RIP, Mike Vraney 1957-2014

The sad news yesterday of Mike Vraney’s passing has unleashed a world of tributes and a showing of love from the film community. Not just the Cult Movie fans who were with their wonderful world of unique and classic films from the very start, but, from what I see, the whole world of cinema lovers who appreciated the efforts of a company who set a standard for films that were largely neglected and overlooked. He will always be the 41’st Thief – Something Weird did start as one of the many collector’s tape companies that ran in the grey area back in the Late 80’s – but thanks to a great union with David F. Friedman, one who deserves the line of being The Mighty Monarch of the Exploitation World, the company went from being one of the crowd to one that seriously stood out as a legend, moving from strength to strength.

This vintage view of going through David F. Friedman’s vaults is a great vintage view of a time long before the DVDs brought their name to a wider audience. It was the time when they unleashed an ultimate trailers compilation in the Laughing, Leering, Lampooning of David F. Friedman which was an education of how to sell sexy flicks with the right touch of humor and pizazz along with the lineup of releases of his Productions that might have not been released by anyone else at the time. SWV also teamed up with Boxoffice International (Harry Novak) and Distribpix as well as turned into one of the greatest movie vault collectors of all time.

Back in 1991-2, Cult Movies had an issue that was in a way a deserved promotion for Something Weird Video, an issue that yours truly has in his collection that’s well read through the years (ie, don’t expect for my copy to be sold on any website soon – it’s THAT well-read). A classic interview with Vraney sparked an interest in his movie world in a time when I was starting to rent videos by the dozen. Sadly, the stores in my area did not carry much of their product to rent, and the closest Cult Video place was many miles away, but I was already going through a lot of these films that were crazy, wild, and very unique in a time when the major studio epic was the norm of the US Mainstream, so that scene was nothing very new to me although one that I needed some serious education on.

Something Weird Video had a major place for my research once I finally got a DVD player and their discs were being sold at places as Mainstream as Suncoast and, most importantly, Borders – the later a company that had a major promotion for their line of discs topped off with the very cool cheaply priced introduction Extra Weird. Since then, I tried to get all of their discs that were filled with extras upon extras from the forgotten wild world of cinema and Adult cinema plus commentaries with some of the major players in Exploitation film history – every Commentary with David F. Friedman is essential for understanding the business of what happened in the classic school of Skin-Dependent film, and others featuring legends like HG Lewis and Joe Sarno, sometimes co-hosted by Frank Hennenlotter (Director of Basket Case among other classics) are not to be missed.

Their Bucky Beaver and Dragon Art lines of Adult Movies, the back-in-the-start-of-it-all lines of videos which included Johnny Legend’s Untamed Video (Before SWV, Legend put together Rhino Video’s legendary Sleazemania collections and some time back formed his own company), the Sexy Shockers, the Nudie Cuties, the Roughies, the Regional films, Classroom shorts, Coffin Joe films (before the Fantomas DVDs, SAW sparked interest in his films through their VHS era line of presentations), and very importantly David F. Friedman’s EVI Exploitation madness and the HG Lewis “Blood Trilogy” that will always be with us forever along with his other Gore classics and many of his other films along with everything else they released have formed a classic collection that should be respected by everyone interested in film.

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~ by screen13 on January 4, 2014.

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