CULT LEADER VIDEO Celebrates the Glory of Physical Media with a Limited VHS Edition of THE COLLECTIVE VOL. 1 THE MEAT EATER and CULT Magazine! DIG IT.
Cult Leader Video is the collective brainchild of Ed Demko and Kelly Forbes: two dudes that understand the current state of affairs when it comes to the consumption of physical media, especially in the horror business. So, with the foundation of video era appreciation and a love for the printed word by way of quality control, this duo is determined to preserve the distinct pack of thrills that only tangible media can provide. And now, as they are immersed in a burgeoning climate of analog obsession, CLV sees an opportunity to not only reach some personal destinations, but also breed and share the aesthetic aspects which have made their journey thus far all the better. And, man, does this stuff look awesome…
ED: Yessir! CULT Magazine was something that I wanted to do, which was originally the first thing that me and Kelly wanted to do. Frankly, we didn’t think the big horror magazines were really doing anything that interesting. I’m not trying to suck up to you, but I LOVE Lunchmeat
I’m also a reader of Shock Cinema and Ultra Violent, too. But as far as Fango, Rue Morgue, or HorrorHound magazines, they really weren’t doing anything for me anymore. So, we wanted to make a magazine that’s put together well, actually talks about things that hardcore fans like ourselves find relevant, and manage to keep our ear to the ground and listen to what real fans actually want in a magazine. I think the physical copy of a magazine is something important and I think we’ve seen why over the last decade or so. At first the magazines were getting passed up by the people writing on the internet. Then it got the point where EVERYONE was writing on the net, doing blogs, etc. Then we realized that the quality control had gone out the window and literally anyone who wanted to write about movies, could. This works in both good and bad ways, but personally I think it’s been somewhat of a detriment to the genre, as people didn’t really know where to turn to find out stuff from a trusted source. Plus, like Kelly said, we need that Rondo .
What’s in queue for Cult Leader Video?
ED: Well, we have very ambitious plans to be honest and we’ve even been branching out to bring a few other awesome people on board. Louis from Massacre has been extremely helpful, too. He’s a super dude. Who knows, maybe we’ll even see a CLV/Lunchmeat release in the future!
KF: CLV is really shaping up and we're so thankful for that. Louis at Massacre Video is a prince and we love him for the help he's offered us. The basic idea is to find the right films for the right reasons. Try not to rush too much and keep it fun. It's too early to say, but we do have an archive list right now, and our next big box should be ready near the middle of summer. Can't say much, but it's...gooey.
What else would you like to say to all the Videovores out there?
ED: Keep being passionate regardless of what people tell you. Have a voice, keep that voice, and don’t ever give it up for anything. Also, if you’re a fan of horror/exploitation/adult films then fight the good fight any way you can, support the indies (filmmakers, artists, music, etc.) and smash the phonies right in the face any way you know how!
KF: I'd say welcome home. We really dig our new extended family and I hope everyone really loves what we have for them.
CULT LEADER VIDEO... roaming the galaxy to bring you the finest celebrations of physical media.LM: Can you tell us a little bit about CULT LEADER VIDEO and how it was started? KF: Basically to do something that WE wanted to do. I like the VHS revival, but it seems a bit flaky. A lot of people are dropping titles without rights, or not really putting any thought or time into what they're doing. I mean, I appreciate the passion of it, but we wanted to take a step back and really figure out a way to do this thing right. DVD is a big gamble right now, but there's a nice pocket of people who really dig the idea of tapes on the shelf, so we're hoping to be our own entity and be able to release films in the wonderful and fragile way some of us grew up knowing them. ED: I pretty much agree with Kelly here. It was more about what WE wanted to do and less about what was going on around us. It’s something we both had a passion for and decided to run with it. Your first release is called MEATEATER, not to be confused with the VHS-only trashterpiece The Meateater. What’s your release all about? How’d you come to commit it to VHS? ED: Our release is basically something we came up with when we were thinking of starting CLV. When we put our heads together to figure out a release, Kelly actually asked me if I had seen any independent flicks that had stood out. Considering at this point Jabb Pictures had released 5 Volumes of The Collective, plus its creator Jason Hoover was a friend of mine, I thought it would be the perfect marriage. We wanted to do stuff on VHS for a few reasons. First off, we were collectors ourselves and dug the format. Another thing was that we always found ourselves talking about collecting, tapes, DVDs, and even Blu-ray. Then the top of conversation was always about how it seems the future of tangible media was in the toilet. Another popular opinion of ours was that we were NEVER the types to get rid of all of our tapes, DVDs, BD’s, etc. for digital downloads and streaming. That conversation eventually ended up being, “how can we help the world of tangible media continue?” Obviously with how the business of DVD/BD being very poor, we decided going after a niche market would be the best business model, leading us to going for VHS. KF: Right, and actually it's The Collective Vol.1 The Meat Eater, but we thought putting a spin on it would be very much akin to the spirit of VHS. Alternate titles and foreign version re-titles, etc. Again, VHS releases really have some steam, and the cost of doing real DVD transfers and cleaning up source footage is lofty at this point. It gives us a much broader release world and presents a different experience. VHS isn't something you can stream or download. It's a (and I hate myself for saying this) state of mind. You get it, or maybe you don't. But getting a chance to bring the work of Jabb Pictures to a unique media is a great honor and a lot of fun. I think everyone will agree. Can you give us some details about the release? How many? Any extras? The artwork looks KILLER. ED: The planned release is going to be 50 copies from the gate. No more, no less. Now we’re planning on doing a big box (which you’ll only be able to get during the pre-order for The Meateater), as well as a clamshell (which will be all of the tapes sold after the pre-order). Also we’ll be giving an 11x17 poster of the artwork as a free extra as well as a digital copy of CULT Magazine. That’s all that’s planned for our first release, but we’re certainly looking into a lot of cool gimmicks to come with our releases in the future. Thanks on the kind words for the artwork. I think Kelly is a fantastic artist and it’s another chance for people to see his work in my opinion, which is a great thing. KF: Why, thank you. Well, we said from the start we needed to kick ass on the cover. Luckily, I'm a designer and former artist for Fangoria, so I have some chops I guess to put a cover together. Using the key art felt wrong, and Jabb agreed, so by being able to draw and paint these things ourselves we can offer a really appropriate piece of art to put with the collection. Mondo has a great sense of this, so instead of slapping a blurry title and making something fake old, we did what they did during the era of Wizard Video: painted a cover. We hope to do that for every release. In terms of edition size, we're keeping things manageable right now, but affordable. The big box is going to be for folks who pre-order with us. It's likely going to be a bit over $30 and we're hoping to include a poster of the art and a digital copy of our new magazine.
