Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Vestron Dynasty

Today, let's take a look at the history of Vestron Video, one of the pioneers of the home video era, and of course my namesake!

Vestron was founded in 1981 by an HBO executive who was hired to dismantle Time-Life's Theatrical, Television and Home Video assets.  Having sold the Theatrical and Television properties with no issue, he couldn't find a buyer for the Home Video Division, so he kept it, naming it Vestron Video.

They first started to distribute B-Movies, releasing such cult classics as Blood Diner, CHUD II: Bud The CHUD and Earth Girls Are Easy.  They eventually started to distribute more mainstream titles through thier subsidiary Vestron Pictures such as The Princess Bride and Dirty Dancing.  The powers that be in the company started to shift thier interest to soley A-list films.....ignoring the 20 or so B movies still in the works.  This lead to a fall through in financing and the company filing Chapter 11.  In 1991, LIVE Entertainment bought out Vestron.

Now LIVE Entertainment, began life in 1982 as USA Home Video, which was a division of Family Home Entertainment (who also owned Thriller Video and The Video Late Show).  Still with me so far?  Okay good, because it gets a little more convoluted from here.  In 1986, the company changed it's name to International Video Entertainment (IVE), which was then acquired by Carolco Pictures.

So far so good, right? Well there's more and if you're still reading, then I will have to assume that you (like myself) are a nerd such as myself and actually find this fascinating.....good for you!  Okay, so here we go:

In 1990 they became known as Live Home Video.  They then acquired Vestron video and started to release Anime films from Pioneer Entertainment.  Now in 1995, Carolco ceased to exist and StudioCanal acquired the rights to the full film library.  LIVE struck a deal with StudioCanal and continued to distribute Carolco's films on video.  Around this time Live Entertainment absorbed Tenth Avenue Video as well as Magnum Entertainment.  In 1998, the company and all absorbed properties were renamed Artisan Entertainment.

In 2003 Artisan was acquired by Lions Gate Entertainment, who also acquired Tri-Mark Pictures about the same time.   So the long and short of is that Vestron never really died, but became part of a much larger entity, who has become a giant in the home video industry and film production.  With the huge cataloge of movies at Lions Gate's disposal, one has to wonder when the more obscure movies (such as Blood Diner) will get a proper US release. 

For now, I shall be satisfied with the steady stream of genre films that rolls out of Lions Gate on a steady basis.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Zombie In My Pocket

Hey kids, it's your friendly Wizard here, and I wanna tell you about a great solitaire game that I like to play every now and then.  The name of the game is Zombie in my Pocket and it's a fantastic game from Jeremiah Lee.  It's a quick, addictive game that can be played in anywhere from about 5 - 15 minutes (Depending on your luck!)

You are in a house besieged by zombies!  You must locate the Evil Zombie Totem, which is located in the Evil Temple which is somewhere in the house.  Once you have located the Zombie Totem, you must bury it in the backyard cemetery before the stroke of midnight!  Fail, and zombies will take over the neighborhood and then the world!  Mwaaaa-huaaa-huaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!

The game is a tile placement/modular gameboard style game.  By flipping over facedown tiles, you create the layout of the house as you move along, creating a new layout every time you play.  The same goes for the outdoor tiles.  I've played this game countless times and I can't say that I've ever had quite the same outcome!
The zombies and all events are dictated by a series of event cards.  You start off at 9pm, in the main foyer of the house.  Every turn you flip over a new Event Card, which will tell you if you found an item (chainsaw, crowbar, gasoline......bones of a deceased relative...), attacked by zombies or other various happenings.  After each event card has been drawn, the player reshuffles the deck and the time now becomes 10pm...and so forth.  You must search the house, find the Zombie Totem and bury it all before Midnight. Should you fail, you lose.   Games can go by quite quickly (I've had games where I've discovered the Evil Temple right next to the foyer and the cemetery was right off the patio!) and I've had games that laster much longer (Evil Temple and Cemetery were both the last tiles of the respective piles).

This is a great way to spend a few ghastly minutes, packs extremely small (they don't call it Zombie In My Pocket for nuthin' ya know!) and can be played virtually anywhere you have a bit of a flat surface.  If you like to play games and don't always have a friend around to play with.....if you are tired of playing solitaire with a deck of cards.....if you just love zombies and wanna have a little fun...you owe it to yourself to check this game out!
Zombies In My Pocket is a free print and play game.  Go to the Zombie In My Pocket page at BoardGameGeek.com (just follow the link!) and you'll find everything you need to print out and play your game!  

Beware......the undead have risen from their graves.....and only you can stop them!