This is part 1 of a 3 part review series on the VHS franchise. just to be clear...
Now back in the great ol' days of 2012, worrying about dying and dying of boredom from watching 2012 movies, i myself had hope. As i was searching the upcoming films of the later years, i stumbled upon what seemed to be a hidden gem for an October release in 2012. The trailer was terrifying and i knew i had to see this movie. When October rolled around, i saw it in stores, bought it on DVD (IRONIC) and watched the film at home. I had high hopes for the movie but that quickly turned to the same old feeling i get when i over-hype a movie just like VHS did. Now this film is really... not at all what i expected it to be. The film is about a ragtag band of crooks hired to steal a VHS tape from a remote house when they discover a dead body, old tv's, and a lot of cryptic footage. The overall start of the movie was what looked to be these guys working for a higher power to shoot videos ( Like some kinda Voyeur) and upload them to XXX rated sites to earn money. Seemed all as well until the crooks break into a house to find thousands of video tapes and sets of televisions stacked on top of each other. This is really where the film took off into really , its own genre. So the crooks take turns watching each of a total of 5 films.
#1: TAPE 56
A group of young criminals videotape their exploits, which range from destroying abandoned houses to sexually assaulting women in parking garages, forcibly removing their tops and selling the resultant footage online as reality porn. Looking to "upgrade" their criminal enterprises, they eagerly take a job given to them by an anonymous third party who is willing to pay them a large sum of money to burglarize a house and steal a single VHS videotape.
Breaking into the house, the criminals find the sole occupant—an old man—dead in front of a bank of television sets playing white noise. Feeling free to roam the house, the criminals quickly discover hundreds of unmarked VHS tapes, and set about collecting them all to ensure that they retrieve the right one. Meanwhile, one of the criminals stays behind in the room with the old man's body to watch the VHS tape left in the VCR. The contents of the tape—and subsequent videos put into the player—comprise the bulk of the film, with the action cutting back to the criminals' efforts between each short.
As the frame narrative progresses, the criminals encounter a strange figure moving around the basement which appears to be the old man; glimpses of the TV room demonstrate that, unknown to the criminals, the man's body disappears at one point only to reappear in the exact position. Similarly, the criminals return to the TV room to find that the first viewer has disappeared, prompting another of the criminals to continue watching the tapes himself. At the climax of the segment, the leader of the criminals returns to the TV room to discover that he is the only person left and that the old man's body is gone.
Searching the rooms upstairs, he finds the decapitated remains of one of his men, and is subsequently attacked by the now zombified old man. The leader flees downstairs, where he falls and is killed by the other human figure seen walking around the basement, who seems to be a creature of sorts. The story ends with the camera left in the TV room picking up the sound of the VCR starting the final tape by itself.
Review of Tape 56
Tape 56 is considered to be the "main story" of the film VHS. I like it but not as much. Its very innovative and interesting however it doesn't really explain why the camera rolls the whole time. In a "found footage film" you need to break the reality between scripted and real life. Take Blair Witch Project for example. The 1999 film of the first of its genre was a great, scary, and psychological horror flick. Throughout the film, it doesn't really make you think "all the bad stuff is happening to them, why are they still recording?" It makes you feel just as scared as them. Like you are in the movie with the actors. Tape 56 was so boring (and no i'm not saying the film was boring) that it kept you wondering why on earth did they have to tape everything?
#2: Amateur Night
Shane, Patrick, and Clint are three friends who have rented a motel room to fulfill Shane's intent of bringing women back for sex; Clint's glasses have been outfitted with a hidden camera that will allow them to turn their planned encounter into an amateur porn video. While the three men are bar-hopping, Clint encounters a mysterious young woman, Lily, who acts aloof and says little other than "I like you."
In addition to picking up Lily, the men also succeed in convincing another young woman, Lisa, to return to their motel with them. Lisa passes out as Shane attempts to initiate sex and Patrick, laughing, discourages him from continuing. Lily continues awkwardly coming on to Clint, but a dejected Shane comes on to Lily instead, oblivious to the scales visible on her feet as he undresses her. Lily appears responsive, pushing Shane onto his back and then beginning to undress Clint, seemingly beginning a threesome. Overwhelmed, Clint goes to the bathroom; Patrick disrobes and attempts to take Clint's place, but Lily has made it clear that she dislikes Patrick.
