Category_Collecting, Category_Groovy Stuff, Category_VHS, Category_Weirdness -

Charles Pinon video era gem TWISTED ISSUES is prescribed via VHS for digital relief! WARNING: The Video Pharmacy May Cause Analog Dependence!

A lifelong fascination with fringe video and the hidden truths of pharmaceuticals has led Don Abendroth to create his own brand of video vindication: The Video Pharmacy. Inarguably one of the most interesting and personally intimate VHS labels to be born from the fervent VHS resurgence, TVP first surfaced at the last couple of Cinema Wastelands, mystifying most VHS fanatics and piquing the interest of those who became privy to its curious form of magnetic tape medication. These tapes created a question of who and what was behind it all. And with his first official film release, Don and his Video Pharmacy have provided the answer: He’s formulated a delightfully deluxe limited edition of Charles Pinion’s Twisted Issues, which sold out in a lightning fast fashion leaving the Videovores out there stunned and suddenly wanting more. And from the sound of it, there’ll be plenty of prescriptions in store for the tapeheads in need of a good dose of video drugs. But let’s hear more from Dr. Abendroth and receive the full diagnosis…


What was the direct impetus to start The Video Pharmacy? Could you tell the Videovores out there about your first two releases? The Video Pharmacy is a part of a much larger conceptual project that I have been developing over the past 7 years or so. It was originally created to release my own work. I had no plans of releasing the films of others but as the concept evolved it lead me to seek out the movies of other directors.

A look at the first two promos from TVP that were dispensed at Cinema Wasteland. I ate a couple of the mints. Tasty.

The first promo was available at the October 2011 Cinema Wasteland. There were 25 hand numbered copies. It was about 10 minutes long and consisted of a Pharmacy video from 1946 and a short that I shot directly to VHS. This short showed one of my Pharmacist characters hunting down an RX tape. I have an ongoing series called The Pharmacy Files about different Pharmacists. The one in the first promo is the Psychic Pharmacist. Different Pharmacists will show up in the form of short clips somewhere on each RX tape. I will also be releasing longer tapes focusing on them. This video also appeared on the special edition version of the King of The Witches mixtape, Party Levitation. The second promo was a VHS that I cut a rectangular opening into so that a pill bottle can be inserted. The bottles were filled with mints that had The Video Pharmacy logo on them. These were available at the October 2012 Cinema Wasteland in an edition of 25.

Dr. Don Abendroth himself ready to administer some analog awesomeness.

Can you tell us a little more about the film you’re releasing, and why you chose to commit this work to the VHS format? RX-001 is Charles Pinion’s Twisted Issues. It is multi-layered, but the basic plot involves a skateboarder who is murdered by some punks. The skateboarder is brought back to life and he proceeds to hunt down his killers one by one. Charles watches all of this on his television. When I was a kid I would hear whispers of this movie from the older kids in the neighborhood. During that time my primary interests were horror movies and skateboarding, so it sounded like the best thing ever. I don’t think any of these older kids had actually seen it, they just knew that it existed. For a number of years, I checked every video store I entered. I never found a copy. I began to think that it was a mythical creature and as more time passed I forgot to continue searching. Fast forward to September of last year when a friend of mine reminded me that it was real. I started looking around on the internet and after a couple of clicks I found I instantly ordered the DVD. I watched it, fell in love and began communicating with Charles Pinion. Back in 1988, he only sold the tapes through mail order, which explains why I was never able to find a copy in any of my local video stores. Then it occurred to me that I could release it through The Video Pharmacy. I ran the idea past Pinion and he loved it. He has been absolutely amazing to work with. He is more than willing to help anytime I need something and I am glad that we will continue to work together on two more releases. It is beyond surreal for me to think that I am now releasing a movie that I began searching for over 20 years ago.

TVP's artwork for Charles Pinion's TWISTED ISSUES. Dig that old-school TV goodness, man.

Why the video format? What attracts you to it? I grew up during the height of the Mom & Pop video store days. Like many of us who are in our 30s, tapes hit a nostalgic nerve and the feeling can’t be ignored. I am so happy to see that there are several companies creating fantastic VHS packages. I really missed the days of ordering weird hand-assembled tapes out of the back of magazines. Buying and trading tapes has a feeling that doing the exact same thing with a DVD-r can never match. There is nothing like holding a tape that someone put together by hand. Where does the pharmaceutical angle come from? You’ve had a sort of affinity for it for many years? The Video Pharmacy is my autobiography. It is not just about releasing movies. It is also about telling my story. Everything that I do from packaging to the movies I release can be traced to a point in my timeline. It all means something. The medical and pharmaceutical aspects entered that timeline early. They, combined with movies, shaped my personality more than any other outside influence. I never had any serious medical conditions or a need for medication, but I still became obsessed. I had one real hospital visit when I was seven. My family doctor thought I had a heart murmur, so I had to go have some tests run. It turned out to be nothing, but the obsession with having medical conditions, and dying became a permanent part of my being. After that, I was convinced that I was going to die before I was ten. It really made me see things differently than the other kids. I have always viewed this as positive. These thoughts have never depressed me. They have made me a much happier person. Always thinking about how there is an end makes everything much more special.

