Wednesday, May 16, 2012

VHS Memories XXVII: Vestron Home Video

Vestron was one of the largest video distributors of the 80's.  From 1981-1992, they put out a wide array of titles.  Here is but a brief cross section of titles from them as well as a little from their imprint Lightning Home Video.

 This is a nicely done (if moderately pretentious) Neil Jordan werewolf movie with stellar makeup f/x from Chris Tucker and a pretty damn good screenplay that takes the Little Red Riding Hood concept and turns it into a pseudo-feminist werewolf anthology.  Like I said, it is moderately pretentious.  Worth a look, though.

 Cheesy, gory MST3K fodder with early f/x work from Rick Baker that tells the tale of an astronaut who returns to Earth as a flesh eating mutant who also, rather inconveniently for all involved parties, is gradually dissolving.

 Charles Band's Empire Pictures put out a good deal of films through Vestron as well as their Lightning subsidiary label (most of them have been covered elsewhere on the blog) and one of their better efforts is this amusing horror/comedy about...Well, you can guess.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with the bad movie classic Troll II, however.  Probably for the best, really.

 It wasn't all horror, however as they distributed plenty of big budget films such as this decent western with Emilio Estevez as Billy the Kid...

 The cult classic Buckaroo Banzai which I have always had a soft spot for.  They also had a theatrical branch for a time, putting out hits like Dirty Dancing and...Well, Dirty Dancing was about their only hit, really.

 They also put out a ton of stand-up comedy shows.  As you can see from the image above, they were not exactly stingy.  To be fair, once you get past the opening five minutes of Bobcat Goldthwait screaming like a mentally challenged guy having a fit, his act is not half bad.

 Even better is this amazing 80 minute Richard Pryor show from the late seventies.  If you have never seen the man in his prime, you owe it to yourself to try and track it down.  Funny doesn't even begin to describe it.

And now that I've said some nice things, let's delve into some crap.

 This is a rather lame supernatural thriller that my brother and I subjected ourselves to in the early 90's.  Needless to say, it was one of those long shot rentals and as with most gambles, it didn't pay off.

 A crappy Roger Corman production that was ribbed mercilessly by MST3K during their abbreviated seventh season.  Having only seen the MST version, I can say that if it's as funny without Mike and the Bots as it is with...I think I need to see it again.

 This is a horrible Italian zombie movie, also known as Hell of the Living Dead.  Given the reviews, I am both really enthusiastic about seeing it and hoping to god I can find it cheap somewhere.  Sure it's gonna suck but what the heck!

 More MST3K fodder with this not entirely terrible conspiracy thriller about cloning that was eventually unofficially remade into The Island by Michael Bay in 2005.

We'll wrap things up with two movies from Stuart Gordon, distributed by Empire.

 First off, and one about which I don't really need to say a lot, is the gore classic Re-Animator.  One of the few 80's horror comedies that still holds up today, mainly thanks to the f/x work , clever script and great Jeffrey Combs performance.

And finally, from the same team, is another H.P. Lovecraft adaptation, this time it's a hallucinatory, kinky monster mash about hidden lusts, creatures from another dimension and tons of gore.  Good stuff.

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About Me

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