LUNCHMEAT, ZELLCO ENTERTAINMENT, and CREAM OF THE CRAP Dedicate the VHS Release of KINGDOM OF VAR to Jaimz Asmundson [1981 - 2024]

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LUNCHMEAT, ZELLCO ENTERTAINMENT, and CREAM OF THE CRAP Dedicate the VHS Release of KINGDOM OF VAR to Jaimz Asmundson [1981 - 2024]

By David Knipe and Karen Asmundson


With the limited VHS release of The Kingdom of Var, Lunchmeat VHS, Zellco Entertainment and Cream of the Crap wish to pay tribute to our brother from another VCR, Jaimz Asmundson, the consummate connoisseur of cheese, camp, crud, and crap. Jaimz relentlessly scoured the darkened and dirty corners of film culture on his quest to find the creamiest crap movies imaginable so that he could share his passion with others and build a community around the love of tapes.



Jaimz passed away on New Year’s Day 2024, leaving behind a first-class collection of VHS treasure and a community of tape heads that were deeply influenced and supported by his overflowing love of bad movies and the VHS lifestyle. For someone who spoke in the language of so-bad-they’re-good movies, Jaimz did a lot of talking as the Director of Programming at the Dave Barber Cinematheque in Winnipeg, Canada, where he co-created and hosted the screening series Cream of the Crap: an initiative started in 2018 to share the worst and weirdest home video atrocities on VHS to unwitting and unprepared, but rabidly enthusiastic audiences. It was through this series that Jaimz got to flex his incredible skills as a curator and put his obsessive tape collecting habits to use, making sure that all of those hours spent sifting through boxes and breathing in the dust from decades-old sun-dehydrated VHS cases would transfer the love of VHS over to a new generation. If Jaimz’ initial impulse in starting Cream of the Crap was to simply gather some freaks like him together so that he could share his obsession, it quickly became so much more.  It infected Winnipeg with its sickness, creating a legion of loyal VHS hunters, collectors, and aficionados, although perhaps a little too successfully, as this army of crap-seekers also served to increase Jaimz’ tape hunting competition in the city.


While many in the Cream of the Crap community came to the VHS game later in life, Jaimz was a bonafide tape head practically from birth. As a precocious child he would stay up late, sneaking out of his house in the middle of the night and over to the local convenience store/tape rental so that he could buddy-up to the owner in hopes of convincing them to sell him a copy of Blue Velvet or John Waters’ Polyester; movies that he was too young to be purchasing, let alone watching, on his own. At over $100 a pop, Jaimz had to save up for weeks to be able to purchase a tape.


With single-minded devotion, he committed his every effort to acquiring these black slabs of plastic that meant the world to him. His connection to tapes was almost cosmic, spanning decades and lifetimes. After years of not collecting in his twenties and thirties, Jaimz came down with the sickness once again and re-started his collection. Living up to their magnetic nature, a box of tapes that Jaimz had long thought were gone, left behind with a former landlord and forgotten for over a decade, found their way back to him, unlocking that giddy kid inside him and reigniting his passion.


That passion soon spiraled, as it does for most collectors, resulting in regular trips down to Pembina, North Dakota with his tapehead friends to pick up the dozens of boxes of tapes they had purchased through eBay and VHS collector Facebook groups (shipping them within the U.S. and then driving them back over the border saved on shipping costs and duties). On one such trip, Jaimz’ lucky streak of slipping contraband VHS through customs without notice ran out. He and fellow tape fiend Jeremy had made sure to unbox all of their newly-acquired treasures and stash them in non-descript bags to make it seem like the guys had scored on a lot of near-worthless junk at a local thrift store. At the border, Jaimz’ vehicle was chosen for random inspection. Jaimz and Jeremy went inside the Customs office to wait, and minutes later, the border guards carted in the haul and went through everything, pointing out certain things and muttering to each other as they went. One of the guards approached Jaimz and took him to a back room for questioning, where another large border guard was stationed as backup, stone-faced, and with arms crossed.


The first border guard laid two items down on the table in front of Jaimz: a zine about video store stickers and a certain sticker in particular that read: "The C.I.A. Can't See What's In Your V.C.R.'' (gifts from Lunchmeat). "What can you tell me about these?" asked the guard in a serious tone. Jaimz went on to explain his relationship with Lunchmeat, how these items were free and meant as giveaways for Cream of the Crap, and even produced his message history with Lunchmeat to prove it. "What's this about?" the guard continued to probe, referencing the sticker’s message. Jaimz laughed nervously, responding "I guess it's supposed to be a joke, but it must not be very funny considering I’m being interrogated about it at the border”. At this point, Jaimz thought the border was only interested in duties being paid, but then one guard then flipped further through the zine, landing on an article about A to X Video Outlet, an X-rated video store in Florida owned by a woman. The border guard took a few steps back and stared at Jaimz, seeming to choose his words. “Do you know what we are looking for when we pull people in here?”. “Guns and drugs?” Jaimz wondered. “Yes. And child por____. Do any of the tapes in your car have child por____ on them?” The border guard sternly looked on, waiting for this to sink in with Jaimz and watching for any reaction. Jaimz was confounded that the items he had would point to child por___ but also realized in the moment that some other things in the trunk - multiple boxes of sugary kids’ cereals purchased for a Cinematheque event plus some clothing for Jeremy’s young daughter - looked really bad in light of these new suspicions. After taking a few seconds to collect himself, Jaimz responded “look… these are just prizes to give away at a silly movie night. We watch bad movies. We collect them. There’s a whole culture around it even though you might think it's all trash and hard to believe anyone would care about this stuff. All the tapes in the car are just horror or action movies. We're just a bunch of middle-aged losers trying to have some fun”.


