Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 12th, 2011
Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 1989 (The Basement), USA, 1987 (Video Violence, Video Violence 2), USA, 1988 (Captives)
Directors: Timothy O’Rawe (The Basement), Gary P. Cohen (Video Violence, Video Violence 2, Captives), Tom Fisher, Jon McBride (Cannibal Campout)
Cast: Dennis Driscoll, Kathleen Heidinger, David Webber, Scott Corizzi, Traci Mann, Pamela Kramer, John Fedele
DVD released: September 13th, 2011
Approximate running times: 69 Minutes (The Basement), 98 Minutes (Video Violence), 75 Minutes (Video Violence 2), 84 Minutes (Captives), 88 Minutes (Cannibal Campout)
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame (All Films)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English (All Films)
DVD Release: Camp Motion Pictures / Pop Cinema
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $34.99
Video Violence: A small town video store starts receiving homemade horror films that look all too real, so naturally they go to the police with these tapes, unfortunately the police quickly dismiss their claim that someone may be making snuff films.
Video Violence 2: Two psychopaths start a cable access show in which they kill their guests.
Captives: A young woman and her infant child are taken hostage by her husband ex-lover and her two demented brothers.
The Cannibal Campout: Campers are tortured and eaten by a group of cannibalistic orphans.
All five films in this collection were at the tail end of the 1980’s, when the Horror films boom from the earlier part of the decade had long since reached its apex. If you are looking for films that will send chills up your spin, you should look elsewhere. Sure all of these films have elements that one would associate with the Horror film genre and yet the end result are five under whelming films, that are short on scares and all suffer from lethargic pacing.
With that being said, if I had to pick a favorite out of the five films included with this collection. My choice would have to be The Basement, since it is easily the most polished of these five films. Also another strength of The Basement, is its anthology narrative that has wrap around segments which tie together the four separate tales that make up this films plot.
Three of the films in this collection, Video Violence, Video Violence 2 and Captives were directed by Gary P. Cohen. It should also be noted that these films make up Gary P. Cohen’s cinematic cannon. So after indulging oneself to these three Horror oddities, one would expect some kind of improvement from one film to the next. Unfortunately things work in reverse here, as Video Violence is the peak of his filmmaking talents, while by the time he got to Captives he had clearly regressed as a filmmaker. And while I was not expecting these films to be high water marks of the Horror film genre. I did expect them to more engaging and entertaining then they ultimately were.
The last film included in this collection, The Cannibal Campout proves to be the most grueling and mind melting film of the lot.
While there is something to be said about films that are so bad they are so good. These five films push the limits when it comes to that regard. To put it bluntly, these are the type of films that you either love them or you will loathe them with every fiber of your being.
All five films included in this collection are presented in their original aspect ratio. The Basement was shot on 8mm, while the other four films were shot on video. Out of these five films, The Basement easily looks the best. On all five films colors tend to fluctuate and black levels are mediocre. Details range from generally crisp, to soft, with the bulk of all of these transfers falling into the latter category. Overall, it is hard to imagine these films looking any better, considering their sources.
Each film comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. All five audio mixes sound flat and have background noise that varies in degree throughout.
Extras for The Basement include 7 minutes of outtakes, a six minute news segment about the film, three episodes from the public access T.V. show ‘The Meadowlands Showcase’ -Michael Raso and John Fedele where two of creative talents behind this series (one of these episodes also features a audio commentary with Michael Raso and John Fedele), two short films ‘Say no to Drugs’ and ‘Vengeance’ that were both directed by Timothy O’Rawe and a audio commentary with Michael Raso and John Fedele – for the film The Basement.
Extras for Captives is an audio commentary with editor Joel Cobeck, director Gary P. Cohen and moderator Michael Raso.
Extras for The Cannibal Campout include an audio commentary with co-director Jon McBride.
Extras for Video Violence and Video Violence 2 include commentaries for each film with director Gary P. Cohen & several cast members from each film and a fourteen minute on camera interview with Gary P. Cohen. Also included on this disc are trailers for Video Violence, Video Violence 2, The Cannibal Campout, Ghoul School and Woodchipper Massacre.
Rounding out the extras for this release is a VHS tape copy The Basement and everything comes in a large over sized video cassette style box.
Far too often with low budget horror films like the ones included with this collection, the extras are far more compelling and in many instances more entertaining than the actual features films. The weakest of these audio commentaries is the one for The Cannibal Campout, which is not as lively as the other four. And while all three audio commentaries that featured Gary P. Cohen and the one camera interview with him are very good looks into the three films that he directed. The best extra included with this release is easily the audio commentary with Michael Raso and John Fedele, for the film The Basement. Overall this release is a case in which the packing and extras far outweigh the actually films, which are definitely are acquired taste.