Thursday, August 7, 2014

The League: Top Ten Video

We're back with a vengeance, a triumphant return to The League of Extraordinary Bloggers, after months of radio silence. It must be a pretty interesting topic this week to pull me out of my contributing retirement, right? Well, we've been asked to tackle our Top 10... whatever we want, actually.

Normally, I'm not a fan of ranking things. Hardly a sucker for compiling Top Five Rock Albums or a grocery list of my favorite C-list celebrities. The problem is that I have a difficult time coming up with a definitive Top However Many, what with my constant shifts in mood or tastes. Something could be in my Top Three one day, and quickly be replaced by something else the next. There's just too much stuff that I enjoy to really, truly nail down a definite commitment.

So, uh, here's my Top 10 Videos That I Currently Own [in no particular order], I guess.

1. Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973).

  -- This is the oldest tape in my collection, the very first VHS that I could really call my own. I remember my grandmother actually giving in to my youthful pleading at a local outlet, and picking this up for me. I love the generic box-art, which perfectly embodies the cheapness of this release from Viking Entertainment, which is a company I know very little about. Apparently, aside from low-budget, bootleg monster movies, they also released a lot of Veggie Tales tapes? Eh.

2. Fist of the North Star (1986).

  -- I went through a brief anime phase during the early '90s, back when The Sci-Fi Channel used to air "Saturday Anime", showing films like Akira (1988), Dominion Tank Police (1988) and Demon City Shinjuku (1988). All the stuff that was sure to warp my young mind. These days, well, I'm not as big a fan. Every now and then, though, I like to pay tribute to those early days of bizarre, hyper-violent animated features. This is my absolute favorite of the half-dozen titles I own, mostly because of the adorable "Not For Kids" sticker plastered on the front.

3. Troll 2 (1990).

  --  Is it embarrassing to admit that this film actually terrified me when I was a kid? Probably, but that's okay. It hasn't prevented me from embracing it as the true "cult-classic" that it's become over the last several years. This particular copy once belonged to my friend's aunt, who briefly owned and operated an entire store based around Norfin Troll dolls during the resurgence boom of the '90s.

4. Freaked (1993).

  -- They really don't make films like this anymore. Actually, I'm not sure that there's ever been another film quite like Alex Winter's grotesque and absurd comedy, Freaked. An all-star cast of Z-grade celebrities, featuring the likes of Mr. T and Bobcat Goldthwait, some of most hilarious and inventive practical effects of the era, and a wonderfully dated '90s soundtrack. A staple of my early teens, and a flick I could still watch a million times over. I hadn't seen it in years before stumbling upon this copy at my local thrift shop.

5. Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990).

  -- One of, if not, my all-time favorite movie. I had originally taped this off HBO back when it premiered, and have since purchased it on DVD and blu-ray, but I absolutely adore this VHS-copy. This was found at the same shop as Freaked, a fantastic find, and I was doubly excited to discover that this was still sealed. I have no intention of ever opening it.

6. The Punisher (1989).

  -- I've only ever seen bits and pieces of this early comic-adaptation featuring Dolph Lundgren. Something I have regretted for years, hoping to finally settle in and watch it in full. It only seems appropriate to view the film as God intended; on glorious, low-fi magnetic tape. It's been sitting in my "to-watch" pile for way too long now. Maybe it'd be best if I stopped with this stupid list and watched the original cinematic Frank Castle kick some ass instead.

7. Batman (1989).

  --  I feel like I've written about the Bat-mania of '89 and beyond far too often. This movie was everything to me for those couple years, an obsession that's rarely been matched in the two-decades plus since. And because of my nostalgic love for Burton's classic tale of clown and bat at odds, well, I've probably owned nearly a half dozen copies of this on VHS. I went through a bad period of picking up every single one I came across, which was both costly and space-consuming. This guy here is the Highlander of my collection; there could be only one. Or something.

8. Ninja III: The Domination (1984).

  -- An aerobics instructor possessed by the vengeful spirit of a ninja-master. V8 seduction scenes. Haunted arcade games. Golf course massacres. This ridiculous film has all that and so much more. Sure, I already owned Shout Factory's blu-ray release when the opportunity to pick up this "big-box" VHS came along. But I was lucky enough to grab this from Dan Kinem of VHShitfest, one of the brilliant minds behind the VHS-documentary, Adjust Your Tracking. There was no way that I could resist.

