A. Ziemba and Zack Carlson Establish BLEEDING SKULL! VIDEO and Prepare to Unleash the First US Release of SOV Trashterpiece CARDS OF DEATH on Fresh VHS June 24th!
Man, that's GOTTA HURT! Lookin' GOOD all the same.LM: Tell us why you decided to start Bleeding Skull Video, and your overall mission with the label. Joe: It happened unexpectedly and with no planning. And even though we’ve been working on the label for over six months, I still can’t believe it’s happening. Unlike the Bleeding Skull book, I never had a dream to do this. It was never part of Bleeding Skull’s concept to distribute movies. But that idea isn’t so far removed from what we’ve been doing for over ten years, which is sharing our passion for obscure genre movies with people. Also, Zack has inhumanly great ideas. Always. Zack called me one night and said, “I have a random and exciting question to ask you.” He had been talking with Joe Rubin, who runs the incredible Vinegar Syndrome label, and their conversation sparked an idea to distribute mega-obscure movies on VHS. Zack asked me if I’d be interested in partnering up with him. We’d split the production costs 50/50, do all of the design and promotion work ourselves, and figure out everything else later. And we’d call it BLEEDING SKULL! VIDEO. Two seconds later, I said yes. Our two missions are: 1. To share unreleased (or barely released) trash-genre movies that we love with as many people as possible, and 2. Help the filmmakers get the credit and fulfillment that they deserve for putting so much creative effort and passion into their work.
A look at the big box packaging that houses the ultra-rare SOV beast. VHSexy, indeed.Your first release is the ultra-obscure cult trashterpiece CARDS OF DEATH. What made you go after this flick? How’d you first come across it? What was the process like tracking down and securing the rights? Zack: We still can't believe that we've somehow been allowed to start things off with CARDS OF DEATH. The movie comes from a place of such supreme, misanthropic, insane darkness. It's brilliant. The craziest thing about it is really the fact that the person who made it -- W.G. MacMillan -- was a Hollywood actor. He was starring in major studio films with people like Clint Eastwood, and he took a break from that to write and direct this incredibly sleazy, new-wavey, shot-on-video nightmare when he was already in his fifties. And then it disappeared completely. It had a minimal VHS release in 1986, only in Japan, and that was the end of the story. It would occasionally pop up on websites and forums as a "lost film" and there was some conjecture that it just didn't exist. So, one of the original VHS copies popped up a little over a year ago. This was back when I had a regular job, so I went for it and I somehow wasn't outbid. It was relatively cheap, considering, but I was still kicking myself for spending more than my $20 limit on a tape. Until I actually watched it. It exceeded every expectation, from the first scene where a man in a hobo mask revs a chainsaw. I reviewed it for the Bleeding Skull website and expected to pull it off the shelf once a year. About a week later, I received an email via our contact page on Bleeding Skull. It was from the director, who was surprised that mention of his movie had popped up online again. He asked me a pile of questions about how I found it, etc. A month went by and he called again, saying that he was getting offers from multiple video companies. I gave him as much info as I had about who I figured would do a good job with it, but a year later, he still didn't have a release plan. He said there were people offering to do DVD and streaming, but then it struck me that it would be a crime for CARDS OF DEATH to not be released on VHS. So I sheepishly ran that idea by him, and he probably thought I was a total goon. But he said yes.
