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Vinegar Syndrome

While cult distributor Vinegar Syndrome gifts us with one of their biggest sales of the year, here are ten great titles you should consider picking up.

Vinegar Syndrome is one of several companies that, for several years now, have been doing the celluloid Lord’s work when it comes to schlock, horror and exploitation cinema. With in-house restorations that legitimately rival the back catalogues of the biggest studios in Hollywood, they never disappoint in the A/V department — like McDonalds served in a 5-star establishment.

Plus, the slipcovers…ohhhh, the slip covers. These are second to NO ONE. Look no further than the glorious work they did for Hell Comes to Frogtown.

About twice a year (this year they also did a Valentines Day sale), they try to break the internet with their Black Friday and Halfway to Black Friday sales, the latter of which is going on now. When these sales go on, my financial advisors and creditors try to hide news from me.

They know what’s gonna happen, and no one wants to see my daughter’s college fund raided again. But sales like this are why we have cheap(er) community college options.

So if you’re new to Vinegar Syndrome, here are ten Schl-Oscar winners you should definitely add to your collection. 

1. Rad (1986)

If you were a kid in the 80s or early 90s, you probably at one point begged your parents for a BMX bike. If you’re Australian, it’s likely because you saw BMX Bandits. If you’re American, it’s because you saw this film. It’s pure 80s magic — and from the same director who helped sell a million Trans Ams with Smokey and the Bandit. Now available in 4K.

2. Raw Force (1981)

Sometimes filmmakers throw a bunch of things at the wall and just hope something sticks. In this flick’s case, they threw Kung fu, copious amounts of nudity, cannibalism, zombies, and more against the wall and…it all stuck. We’re still waiting on the sequel promised at the end, decades later.

3. Christmas Evil (1980)

I’m sure we’ve all heard that classic holiday jingle, “I saw mommy kissing Santa Clause,” an innocent tale of a kid seeing their Mommy smooching their Pops dressed as his jolly fatness. Well, this is like that…except it sends the child into a mental breakdown and manifests itself 30 years later as he takes it upon himself to become the REAL Santa Clause. Spying on neighbors and coworkers to see who’s naughty, he serves up punishment in a way that makes a stocking full of coal look like a Billy Joel concert on laserdisc.

4. Grandmother’s House (1988)

It’s hard to go wrong with flicks about kids in peril and creepy grandparents, especially when Uncle Leo (of Seinfeld fame) plays the Grandpa. If you want to see how quickly you can get your significant other out of their pants, show them this. There’s a sequence in an orchard featuring a fleeing character and a metal pipe that will make anyone leap out whatever they’re wearing. You’re welcome.

5. Unmasked Part 25 (1988)

Imagine a satire of the Friday the 13th franchise where Jason falls in love with a girl who happens to be blind, so of course she seems him for who he TRULY is. You just imagined this gem, which skewers 80s horror cliches while embracing the wonderful gore slasher fans love. Will this masked murderer give up his bloodthirsty hobby for a chance at domestic bliss? Watch and find out!

6. Night Train to Terror  (1985)

Sometimes short films are created specifically to be part of an anthology, often inspired by a common thread or connective tissue, and these stories end up being pasted together to make one film (see another Vinegar Syndrome title, Body Melt). Other times, there are feature films that just can’t get finished, for one reason or another, and the scraps of these unfinished films end up being cut together into an anthology. That’s the case here, in which segments are patched together via a train ride, in which the Devil and God play a variation of board games with souls.

7. Savage Harbor (1987)

Do you love avocados? Do you love glorious cinematic trash like Miami Connection? Do you love 80s action spectacles and mind numbing sleaze? Do you love Frank Stallone? He loves avocados. This flick, which has also gone under the title Death Feud, has more cheese than a  New York deli, and I love every second of it.

8. The Candy Snatchers (1973)

This movie feels like what would happen if All the Money in the World was remade as a grindhouse film and directed by Quentin Tarantino. An essential piece of 70s cult filmmaking, this dark and brutal film was the only theatrical feature directed by acclaimed screenwriter Guerdon Trueblood (Welcome Home Soldier Boys, Jaws 3-D). Check it out newly restored in 4K from its camera negative.

9. Putney Swope  (1969)

Did you ever watch Mad Men and wonder what it would be like if it were reimagined as a blaxploitation flick, ripping apart the marketing world and white power? Written and directed by Iron Man’s dad, Robert Downey Sr., this masterpiece of late 60s counterculture cinema even features a bit with Mel Brooks.

10. Witchtrap (1989)

From the director of Night of the Demons, this film features all the bad acting that will make you laugh, with all the practical horror effects that will make you howl. It stars horror and schlock queen Linnea Quigley. Linnea also starred in the Vice Academy flicks that VS released, but those are unfortunately sold out now. I watched these films a lot as a young teenager…for the cinematography.

For more great Vinegar Syndrome titles we think you’ll love, click here to read past reviews of essential releases from one of our favorite distributors. Happy shopping! 

Written by Aaron Hudson

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