Vipco (Video Instant Picture Company) was a notorious horror distribution label, famed for releasing titles from the infamous video nasty list and beyond from around the late 1970s onwards.
The label took immense pride in being the flagship distributor of the nasty and for many; was an introduction into the world of more underground cult horror films.
Due to the restrictive censorship laws of the time, Vipco were often forced to release heavily cut versions of their titles for release on the world market. These titles were however, at some point returned to and re-released, being passed mostly as uncut. Even with the later easing of the laws surrounding the nasty craze, some still found themselves falling foul of the censor.
The features ranged from marauding zombie epics to dark twisted slashers, psycholgical exploitation dramas and monster loaded, subterranean cinema flicks.
Visiting the old Forbidden Planet store in London around the turn of the century, I fondly remember managing to pick up some Vipco VHS titles just before DVD took over in the mainstream. The covers included a typical Vipco warning label and a brief description of the type of shocker you were holding in your hands. Words such as “sicko”, “gut muncher” and “frightener” proudly adorned the covers in black humored fashion.
You can find out more about VIPCO at http://www.vipcosvault.co.uk/ – the website features stories about the company in the press, interviews with its founder Mike Lee, title lists and a whole lot more.
I’ve put together a list of Vipco releases that I remember for whatever reasons below:
House by the Cemetery
A nightmarish haunted house shocker; House by the Cemetery follows a family as they unravel the mystery behind the evil Dr Freudstein.
Zombie Creeping Flesh
A low grade exploitation Z flick from Bruno Mattei; ZCF is rich with stock footage of Herons and other wild animals but does have a cool, creepy atmosphere to it. Also known as Hell of the Living Dead, the film follows a group of army troops after a leak at a nuclear reactor. Watch for the “rat in contamination suit” scene.
The Zombie Dead
An unintentionally hilarious zombie film about a group of people plagued by the living dead in a mansion. Re-released recently as Burial Ground, the film features some strange scenes of nipple biting and other badly dubbed horrors that probably shouldn’t be in there.
A flagship title for the company, Shogun Assassin is actually a mashing together of the first 2 films of the Lone Wolf and Cub series; Sword of Vengeance and Baby Cart at the River Styx. A Samurai epic that has to be seen to be believed; Shogun Assassin follows the story of Lone Wolf and his son Daigoro after the brutal murder of their wife and mother sends them on a path of bloody revenge across early Japan. Inventive and of course very violent, the film plays in a beautiful cinematic style, reminiscent of the emerging eastern martial arts movie scene at the time.
A kind of Cannibal Holocaust rip off, Ferox was still an entertaining take on the cannibal genre from director Umberto Lenzi. Also known as “Make Them Die Slowly”, the film builds and builds to a climatic end sequence and certainly earns its “previously banned” stripes.
Flesh Eating Mothers
More a black comedy horror, we follow the story of a group of women who get infected with a venereal disease and turn into blood crazed Flesh Eating Mothers!
Also known as “The Suckling” Sewage Baby follows the unfortunate life of a baby that gets flushed down the toilet at birth. Definitely one of the labels more “gross out” titles; Sewage Baby included some fairly decent stop motion and creature effects. Worth checking out for fans of creature features and generally weird cinema.
Zombie Flesh Eaters
What Vipco list would be complete without the genre classic that started it all (well, kind of). ZFL was the flagship release for Vipco back in 1979 and what a release it was. An incredibly filmed zombie vs Shark sequence, copious amounts of zombie throat munching and of course; the about as subtle as a shot of Dave’s Insanity Sauce “splinter through the eye” sequence. As well as the gushing gore effects on display we also get treated to a fantastically haunting musical score by composer Fabio Frizzi.