At that, the second guard broke his stone face by bursting into laughter so hard that the interrogating guard realized his mistake and hastily told Jaimz to get out of there. This showdown became a badge of honor for Jaimz, who wore his love of crap proudly on his denim jacket, along with his Kenneth Anger and Gremlins pins, and his trademark Lightning Video hat.


When it was time to select the next tape to be featured at a Cream of the Crap event, Jaimz and David would pour over their behemoth collections, picking out a stack of 20-or-so tapes that fit the theme of the screening, loaded up on beer and chips, and hunkered down to break their brains in hopes of finding the tape that combined just the right amount of ineptitude, conviction, and otherworldly strangeness; a kind of Cream of the Crap calculus that was applied to guarantee that only the choicest tape turds be shared. It was in that setting that during one fateful night in the summer of 2021, after a stack of tapes had been watched and no clear-cut choice had emerged, and with the screening only a week out, a desperate move was made and Jaimz grabbed a hard drive of movies he’d been given by his friend in filmmaking, film distributor David Zellis (Zellco Entertainment), and opened a mysterious file titled The Kingdom of Var. Without any prior knowledge of what it was and running on fumes, Jaimz, David, and their partners decided to try to watch one more movie - a decision that would seal their fates as the group who unleashed this cinematic disaster piece on the Cream of the Crap devotees. Jaimz’ expectations for the film were low, given the scant information he had on the film, and the group assumed they’d only get through the first ten minutes before switching it off and throwing in the towel.


Well, ten minutes flew by in a series of unforgettable moments, from one trainwreck to the next. What was seen could not be unseen, and luckily none of them wanted to unsee any of it.  Roughly 80 minutes later, with jaws firmly planted on the floor and brains totally reduced to a steaming pile of mush, Jaimz knew that this special film had to be seen by as many people as possible, thus kickstarting his role as ambassador of the film.




So, for the Halloween 2021 edition of Cream of the Crap, Jaimz and David, along with their regular co-hosts Amanda Kindzierski and James Korba, presented The Kingdom of Var to a sold-out audience at the Dave Barber Cinematheque in a night that is cemented in the annals of Winnipeg film history. That night lives on in the memories of those who were there as a twisted and uproarious experience, where the tone was set right off the bat with a special video introduction from director Nicholas Kleben wherein he downed a beer while the crowd booed him. Everyone in the cinema that night was pummeled into a drug-like haze from the uncannily unique exercise in bad taste. For Jaimz, Var was the quintessential Cream of the Crap selection: it featured transgressive low-brow taste; contained Satanism, a set of fake teeth, and found VHS footage; and it was Canadian and somehow no one seemed to know about its existence.

 - David Knipe and Karen Asmundson


Other friends and loved ones remember Jaimz:


“Jaimz’ constant relentlessness to embrace the weird has always been infectious. He was always open to ideas and encouraged collaboration. Jaimz always made me feel welcome through his caring nature and encouraged my own creativity. I am forever humbled to have been able to spend time with him doing something I love but I will forever playfully hold a grudge (on Jaimz) for doing Miami Connection (at Cream of the Crap) without me and for making me experience a scene I had mentally blocked out (Elf Rape) in front of a crowd but I will miss him terribly.” - Cream of the Crap co-host James Korba


“Jaimz has left us a large legacy that will be enjoyed for years to come. The people that Jaimz collected at Cream of the Crap became an orchestrated madness that gave a place to laugh and connect over some of the best VHS crap known to cinemakind. I will treasure these experiences and I will always be grateful for Jaimz; the opportunities and the good times.” - Cream of the Crap co-host Amanda Kindzierski


“You may not have known Jaimz, but he was passionate, incredibly talented and kind, he loved cinema and he loved unique, not perfect but fun to watch movies like The Kingdom of Var. So, as you watch this movie know that Jaimz was a huge and important part of getting it seen. I will miss my friend dearly, and always appreciate his help with getting this amazing film out into the world.” - David Zellis, Zellco Entertainment


You can celebrate the insanity of KINGDOM OF VAR on videocassette HERE starting SAT, 4/6 at 12noon EST!

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