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Hellfire Video Club: The Things We Do For Love

Three twisted tales of romance gone wrong for Valentine's Day.

Words Hellfire Video Club Published 06.02.24


Eckhart Schmidt, Germany, 1982. 

We kick off with this -  a beautifully twisted tale of 80s teenage synthy pop star obsession gone extremely awry.

To say that Simone is a fan of “R”, an ice-cold new wave synth sensation, might be something of an understatement. Her entire life revolves around his music and image, much to the increasing concern of her friends and parents. Simone is a girl on a mission. Determined to meet her idol, she runs away from home to locate him in person at a TV appearance - fantasising about their love and imagined future together. Reality however soon comes crashing down, when “R” proves to be as cold as his image suggests, and Simone makes the decision this particular god must be sacrificed on her elaborate altar of madness. 

Portraying the outer edges of all-consuming obsession in a brutally hypnotic and creepy manner, Der Fan is a must see for fans of slow burn art horror, chilly character study, and early 80s minimal synth alike. And see it you must! For once we can link to a real-life show you can attend in person, should the appropriate mood take you. We’ll be screening this one at the Cube on Valentine’s Day itself. Bring yourself. Bring your loved ones... for a romantic dish you won’t be forgetting in a hurry.


John Carr, USA, 1984.

 Very hard to summarise this one, plot wise. The story concerns a kind of yuppie-ish guy’s obsession with ‘Gretta’ (played by the mysterious and appropriately named ‘Meredith Haze’). Gretta is a fairground worker who also moonlights as a nightclub performer, porn star, and gawd-knows-what else - her twilight life also involving regular meet-ups with a bunch of thrill seeking oddballs to engage in life threatening games with electric chairs, deadly insects, and giant wrecking balls (!) After the inevitable occurs, Gretta appears to return in a gender switch reincarnation. And so it goes on... But the story, which barely makes sense anyway, isn’t really the thing here, it’s the permanent level of unusually pitched weirdness that pervades everything. Dialogue, performances, and general vibe are all wacked out and wrongheaded  - like someone took a regular film and violently shook it until the elements jumbled - the contents of a madman’s brain spilled out on to the screen in haphazard, ‘anything could happen’ manner.

And a madman’s brain may not be so far off the mark. One of the things which fascinates about this is that it’s a late work from someone once venerated as one of Hollywood’s top screenwriters (!) Philip Yordan penned many a classic flick in the 40s and 50s, winning accolades and even Oscars for his troubles. He also fronted for other writers to get their work on the screen during the ludicrous ‘House of un-American activities’ investigation in the late 50s, which saw many of Hollywood’s finest banned from working due to paranoid ideas about ‘communist propaganda’.  So who was Philip Yordan? Did he begin his career coherent and slip into insanity? Did he even write half of the stuff he’s credited for? Is reality falling apart? Watch this super wonky upside-down cake of a movie and you may be tempted to answer YES.

PS: You can see a massively re-edited and even less coherent lump of this compiled into the infamous 80s horror portmanteau wreck ‘Night Train to Terror’. This shorter version adds stop-motion monsters and melting heads to the mix. You gain, you lose. Patience rewards the viewer in the full-length version if you like your weirdness DEEP.

Trailer HERE


Dan Kapelovitz, USA, 2012.

The sordid tale of Amy Fisher, a disturbed Long Island teenager who, at the age of 17, went way off the rails and shot her lover’s wife in the face,  was major tabloid news in early 90s America - exactly the kind of real-life scandalous assault story the lunkheaded media machine could exploit for endless real-paper-newspaper sales until the next outrage came along. Cue the obligatory TV movie. Then cue another! Then!! CUE ANOTHER STILL!! Seems everyone wanted a piece of this pie, and so it was the salacious story played out across three networks, in three different versions - with Drew Barrymore, Alyssa Milano, Noelle Parker all giving their takes on the murderous teen via broadly similar ultra-melodramatic TV movie tropes. All of this was soon to be tossed into the TV dustbin of history, until decades later when director Dan Kapelovitz decided to smoosh all three adaptations together into this weird mash-up, which somehow proves to be more than the sum of its parts. Do we get any closer to the truth by flipping between the portrayals? How generic is tabloid/TV movie culture? Maybe none of that matters. It makes for a fun watch to see this kind of material skewered, and the instability of seeing the story play out with shifting faces and backdrops makes for a queasily amusing stew where 90s nostalgia bleeds into the present, in all its shapeshifting, unstable mass. Watch where you tread.

You can check out more from Hellfire Video Club through their radio shows here.