25 March 2010

Debbie Does Dallas and VCII Incorporated

USA - 1979
Director - Jim Clark
VCX Incorporated, 1997, VHS

I'm not into old pornography, but my friend was given this tape for his birthday and, knowing my interest in old VHS, showed it to me. At first I thought it must be an original because the box has the tray inside and everything, but it's just in way too pristine condition. On closer inspection the Roman numeral date on the bottom flap says Copyright 1997, and there are references to several post 1990 obscenity laws. Furthermore, why would it be labeled as an "all time favorite" unless it was on old product? So it's not an original tape, but it is a novelty of sorts...

For example, what really caught my eye was the distributors logo; VCX. It is in fact the same exact logo design and box layout as my Mardi Gras Massacre tape. Except that the company there is called VCII and I can find no information about it.My suspicion is that either they sold off their non-adult titles when they figured out where the money was, or that they used VCII as a dummy company to incorporate before staring to release adult titles. After all, porn did play a crucial part in establishing home video as a legitimate media format.
Anyway, here's the evidence:

My Mardi Gras Massacre (MGM) tape has a lebel that says "Copyright 1979 VCX". VCX still exists, but VCII disappeared sometime around 1983 so they never released much. In fact, based on this trademark information, they were only around for a year or two. Based on the trailers on the Mardi Gras Massacre tape, they didn't have a very good product so it may have been purely strategic. Of course the original copy of MGM I watched had some trailers, the one I bought subsequently does not.
The logo's are obviously the same-ish:
Here's a YouTube of the logo from Logic Smash that is the same on my copy of MGM, it matches the VCX logo on the Debbie tape above.

Also, check out the Debbie box design as compared to MGM, all the VCII tapes have the same layout.

Then there is the e-mail correspondence I had with the customer service folks over at VCX:
VHS Archive: "I'm a collector of old VHS tapes and I'm trying to track down some information on the VCII distribution company. Obviously you and they were part of the same company, but I can find basically no information on VCII.It's a long shot, but can you help me?"

Philip: "Dear Sir, Yes, that was one our divisions at one time, what can I help you with? A
lot, if not all of the tapes they put out are not available anymore."

VHS Archive: "I became curious when my friend showed me a reissue of an old VCX VHS in the oversize box bearing the VHX logo. I instantly saw the similarity to the VCII logo. The history of the creation of the home video phenomenon has interested me for some time because it marks a change in the social perception of movies. I won't bore you with details, but the VC company is an interesting combination because it did both mainstream and adult titles.
Mostly I would just be curious about a list of titles that VCII distributed, I know a few, but as a historian I'm always in search of more. As you mention few are available anymore, I found a grand total of 3 online but I know there are others. Also if possible a larger picture of the company at that time.
Was the whole company founded at the same time? Or was it one "division" at a time? If so, why/how?
Why did the company drop VCII?
Was it a money issue, was more money to be made in adult film?
Was VCII a dummy company to establish legitimacy in the fledgling home video market before moving into adult titles?
Were there other categories of VC movies, i.e. VCI, VCIII etc.?
Thanks for your time."

There was no response.

Here's the short list of the other VCII Incorporated tapes I've managed to track down:
Boogeyman 2 
A Gun In the House
Guyana Tragedy
Half of the Action
The Magnificent Matador
Mardi Gras Massacre
The Oldest Living Graduate
A Pleasure Doing Business
The Prowler
The Savage Is Loose
Talk of the Town: Shows 1 and 2

Unconfirmed titles:
Blame It On the Vodka
Journey Into the Beyond
Night of the Demon
Red Snow
The Many Loves of Jennifer
Zi-Zi Pan Pan

On the original MGM tape as I mentioned there were trailers which are not on my copy. I do remember one for some black and white cavalry film starring Ronald Reagan, and an animated Gulliver's Travels thing. Of course, if you dear reader have info on any other VCII films, we at the archive would love to know.

And finally, yes, I did watch my borrowed copy of Debbie Does Dallas. I've been a fan of cannibal films for a long time and know the name "Robert Kerman (Robert Bolla)" from the Umberto Lenzi gut muncher "Mangiati Vivi" or Eaten Alive if you prefer, but he was also nominally in Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox. I knew that he had done pornography but was surprised to see him in the starring role of Mr. Greenfield in Debbie, so, y'know, eating meat is a career choice I guess.

 Kerman does Debbie (left), and marching through the jungle with co-star Janet Agren in Mangiati Vivi.


Bruce Holecheck said...

Another great release of theirs is the killer bigfoot opus NIGHT OF THE DEMON.

Some of their titles were released from different masters, too; I had two copies of THE PROWLER, each with a different set of trailers and copyright date at the beginning, and one looked a lot brighter than the other.

Bill G said...

VCII also put out the "sequel" Boogeyman II (1983).