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"Video Violence" (1987) |


"Video Violence" | Written by Gary P. Cohen & Paul Kay, Directed by Gary P. Cohen

by Bone Jawnson

"Video Violence" caught me off guard, but in a good way. I decided to watch this film because I discovered it was shot on a consumer-grade, home camcorder on VHS tape, and edited it in about eight hours in a borrowed studio. I knew this would be an epic, DIY experience, but I was not ready for the caliber of the story's acting, pacing, and flow. Honestly, I did not know anything about this movie except that it popped up on Tubi while I was browsing titles. I read that it was shot directly on video with a camcorder and knew that I had to watch it. 

After doing some research about Gary P. Cohen, I found out that he is based in Middlesex County, New Jersey, and that he filmed "Video Violence" in and around Frenchtown, NJ. In fact, the bridge that is mainly featured in the film still stands and looks approximately the same in 2023. It appears that he had a very successful career in theater and has recently retired. 

"Video Violence" revolves around a married couple that owns a video rental store within a town that seems to only be focused on slasher and XXX-rated films. Despite having a wide selection of rental content, the townies only wanted to rent slashers. At a key moment at the beginning of the film, the store owner, Steve Emory, and his employee noticed a rental case containing a disturbing, homemade film. The film shows the killing of a local citizen, who was thought to have moved out of the state. In his attempts to track down the murderers in the film, he and his wife find themselves in precarious situations while learning more about the townspeople's peculiar habits and obsession with snuff films. 

Overall, this movie is actually amazing. It contains some of the best acting I've ever seen in a DIY film, let alone a horror film in general. Art Neill, who plays video store owner Steve Emory, could have easily gone on to bigger and better roles. He is a natural in front of the camera and did a great job captivating the viewer. Keep in mind, that this film was edited in about eight hours. Let that sink in. The camera work, in my opinion, was excellent for being filmed with a camcorder. If you're a DIY/indie filmmaker, I would put this in your director's tool kit along with "Basket Case" by Frank Henenlotter and "Blood Theatre" by Rick Sloane.

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