Sunday, September 29

Check out this new interview with yours truly over at HORROR SHOX!

I was just interviewed regarding my love for Japanese VHS by the operator of the Japan-based horror news/review blog, ホラーSHOX [呪] (Horror SHOX)! It's funny how connections like this are made. I actually bookmarked his blog long ago and visited regularly because of how cool it was to see an overseas horror blog so thoroughly devoted to keeping up on the global scene.

Then after finally joining Twitter a few months ago (@ghoulbasement), I began following several extremely friendly Japanese bloggers which eventually lead to finding tinker of Horror SHOX (@horrorshox). After seeing how passionate I am about collecting his native country's videos through his followers, he requested this little interview to which I was happy to oblige. He seemed shocked that Japanese VHS had acquired a collector market out of the country so that naturally led to questions. Thankfully along with also being very gracious he's quite fluent in English, so you'll find the questions and answers to be bilingual.

The rest in Japanese is basically his surprise in discovering such an interest in VHS, especially outside of Japan, and how he initially found out about me along with a few other U.S. collectors like Lunchmeat VHS and Video Vendetta. My Japanese VHS wishlist is also included with translated titles (if you any, please contact me!). And finally I'd like to personally thank tinker for the opportunity of the interview. Your love for the genre, along with many other horror fans in Japan, shines through and it's great to see that (and of course VHS!) can so easily cross borders and even cultural boundaries! Long live (Japanese) VHS!

Horror SHOX Interview

Friday, September 27

Zombie (サンゲリア) (1979) - 1985 Sony Video Software/Mount Light Video Japan VHS

Here's another one of my recent addition, Japan's second video release of Lucio Fulci's fantastic Zombie (1979) from Sony/Mount Light released in 1985. The first Japanese video, from Toshiba as a glassbox (seen here), was actually the country's censored theatrical version entitled "Sanguelia" presented in cropped full screen. The opening "tell the crew..." scene is missing and all of the gore shots shift to a dark blue to obscure the blood/gore and then pop back into full color (see a sample of the color changes here).

So while the Toshiba is more a collector curiosity, this Sony fixed its issues by not only providing a fully uncut version, bearing the screen title of "Zombies 2", but also a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation (over a decade before the U.S. saw a widescreen video release). The color and clarity, especially being a mid '80s video, is surprisingly great. My HDTV has a zoom setting that can display non-anamorphic 2.35:1 material without picture loss and even zoomed-in the video quality isn't bad at all. The Japanese subtitles are even placed out-of-frame in the bottom matte bar with the image bumped up a little to accommodate. Definitely a kick ass and historically important VHS release!

Sunday, September 22

Has Best Buy heavily liquidated their DVD stock through wholesale auction?

So yesterday I visit a small local flea market yesterday and one of the usual suspects, a troll-like dude by the name of Frank with a persistently lazy eye and a huge shark tattoo on his right arm, informed me that he's just acquired a bunch of new movies for sale and I get first dibs for being one of his best customers over the years. Frank is a wholesale hound who buys movies and music in bulk at auction houses and storage lockers to only flip the lots at his vast stand guarded by what seems like dozens of old webcams without wires (???).

He leads me to toward the back and pulls away a blanket, hasn't had a chance to "sort them", to reveal crates of DVDs for four bucks a pop. Probably a good four hundred or so all lined spine up comprised of a random mix of genres, some newer/some older in terms of DVD release year, and from a wide variety of studios. As I'm flipping through I notice they're also all factory sealed and look so new that their pristine plastic wrap seems hardly touched.

Another thing is how there's Best Buy price stickers on all of them. To my knowledge, there hasn't been some big BB heist in my area so I can't help but wonder if the chain purposely liquidated sometime recently to scale back their DVD business model. I'm unsure how things look around the country, but here in Maryland every location I've been to for the past few years has been drastically reducing their selection.

As Blu-ray crept in as its own section and then assimilated with DVD, Best Buy mostly threw out the practice of maintaining a back catalog. Nowadays it's generally only the latest releases and hugely popular catalog titles with the Horror section particularly lucky to get shelf space only slightly wider than a breadbox. So hooray, I got a solid deal on all the discs above (eighty bucks after haggling), but it's also sad to see the death of the catalog at brick-and-mortar chain stores. Well, unless your mall still has an F.Y.E. or Suncoast Video and wish to spend well over everywhere else.

This idea of Best Buy liquidating in such a way is purely anecdotal and probably not reality; however, Wal Mart actually does this on a small scale, but only with damaged stock that they first UPC-deface to prevent retail resale. So I have no idea, just throwing it out there, but they've definitely cut way back on the retiring format in-store. If they are selling off old stock, be on the lookout, those still hanging on and disc collectors that religiously patrol flea markets could be in for a big windfall. Maybe in this case some maniac hoarder amassed a huge, unopened collection and immediately sealed them away from handling and even dust until now?

Sunday, September 15

Dawn of the Dead - 35th Anniversary Ultimate Blu-ray Box slated for Japan in December

Happinet Pictures has slated the Japanese Blu-ray debut of George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead as both region free individual Blu-rays of each version and a region free "Ultimate Edition" box set for release on December 3rd, 2013.

