Video Vittles from the Vault: Rob Hauschild dares you to rummage through his TAPES FROM THE TRASH BIN!
Amassing a respectable VHS tape collection over the years, I have often found myself knee-deep in some interesting, seedy and sometimes outright strange locales. This obsession has more than once whisked me from the safety of the carpeted and controlled-air sanctuaries of the local video store and into the haunted attics of apartment buildings, the stinking, wet basements underneath Chinatown nail salons, and inside the most stain-infested fire hazard adult video stores on the east coast – where, I dare say with a smile, most of the odd, forgotten and bizarre VHS can be found these days. But I assure you good reader: each and every empty clamshell, mismatched box and snapped tape of this ongoing journey into NTSC nirvana has been worth it... because as we all know, one man’s Sledgehammer in the original World Video Pictures big box is another man’s Police Academy 3: Back in Training on Blu Ray. Here in Tapes from the Trash Bin, I will feature some of the more offbeat, ugly and truly forgotten tapes from my collection running the gamut of home video hell, most of which were destined for out-of-print status long before anyone dared pop them in a player or unloaded them, shrink wrap still clinging, at their next garage sale.
DatDatDatDatDatDatDatDatDatDat!!! KILL 'EM ALLLLLLLL, SUCKAAAAAAA!
Rock N’ Roll #1: Fully Automatic Machine Gun Fun (1984) Lenny Magill Productions
MOV - Mail Order Video
OK, remember that scene in Jackie Brown where there is a ‘Chicks with Guns’ video playing? Yeah, those chicks in bikinis firing automatic weapons ad nauseum. Well, the Rock N’ Roll series is from where Tarantino stole the idea (oh, wait, QT stole and idea, really?). The good news about all this is that there is nothing quite like watching a pretty girl in high heels unleashing 550 rounds per minute from an Israeli Uzi; the bad news is Rock N’ Roll #1, while quite the $1.99 video store treasure, was the wrong volume to find this (Volume 3 is the real score). Instead I got two hours of camouflaged fat, hairy paramilitary thugs taking TEC 9s to targets. Cool, but just not as COOL as it could have been, and after watching these maniacs fire M-10s, PKs and AK-47s in the desert, not to mention the assortment of drunken fans hanging around dangerously close to the action, all I could come away with is that I just witnessed what can be best described as right wing militia porn.
No caption needed for this bad boy. The juxtaposition of Vinny P. and football players is almost too much already.
Strange But True Football Stories (1987)
Director: Steve Seidman
Writer: Steve Seidman
NFL Films Video
Peanut butter and jelly. Rum and Coke. Tango and Cash. Vincent Price…and Football? Yeah, I thought the same thing, what is the prince of horror cinema, a man not known for his burly sports appeal, doing as the host of an NFL, direct-to-video, glorified trailer reel? Michael Jackson, that’s what. Seems in the wake of the worldwide success of Thriller, Vincent Price was back on the map as someone with mainstream spooks appeal, so he spent his last years working, including hosting this hour-long montage of gridiron goofs and guffaws patched together like some ersatz Twilight Zone. Leaving the actual narration to the NFL, Price merely appears every few minutes in front of hand-drawn "horror" backdrops and spouting off double entendres thinly connecting weirdness to the not-so-weird world of football – and remember, this is 1987, so the big story on this VHS is the phenomenon surrounding "Refrigerator" Perry and his “strange” journey into super-stardom. And while it’s always a treat to take in Vincent Price, and he lends credibility to even the worst project (Dead Heat anyone?), the NFL staff should have stayed clear writing for the horror legend, and even further away from the rap song they wrote for Price at the end of the tape, which makes this VHS worth its price ten fold.
Vincent Price “Strange But True NFL Rap” Lyrics
(set to Thriller knock off beats)
Shadows cover every patch of ground
Doom emits a frightened sound
An ill wind begins to howl and thrash
The referee does the Monster Mash
You try to scream but it’s too late
You can’t escape the hand of fate
Grim faces regard you with a menacing glance
Slimy things crawl up your pants
The channel that can’t be changed mesmerizes you
With images that are strange…but TRUE!
Yes, those two dudes are fighting on top of an electrified car that's barreling over a train while their assumed clones duke it out simultaneously in other areas. Damn, I love analog cover deception!
