Not that long ago the video store was a mundane and sometimes obnoxious part of life; driving over to some lonesome strip mall with your friends or family to comb through the all-too-often disorganized shelves of your local shop, argue over a selection, and then be stuck with it, for good or ill. Yet, it was also sublime. And for those who lived during the true video boom, video stores also equate to another bygone commodity: VHS. When JVC’s Video Home System won the early-80’s format war, the motion picture market changed forever. The genre and B-movies that had previously filled drive-ins across the country now often went straight to VHS. Then DVD took the world by storm in the late-90’s. It was a brave new world, and sadly, many films never made the leap, trapped now on a dead format. These often aren’t “good” films, but goddammit, they were what made video stores great. For we here at CHUD are the kind of people who tended to skip over the main stream titles, our eyes settling on some bizarre, tantalizing cover for a film we’d never even heard of, entranced. These films are what VHS was all about. Some people are still keeping the VHS flame burning. People like me, whose Facebook page Collecting VHS is a showcase for the lost charms of VHS box artwork. With this column it is my intention to highlight these “lost” films and the only rule I have for myself is that they cannot be available on DVD.
Title: Blood Tracks
Genre: Backwoods Slasher/Heavy Metal Horror
Tagline: “Terror on the slopes!”
Released by: Vista Home Video
Director: Mats Helge (aka Mike Jackson)
Plot: A rock group, their film crew, plus a bevy of hot, big-haired, background dancing girls shoot a music video in an abandoned factory that rests on the side of a snow-covered mountain. An avalanche strands them all inside a small wood cabin, where they become the prey of a psychotic family of murderers who absolutely hate visitors and metal music.
Thoughts: Nothing like a good mountain survival horror movie to take the edge off during a cold winter day, I always say. Many a time I’ve curled up next to a nice fire with a cup of hot chocolate and popped into the old VCR a few of the classics like: Just Before Dawn, The Prey and Hunter’s Blood. I stumbled across Blood Tracks by accident when I was a rooting through a huge, dusty, disorganized pile of videos during a raid on a store going out of business awhile back. To my delight it turned out to be a pretty fun little backwoods slasher that is one of the few to take place in the snow, giving it a nice wintery feel. Add into the mix Swedish hair metal band Solid Gold (a real life band called Easy Action) and a crazed family of violent freaks and you got yourself one helluva great way to waste eighty-two minutes.
The film begins with a woman killing her abusive husband by stabbing him in the back with a knife. She hauls her brood of kids off into the woods, where they hide out for the next forty years in an abandoned old factory in the middle of nowhere. Metal band Solid Gold have ascended the peak to visualize their latest masterpiece, along with a group of slutty dancers/groupies and a small film crew in tow. Their music and attitude pisses off the family of deranged hermits, which for some unexplained reason have all been mutated. I don’t know what that factory was making, but it seems to have affected them all greatly. A sudden avalanche strands everyone, so the clan of maniacs starts knocking off the group and their gals, one-by-one. I know it all sounds pretty uniform, but this is one really interesting slasher with an extremely unique visual aesthetic on display.
It’s a Swedish-American production that is definitely dubbed, which I believe is the one thing that prevented this film from becoming a bigger hit. A lot of creepy atmosphere is provided by the location of the cold, dank, dilapidated factory with its rusted out machinery and endless catwalks. It gives the whole movie a weird kind of post-apocalyptic feel. There’s also a lot of gory kills and a few of the babes parade around half nude throughout the entire film, so exploitation fans will be pleased. It’s a little like The Hills Have Eyes meets Terror on Tour. You haven’t lived till you’ve seen a family of animalistic killers attack and butcher a bunch of guys and girls dressed in spandex and leather in the snow. The end credits feature a power ballad from the group Easy Action that’s pretty kick ass, too.
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