Chris Alexander

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ShockTreatment!

SHOCK editor drags out 5 more of his favorite VHS horror movie tapes.

Continuing my previous column, the purpose of this series is to drag fairly useless chunks of electro-magnetic tape and plastic shells, slipped into colorful cardboard, that contain movies culled from my personal VHS collection.

I have been collecting and worshiping hard cinematic media since I was 11. And that was…well, a long time ago. And out of the hundreds of cassettes I eventually accumulated, rarely have I ever given any away.

As I mention last round, I have had to part with some of my collection, lest i end up profiled on horror-centric episode of HOARDERS.

Here then are another handful of vintage tapes from my vast library of VHS films, each one of which tells a tale about who I am, who I was and the dreams I still dream.

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VIKING MASSACRE (Pan-Canadian)

For my birthday one year, in my late teens, one of my mates raided the used bin at a local video store and, knowing my taste in really out there cinema, he nabbed the funniest and tackiest title he could find. This is that title. Clamshelled for your pleasure, witness VIKING MASSACRE a Pan-Canadian/Cineplex retitling of the classic Mario Bava action opus KNIVES OF THE AVENGER, erroneously being sold as a CONAN-esque sex fantasy film. There’s no vikings in this thing and no real massacre. The back cover promises “A picture full of high suspense and courage born out of desperation.” I guess that’s not entirely incorrect. The thing that gets me most about this hilariously misleading middle-finger to Bava’s legacy (before the video market actually cared about Bava) is the painting on the cover. Look at that “viking”. He’s totally out of proportion. His right arm is ridiculous. Anyway, this is super rare and there’s no way in Hell I’d ever part with it.

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DEVIL IN THE HOUSE OF EXORCISM

Speaking of middle fingers extended to Bava’s legacy, this is the infamous HOUSE OF EXORCISM, released here in the early 1980’s as DEVIL IN THE HOUSE OF EXORCISM courtesy of some label called Cinemagreats. HOUSE is the re-shot version of Bava’s masterpiece LISA AND THE DEVIL, padded out by Bava at the behest of producer Alfredo Leone in order to capitalize on THE EXORCIST’s success, with star Elke Summer barfing frogs while Priest Robert Alda asks her “where do you come from” and she retorts “from a cunt, you jerk!” Gorgeous. And this grotty, greasy, ultra-rare VHS that I picked up at a garage sale is a keeper.

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THE SHOUT

I raved about this Jerzy Skolimowski masterpiece in a previous essay (you can read it here) and in that passage, I relayed the story of how I saw THE SHOUT on TV as a kid and dreamed of finding a copy. One day, in my twenties, I did find this VHS, on the bottom shelf of a well-traveled Toronto video store for a few pennies. The case is worn, but the tape is like new. This is truly one of the greatest, strangest horror films of the 1970s and having it in this handsome VHS case, one of those sexy Columbia tapes, is something I do not take for granted.

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FURY OF THE WOLFMAN

Back when Toronto’s Yonge Street, north of Dundas, was a charming, sex and sleaze-soaked cesspool, I found this head shop that had a stack VHS tapes for $2 each, which was cheap even back then. I picked up the art porn gem CAFE FLESH and this Paul Naschy opus, a scratchy, cut TV print at that. But I didn’t care. Finding Naschy was not easy in the 90s and I was thrilled that Alpha Video enabled my quest and for almost no financial commitment. And dig that awesomely awful cover art! Aooooo! I’m keeping this recorded on SLP mode gem for life.

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THE DEVIL WALKS AT MIDNIGHT

Like THE SHOUT, I previously talked up my adventure finding this Eurotrash tape (read that one here) elsewhere on this website. It was one of the first VHS tapes I purchased for $10 at a local K-Mart and it was one of the first Eurohorror movies I’d seen. It’s a cut version of the Belgian/Italian gem THE DEVIL’S NIGHTMARE, one that excises the lesbian sequences but leaves in all the weirdness. Canada’s beloved Interglobal Home Video had licensed the sneaky re-title from Saturn Video but this version, with its eerie airbrushed cover is super hard to find. It’s a huge piece of the grand puzzle of my private movie journey and I’ll be buried with it, absolutely.

I have hundreds more vintage tapes in my vault.

Ask nicely and I’ll drag some more out next week…

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Weekend: Sep. 19, 2019, Sep. 22, 2019

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