30th Jan2017

From VHS to VOD #1

by Phil Wheat

VHS-to-VOD-header

I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but I can often spend hours upon hours trawling through iTunes looking for new movies to buy… Usually I’ll randomly come across a title I haven’t seen in years and use the “Cast & Crew” links to make my way down the rabbit hole to the more obscure side of Apple’s digital movie service.

Now whilst many will decry that iTunes is a terrible VOD service due to Apple’s desire to lock its audience to their platforms, if you have an Apple TV or iPad be aware – there are some truly obscure films hidden away in the depths of the vast collection of movies. Some of which have been made available in the UK for the first time since VHS and a LOT that have been added to the service in their original uncut form!

So, with that said here’s the start of new feature here on Nerdly, were we highlight some of the best (well, I say best but as always taste is subjective!) obscure and/or uncut films that have made the jump from VHS to VOD here in the UK – complete with links to download and watch.

Gator Bait

Director: Beverly & Fred Sebastian | Stars: Claudia Jennings, Sam Gilman, Douglas Dirkson, Clyde Ventura

Louisiana steaming bayous hide countless secrets in their murky, snake-infested swamps. One is the beautiful Desiree, whose animal magnetism drives men wild! Former Playmate of the Year, Claudia Jennings, is Desiree, and untamed Cajun Poacher as savage as the alligators she traps.

Originally released in the UK as Swamp Bait and later released to home video in a cut form, censored by 3m 8s, Gator Bait has not been available in the UK since the VHS era. The UNCUT film is available to buy and rent now on iTunes.

FYI: Beverly & Fred Sebastian’s last film, the 1993 action film Running Cool – another film that never made the transition from VHS to DVD/Blu-ray – is also available on iTunes as well.

Caged Fury

Director: Bill Milling | Stars: Erik Estrada, Roxanna Michaels, Richie Barathy, James Hong, Michael Parks

Adult-movie director Bill Milling (A Scent of Heather, Blonde Goddess), turned his hand to the women in prison movie for this 1990 film that tells the story of Catherine (Michaels) an innocent woman locked up for a crime she did not commit. Women in chains, a deviant warden and murderous guards…no wonder the cops claim Honeywell State Prison doesn’t exist! Her only hope of being freed lies with Harley-riding hero, Erik Estrada and Combat Karate champ, Richie Barathy, who’ll take on the whole prison single-handed, if that’s how it’s gotta be done!

Last released in the UK in a cut form – shorn some 2m 41s – from RCA/Columbia, Caged Fury (not to be confused with the WIP movie of the same name from 1983) is now available uncut on iTunes.

Side Out

Director: Peter Israelson | Stars: C. Thomas Howell, Peter Horton, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Harley Jane Kozak, Terry Kiser, Randy Stoklos, Sinjin Smith, Kathy Ireland

This 1990 beach volleyball was the only feature from music video director Peter Israelson and was penned by David Thoreau, who previously wrote episodes of Highway to Heaven and whose only other screenplay was for the Bridgette Wilson starring Sweet Evil, one of the many cash-ins on The Hand That Rocks the Cradle that were released in the 90s.

Another film that never made the leap from VHS to any disc format, Side Out pre-dates the more well-known White Men Can’t Jump – a film whose sport-based story is pretty much identical – by two years. The film tells the story of Monroe Clark, a Midwestern law student who comes to California to work for his Uncle’s firm over the Summer. Instead of working, he hangs out at the beach and chases waitresses, meets up with a washed-up former King of the Beach (Thirtysomething‘s Peter Horton), and then goes on to win the biggest beach volleyball tournament of the year!

Side Out is available now on iTunes for the bargain price of £3.99

Uninvited

Director: Greydon Clark | Stars: George Kennedy, Alex Cord, Clu Gulager, Toni Hudson, Shari Shattuck, Rob Estes

Directed by the prolific Greydon Clark, Uninvited is the kind of batsh*t insane movie that was rented by unsuspecting video store goers in the early 90s based off the artwork and synopsis alone… And what a synopsis: “A mutated feline escapes from a secret lab and onto a yacht owned by a wealthy criminal. Two beautiful women adopt the cuddly cat unaware the killer kitty houses a demon in its mouth!” Poor George Kennedy, between this and his other 1988 film, Demonwarp, he just couldn’t catch a break – he was monster fodder everywhere!

Last available legally in the UK on VHS from Braveworld (though a US DVD was available), Uninvited is now available on iTunes and Amazon Video. And yes, the print isn’t that great and is still 4:3 format but hey, who doesn’t want to relive those VHS pan and scan days?

Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Director: Rusty Lemorande/Albert Pyun | Stars: Paul Carafotes, Nicola Cowper, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, Kathy Ireland

Where to begin with 1988′s Journey to the Centre of the Earth? Literally a film of two halves, this take on Jules Verne’s classic novel is also a semi-sequel to Albert Pyun’s Alien From L.A., which also starred Kathy Ireland (playing the same character, Wanda, in BOTH films). The story goes that Golan-Globus were running out of cash and could not afford to complete the effects work on Rusty Lemorande’s version of Journey to the Centre of the Earth. So, enterprising folk they are, the producers decided to instead splice Albert Pyun’s Alien… sequel onto the the back end of Lemorande’s film!

What we end up with is a bizarre and VERY 1980s film that sees a British nanny, sent to a job to babysit a dog in Hawaii, fall down a hole in a beach side cave after chasing two adventuring brothers who accidentally drive off with the pampered pooch she’s protecting. Where do they end up? Atlantis. The same place as Wanda Saknussemm did in Alien From L.A. Makes perfect no sense! But hey, it’s the 80s right? As long as the product looked good on the video store shelves who cared if it was any good! Though to be fair, it is one of my favourite Albert Pyun films of the 80s, right behind Radioactive Dreams and The Sword and the Sorcerer.

Another film, that despite a US DVD release from MGM, never made its way out of the VHS doldrums (although it has aired on Channel 5 a number of times), Journey to the Centre of the Earth is available to rent or buy on Amazon Video and/or iTunes.

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