All of the analog addiction and obsession is getting to a fever pitch here in the States: TONS of new VHS labels are emerging from DIY enthusiast’s basements; the more established releasing labels are looking to VHS as a revived platform for their films; an army of VHS-centric documentaries are coming to fruition; and there’s just a general massive interest in our favorite format, complete with ecstatic excitement from enthusiasts, nay-saying antis, groovy collaborations and fervent controversy. But what about our non-NTSC pals across the pond? Well, this well-rounded revival isn’t just limited to the old Red, White and Blue, tapeheads. Though it’s still a good sight smaller than what’s happening here in our chunk of the globe, our PAL viewing Videovores aren’t so far removed from the new release video phenomenon.
Nik Box is the proprietor of the UK based production company turned releasing label DEAD GOOD FILMS LIKE. Box has been directing, releasing and facilitating the release of low-budget, video-era-celebrating trashterpieces for quite a spell now; and while he’s no stranger to DVD, and has handled the bulk of his releases via the digital discs, it’s VHS that really gets him excited. And now, with the video vindication spreading even across the pond, he’s committing his flicks to the almighty analog glory and loving every second of it…
Nik alongside his logo. Dig the hat. Dig the shirt. Dig the syntax.
LM: So tell us a little bit about your label DEAD GOOD FILMS LIKE. That’s a helluva name, man. What inspired you to start it up?
NB: Dead Good Films Like is the name of my production company, but I liked it so much I kept it for the label, too. I started shooting silly, trashy movies 5 years ago now… my first was a spoof of bad films in general. It was basically Ed Wood meets Godfrey Ho and was called Dracula vs. The Ninja on the Moon
. I shot that back in 2008/2009 whilst I was at university; it got passed around the stoner and after pub crowd on DVD-R, and gained a small following for its shitness. A year later, I decided it was time to go out and shoot something a bit more film-like, but still trashy as hell.
That's when I made Brutal Jesus & The House of Wasted Youth
: a Christploitation film about Jesus killing a bunch of Teenage Junkies. I released that in 2010 on DVD and it gained a nice following all over the world. After the success of that, I put out Drac vs. Ninja officially and that time round I thought it would be fun to put it out on VHS as I saw the boom starting to grow online over in the states with filmmakers doing VHS releases. Being a VHS collector myself, I figured fuck it: I'll give it a go and did a 15 tape run on VHS all duplicated direct from my bedroom and they sold out pretty damn fast. It was a fun release but time consuming and cost a fortune on postage as most of the sales went to the states.
I went another couple of years churning out more movies like Wrath of The Violent Vicar
, She's Dead , Terror Telly, Suicide Preachers
and I also began to release stuff for other film makers I knew over here in Europe and a few from the States and Canada, but it was all on DVD.
We have a terrible convention scene in the UK, but it’s pretty strong in Europe. Last November I was at a con in Germany and I kept getting asked if I had VHS editions of my movies. So, when I got back to the UK, I thought fuck it, now's the time to be more active with my favourite format and decided to release a 5 tape pack of a bunch of my films see how it goes… and then release more.
I announced we would release them in late December and started taking pre-orders. Within a matter of days, the sets had sold out… but getting them printed proved to be an absolute nightmare! I wanted them to come in what we call in the UK a Big Box which is different to what you have stateside. These are basically A4 size hard plastic cases. When I released the previous VHS a few years ago, I scored a box of these cases but trying to find them now over here was near impossible… I even looked abroad, but to get them shipped over with postage and import tax would have cost more than what we took from every order. I really didn't want to put them out in small sell-through size cases and I’d already ordered the A4 size cover art. After a few long hard months of searching I accepted defeat and went for the smaller cases the editions still look great but did delay the release by quite a bit. Good I have a loyal bunch of followers who all waited patiently.
DGFL's Five Tape Set! NTSC this sure ain't! GROOVY, MAN.
Can you tell us more about the releases themselves?
The first release was the 5 pack (pictured above) and that included all titles Directed by myself...
BRUTAL JESUS: Nik's first Christploitation film!
WRATH OF THE VIOLENT VICAR: Nik's 2nd Christploitation film about a Vicar battling against an evil Reverend!
WRATH OF THE VIOLENT VICAR: THE FRIENDLY JESUS CUT... an alternative cut of VV in this one the Jesus character is a completely different performance and the film plays out like a sadistic Mr Bean! (See above clip, man!)
SHE'S DEAD: Nik's most critically acclaimed film... a real time comedy horror about 3 guys who have to get rid of a girl's corpse in an hour.
TERROR TELLY: An Anthology film featuring segments from Nik, Torin Langen, Peter Murfet, Chan Walrus and Gerald Steel
What compelled you to release these bad boys? How many are you doing of each title? Any groovy extras come along with it?
With The 5 i put out already it was limited to 15 of each title and each came with a mini poster and a DVD of the film. They sold out super quick however i kept one set back which I am gonna Sell on Ebay as a fundraiser for my new film project.
You’re one of the few doing new VHS over there… in fact, unless I’m having a huge brainfart, you might be the only one? Do you know of any other folks doing new VHS in your country?
I’m certainly the only person in the UK… I know of filmmakers who have done the odd handful of tapes for a screening. However, I am sure I’ve come across a few people in Germany still rocking stuff out on tape at conventions.
Your tapes are PAL, right?
Yeah, sadly, they are only PAL tapes at the mo. I have looked into NTSC but it's quite pricey to do it over here. It's funny: I’ve been importing tapes from the states since the mid 90s as a lot of UK VCR's seemed to have the NTSC playback feature, but I hear it’s not as common for PAL playback in the states which is disappointing. For now, though, I include DVD with the tape so people who can’t do multi region tapes can still watch the films … but yeah it does sort of take the fun out of it all a bit.
Also one of my movies may be getting a VHS release stateside soon on another label so that will be something to look out for :) SRS Cinema! Check out their site for more info!!>
Why VHS for these titles? What makes you want to put them on tape?
Why Not? My Roots are in VHS and the movies I make and the ones I pick up from others are all heavily influenced by the films we grew up with on tape so it feels perfect. I get more excited about having an edition of my movies on tape than DVD & BLU… if someone comes round my house and asks me to show them my movies, straight away I am showing off the VHS editions!
What do you think of the now burgeoning culture? All of the docs coming out, VHS-oriented events, etc? Does it seem the same in intensity even though you’re across the ocean from so many of the events, etc.?
Over here, there is a love for VHS and a relatively strong collecting community; however, it's nowhere near as intense as it is in the states. From a collectors point of view , the only tapes that hold value are the