Tapeheads Tyler Martin and Tim Oliver Invite Lovers of Analog to Video Viewing Excellence with VHS Screenings in Salem, MA from ROT YOUR BRAIN!
One of the grooviest attributes of our favorite format is its ability to bring people together. With the ever-growing interest and appreciation for these magnetically magical slabs of analog, the connection between Tapeheads continues to expand through the endless wonders of the world weird web resultantly enlarging the analog-loving landscape to reaches previously unconsidered. But even with all of the VHSharing happening in analog-obsessed corners of the internet, it’s still just not the same as cracking open a couple cold ones and drinking in the joys of home video ecstasy with a bunch of other Videovores live and in-person. Cue Tyler Martin and Tim Oliver : two total Tapeheads that after a chance meeting in a café put their heads together to orchestrate some genuine cult film celebration of the analog inclination and help put Salem, Mass on the magnetic map. Read on, my fellow Videovores, and let the video ooze seep in as you prepare to ROT YOUR BRAIN!...
The brain-bendingly groovy RYB! logo from the hand of illustrator extraordinaire TallBoy! DIG IT. T-Shirt COMING MAD SOON!
Can you tell us a little about yourself and the impetus to start up ROT YOUR BRAIN!?
I’m Tyler and I co-host/ run ROT YOUR BRAIN! with my friend Tim.
I’ve lived in Salem with my wife for a few years and I love it. It is kind of like living in Sunnydale. This place fills up with horror fans and creeps every Halloween, but the year kind of gets lopsided. There’s tons of stuff to do for a few months, with carnival rides, junk food stands, and hoards of people in costume, but then everyone hides away for the rest of the year. In general, Boston does a better job of screening good flicks, but they’re always super late at night and I think driving home after midnight screenings sucks because I’m a total morning person. That was kind my inspiration for wanting to start ROT YOUR BRAIN!
My name is Tim and I like applietinis, records, and all things VHS!
ROT YOUR BRAIN! started when I met Tyler at the café/bar where I work, and we started talking about cult flicks and VHS. The next thing we know we’re hosting a monthly screening in downtown Salem, MA.
Yeah, it was kind of random. We had been talking about Italian horror and exploitation flicks for a while, and it just came up in conversation one day. A week later we started organizing.
My whole thing with ROT YOUR BRAIN! was that I wanted to take what theaters in Boston were doing with cult screenings and bring something like that to the North Shore.
We wanted to have another hangout in town, where we could watch movies, stay out (sort of) late, and have fun. It has been great to meet a bunch of new people and to have a way to share some of the flicks I’ve been hoarding and obsessing over the years.
The radical cut-and-paste flyer for RYB!'s first screening featuring R.O.T.O.R.! DIY or DIE, MANG!
You’ve got a few shows in the books now. Can you tell us about the flicks you’ve shown, and why you went for those particular titles? All of these bad boys are viewed via VHS, right?
We always have our screenings on the last Saturday of the month and our fourth is this month (September). They’ve all been screened from VHS tapes from our personal collections. At this point one of my extra VCRs just lives at the theater for ROT YOUR BRAIN! nights.
The first screening was R.O.T.O.R. (1987) which is a lot of fun, especially with some beer and a crowd. The dialogue of the film gets sort of poetic about humanity, police, and dystopia, but it’s also just an inept Texan Terminator/Robocop rip-off with a cowboy scientist, a wisecracking robot, a chubby killer cop, and a female bodybuilder. In my mind, this contrast makes R.O.T.O.R. super endearing.
Second up was Popcorn (1991), which has always been one of my favorite late slashers. It’s just a solid flick, and I love the film within a film and cult/snuff elements.
The last one was Snake Eater (1989), which is a personal and absolute favorite of mine. This is really the movie that got me into delving deep into the underbelly of ridiculous and obscure 80s and early 90s action movies.
The screening was awesome. As Tyler mentioned, these are all shown on VHS and this time there were some tracking issues with the Snake Eater tape for a minute or two. The crowd actually clapped and cheered when it happened and totally went along with it. It was great!
Yeah, Snake Eater ruled. Tim turned me on to the film and I luckily found a copy while digging in Las Vegas this summer. It is part action, part biker flick, part tough cop flick, part hicksploitation, and it’s pretty Canadian. People should definitely be on the lookout for a copy.
Next up is The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972), which we’re doing with Tallboy to coincide with a print and VHS tape he just released at Mondocon for Phone Booth Gallery. We’ll be screening a copy of his tape and giving away a copy of the print at the screening.
We have something special and horror-related in the works for October, but we don’t want to go into details just yet.
Another DIY cut-and-paste masterpiece from the RYB! screening of POPCORN! Don't fix it if it ain't broke, mang!
How’s the crowd (inte)reaction / vibe at RYB? Cheers? Jeers? Gotta be some BEERS! When I went to Snake Eater it was an avalanche of sauced up laffs, mang!
Crowd interactions have been awesome! The audience definitely gets it and, when they have something funny to offer up to the group, it’s golden. The screenings are also BYOB, which rules. It kind of helps people feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and sort of just barfing out what they think of the movies.
Yeah, absolutely. The crowd has been really cool and supportive. Each month we’ve been totally packed and people seem to like the stuff we’re showing. At this point, I’ve met some really good friends through ROT YOUR BRAIN!
We’re really trying to make it a fun and inclusive community thing, so we’re going to continue moving between genres and themes to keep people interested. We don’t want to become all about horror or funny “bad” movies or something like that. We just want to continue showing underappreciated or underseen films that we like. That’s really the only criterion. Sometimes that will mean cracking jokes and throwing popcorn at the screen. Others months will be about hanging out and enjoying a solid film you might not have known about or seen.
A still from SNAKE EATER with a shot of RYB!'s too groovy tapeticket and pin sets! Dang, these are RAD.