Peking Express (1974)
Hwa Kuo Movie Studio Company
Director: Mei Chun Chang
No kids, this is not a home video from that Chinese take out place in your town; it’s a misguided and murky fight fest with one of the more convoluted plot recipes this side of Mandarin Duck. First off, leave it to a video company with the sideways thinking to call themselves “VCR Presents” (that’s like a frozen pizza made by a company called “Oven Presents”) to release this completely un-presentable piss pot of a clamshell find onto an unsuspecting public who were only hungry for some good ole fashioned chop-socky madness. Not that this movie is without fights, and fights, and fights – and more fights. People fight on boxes, on trains, in trains, under trains. The problem is the placement of the camera seems to be result of the director saying “Wouldn’t it be great to focus on everything BUT the fight during this fight scene,” or “Let’s see this fight from the perspective of a rock which is buried 4 inches in the ground.” Ok, you get the point, but I give some credit for the plot: The remains of the fabled Peking Man have been found, and it’s up to our heroes to cart the bones somewhere so its mere existence could change the fate of the world, or at least the world of the Chinese. But what I thought was going to be Horror Express with Kung Fu just turned out to be Fast-Forward Express.
Little did this poor man realize, the woman he was trying to rescue was the sister of The 50 ft. Woman... Bummer.
Panic Station (1986)
Seon Film Productions
Director: Ian Pringle
Writer: Doug Ling, Ian Pringle Elizabeth Parsons
Academy Home Entertainment
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh- ahem! Hey, thanks for waking me up, great LUNCHMEAT readers. I was just watching a little movie called Panic Station, and wanted to tell you all about it when it seems I dozed off. Seems out friends over at Academy Entertainment have done it once more – and they really got me this time. They took a sleepy little foreign character study about two guys at a remote outpost who do nothing for an hour and a half but talk and stare at monitors and twist dials and eat and talk and stare at monitors and twist…. And they sold it to me as a horror movie! And with all their fancy-schmancy illustrating of the clamshell cover and lack of any stills from the film on the back, but a great, chilling description, boy was I ever taken…again!
Academy Home Video: 15
So, this is right up there with Apartment Zero, Killer Workout, Terror House, Wild Riders, Blood Mania and The Mummy and the Curse of the Jackals – and any other Academy VHS I’ve been cinematically roofied by in the past. Of course with one exception, the Philip Michael Thomas super sleaze n’ cheese classic Death Drug, which almost, just almost, makes up for Panic Station.
Living proof that the world is a weird, unbelievable place.
De Mago de Oz de Frank Baum (1985)
Amarillo Rojo Café
Directors: Angélica Ortiz, Ramón Téllez
Writers: Frank L. Baum, Angelica Ortiz
Million Dollar Video Corporation
Every so often, a movie comes along that really tests your depths of obscure movie love. But then a movie like De Mago de Oz de Frank Baum comes along and tests your fucking reality. And here I thought my cinema training ended when I witnessed the Turkish Wizard of Oz (Ayşecik ve Sihirli Cüceler Rüyalar Ülkesinde) and its third world dirt for dollars approach to movie-making – well this movie makes what the Turks did look like James Cameron with a blank check from the Vatican. Years ago, while stocking up on honey-BBQ pork rinds and cheap beer at a local bodega, out of the corner of my eye I caught a small rack of Spanish-language VHS. Buried under dubbed versions of Hollywood fare and Mexican cowboy movies was this – packaged as perhaps a Spanish language version of the timeless classic. Nothing could be further from the truth, as this was not just some over-dubbed version or even a low budget knock-off following the exploits of Dorothy and her pals, but, get this, poorly-staged, live school play version of the Wizard of Oz – musical numbers, mistakes and all! Did I mention it was a school play? Did I mention it was in Spanish? Did I mention I never bought enough beer that night for this VHS? It takes balls to attempt such a play on stage, but it takes the cojones of King Kong to actually release it on VHS – which is just what is so impressive about this Psychotronic bomb from the barrio.
No attempts at witty copy here. Just look at the track list. BUY THIS. Or at least find someone who has this and try to hang out with them.