Moments later, Patrick bursts into the bathroom claiming Lily bit him. When they approach Shane, Lily sprouts fangs, attacks and kills him. Clint and Patrick hide in the bathroom until Patrick, still nude, rips out the shower curtain rod from the wall and returns to the room. Clint tries to wake Lisa and Patrick attempts to fight Lily but she subdues him, drinks his blood and emasculates him. Clint escapes, but ends up falling down a stairwell and breaks his wrist in the process. Lily catches up to Clint, but instead of attacking, she attempts fellatio. Finding Clint unaroused, she crawls over to a corner and cries softly, which gets louder, then turns into demonic growling. Clint flees, begging bystanders for help, but he is suddenly lifted into the sky by Lily, who is now a what looks like a vampire with wings then The glasses fall from the sky and hit the ground before the video cuts out.
Review of Amateur Night
"what the f*ck did i just watch" I was so confused when i watched this because it wasn't the initial story line. So i knew that this film was going to be a frame narrative. So speaking of what i said in Tape 56, VHS was having a hard time (right off the bat) finding a "FF Film" to keep recording at bad times. Well Director David Bruckner knew what he was doing. Having a camera installed on glasses... You can't stop recording because that was the least of his worries and his glasses helped him see. This short film was very strange. The motive of the killing, i'm guessing was because she was a hungry sex demon but... i digress. The acting could of been better... honestly a lot better. You have these guys who are just asshole jerks trying to get laid. Very torture porn/ revenge humor killing. Amateur Night was "okay" and could've been better, but it was a great twist in the film right out of the gate. Its better to be confused then pissed off while watching a horror movie.
#3: Second Honeymoon
A married couple, Sam and Stephanie, go out to the West for their second honeymoon and rent a motel room. The couple visit a Wild West-themed attraction where Stephanie receives a prediction from a mechanical fortune teller that she will soon be reunited with a loved one. That evening (and off camera), a girl comes to Sam's and Stephanie's room and attempts to convince Sam to give her a ride the next day. In the middle of the night, someone breaks into the room and records touching Stephanie's buttocks with a switchblade, removing $100 from Sam's wallet, and putting Sam's toothbrush in the toilet. The next day, Sam notices his money missing and accuses Stephanie of taking it while they are visiting The Grand Canyon in Arizona. That night, someone enters the room again and stabs Sam in the neck with the switchblade, filming him as he chokes on his own blood. The camera then captures Stephanie and the woman from before kissing passionately and then leaving the motel as Stephanie asks if the footage has been erased, revealing Stephanie was in a lesbian relationship with the woman that broke into their motel and killed Sam.
Review of Second Honeymoon
One of my favorites out of this whole twisted clusterf*ck of a movie. I'll start out with element of capturing film like i did in the first two short movies. Stephanie was a twisted killer who was somewhat aroused at the sight of her husband choking on his own blood. The raw twist of this one really got me right in the heart. I saw a beautiful couple with a future and then BOOM outta nowhere, the big bomb was dropped. I love how short and sweet it is also. This one was one of the best outta the movie (in my opinion of course).
#4: Tuesday the 17th
Three friends—Joey, Spider, and Samantha—accompany their new friend, Wendy, on a camping trip. Joey films the group as Wendy leads them through the woods, occasionally mentioning 'accidents' that took the lives of her friends. Wendy then tells them that a murderer killed her friends during a camping trip here the previous year, but the group laughs it off as a joke. Spider and Samantha leave the group and are killed by a human-like figure with a red head obscured in tracking errors (identified in the credits as "The Glitch").
At the lake, Wendy tells Joey she lured all three of them to the grounds to use as bait so she can find and kill the mysterious force. Wendy reveals that she had been to this lake before where a killer had slaughtered all her friends and she was the only survivor. She notes that the police did not believe her when she said the killer could be in two places at once. The entity walks up behind Joey and slits his throat.
Wendy runs away, luring the figure into two easily escaped booby traps and is cut by it in the second one. She films the entity close up, but it continues to be obscured by the tracking error. Wendy continues to run through the woods, she finds Joey in his death throes. After he dies, the figure approaches Wendy and a final trap impales it. Wendy gloats at it and walks away but when she turns around, it is gone; it reappears in a tree and jumps down, beats her with the camera, then kills her, subsequently eviscerating her, then inhabiting her body.
