Video Violence | Varied Celluloid

Video Violence

Posted by On July - 17 - 2008

The Plot: Starting a new business is a tough thing, trust me I know. You have to get the customers aware of where you are, you have to deal with the weeks of inactivity before they start coming to you when they need you – but when you’re moving into a town full of lunatics, that doesn’t seem to be a problem. Okay, let me start over. In small town America somewhere, a new couple in town has recently moved into the area and the two are the talk of the town. The husband has opened his own videostore which to their own shock has taken off like gangbusters! You see, this is 1987 and the population who own VCRs are already pretty slim and being that we’re talking a small town amongst small towns – well, who would have thought? The only thing is, the general population who are providing his business… all they seem to rent are gory slasher flicks or occasionally a porno. There’s also the fact that after moving into this town where there has never been another videostore – they have over 300 individual customers! Why would these people even have VCR’s? Well, it isn’t long before we get a glimpse of just why they might when accidentally a video that doesn’t belong to the store is left in the dropbox. The store owner along with his desk clerk decide it won’t hurt anything to just take a peak and see what might be on the tape… turns out it’s a lot more than what they expected. The tape turns out to be a real life snuff movie featuring a man being killed and his hand chopped off. The two are immediately freaked out and the owner locks up the store and heads to the Sheriff’s office and finds nothing but disbelief from the police. When the sheriff heads back to the store to watch the tape, things just get worse when the store clerk who was locked inside has went missing along with the tape. Things progress from bad to worse, as it seems more and more as if the entire town is behind this crazy epidemic.

The Review: Video Violence is a film I have been interested in seeing for a very long time. The actual plot for the film is one of the better ideas I can immediately think of for flicks at this budget/technical level – and this is a made in 1987 shot-on-video horror flick. Video Violence shows that sometimes, having a good idea goes a lot further than having a bigger budget in terms of solid filmmaking. Now from the start I won’t give you the idea that this is a masterpiece – you can read around elsewhere and see that, but for what it is I very much enjoy it and consider it a very strong horror flick. The acting is about what you would expect, and to be totally honest the visual appeal of the film is very, very low – but it’s funny how storytelling can transcend that. At least for me that is. I’m not going out and saying Video Violence has the deep character motivations of On the Waterfront or anything like that, but what the film has is imagination, and that drive to “scare” audiences. Director Gary Cohen carries into this film that same drive that so many films of the 1980’s seemed to have. These days we have filmmakers, much like myself, who idolize George Romero, Tobe Hooper, Sam Raimi and all of these other horror gods – but unfortunately when it comes their time to deliver their view of a “horror”; they often seem to forget the fact that these films we love so much were originally intended to “scare” their audience. Not just provide gore for the sake of it. However, there’s nothing wrong with gore for the sake of gore – but you can’t truly spend time referencing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in every shot or interview and then turn around and not even aknowledge the need for having those “scary” moments. Video Violence, now whether or not it is effective for you or not, at least attempts to bring back that old “scary” feeling in the film and I respect that so much.

If you’re a fan of other zero budget horrors with higher aspirations than their checkbooks could afford, such as The Dead Next Door – then this one should be a no-brainer for you. Video Violence in my opinion joins the ranks of Street Trash, Basket Case and Brain Damage as just another great example of how great low budget North American horror can be when the ideas and talent are there. Video Violence is going to effect different audiences in different ways, some may not get the same level of enjoyment that I (or others who enjoy it as well) do. The acting level, although I have seen far worse, isn’t exactly a point of bragging within the film. As mentioned, this was also shot directly on video so the entire look of the film is pretty muddy due to the format – but if like me you are already intrigued by the whole premise of the film then I think you’ll find that Video Violence actually delivers on all the promise that this dark little idea holds. The mid-point of the film is probably the most interesting for me, as our lead characters slowly begin to understand that they are stuck within this city. When the wife character has a new video stuck in her bag as she goes shopping at the deli – she gets home with her husband to watch the tape, the noose slowly tightens around them. The tape looks a lot like your average Vampire horror, aptly titled “The Vampire Takes A Bride”, only when the girl is stabbed by the dracula look-a-like something about the situation seems all too real. In an attempt to find whether the film is real, the lead character calls a friend who works at a theater in New York who is a horror specialist. Unable to get through on the landline, the husband calls the operator and is transferred to a machine, something this theater never had. On the machine, one of the films playing as part of a double feature is the one and only… The Vampire Takes A Bride. Not a terrifying revelation, but another one of those slightly creepy moments you don’t really expect from this type of film.

You’ll either love or hate Video Violence, and depending on your reaction to this review and the entire concept of the project – you probably already know where you stand on the issue. I personally couldn’t get enough of it and am desperate to watch the sequel now. Hopefully others out there can get just as excited about this project as I am. I know it seems like a fairly high ranking, but I’m giving the movie a four due to how fun and exciting this little flick is. I know, I know, it’s pretty high up there and I don’t want to give you the wrong idea that this is some kind masterful horror project that has just been unseen by normal eyes after all these years, this one might just reflect my own opinion of the film – but definitely rent or netflix this one whenever you’re in the mood for a good low budget and undiscovered horror.




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