The VHS format has come back in a big way in the last few years with an almost phoenix-style resurrection coming in no small part from the fans of the medium who wanted to keep it alive. Now with documentaries like Adjust Your Tracking (you can find an interview with creator Dan Kinem here) and Rewind This covering what it means to be a collector, it appears that the video cassette format has pretty much been covered. Not quite. Though these new documentaries cover more the love of collecting, the fans and the VHS medium, we have yet to see a documentary that covers the history of the video cassette, its distribution and the many avenues of history it covered in its 20 years as the number one home viewing format. Director Mike Malloy plans to change all that with his Kickstarter project Plastic Movies Rewound. It plans to cover the birth of the home video market, the trials and tribulations distributors went through, the many video formats that came out and lots more. Below is a video of some of the footage Mike has shot so far for his project and it is certainly impressive.
The trailer for the release of The Rambler has just come online and it is an interesting one to say the least. It is directed by Calvin Lee Reeder, one of 2007’s ’25 New Faces of Independent Film’ (according to Film Maker magazine) and whom you may have seen in V/H/S as Gary from the Tape 56 segment of that movie. But I first became aware of his work when I met him at a UK Comic convention promoting his latest film, a low budget movie called Jerkbeast which was a great little punk trash classic about the world’s worst punk rock band, one of the members just happens to be a monster (or a guy in a suit I was never sure on that detail!).
What I am sure about though is that film was a lot of fun. This film seems to be a lot darker. Here is the plot outline from YouTube channel FilmFestivalVideos.
[box_light]Upon release from prison, a solitary man known only as “the Rambler” embarks on a mysterious journey en route to reconnecting with his long-lost brother. Traversing treacherous back roads, lost highways, and isolated small towns, he unearths a multitude of bizarre and wickedly depraved slices of Americana.[/box_light]
But the film seems so much more than this. Here is the trailer.
The basic framework does appear to be just a guy from prison going on a journey of self discovery but the whole thing has a disturbing David Lynch style quality to it with quirky editing and musical choices to heighten this feeling of tension and unease. The scenes on show in the trailer enforce this notion even more with a large, hook handed boxer, the rambler with burn marks all over his face and a sinister collection of old people all greeting us as they greet the rambler. The lack of dialogue is also a key factor, meaning much more attention is given to the said images on show and the further into the trailer this goes, the weirder and more disturbing these images become.
The film does have some interesting set pieces to. Exploding houses, boxing matches, trippy encounters with women such as The Girl and the coven of old people all mixed in with a very western feeling backdrop are just a few things on show for the viewer to ponder over. The lack of big Hollywood names also helps to add to this films bizarre charm. The only people I could make out were the role of The Girl played by Lindsay Pulsipher who most people will know from her role in True Blood as Crystal Norris, and The Rambler himself played by Dermot Mulroney, a character actor who has popped up in numerous films and TV since the 80’s, but most recently worked on The Grey with Liam Neeson.
This, if nothing else this looks like quite an engaging movie and with the emphasis on unnerving audiences rather than bombarding them with explosions, it could be a good movie for anyone sick of the more main stream movie affairs. It does have explosions to if you fans of main stream movies want to give it a try!
For a lot of people the date April the 14th 1956 will mean nothing. But for VHS fans far and wide this was the birth of something very special. It was on this date at the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters Convention that the first VHS machine was revealed to awe-struck onlookers. The machine was the Ampex VRX-100. Looking at it now it appears a strange machine, but you can see the basic structure that would be incorporated into the more popular VCR players that helped to revolutionize the home entertainment business that we know of today. For more information on this epic event from near 60 years ago, you can read this transcript by Charles P.Ginsburg on Labguysworld website which goes into more detail.
So what does this have to do with YouTube? Well The Verge has reported that to celebrate this historic event for the fans of the VHS genre, YouTube has put a VHS button on random videos in their catalog that gives the video you are watching that VHS grainy and jumpy feel. Look on the video you are watching and there will be a little VHS icon which when selected gives the desired effect. Below is one of the videos that has the VHS option.
As a fan of VHS myself I found it a fun little quirky option for videos, but it did not entirely feel like the VHS viewing on an actually VCR player and feels a little to exaggerated for my tastes. Still this is yet another sign that VHS is rising from the ashes and for people who have no idea what the format looked like it is a great trip to the past. I did have problems with some YouTube videos with this option that it did not load the application properly, but do not be disheartened. Keep trying those videos and relive the era of the tapes.
