Monday, March 29

The List of Horror, Cult, and Exploitation Movies "Enhanced" by VHS, Please Participate!

With the end of BoGD's first weekly poll concerning VHS (new poll question Wednesday!), I started thinking about a participatory feature that would nicely fit the usual content of this blog. A kind of thing that could run the course of this blog with everyone welcome to add suggestions. Over the past few days I've taken in two horror classics, Dawn of the Dead and A Nightmare on Elm Street, in their original home debuts on the near universally discarded video tape format. This is one of the real pleasures of reliving VHS besides collecting for fun and profit. There's just certain horror movies and even certain tape releases of horror movies that really do make the experience something special. Almost something akin to a rekindling of what made you endeared to the given movie or your obsession with the genre in the first place.

Perhaps this feeling is buried in Horror being at its mainstream peak just as the explosion known as video rental first overtook the consumer market. There's a history and linage within these clunky plastic boxes that most dump off for the trash and completely forget the titanic shift of freedom they represented. The Horror genre was integral in helping in the format's breakthrough, much like the genre's "re-boom" on DVD, striving hand-and-hand with porno. Okay, maybe I'm going overboard, but there is a distinct magic one sometimes senses while in the middle of watching a tape. This vibe seems mostly unique to horror flicks, but it can bleed into various forms of exploitation and '80s action. Sadly, it's also lost in these digital days, and burning you fingertips to a freshly ripped open bag of popcorn just isn't the same without a VCR's quiet mechanical hum in the background.

You don't receive this mojo every time a tape noisily clangs into your VCR. It's not a guarantee and if present seems to only strengthen if the particular movie is good. And of course I'm not ragging on the many virtues of digital media; anyone who has been following this blog for any period of time knows I'm one to sing the praises of good picture and sound quality on DVD and Blu-ray. Still, they just aren't the same, and the hazy allure of VHS terrors goes beyond mere nostalgia. So I wanted to compile a list of select horror and exploitation that captures this feeling within their magnetic tape spools as a way of advice to fellow tapeheads and for those wondering what the hell I'm babbling about.

I've dug through my collection and looked back at viewings I've remembered possessing the right mix of bristling edges, soupy blackness, print flecks, and so-so sound to create a perfect lo-fi experience. The list below is just to start with and anyone is free to contribute titles. I do have some guidelines though to keep things within the tolerances of VHS's glory days. First, the cut-off point for both film and VHS (and Betamax) release acceptance into the list is 1995. This avoids joint DVD/VHS releases, you know, including The Sixth Sense below just ain't right, and also much the rush of cheap, really shitty EP-speed tapes that appeared in the final years of analog videos. There is no cut-off for films and tapes prior to 1995, anything from any country all the way back to the dawn of cinema, so long as it's horror, cult, or exploitation. Though I imagine the '80s will be the predominate decade. Every listing will mention title, year, and if possible the studio/year the tape was released. I'll be periodically contributing and you can too through the comments section. Just post your contributions and they will be added in alphabetical order. The titles/tapes listing is open to selections outside of America as well. If this feature gets a decent enough turnout I'll make up a permanent picture link in the right sidebar and every so often mention the list for new contributions. I'd like this to be fun and a little unique, so if you have any memories of certain cherished tape viewings or still like to re-visit certain genre flicks on tape, please participate!

