Thursday, December 30, 2010

Disappointment in VHS land

I've mentioned before that I'm a rabid VHS collector. In fact, at this point, I have around 20 movies on VHS sitting in a stack that I haven't even had the chance to watch yet. As I continue to pick up movies, new acquisitions that I'm eager to watch end up pushing the older titles further down the stack.

The latest VHS pickup that I ended up watching just days after picking it up was the Richard Linklater film SubUrbia (not to be confused with the 1984 Penelope Spheeris cult classic that doesn't have the awkwardly capitalized vowel). I had always heard this film was pretty awesome and knew it never saw the light of the DVD (odd for a film produced in 1996). When I found it for a buck, I was so excited that it ended up finding its way to the top of the stack pretty quickly.

My high expectations certainly weren't met.

The film was a meandering, poorly structured and downright pointless tale of slacker life. I can understand that a movie about a bunch of teenagers whose lives don't have much direction could lack structure, but that doesn't mean it's going to be entertaining. For the first half, I slightly enjoyed SubUrbia, but it quickly wore out its welcome and by the last half-hour took a painfully bad turn toward drama.

I think I can sum up the problem with this movie pretty easily by what I did while rewinding the tape: I looked at the cast on the box and tried to pick out who was supposed to be the character I was supposed to like. I couldn't seem to find one.

A movie full of characters you probably won't end up caring about or liking.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The laziest blogger ever... oh, and do you remember A-Pix Entertainment?

Goddamn, I'm really terrible at this.

Having a full-time job, working on my web series 2 Dudes and a Sweet Prince, and just life in general has really left me with little time for my writing. I mean, it's left me plenty of time to leave facetious Facebook comments and listen to podcasts on my cell phone during slow days at work, but I've really been being lazy about my writings. I haven't even done a lame freelance how-to article for spare cash in months.

But I plan to get this blog on track for my New Year's Resolution. Expect to see some interviews, more reviews, and just random musings about movies. In fact, I'll start now.

The other day, my friend Andrew Shearer posted a picture from the 1997 z-grade horror classic Jack Frost, the direct-to-video slasher film where a psychopathic killer is turned into a killer snowman by an experimental acid. It's also a personal holiday favorite of mine and the picture reminded me it was time to break out the DVD, even if it was almost a week after Christmas.

Probably not her proudest moment.
Apart from being known for Shannon Elizabeth's first film role (where she's raped in a bathtub by a killer snowman - probably something that didn't manage to make it on her acting reel), the film is also known for it's tongue-in-cheek style and downright ludicrous special effects. I remember reading an interview with director Michael Cooney, where he briefly spoke of the film. Apparently, the script was written in a very serious tone with a multi-million dollar budget in mind, but when only a fraction of that could be raised, they took an entirely different approach and made it a comedy.

Of course, I'm not sure if everyone finds it to be funny, as the title alone can raise either smiles or scorn out of both the horror crowd or anyone that was forced to watch it back when A-Pix Entertainment's lenticular animation VHS boxes first hit video stores.

For a time in the mid '90s, it was impossible to escape A-Pix's amazing box art in video stores. Rarely did the film quality actually stand up to the luridly Photoshopped box art, but the movies were enjoyable in their own right. Most of the time, it was because they were campy good fun or just the most ludicrously bad horror film you could imagine (though usually of significant production value that would actually merit their slots on the shelves).

I've often found myself searching for A-Pix VHS boxes, since most of the gimmicky designs didn't get reprinted for DVD. The only one I've managed to pick up is Werewolf, the MST3k classic that features a werewolf who wears pants and at one point, drives a car. I wish I could remember more, but that would require actually watching the film again. I just bought it for the 3-D cover.

It appears A-Pix has gone bankrupt, but re-opened under different names a few times. They reappeared under the name Ardustry Home Entertainment in the early 2000s and started rereleasing a lot of their '90s catalog on DVD. Now, it appears Ardustry has become Allumination Filmworks. Regardless of what their name is, they will probably never be able to top the days where all you needed to sell a movie was a box that would change when people walked past it.


..and after.