There once was a local Pic-A-Flick-Video store that was home to the greatest collection of horror movies I’ve ever seen. What made this store so special was its location, a two story building. Downstairs was pretty much like every other video store, but the upstairs was Shangri-La for horror fans. The shelves held hundreds of beautifully garish horror video boxes. And you could rent as many as you wanted for only a $1 each. The Attic of Terror was really designed for hardcore horror fans. You’d never see a John Carpenter flick on these shelves but you could find a large selection of films directed by Jess Franco, Umberto Lenzi, Joe D’Amato, Lucio Fulci, and the master Dario Argento. You’d never find slashers like Halloween or Friday the 13th upstairs but there was The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Bloody Moon, New York Ripper, and Monster Hunter (a.k.a. Anthropophagus 2). Independent slashers featuring reformed porn stars (Demented, Deranged) and SOV low budget wonders (Night Ripper, The Ripper) promised viewers a night of down and dirty slasher thrills.
Many of the long gone video companies still had some life in the room of forgotten frights. Paragon, VCII, Imperial Entertainment, Media Home Entertainment, Thriller, and Vestron titles held testament to a time when any type of horror film found a distributor during the golden age of home video. Some boxes sported phrases like “A World Premier Movie in Your Own Home” to catch the renter’s eye. Others featured really dreadful art work with a few splashes of blood thrown in to make the box look even more sleazy. And chances were really good anything by Wizard Video had a bogus synopsis on the back of the box. Wizard was infamous for pulling those kind of stunts with their Italian releases.
There were draw backs to spending too much time in the attic. The employees rarely cleaned upstairs so the room was filled with a funky, musky smell which played hell with your sinuses. One had to be careful when picking up the boxes because spiderwebs stretched from one video to another. It was like the ending of Kingdom of the Spiders only without William Shatner there to save the day. Since air conditioning was only available on the first floor the atmosphere in the Attic turned into one stagnant mess during summer heat waves. Opening a window might’ve helped but all of the windows were protected by steel bars. I guess the owner was afraid some of the horror films might try to escape so he barred the upstairs windows to protect the public.
When Pic-A-Flick-Video closed this location it was a major shock. Open for business one day, closed and empty the next. The greatest horror collection I’ve ever had the honor of seeing suddenly vanished. The Attic of Terror was snuffed out by stiff competition from Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. Business was also damaged when local churches started a boycott because the owner had a backroom full of X-rated movies. Eventually, the owner torched the porn collection in front of the protesters and reporters from all over the state, but his reputation was already ruined by then.
Many years later, I learned a Pic-A-Flick Video in another county was going out of business and selling off their videos. Fortunately, a relative knew the area and was able to give me directions to this hole-in-the-wall location. Walking through this Pic-A-Flick’s horror section brought on a massive wave of nostalgia. While the collection wasn’t as impressive as the Attic’s, they did have a number of titles I hadn’t seen since the local stores in my town shut down.
I left with several bags full of slashers at the end of my first visit. Over the next few months I raided the store like a crazed Viking many more times. I saw this as my last great chance to pick up these films so I wasn’t going to let something like needing money for food or tuition hold me back. In retrospect, I would’ve held off on buying some of these movies if I’d known the DVD revolution was just a few years away. Still, there’s just something special about a horror movie buying frenzy.
The Finds: The Crater Lake Monster, The Mad Butcher, Terror in the Aisles, Don’t Go in the Woods, Open House, The Incubus, The Dorm that Dripped Blood, Night School, Grotesque, Curtains, Popcorn, My Bloody Valentine, House on Sorority Row, Chopping Mall, Cheerleader Camp, Redneck Zombies.
The ones that got away: Demented, Night Ripper, Claws. Most of the films I wanted in the Attic are now available on dvd, otherwise this would be a much longer list. I doubt the three movies listed above will ever see a dvd release. Claws is a rip off of Grizzly, some sources claim it’s actually Grizzly II, that I held off on buying from the other Pic-A-Flick store. Of course, it was gone when I went back to buy it.