There are a few fan favorites from the VHS era that are favorites solely because of they are completely indicative of the VHS boom in the mid 80’s. One movie that would qualify for this distinction would be Terror on Tape. It’s got one of the sexiest covers in the history of media packaging and is ripe for the nostalgic horror fan who sees a VHS tape being squeezed by a monster hand as a symbol of their own frustration and adoration for this somewhat lost medium (somewhat lost because it’s making a creeping comeback). Comet Video and Continental (same thing different name) put this one out as a sort of advertisement for the titles that Continental was distro-ing. Little did they know that the film itself would take on its own life as a piece of iconographic advertising. It’s a collection of short clips from some very shocking films and while we’ve seen that done a few time i.e. Terror in the Aisles and Filmgore, we can’t help but feel that this one made more than a few horror fans out of the casual observer. IT CAME FROM 1980 X brings you … TERROR ON TAPE.
Synospis from the back of the box:
The Scariest moments from over 20 horror films have been compiled to bring you Terror On Tape! From ancient monsters to aliens, from suspense to sheer terror, there is something all horror fans on Terror on Tape!
Come into the “Shoppe of Horrors Video Store,” the strangest video rental store you’ve ever seen on the planet (we hope). you’ll meet the weird video store owner and his odd customers– people who have never been scared! Have they ever come to the right place! If you only see one scary movie in your lifetime, it’s got to be Terror On Tape… a video nightmare you can’t erase.
Continental Video distributed some of the classic B and underground horror films of the 80’s and earlier and finished up around 1987 at the height of the VHS boom. Comet Video was the name given to the distro arm that put out this particular release for reasons I am not completely certain about, but Comet is a flashy title. When they distro’d Blood Feast that was as Comet Video. Alien Prey, Color Me Blood Red, 2000 Maniacs… as Comet Video. Probably some legal mumbo jumbo that only true horror geek kings or queens would care about. Check out their IMDB listing to full comprehend just how prolific this company was and what place they really hold in your life. It was even a wake up call for me. Sure I was familiar with some of the catchier names like Wizard and Midnight, but Continental always had my favorites.
Terror on Tape is hosted by Cameron Mitchell as a video store clerk with extra creepy sensibilities and a flare for recommending the most macabre titles. He’s got a horror pedigree that is beyond questions starring in Silent Scream, The Toolbox Murders,FrankensteinIslandand Kung Fu Cannibals. His jokes are the perfect blend of informative camp. I have always found the best horror knows how to have a sense of humor and doesn’t take itself too seriously even if this isn’t a straightforward movie with a narrative. That is exactly what we get from Mitchell in this performance, Horror hosting at its finest. One might have asked why he didn’t get a roll doing late night on the USA Network especially after all the TV he would do through the later half of the 1980’s.
Then of course there’s Michelle Bauer making a very sexy appearance as a vamped out patron who comes to find a movie that can really scare her so she can… get off. It’s the simple some times ladies and germs. It’s practically the plot to Deep Throat only there’s no clitoris in the back of Bauer’s throat. Mitchell has to find movies to scare the orgasms out of Bauer. It’s light humor that is very effective given the lovely Michelle’s assets. Love that costume. Love the banter between Mitchell and Bauer. Maybe they should go steady. Michelle is one of the reasons you know what a Scream Queen is so pay the proper respect even if you find it difficult to keep your eyes off her. These two are the most well known of the cast members, the rest coming from complete obscurity although serve their purpose as “camp” counselors.
The thing you need look for is the set design behind Mitchell. Sure there’s a pile of VHS that you’ll want for your collection, but notice the little things too. Uncle Fred, the skull, sitting on the counter alongside a creature in a box that must be fed. The rubber rat carefully place that offer the appropriate level of cheese (get it? Cheese… Rat). The Scalps/Slayer double feature release poster and the picture of Bela Lugosi. Then there’s the poster of Bob Marley (we hope the crew was rockin’ a doobie in the back during the filming). The obligatory Jacob’s Ladder from Frankenstein. The movies that the video store clerk shows a motley crew of customers including a construction guy, a nerd and the aforementioned Miss Bauer are shown on an old school, tiny boob tube. Isn’t that the way we watched all our movies before the screens went flat and the picture become crystal clear? See what else you can find when you watch it next. The little things either movies on the wall, poster, displays in the background. It’ll take you back to nostalgia town.
One of the finest moments is the soliloquy that Mitchell delivers regarding movies and horror. It’s the telltale sign that although Terror on Tape had an advertising goal, it was also made with love by people who love horror as much as the fans do. It may be reassuring to tell you that many of the films featured in Terror on Tape have been restored in some digital format, some on Blu Ray. It insures their longevity even if takes away from your own VHS obsession. Still, there are plenty of films that need to make it to digital format for archival purposes and one of those is Terror on Tape itself. Yes, I realize that Terror on Tape on DVD or Blu Ray would seem ironic, but let’s make sure we don’t lose it to the great monster that eats films.
Here’s a complete listing of the movies you’ll find on Terror on Tape. Make sure to check them out, collect the Continental VHS release when you can. Some of these may appear on the list with a title that may not be most familiar to you.
Return of the Alien’s Deadly Spawn
To the Devil a Daughter
Eerie Midnight Horror Show
Kidnapping of the President
City of the Walking Dead
Color Me Blood Red
This is big box awesome. Remember it’s a ten cent charge if you forget to rewind… TEN WHOLE CENTS!!! Don’t you miss the 80’s just a little bit more?