9. Suburban Commando (1991).

  --  Goddamn, I used to rent this one all the time as a pre-teen. Combining my love for professional wrestling with an adoration for everything Christopher Lloyd, there was nothing better at the time. Again, embarrassing confession time, but this has been a tape that I've been dying to get my hands on for quite some time now. I found it buried in a bin full of loose and dirty Hasbro WWF action figures this past weekend. The seller was more than happy to give it to me for free with my large purchase of wrestling toys [which you might see a glimpse of sometime in the future].

10. TMNT: The Making of The Coming Out of Their Shells Tour (1990).

  -- Remember when the Ninja Turtles started their own KISS-esque, arena-rock band? If you're like me, you probably wish you didn't. This beat-up and unloved tape found its way into my grubby paws earlier today, thanks to an extremely generous, and totally VHS-filled, package from Brian of Awake Oh Sleeper. Of the several tapes he's sent me, this is the one that I adore most. My own childhood copy is long-gone, so I'm ecstatic to add a "new" one to my collection. I'm not sure I'll attempt a re-watch anytime soon, but it warms my heart to know that if the urge ever strikes me to, I can.


Meanwhile, you can check out the rest of The League's Top Tens...

Speaking of Brian and Awake Oh Sleeper, you can check out his own list of cinematic creatures, ghouls and ghosts here.

Over at Goodwill Hunting 4 Geeks, Derek shares his own Top Ten, featuring an absolutely adorable version of Kang the Conqueror and a space-faring cat.

Mason, from D.I Treasures, tells us all about his favorite cereals to munch on while watching reruns of ReBoot and the Wild West C.O.W-Boys of Moo Mesa.

And for all the rest, be sure to check out Cool & Collected.


  1. Ah Video Tapes! Excellent choice sir!

    I love going to rummage sales to see the cheap art on older or public domain VHS Tapes, because its always great to see how close you can get to the bottom line. If you hadn't told me, I'd probably have thought this was packaging for a Godzilla card game.

    I found a Troll 2 tape in a box of romance novels at a garage sale. I don't think my hands will ever be clean.

  2. I used own that Fist of the Northstar on VHS too back when Anime was extremely scarce.

  3. I think I wore out my Coming Out of Their Shells audio cassette.

    1. I found a cassette-copy of the TMNT II: Secret of the Ooze soundtrack the other day. If I wasn't terrified of magnetized tapes ruining my sole remaining player, I'd be rocking out to it right now...

  4. I'm right there with you for about 70% of this list. I'm still getting ready to dip my toes into the whole Godzilla genre (despite now owning about 5 Godzilla DVDs)... anime has never been my thing with a very few exceptions... And I never saw Suburban Commando and therefore cannot comment upon my feelings for it. But the rest of this list is weird, wacky, and wild in all the right ways for me!

    I know out of my collection of like... 4 VHS tapes... 2 of those came from you, and they both definitely make it into my personal Top 10 VHS tapes I own!

    1. I've long been a total, obsessive Godzilla fan-boy. I must have rented Godzilla 1985 dozens of times when I was a kid. It's one of the tapes I wish I'd swiped from Video Showplace when I stopped working there to head off to college. They closed a month after I left, and all the tapes were sold off to Blockbuster, which is what put them out of business in the first place.

      Fucking Blockbuster, man.

    2. I also love how the front cover of Trolls 2 is for a completely different film than Trolls 2. Down to the tagline and everything.

  5. What a wonderful array of tasty tapes. I would have to say that Suburban Commando would be my personal favorite. Nothing better than galactic combat in a well to do neighbor, throw in Christopher Loyd and the Undertaker as a bounty hunter. Love the list man!

    And thanks for the shout out......

  6. If nothing else you inspired me to take inventory of my VHS tapes. I was surprised to discover that I still have 21 tapes. Thats nearly 1/4th of my movie collection!

    1. I broke two-hundred tapes with the last couple batches I purchased/was-gifted the other day. That's... uh, maybe 1/3rd of my movie collection? I don't know, man. It's too overwhelming to really keep track.

  7. Godzilla vs Megalon was always a favorite. Most Excellent choice!

  8. Check out the movie, Rewind This! It's a love for the old VHS days.

    1. I was lucky enough to attend a screening at The Brattle last year with the director, Josh Johnson, in attendance. And they showed the SOV oddity, Science Crazed (1989), afterwards and it nearly broke my brain. One of my favorite theater experiences ever.