Saturday, 28 January 2017

Oz's King of Video: an interview with one of Australia's top VHS collectors, Scott Bruce

I recently had the privilege to interview one of Australia’s true Kings of Video, Scott Bruce. Scott boasts what would undoubtedly be one of the country’s best VHS collections of both Oz and international tapes.  Scott also has a vast knowledge of all things video (and the joy of dealing with Customs), and is refreshingly genuine, friendly and honest, both as a trader/buyer/seller of almost half a century, and as a person. Qualities solely lacking from some in the scene these days...Scott’s also filmed a series of informative and inimitably entertaining YouTube clips on everything from his favourite directors and films to the idiocies of Australian censorship, as well as his notorious alter egos Angus McDoogle and Joshua Flower. Many thanks to Scott for taking the time to chat!
Scott with the motherload!

What is your earliest memory of seeing a movie theatrically, if you can remember the first film you ever saw?
The first film I ever recall seeing at the cinema was a double bill of Creepshow and Humongous at a drive in! Back in about 1982 or so my Aunty snuck me and my brother into the drive in hidden under a blanket as we were so young LOL and not allowed to legally see such films! We were terrified beyond words but loved the films immensely!!!!

How and when did you discover and really get into horror/trash/cult cinema?
As a boy I was TOTALY obsessed with Frankenstein, Wolfman, Dracula, ghosts etc.  Anything horror orientated I was born to love. As I had seen Creepshow and Humongous as a young boy I was dying for more similar films. At the age of around nine I saw the original Evil Dead and it changed my life!!!.Never in my life had I been so terrified but exhilirated at the same time .It was my best mate’s brother who was watching it, we joined the screening and got busted by his mum - it hadn’t finished, we were spewing! We were sent home by his mum LOL.

When did you first discover a like-minded ‘community’ of fans/collectors of these films whom you could correspond and collaborate with?
I started buying the great U.K. horror mag The Dark Side very early on and had a few letters published in it with my correspondence address for other collectors around the world to contact me for trades. Not long after I was trading VHS with guys in Greece, U.K., U.S. and Holland

Have you ever had any problems with Customs during the time you’ve been collecting these sorts of movies?
CUSTOMS!!...don’t get me started on those cunts Chelle! LOL, many know my stories that started back in 1997 when I was caught importing a laser disc of Cannibal Holocaust, I was sent a confiscation letter. Boy was I fucking furious. I almost faced a court case over it! I rang them up as that disc cost me a LOT of money. I drove over an hour to see the boss at the customs office, they were NOT happy. I had to talk my way out of trouble (I’m good at that, believe me!) They even confiscated my Cine City Video Catalogue!!! I convinced them to let me send it back to Holland and I did. I later got it sent to a mate in Tasmania (more lenient Customs then), he then sent it up to me on the mainland and I got it.
A year later I was again caught importing Z grade trash film Bride of Frank and Nacho Cerda's vile Necro film Aftermath. This time I was in shit up to my fucking neck!!! I was told I’d be charged in court for sure! After thirty minutes of sweet talk LOL they let me send these back to Holland too! Again they were resent to Tasmania and over to me on the mainland again!...Phew!!!! What a nightmare.

Were there any genre fanzines/magazines you found of special interest in the 90s?
Mainly Dark Side, Fatal Visions, bootleg video catalogues, that sort of thing.

How and when did you get into VHS collecting?
Well, I started collecting VHS at the age of around twenty, my best mate had already been collecting for some time, so I used to watch lots of his old horror films. I couldn’t get enough, I craved more and more gorier/violent films. Back then all I wanted was films for gore!! LOL, I got hooked on these demented films and I’m still collecting twenty four years later at the age of forty four!....

Somehow this got past our draconian censors uncut.

