VHS

The Sacrament

While some horror fads like Asian remakes and torture porn burned out their popularity relatively quickly, one fad continues to dominate the genre: found footage. Part of the reason that it’s so widely used is because the movies are extremely cheap to make and can result in pretty large profits. However, with this sub-genre’s continued popularity, there are many people (like myself, for example) who don’t like it on the whole. Our biggest complaint is that, for using presumed realism to increase fear and anxiety, found footage movies are simply not realistic. But the concern got me thinking: how realistic are found footage movies?

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vhs tape

Throughout the month of April, Film School Rejects will be dedicating the bulk of our Sunday programming to a series we call “Movie Geek Self Improvement.” We’ve tasked our writers with finding ways to improve your life — from losing weight to restoring old VHS tape jackets — we want to help you get the most out of your pop culture obsessed existence. Since the Blu-ray disc wormed its way into our lives in the early 2000’s, countless movie collectors have likely made the decision – with a heavy heart – to begin phasing out their DVD hoard with the likes of “Blu-ray” only in mind. I can’t say I’m unsympathetic to the situation, having considered the same route myself, only to be thwarted by my own laziness and insufficient funds. Instead – I have decided to dig the grave deeper; I have begun to collect used Video Home System cassettes, otherwise known by everyone as VHS tapes. The used tapes are sickeningly cheap, whether you’re buying them at re-use retail stores, thrift stores, local Goodwills, or just online. I rarely spend more than $1 on a single tape, and, because the rest of the world seems to be trying to rid themselves of these glorious movie boxes, many people are trying to relieve themselves of their VHS burden in bulk. Though VHS tapes may seem hardier than DVDs and Blu-rays, they are still rather sensitive, given the tape inside. Don’t be like me; don’t leave any VHS tapes in […]

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VHS desk

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Rewind This! Movie

By all accounts, VHS will probably end up being the vinyl of the movie world. It wasn’t just a new way to watch movies, it was a revolutionary tool that profoundly changed the game. Major studios hated home video (and now rely on DVD/Blu-ray sales…), audiences relished discovering crazy stuff that had previously been out of reach, and the ease of it all was as simple as picking from a shelf-full of goodies. And a lot of crap. But if you picked something terrible, you’d usually just mock it with friends. So not a lot has changed since then. Except that VHS lives on only in the hearts of a smaller audience than it used to command. Fortunately, the folks at IPF Productions and everyone who contributed to their KickStarter campaign have made a celebration of the format that delivered movies to our homes. Rewind This! is playing at SXSW in March, and they’ve released a new trailer that’s an orgy of VHS-love:

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S-VHS

What the hell is that? And that, horror fans, is the best way to leave your audience salivating for more when it comes to premiering a first trailer for the newest entry in your burgeoning horror anthology film franchise. Over at ShockTillYouDrop, the first trailer for S-VHS has popped up mere days before the film premieres at this week’s Sundance Film Festival. It’s a slim little number, but it kicks off with a slice of what I’m guessing might be my favorite section from the new film – a child’s birthday party at what looks to be a family’s cabin in the woods, interrupted by something that likes to screech like a combination banshee and T.Rex. Banshrex. T.Shee. Either way, I can’t wait to meet it. This time around, the directing talent behind the anthology film includes Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Edúardo Sanchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Evans, and Jason Eisener, so yes, there’s probably going to be something here for everyone. I saw and reviewed the first VHS at last year’s Sundance and flipped for it (and screamed and cried and tried to hide in my sweater and scarf to no avail), so my hopes are quite high for this next entry. Ready to see some of what the next chapter in the VHS franchise holds? Take a look at the first trailer for S-VHS after the break. Have your sweaters and scarves at the ready.

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Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Silent Night It’s Christmas time in a small town, but instead of holiday cheer the streets are filled with blood. A masked Santa Claus is roaming town, finding those who’ve been naughty and ending their lives in violent and often gory ways. Steven C. Miller‘s remake of the nasty 80s original keeps the violence and mayhem but adds both personality and humor with the result being a fun slasher that vastly improves on Silent Night, Deadly Night. Jaime King brings charm and some serious heroine chops to the proceedings, and she’s joined by Malcolm McDowell, Donal Logue and Ellen Wong. That’s right, the most underrated player in Scott Pilgrim finally got another job! Horror fans will be pleased with and surprised by this early Christmas present, so if you’ve missed its (very brief) theatrical window it’s definitely worth picking up on Blu-ray/DVD.[Extras: Behind the scenes, deleted scenes]

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VHS Horror Movie

Recent horror release V/H/S was kind of a mixed bag, but that’s to be expected from anthology films that combine shorts from different filmmakers into a loosely connected whole. Regardless of which segments were your favorites, or which you thought didn’t work, it’s still pretty cool that V/H/S took little known filmmakers like the guys from Radio Silence and let them present their work alongside much-loved directors like Ti West and Joe Swanberg. So, good news for horror fans and horror creators alike, V/H/S/2 is already in the works, and it’s already signed up some top notch directors.

