Thursday, February 16, 2012

VHS Memories XXII: Film Ventures International

One of the things I really miss about the VHS era is the amazing amount of schlock that not only cluttered the shelves of video stores but also, more often than one would ever think imaginable, scored theatrical releases.  Generally the companies behind said movies would toss out out maybe a small handful and then vanish into the ether but in the case of our subject today, a general movie house rather than a simple video distributor, they just stuck around for a while...Kind of like a really persistent rash.

Film Ventures International was founded by Ed Montoro in the 70's and stuck around until the mid-80's.  They tended to put out derivative horror flicks that were either made in-house or were international pick-ups.  I've already spoken about The Last Shark, one of their more notable titles but today, I want to delve a little deeper...Because that's what we do here.  Let the pain begin as we sample the wares of Film Ventures International.

Their first real splash came with the U.S. release of this crappy Italian Exorcist knock-off that is high on exploitation and relatively low on actual quality.  In other words, a fairly typical Italian knock-off of a popular movie.  Good for a few laughs, though.  You can't take that away from it.

Ah, now this is more like it!  A Jaws knock-=off from low budget filmmaker William Girdler.  This is one of the better riffs on Jaws, mainly because it's so damned silly that you stop caring that you've seen the damn thing done better already.

Another flick from Girdler, this is even sillier as animals go after a bunch of campers after being driven mad by ultraviolet radiation (God, I love seventies horror flicks!).  Highlights include attacks by eagles, wolves, snakes and to top it all off, Leslie Nielsen sumo wrestling a bear.  Needless to say, the bear wins.

This is a bizarre documentary narrated by Orson Welles that is fairly typical of the other pseudo-science docs that came around this time.  I haven't seen it but it sounds pretty out there.

This is one of the company's more notable titles, mainly due to Tobe Hooper starting the project.  Hooper was fired and replaced by John "Bud" Cardos of Kingdom of the Spiders fame and the end result is a confusing, yet not un-entertaining movie about an alien who fries people with eye lasers.

A bad Canadian tax shelter funded science fiction movie starring Jack Palance as a bad guy looking to control both the moon and Earth only to be opposed by some bland heroes.  Bland and cheap is the best way to describe this one.

I haven't been able to find much on this one but based on the trailer, it looks like a horror movie revolving around organ theft. 
A really nasty, excessive riff on Psycho telling the tale of a disturbed young man who sets women on fire in a special room in his house.  I think "ick" just about covers it.

I already spoke about this one but I really love the poster here.  Great stuff.

Here are a pair of slasher films the studio released (and to be frank, two of the better ones of the four or five they put out).

House on Sorority Row is actually not too bad for the most part but Mortuary just gives you an early Bill Paxton role...and not much else.

God, being on this list is about the only way this one would ever look good.  A horrid E.T. rip-off from Spain, MST3K skewered this one pretty well (though it's not my favorite episode of the series).  I cannot imagine watching this one without Joel and the bots.

This MST3K alumni, however, I have seen uncut (though this version above is from New Line while the FVI version is called Cave Dwellers).  A sequel to Ator: The Invincible, this is a really, really stupid yet enjoyable piece of crap that works just as well with or without Joel and company.  As for the episode, it's easily my favorite of the series.

We finish things up with this, one of the better films FVI put out (though that's not saying much)...and also one of the last.  Wings Hauser stars in this cheesy zombie film.  That's about all there is to it, really.  The film is kind of dull, actually.

Well, that's the story.  In the end, Ed Montoro ran off with a ton of money and the company eventually vanished.  Too bad, because this could have happened, a half-shot and never refinished sequel to Grizzly that would have been a collaboration with Cannon Pictures and featured small roles for such names as George Clooney, Laura Dern and Charlie Sheen with larger roles for John Rhys Davies and Louise Fletcher.  Ah, what could have been.

Fan-made poster for what would surely have been a lousy, yet memorable movie.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.