Category_Collecting, Category_Groovy Stuff, Category_Horror, Category_VHS, Category_Weirdness -

SECRET LAIR Slaps Down Some Bitchin' Big Box Glory with NOTLD and Dares You to Enter the VHSHOLE! Your VCR Will Be STOKED.

It’s impossible to conceal the clarion call of Nate Higley’s nascent home video label SECRET LAIR. Nate and his brand of VHS vindication have been steadily kicking ass with killer collabs, a signature style of analog amalgam and ultra-bitchin’ handmade big box bliss. And with the VHS culture currently at a fever pitch, Higley is fervently hacking away at his craft to bring the slavering Videvores out there a festive feast of video celebration. And even if it all ends tomorrow, and tape collecting is just another obscure hobby that had its moment in the sun (no pun intended), Nate’s gonna carry on feeding his VCR and making tapes for those who continue to choose the path of analog adventure. Carry on, fearless readers, click on your Fright Light and enter the Lair…

Invert and Insert. That's the Lair's way.

What was the inspiration to start SECRET LAIR? I've always been a huge fan of the VHS format, the art, and the actual mechanics of the packaging, so I really just kind of fell into putting out tapes. I made a trailer compilation tape (the first VHSHOLE: Action!) for an action film themed art show, and did new artwork for the cover to hang at the show. It went over really well, and I sold the only remaining copy of it online when I got home that night. I got a message from DiabolikDVD (I think on instagram, ), and they were interested in picking up a grip of them for their online shop. After they sold out in a few hours, I started thinking about a second volume. And from there, it's been a non-stop race of doing cover art, duplicating, printing, going to conventions, working with other labels, and selling tapes. My three cats seem to really enjoy having all the boxes around, though.

An Action-Packed Explosion for your VCR, indeed! Gotta love the Lightning Video love via the logo, man.

Yeah, man, the VHSHOLE compilations are killer! How many have you done thus far? More to come? I did a second volume of VHSHOLE, consisting of all gore trailers. Who doesn't love gore films, right? That went over really well, too. I just finished and released Volume 3, this time a mix of barbarian trailers and cartoon intros. That just sold out also, but there's a special edition coming very soon from DiabolikDVD. I also sell the original artwork from their covers to help finance other releases. My friend Allison Hetter is who models for all of the VHSHOLE covers and ended up on the NOTLD cover, too. VHSHOLE Volume 1 also had my friends Dr. Sara Ahmed (the mad doctor is an actual doctor, ), Aaron Roy (chopped head guy), Jeremy Wheeler (80's martial arts "master"), and Ian Rowlette (one-armed assassin), along with Allison (the machete wielding bad-ass), as the characters on the front cover. Just wanted to point out that those are all real people. I don't know the shark personally, but he seemed like kind of a dick… . Oh yeah, and I'm the troll/orc looking chopped off head on VHSHOLE Volume 3. Seemed like the thing to do at the time...

Dig it, dig it, dig it! Nate's lookin' pretty fresh on that VHSHOLE Vol. 3 cover, eh?! What a cool person.

You collaborated with KING OF THE WITCHES on Driller Killer for this year’s SEVERED event. Can you tell us a little more about the project and how it came about? How was your experience at SEVERED? Driller Killer came about after talking with KING OF THE WITCHES and their plans for releasing it. We talked about it for a bit and agreed on me doing a new illustration for the cover of it, and it all just went from there. There are some other releases we've been discussing, but nothing I can really put out there yet. Hopefully soon, though. In regards to SEVERED, it was awesome. I finally got to meet a lot of the people I've been talking to, and even working with, from online. I picked up some great releases and also sold a lot of tapes. Other than the eleven hour drive each way, it was a blast.

The now-sold-out limited edition DRILLER KILLER VHS. Glad I gots mine, mang! It's too groovy.

You just released a gorgeous big box of the pervasive public domain classic NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD in both limited clamshell and big-box versions. Can you give us some more details about the whole release? Night of the Living Dead was such a big project, regarding the "manufacturing" of the BBs themselves- from silk screening, scoring, cutting, and constructing them all by hand. I just wanted to do something a little different, so that it wasn't just another fucking copy of NOTLD. I personally worship that film, and have around 40 copies of it on VHS, all from different companies and a few foreign releases. Releasing public domain films seems to be looked down upon by some collectors, but they're great for smaller VHS companies getting their start. There should be a certain respect for some of those films, but because they're PD, they kind of get shit on a lot. It's too bad really. (ED NOTE: I wholeheartedly agree. LM will be doing some PD titles on tape in the future for sure. Why? BECAUSE A BUNCH OF PD FLICKS ARE MAD GROOVY, MAN!>

A look at the screening process, and the finished product. This big box is a thing of beauty. And the clam ain't to shabby, either!