Review of Tuesday the 17th
First off.... No... Just no... Even the title of the freaking thing is just a spoof of Friday the 13th and VHS.... How dare you!... After watching this one, believe me i had several questions too. First off, Wendy.. you lead your new friends to the woods after your old friends die?... You must be working for the thing or just be stupid. With my horror movie cleaver rues, i find out that it is the latter. She is just really stupid because the killer is after her too. No no, i understand she brought a camera along to catch the" being in two places at the same time" which by the way is a reason the keep the camera running. I will say, that the only cool part about this one is that the killer can't be caught on camera. We don't know if it's some weird being or just a camera glitch, who knows. Overall i have to give this one more justice, only because the film has all the main aspects of a great found footage film.
#5: The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger
Emily and her doctor-to-be boyfriend James video chat about the strange bump on her arm and how it reminds her of an accident she had when she was younger. Strange things happen in her apartment like a small, childlike figure running into her room and spooking her. Emily believes her apartment is haunted but finds out from her landlord no children have ever lived there. She also begins digging in her arm with a scalpel to find out what the bump is, but James tells her to stop.
Later, Emily attempts to contact the being, but it knocks her out. James quickly appears in her apartment and surgically removes an alien fetus from Emily. He asks the aliens how much longer they will continue using Emily as an incubator for alien/human hybrids, revealing James has been removing the fetuses for some time. The aliens wipe Emily's memory, and James also says that the arm bump is a tracking device and may be harmful. James then chats once more with Emily, who believes that she sustained her injuries after wandering into traffic in a fugue state. She tells James that the doctor he recommended to her diagnosed her as schizoaffective before tearfully saying that he could find a better, more normal girlfriend than her. James assures her he loves her before switching chats to speak to another woman on whom aliens are also doing experiments. Then the video cuts out and goes to the next clip.
Review of The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger
Ahhh yes, another tale of trusting someone gone bad. This one was truly innovative. Before "Unfriended" this "Skype" based story had perfect aspect of true horror. including the most scary part of the whole freaking movie, when the little kid ran though the door. The acting in this film was stupendous. Emily played by Helen Rogers had that raw fear look in her eyes every time something scary happened. As the viewer you almost felt sorry for this helpless cute girl. Just goes to show "Never Trust Anyone".
It's Halloween 1998. Chad, Matt, Tyler, and Paul (dressed in Halloween costumes as the Unabomber, a pirate, a teddy bear implanted with a nanny cam, and a Marine, respectively) head out to a Halloween party at a friend's house, only to end up at the wrong place. Sneaking inside, they begin to experience paranormal phenomena and decide they are at a haunted house and have fun with it. In the attic they find several men gathered around a young woman whom they've suspended from the rafters, apparently performing an exorcism. The men are chanting "cast you down", and the boys exuberantly join in, "cast him down". One of the men reacts angrily to their presence and physically assaults the young woman. More violent, overtly threatening paranormal phenomena then begin to occur and the boys initially flee before realizing they should try to rescue the girl. Returning to the attic, the boys work to untie her and get her to safety, as the house itself comes to life with poltergeist phenomena and ghostly hands coming out of the walls and floors to claim the lives of the woman's captors.
Exiting through the basement, the boys pile into their car with the girl and drive away. The car abruptly stops and the girl disappears, reappearing in the street before them and walking away amid a flock of birds before they realize that they've stopped on train tracks. The boys attempt to get out of the car as a train approaches, but the doors are locked. The screen starts to flicker with static and the train smashes into the car off-camera, presumably killing all inside.
During the end credits, clips from Tape 56 are shown.
Review of 10/31/98
Not sure if the ending to this disappointed me more than Tuesday the 17th. This story all in all has to be the best one. Nothing really the motive other than going into the wrong house. The best aspects of this film were the psychological scenes of things warping and changing in the house. The ending could've been better, considering the whole movie was very gory but this last one. I think that the film was better than any other film on here (by popular choice) but i am still going with this one to be my favorite. However that doesn't necessarily mean its a "good" film. It just seemed like the director of the whole movie was getting tired and they were pushing it to be released in October, so they just said "uhhh, lets just have them die from a train crash but, lets not show them die". No no of course take away the only other thing in this movie that could flip my review around. The gore could've been used only to show the deaths had occurred. This last film really had NO rhyme or reason however out of the other 4 films, this had to top them.
Best "Short Film" in VHS??????
Thank you for reading my article. Like i said before this is a three part series. I am going to review VHS 2 and VHS: Viral. If you liked this post, comment down below on what you liked/disliked in the movie or my post. Maybe you hated the whole movie? Maybe you hated my whole post? Have a hidden gem you want me to watch and review? Shoot me a comment and ill do my honest review for the film.
And the best part ever....