The box set is being touted as the world debut of all three versions on Blu-ray featuring new "state of the art" HD restorations produced this year. The set also includes a sixteen page booklet. The separate discs and set are available for pre-order on both and CDJapan. Here's the tentative specifications for the three individual Blu-rays.

127 Minute U.S. Theatrical Version
  • 1.78:1 Widescreen
  • English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 & 2.0
  • 2 US Theatrical Trailers
  • US TV Spot
139 Minute Extended Version ("Director's Cut")
  • 1.78:1 Widescreen
  • English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 & 2.0
  • European Theatrical Trailer
  • 2 German Theatrical Trailers
119 Minute European (Argento) Version
  • 1.78:1 Widescreen
  • English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 & 2.0
  • Japanese "Thursday Movie Theater" Broadcast Dub (TrueHD 2.0)
  • Audio Commentary by Claudio Simonetti, Alessandro Marenga, and Claudio Fiano
  • 2 UK TV Spots
  • Japanese Threatical Trailer (1979)
  • Japanese TV Spot (1979)

Friday, September 13

Proof the Japanese will make a figurine kit for anything!

Just stumbling around Japanese sites looking for stuff on Tokyo Gore Police (2008) and came across this kit for the infamous "Crocodile Girl" from the movie. Though the kit is pricey at $200+ painted. Check out more details and NSFW images (she has a, errr...surprise) over at J-Factory Hobby Shop.

Tuesday, September 10

Blogger Service Weirdness Hits the Basement...

Just a quick note on a strange error that keeps popping up with Blogger in both Chrome and Firefox that started yesterday. Whenever I log in and attempt to access any option on Blogger the message seen on the right keeps appearing, and despite clicking to "log in again", the message again pops up over-and-over. This effectively blocks me from editing/updating anything on BoGD when using those two browsers.

Apparently this is an ongoing issue with Google's services that some have encountered on Blogger and even YouTube. I haven't found a fix yet but it seems to be intermittent and temporary for other users experiencing it (so fingers crossed!). Clearing the cache and all temp files in the fully updated browsers and with CCleaner does nothing to help. Not even using a totally different computer corrects the situation and no settings were changed with anything before this problem arose.

Thankfully, and I never thought I'd say this, but Internet Explorer saved the day. Yep, Blogger still functions in IE10, so I'm going to have to use it for BoGD until something hopefully magically changes. If this situation continues with some permanence or spreads to IE (trying Opera later), be sure to please give a "like" to Basement of Ghoulish Decadence on Facebook and/or follow me @ghoulbasement on Twitter. It would be appreciated and I'd like to thank everyone that visits regularly or has chosen to like/follow/friend my ornery ass over the years! Or course, I'll still post here as long as I can and keep you guys updated! Argh!

Sunday, September 8

The Many Lows and Few "Just Okay" Tidbits of Uwe Boll's House of the Dead (2003)

Make no mistake, despite hating Uwe Boll becoming a cinephile pastime, House of the Dead has a hard time even passing as a dumb zombie timewaster and should have never been released so wide for its theatrical run. Besides most everything, unlike many video game adaptions which diverge wildly from their source, House might hang its hat upon the game a little too much.

Boll approached the project as an action movie and that's fine; however, the undead brawls just end up clunky with the film's editor probably pulling his hair out trying to make sequences possess flow with the director's shoddy point-and-shoot "style".
But maybe I'm wrong and Boll is a misunderstood wunderkind who purposefully shot in this simplistic fashion to recall the game's shooting mechanics?

Still, one can't help but wonder why touches like including small clips of the actual gameplay or weird rotating freeze frames of characters that fade to red right after they die being considered a good idea. This crap only breaks the flow and bewilders anyone unfamiliar with the video game. The franchise was popular but has any video game in history ever been so popular that such minute details could translate seamlessly to film? That's debatable but certainly not this arcade rail shooter designed to inhale quarters.

Although everyone's favorite arrogant German filmmaker might not be entirely at fault. Writer/producer Mark Altman is all over the DVD extras and it's clear he's the brainchild while Boll was the director-for-hire found through professional contacts. This is evident in the featurettes as Altman takes the time to talk expressly for the bonus material while Boll is only seen in pre-recorded clips. Altman talks about the genesis of the project while Boll mostly waxes on about being Mr. Director.

I almost feel bad for Altman as a talent like Ryuhei Kitamura would have had a field day with such an ample budget to his own far cheaper hyper stylish zombo action extravaganza, Versus (2000). Not to mention it's tough to see what Altman saw in the video game that would inspire a movie adaption considering its generic plot only designed to give reason to hurling countless zombies at the screen for the player to mow down with a light gun (kinda like trying to adapt Pac-Man or Battleship to the screen, errr, wait a minute...).

So is anything good about House of the Dead? Admirably, unlike so much terrible genre product that comes off as pretentious, this mess at least maintains a nice schlocky vibe. Individual aspects only sadly come off as half-baked, like the presence of Jurgen Prochnow and Clint Howard. They're great and if the movie wasn't so hellbent on having a team fight the dead (again, like the game), Prochnow and lovable idiot sidekick Howard breaking zombie face for ninety minutes probably could have easily outshone any Boll Ineptness™ for a more entertaining movie.

