The Chronicles of Horror Movie Night: VIDEO VIOLENCE 2 (1987)
After starting in Washington D.C. nine years ago, Horror Movie Night has expanded to include chapters in Austin, Dallas, and Chicago. GATW’s own Brian Kelley is the originator and programmer of this illustrious weekly Wednesday night tradition which features a “classic” horror film. Each week I will be reviewing/commenting on the past week’s selection so do your best to find the film, most of which have not made it past VHS, and follow along. Better yet, start your own chapter!
Another week was all set to go and I got the word from Horror Movie Night’s daddy, Brian Kelley, saying that the Austin clan would not be meeting. What to do? I had options. We could just skip a week or I could say “fuck it,” and watch DEADLINE as planned. Instead I chose option C. Since I my last BYE week pick was so much fun I had been salivating over the thought of getting to its sequel, so that’s what we did. Could VIDEO VIOLENCE 2 live up to the hype and low-budget pressures of its predecessor? Would there be some great shot-on-video gore? How many hats would Eli wear? All questions would be answered in a very quick 75 minutes.
Underground snuff film heroes Eli and Howard (played by Uke and Bart Sumner respectively) have graduated up to the big leagues. No longer is their blood soaked content relegated only to the video store shelves but now they have a talk/variety show, called “The Howard and Eli Show” naturally, which they illegally broadcast by breaking into one of the local channel’s signal. On this program they show and review other snuff films sent in by fans, show some of their own and have a little fun with a guest who is tortured along the way.
Instead of going with a traditional narrative like the first film the choice here was to go more the anthology route. A bit of a risky way to follow-up the genius of the first film but I approve wholeheartedly! This gives way to have many smaller vignettes; each with their own gore gags and laughs both intentional and unintentional. Though after listening to the commentary recorded by the filmmakers it’s apparent they were indeed in on the joke from the beginning.
The most ridiculous out-of-nowhere segment is the first one, which brandishes a “prologue” title card before we’re taken inside a castle. Here a woman opens a vampire’s coffin and is getting ready to stake him before things go wrong and an off-screen voice yells “cut!” What’s weird about this section is there is really no explanation as to what this is a prologue to and there is no real connection to the main meat of the film. The look of the vampire, and actor behind him, is the same as in the movie-within-a-movie watched by the main characters from VIDEO VIOLENCE, “The Vampire Takes a Bride”. I have chosen to believe the meaning of the prologue is that we’re being set-up for another hour and a few minutes of things that make no sense. In that case the prologue fits in quite well.
Another segment highlighted is a video sent in by some viewers for judgment to be passed on it by the high and mighty Howard and Eli. It begins with three women in nighties drinking and watching “The Howard and Eli Show”. This unfolds as you would imagine, by the girls deciding they need to find someone to kill, videotape it and send it in to the guys. The drunk and horny trio orders a pizza and prepares for a stab fest. A minute or two later the fastest deliveryman on the planet shows up to what many refer to as “the pizza boy’s dream”. These three women want him to stick around to party with them and ultimately screw their brains out. This kind of thing only happens in porn. I delivered pies for a couple years and nothing this cool ever happened. Still the reluctant pizza slinger is coaxed into staying and before long he is dancing and stripping down to his ultra white BVDs. It ends with a lot of stabbing from his POV and we get no blood, just shots of his crotch in the tighty-whities. Ugh. The puzzling aspect of this short is not the lack of onscreen violence but who the hell is doing the filming? Eli and Howard are watching a video of them going from watching snuff to making it and we never have the cameraperson addressed. In fact, at one point the girls pass around a camcorder once their pizza man arrives but we never see that footage.
Why am I trying to find logic in this movie?
