Notes regarding my devotion to the world of the horror film.

Part 3

Global domination

So… I start working for this guy called Nick in a place in Camden, it’s a little place down by the canal that does hard to find and collectable VHS and related memorabilia.  Mainly movie poster, film prints, lobby cards and the like.  It’s a really cool little job as I only work Saturdays and alternating Sundays and I get paid with videos as well as cash.  I used to hang out there sometimes when I wasn’t at collage, flyering for nightclubs or studying.

People used to come and go with boxes of videos looking to sell us stuff, house clearance stuff mostly, dead relatives that like to horde stuff and their son is in our shop trying to sell the poor old buggers life for a few quid.

Well, one time this bloke comes in with a massive box of tapes, some boxed, some blank, some with just white labels with title written in biro.  One of the labels if I remember correctly said only fools and horses and snooker, awesome.  We tell the guy to leave the box with us and we’ll have a look and give him a price when he comes back in a couple of days.

So, we start to pull out tapes, some stuff in there worth having.  An original, hologramed up ‘Salute of the Jagger’ if memory serves me.  But it’s the Memorex 180’s that start to prove interesting.  There are some pornos that are about 5th or 6th generation copies so are almost unwatchable.

We had a telly in the shop hooked up to this old top loader that Nick had found at a car boot in Croydon, so we could watch stuff when we got bored.  We used to get away with watching all sorts in there, if anyone complained we would simply tell them that that’s what the store we all about, exploitation film and its subject matter, if they didn’t like it then why the hell were they in here.

Anyway, we pull out this tape that says ‘pirates of Penance xxx’ in black ink, so we chuck it in and it starts out like any old euro-porno.  Low budget, ugly dudes and a blond tart with big norks dressed as pirates start fucking each other.  But then it turns a little nasty, one of the blokes really starts to throttle the poor cow starts to throw in a few punches too.  Then the other guy pulls out this saber type sword and stuffs it into the poor girls snatch.  By this point Nick and I are staring at each other in disbelief at what we are seeing.  Could it be that we had found the holy grail of exploitation?  Had we found a snuff tape?

Luckily there was nobody in the place at the time, so we stashed the tape up and gave the bloke some money and the tapes that we didn’t want when he came back to the store.  We never asked him where the tapes had come from.  A few days later, Nick showed the tape to one of his mates but he explained that there was a lot of this sort of fake snuff within porn and that it wasn’t a real snuff movie.  Bugger, we thought that we had hit the jackpot.

Around this time I had got to writing to this guy in Germany, by post sometimes but mostly via e-mail and we would send each other copy of tapes we had made.  We would find a movie ask each other if we had seen it, and if no a tape went into the post.  We swapped all sorts of shit.  He was really into the Blaxploitation stuff like ‘Shaft’, ‘Coffey’ and ‘Super fly’, the guy couldn’t get enough of them.

He had sent me a few tapes with the like of ‘Nekromantic’ 1 and 2 on, also some of the Guiney pig series, proper underground gore stuff.  So I started to find out more about the world cinema aspect of horror.  There were a few places you could go and see world horror in London.  The Curzon on Shaftsbury Avenue or the Prince Charles Theater just off Leicester Square would sometimes show Japanese or French efforts so I got hooked.

I would go to the cinema, usually on my own about two or three times a week just to see some obscure offering from Thailand or Australia.  Some of the Ozsploitation stuff is still awesome even by today’s standards and really raised the bar for low rent, maverick film making, but that’s another story altogether.

Notes regarding my devotion to the world of the horror film.

Part 2

The start of the adventure

So yeah…

I started collecting properly when I was about 18 I guess, not because I couldn’t get hold of the gore due to certification, no, but that was around the time I could start to afford such luxuries.  I remember getting my wages one time and going into a place in Gravesend called Hamilton’s.  It was the only place that did second hand videos and games.  They had a better horror section than the local blockbusters.

I would go on to spend an absolute fortune in there over the years it was open.  They had a sister shop called Andy’s home entertainment over in Chatham, upstairs in the pentagon centre, that place was bigger than Hamilton’s but there was still something about the smaller place in old G-town.  The place just seemed to get in some better stuff.

I got hold of a copy of don’t answer the phone in there which, at the time was still on the banned list.  They also got in all the old Vipco stuff, movies like Zombie Nosh, the Nostril Picker, the Slayer, Death Trap, Cannibal holocaust and one of my all-time favourite zombie flicks, Lucio Fulci’s Italian masterpiece, Zombie Flesh-eaters.

I used to get a buzz every time I went in there and they had refilled the horror shelves.  And the place was so cheap; you could get 10 to 15 films of under £40.  Bargains!

There was also a little place down on Queen Street (another run down part of Gravesend) known only as Dennis’s, I think it had another name but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was.  He also did second hand videos as well as vinyl and other little bits of collectable curio.