When we see actual live action battle, not gameplay clips, the zombie make-up has a cheap spookshow look that one could see at a local Veterans Hall's haunted house around Halloween. This endearing aesthetic translates to the colorfully gloomy sets within "the house" and all their tacky dressing. In between the loud techno, Reinhard Besser's score also has a complimentary hokey feel. It's surprising Boll allowed for any of this, but maybe some of his say was defeated by committee?

Finally, the disjointed action is pleasingly splattery and there's the required female boob n' butt to reinforce the flick's ultimately misguided yet playful nature. Oh, and for some unknown reason George Romero and Tom Savini are interviewed in the DVD's making-of featurette and thankfully only talk about their movies and the zombie genre without one mention of the game or this movie. So House of the Dead may not be as bad as its 2/10 IMDB rating, but we're already aware Uwe Boll can fuck up a cup of coffee, right? If anything, I'd easily recommend its in-name-only sequel, House of the Dead II: Dead Aim, as it does everything right this one almost takes glee in completely tripping up over.

Wednesday, September 4

Hilarious eBay VHS Listing of the Week... (Maybe Year!)

While perusing Facebook, I came across this strange listing for the worthless and beat copy of the Thorn EMI's VHS of The Return of the Living Dead pictured and felt the priceless description complete with insanely off-kilter plot outline needed to be saved here for posterity. Read on to have your brain thoroughly fried... (pics of a totally baffled Ernie, Freddy, and Bert added by me)

"This movie was purchased from a collector who knows his collections. The tape cover is worn but it is the original cover for this movie. THIS IS A COLLECTOR'S ITEM. ONLY THOSE WHO COLLECT AND APPRECIATE CLASSIC FILM WILL APPRECIATE THIS ONE-TIME DEAL. The value of this VHS at one time was $79.95. It is listed on the front cover. The cover is old and obviously so. It is a Hemdale Film Production and leading stars include CLU Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, The directors and others are listed at the top of the VHS cover. Listed under Thorn EMI HBO Video. no. 0004634 H0748.

The story: This tale begins where the classic Return of the Living Dead left off. Running time: 91 Mins. color but the scenes look black and white. The Movie claims that the story is true. Dated 1984. Color quality not so keen as today’s color. This is about the St. Louis Medical School event. I noticed the video quality is OK, a few lines scanning the screen here and there but not severe.

These weirdos are collecting dead skeletons and dead people for military and medical school testing. Wow. Includes the classic attire and people. Takes me back to the good years when humans were really human. This movie sets the scene for The Return of the Living Dead – These people tell the truth about what the Night of the Living Dead really entailed. It was not about zombies, it was about experiments that had gone awry. At this new place there is bodies in this steel container prepared for experimental procedures. Wow. They look like zombies to me. The first introduction says this is a true story but it certainly hard to believe.

This is not my style of movies but it certainly peeks some interest. I would like to know how the military turned dead people into the living dead. Now there is a group of groovy kids cruising in a convertible. They were shown twice in the scenes. Wonder what their lot in life will end at? They are going to hang out at a cemetery. I think they are making a huge mistake. Meanwhile back at the lab, old doc and this young man wake up from a Lights Out. They must have come in contact with something bad because they wake up sick and I don’t think they intended to take a nap. The dead people are gone! Where are they? Oh no. The dog is sick now too. That is sad. When they turn over the dog one side of him is missing but the dog is still whining. Not. This is not a true story. Can’t be.

Anyway the doc and his amigo have a panic attack and start crying like babies. Something went wrong. No cops though. If you call the cops on the army, you might as well betray Hitler or some Gangster. So they call the boss. At the cemetery these kids are hanging out, smoking and talking about the most horrible ways to die. This movie must be rated R, this broad is taking off her shirt so beware. Never mind, Rated X, she stripped naked dancing on someone’s grave. She won’t be acting so stupid I guess when those Living Dead come alive and make her out of chicken soup. At the shop – the doc and his buddy brings in another guy to explain what is going on. The living dead are in the background acting like they forgot to die. True story – I don’t buy it for a minute but OK. Here comes the dead. Naked as a jailbird ready to eat the doc. Doc is driving a stake in his head now and he is hollering like a baby. Now they are cutting off his head and this headless guy gets up running around like a chicken with his head cut off.

This is not a true story. IF this is a true story I will sell the Golden Gate to you all for free. Vintage – this is vintage because they simply do not make movies like this anymore. Lines are flowing across the screen here and there suggesting that the video needs some adjustments but there is nothing major wrong. Overall the video quality is good to fair. Or maybe Very Good if you like that old classic video quality."


Monday, September 2

The Evil Dead (1981) - 1989 MOON HWA Production South Korean VHS

Just a scan of a very scarce edition of Raimi's classic from South Korea, and yes, Chunk from The Goonies agrees it's the "Ultimate Experience In Grueling Terror!" It seems that in SK designers didn't really care about keeping the stills used on the cover accurate to the given film! See this quite a bit with VHS from there! you dare tread upon the staircase?

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