What is it that attracts you to the format? Everything . The covers on VHS are the best (and worst, and best/worst). VHS just has something about it. I'm sure a very minuscule part of it is the fact that I grew up on it, but besides that, I really like the clunkiness and the tactile aesthetics of it. I'm kind of crazy about clamshell and book box packaging, too. Being a collector yourself, what’s your take on all the resurgence in VHS appreciation and celebration? Most people I know just think it's weird that I'm so into VHS. On a wider scale, like the mainstream audience, I don't see it lasting very long. I'm sure VHS "awareness" and popularity will go the way of ska, paninis, or anything else the mainstream grabbed hold of and shook to death quickly.

A shot of some real cool dudes the morning after SEVERED. Earl and I where off to get a dog and a dew: THE BEST DEAL AROUND.

What do you say to those out here who aren’t too hot on the new VHS releases that are popping up everywhere? Stop being an ass. If you're not into them, don't buy them. Beyond that, I really don't care. Why do you think it’s important to preserve the VHS format? Why do you want to put flicks on tape again? For the same reason we have vaults full of old films on, well, film. Just because it's an "out dated" format, doesn't mean we should just throw them in the landfill. There are tapes that are truly pieces of art; there are films that never made it past VHS.. films you'll never find on DVD or Blu-ray… that would otherwise be lost. I release VHS because I really do love the format. What’s been the best thing to come out of the burgeoning VHS resurgence? New companies releasing some really great old and new shit: HORROR BOOBS, KING OF THE WITCHES, THE VIDEO PHARMACY, MASSACRE VIDEO, THE UNEASY ARCHIVE, and what they bring to the table. That really affirms my love for the format. Also, reading about stuff I fucking love is awesome, so I'm really also into LUNCHMEAT, BLOOD VIDEO, TAPE MOLD, DEATH WOUND, and any other VHS or outsider film magazine I can get my hands on. You also do freelance art, right? Where can we see it, learn more about your work? I make my living as a freelance artist/designer. I do all the art and design for SECRET LAIR myself. Outside of that, I also write and illustrate comic books. I've done stuff for Paper Tiger Comix UK, Three Rivers Press/Random House, VICE Magazine, Nic-Fit Comics, and a bunch of other small publishers, including self-publishing over the years. I also do a lot of rock posters, record covers, logos, you name it, for bands. I recently created the new pentagram/goat head logo for KING OF THE WITCHES, illustrated and designed the packaging for the SL/KOTW co-release of Driller Killer, and the cover to Holy Shit…Zombies! I have a website,, which should be back up and running within a matter of weeks. I'm rebuilding the whole site right now. There's also a Facebook page for SECRET LAIR, where I do updates about release.

Just a sample of Nate's super-rad artwork. Nothing beats a skull. An inverted cross comes close, obviously.

What’s next for SECRET LAIR? More super-rad big boxes?! YES, PLEASE! I'll be releasing WARTS & ALL: THE FILMS OF DANNY PLOTNICK, which I'm really excited about. It's my first licensed release, so that's another interesting road I've decided to head down. It'll be out sometime in the next month or two. I also have the next few VHSHOLE's planned out, including cult, apocalypse/dystopian, and more. Regarding other releases, there's nothing else I can really talk about right now, other than I am working on some special releases for CINEMA WASTELAND in the fall and a new secret tape for TAPE EATERS in July. More big boxes? Probably, but no concrete plans at the moment. Otherwise, I'll just be busy drawing inverted crosses on everything I can, and probably eating some salt and pepper tofu while finally getting around to watching that TROLL VHS that Wizard released last month ;)

Man, that TROLL tape is mega-bitchin’, too! STRAIGHT OUTTA THE WAREHOUSE, SUCKA! But, really, folks: groove on over to SECRET LAIR’s Facebook and check out all of the most excellent analog affirmation goin’ on, and definitely hit up to peep all of his graphic art awesomeness. And stay tuned to LUNCHMEAT and SECRET LAIR for more on the upcoming TAPE EATERS 2 convention happening in Michigan in July. It’s gonna be VHStory, Tapeheads!

Groove on and on and on.

Interview By Josh Schafer

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