For some of the other breaks from Howard and Eli’s show without going to viewer submissions there are commercials. Very, very special commercials. One is an infomercial for a “Best of” tape from the show that goes on to list 34 different classic clips including some which reference the murders in the first film – like “The Killing of Mr/Mrs Emory”. This scene goes on and on with the same girl naked (duh) in a shower getting killed in a manner of ways relatable to mainstream horror. A psychopathic man dresses up as Freddy, Jason and a few others to kill her. This spot is all well and good but it’s nothing compared to the faux ad for the hottest new pet to get your kid for Christmas – Wilbur! This is a GREMLINS/CRITTERS looking furry creature that is nice and cuddly with its new young owner. Well, at least until the point it takes a huge bite out of the kid’s jugular! That’s my kind of Christmas present – a dangerous one. I need it now.
If you loved the video store from the first film, don’t fret as it makes an appearance in one of the segments. Here we see what happens when a dreaded non-member tries to rent at the store. As you could imagine it’s not very good. In the brief time spent in the rental haven we see a number of great VHS horror titles prominently displayed and handpicked by our hopeful renter including BLOOD CULT and a big box copy of the first VIDEO VIOLENCE. Yep, they go to that level of meta insanity. I will say that there were plenty of customers I dealt with in the past at rental shops and I only wish I could have used the heat gun and shrink wrap on them in the manner shown in this video.
As with the first film the gore gags do not disappoint in the slightest. They look just as outrageous and, for the most part, unrealistic as you expect. Some highlights include severing the thumbs and cutting out forearm muscles from a topless female hostage or the more impressive in concept than in execution Drac-o-Matic contraption which is nothing more than a spout you stick in a chest to drain blood into a glass. By far the most impressive death in the film comes from a viewer who has made his own electric chair. When the switches are thrown and the volts surge through the victim’s body we see an eyeball explode out of the socket with what looks like red Play-Doh through one of those little spaghetti extruders.
Eli: “A funny thing happened to me last week. I was out hunting with my buddy Lester when out from behind a tree jumps this beautiful babe – buck ass naked. I went up to her and I says, ‘ Are you game?’ She goes, ‘sure’ – so Lester shot her.”
Now I must dedicate a little bit of time to our hosts for the duration of the film, Howard and Eli. Their show is put together like a typical talk show, well, a typical cable access talk show. There is an amazing opening theme and set complete with plenty of those chasing light bulbs. They even have a guy in a bowtie and sunglasses on keyboards! Eli’s jokes are cheesy hilarious and accented by the amplified guffawing of Howard in the Ed McMahon role. Sadly Eli dons only one lonely hat in this sequel. Fear not because his ridiculous showbiz antics more than make up for lack of wardrobe change.
The double feature DVD is still available but you might want to wait and pick up a new collection coming in September from Camp Motion Pictures. Not only will you get both VIDEO VIOLENCE films but also CANNIBAL CAMPOUT, THE BASEMENT and VV director, Gary Cohen’s, only other film – CAPTIVES. This set is coming in a Big Box VHS case and loaded with features, including a VHS copy of THE BASEMENT. It’s truly something that every SOV horror fan will be salivating over, if for no other reason than to complete the Gary Cohen trilogy!
VIDEO VIOLENCE 2 is a wonderful film that I’m proud to own. Cohen and crew made a couple of great films that are a welcome addition to any horror fan’s collection. But, there is a downside – no part three. Maybe I’ll track down Cohen, get a VHS camcorder and help produce another installment. We need this in our lives!
Until next week – you can find me working on a video to submit to “The Howard & Eli Show”.
Body Count: 7, maybe 8
Best Death: Electrocution with exploding eyeball and head
Number of Naked Ladies: 4
Number of Times Someone Flubs a Line: 2
Number of Typos: At least a couple, on this screen alone
Coming soon to Horror Movie Night (Chronicles are posted one week after screening):
-7/27/11: TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT (1980) Christmas in July!
-8/3/11: DEATH SPA (1988)
-8/10/11: HIDE AND GO SHRIEK (1988)
-8/17/11: THE CURSE 2: THE BITE (1988)
*** While it was announced a couple days ago that GATW would sadly be ending the publishing of new content at the end of August, I will still be posting new Chronicles of HMN here until then. After that they will continue elsewhere. Stay tuned for more information and hope you enjoy! ***