The dudes at VHShitfest worship the almighty video. They live, breathe and visually consume them on a daily basis. One look at their website, and you’ll be convinced. The reviews (both video and written), the cover galleries, right on down to the VHS wish list ooze with VHS admiration and obsession. And now, the guys at VHShitfest have set their sights on creating a documentary all about us Videovores, our collecting habits and our burgeoning culture. VHShitfest’s Dan Kinem pulled his eyeballs away from his VHS-fed TV screen to let us all know what’s crack-a-lackin’ over at VHShitFest HQ…. He even let me have a bite of his General Tso's Chicken nachos... and, yes, they were dope.
Click this here tape to check out what VHShitfest is all about. You're gonna dig.
Could you give us the lowdown on VHSHITFEST? Who's your crew? What is it that you do?
VHShitfest is a website that attempts to explore the sewers of cinema and uncover gems and shit on the turds. The 'Shit Crew consists of myself, our tech guy/master chef, Dabeedo, "The Sub Deliverer" aka Tim May, and our unofficial fourth member/getaway driver, Joel Smith. We do written reviews, do video reviews, make movies, collect tapes, and review Chinese buffets in our spare time.
Dan Kinem, Tim May and the illustrious Dabeedo. Joel Smith (the getaway driver) is not pictured for security reasons.
When / how did you get immersed in collecting VHS?
The VHS palace I live in now started being built almost two years ago. Before that, I had stupidly sold off a huge VHS collection thinking I could replace them on DVD. Took me awhile before I realized DVD is weak and VHS is where it's at.
How many tapes do you have? Where do you grab them?
I have close to 5,000 tapes right now as insane as that might sound. When I say I got tapes everywhere I literally mean everywhere. Tim's shed, my parent's basement, and at this moment, even a couple next to the toilet for some light reading. I often grab them from a few semi-local places that sell tapes about an hour away from me. Then I like to travel east and buy a bunch of tapes, too. The rest of them I get through trading and buying online.
Dan out on the hunt. This is what we call an "action shot". Notice his attention to detail: a true professional at work.
Why do you think you're so attracted to this format?
VHS is special to me for so many different reasons. I was first attracted to it because of how many movies are only on VHS and will never be released on another format. Then buying tapes brought back so many memories I had as a kid going into the mom and pop video stores and trying to drop a quarter onto a tiny circle in a fish bowl to win a free horror tape rental. I also love how VHS look and sound. There is nothing like watching an old gritty exploitation flick on tape. It adds to the overall experience of watching movies. I also love how much history there is. I love going to the video store or to my shelves and just looking at tapes and the artwork and exploring companies. It's so much fun and so interesting.
You guys do video reviews for flicks on the site, which I find to be both informative and totally hilarious. What was the inspiration to start creating these?
Thanks! The video reviews actually stemmed from some movies being so bad that words could not describe them (most notably Hellroller). We always would see people doing reviews and they were fun to watch, but we wanted to try to take them to the next level and do a couple that mixed film elements and narrative into the actual review. Some future video reviews we might make more simply, but we will still make some that push the limits. Who knows, maybe a feature-length film about us as reviewers being abducted by a cult of kids who love the Children of the Corn series. Throughout the movie we'll just trash all the movies and it will continue to piss these kids off.
VHShitFest's releases for their reviews of GORE-MET ZOMBIE CHEF FROM HELL and HELLROLLER. DIY or DIE.
Are these how you moved in the direction of making a documentary?
Yes, we also do little short videos where we go on hunts, go through new tapes, etc. and all of this stemmed into the documentary. We figured we could do something on a much bigger scale and when me and Matt Desiderio (the producer) came up with the idea to go all out and make this the best possible movie it can be all the pieces just fell into place.
There seem to be a slew of documentaries being made right now about VHS, but your doc looks to be more focused on the culture and collector community. Would you agree with that?
Yeah, it's a great thing to see other documentaries coming out on VHS history, but we wanted to make a film about the collectors and the current VHS culture made by actual collectors. Nothing like that had been talked about before and we figured it was the perfect time to do it. I also got the idea in my head to try to get as many collectors/horror fans' names on this movie as possible so it was like a collaborative piece made by the whole VHS collective.
What's the endgame for this doc? Are you looking for a theatrical release? Or do you just want to distribute it any way you can and spread analog awareness by any means necessary?
We want to get this distributed any way we can, even if we have to cut the cardboard big boxes ourselves and get the two VCRs out to transfer them. I want this movie to work as a reminder to people why VHS is so amazing but also to explain to the haters and people wondering out there why so many people hold VHS in such a special place in their hearts. I want to explain why thousands of people still buy what some would call a "dead format." And why VHS will never die. The message of, "VHS is the best" will be very evident after this movie is over.
What's up with NONE of our beloved Nicklodeon shows having a decent release? What gives?
It makes no sense!
Nickelodeon is sitting on a goldmine of amazing television and they won't release it. Imagine special edition season sets of Double Dare or Salute Your Shorts or hell, even that third season of Pete and Pete they promised us. It would be amazing. I have been building up a collection of recorded stuff from Nickelodeon in the 90s/80s with the commercials intact. I have a decent amount of stuff so far, but if anyone has anything else please contact me. I want to put it all out there so it isn't lost forever.
What's better than finding a massive stack of radical VHS tapes, all for a buck each?
There's absolutely nothing better than that, unless they were 50 cents. Describing that feeling of walking into a dirty old video store or thrift store and finding a bunch of cool tapes all for a dollar is nearly impossible, but with the help of as many people as we can get, we hope this documentary will come as close as possible to explaining that feeling. Please donate to the film, it would mean the world to me. You won't even be charged until the deadline if you donate! Check out our Kickstarter page to view our trailer and help us out!
Click on this image to be magically whisked away to VHShitfest's Kickstarter page and support this fantastic project!
Interview by Josh Schafer