Film Review: AMERICA’S DEADLIEST HOME VIDEO (1993)

Film Review: AMERICA’S DEADLIEST HOME VIDEO (1993)

Apr 2, 2016

IMDb: America’s Deadliest Home Video (1993)
Director: Jack Perez
Stars: Danny Bonaduce, Gretchen Bonaduce, Steven Diller

In an era when found footage and shot-on-video films are standard practice for pretty much any low budget horror film, America’s Deadliest Home Video was an early entry that predates the resurgence typically associated with the 1999 release of The Blair Witch Project. Although filmed in 1991, America’s Deadliest Home Video did not see release until 1993 in extremely limited fashion. Forgotten and left to the realm of obscurity, Camp Motion Pictures and Lunchmeat magazine have teamed together to release this abandoned classic and give it the proper treatment it never received.

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Using his home video camera to fulfill his need for a hobby, Dougie (Danny Bonaduce) discovers his wife, Debbie (Gretchen Bonaduce), is using the time set aside for her bartending classes to have an extramarital affair. In a fit of depression, Dougie decides to hit the road and use his camera to create a photo journal of his life and travels across the country. While filming in Wisconsin, he comes across a group of people arguing and driving a car off a cliff. Once they notice him, the three criminals, Clint (Mick Wynhoff), Vezna (Mollena Williams), and Gloria (Melora Walters), force Dougie to tag along and film their exploits knocking over convenience stores, robberies, and murder, crimes that grow increasingly more violent with each new event.

Although the film centers on a cross country crime spree, the film focuses more on the relationships and dynamics of Clint’s gang rather than the crimes themselves. Having more in common with August Underground than Bonnie and Clyde, Home Video is an exercise in showing the mind behind the crime. Wynhoff’s performance as the charismatic Clint adds a sense of charm and humor while being unpredictable and edgy. As fun as the film can be, director Jack Perez takes us to the dark side on numerous occasions, enough times to zap the fun out of the air and remind us that this is a crime/horror film. Mollena Williams plays the wild card sharpshooter with a nasty habit of killing. Melora Walters is the heart and emotion by offering a softer side to the crimes. Bonaduce plays a straight “average joe” type character that seems almost implausible for him to pull off in this day in age. The performance is fairly strong and helps lead the charge against some of the more typical performances you would expect from a micro budget film.  

America’s Deadliest Home Video is by no means a masterpiece, but it is a true rare gem in artsploitation. The SOV approach to a road film with crime spree angles has been done to death and Home Video is the pioneer. Films like Natural Born Killers and others owe a huge debt of gratitude for presenting not just the style but also the thematic elements of stockholm syndrome, America’s love for violence, and the burgeoning media market. Adding plenty of humor to components of SOV horror, porn, snuff and exploitation cinema, America’s Deadliest Home Video succeeds at being not just a pioneer, but also at being a great entry in horror cinema that needs to be seen by every fan of found footage cinema.

Camp Motion Pictures in association with Lunchmeat magazine will release America’s Deadliest Home Video May 10, 2016 on DVD, digital and a collector’s limited-edition VHS.

Trailer: