Category_Collecting, Category_Groovy Stuff, Category_Horror, Category_VHS, Category_Weirdness -

ZXQL3000 and Cinema Sewer Spew Forth a Video Mix-Tape to Melt Your Brain and Mess Your Pants: RETARD-O-TRON III!!

This past weekend I sat down with my good buddy and fellow voracious Videovore Earl Kess as we drilled our eyes into the mind-melting mixtape madness that is ZXQL3000 main brain Roelewapper’s RETARD-O-TRON III. Made in league with Robin Bougie’s (s)excellent publication CINEMA SEWER which scours the seedy underbelly of fringe cinema’s underbelly (you read that right!), this third installment of ROTIII arguably transcends the previous two, spewing forth a frothy overload of unbelievable, uncomfortable and at times totally embarrassing clips harvested from the deepest, dankest VHS dungeons and other unnameable appalling archives. Stitching together over an hour and a half of public access atrocities, loveably ludicrous fight scenes, gross-outs galore and some of the sleaziest, slimiest XXX insanity to ever penetrate your brain, editor Roelewapper often flips the clips, juxtaposing them against ironic, inappropriate and absolutely hilarious audio, sending the material into a completely backwards and bonkers context. All of this vile video vindication congealed with an impressive array of video editing skills makes this mix-tape most nausentertaining... but the real question is: can you stomach the avalanche of sordid perversion and perpetual uneasy feeling this collection posits? Perhaps before you dive in and accidentally swallow some of the cesspool water, you should hear a word from the curator himself…

Oh, these dudes have such sights to show you... And, yes, you will never unsee them. NEVER.

LM: How did the ROT Mix-tape come about? Can you give us a little history on it? ROELEWAPPER: Retard-O-Tron started as a project to gather all the strange, unusual, weird and fucked up movie clips I gathered over the years. Like many of you, I cut my teeth on B-movies, Troma, and the sleaziest stuff the local video rental would carry. But I wasn't a die hard movie buff. I gravitated more towards all the other stuff put out on video: shockumentaries, accidents and bloopers, weird special interest documentaries, trailer compilations, extreme sports, bizarre pornography, public access TV and anything that made you wonder how and why the hell this ended up on tape. FACES OF DEATH, or at least the sensationalist forbidden mystique that surrounded it, and the Japanarama compilations were the stuff I ate up. After years of collecting weird videos, I wanted the best (or worst) clips on one place. Having to dig up VHS tapes, DVDs or downloaded Divx movies and fast-forwarding to that one scene is a drag. So I decided to create a compilation, and was editing my first couple of clips when I got in touch with Robin Bougie of Cinema Sewer. This really got the ball rolling and we worked on the first Retard-O-Tron, pulling clips from both our collections. Retard-O-Tron Video Mixtape #1 was released in December 2005, and adhered much to the basic concept of a mixtape: it was mostly a compilation of unedited clips from all kinds of sources. This first mixtape became pretty popular, as far as underground video compilations go, and we made a second video mixtape in 2008, aptly called Retard-O-Tron Video Mixtape #2. This volume contained a lot more original edits and mixed up footage, something I really liked doing. You can really raise the whatthefuckyness of clips if you juxtapose it with the right (wrong?) material, so I experimented a lot more with that. And here we are, eight years after the first release. A shitload of VHS and DVD watched, edited and stuck together in a new compilation: Retard-O-Tron III.

Cover from the first of the CINEMA SEWER collections. Anybody up for a swim, eh?!?!

A lot of the stuff from the mix tape(s) is / are sourced from VHS. Where did you dig up these crazy chunks of analog obscurity!? Some of it came from buying tapes on flea markets, rental shops going out of business or thrift stores. But the most stuff I got through trading. I swapped a lot of DVD-R's through the years, and when you have access to the archives of Cinema Sewer or, you can dig up some real gems. I'm a computer nerd and I bless the fact that downloading gives you easy access to "everything", but as a video geek I know there still is so much undiscovered stuff out there. I appreciate the fact that people are transferring this to a digital medium and sharing it with others. It might get lost forever if they don't. Take the "white trash tapes". I don't know where it came from, but I got this DVD with camcorder recordings by people in trailer camps. Someone sent it to me. It's just guys filming eachother doing crack, fighting, being crazy. And few of these clips are by a guy called Randy, whose videos ended up in Retard-O-Tron III. I love the idea that this tape would've been lost if it weren't for some adventurous video geek buying this tape on a flea market, checking it out, and putting it on DVD for us to see.

