Monday, February 21, 2011

From The Swamp To The Stars - Two Hidden Gems of the VHS Era

The 1980's were a pretty damn exciting time to be a kid. Saturday Morning Cartoons were (In my opinion) at their peak of were on a level that had never before been seen, nor have been seen since....New Wave music moved us and Mom & Pop Video Stores were springing up like a happy VHS infection spreading across the country.

Our local video shop was called Video Paradise, and it was a video freak's wet dream. It was located in an old strip mall on Main St, Fitchburg, MA....right between a little puppet theater and a music store that sold mostly piano's. The inside smelled of popcorn with a slight musty odor underlying. The walls were wood paneling and white plaster with movie posters. Mobiles hung from the ceiling promoting Wizard Video's newest releases. Everyonce in a while, I'll catch a whiff of popcorn and a wave of nostalgia will wash over me.

Well, now that I've got you feeling all nice and warm and fuzzy with me, let's discuss a couple of the movies that I used to rent way back in the day of the VCR! I remember quite vividly walking down the aisles of the store, eyes agape at all the clam shell and oversized video boxes on display. My young mind could barely comprehend the sheer amount of movies that lay before me. Of course had I known back then that someday I would possess more movies in my home then were in the entire stock of the store, I surely would have creamed myself.....but that's a whole other article unto itself....the part about movies becoming cheap to own....not the creaming my pants part. I mean, why would you read about me crea...ya know what....nevermind. Onward!

Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake
Croaked: Frog Monster From Hell
Rana : Hüter des blutigen Schatzes (Gardian of the Bloody Treasure)
Varjojärven legenda (Shadow Lake Legend)

The cover that they had at VP was the badass drawn cover of Rana sitting atop his guarded pile of treasure, reaching for his spear (which he does NOT have in the film). This is one of the classic examples of VHS cover art making promises that the film cannot possibly live up to! Looking at this, you'd think that you were in for a creature feature adventure with a bad ass Frogman monster attacking treasure seekers after is loot. What you really get is a dude in a goofy rubber frogman outfit that only shows up at the last minute of the film to kidnap a girl. Said dude in rubber suit is what they're trying to pass off as an ancient Lake God. This movie is only for a select few: The die-hard cinephiles who love bottom of the barrell flicks like this and the groups who like to get together for thier own home version of MST3K. This one is going to go down a lot easier with some help from some booze....and can actually become quite amusing when watching with several like minded individuals.

The Galaxy Invader
Eisvoleas apo allo galaxia (Visitor From Another Galaxy)

This is another flick that kept staring down at me from one of the shelves. The cover that the shop had was the first one shown, the drawn portrait of our extraterrestrial pal. The tagline on this film was great too: "It came from a galaxy far, far away, an alien explorer. It's Mission....TO KILL"
Oh hell yeah! Sign me up! They came up with a pretty good one for a later video release as well: "Alien Menace Terrorizes Trailer-Trash Rednecks!" Just add Moonshine and we'll be all set! Now the thing with Galaxy Invader is that the alien is not hostile at all. He crash lands in the woods, loses his ray-gun-orb-shooter-thingy, some rednecks decide to hunt down the alien and capture him to make some bigs bucks showing him off. This flick (much likne Rana) is pretty slow paced for the most part, but it has a certain quirky charm to it. The fight scenes are amongst the worst ever filmed and the ending sequence with the abusive redneck father on the cliff has to be seen to be believed. This again is for the die hard bad film buffs, but if you are in the right mind set, you'll find alot to enjoy.....or at least poke fun at.

Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake and The Galaxy Invader make a great double feature on a Friday night with some friends, some beer and some pizza. If you think that you might be interested in seeing either of these, they are quite easy to find. Rana can be found on one of Toxie's Triple Terror DVD compilations for $9.99 or less these days. The Galaxy Invader can be found on MillCreek's 50 Sci-Fi Movie MegaPack...which costs about $19.99 at BestBuy. Which means that The Galaxy Invader's costs about 39 cents, and I say it's damn worth it!

Of course you can also go old school and hunt these bad monkies down on and ebay have copies of both films for varying amounts of money. If you are a serious VHS collector, I would encourage you to seek these out because the VHS cover art on these are great. If you just wanna see the movies, then definitely go the DVD just can't go wrong!

Enjoy this trailer for The Galaxy Invader. Dig that crazy synth music!

I couldn't find a trailer for Rana....just the following clip of the beginning of the movie, in which the dude in the boat gets killed.

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