In the seventies, VCR – BETAMAX and the later, inferior VHS – was definitely a revolution. True, the real movie buffs collected 8mm, but in time, the affordability and greater selection of titles made even us change. Of course, in the beginning only those titles, which no longer drew an audience at the cinema, were available. But then again, who really wanted to pay fifteen dollars for an Edgar Wallace movie from 1940? Luckily – at least for the distributors – there was another possibility. In 1963, an enterprising producer by the name of Herschell Gordon Lewis had shown the way! As he later confessed: “We couldn’t match production values. We didn’t have name actors and actresses. What could we do, then, to justify our pictures? The answer was that we could provide effects, however crudely drawn, that nobody else would dare to do.” This, obviously, was the perfect recipe for a straight-to-video movie, the so-called “video nasty” that your parents didn’t want you to see. These movies didn’t spawn a generation of serial killers. What they did do was spoiling them for the cinema, paving the way for the likes of Carpenter and Romero. If the audience was no longer able to follow a story-line, there was no use for one – it would only get in the way of the gory murders that it paid to see. It was the age of the slasher and the splatter. The horror cinema had begun to die, killed by a power-drill to the brain. As always, the preferred victims were women, combining sex and violence. But they were no longer vampire brides, or even models pursued by a masked killer, breathing heavily. These women were tortured and dismembered for the benefit of pre-teens, who never had an erotic fantasy. The sex, having become divorced from the horror, similarly degenerated into boring softcore porn.
THE CORPSE GRINDERS is a fairly good example, the title saying it all and making any further comment superfluous. You know what you’ll be getting. And it won’t be a movie.
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