When plucking out Herschell Gordon Lewis films from my collection of Something Weird Video DVDs for the last Starter Pack for the Overwhelmed, I was reminded of the staggering number of exploitation gems Something Weird have uncovered. Something Weird Video is undoubtedly the most prolific distributors of exploitation in the home video market. The Something Weird logo, taken from the Herschell Gordon Lewis’s Something Weird (1967), is a guarantee of a good time or, at least, a unique viewing. With over 2,500 films marked with their psychedelic logo, it’s difficult to narrow their releases down to only five must-sees. So I’ve placed some limitations on this Starter Pack. The five picks for my favourite Something Weird releases will contain no films by Herschell Gordon Lewis (except for those paired with a non-Herschell film in a DVD double-bill), nor will it contain Frank Henenlotter’s Basket Case (1982). Any self-respecting exploitation fan will already have Something Weird’s Basket Case DVD (or blu-ray) in their collection, most likely resting alongside a smattering of Herschell’s filmography. I will also focus only on DVD releases. To include Something Weird’s VHS releases would be a daunting task.

With such an impressive back catalogue, chances are most supporters of Something Weird will have a completely different list to mine. Keep in mind these are my personal favourites…

Honourable mentions:
Swamp Girl/Swamp Country, The Ghastly Ones/Seeds of Sin, Take Me Naked/A Thousand Pleasures, Johnny Firecloud/Bummer


USA, 1973, Fredric Hobbs

Godmonster of Indian Flats is about a “monstrous 8-foot mutant sheep.” That should be enough to wet the fancy and crotch of any trash fan out there. But I suppose I’ll add a bit more. The sheep monster in question has very little screen time in this absurd little film. Most of the film deals with a Wild West tourist town, complete with period costumes and Stuart Lancaster. These delirious sans-monster scenes manage to equal the sheep-monster’s screen time in terms of mind melting weirdness. Godmonster of Indian Flats is impossible to define. It’s completely hilarious – possibly even intentionally – and totally devoid of narrative logic. Sometimes it even fools you into thinking it’s an intelligent film. Maybe it is. Maybe Fredric Hobbs was playing some sort of amazing joke on his limited audience.

The DVD of Godmonster of Indian Flats is also a winner featuring tons of extras. There’s even another feature squeezed on! Best of all is a short film entitled The Geek. This short is inept, but fascinating. I remember watching this with fellow Mondo Exploito writer, Pierre, and being very puzzled as to how it got made and who it was made for. Amazing stuff!

USA/USA, 1968/1964, William F. McGaha/William T. Naud

With this release, Something Weird brings us a car racing double-bill – something which in no way appealed to me. This came in Something Weird’s Drive-In Classics Collection, I would have never thought to buy it by itself. This DVD turned out to be my favourite of the collection for Thunder in Dixie alone. Speed Lovers is fun, but nothing special. It’s a goofy, silly film with a lame moralistic message dominating the 60s sleaze. It has its moments, but its dull stock footage of car races is traumatising to sit through. Thunder in Dixie on the other hand is something of a minor masterpiece. A taut, well-written film that sits somewhere between a thriller and a character piece, the quality of Thunder in Dixie shocked me silly. Following a car racer hellbent on revenge, Thunder in Dixie packs a punch and is a truly underrated gem.

The DVD of Speed Lovers/Thunder in Dixie is decent enough. The print quality of both the films is acceptable and, of course, we are bombarded with a plethora of extras pulled from god knows where.

PS: The trailer below for Thunder in Dixie below is bloody horrible and is a terrible representation of the film.

USA/USA, 1965/1963, Lee Frost/Herschell Gordon Lewis

Something Weird brings us one of Herschell Gordon Lewis’s lesser efforts, Scum of the Earth, teamed with a jaw-droppingly nasty piece of sleaze, The Defilers. The Defilers focuses on two horrible guys that are out to get “kicks”. They kidnap some poor girl and keep her locked up in a makeshift dungeon. A demented hunk of filth from exploitation master Lee Frost, The Defilers is shocking even today. Even more shocking, the film features some decent performances, excellent camerawork and some truly inspired sets and locations. 1960s America doesn’t get much more grim and gritty than this! Scum of the Earth is a welcome addition to the DVD, but The Defilers is obviously the star attraction.

The DVD itself has a stack of exciting trailers for other similarly twisted 60s flicks, plus the usual piles of archival weirdness.

Mexico/Argentina, 1969/1967, René Cardona/Emilio Vieyra

A double-bill DVD of two very different films that strangely compliment each other, this could possibly be my favourite Something Weird release. Night of the Bloody Apes is one of the greatest bad movies of all time. In its chaotic 84 minutes with footage cut in from all over the shop, we are treated to the tale of a surgeon that accidentally transforms his weakling son into an musclebound ape-man through some very dodgy heart surgery…

… I’ll just let that sink in…

Alongside the story of the ape-man (or man-ape, if you prefer), we are kindly given the story of a female Mexican wrestler. The lady wrestler’s story PRETTY MUCH IN NO WAY INTERSECTS WITH THE MAIN PLOT. Night of the Bloody Apes is fucking hysterical and even features some fun gore and ape rape – yep, there’s not many films I enjoy more than this, good or bad. Feast of Flesh is a more subdued affair. A man in a frightening monster mask uses a trippy song to lure ladies to his love den where he injects them with drugs and sometimes he dumps their dead bodies on a nearby beach. Yes, this one is also a keeper. Dull at times, but with enough originality and creepiness to warrant a viewing.

The DVD is a winner too with its pile of monster related trailers and some super weird shorts. Prepare yourself for a whole lot of gorilla suits!

USA/USA/USA, 1966/1968/1967, Byron Mabe/Jon Martin/Tony Martinez

A whopping big triple-bill, this release collects three sleazy David F. Friedman productions. The Brick Dollhouse is the weakest in the set, but it’s not without its charms. At a short 55 minutes, The Brick Dollhouse is a murder-mystery of sorts starring a trio of slutty swingers who are interviewed by police about the death of their roommate. A Sweet Sickness, for the most part, is an excruciatingly dull film about an actress trying to make it in Hollywood. It does, however, feature a brilliantly mad dream sequence that certainly makes it worth a watch. The real draw card of the triple-bill is the amazing A Smell of Honey, A Swallow of Brine. With a filthy atmosphere similar to The Defilers, A Smell of Honey is one of the best exploitation flicks of the 60s. It’s essentially a retelling of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” with “boy” replaced with “girl” and “wolf” with “rape”. And yup, of course, the girl, rather obnoxiously, gets her comeuppance at the end of the film. It’s consistently entertaining, at times funny and ludicrously offensive. Outside of Basket Case, this is probably my favourite film that Something Weird Video has released.

The DVD is a little low on extras (by Something Weird standards, that is), but come on! There’s three features on the disc!

I couldn’t find a trailer for A Smell of Honey, so here’s quick and quotable line from it.