Wednesday, June 10

Surprise Among the Living Dead


I found this listing for Franco's Virgin Among the Living Dead on Amazon's Marketplace last week. The odd thing is the only official stateside video release of the film before Image's DVD was an awful looking cheapie VHS from EDDE Entertainment/T-Z Video issued in 1993. I had no idea who "Careyvision Ltd." was and the EDDE tape is in a basic cardboard sleeve instead of a clamshell case. The tally was only $5.95 so I chanced it figuring at "worst" it was some bootleg. This arrived yesterday:


Awesome! It's a British VHS from 1985! It's also in excellent shape with no damage or fading to the cover art. The case is even "MADE IN ENGLAND". I go over the the BBFC's database and find this listing. 88 minute PAL runtime, probably 91-92 minutes in NTSC. The two Brit releases after this one are also cut in comparison. Though this film has a real checkered past, so it's hard to say this is uncut or what. I found a "Video Xchange" in London, seen here. I didn't try to view the tape yesterday due to severe thunderstorms, but I assumed nothing would show up since I don't have a PAL-compatible VCR.

I threw it in today not expecting much, but it played in all three of my units. I didn't tread past the credits and the only studio indicator was "Cinema Shares Ltd. Distribution". Being that a picture appeared, it has to be a NTSC video standard tape, not PAL like all British VHS and DVDs are. It's also not a dup from the EDDE VHS:

I've seen NTSC editions of European VHS releases before, but only things like documentaries, arthouse films, and performance arts stuff released by little esoteric studios. Never have I seen a horror flick released this way. Though I'm unsure exactly what's the deal. The case, cover, and tape all look and "feel" 100% vintage, so unless a bootlegger went to untold extraordinary lengths to make this (which I hightly doubt), this tape is extremely unique and immediately moves to the top spot of my collection's most valuable tape.

8 comments:

venoms5 said...

Wizard video released this back in the 80's along with a host of other no-budget Euro zombie wonders. They even released a comp tape entitled ZOMBIETHON which featured clips from this film as well as others like THE INVISIBLE DEAD, ZOMBIE, ZOMBIE LAKE and OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES. This was back when a lot of companies were releasing tapes in those big boxes with the wonderfully lurid artwork.

Carl (ILHM) said...

Very awesome find Jay!

robertmonell said...

This looks like a real find! I've never heard of this version before and I've been collecting versions of this for over 20 years!

Sehnzeleid said...

Damn, thanks Venom! I have no idea Wizard released this, though I've been looking for Zombiethon for quite sometime...

This tape is still puzzling me.

venoms5 said...

If I remember right, the cover of the PAL tape you have pictured is the same illustration on the Wizard Video cassette. A google search brings up a lot of people who have it, or had it. I didn't search enough for a pic though. But I am almost sure the Wizard tape bears the same cover artwork just in one of those big boxes.

mondo said...

Hmmm... this gets weirder: I dug out my copy of the Careyvision "Horror Theatre" release today and it is definitely PAL. It also has a different label with the "Horror Theatre" logo and a BBFC 18 cert. Playing the tape, it starts with a dodgy looking video generated BBFC cert and then the Cinema Shares Ltd. Distribution screen. Wonder if they produced it in two versions for either side of the pond? It's also one of the strangest edits of the film I've seen with the Rollin inserts and some really nuts video masking to obscure the nudity.

KFelon said...

Wow the Robert Monell of I'm In A Jess Franco State of Mind blog here. He even made a post on his blog about your find, congrats dude.

Anonymous said...

It's possible that the NTSC version could be a Canadian release (I think some Canadian tapes in the eighties were sourced from British PAL tapes like the Canadian tapes of DRACULA'S VIRGIN LOVERS and CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD which had the British Ivers label but were NTSC).

Does the PAL version have the BBFC certificate on the tape label itself?

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