While Arnold Schwarzenegger is probably the world’s most famous bodybuilder, it’s little known that he is also one of the world’s most famous TOFU advocates. His passion for healthy, environmentally and ethically sound meat alternatives doesn’t stop him from making bad movies though. And when it comes to bad movies, Australia’s VHS capital is probably Trash Video in Brisbane, home to the ‘Christian-gore-film’ lover, Andrew Leavold.
Trash Video in a nutshell?
For some, a home for the cinematically disaffected and disenfranchised, an oasis in a desert of cultural mediocrity. For others, an elitist hornets nest of anal scumbags and the cinematically retarded.
Which I understand is now the focus of an SBS doco?
Amazingly yes! I’ve known the filmmakers Kris Kneen and Anthony Mullins for years. They rang me up and said ‘We have an idea for a doco – anything on the horizon?’ That was JUST before we shifted the shop to West End and started our plans for national domination. They captured every moment over a three month period, including the time I was ready to throw in the towel. Once SBS bought the project as a half hour program they filmed a series of 16mm black and white scenes to link the doco together, me being kidnapped by an sinister Man In Black, chased through the woods and abducted by a UFO, which are just incredible to look at – Kris and Anthony’s filmmaking abilities come the fore. There’s still about 100 hours of footage on the cutting room floor, so I can’t imagine what they’ve left in (shudder). I guess I’ll have to wait till it screens in April.
What makes you nervous about the rental industry these days?
Nothing. Our main competition are chain stores who are clearing warehouse-loads of good old VHS to make room for their shiny new digital toys. Which means thousands and thousands of good, old, classic and forgotten films will disappear from the shelves of 99% of Australian video shops. And that leaves Trash as the only place to find these gems. It’s kinda sad that we might be the only alternative to a wall of shithouse new releases and the same 1500 DVD titles on EVERY video shelf in Australia.
Ever had any run-ins with the censors?
Censors, no. Customs raided the house ten years ago, long before I had a shop. Literally caught me with my pants down, getting ready for work! Took a mountain of Italian splatter films and fined me with importing and possessing ‘indecent material’. That’s nothing – Kami from Factotum Books in South Australia almost went to jail for having a tape of ‘The Young Ones’ TV show (Customs thought they’d hit the pedophile jackpot)!!
What attracts you to amputee kung-fu films?
It’s one of the most insane genres I’ve discovered – most people don’t believe these films exist! I like the patronizing tone of the filmmakers; who knows, they may actually believe they’re making a film about people with disabilities overcoming all odds. I see it as pure exploitative freakshow cinema. There’s a few offshoots too: an American 70s gangster film called The Amazing Mr No Legs, and the sleazy Swedish rape-revenge film They Call Her One-Eye ‘They raped her! They took her eye!!’).
With more finely developed bad-taste buds than most, what films do you refuse to screen at your Film Club?
Pointless meandering art films. You need to keep me, a room full of drunks AND college bozos entertained. Our biggest nights so far (130 plus in a small bar) have been a September 11 Conspiracy Night – on September 11! – with the Mu Mesons guys, and our Filipino midget spy festival.
Pitch your “LESBO-A-GO-GO” film in a few lines?
‘An innocent girl’s descent into drugs, depravity, delirium and damnation!’
A fake 60 minute black and white 60s exploitation movie – a ‘porn’ without porn! But lots of ultra-sleazy elements – rapes, murders, hallucinations, go-go girls, predatory lesbians, you name it baby! Should be finished mid year in time for MUFF and a quick cross-country screening tour.
What is it about Mexico and MUTANT WRESTLING?
Every boy grows up wanting to be a goodie or a baddie. That’s what playing soldiers or cowboys and injuns is all about. With Mexican Wrestling you can stick a mask on and do the same thing in a wrestling ring with hundreds of drunken hooligans cheering you on! We’ve done five Mutant Mexican Wrestling shows now – it’s always with local music hacks and minor celebrities in the cage – and it keeps getting bigger. I get to be the Baddie – I am El Stumpo the accursed, El Stumpo the profane. ‘Babies’ bones snap when they hear the sound of El Stumpo in the ring when his opponent hits the ground!’.
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