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Monday, 24 October 2011

THE VIDEO DEAD (1986)

This film has got to have one of the best covers to ever grace a VHS horror film. Seriously. It's an '80s horror fan's wet dream of a video cover, and even better, it's double sided and boasts an equally awesome (although very similar) image on each side. It's one of the few 80s horror movies that has never been released on DVD, and is highly collectable (look, I don't MEAN to sound like Comic Book Guy from the Simspons. It just happens). I've lost four or five of these to higher bidders on eBay, but finally a copy has slipped into my grasp and is being appreciated properly.

The Video Dead has one of the greatest – and silliest – premises of any horror flick of the era, and I absolutely adore every frame of it. A haunted TV is delivered to a regular suburb (full of regular suburban characters and the ubiquitous teenage hero and heroine), and while the occupant of the house it arrives at is asleep, zombies from another dimension emerge from the TV and the horror begins, sort of.

As soon as this happens we jump forward in time to when the house is empty and has been sold. Our young heroes, Jeff and Zoe, are moving into the house and, naturally, discover the TV. After a nicely-paced build, the TV unleashes its hordes of zombies (who are sporting some pretty damn effective makeups) upon the house and the suburb, and the red stuff starts to flow.


The Video Dead is a beautifully cheesy piece of genre cinema that is the perfect addition to any vintage VHS collection, as alongside that glorious cover art there is a film which manages to be fun, funny, gory and just plain entertaining, which can't be said of every flick from that era, can it? The zombies are shambling, iconic visions of those notorious undead flesheaters, each with a nasty visage and a unique costume.

Despite the low budget and limited scope of the cinematography, there's a nice amount of atmosphere down to the well-placed musical cues and some tense editing. Add to this a soundtrack featuring some deliciously cheesy 80s pop-rock, characters with era-specific hairstyles and clothes, some nicely stiff acting, plenty of comedy moments and some pleasingly nasty zombie sequences, and you have a very precious thing indeed.


If you love your 80s horror, then you need to track a copy of this film down while there are still some on the collector's market. In fact, I think it's actually better that this film doesn't show up on DVD, as the best way to watch The Video Dead would have to be on VHS, if only to capture the right mood. DVD would probably ruin the look of the film (at points there's so much dry ice that it looks like a Bonnie Tyler video...heh). Sometimes, you see, it's better to have a lower quality format in order to enjoy something properly. The Video Dead is a great example. Have an old-school horror night, and make sure a copy of The Video Dead is standing by beside your ancient VHS player. Just be wary of what comes out of your TV...

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