If you read the site with any regularity (or have ever read it), you know we're pretty obsessed with physical media. We will occasionally review something that's been watched On Demand, streamed through Netflix or via YouTube, if there is no other option. But, generally, we're collectors. In essence, we have each been curating a very purposeful collection of oddities, masterpieces and disasters. Because of that pre-occupation with physical things, we have been able to cultivate a culture of sharing, which has, in turn, created this site, a forum for which we can continue to share and discuss things we think are worth your time.
A big part of finding the obscure has historically involved the very maligned, but necessary, bootlegger. If you were at all interested in films from Asia in the mid 1990s or early 2000s, you most definitely procured bootlegs in order to see things that were otherwise unavailable to you. Titles like Eli, Eli, Lema Sabacthani (or Eri Eri Rema Sabakutani http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0461769/)are still unavailable, except through a very limited run of bootleg DVDs. I was only able to see it because a friend, (Joe Larsen... my interview with him is here if you're interested http://allstarvideo.libsyn.com/interview-with-joseph-larsen) loaned me his copy. I promptly recorded it onto a beat up old VHS so that I would have some way to refer to it if I needed to. It is an extraordinary film that would never have crossed my path had Joe not found a bootleg and then shared it with me.
Presently, it's more common to find bootlegged or pirated material on the internet, and generally it is for films that are widely available. This is not what I'm defending or lamenting the loss of. In fact, I find the practice quite despicable. What I'm talking about are the films you would otherwise never see. For instance, there is a film I just found called Fatal Games. It is an Olympics slasher from 1984. Yes, an Olympics Slasher. You know, somebody throws a javelin through somebody. Anyway, I read about the film maybe two years ago. I couldn't find it for less than $100 on VHS and quickly forgot about it. Then, I recently read the Bleeding Skull review and laughed hysterically. This was a film I really needed to see. So, I went hunting.
The thing about bootlegs is that they aren't easy. You're wading into an unseemly world that is not regulated by the Better Business Bureau. The moment when you could find readily accessible, decent quality DVD bootlegs on Ebay is gone. That shadowy world has retreated, mostly just to the sketchy universe of torrenting. But, that world defeats the purpose of sharing. Sure, you could share a site I suppose, but it's not the same. It doesn't have the same immediacy as a physical disk. It also doesn't work on your shelf, when you want to hunt through your collection to watch a movie with a friend late at night.
Likewise, there is something special about having artwork. Similarly to when reading a book, if your memory is at all visually based, you remember quotes and things based on page and where in the book it was. Seeing the imagery of the Life and Death of Colonel Blimp blu-ray artwork will forever keep it in my memory. And, so, what to do now?
Places like ioffer.com have an okay collective of bootleggers that offer a variety of extremely hard to find weirdo horror films, and is where I found Fatal Games (which I will be reviewing next week for the opening of the Olympics). Though, I don't recommend buying titles like Black Devil Doll From Hell, as you can get a much higher quality version from Massacre Video, a very small one-man-operation that actually owns the rights and deserves your money. But, where does one turn for strange foreign art films (Air Doll?) or films banned in the states (The Devils?) All-Region DVD players are, of course, a great option, but DVDs are not cheap that way.
We're trying to come up with some answers for our own small community for a very small amount of films, which will be available in our 'Zine, to come out this spring. Other than that, its a wilderness out there. Good hunting.