Sunday, December 30, 2007


Greetings. Herein is the repository of my Videocrity column, begun in the Washington Post and continued in the Washington City Paper. I think it was four years' worth of video watching; the mind grows foggy.

When I was reviewing them, mostly on VHS (and it wasn't THAT long ago!), "direct-to-video" was largely a pejorative term. Now studios are creating whole DTV departments and proudly marketing "home video exclusives," often sequels and threequels to movies that were successful enough to warrant another go, just not in a theater.

This is how I began the column's relaunch in City Paper and serves as my mission statement:

"There will always be a market for Brian Bosworth movies."

This frightening quote comes from Don Gold, senior V.P. of Vidmark, one of the big guns in direct-to-video entertainment. In fact, the DTV world is so expansive it not only embraces failed athletes but can supply constant work for the tiny Coreys, Feldman and Haim. In killing the radio star, video has unleashed opportunities for almost everyone else.

The home-video business is larger than the multiplex market, and growing. Independence Day and Fatal Attraction get all the press, but what of the horde of also-rans and blatant rip-offs they inspire? Each month, their flagrantly packaged boxes arrive on the rental shelves, having been scoffed at, scorned, and utterly dismissed by critics, who are more concerned with art and meaning than an insightful shower scene or ingenious explosion.

Since there will always be Brian Bosworth movies, there must be someone who will take such works as seriously as they take themselves. Someone who will review them, who will provide perspective on the art of the shower scene, offer analysis of the meaning of the monster-POV stalking shot. Someone to pass judgment on the obligatory parking-garage or abandoned-factory chase scene.

That person died of a massive brain hemorrhage, so I'll have to do.

Each month, this column will dive into the cultural dumpster, where bright intentions are thwarted by lack of talent, and talentless hacks succeed by exploiting greed and lust. It's a stinky job, but every once in a while, you come up with a rose.

As a further aid to befuddled videophiles, we offer the following rating system: At the bottom of the bottom is BULK ERASE. Do not get this tape near your VCR. Less virulent, but not worth your time, is EJECT. PAUSE means some of it is worth some of your time. FREEZE-FRAME: Some scenes suggested for mature audiences. The highest accolade is PLAY, but caveat emptor always—this is not necessarily synonymous with "good."

So you may read all the columns in order beginning below. The absurdly huge list of all the DTV movies in my collection is here.



No comments: