Kobblestone, the Journey Begins (1995)

Erica Benedikty also made Phobe: The Xenophobic Experiments, the Canadian science fiction SOV movie and she kept on in that format when she made this one, a dungeonsynth on video epic in which six friends — Candace, Ray, Mark, Craig, Liz and Norm — sit around a campfire and play Dungeons and Dragons, which brings them into another world in which they actually have to be wizards, clerics, barbarians and thieves.

It’s also very Narnia in that in order to get back to our world, they have to rescue a princess or get stuck forever.

It’s wild that the SOV genre can encompass not just slashers, which are easier to make on a low budget, but several sword and sorcery movies like The Song of the SwordWay Bad Stone, Masters of Magic and this film.

You can make fun of nerdy RPG players all you want but these guys got it togther and made something with enough story for more than one movie.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Rana, Queen of the Amazons (1994)

How did I get so far into these SOV weeks without doing a W.A.V.E. Productions movie? W.A.V.E. is a New Jersey-based horror and custom video company that makes their own films as well as custom movies for pay with usually no limits. It’s kind of like pornography but at once less filthy and creepier. They claim to be inspired by the horror and exploitation movies of the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s and there’s adult content but never anything explicit.

So, if you wanted to see Sheena, Queen of the Jungle or Wonder Woman struggle and get tied up even more than they did in their comics or movies, well, this time W.A.V.E. has a movie for you.

That means when you watch Alexandria Solace (Dawn Murphy) run through the jungle and fall into quicksand, you’re going to watch her struggle for like seven minutes. If this turns you on, look, I’m not going to judge, but I have no idea how you would be able to fulfil your fantasies outside of W.A.V.E.

Rana (Pamela Sutch) is the heroine, a jungle girl battling hand puppet snakes and the remnants of the German army. Her greatest enemy is Ilsa Van Todd (Tina Krause, a W.A.V.E. superstar who went on to direct the incredible movie Limbo) and yeah, my admiration for Krause kind of made her the heroine of this whole thing.

This is made from three shorts: The Jungle Woman versus the Nazis, The Jungle Woman and the Flowers of Death and The Jungle Woman and the Fangs of Death. There are also trailers, extended footage of Murphy having a wardrobe issue in case you didn’t feel bad enough watching this and a song with the lyric “You can count on Rana to be your friend.”

Splatter Farm (1987)

Man, those Polonia boys are always getting in trouble. This time, John, Mark and their friend Todd Michael Smith start with the strangeness of Hallucinations and then decide there’s no way to go but all the way as they direct, write, star and survive this assault.

So yeah, the simple breakdown would be something like Alan and Joseph (Mark and John Polonia) plan on spending the summer with their Aunt Lacey, but soon run into Jeremy (Smith), one of the workers on her farm who just might be killing people.

Except that, well, Aunt Lacey is ready to take the virginity of either of her nephews, Jeremy isn’t just killing but keeping body parts and oh yeah, that scene where John craps out a full knife and screams in bloody underwear from Hallucinations comes back to destroy minds.

What can you say about a movie that begins with a man axe hacking a body to pieces, except for a hand that he uses it, well, give himself the ultimate stranger? Or when it comes out that the body of their uncle is in the house and their aunt still has sex with him? Or a fisting scene that ends with a killer forcing his victim to eat feces, all while Casio synth plaintively blasts?

This is amongst the most offensive and in your face SOV films I’ve ever seen — I haven’t even mentioned the golden shower or oral sex with a severed head scene, but you know, not everyone is ready nor should they need to be — and it’s amazing that the Polonias were teens making this and that Mark is still making movies today. This feels like the kind of movie that you need to watch with a room of people and see how many make it to the end.

Blood Sick Psychosis (2022)

There’s a moment in this movie where a date happens at the drive-in to watch Grave of the Vampire and that’s how you know this is a movie, because the girl in that scene is so impossibly gorgeous the fact that she’s down to go see Michael Pataki and eat in the car proves that this is either fantasy or she’s a dream demon of some sort.

Anyways — this is a brand new movie made to look old and yet I can’t hate it. Even when someone makes a smoothie out of a cat or it gets impossibly talky or too mean spirited, I still admire the DIY nature of it all, it still has Dave “The Rock” Nelson playing the role of Amber Lynn in Things and claymation credits and a segment about creepy crawling and that wins me over.

Made for about $5,000 by director and writer Bruce Longo, this also has a scene where the aforementioned girl shows off her tumor and dead mouse collection amongst her The Tomb of Ligeia poster. Women like this exist — I married one and you can’t have her — but not all that often.

Also: Bonus points for Pacey wearing a River’s Edge shirt.

This has the feel of real SOV, the kind made in backyards with no real budget, movies where weird kids got to be Herschell Gordon Lewis for a day and get their hands wet with animal guts and then upset all of their relatives who asked to watch it.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Hallucinations (1988)

As you watch this movie, keep in mind that twin brothers named Mark and John Polonia and their friend Todd Michael Smith were around seventeen. This movie is exactly the sheer mania that is inside the mind of a child about it be a man, as the three guys are all brothers in this, stuck at home as their mom is working multiple shifts just in time for a horrific monk to move in next door and destroy their fragile brains.

Todd is reading a book about Herschell Gordon Lewis. John is calling a sex line, because that’s what guys did in 1988 when there was no world wide web in the way we know it now. Mark is out shoveling snow. And then stuff gets absolutely bonkers: John craps out a blade that also castrates him; Mark ties up Todd and caresses his skin with a razor blade and, again, castration; John takes a shower — there’s no Hollywood attempt at hiding the male nudity — when a homemade — yet raw as fuck — penis monster assaults him. Also: an elf pisses in Mark’s face.

Man, what were these kids on? High on camcorders? This movie is filled with latent fear of post-puberty becoming a man and leaving the nest. And man, like all SOV, you get to be a psychiatrist, because there’s some definite trauma at the idea of homosexuality becoming a normal part of your life.  I have no idea if they intended this but even if not it’s all here on tape, stomach explosions, masked killers and authentic 80s beige haze everywhere.

You could gather all of Hollywood, give them all of the money and they would never make a movie this great. Or weird. Or with so much dick.

Some of this movie was remade into Splatter Farm, the movie the Polonias were at one time best known for, as well as the actual remake of this movie, Lethal Nightmare.

You can watch this on Tubi.

The Tower (1985)

Canadian studio Emmeritus Productions may not have had much money, but they made some interesting movies, including porn-based detective story Blue MurderDeath In Hollywood, horror anthology Shock Chamber, post-apocalyptic Survival EarthDiamon In the RoughBody Count, Satanic conspiracy thriller Mark of the BeastThe BorrowerThe Bounty HunterLady BearLast ChanceThe Hijacking of Studio 4Niagra Strip, SOV history film The Chronicle of 1812Fly With the HawkVirgin ParadiseCommando GamesMarked for DeathPrice of VengeanceRace to Midnight and The Edge.

Also, they made The Tower.

Directed and written by Jim Makichuk, the same man who created Ghostkeeper, this is a Canadian science fiction tale of the Sandawn Building, a high rise of tomorrow that has a computer running it named LOLA and man, avoid all futuristic buildings in the North-West Territory that have shopping and living amenities because I am convinced you’re either going to contract a disease that makes a sex organ grow in your armpit or you will be killed by a supercomputer.

None of this is obvious to the man who created her, Watson, who sees humans the same way she does: as sources of heat energy. So on the Friday night that LOLA loses its mind, the inhabitants of an ad agency — nuke these people from orbit — as well as Old Man Sandawn, his wife, his mistress, some criminals and a security guard and his way out of his league girlfriend who is just there to swim — all get trapped and menaced by a building.

For some reason, there’s also an exotic dancer who can barely dance who wants to sleep with Watson, but you know, it’s so cold in Canada that even their movies have padding.

This movie is worth watching not only for the worst depiction of an ad agency in a film — those marker renderings are trash — but also for an old woman who knows that a computer is trying to kill her and decides to go try on feather boas and have a mall makeover instead.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Ozone (1994)

Born in Akron, Ohio, J.R. Bookwalter has so many shot on video films to his credit such as The Dead Next Door, Robot Ninja and Zombie Cop and brought many more to audiences through his Tempe Entertainment releases.

He directed and co-wrote this with David A. Wagner and it’s the story of Eddie Boone (James Black), a cop who gets injected with the titular drug Ozone and starts to lose his mind and he’s either going to melt or turn into a zombie or kill everyone before that can happen.

Some movies would say that a body melting and a head exploding would be enough, especially one made on this budget. But no, Ozone goes one further by throwing you a mutant baby that can talk near instantly and has transulcent skin. Then, it says, “What if we also gave you a drug lord who was a gigantic fat man with a pig head? Would you like some of that?”

Yes, I would like some of that.

There’s also cage fighting, people wth syringe arms and women addicted to the slime that seeps out of the bubbles on Ozone users’ skin. There are some people who think this is too long, that it’s too slick for SOV and too scummy for a regular movie.

All of these people are morons.

You can watch this on Tubi or buy it from Makeflix.

Red Lips (1995)

Donald Farmer has been making movies since 1973 and through movies like Scream DreamDemon Queen and Cannibal Hookers, as well as his three hour interview with Jess Franco and Lina Romay The Bizarre World of Jess Franco, he’s really made quite an impression.

Ghetty Chasun (GoroticaDamselvis, Daughter of ElvisVicious Kisses) is Caroline, a woman just trying to survive who sells her blood and meets The Doctor (Mandy Leigh) who starts to experiment with her for reasons unknown, transforming her into a vampire ravenous for human blood, including that of George Stover.

Then she meets Lisa (Michelle Bauer) — who has just broken up with a bathing Kitten Natividad — and they travel the darkest side of New York City, whether that means coming into the orbit of a sinister pimp or making out amongst a punk rock show.

Yet through all the gore and exploitation, this is a film that finds a real relationship between its leads who are both incredible in this. Imagine finding the love of your life at the same time that your life becomes living for destroying other human beings.

It’s like Franco shot on the cheapest of cameras in cities that may not be New York City but as its edited, you’ll never notice. Chasun and Bauer are incandescent, doomed souls who struggle to hold onto one another despite all of the horror and violence that this world has to send their way.

Is it weird that a lesbian shot on video vampire movie features a central relationship that in no way feels like exploitation?

You can get this on blu ray from Saturn’s Core, a partner label of Vinegar Syndrome.

Sixteen Tongues (1999)

The first time I wrestled in Japan, I took a handful of sleeping pills on a 19-hour flight and they never really kicked in, fighting in my gut with a glass bottle of Thailand Red Bull which laughs at that skinny can we have here and I was caught in a world between sleep and awake, knowing where I was but feeling like someone else was dragging me through airport lobbies, subway stations packed with singsong teenage girls trying to get dogs adopted and endless walking through the unfamiliar streets of Osaka until we ended at the Arrow Hotel, a place with a BGM button in my small room that only played two songs — the themes from The Godfather and Midnight Cowboy — and a TV that only played bukkake porn that had pixelated genitalia all static shafts spraying all over a woman whose face was anything but hidden.

Sixteen Tongues starts there and goes even further, giving me flashbacks that shock me into unreality, like at the end of Altered States when people start to de-evolve into VHS tracking noise before we knew what that was.

Director and writer Scooter McCrae creates worlds filled with menace and carnal overload and never more than this movie, a hotel where you have to pay to shut off the endless penetration on the TVs that never shut down, can never be unplugged, that just fluff you until you remember those screaming moments of first puberty overwhelming need with the adult realization that there’s truly nowhere to gain relief.

I always loved the Dark Brothers because back in the letters pages of Hustler people were enraged that someone had the effrontery to make a dirty movie that was nearly impossible to climax to. How dare someone put art in my smut? Or, in the case of this movie, smut in my art?

Adrian Torque (Crawford James, who improbably also played a cop on iCarly, so he’s done the alpha and omega of being a police officer on film, one supposes; he was also a security guard in The 6th Day) survived a bomb blast but maybe his mind and body didn’t. He has the sixteen tongues of everyone who died around him grafted to his skin and he can feel them all screaming inside his mind.

Ginny Chin-Chin (Jane Chase) is a cyborg good at making love and taking lives. She’s in a constant state of arousal thanks to the mad scientist she dreams of killing, a man who implanted a clitoris inside each of her eyes. Her lover — who hasn’t given her much in the way of relief in some time or maybe just days, who can even know — Alik Silens (Alice Liu) is a hacker obsessed with finding the man who killed her brother.

You know how everyone was making future tech movies in the 90s and 2000s and all of it felt dated instantly? When so many people filmed Phillip K. Dick movies and referenced William Gibson? Sixteen Tongues is at once the film they wanted to make and never could because sex is worse than death. For all everyone refers to movies as being like Cronenberg, I’m more amazed by this movie which is its own genre, its own world, its own influence.

I’ve read that this was based on the Merle Travis song “Sixteen Tons,” which goes “Some people say a man is made outta mud, a poor man’s made outta muscle and blood. Muscle and blood and skin and bones, a mind that’s a-weak and a back that’s strong.” The song came from the writer’s life, as his brother wrote to him and remarked, “You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt” while his coal miner father often would state, “I can’t afford to die. I owe my soul to the company store.” It’s a catchy song that’s fun to sing until you realize all these men were under the Earth digging and dying.

Also: Stark Raven from Shatter Dead showing up as a nun in latex, a character named Mistress Mummy and Tina Krause playing “Bear Handler” and sings you into seeing her dancing bear.

You can get this from Saturn’s Core, a Vinegar Syndrome partner label.

Saint Frankenstein (2015)

Director and writer Scooter McCrae made this short in 2015 and it’s been the last film he’s put out. It makes you hungry for something else because it’s just so effective in this short form and McCrae needs to keep on making his incredibly vital and unique films.

W.A.V.E. starlet — and maker of the incredible Limbo — Tina Krause is Carla, a sex worker who has been invited into the room of Shelley, played by Melanie Gaydos, the Dark Angel from Insidious: The Last Key and Jug in Vesper; Gaydos was born with ectodermal dysplasia, a series of rare genetic disorders that affects the development of skin, hair and nails. Additionally, she is partially blind. Beyond acting, she has modeled and is in two videos for the band Rammstein. Her voice in this is by Archana Rajan.

As the two engage in wordplay that goes from foreplay to near combat, Shelley relates her origins and how she has come to be who and what she is, all while both women appear in states of undress. Her body is covered in scars no one should survive, like an autopsy slice through her chest and a head that’s barely stapled together. Yet as these two dance with words, it all builds to a dark conclusion.

As Russ Meyer once said, “While violence cloaks itself in a plethora of disguises, its favorite mantle still remains…sex.” McCrae’s films depict dead worlds on the very precipice of destruction, overstimulated characters dealing with too much death, too much pain and way too much desire. This is no different yet so much more assured.

Also: A Fabio Frizzi score!

This was originally intended to be in the film Betamax but it was turned into a short all on its lonesome. It’s near perfect, a staggering work that I can’t wait to see more of.