Dennis would always keep stuff under the counter that he thought I might like, due to the fact that he knew other collectors were out there but wanted to give me first refusal due to me being such a regular customer.

He would always have something for me, always a little over priced but I didn’t mind that so much, if it helped him keep the place open.  He later did a runner owing a shit load of cash to some dude.  Last I heard he was in Spain, but that’s all I know. Ha-ha!

I got some really good stuff out of there, mainly old ex-rentals but with the original boxes and tapes.  Dennis didn’t trade in the cheap stuff.  I also managed to get a copy of ‘The Hand’ from him several years after I started to collect.  It was the prize at the end of my quest; it was the one I wanted to get hold of from the start.  After I had seen it at my grandparents place I never saw it again, it was never even on the TV to my knowledge, like it never existed.  Almost like I had just dreamt the thing up on night, but I found the bastard, several years down the line and several thousand pounds lighter.

After watching it, as an adult I found it to be shit, but it still held a special place in my heart.  And pride of place in my collection.  The one that started this whole thing off, my big game prize.

But finding this didn’t slow me down; if anything it quickened my collection proses.  Almost like I had could now go on to by all the stuff I missed out on just looking for that one bastard film that turned out to be a load of shite anyhow.

Finding it had driven me on, if I could find an out of print movie like that, what else was out there waiting in the dusty second hand shops or car boot sales.  It was about this time when I got really hooked.  Now we started to go global!

Notes regarding my devotion to the world of the horror film.

 Part one

Are you sitting comfortably…….?

This is my confession.  It has been a while since I have spoken with anybody about my compulsion, my obsession.  It is hard for me, even now to say it but I am going to have to if we are to get through this together.  Okay, I am a horror movie geek.  There I said it.  I’m a horror nerd, a gore hound, a splatter junkie… I am a VIDIOT!

I have been obsessed with the horror film from when I was a child.  I used to stay with my grandparents during the holidays and my granddad would let me stay up late to watch the hammer horror double bills on the BBC.  I remember not being scared of Christopher Lee lording it up in his long black robe and biting virgins on the neck, but I sat in the dark of my room, glued to the screen.

Ever since then I have spent a lot of my free time watching and collecting horror films and memorabilia.  I even remember the first time I saw Fangoria magazine in town, my mum wouldn’t buy it for me as I was ‘too young’ but my granddad let me get it.  I even remember the first horror film I ever saw on video, ‘the hand’ staring Michel Cane, a god awful effort about a man that loses his hand in a car accident, the limb then comes back to hunt and kill his adulterous wife and others he had a gripe with.  Classic trash!

‘The hand’ would later become my big game, my great hunt, the great white rhino and the catalyst for my collection, which is now so big I’m going to have to move to a new place… seriously!

Now let’s get down to business, the start of my collection and obsession with the mighty VHS!  I have of late moved on to DVD but the humble video tape is where it’s at.  The forgotten format as I have heard it called on certain forums and blogs is for the serious collectors.  There is a reason they call them ‘Video nasty’s’.

No I got really into collecting VHS, not the standard ones they would knock out in ASDA or Blockbusters, fuck no, you can keep all that cheap rubbish.  I’m talking first copy, ex-rental big box bastards with original hologram seals and stickers.  The quality that went into making the boxes alone was outstanding.  Coloured, embossed plastic not mass produced rubbish, and the cover artwork back then, fantastic.  You don’t get that nowadays, just a screen shot or a photo collage with some slick lettering and a shit load of reviews slapped all over the cover, ‘a must see, five stars- the daily star’ type crap.

Some of my favourite covers are from the dawn of home entertainment, the true start of modern horror.  Dawn of the dead, the evil dead, don’t answer the phone, motel hell, absurd, nightmare in a damaged brain, macabre, manic, the burning, the video dead, to name but a few.  You don’t see stuff like this anymore and that’s a real shame.  Nothing to me is more synonymous with the world of horror movies than those old covers.  I have a collection of books that just have classic video and movie artwork in them, and some of the stuff is stunning.  Even some of the foyer cards and posters from the 60’s and 70’s exploitation era make me feel all gooey inside.  Amazing stuff!

Now, don’t get me wrong, there have been some great covers over the past few years and some of the new distribution companies have gone back to the ‘actual’ art, old-school style but there is still something about the proper covers that I just can explain, nostalgia I guess.

I have actually gone well out of my way and paid well over the odds to get hold of some titles.  I have travelled by bus, train and boat to hunt down stuff like anthropophagous the beast for example, original mint condition, and totally lush.  I won’t tell you what I paid for it because most of you will think I’m stupid… some of you might think ‘you jammy bastard!’ Ha-ha!

and when I say boat, I went to a film festival with collage a while back to Belgium and stumbled across this place that had some vintage VHS tapes for sale, result!  But that counts right?

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