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Terror on Tape

1985

By Tom BakerPublished 13 days ago Updated 13 days ago 4 min read
Cameron Mitchell as "Shoppe" in TERROR ON TAPE (1985)

Terror on Tape is a straight-to-video sleazoid relic from 1985 featuring Cameroun Mitchell as a haunted video store clerk with bad televangelist hair and greasy Halloween makeup, who narrates clips from dozens of bad, bad, exploitation horror and T&A flicks nobody ever heard of. One of them, Vampire Hookers, stars the redoubtable John Carradine.

Mitchell gets visited by three VHS lovin' clients, the first of which is a geeky, Rick Moranis 1980s knock-off with a 2020's laundry list of chronic illnesses. The shop itself is decorated Halloween-style with coffin-shaped shelves or cabinets and pictures of Bela Lugosi pinned prominently to the walls. We get clips of a woman at a beach who gets torn to pieces and washes up (on the beach) as a bunch of body parts. This is par for the course as far as this splatterific rev-up of cinematic offal is concerned, and we are later treated to throat-slashings, scalpings, beheadings, aliens turning grandmas into kibble, that sort of thing. Lots and lots of phony stage blood (Karo syrup and Red Dye Number 2) goes pouring out from those slice-open throats, but, as if that wasn't enough, we also have some fake-ass demonoid puppet aliens and other monstrous monsters from these films, which include such cinematic gems as Cathy's Curse, Nightmare Island (a.k.a. The Slayer), The Killing of the President, the aforementioned Vampire Hookers, and City of the Walking Dead.

The films of H.G. Lewis, such as Color Me Blood Red, are also featured here, although, oddly enough, people HAVE heard of his films, and, thus, they must qualify as the most famous clips presented here. We get scenes of the evil painter Adam slaughtering his girlfriend, whom he keeps chained to the wall famously with a bleeding abdomen. (Adam then uses the blood as "paint," increasing the inspiration between his ghoulish, "Night Gallery"-esque works). We also have scenes from 2000 Maniacs, wherein some of them slicked-up, fancy pants, Yankee city folk get crushed by falling boulders (at a small town fair as part of a carnival game) and hammered into barrels with spiked nails before being rolled down a hillside in torturous, murderous agony. Nobody ever said old Herschell lacked a certain twisted creativity when it came to devising gruesome deaths for his sick pics. He's probably hobnobbing with Countess Bathory and the Marquis de Sade, somewhere on the Other Side.

The second customer in to our Video Store of Horrors is a hardhat supposed to be a 1985 "working class hero"; so, of course, he wants to see a lot of naked flesh. To that end we get a lingering scene from Vampire Hookers of a stripper doing an erotic dance. It's probably not a video you want to show to the wee little ones.

But speaking of hot horror bombshells, veteran scream queen Michelle Bauer erupts out of an alternate dimension at the end of this grue fest, wearing a sexy, gothy, punky lingerie ensemble and sporting a silk Dracula cape with the de rigeur red lining. She wants her horror and she wants it NOW. Mitchell ("Shoppe") kindly obliges her for a final round-up of rotten.

Terror on Tape is a cultural, uh, "gem" from an era when such compilation anthologies were odd popular with a certain group of horror and sci-fi enthusiasts. One is reminded of films such as Terror in the Aisles and even "E.T. and Friends" (an anthology of old sci-fi clips aimed at kids, hosted by the late Robin Williams). (Another, similar film or documentary series of the era I've always loved is "This Is Horror," which featured interviews with Stephen King cut into narrated clips from movies as disparate as Society, Surf Nazis Must Die, and "The Woman in the Room," a King-inspired short film from Canadian director Frank Darabont).

Later, in the mid-Nineties, we had the delectable dame Sandra Bernhard hosting "Reel Wild Cinema" on the U.S.A. cable network, a show where the best parts of monster, nudie, and exploitation flicks from the Fifties, Sixties, and Seventies were played incoherently, and all the boring parts edited out, making for a hallucinatory late-night television experience, only really rivaled by "Night Flight", which had sadly already been cancelled by this point.

If you enjoy plumbing the wretched refuse of video atrocities and low, low, budget blood-and-gore, T&A, psychotronic atrocities, I suggest you get yourself down to that 1985 video store that has dry ice fog creeping along the floor, pull up a chair (you may be strapped into it), grab a bowl of colored popcorn (remember that?) and TAKE OFF! Otherwise, if you find sex and violence to be not your thing, there are plenty of family-friendly alternatives to choose from.

(Hint: This isn't one of them.)

Addendum: It has come to our attention that in this Evil Year of Our Lord 2024, there are myriad freaky Russian streaming sites where you can view some, if not all of these unfine films, from the discreet privacy of your living room. (Take your hand outta your pants!) To that end, and because we sure do love our brothers and sisters over there in Russkieland, we've appended a list of ALL the movies whose delicious and delirious clips were utilized in Terror on Tape, something the filmmakers themselves didn't provide. They include (ahem!):

Bloodfeast, Scalps, Ruby, Night Creature, Suicide Cult, Blood Tide, Cathy's Curse, Vampire Hookers, Return of the Aliens' Deadly Spawn, Madhouse Mansion, Frozen Scream, To the Devil a Daughter, Eerie Midnight Horror Show, Kidnapping of the President, Nightmare, The Slayer (a.k.a Nightmare Island), City of the Walking Dead, Alien Prey, Color Me Blood Red, and 2000 Maniacs.

Good luck on tracking down films with completely generic titles, although you might have better luck if you use search terms such as "1980s movie." Films such as Nightmare Island and The Slayer are going to pose problems (the latter is sure to bring up pages and pages about Slayer). You might be able to find any or all of these eventually, but for the true trash movie enthusiast, I'm sure it's a labor of love. Have at 'em.

Terror On Tape 1985

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About the Creator

Tom Baker

Author of Haunted Indianapolis, Indiana Ghost Folklore, Midwest Maniacs, Midwest UFOs and Beyond, Scary Urban Legends, 50 Famous Fables and Folk Tales, and Notorious Crimes of the Upper Midwest.: http://tombakerbooks.weebly.com

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    Tom BakerWritten by Tom Baker

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