  • 976-EVIL (1988) (RCA/Columbia Home Video)
  • April Fool's Day (1986) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Attack of the Beast Creatures (1985) (World Video Pictures)
  • Bad Taste (1987) (Magnum Entertainment)
  • Basket Case (1982) (Media Home Entertainment)
  • Blood Cult (1985) (United Home Video)
  • Blood Diner (1987) (Vestron Video)
  • Blood Rage (1987) (Prism Entertainment)
  • Blood Salvage (1990) (Magnum Entertainment)
  • Blood Stalkers (1978) (Vidmark Entertainment)
  • Bloodsucking Freaks (1976) (Vestron Video)
  • Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh (1991) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Blood Tracks (1985) (Vista Home Video)
  • Bloody Moon (1981) (Trans World Entertainment)
  • Burning, The (1981) (Thorn EMI)
  • Chopping Mall (1986) (Lightning Video)
  • Coffin Joe: At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul (1964) (Something Weird Video)
  • Coffin Joe: This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse (1967) (Something Weird Video)
  • Company Of Wolves, The (1985) (Vestron Video)
  • Creepers (Phenomena, 1985) (Embassy Home Entertainment)
  • Cutting Class (1989) (Republic Pictures)
  • Dawn of the Dead (1978) (Thorn EMI, also Republic Pictures)
  • Dead Alive (1992) (Vidmark Entertainment)
  • Death Race 2000 (1975) (WCI Home Video)
  • Death Spa (1988) (Gorgon/MPI Home Video)
  • Demons (1985) (New World Pictures)
  • Demon, The (1979) (United Home Video)
  • Demon Queen (1986) (MOGUL Video)
  • Doctor Butcher M.D. (Zombie Holocaust, 1980) (Paragon Home Video, also Thriller Video)
  • Don't Look in the Basement (1973) (Gorgon/MPI Home Video)
  • Doom Asylum (1987) (Academy Entertainment)
  • Driller Killer (1979) (Wizard Video)
  • Drive In Massacre (1977) (Magnum Entertainment)
  • Class of Nuke 'Em High (1986) (Media Home Entertainment)
  • Eraserhead (1976) (RCA/Columbia Home Video)
  • Evil Dead, The (1981) (Thorn EMI)
  • Evil Dead II (1987) (Vestron Video)
  • Evil Toons (1992) (Prism Entertainment)
  • Friday the 13th (1980) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Friday the 13th Part III (1982) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI (1986) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Fright Night (1985) (RCA/Columbia Home Video)
  • Fright Night Part II (1988) (International Video Entertainment)
  • Gates of Hell, The (1980) (Paragon Home Video)
  • Ghoulies (1985) (Vestron Video)
  • Ghoulies II (1988) (Vestron Video)
  • Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College (1991) (Vestron Video)
  • Hack 'O Lantern (1988) (Legacy Video, also Altas Video as "Halloween Night")
  • Halloween (1978) (Meda/Media Home Entertainment)
  • Halloween II (1981) (MCA/Universal Home Video)
  • Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) (MCA/Universal Home Video)
  • Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) (CBS/Fox Home Video)
  • Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) (CBS/Fox Home Video)
  • Happy Birthday to Me (1981) (RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video)
  • Hauntedween (1991) (Consumer Video)
  • The Headless Eyes (1971) (Wizard Video)
  • Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987) (Virgin Vision)
  • Hellraiser (1987) (New World Video)
  • Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988) (Camp Motion Pictures)
  • Humanoids From The Deep (1980) (Warner Home Video)
  • Inferno (1980) (Key Video)
  • Intruder (1989) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS (1975) (American Video)
  • I Spit on Your Grave (1978) (Wizard Video)
  • Just Before Dawn (Paragon Home Video)
  • Last House on the Left, The (1972) (Vestron Video)
  • Lunch Meat (1986) (Tapeworm Video)
  • Necropolis: City of the Dead (1987) (Lightning Video)
  • Nightmare on Elm Street, A (1984) (Media Home Entertainment)
  • Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, A (1987) (Media Home Entertainment)
  • Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, A (1988) (Media Home Entertainment)
  • Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child, A (1989) (Media Home Entertainment)
  • Night of the Comet (1984) (CBS/FOX Home Video)
  • Night of the Creeps (1986) (HBO/Cannon)
  • Night of the Demons (1988) (Republic Home Video)
  • Night of the Living Dead (1968) (various distributors)
  • Nightmare (1981) (Continental Video)
  • Night Warning (1983) (Thorn EMI)
  • Mad Ron's Prevues from Hell (1987) (Off The Wall Video)
  • Make Them Die Slowly (Cannibal Ferox, 1981) (Thriller Video)
  • Maniac (1980) (Media Home Entertainment)
  • Manson (1973) (World Wide Video)
  • Mardi Gras Massacre (1978) (VCII)
  • Monster Club, The (1980) (Thriller Video, Elvira Presents)
  • Monster Dog (1984) (Trans World Entertainment)
  • Munchies (1987) (MGM/UA Home Video)
  • Mutilator, The (1985) (Vestron Video)
  • Parents (1989) (Vestron Video)
  • Penitentiary (1979) (Wizard Video)
  • Pieces (1982) (Vestron Video)
  • Popcorn (1991) (RCA/Columbia Home Video)
  • Possession: Until Death Do You Part (1987) (Marathon Video)
  • The Prowler (1981) (VCII)
  • Puppet Master (1989) (Paramount Home Video)
  • Raw Force (1982) (Media Home Entertainment)
  • Return of the Living Dead, The (1985) (Thorn EMI)
  • Return of the Living Dead Part II, The (1988) (Lorimar Home Video)
  • Ritual of Death (1990) (Complete Entertainment)
  • Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare (1987) (Academy Entertainment)
  • Rocktober Blood (1984) (Vestron Video)
  • Satan's Blade (1984) (MOGUL Video, also Prism Entertainment)
  • Scream Baby Scream (1969) (Regal Video)
  • Slaughter High (1987) (Vestron Video)
  • Slaughterhouse Rock (1988) (Sony Video)
  • Shock 'Em Dead (1991) (Academy Entertainment)
  • Sleepaway Camp (1983) (Media Home Entertainment)
  • Slumber Party Massacre (1982) (Embassy Home Entertainment)
  • Slumber Party Massacre II (1987) (Embassy Home Entertainment)
  • Silent Night, Bloody Night (1974) (Paragon Home Video)
  • Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) (U.S.A. Home Video)
  • Snuff (1976) (Cult Video)
  • Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988) (Urban Classics)
  • Splatter: Architects of Fear (1986) (North American Video)
  • Spookies (1986) (Sony Video)
  • Street Trash (1987) (Lightning Video)
  • Squirm (1976) (Vestron Video)
  • Terror on Tape (1983) (Continental Video)
  • Terror Train (1980) (CBS/FOX Home Video)
  • TerrorVision (1986) (Lightning Video)
  • Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The (1973) (Wizard Video)
  • Tourist Trap (1979) (Media Home Entertainment)
  • Toxic Avenger, The (1984) (Lightening Video)
  • Trancers (1985) (Vestron Video)
  • Trick or Treat (1986) (Lorimar Home Video)
  • Troll (1986) (Vestron Video)
  • Truth or Dare: A Critical Madness (1986) (Peerless Films)
  • Vengeance (1980) (Magnum Entertainment)
  • Video Dead, The (1987) (Embassy Home Video)
  • Videodrome (1983) (MVA/Universal Home Video)
  • Video Violence... When Renting Is Not Enough. (1987) (Camp Motion Pictures)
  • Video Violence 2 (1987) (Camp Motion Pictures)
  • Waxwork (1988) (Vestron Video)
  • Zombie (1979) (Wizard Video)
  • Zombiethon (1986) (Wizard Video)