How to Break Into Heavy Metal (Without Getting Screwed) (1988)
Director: Aleks Rosenberg
Integrated Video Marketing
Hey, if you ever wanted to break into heavy metal, to get screwed or not, then you are in luck. This VHS sets the record straight and dishes the real dirt on breaking into the business of hair metal directly from the booze and drug-soaked brains of those who already have done all the work and are ready to share their secrets with you. The only glitch is: if you are trying to break into heavy metal, you are about 25 years too late. But on this tape you will get a step by step, insiders guide to breaking into metal, like “Don’t sell out,” “Work hard,” “Make T-shirts,” “Watch out for STDs” and more! Hear the whisky-assisted tales of money, power and sex from those who have grabbed the golden axe at the top of the metal food chain: like Lizzy Borden, Armored Saint, Grim Reaper, Laaz Rocket, White Lion and Warlock – all of whom ironically now work at food chains. But, there are never enough 80s metal bands on camera to quench our thirst for ridiculous commentary, raging egos and misguided predictions on fame (not to mention the spandex) – making this VHS the perfect companion piece to the legendary The Decline of Western Civilization: The Metal Years.
Yo, Adriehhhh... I don't even know what movie I'm in anymore.
A Man Called Rainbo (1990)
The Anonymous Rebel Filmmakers
Director: David Casci
Writer: Scott Altizer
Section Eight Video
Thank the gods that the “Anonymous Rebel Filmmakers” chose to stay anonymous after unleashing this sometimes very promising, once in a while funny but overall misguided attempt at a What’s Up Tiger Lilly meets Kentucky Fried Movie misfire. The group took the 1970 Stallone movie No Place to Hide (aka Rebel) and overdubbed, recut and altogether butt fucked the movie into a comedy about a guy (Stallone, as “Jim Ramrock”) who owes a record club six dollars and ninety five cents – oh, and some radioactive poop the FBI is looking for. Add to that very dated (even for 1990) spoofs of Richard Nixon, black militants, the Vietnam war, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Airplane, The Fly, Wizard of Oz and the Mr. Coffee machine! It’s mostly though a riff on Stallones’ celebrity via his Rocky and Rambo successes, but not as lawsuit-inviting as you would like it to be. Add to that endless burp and fart jokes with sound effects, a ‘scratch n’ sniff’ running gag lifted from John Water’s Polyester and some idiotic insert shots to flesh out the new plot and you have a result that is often more ambitious than side-splitting. Though that’s not to say there are not moments of sheer comic genius seeping out from edges – but they’re covered in so much corny sub marijuana humor that one has to think this was simply a big inside joke that seemed to leak out onto home video – which we are all the better for regardless. This one is at least worth its weight in plastic and tape as one of the rarest oddities from the VHS era.
Indiana Who? Nope. Never heard of 'em.
Robbers of the Sacred Mountain (1982)
Director: Bob Schulz
Writer: Arthur Conan Doyle, Olaf Pooley, Walter Bell
Prism EntertainmentWe all suffered from Raiders of the Lost Ark – wait, I should clarify, we all suffered from the video shelves full of Raiders-inspired knock offs, rip offs, retilings and repackagings on VHS. Who among us can forget that all-time classic Indiana Jones inspired Italo-madness Treasure of the Four Crowns, and who the hell would want to forget it? Everyone got into the Raiders game, and you couldn’t visit a video store without some post-Indy tale taking up space on the shelf – we had Raiders of Atlantis, Raiders in Action, Ark of the Sun God, The Further Adventures of Tennessee Buck, King Solomon’s Mines, The Lost Empire, Treasure of the Amazon, The Mines Of Kilimanjaro and many, many more that deserve their own article in these pages (note that, LUNCHMEAT editors - ED NOTE: NOTED). Robbers of the Sacred Mountain may be one of the sleepiest of the bunch, and is a rehash of the lamer sounding Falcon’s Gold, a made for cable movie based on a story by Arthur Conan Doyle – but it doesn’t show. What does show is a complete lack of adherence to the rules of action, or those of the proper Raiders of the Lost Ark rip-off. An adventurer treks to Mexico in search of some meteorite fragment or another that some ruthless and mucho lame-o baddie want to use in his time-stopping laser weapon. Meanwhile, lots of stuntmen fall, flop and fumble along the way as the hero searches for the treasures hidden in actress Blanca Guerra’s underwear and she brushes off fake spiders and bugs. And I’m making it sound much more thrilling than it is – just marvel at the exciting Raiders-inspired box for this one and leave the rest to your imagination.
And there's plenty more Tapes from the Trash Bin to be had in all the future issues of LUNCHMEAT, you cravers of the crappy! You can bet your teeth! And be sure to pop on over to WILD EYE RELEASING and check out all the groovy goodies they got bumpin' around over there. Rest assured that LM and WER will be working together sometime soon to bring you all some mad groovy analog amazement.