Winners Tape All
Dir. Justin Channell (2016)
A Horror VHS collector finds a movie made by two brothers from his hometown. He sets up an interview with them in the hopes of sharing their creations with the world.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.
As all of my readers know, I'm a huge fan of indie horror, so there's no better way to get back into the game than by reviewing a new indie film sent to me! So without further ado...
Winners Tape All: The Henderson Brothers Story is a mockumentary about two stepbrothers (excellently played by Zane Crosby and Josh Lively) who were filmmakers back in the 80's days of awful production quality and VHS. Making the mockumentary is a man named Henry Jacoby (Chris LaMartina), who also happens to be a huge collector of rare horror VHS from the 80's. When he found out that one of his favorites was made by the Henderson brothers, who live in the same town that he does, he decides to set up an interview with them in the hopes of establishing a production company to re-release their earlier movies and perhaps make more.
What follows is an incredibly clever, genuinely funny mockumentary. Director Justin Channell does an incredibly good job of bringing this film to fruition, turning what very well could've been a boring movie into something that has a lot of heart and soul. I mean, what we essentially have here is a film that starts out as an hour-and-something long interview with two 80's filmmakers, along with a VHS fanboy geeking out about rare VHS' and the conventions where you can find them, and it eventually turns it into an entertaining look inside the production and after-effects of two fake films, The Curse of Stabberman and Cannibal Swim Club. The best part about all of this is that I would watch Stabberman and Cannibal Swim Club, because they look rad as hell. I can honestly say I'm sure I've seen way, waaay worse.
The acting is actually really really good, and there are some really fun things thrown in for true 80's horror fans. There are some great gems in this film, from the wardrobe selections for the fake movies' stars to the constant references to Quint from Jaws during the filming of Cannibal Film Club, one of my favorite parts of the movie (and also one of my favorite characters in film history.) There's a lot to love here, and that comes about from one very specific reason.
This film was made for us. This is a movie made for horror fans, by horror fans. Anybody that grew up in the 80's and has seen some of the awful movies to come from that decade can identify with the love that Jacoby clearly has for the subject matter. The dedication of two shitty filmmakers to make The Curse of Stabberman, Cannibal Swim Club, and the upcoming(!) Father's Day of the Dead is apparent and heart-warming. There's so much subtle humor sprinkled throughout, not just slapstick or over-the-top desperate jokes, that it's clear that Channell, Crosby, and Lively knew what they were doing, and they did a fantastic job.
And guys, if you're reading this... please make those three movies. I would watch the shit out of those.
Who this movie is for: 80's film fans, Mockumentary lovers, VHS collectors
Bottom Line: Check this one out if you get the chance because it is a love letter to you instead of just horror itself. If you are a physical media collector, you are picking up what this film is putting down. You can rent the film at https://winnerstapeall.vhx.tv , and you can buy it on DVD at www.iwcfilms.com . You can also get it in a handmade VHS/Blu-Ray combo pack, which is... pretty fucking cool actually.