A peek at just a couple of the curiosities in Don's collection: his first pill bottle and an ultra-sound of his heart.

I also love the aesthetics of the medical and pharmaceutical industries. I have collected these items since I was a kid. My grandmother gave me my first prescription pill bottle when I was about six. My parents had purchased me a package of plastic ants on the way to my grandparent’s house. As soon as we arrived I ripped open the cardboard package and the ants went everywhere. My grandmother quickly grabbed one of her empty pill bottles, put a piece of medical tape around it and labeled it “ANTS”. I still have that bottle. That began my collecting of prescription pill bottles. I now have approximately 3000. It was at the beginning of 2005 when I started thinking about customizing the bottles for characters in movies. I was just going to do it for me, to give my collection a little more focus. The Video Pharmacy concept evolved from this. The extras that come with the limited version of Twisted Issues are just too groovy. They correlate with this film, correct? Absolutely. Each RX VHS will come with a custom prescription pill bottle that contains objects that represent something in the movie. After watching the movie a few times, I will diagnose one of the characters and determine what type of real world medication they would be prescribed. This is shown on the label of the pill bottle. If one were to research the medication, either before or after watching the movie, they should be able to determine why that prescription was filled. In some cases it may even change how one sees the movie. In the case of Twisted Issues I have prescribed the Charles character Risperidone (generic for Risperdal). There are two objects in the bottle, a blood spattered skateboard and a miniature television. The skateboard represents the murdered skateboarder. The television is for Charles. He watches the events of the movie play out on his TV. He sees all.

A look at the full package for RX-001. Proof that awesome is the best kind of medicine.

Okay, I have an idea of how you crafted the skateboards (and they RULE!), but are you willing to share the secret on how you procured those incredible tiny television sets? I wish their creation had an interesting story, but I simply ordered them from a site that specializes in objects for dollhouses. There’s a cassette featuring the soundtrack, too. Can you describe the sound? What kind of jams are on there? The soundtrack features bands from the Gainesville, Florida area, many of which are actors in the movie. I will allow director Charles Pinion to explain further: Charles Pinion: The bands represented the Gainesville, Florida post-punk scene of 1987. This was before Nirvana and "the year punk broke" as it's called (1990). At that point in time, no one was really videotaping or recording the many, many gigs and house parties that were the staple of the Gainesville scene circa 1987. All this wonderful music represented a steamy, creative, ephemeral stew that would soon be re-absorbed into the humid swampy environment, with no record of it at all. So I saw my job to be that of an archivist, as much as anything else. Indeed, TWISTED ISSUES originally was intended as a somewhat straightforward "scene" documentary (think ATHENS: INSIDE/OUT, made around the same time), but eventually (with the addition of writers Steve Antzcak and Jim "Hawk" Bassett) became the psycho-punk splatter comedy that it is today.

A spine study of The Video Pharmacy's analog output thus far. The thinnest bad boy is the case for the cassette. Too groovy.

Do you know if the film is being released in any other format? How else can we see the film? DVD copies can be purchased directly from Being a Videovore yourself, what do you think of the resurgence and catching interest? When anything that you love gains popularity there are drawbacks; but overall, I love the resurrection of VHS. It really makes me happy that new tapes are being produced by small companies. I have never been one of those people who stop liking an underground band or movie when they become popular. I love what I love. More people loving the same thing doesn’t change that. EBay prices can be insane and it irritates me when I hear people calling it a fad or lumping the collecting of tapes into the hipster category. When those who do not truly love tapes move on to something else, we will be there to buy their collection. What will The Video Pharmacy prescribe next? RX-002 and RX-003 will be Charles Pinion’s Red Spirit Lake and We Await respectively. RX-004 is Damon Packard’s Reflections of Evil. The RX version is going to be the uncut 138 minute version and the Over The Counter Edition will be the 90 minute version. I have not announced the fifth prescription yet, so I will take this opportunity to do so. RX-005 will be Mike Diana’s Blood Brothers. It was shot on video in 1989. He is drawing a new cover specifically for this release. There will also be another version of the cut out pill bottle tape. This one will be a white tape and the pill bottle will contain an x-ray from my personal collection. The tape will light up illuminating the x-ray. They will be limited to 25 and I hope to have them ready in time for April’s Cinema Wasteland. I am always working on my original projects. Pieces of them will show up on tapes from time to time. Eventually, the full length Beyond The Elephant will be prescribed.

The RX-001 version of this film is now sold out (it went FAST!), but there will be an Over The Counter Edition of Twisted Issues available exclusively at This OTC edition will be hand numbered and limited to 25, but will not be signed and will not come with any of the groovy extras. OTC-001 will have a slightly different cover and should be ready in a couple of weeks, so stay tuned to The Video Pharmacy and for more info!

Josh Schafer

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