Sunday, February 28

Let's keep the heat on MGM to unleash THE VIDEO DEAD on DVD!

Two o' clock in the morning, I finally rolled out of bed, giving up on any further sleep. With my hair looking like Yahoo Serious, my feet tumbled down the stairs in search of the fridge. The crackling of the plastic bag containing leftover Taco Bell and the snap of Miller Lite tabs sounds incredible in the dead of night. Back in front of the television, I decide to open the vault and let the smell of slowly rotting magnetic tape and twenty-year-old cardboard wash over me. Despite having thirty-eight years worth of viewing material, I simply can't decide what in the hell to watch. Titles like Just Before Dawn, The Rue Morgue Massacres, and Night of the Howling Beast catch my glassy retinas. I eventually pick up a recently purchased, cheap copy of The Video Dead that doesn't even have a box.

This 1987 direct-to-video zombie homebrew isn't new to me. I've seen it twice already and wrote this tiny entry nearly one year to the day. I have no idea why I decided to give it a third unspooling through the ol' VCR since this one failed to really grab me before. Though by the time of my fourth beer and second chicken wrap, I'll be damned if The Video Dead didn't suddenly click--big time. This is a rare occurrence, as any rabid horror knows, a moment tantamount to Ash suddenly exclaiming "Groovy!", the drunk Santa-looking uncle from Troll 2 commanding "Stonehenge Magic Stone!", and Rhodes screaming "Choke on 'em!" all at once. Wading through mountains of crap, it's a plane of higher viewing that all movie buffs constantly strive for, but something that usually happens by accident. An experience probably unknown to your loved ones, those you work with, and those who bought tickets to Cop Out this weekend. Perhaps it was the beer or the ten packets of Hot Sauce, but The Video Dead became one of my tried and true comfort go-tos last night.

This isn't to say I consider this homely still MIA on DVD number a classic, but it's got spirit. Unlike a good portion of early horror DTVers, Robert Scott's film doesn't feel created solely for its great VHS cover. Any weathered tape collector is aware of the phenomena of cover art being a mask for truly crap content. This holds especially true for direct-to-video flicks in the '80s and preys upon our admitted weak knees over gloriously "HORROR" covers screaming at us from across the room. Hell, you could sell me on a video of Barney & Friends if the cover depicted a beautifully illustrated naked vivisected woman chained to a stonewall using all the colors of the rainbow with the torturer being Barney. Getting back to the point, the proof is in the slightly outdated Dollar Tree pudding when it comes to The Video Dead. It aims to place its meager resources in delivering on the promise of some goofball laughs, budget grue, zombies that look like burnt leaves, and a weekend rental well spent.

This is presumably old news to many of you guys, but be sure to support Chris MacGibbon's MySpace campaign to get The Video Dead a legit DVD release. Also check out this Bloody Disgusting interview with MacGibbon from back in November. We might be as close as ever to seeing this fun, grotty zombie flick finally pass into the digital age. It deserves inclusion in MGM's Midnite Movies line-up.


Scare Sarah said...

My support it there for a DVD release. What a classic.

Mmm, Taco Bell

Lee Russell said...

I've never seen this one. I'd support a DVD release, too, just to finally check it out. Are MGM still releasing Midnite Movies, or have they retired the line again?

DrunkethWizerd said...

Awesome entry Jayson. I've only seen this once back in 1995... but I remember that it toadally rocked!

Anthony1138 said...

The Video Dead is one of the most craptacular examples of 80's low budget horror video. It's a terribly made movie, by just about any standards. The acting is laughable at best, the plot is about as tight as 42nd St hooker and the effects are stunningly bad. But I agree with you Jason, it has character.

I first saw this as a youngster (though I don't remember if it was a video rental or on TV) and have revisited it several times as an adult. It's definitely an acquired taste, but surely a staple in any '80s horror film freak's collection. It always stands as a go to on a night when you want some fun cheesy horror.

I'm with you on MGM getting this one released. Too bad the Midnite Movies line looks to be all washed up. But perhaps there's hope with all of the beautiful HD prints of yet to be released Midinite Movies that have been floating around on MGMHD for the past few years. MGM was better before the buy-out... Sony/20th Century Fox sucks!

Anonymous said...

I fucking love this movie. And I support your post and the efforts of others fully in getting this a proper release. Craptacular but oh so magical.

Explosive Action said...

It has aired on MGM HD a few times apparently (we don't get that here in Australia), and an excellent 16:9 Widescreen fan-made DVD-R is doing the rounds if you know where to look.

KFelon said...

Fox briefly tried to continue the Midnite Movie line, but after one batch of films that included The Witchfinder General, and the 70s Tales From the Crypt double feature, they pretty much abandoned the line of films. As a matter of fact MGM/Fox holds the rights to a few Hammer films, Twins of Evil & Vampire Circus, that would be perfect as well and HD transfers already exist.

If the goons running what's barely left of MGM don't care about releasing the films, they need to lease the rights to an indie label such as the rising Shout! Factory who will get the films back out there and get some income back in their pockets to pay off that huge company debt. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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