Toronto-Based Tapehead Justin Decloux and His Laser Blast Film Society Imprint Celebrate VHS on the Big Screen with Screenings Straight from a Tape Source to Bring You Laser Blast Video Nights at Royal Cinema!
The logo pulled straight from a Laser Blast bumper! Wonky tracking is a magnetic must, mang.Hey-yo, Justin! How’s it goin’, mang? Tell us a little bit about Laser Blast Film Society and how it came to be. Thanks for having me! The Laser Blast Film Society came into existence for the most noble of reasons – I wanted an excuse to watch films with friends! The name was picked while staring at a bunch of VHS tapes on a shelf and putting “film society” after their title: “Tomb of the Blind Dead Film Society? Brain Damage Film Society? Bird with the Crystal Plumage Film Society? Laser Blast Film Society!? YEA!” I bought a cheap projector and we screened stuff on each other’s apartment walls with an open door to friends/acquaintances/vagabonds policy. We did double bills every week at each other’s apartment and it would encompass everything under the sun – Killer Cars Night, Walter Hill Night, Forgotten French New Wave Night, 80's Jackie Chan Night, and on into infinity. We were always open to suggestions from regular attendees because LASER BLAST is all about anything awesome and illuminating. A regular of the weekly screenings, Peter Kuplowsky , was offered an opportunity to program a night at the awesome Royal Cinema in our hometown of Toronto. He came to me with the idea of expanding LASER BLAST into a monthly film series which would focus on VHS-era titles. Seeing that VHS was where LASER BLAST was born it seemed like a natural fit. And so LASER BLAST VIDEO NIGHTS came into creation!
VHS-inspired poster for LBFS's very first Video Night featuring the essential analog slab TRUTH OR DARE? This movie 5EVA.You guys exclusively screen analog era flicks, straight from a VHS source. Why go for this angle, and what is it about the VHS format that attracts you so? From the get go with LASER BLAST VIDEO NIGHT, it was always about doing something special. The feel of VHS is so singular, but rarely associated with the big screen and the group experience, that we thought it would be cool to bring the magic of VHS to the biggest public possible. VHS has such an organic feel, like celluloid (but different!), and it's a blast to see it rock a popcorn-munching crowd. I love giving people a ONCE-IN-A-LIFTETIME THEATRICAL EXPERIENCE and Peter is the same way. We've done live pre-shows (we had wrestlers duke it out before our screening of HOLOGRAM MAN), singing a song about the film, or doing a complete re-edit of the feature to make it feel like it was taped off THE LASER BLAST CHANNEL – with custom commercials and station bumpers included. Sometimes we have even had the chance to have a live special guest attend – like Mark Cutforth, the co-writer of UNMASKED PART 25, to do a Q&A after the screening. It's insane that UNMASKED 25 hasn't gotten any kind of DVD release yet and it's gratifying that we can bring it to fresh eyes.
Totally rad poster rendition of the analog-only horror spoof spectacular UNMASKED PART 25 from the hand of artist Steve Manale. Whoever has this tape / poster combo from the show, let's talk.What are some of the flicks you’ve screened thus far? You just did a screening of the insane video era slab HAWK JONES. How’d that go? We've done stuff all across the board – from slashers like Tim Ritter's TRUTH OR DARE, to nutzoid kung-fu flicks like SUPERFIGHTS, and out there oddities like RUNAWAY NIGHTMARE. We are open to anything and we're a little obsessed with screening things that haven't been seen on the big screen for decades. We have a love affair with PM ENTERTAINMENT and have shown two of their films in the last year. HAWK JONES went over like gangbusters because it's one hell of a fun time and it deserves a massive audience. Someone afterward straight up asked me “Why don't they make films like that anymore?” I hope the people that attended will tell their friends, who will tell their friends, and so on and so forth. That's the #1 goal of LASER BLAST – to spread the love of forgotten films.
Radical re-imagined poster art by Leigh Young for the LBVN VHS screening of the insano cult classic HAWK JONES. This movie is unreal and I love it.With each event, you work with an artist to create new poster artwork and a single copy of the VHS with that artwork, which I think is just too groovy. Who are some of the artists you’ve worked with? And you give away a copy of the poster and that lone VHS copy to one lucky Videovore each event, right? We've worked with so many talented people that have been generous enough to give us their time and talents: Trevor Henderson, Matthew Therrien, Shira Haberman, Steve Manale, Andrew Barr and so many more. I don't know how you can look at the kick-ass art that Leigh Young whipped up for HAWK JONES and not want to see the film IMMEDIATELY. Every screening we make a small poster run of the event art and make a custom VHS to screen that night (with custom cover, trailers, and exclusive pre-show material on the tape) and we raffle it off to one lucky attendee. It's an only-one-in-existence item.
A happy Videovore with her VHScore and poster from THE CARRIER screening! That's Justin to the left looking like someone told him this is the last picture he'll ever take and Peter with the dapper headwear.Why do you think it’s important to keep appreciating and celebrating VHS? Why should people never stop watching? VHS brought the power of film to the people. For the first time, you could watch anything you wanted to, but at the same time, because it offered so much choice, a lot of things fell through the cracks that will never move to the next format. We have to go out there, hunt that stuff down, and discover things before they’re lost to the sands of time. It's important not to be a passive viewer. It's the last consumer video format that will physically change by the act of watching it – and there's something kind of magical about that.
Another analog-inspired poster for this slice of action-packed video era obscurity. Never heard of it? CHECK DIS OUT, MANG.Magnetic Magic, indeed, my man. What’s next for Laser Blast? This month we're screening the criminally under seen Canuxploitation flick SIEGE (A.K.A SELF-DEFENSE) which is a Halifax take on ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (set in an apartment building!). It doesn't have the same easy hook as something like HAWK JONES, but it's a pure quality product and we have one hell of a night lined up that no film fan will want to miss – perhaps an unreleased version of the film will screen? We're still working on it! From there, cinematic world domination.
A close-up peek at one of the 1:1 VHS tapes specially made for the screenings packed with special material. LOOKIN' GOOD.Any other rewind-inclined words for the mass of Videovores out there? There's always a fantastic forgotten film out their waiting to be discovered. Never give up the search and never think you've seen it all. Oh, and it's important to rewind because the person you lend the film can start watching it ASAP. Also, I'd like to give a shout out to the other Toronto-based VHS screening group VIDEO VENGEANCE that's co-run by my pal Dan Gorman and his pals Casey Lyons and Greg Legros. They do an awesome job and everyone in Toronto should come see both our screenings or else regret it for the rest of their lives!
And we all know rewind regret is the last thing on any Videovore’s list, mang! If you’re in the Toronto area, Tapeheads, you best be sure groove on over to the Laser Blast Video Night (stay updated HERE and HERE) and experience pure analog bliss on the big screen with a chance to obtain radical re-animated artwork on limited edition posters and a one-of-a-kind chunk of home video fun to feed to your VCR. What more could a Videovore ask for? How about another group of radical dudes celebrating and appreciating analog glory?! As Justin mentioned above, fellow videonaut Dan Gorman and crew run a VHS-screening spectacular called Video Vengeance, and they totally rule. Super-bitchin’ high-fives to both Laser Blast and Video Vengeance for keeping the analog entertainment up on the big screen in Canada, and spreading the love that only VHS can bring. Dudes, we VHSalute you!