KING OF THE WITCHES Conjures a Cauldron of Video Voodoo in Preparation for the SEVERED SHORT FILM NIGHT & VHS COLLECTORS UNITE CONVENTION. Worship. Watch. Repeat.
You WILL choose Evil. You WILL feed it to your VCR. You WILL Rewind or Die.LM: How did King of the Witches commence? You were an Uneasy Archive minion for a bit, yeah? Or are you not at liberty... CKotW: Uneasy comes before King of the Witches, always. I think King of the Witches happened mostly because I wanted to make mixtapes and release things that didn’t typically fit the Uneasy bill. It just sort of took off from there.
The very first volume of PARTY LEVITATION. PARTY DOWN... and then get on up occult style. LEVITATE TO DOMINATE.Can you tell us about some of your earlier releases? The mixtapes and Cannibal Mercenary? I do a series of mixtapes called Party Levitation. The first one came about for a film swap meet/flea market thing that went down in Rhode Island. It sold well there for something that I didn’t advertise or really even mention. I had a few left, so I sold them online. Then came the Freddy In Space special edition and the DiabolikDVD.com version with The Video Pharmacy short at the end of it. I didn’t expect people to be into them as much as they were… if the first one didn’t do well, there probably wouldn't be a second or third. Cannibal Mercenary happened because a close Dad of mine, Daniel Robinette, wanted there to be a new release of it. We were initially going to do it as a Him x Uneasy release… that turned into an Uneasy release… and then that turned into the first film that King of the Witches released. It was also the first thing I ever used Photoshop for. There’s a guy who sells DVD-Rs of the film on eBay that stole my cover art. That's pretty cool. Then there’s Emancipation, which is a short by Ron Decaro. I did the biohazard packs for that that came with a pair of dirty syringes, a tourniquet and some other stuff. I'm really proud of how that one came out and Ron is a great person to work with. After that there were a few more mixtapes. I did a live screening of the 2nd and 3rd and had people leaving in either disgust or just because they were weirded out. It was fun to watch go down. I think I'm done doing mixtapes for a while now, though. We'll see.
A double-shot of pure magnetic magic a'la The King. Syringes not pictured.You've been releasing stuff at an impressive rate, man. LIKE MAD! And you've got a bunch of tapes coming out for SEVERED, too. Can you tell us a little about those? I try to keep things coming at a regular rate. I think I have five or six releases for Severed. I forget… it's changed so many times now. I've only announced three so far, though: Star Vehicle, Driller Killer, and The Killing of Satan. Star Vehicle is a film by my buddy Ryan Nicholson. I'm working with him on a bunch of releases and I figured it would be cool to do a short run of one of his films for the convention to give people a taste of what he's all about.
The full package for STAR VEHICLE. That knife.Driller Killer is Driller Killer. I planned on releasing it and then I got to talking to Nate Higley of Secret Lair about collaborating on a release / him doing cover art for one of my releases and he was all about doing Driller Killer. I'm really happy with how it came out. He's going to have big prints of it at the convention.
A look at the super-groovy DRILLER KILLER Limited Edition for SEVERED. Drill sold separately, man.The Killing of Satan is a cool Filipino movie about black magic and being a badass. Matt from Horror Boobs and I were talking about collaborating and it turned into an offshoot label for both of us called Black Magic Classics. We're going to do a series of old witchcraft movies. I think it started off mostly as Asian films, but the possibility of other films has come up, too. I'm really proud to be able to work with him on something as cool as this. It shows an awesome sense of unity among the current VHS revivalists. That’s it for the ones I've announced so far. I've got a real whopper coming to the convention. An infamous film.
