Friday, March 19

The Deep End of Horror and the A-Hole Video Dealer

I finally scored a copy of Prism Entertainment's VHS of Ken Wiederhorn's 1977 underwater Nazi zombies with a frazzled Peter Cushing opus, Shock Waves, in uncut clamshell form. Of course, the fine folks over at Blue Underground have had a great DVD out there for several years and the flick hasn't really ever been "rare" since the shittastic Starmaker unleashed a widely available EP-speed cheapie in the mid-'90s. So what made shell out $11 for this particular tape release? Just what the hell is so special about it?

Well, this whole thing traces back long before I got into tapes, but was knee deep in the boom days of indie horror/cult studios releasing titles by the truckload every month on DVD. Welcome to Videoland, at least that's what the guy dubbed his place at the swap meet almost a decade ago. Racks and racks of tapes higher than you're head smashed into an area a touch wider than stretching your arms out to your sides. Everything was neatly priced, categorized, and cataloged by genre with the filth cornered off in the back with a huge sign that read "NO CHILDREN!". Posters, Halloween masks, and banners adorned the walls and spanned across the "ceiling" by invisible wires. Near the door sat an old man with thickly rimmed glasses on a bar stool behind a blocky CRT monitor with papers littering the desk in front of him. You could literally spend days digging through the future A&E Hoarders episode he amassed for himself.

The problem was the guy behind it all was a supreme A#1 asshole. So much so from this point forward he will be referred to as Mr. Asshole. The computer on his desk was for constant trolling of Amazon and eBay for the "value" of tapes in this "store". Security cameras created an array around his shoebox of space to keep his precious tapes out of the hands of thieves. Hand written signs about stealing and Mr. Asshole knowing his prices and (in his head) every tape ever made were plastered around the makeshift cage-like door to the place. If any of this sounds a little familiar, it's because I've talked about this guy in the past. This was the same idiot who barked at me that since he'd been doing this for over twenty years, if he didn't know of a title, it never existed. Or that VHS copy of Chopping Mall for an absolutely insane price of $45 witnessed upon seeing him recently. At that time Mr. Asshole could be overheard the entire time shouting a story about some little kid supposedly walking off with The Little Mermaid. Yes sir, the same Little Mermaid you can buy for nothing on Amazon.

But what about Shock Waves? This was the one tape I really wanted from Mr. Asshole, but never asked because of everything I've already detailed. So after Blue Underground's DVD had been out for a couple months; I decided to actually ask and without hesitation a price of $80 was put forth. Even after I mentioned that the movie was readily available on DVD, Mr. Asshole refused to budge, guess he didn't believe me. "That's the price!" I walked away and left poor Shock Waves to continue to sit there and Mr. Asshole feeling like he won some battle even with no new cash in his pocket.

So finally getting a copy of the tape years later for a decent price is something of a small achievement in my collection. It's not the exact tape he owned (or is it?), but it's still nice to know patience paid off over some asshole video dealer continually trying to get one over on the unknowing. His copy is still probably gathering dust with that $80 price tag starting to peel from age. Not to mention Shock Waves being one of the first horror movies I remember as a kid because of my father regaling me with the awesome details of when he saw it God knows when.


DrunkethWizerd said...

There was an old video store in Santa Cruz that I only visited a few times and they had posters all over the ceiling. Rare and crazy shit like WrestleMania 2, 3, 4, 5 ect and SummerSlam 89 posters. I inquired about the price, the guy got all pissy that I even asked.

Aylmer said...

I've met a few arrogant misfits like this over the years. They're a very "special" breed. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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