Now THIS is what I'm talking about, man. All hail hand-painted covers. CLV TAKIN' IT BACK.Why VHS for this flick? Is it getting released on any other format? ED: Honestly, VHS is the only format that we’re interested in. I’m not saying that won’t change in the future, because it certainly could. But right now where we stand I think it’s safe to say that we’re just going to stick with VHS. When you start putting things out on DVD along with the VHS you get into a different area of distribution that’s not only a nightmare, but it’s would be financially impossible for us to do the things that we would want to. So VHS it is! What do you love about the VHS format? What draws you to it? ED: Personally I grew up in the video boom. We still had single screen theaters, drive-ins, the multiplex, and the video store. I always had an admiration for the video store as I spent so much time there as a kid, especially in the summertime. I would say that it would be a fair estimation that we probably watched a tape a night in the summer as a kid. It was something that kept us entertained and gave us something to do during all those summer re-runs! To this day the video store holds great memories for me, which is another reason I wanted to do this. It was a great time in my life that was a fantastic thing for me, so in a way I feel like I owe the horror genre and the VHS format something in return. KF: I love how fragile and delicate it is. It's very tactile. Everyone can have the same tape, but they're all different, you know what I mean? VHS is really back because it's the anti-Netflix and the anti-red box. It's clunky, awkward, and not convenient at all. It's a medium for people who feel like getting lost instead of having endless choice. It might sound odd, but there's a real benefit in sitting in front of a TV with a tape and being stuck watching it. It makes you care about it, as opposed to flipping through channels or browsing the selection endlessly. What are your thoughts about the whole VHS revival and all the projects and culture that have emerged from it? Pros and cons? KF: I know Ed is with me on this. The cons are the bile and hideous personalities that dominate the collector pages. People have this odd way of dividing collector circles into Lord of the Flies if they let themselves. It's a shame, really; it's a very intimate and joyous circle ruined by a handful of idiots who like to destroy the fun by boasting larger collections, down talking everyone else and basically being elitist over having certain tapes. It's sad and I have no use for it, or those people. Our tapes are for people who will enjoy them as viewing material or as a fun piece of retro inspired art. End of story. ED: Personally, I love the whole video revival. I think it’s awesome watching people get psyched about horror and exploitation films, regardless of the format, but the VHS stuff has really brought out some passionate fans. The culture is something I really get a kick out of, as well. It reminds me of being a kid, getting into Fangoria, which in turn had me reading things like Sleazoid Express, The Gore Gazette, and Michael Weldon’s Psychotronic. It also led me into the world of Chas Balun who was also a huge influence to me. If I can do that for a kid or someone getting into the genre, I would feel like it’s a mission accomplished. Obviously the pros are the fact that you’re witnessing some sort of revolution, ya know? It’s basically something that wasn’t supposed to happen, but though the passion and perseverance of like-minded people, it happened. That’s a tremendous thing in my opinion. The cons naturally are going to be kind of like the backlash that was caused by Charley Band and his “warehouse copies” of old Wizard titles. Basically, you’ll have disingenuous people trying to make money off of everyone’s passion. That sucks but it’s bound to happen (and already is).
MORTAL KOMBAT and FROM BEYOND in the same mag? YES, PLEASE.You guys are doing a print magazine now, too, (which you mentioned before) called CULT magazine? Can you talk a little bit about that? It’s awesome you guys are putting this stuff in physical print! KF: That's correct. We're not trying to relive the glory days by any means, but CULT is sort of its own beast. Every issue is essentially whatever our writers felt like writing. We have no agenda, no ads, and no free review copies. It's a pure stream. We have set it up so we don't have to change that formula and it's printed upon ordering. It's nice because we stand accountable for something; there's no influence beyond what we put on ourselves, and we can't hide because it's in print. It's a fun companion piece and I really hope people latch onto it for those reasons. Plus, we need a Rondo.
We dig you, too, man! And we can’t wait to see what you guys cook up for all us physical media junkies next. Gooey sounds like just want the anti-digital doctor ordered, too. MMmmMmm… gooey. Stay up with CLV and all their preservation and celebration endeavors RIGHT HERE.
Groove till you can’t no more.
Interview by Josh Schafer