And heeeeerrrreee's RANDY! This guy is GROSS.

Can you give us an idea of how you select the material? What is it that makes it a winner for the ROT mix tape? If it makes you a a double check and go "did that really just happen?", that's when you know you're on the right track. White trash playing DIY TV host in his trailer's bathroom, public access television that evokes vicarious shame for humankind, movie scenes that had a thousand reasons to be shot down but still made it to the theaters or VHS/DVD. It's amazing how much bad video footage is out there, stuff that a normal person would have abandoned halfway through shooting. That's the stuff that makes for good mix-tape material.

That's a dude (?) in an anatomically (in)correct monkey suit behind there... You figure the rest out...

Why do you think it's important to preserve VHS? A lot of the stuff on the mix is from VHS prints, so I assume it's only available on video? Or is it just the source that's available? I love the VHS format and its place in video history. If I find something worthwhile on VHS, and it's not already out there, I capture it to a digital format and pass it along to my fellow movie geeks. So I'm all about preserving the stuff that has been released on VHS, the actual video footage. I'm fond of the actual VHS tape for nostalgic reasons, but to be honest I find it a bit of cumbersome format for actual use. So unless the tape has emotional value or it's a true collectors item, I usually pass it on to a true VHSaholic after I captured its contents.

A still from one of the most uncomfortable and therefore unbelievable cooking shows on earth. The magic of Public Access.

VHS has a whole different look than any other media. Do you like that aesthetic aspect about it and how it contributes to the mix tape? Definitely. There's something about limitations in media that seem like a drawback at first, but end up being desired aesthetic when their era ends. Just look at the Instagram filters or the many "how to get that 70s film look" threads on all the video editing forums. It's the same for the VHS look. The VHS aesthetic carries a lot of extra meaning. The footage is usually from a very specific era, the 1980s or 1990s. It was the first format to allow video amateurs and aspiring film/TV makers to pick up a camera and start making things on a low budget. It allowed us to capture not only life through the lens of a camcorder, but also what was on TV. VHS allowed amateur editors to start experimenting and mixing up footage. And all this stuff, these two decades of video abundance, all got captured on that unmistakable grainy, wobbly, 4:3 format that we love so much. I love seeing that in a mix-tape.

No shortage of ooey-gooey old-school low budget goodness, either. It's a nice dose in-between the other insanity.

Okay, you knew this one was coming: why no VHS for this bad boy? Would you be interested in putting it out if someone wanted to team up with you? I actually considered this for the first Retard-O-Tron. I had pretty good equipment, I wanted to give back to the VHS peeps, and I had plenty of blank tapes. But it turned out just about everybody wanted it on DVD or as download. Maybe I was pitching it to the wrong demographic, though. If someone would want to give ROTIII a proper VHS release, I'd be all for it!

And just one more for good measure. You think this is weird? Man, this ain't nuthin. NOT EVEN CLOSE.

Anything else you'd like to share with the Videovores out there? If you wanna see what Robin and I dug up from our VHS archives, take a look at the Cinema Sewer Webshop! If you've found and rescued a gem from the VHS graveyard, share it. And if it's bizarre, obscure or mind-bogglingly weird... pass me a copy!

We sure will, Roel! And, hey, who knows? It just might end up in the next insane installment of the world’s most mind-bending mix-tape, right?! YES! This mix-tape is available RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW on the Cinema Sewer website on DVD-r, and that's the best you're gonna do until someone steps up, pushes aside the puke and commits this collection to the almighty tape! King of the Witches, we're lookin' at YOU. :)

Be weird, squint your eyes, get through it and Groove Always.

Josh Schafer

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