We here at Really Awful Movies are keen aficionados of those old, oblong receptacles of movies yore – the VHS cassette. Ah, those halcyon days of walking into a video store, scouring the aisles and aisles of tapes in the horror section, each one with box art promising lurid thrills and chills galore, before making that evening’s entertainment selection.
As horror movie vessels, VHS occupies a lofty place in many a horror-hound’s heart, with nostalgic collectors oftentimes paying big bucks on the secondary market, sometimes upwards of hundreds of dollars, to secure their favourite chiller or slasher in VHS.
Calgary, Alberta’s Susan Voorhees, artist/filmmaker and head of Exhumed VHS, is also nuts for the format, so much so that she’s given us the uber-indie effort The Violent Homicidal Serial Killer Tape, an unhinged, 26-minute obvious labour-of-love. Shot using a VHS camcorder, the film follows the titular tape (V.H.S. for short), an anthropomorphic videocassette with a skeletal head and arms, who carves his way through 23 brief vignettes of terror.
Each titled-segment is more depraved than the next as a plastic antagonist utilizes machine guns, machetes, and sometimes plain-old vehicular homicide to dispatch his myriad prey.
Certainly not high-art, the short is as extremely lo-fi as you might imagine, but it’s also awkwardly charming and morbidly hilarious – sort of a demented, throwback Faces of Death-flavoured cross between Robot Chicken and the “Meat Man” segment of Bob’s Burgers. There’s something perversely thrilling about watching V.H.S shoot a literal Ken-doll boyfriend point-blank before dragging the prone body of his Barbie-doll girlfriend to be fed to a wolf, all before mutilating the poor piece of plastic. In another vignette, we witness V.H.S carving the face and extricating the brain of another unfortunate plaything, all while a minimalist pseudo-Carpenter score bubbles in the background.
And while there’s scant to be found in terms of plot, the brevity of the film works in its favour. The film is over before the thin novelty of the concept can wear off.
With the most minimal of expectations, The Violent Homicidal Serial Killer Tape will deliver.
**1/2 out of 5