Monday, June 6, 2011

Gorgon Video Magazine (1989)

... aka: Gorgon Video Magazine: Volume 1
... aka: Stuart S. Shapiro's Gorgon Video Magazine

Directed by:
John O. Francis Jr.
Joe Horne
Charles Schneider
Stuart S. Shapiro
Tom Stern
Patricia Wadsley
Alex Winter

Remember Gorgon Video? During the VHS era of the 80s and early 90s, they were primarily known as the studio who released the notorious FACE OF DEATH series to home video. But that's not all they did. They also released other genre films from around the world (including such titles as BAY OF BLOOD and SLAUGHTER HOTEL) and even made this home video magazine featuring what was hot back in 1989. Michael Berryman (dressed in his HILLS HAVE EYES garb) makes a bunch of hilariously bizarre facial expressions as our very enthusiastic, expressive host and introduces each segment in front of movie clips. We also get occasional animated segments from John O. Francis Jr. and Joe Horne thrown in. The first segment is about "the crown prince of horror" Wes Craven. The interview is conducted around the set of SHOCKER (1989). Craven talks about creative freedom, what's great about working on horror films, dealing with censorship and what turned this former "church-goer" and "working class kid from Cleveland, Ohio" into a horror filmmaker. Clips from 90-thousand-budgeted hit LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972) and THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977), which apparently failed theatrically because many theaters refused to show it, are shown. Craven also states that his TV movie debut CHILLER (1985) failed when it was knocked down to a 11 pm time slot because of a championship basketball game and says that the only film that he submitted to the MPA that was passed uncut was THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW (1988).

.......................................Why can't this guy host The Oscars?

.....................Undoubtedly horror's most mild-mannered director - Wes Craven.

The talented guys from KNB (Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger) are next. They discuss getting their starts in special effects, what's appealing about horror and how most of their fx work was cut from the R-rated version of INTRUDER (1988). We also get a look behind-the-scenes at KNB Fx Facility and see some of the effects they designed for such films as CREEPSHOW 2 (1987) and THE HORROR SHOW (1989).

.............Linnea Quigley took her parents to the premiere of Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers.

"Queen of the B's" Linnea Quigley is up next to talk about her career (and what her parents think of her career). Here we get some nice clips from HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS (1987), SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA (1987), NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (1988) and LINNEA QUIGLEY'S HORROR WORKOUT (1989). Following her is a segment on Troma's Lloyd Kaufman. He discusses the start of the studio (their first release was SUGAR COOKIES) and problems with censorship (a recurring theme here). According to him, horror filmmakers are unfairly singled out by the rating's board and Troma is treated worse than most studios. We also get clips from Troma releases THE TOXIC AVENGER (1984), THE TOXIC AVENGER, PART II (1988) and EVIL CLUTCH (1988).

....................The MPAA's favorite whipping boy, Lloyd Kaufman, in the early days.

Gore Gazette's Rick Sullivan then gets his own review segment. The verdict? BAD TASTE (1987), VICIOUS (1988) and HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER (1986) all get 4 skulls on the "gore barometer" and poor CAMERON'S CLOSET (1987) gets... just 1. Getting burnt out on all the clips yet? Well they even throw in a weird/bloody performance art segment featuring a female singer (Lia Niskanen) performing a song in French ("Sans Amour") and then ripping her head open.

Clips from A BUCKET OF BLOOD (1959) and ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES (1959) are shown during a dedication to drive-in movies, which turns out to basically be a plug for the Sinister Cinema catalogue. In a segment co-directed by Alex Winter (of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure fame), shock rockers GWAR ("They make Alice Cooper look like Sesame Street!") are profiled. We also meet an embarrassing group of "GWAR Slaves;" a bunch of drugged out weirdos who do things like get dismembered and puke on stage and use irritating phrases like "gigantic genitaliatica" and "necrophlic butt sex." Next up are previews for DEATH SPA (1987), GIRLFRIEND FROM HELL (1989) and JUDGEMENT DAY (1989). Finally we get a flurry of VHS covers of the movies we've just seen, along with their distributors.

....................................Wonder how this would look on a resume?

Unlike some other documentaries and video mags from back in the day, this is informative, well made, entertaining, very much still worth watching and a nice trip down memory lane to a much simpler time with a much smaller community of actors, directors, producers, writers and fx guys slogging away in an oft-maligned subgenre. It's also nice to note that Berryman, Craven, Kaufman, Quigley and KNB all still enjoy success in the genre over 20 years after this was made.

GORGON VIDEO MAGAZINE: VOLUME 2 was also made the same year and was never officially released to video stores, though a few screener copies were released. Gorgon also made IMPACT VIDEO MAGAZINE (1989), which covered art, music, news and political satire and was hosted by Winter. Included there were music acts Public Enemy, Jane's Addiction and Butthole Surfers, more animation from Joe Horne, underground painter and co-founder of Zap Comix Robert Williams, comedian Bill Hicks, Village Voice columnist Michael Musto, some performance art (including a recycling of the "Sans Amour" act seen here) and the short BAMBI MEETS GODZILLA. It was hosted by Alex Winter.


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