You have an incredible VHS collection, without a doubt one of the best in Australia. What are some of your all-time best bargains or freebies you had with obtaining it?
No, no certainly NOT, a few other Aussie guys have MUCH better collections than mine in terms of numbers and quality. It’s just they are not as shameless and flamboyant as me HA,HA,HA,HA .......OK my biggest VHS haul was from a place down south (Busselton, nice place too). I used to scour the Yellow Pages phone directory for all the VHS stores in Western Australia, I got a great idea to ring the old VHS shops down south. Mostly nothing came of it. But this one Movieland in Busselton said they had tonnes out the back of the shop they would sell!! In the end I was sending want lists to them and getting boxes of absolute treasures all the time! Give Us Tomorrow, Farewell  Uncle Tom!!, Pets!!!!, Secret of Seagull Island etc etc . I kept begging them to let me drive down (an almost three hour drive) and have a look out the back. For two years they kept saying no!?!?! Eventually they gave in, my Nissan 180SX Turbo soon hit the road ASAP and I rocketed down south as fast as I could but looking for speed cameras the whole way! I find this place and it’s like a timewarp man! This place is REALLY OLD!! The signs all fading etc. Wooden Floors, Fibro walls but it’s huge!! I check out the sale tapes at the front and see Shadows of the Mind!! (after it for eight years!), Blood Brothers, No Room to Die! plus others that are impossible to find. I go out the back and fuck me Jesus!!! Rows and rows of more tapes, I wish I took a camera, I was in there for over four hours coming out with boxes and boxes of tapes, many I had never seen in my life! I cleaned out the back and out the front sale section, then moved onto the rental shelves and scored some more. Some were old Spaghetti Western tapes I’d NEVER seen before.  I returned the next weekend with my best mate, share SOME of the wealth and all that, you know? We both left with another few boxes of tapes each, my 180SX Hatchback was filled with tapes in the boot and so many on the back seat that our chairs were pushed so far forwards  we could hardly breathe the whole three hour trip home!

Name a few of your favourite Australian tapes?
My fave tapes ...that’s hard, in terms of Aussie tapes – Island of Perversion!!!, Nightmare (Scavolini), Rape Squad, Night of the Zombies, Sleepaway Camp, Dawn of the Dead ( orange sleeve), Demons...oh and Salt Saliva Sperm and Sweat.

Best/worst things about VHS collecting and the scene in general?
Hmmmm the best and worst of collecting? BAD: some of the other fanatical collectors are fucking ruthless in how they underhandedly obtain some tapes at ANY cost, it’s the same in every collecting circle, moreso nowadays do I see such tactics more than in the past. GOOD: The upside is I now know so many great people because of this VHS hobby/ obsession....such as your lovely self Chelle! I now have buddies all over the world, who I now consider to be VERY good friends of mine. There are actually still genuine, honest people still out there!

Great to see the ultra scarce Evil in the Woods and Rape Squad, two of the most sought-after Palace Explosive tapes, with a collector who truly deserves it.

How do you find the current horror/trash genre scene in general as compared to say, two decades ago when it was the early days of the World Wide Web and still largely based around print zines and snail mail correspondence? Also, how do you find the current Australian VHS scene compared to back then?
These days the current Horror/Trash scene is more alive than ever, due to the modern computer age ,DVD and Blu-Ray, Facebook, Download Sites, Forums etc, it’s all so easily accessed these days. In terms of the current VHS scene itself, we are a dying breed ( in Oz) with only a select few of serious collectors left. With the advent of new formats (DVD/ Blu- Ray /4K), VHS is now considered by the majority to be a useless, long obsolete format.

Who are your favourite horror/cult/trash film directors and name a few of your absolute favourite films?
My fave directors - again a hard question as I love so many talented directors but I’d run with Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento, Umberto Lenzi, Amando De Ossorio, Ruggero Deodato, the usual guys that folk in this scene pick!

Any future planned Youtube videos or characters you have in mind? How are your good mates Mr Video Face, Angus, and co? 
No I have no new Youtube characters planned at all Chelle, I’m busy enough with the current line up!! I’ve not seen JOSH FLOWER and PAPERFACE for some time but old Uncle ANGUS McDOOGLE popped up again recently and is still insane as ever!?!

That's not all, folks!
Finally, name three individuals in the public eye, living or dead, who you’d invite to get blind drunk with?
Hmmmmm…Chuck Norris (my hero lol), Henry Silva, (I love that guy!!!) and Cirio Santiago (sadly not with us anymore), he directed some of the most insane, entertaining Filipino films ever! I’m a massive fan of his work.

Oh dear...a very inebriated Angus McDoogle has hijacked the interview to ramble on pointlessly about his favourite film...

Thanks again for that fantastic interview Scott. Here’s a few aforementioned clips of the great man himself nattering about all things film-related:

Import VHS Problems with Customs

Unreleased Films in Australia (Part One)

Star Base VHS!!! (Australia)