I distinctly remember discovering SOV (shot on video) horror films as a teenager in the late ’80s. I would rent movies like Redneck Zombies, Truth or Dare, and Violent Shit, thinking they were bad at first, but I would later grow to appreciate what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish with whatever equipment they could get their hands on. Instead of film, the most affordable option for them at the time was video, and it worked.
These filmmakers were not only able to make full-length feature films for the video market, but they would also create films that have lived on longer than the video format that gave birth to them. Many SOV genre films have made it to next-gen disc, but now, some more obscure films are getting a chance, including the 1991 splatterfest Slaughter Day. Visual Vengeance has put together a jam-packed disc to remind the world that these films exist and are a part of cinematic history.
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Despite Slaughter Day being as raw as they come, there’s so much fun packed into its fifty-eight-minute runtime. Though it’s an amateurish production, it’s handled with style and flair. The practical gore is quite impressive, and it may take repeat viewing to truly appreciate what was accomplished with so little. What the production lacked in budget, it totally makes up for it with the effects work and even some pretty impressive camera shots.
The acting is pretty on par with what you’d expect from an SOV slasher, but you never get the sense these folks aren’t fully committed. The Cousins brothers deliver such a fun picture that it’s almost baffling that Slaughter Day isn’t more widely known.
Wild Eye Releasing launched the sister label Visual Vengeance in order to highlight overlooked and vintage films shot on video to give them deluxe treatments on Blu-ray. They’ve gone all out to include special features like a commentary from Blake and Brent Cousins, commentary from Visual Vengeance’s Matt Desiderio and Rob Hauschild, a new interview with the Cousins, an early short, Slaughter Day 2-4 short films, trailers, booklet, reversible sleeve, and more.
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As much as I enjoyed this one, I’m excited to see what else Visual Vengeance has in store over the coming months. It’s a fantastic idea to be able to showcase these VHS-era gems, and that is something I’ll always support.