Monday, September 16, 2013

Review: Zacherely in 'Horrible Horror: The Special Edition'




As a Netflix subscriber and Amazon.com shopper, I probably shouldn’t poop on the conveniences of the Internet age. As a retro geek, nostalgia nut, and middle-aged guy, I still can’t help but pine for those days when I’d walk out the door with friends and walk to our local seedy video shop to rent some crappy movie in the pre-Blockbuster © eighties. On the back wall of those holes cramped with shelves stacked with bulky VHS boxes (the tapes were always safe from shop lifters behind the counter) was the real junk: the B-horror and science fiction flicks with the most garish covers in sight (the most garish of all belonged to the porno tapes kept behind a curtain in their own closet-sized section).

One of the tapes that could be found on the back wall circa 1986 was Horrible Horror, a compilation of B-horror and sci-fi clips and trailers hosted by the original B-horror king and all-around cool ghoul Zacherley. It was the kind of tape you might run during one of those parties when your parents are out of town and forgot to lock the liquor cabinet. The video and sound quality were poor and Zach’s jokes were cornier than the bags of stale popcorn you’d munch in between swigs of horse-piss flavored MGD. Pure heaven.

In an age of home-delivered Blu-rays of incomparable quality and hand-held video devices seemingly invented to make us as alienated as possible, Legend Films’ reissue of Horrible Horror is a bit anachronistic. It looks and sounds as crappy as an old VHS and it certainly isn’t much fun to watch by yourself on an iPhone (is anything?). That’s what makes it such a welcome reissue. There’s something inspirational about this DVD. If I didn’t already throw a Halloween party every year, Horrible Horror might make me want to start throwing them. Its swollen 164–minute length (about an hour longer than the 1986 edition!) makes it the perfect disc to toss on in the TV room for guests who’d like to slip off for a toke while everyone else is drinking and grooving to my patented Halloween playlist in the main room.

As for solo viewing, there are some pluses to the Horrible Horror Special Edition as long as the fast-forward button on your remote control is in tip-top shape. For the most part, the trailers and clips aren’t too revelatory. There just aren’t enough interruptions from Zacherley, though a great bit in which he dangles a hubcap from a fishing rod during Plan 9 from Outer Space almost makes up for his absence elsewhere. However, there are a lot of neat-o extras sprinkled in among the expected public domain film clips. Outtakes from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein run throughout the disc. A tribute to Bela Lugosi section has an uproarious staged interview and a supoib sketch in which he appears as Dracula with a sexy live action Betty Boop (Quoth Lugosi: “You have booped your last boop!).

There’s also a full extra disc of bonus stuff, but the only valuable items are a fabulous Gumby spoof of The Blob and a really short clip of Zachereley’s appearance on a 1965 episode of “What’s My Line?” Otherwise there are three minutes of behind-the-scenes footage of Zacherley from 1986 marred by a bizarre AIDS joke that gets a huge laugh from Zacherley and the crew for some reason and some Zach-less public domain material: an episode of the mystery series “Lights Out” and the awful feature film Frankenstein’s Daughter, which only goes to show how often a thirty-second trailer is all you really need.

Get Horrible Horror: The Special Edition at Amazon.com here:

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