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Junkfood Cinema - Large

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; we cook Pop Tarts in the VCR. This is the weekly internet movie column that John Carpenter recently heralded as “something I’ve [totally] heard of.” Each week we bring you a horrifically bad movie, forcing you to topple with us into the void, careening like damned souls through the film’s innumerable faults. Just when our doom seems all but certain, the fall stops suddenly as we land on a giant marshmallow peep. From one unspeakable nightmare, right into another. We are grateful for the fall, the journey that led us to sweet reward. To then celebrate the journey that will lead to our losing at least one foot, we will pair the movie with a decadent, themed snack. Of all the things Junkfood Cinema has been accused of — and that is a lengthy, chubby list — no one would ever call us ahead of the curve. We are indeed well within the curve — mid-curve even…sub-curve. Curvacious? How dare you. If you thought “old-fashioned” was just a drink order, you obviously haven’t seen the mountains of VHS tapes dotting the landscape of JFC headquarters. This supposedly outdated technology is our preferred viewing method for every film ever.

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It has to be the simplest motivation out there – it’s even excusable at times. You can’t fight hunger, right? And if your meal of choice happens to be the earth’s self-proclaimed dominant species then well, you’re going to have to get a bit creative. Like all predators, the secret is to surprise your prey. As the following list will show, this can be done many ways – some much more creative than others.

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Luis Bunuel once claimed that he kept rocks in his pockets during the first screening of Un Chien Andalou in case the crowd didn’t like what it saw. Whether or not that’s actually true, the audience reaction was never so bad that it came to violence. Apparently cutting open an eyeball wasn’t a real biggie in the 1920s. Of course, none of that changes how ridiculously hard that short film is to watch. It’s grotesque, nauseating, and a great starting point for decades of filmmakers continuing to make audiences freak the hell out. That grand tradition was continued with a second fainting at a screening of V/H/S and it’s a tradition we’d like to celebrate with 8 movies that caused some strong physical reactions.

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VHS Bruckner

It turns out that someone else fainted while watching V/H/S. This time it happened at the Friday 9:40pm Nuart screening in Los Angeles, but tales of people getting sick floated around after the film hit Sundance and caused a moviegoer to pass out. It’s not really an epidemic, but the thing is, both got sick during the same scene. So what scene could hit viewers that hard? I contacted writer/producer Simon Barrett to ask what spot it was, and for those who have seen the movie, it probably won’t come as a surprise. If you haven’t seen the movie, consider yourself mildly spoiler warned.

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Editor’s note: Sundance screamfest V/H/S finally hits theaters this week after a successful VOD run, so here’s a re-run of our original review, first posted on January 26, 2012. Chilling! The brainchild of producer Brad Miska, horror anthology film V/H/S features five shorts (and one wrap-around story) from a variety of genre directors, writers, and actors handily proves that the found footage genre is far from dead and there’s plenty of new material to bleed. The film’s “wrap-around” section features a group of Jackass-inspired wankers who get their kicks by filming mayhem and destruction. Dispatched by a mysterious person to break into a house and steal something, they agree – partly for the laughs, partly for the pay-off. The item they must procure? A simple, singular VHS tape. The actual mission? Multi-level and rife with unexpected complications.

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What do you do when your first several efforts in the horror genre are quiet successes and your most critically acclaimed feature is delayed more than a year? If you’re director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett you sign with a major studio to adapt a bestselling spy thriller to the big screen. The duo behind A Horrible Way to Die, segments in V/H/S and The ABCs of Death, and next year’s You’re Next have done just that. Per Deadline by way of /film, their next project will be an adaptation of Jon Stock‘s Dead Spy Running for WB. The book is the first in a trilogy about a disgraced MI6 agent named Danny Marchant thought to be a traitor by his own people and the CIA who is forced on the run to prove both his own innocence and his dead father’s. The rights were snapped up on publication back in 2009, and since then various names have been attached to direct including McG, Stephen Gaghan and Jonathan Levine. Wingard and Barrett have come on board with an existing script from Gaghan (and Jamie Moss) that tweaked the novel’s lead character just a little bit. Marchant will no longer be a spy on the run… He’ll be a DJ.