BLACK MAGIC CLASSICS will possess your soul via your VCR. And you'll like it.You're extremely active in the collector community, and not shy about your views by any means. I dig that. What's your overall view on what's happening with VHS collector culture? I don't really know. There definitely has been a spike in the amount of “new”' people on the internet collecting lately. I don't mind it. I know a lot of people are complaining and throwing around the hipster word, but most of the people I know who collect tapes would fall into the hipster category anyway. So it's not really a big deal to me. I think a lot of the people who complain about the new collectors and “hipsters” and the rising prices on eBay are doing more bad than good for the community because I've noticed a lot of them taking advantage of the naivety of these new people by charging them a lot for tapes and running up eBay auctions out of spite. That's just my opinion, though. I think it's cool that VHS collecting is getting more recognition. Of course, it's going to make things harder to get because more people will be after them. But that gives more incentive to hunt for things. You're obviously a proponent of new VHS releases. What do you say to those who are opposed to them, who only want old tapes… the peeps that toss out the "hipster" tag at new VHS labels, etc. SUCK IT. Nah. To each his own. A lot of the people who bash the new VHS releases change their tune when something they’re genuinely interested in finds its way into the spotlight. A lot of people that gave us shit for some of the Uneasy releases jumped right on the band wagon once we announced that we'd be working with Jorg Buttgereit (Nekromantik, Der Todesking, Schramm) and Ryan Nicholson. People are weird. I know it's not for everyone, and I can understand wanting to own the original release more than a new release. That's part of being a collector. If you're passionate about something, don't let anyone get in the way of you making it happen. You're a VHS collector yourself, and a ravenous one at that. What's your main attractions when it comes to genre, era, etc.? What attracts you to the format in general? Nostalgia, the gritty look and feel? The sexy artwork? It's definitely about the nostalgia. I spent a good amount of my formative years scouring the shelves at all of the local video stores… generally the horror section. Once I'd seen all I could at one store, I'd beg my Dad for a membership to the next store. It eventually turned into him sitting in the car while I spent three hours looking around in video stores that were a half hour drive from home. I just never stopped having tapes around. It wasn't really “collecting” early on… it was “owning”. I didn’t know about or care about collectability when I was young. Now it's full-fledged hoarding. I collect mostly horror and Golden Age porn… a lot of obscure roughies and slashers. My big thing is I Spit On Your Grave. Probably one of the only movies I was too afraid to rent when I was little. Something about the cover creeped me out. Now I snag every different copy I have the chance to.
The grim-as-shit threads for KotW. Next up, DEATH ROBES.Why do think it's important to keep VHS alive? Why do you put out tapes? VHS is just what seems right. I'm sure one day I'll be doing DVD releases as well, but I've never been a DVD or Blu-Ray collector, so I've never gotten into that community. VHS is a really big part of my life; most of my friends are collectors; I spend most of my time doing VHS related things. I know… it's really nerdy, but it's just a part of who I am at this point. Bringing movies that I'm a fan of that would probably never end up being released on videocassette to the format is just a cool idea to me, and I support pretty much anyone else that does it for the same reason.
PARTY LEVITATION VOL. 2 upon the Altar of Analog.Which new releases are you most excited about? Which companies do you dig the most? There's a lot of really cool stuff going down. The most creative of them all is definitely The Video Pharmacy. It pretty much exceeds being just a “new VHS’ company and goes into being art and I really appreciate everything he's been doing. Of course, Massacre is killing it and has a lot up their sleeves to look forward to. Even if Louis is silly looking. Horror Boobs, man. I'm excited about everything he has going on. It was awesome to be able to watch him blossom from the compilation tapes to doing stuff like Driller and Mac and Me. Secret Lair is about to blow up, as well. He's got some cool stuff for Severed this weekend. One Armed Matt (Phantom Pain Films) started releasing tapes… that's cool. I really want the one he was going to do for Wasteland but canned. Cadaver Creek is going to be doing some really cool stuff in the future. He hasn't released his first film yet. But he's got great taste in films, and he's got the drive to get shit done, so I'm excited to see what he pulls off. Briarwood is doing Slaughter Tales slipcases and that's pretty cool.
That's EXACTLY what you should do! This year's SEVERED event is going to be an analog appreciation celebration of EPIC proportions with an overload of exclusive VHS editions, indie short films, and of course, LOTS of hanging out with COOL DUDES (and dudettes!). It's gonna be ultimate party time excellent up in there, man! Chris will be there along with myself and a veritable Videovore army, so come on out and live the anti-digial dream already! CLICK HERE for all the info! And be sure to march on over to The King of the Witches Coven on Facebook and The King of the Witches Lair of Witchy Wares. Join, and together, we'll all freakout.
Interview by Josh Schafer