Video Violence (1987)
Back of the box...
“Video Violence is the ultimate in horror, gore, and campy humor, with a crazy cast of characters and a ‘twist ending’.
Instead of the usual psychopathic maniac unleashed on a normal unsuspecting town, we have a normal, unsuspecting couple completely immersed in a town of psychopathic maniacs.
A transplanted New York couple open a video store in a small country town. One day Steve, our hero, discovers an unmarked tape among the morning’s rental returns. When watching it for a clue to who the renter might be, he witnesses the violent, bloody, mutilation of the town’s postmaster.
‘Is it real or is it a gag?’
‘Should he try to find the owner of the tape—a possible deranged killer?’
‘Could this really happen in his town?’
‘Could this happen in your town???’
Don’t miss the shocking conclusion!!!”
Director: Gary P. Cohen
Starring: Art Neill, Jackie Neill, Uke, Bart Sumner
Watch the Trailer
What would YOU do if you found an amatuer, shot-on-video, snuff film?
We’re talkin’ camcorder over the shoulder, LIVE from a damp basement—would you fix the goddamn tracking already—while two degenerates drown out a woman’s desperate screams with laughter as they rip her clothes off and mutilate her tits with a straight razor.
Would you keep watching?
The year was 1987. The VHS craze swept the nation as Mom n’ Pop video stores sprung up in every drab, non-descript strip mall. Backed by harsh fluorescence, the words “LIQUOR”, “DONUTS”, and “VIDEO” shimmered against the oil stained parking lots as they called out, like beacons to the moths, horror junkies, and other creatures of the night. It was the zenith of the straight-to-video splatter feature!
The capstone of cult! The epoch of debauch!
The shot-on-shiteo, blood-soaked home video!
It was the age of: Video Violence!
New Yorkers Steven and Rachel Emory leave behind their city lives and promising careers to run The Video Studio rental store in a shit-hole New Jersey town. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ The townie’s strange behavior quickly becomes apparent to the transplanted couple as Steven notices that they only rent horror movies and don’t like making small talk (Yeah, we’re on to you, readers). Already having suspicions about his antisocial new neighbors, Steven is soon pitted against the morbid town and thrust into a mystery when he discovers a snuff film deposited in the video store’s overnight return box. Is the video real? Is something sinister afoot in shit-town nowhere-land? … Probably, it’s a horror movie.
Among the dredges of the no-budget, shot-on-video genre, Video Violence stands out from its peers. The low production value and poor video quality elevate the film due to its almost meta subject matter. You’re watching an amateur video with torture and murder shot on a camcorder about a guy who finds an amateur video of someone being tortured and murdered shot on a camcorder… Get it!? Or do you want us to hit you over the head with this mallet some more?
The whole town seem to take part in the murders in a Hot Fuzz kind of way but our snuff film superstars are, without a doubt, Howard and Eli. Whether it’s another thrilling episode of The Eli Show brought to you from their basement, or Howard and Eli taking to the streets, guerilla style, to film some improvisational murder on location, their videos are always a hit. The film doesn’t give us a lot of time with these two deviants but their introduction is essential before delving into the film’s sequel.
The gore effects range from laughable, to campy, to downright disturbing but are always entertaining. There are decapitations, mutilations, severed limbs, stabbings, and even a man’s hand run through a deli slicer and served up like bologna. With much of the film taking place in a video store there are more than a few cameos from other horror favorites. One noteworthy reference comes when a young woman holding a baby asks if the 1985 shot-on-video movie Blood Cult is rated R for nudity. Relieved to hear the rating is for violence, she responds “Oh good, the kids can watch it.”
The film’s genuine charm and sadistic sense of humor carry Video Violence just out of reach from criticism of its glaring flaws. We could tell you that the acting is subpar and that the dialogue sounds like it was scraped off the bottom of someone’s shoe but what’s the point? Video Violence has nothing to hide. If you like low-budget horror movies from the 80’s, we hope you enjoy this unabashed entry of exploitative cult gore. If Video Violence isn’t your thing, then, as the film’s police chief says, “you lay off them monster movies for a while. You stick with the kiddie stuff.”