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“Fangoria” as a gateway drug, YouTube fame leading to feature work, a magical 1998 Camry, the way porn plays with our minds, filming “Safety Second” style, and most of all trying to make found footage horror not feel like boring home movies. The filmmakers behind V/H/S (which is available on iTunes and VOD today) wanted to increase the ratio of scares per minute by combining the new popular subgenre with a throwback anthology style. On this week’s podcast, we mirror that anthology style in order to talk with many of the minds behind the punk horror explosion. Download Episode #147

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VHS Horror Movie

The red band trailer for V/H/S – the new horror anthology from a slew of indie writers and directors – was excellent, but there’s something magical about a green band trailer for scary flicks that makes a movie sing. The limitations either mean the trailer will sink miserably or soar to pants-wetting heights. This feature does the latter. From Adam Wingard, Simon Barrett, Radio Silence, Joe Swanberg, Dennis McQuaid, and David Bruckner, the movie wraps five horror tales inside a story about thieves trying to find a mysterious video tape amongst a pile of dangerous found footage. Plus, it might be the first movie to have two forward slashes in its title. Check out the new trailer for yourself:

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VHS Horror Movie

Back at Sundance, Magnolia seized the forthcoming horror anthology from Bloody Disgusting which means we’ll all have a (limited) shot at seeing it in Octobers. V/H/S, featuring the talents of Adam Wingard, Simon Barrett, Ti West and Radio Silence just to name a few, has several different scare segments all tied together by the story of thieves breaking into a creepy house to steal a tape and watching a handful to find out which one is the right loot. So, it’s pretty much like every Wednesday around here. The first Red Band trailer showcases some excellent shots meant to draw the pee into an audience’s pants. Ghosts, monsters, blood-splattered everything. Check it out for yourself:

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a vicious diatribe away from being a vicious diatribe. But mostly it tells you the who, what, where, when and why so serious of the movie world. We begin tonight with a cry for help, from a Mother of Dragons who is without the latter half of her title. Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen needs your help. If you see her dragons, send a raven.

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Boiling Point

In doing a quick bit of research for this article, I came across an article from none other than our own publisher, Neil Miller. Now, I didn’t bother to read the entire article, because I got what I needed and wouldn’t want to be swayed by facts or reason or anything, but his opening felt perfect for this topic, so I’m going to use it here: “Expectations are a funny thing. For a critic, they are the worst thing to have. Going into a film with any kind of expectations, good or bad, can color one’s ultimate perception of a film and sway a review one way or another.” I hope that now Neil feels good knowing that I think he has a really good point there, because in a minute, I’m going to use him as an example of what the fuck is wrong with this world. His point is relevant though, because expectations definitely influence how we view movies. If you go into a movie with super high expectations, you may feel let down. If you go in with low expectations, you can be pleasantly surprised. The best thing to do would be to go in with no expectations and just feel the movie slip inside you, deep and raw. But the modern world doesn’t allow this. Everyone is vying for the top spot when it comes to the final word on a film. To be noticed, we shout out the following words: amazing, funniest, greatest, best, of […]

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Anthology horror films are an inconsistent genre by their very nature, but when they work well the results can be fantastically creepy entertainment. Films like Asylum, Creepshow, and Trick ‘r Treat are well written excursions into fun-filled terror. Unfortunately, the anthology film is in decline, and of the handful that do find release only a few manage any degree of consistent quality. Sadly, V/H/S is more miss than hit. The movie features five stories plus a wraparound tale all presented in the “found footage” style, but while the last two segments are pretty damn cool and terrifying the initial three (and wraparound) leave a lot to be desired. They each have a singular standout element, but it’s never enough to make you forget how lacking in scares and thrills they are. (And the third one should have been cut all together.) Much like its home video format namesake, V/H/S chooses running time over quality, and the result is a movie that never really finds its footing until roughly two-thirds of it has passed. But once it hits that second to last story the scares, fun and wide-eyed thrills come fast and hard making the film well worth a watch…provided you don’t mind wading through mediocrity to get there.

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Spend enough time on the festival circuit and certain films just keep coming back around – but fortunately, they’re usually good ones we’re happy to see again. As the first big film festival of the year, Sundance often features some of the best independent films that people like us Rejects will be jawing about for months to come. SXSW offers the chance for cinephiles to catch a bevy of films that other people have been carrying on about for weeks and weeks, thanks to both their regular programming and their ever-clever Festival Favorites section, which is packed with (you can probably guess) films that have played recently at other festivals that the SXSW crowd will eat right up. After the break, get reacquainted with ten films we saw, reviewed, and (in some cases) loved back in January in snowy Park City, Utah. All ten are playing at this month’s (let’s be real, this week’s) SXSW Film Festival in Austin, our very own hometown film fest. Luckily enough, some of our favorite Sundance films pop on this list, including one I enjoyed so much that I am going to see it again in Austin.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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