Jayson Kennedy said...

Excellent! Thanks, updated!

Buscemi said...

Creepers/Phenomena (1985) (Embassy Home Entertainment)

Bill said...


ArtSkull said...

ILSA: She-Wolf of the SS and Eraserhead. Don't know if they qualify but they were two of my first VHS rentals.

Jayson Kennedy said...

Updated! I also added Basket Case, Blood Rage, Blood Salvage, Fright 1 & 2, Maniac, Necropolis: City of the Dead, Night of the Comet, Shock 'Em Dead, and Slumber Party Massacre II

Jason Kocian over on Facebook also suggested Slumber Party Massacre and Evil Toons.

Jayson Kennedy said...

Fright Night 1 & 2, that is...

Franco Macabro said...

Ghoulies, Troll and Munchies! Use to watch those on VHS quite often!

Jayson Kennedy said...

Thanks! Those went in along with Ghoulies 2 and 3, since they're also perfect tape trash. :)

Jayson Kennedy said...

Driller Killer, Mardi Gras Massacre, Parents, Slaughterhouse Rock, and Trick or Treat went in.

Buscemi said...

Evil Dead II (1987) (Vestron Video)
Slaugher High (1987) (Vestron Video)
The Burning (1981) (Thorn EMI)
Humanoids From The Deep (1980) (Warner Home Video)
Night Of The Living Dead (1968) (various distributors)
Intruder (1989) (Paramount Home Video)
Puppet Master (1989) (Paramount Home Video)
The Company Of Wolves (1985) (Vestron Video)
Inferno (1980) (Key Video)
Happy Birthday To Me (1981) (RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video)
Terror Train (1980) (CBS/Fox Video)
Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987) (Virgin Vision)
...and last but not least
Hellraiser (1987) (New World Video)

Jayson Kennedy said...

Thanks Buscemi! Added!, also threw in Cutting Class and April Fool's Day...

Anonymous said...

Trancers. The VHS has a FAR better picture than the DVD. On VHS the film looks like it was shot by Ridley Scott compared to the washed out orange hues of the DVD.

Jayson Kennedy said...

Thanks! Updated! Also added the SWV's of At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul and This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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