Dread Central showcased the latest film trailer by promising upcoming director Adam Wingard (V/H/S Tape 56 segment). Called You’re Next it is a home invasion movie that was originally finished in 2011 and has now been acquired by Lionsgate (a studio well-known for its interesting horror output). Starring the likes of Wendy Glenn (666: The Prophecy), AJ Bowen (Hatchet 2), Joe Swanberg (V/H/S), Ti West (The House of the Devil) and Sharni Vinson (Bait), it is a home survival/slasher movie which focuses on the Davidsons coming together for a family reunion in a secluded vacation house, only to be set on by a gang of masked killers armed with axes and cross bows. Here is the recently released You’re Next trailer.
From looking at this trailer I have mixed thoughts on its originality. Home invasion movies are a staple of the urban horror movie and there are numerous nods to these other movies in this film. The masked killers invading a quiet family house parallels that of The Strangers (2008), while the generally gritty tone and helplessness felt by the protagonists and the viewers watching them feels a lot like Them (2006). In some instances with the booby traps and axe attacks it felt like a Friday the 13th movie. It could even go the way of The Zero Boys where the group turn on their attackers in the most extreme way. The stances of the killers in the below photo certainly suggests a Zero Boys influence.
However after saying all this it certainly does grab your attention, it has an ‘on the edge of your seat’ quality which certainly made me watch until the end. The group of people at this party seem quite likable which is an important factor in these style of movies, and the cast involved in this are some great up and coming players in the horror genre. Much like Ti West’s own House of the Devil or the new Lords of Salem movie by Rob Zombie, it has grittiness to it, which seems to be all the rage in recent horror movies. The nice mix of quick kills and slow, methodical stalking kills came across really well in the trailer and the use of “Perfect Day” song as the trailers score helps to heighten that tense mood even more. Something is defiantly not right here and it is not going to end well. Though Adam’s section on V/H/S was only average, it did have a great style to it, and some sequences were incredibly freaky. Here is hoping that same feeling of unease comes across in this movie, and if the trailer is anything to go by it is well on its way to scaring the pants off everyone.
You’re Next comes out on August 23rd. While you wait here are some promotional posters for the movie that showcases the psychotic murdering trio.
Now it is no secret that I am a huge fan of VHS, and since you’re reading this I would guess that you are too. In the last few years the VHS medium has been plucked from near extinction by devoted fans who just love the notion of the format. Homemade horror movies can be found online which proudly show that this is a VHS only film and sites such as Horror Boobs and Lunchmeat have sprung up all over the place supporting VHS. These VHS only movies are mostly made by fans of the medium and one such fan Dan Kinem, who with his fellow director Levi Peretic have created a documentary called Adjust Your Tracking, which focuses on what it is like to be a collector of VHS. I managed to grab an interview with Dan about the documentary, his other upcoming projects and why he loves VHS so much.
The Cochise Film Festival is a celebration of the low budget and independent films that often get overlooked by most mainstream reviewers and promoters. Recently started up by Adam A. Park (an independent film maker and actor in his own right with a great little movie called Zombie Mutation coming soon) and using films from his production label Trash House Cinema, he and his crew put together an interesting and eclectic selection of movies.
Here we have Mortuary (Embalmed is its UK name), which though released in the mid eighties was most certainly a film from the ’70s. The wardrobe is full of bright blues and the hair stylist was clearly quite taken with The Dukes of Hazard, because a lot of the cast look like they stepped right out of that show. Also when a roller disco is included, you know you are looking at the ’70s. Nothing dates a film more than a roller disco.
Chuck Norris. That should be enough to make any action hound jump up in joy. It’s a sequel that’s a prequel so we should be in for a wild ride here. We don’t learn much about Chuck other than he is bad ass (which we already knew) but we learn a little more about his surroundings and the reason he is a bad ass in part one. Okay, you want more plot information, well here you go. Chuck plays Colonel James Braddock, a mostly quiet, reserved guy keeping an eye on his troops. You see, it’s just after the Vietnam War and these poor soldiers have been held captive by the evil Colonel Yin for 10 years.
The VHS Vault opens to deliver a bizarre tale of tiny terrors on an island of death!