21st Sep2017

From VHS to VOD #4

by Phil Wheat

VHS-to-VOD-header

We’ve covered plenty of obscure films available on iTunes in previous From VHS to VOD columns but Apple’s digital service is not the only VOD service making waves into the strange and obscure – there’s plenty of odd, unseen and unreleased (well unreleased on disc formats) films available on Amazon Video.

Unlike iTunes, a lot of the more obscure titles are only available for streaming rather than purchase, though the wide variety of films you don’t, and probably won’t see elsewhere makes up for that. Like iTunes there are some truly obscure films hidden away in the depths of Amazon’s 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 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 watch.

Cardiac Arrest

The “Missing Heart Murders” are plaguing San Francisco – dead bodies that turn up with their hears surgically removed! So a weak-stomached homicide cop looks into the possibilities of a black market for human organs, while across town a man must make a difficult decision regarding his wife, who needs a transplant…

A film noir-esque medical police thriller, Cardiac Arrest was marketed as a gory serial-killer movie (especially the original artwork), however the film itself is very much a TV-movie level thriller that, despite being released in 1980, feels very much like a product of the 70s. However that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you’re a fan of classic TV movies of that era… The film is also the only one of two directorial outings for writer/director Murray Mintz (the other was Chris Mulkey’s Bad Business), a filmmaker who made his name producing and, or directing over 300 educational films, TV spots, and political campaign films!

Watch Cardiac Arrest on Amazon Video

Carnage

Carol and Jonathan, a newlywed couple, move into their new house which is haunted by the ghosts of another newlywed couple who commited suicide in the house three years earlier.

If you’re a genre fan, you’ll probably be well aware of the notorious Andy Milligan. Director of such cheesy, and sleazy, B-movies like The Ghastly Ones, Bloodthirsty Butcher and The Rats are Coming The Werewolves are Here!, Milligan stopped making movies, initially, back in the late 70s with Legacy of Blood. However following the release of Poltergeist, Milligan came out of retirement to make what was SUPPOSED to be a quick “haunted house” cash-in on the success of Tobe Hooper’s horror masterpiece. Only instead of that we got Carnage, a typical “Andy Milligan” film that forgoes the big budget (well big by Milligan’s standards) and descends into the bizarre outlandishness you’d expect from this auteur of sleaze…

Watch Carnage on Amazon Video

Mirror of Death

An abused woman conjures up a spirit to take revenge on the men who have misused her…

Mirror of Death is one of those films that I distinctly remember from my days of going to the local video shop – that weird image of the films lead character staring out of the front like a siren on the rocks, tempting me to rent the film… Cut forward a few years and Mirror of Death resurfaces, via a Troma DVD release in the US, with that same woman on the cover. But a DVD never surfaced in the UK – no we had to put up with the film languishing in obscurity (where some will say it should remain) before finally appearing on Amazon Vide0. And just like that she’s BACK and I can watch this slice of childhood cheese over and over till I look as deranged as that image on the cover of the old VHS!

Fun fact: Director Deryn Warren would helm two more films after Mirror of Death, both of which covered the same “occult” ground: The Boy From Hell (1988) and Black Magic Woman (1991) – and both of which were also written by Jerry Daly. The pair would [apparently] reunite in 2008 for the film Sweet Tessie and Bags, whose existence seems to only be the IMDB listing – I can’t find any other info on it!

Watch Mirror of Death on Amazon Video

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