A still from CARDS OF DEATH featuring one of the aesthetically awesome masked men and that undeniable excellence of analog grain. NEON DREAMS COME TRUE.You teamed up with Mondo for this first release. Why did you decide to do the collab on your first release, and is this something you’ll continue to do with your future releases? Zack: The Mondo collaboration was a complete coincidence, and took place long before we knew we were going to be releasing CARDS OF DEATH. I'd been in a talk with Joe Rubin, who runs the unparalleled Vinegar Syndrome label, and he accidentally encouraged me to release some movies on tape. I instantly called Joe and asked him if he'd want to join forces on this, and we just stumbled into the plan for Bleeding Skull Video. The coincidence came one week later, when Justin from Mondo had just finished looking through the Bleeding Skull book, and called Joe to ask if he'd be interested in doing some video releases. He said, "Well, Zack and I are already going to do that." Justin called me and brought me in on the conversation. It made sense, considering we're already pals with the Mondo guys, and Joe and I honestly weren't sure where the money was going to come from to release tapes; we just knew that we wanted to do it. So it all fell into place. As far as the future, we'd love to keep working with Mondo, and we'll do it for as long as they'll put up with us. I mean, they've released licensed stuff covered in Yodas and Ninja Turtles. These are properties that have countless millions of fans, and we're over here putting out SOV horror VHS tapes. If this whole thing ends tragically, we'll still keep doing Bleeding Skull Video. We'll just sell our teeth to get the stuff out.
A look at the full package for CARDS OF DEATH. The limited blue tape is bitchin', but the mini-zine is packed with info straight from the director. VHSducation 5EVA.Why do you want to put movies on VHS again? What is it about the format that you love? Zack: It's just the fact that these movies are meant to be seen that way. Basically, everything we're going to release was initially made for the VHS market, even though most of the titles we're doing never came out at all. So the fact that they're finally hitting the shelves thirty years later doesn't change the fact that these were written and shot to be video tapes. Does anyone really want a Blu-ray of a movie shot on a camcorder? That's idiotic. As far as what we love about it, VHS is as much a part of our lives as pizza or any of the other fundamental needs. Joe and I grew up in distant corners of the country, but we similarly discovered all of our obsessions via VHS, and there's just no substitute for the aesthetic or the experience. That's an actual fact. Look it up. But don't use the Internet. That thing sucks. If you could make a dream VHS release, any movie, any extras, what would it be and why? Joe: A couple of weeks ago, we met with one of our favorite directors. We were discussing the details of an upcoming release that we’ll be doing together, which was brain-melting in itself. Prior to hanging out, he had sent us a rough edit of a movie from 1989 that was never finished. This was a movie that no one knew existed – including us. It’s the kind of thing that feels impossible and totally surreal when you first hear about it. Over dinner, we asked him if he’d be interested in finishing the movie. He said yes. So we’ll be working directly with him to complete the movie for a release in 2015. No dream could ever beat that.
These new-waver weirdos from CARDS OF DEATH look like they seem to know what Joe is hinting on about. Lucky. Cool shirt, too. The spider on the forehead really pulls it all together.Oh, man, that sounds analog amazing, indeed. Can’t wait. So, when you met Tape Man in person for the first time, what did you think / feel? Did he offer you any strange food / substances? Zack: I was intimidated. He's got that, uh... reputation. He didn't offer us anything, but I saw him swallow an entire pack of strawberry Mentos. While they were still in the wrapper. He didn't even blink. Joe: He was more down-to-earth than I expected. Good hugger.
Joe, Annie Choi, Matt D. of HORROR BOOBS and Zack strike a pose with the one and only Tape Man at this year's SEVERED VHS CONVENTION. Life is good.He does give great hugs. What’s next for Bleeding Skull, dudes? Joe: Keep writing reviews, keep putting out movies, keep having fun. We’ll be releasing four movies a year until the planet explodes, and the first two years of releases are locked down. Anything else you’d like to shout out to all the Tapeheads tuned in to this Blog-O-Rama? Zack: NEVER DIE. Joe: NEVER LIE.
And always eat the whole pie! Honestly, I just wanted to get in on that sing-songy little rhyming ditty. And I like pie. Damn, are these guys analog warriors or what? You’re damn skippy, and the fact that their express purpose is to bring analog insanity back for the first time (or almost the first time) is utterly admirable and beyond exciting. I truly can’t wait to see what they unreel next. Be sure to stay tuned and glued to their most excellent and essential site BleedingSkull.com for killer fringe flick reviews and to stay updated on all of their undoubtedly crucial future analog endeavors. And don't forget to check out the Mondo site on JUNE 24th to grab your slab of CARDS OF DEATH. LONG LIVE THE SKULL!