You just put out a too groovy shirt for RYB! with a design from illustrator extraordinaire TallBoy. How’d you get hooked with him? Where can we grab those groovy threads? Any more excellent analog-inclined accessories in the works?
I met Tallboy in a college English class when I was wearing a shirt that was printed at the shop where he was working. We got to talking and realized we were both fueled by the same bizarre shit, and I ended up getting a part time gig at the same print shop. I was familiar with his art before I met him though because he did some work for some bands and Coliseum, which was a local skate shop.
His art definitely reflects a lot of what I’m into and I couldn’t think of anyone better to work with when the idea of a logo came up. He definitely knows his shit and he has one of the best work ethics I’ve ever seen. Dude is definitely capable of greatness!
The shirt and design came out great. It was exactly what we wanted and Tallboy definitely nailed it. It’s a six color print on black or white shirts and looks awesome. I can’t wait for people to see the final product this week.
If people are into it but not local, they can also grab one from us at: rotyourbrain.bigcartel.com
These will also be available in a couple local shops, beyond just at the screenings.
In terms of accessories, we do a unique VHS tape ticket and pin set corresponding to the movie for all the ROT YOUR BRAIN! screenings, but we also have some other items in the works this year, which we’ll release through the online store mentioned above.
A look at the RYB! shirts available SOON! Illustration by TallBoy, mang! Grab up these groovy threads RIGHT HURR.
Why do you want to show flicks on VHS? What is it about the format that does it for you, and inspires you to share it out?
Outside of working with Tim on ROT YOUR BRAIN! and being a collector, I am also a professional librarian. In general, accessing, sharing, documenting, and preserving media is important to me. Without even getting into how awesome VHS art and packaging is, it really comes down to a couple things: First, there are a huge number of awesome films that were only released on VHS that really need to be seen and reconsidered. Second, I think VHS inspires reflection on what home video used to mean to our culture, the role that the video store played in our lives, and how we spent time with friends and family. Finally, I think there is something really fun and interesting about even just watching a classic on an older format. I have Ghostbusters on Blu-Ray, but I love my old pan and scan VHS copy. Same with any number of horror films, where watching a dark VHS is much scarier than in crisp and bright HD.
I like that VHS is so unpredictable. During the whole transition to DVD, people got so caught up in the cutting edge aspect or how clean and efficient it was. I guess I equate it to the transition from vinyl/cassettes to CDs. The “lesser” formats were so much more interactive in the sense that, if the tape had some tracking issues, you may have to get up to adjust it. You have to flip records to hear a complete album or hand wind a cassette if it gets caught in your tape deck.
Also, even when DVDs were gaining popularity, skateboard companies were still putting out videos on VHS and didn’t seem to take to DVDs right away, so I was still actively seeking these tapes out. From there I just kind of fell into hunting for other shit on VHS.
The totally bitchin' print from TallBoy for THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK. See the VHS and have a chance at a print at this weekend's RYB! screening. CHECK 'ER OUT, MANG!
You’re a collector yourself. Can you tell us a little bit about your Videovore habits? What’s been unwinding inside your VCR?
Yeah, I’ve been collecting tapes since about college and I regularly go tape hunting with my wife, who is very willing to climb over piles of junk in flea markets, thrift stores, or whatever to grab a new tape for the collection. It is a part of our vacations and we road trip around New England a lot to go hunting in new places.
There used to be a store near where I grew up that regularly bought out video stores, so buying tapes was really easy and they’d let me go in the back to dig through boxes before they went on the shelves. It wasn’t until that place stopped selling tapes that I got into traveling to hunt for VHS, tracking down closing video stores, or going to conventions, like Cinema Wasteland.
In terms of what I’ve been watching lately, it has been pretty random and not entirely VHS: Suburban Commando (1991), Black Valor (1973), The Samurai Trilogy (1954-56), The Cat from Outer Space (1978), Race with the Devil (1975), Double Trouble (1992), and Gang War in Milan (1973) were all recent and awesome.
I tend to be selective in my collecting habits and I mostly stick to action and skateboarding videos on VHS. Lately, I’ve been re-watching The Search for Animal Chin (1987) and Gleaming the Cube AKA A Brother's Justice (1989) a lot. Also, Cards of Death, the first collaboration between Bleeding Skull and Mondo is awesome!
What’s next for RYB, mang?
My main goal is really just longevity. I want to keep screening flicks for people on a monthly basis and grow the ROT YOUR BRAIN! community through collaboration with friends, artists, like-minded movie freaks, and local businesses on future events. I love Salem and want to still be doing this in a few years.
Anything else you wanna shout out to all the Videovores hangin’ loose in LUNCHMEAT Land?
I’d definitely suggest that everyone reading this check out Tallboy at tallboyart.com and nightwatchstudios.com
If you’re in the Salem/North Shore/Boston, MA area you should check out a ROT YOUR BRAIN! screening and Salem in general. The theater is right downtown and there is a ton to do, see, eat, drink, and buy in that area -- records, good beer, comics, spell books, coffee, videogames, sci-fi themed pizza, black candles, etc.
Yo, I don’t how I missed the sci-fi themed pizza when I was up there, but you best bet when I go back up I’m gonna seek that out and chomp down on that saucer-shaped pizza pie, no lie! YES! Tyler and Tim are totally throwing down some too groovy video viewing parties with ROT YOUR BRAIN!, so if you’re in their area, you just gotta groove on over and get analog awesome with these dudes and their radical crew. You’ll be glad ya did, mang. And be sure to stay tuned to their Official Facebook page and Official Instagram for all the updates on their VHScreening spectaculars and future analog-lovin’ collaborations. I have every analog confidence it's gonna absolutely RULE.
Groove and Groove and BYOB5EVA.