"Americans absolutely love gore," explained Joe Levin, spokesman for Powersports Video, which has released "Havoc VI," a compilation of racing car and motorcycle crashes. "This was edited just for the American market."
This $39.95, thrill-a-minute cassette offers an hour's worth of crashes taped on the racing circuit, cleverly exploiting the fascination many of us apparently have with vehicular accidents. There are some genuinely hair-raising sequences shot by cameras strapped to crashing vehicles. You feel as if you're actually in the accident.
Because of the camerawork and editing, it's the best of the "Havoc" series.
" 'Havoc V' doesn't really give American audiences what they want, which is spectacular crash scenes," Levin said. "In 'V' the announcer explains all sorts of things about the races. The average person watching the tape doesn't care about that--all they want to see is crashes. So we made it more spectacular.
"We cut down on the replays, too. They're boring, with tires flying here and auto parts flying there. It's better to see it fast, just as it happens in a race."
The Tarzana-based company also includes in its catalogue about 75 tapes mostly of various car, boat and motorcycle race highlights. According to Levin, the catalogue will offer 100 tapes by the end of the year.
Powersports, which has virtually cornered the market on racing cassettes, is the U.S. distributor for these tapes, which are mostly made in Europe.
"We don't have any real competition yet, but it will come," Levin predicted. "Other companies will eventually realize that the market for these tapes is potentially huge."
FOREIGN FILMS: Embassy has dominated the foreign film classics market--Ingmar Bergman's "The Virgin Spring" and "Winter Light" are its latest releases--but some other companies, such as Karl-Lorimar and Pacific Arts, have entered on a small scale. Media, with its Cinematheque Collection, launched last October, has quietly surged into second place.
Its 16-film catalogue includes some first-rate films, such as Bunuel's "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" and Kurosawa's "The Hidden Fortress." Recently Peter Marai, Media's acquisitions consultant, announced a stepped-up release schedule for Cinematheque. Now the company will put out three titles every six weeks, instead of two every other month.
Cinematheque's Sept. 5 release list includes a bizarre film about an aborigine tribe, "Where the Green Ants Dream" (1984), made in Australia by German director Werner Herzog. Also in September: "Time for Revenge" by Argentine director Adolfo Aristarain.
Highlighting Cinematheque's fall schedule is Eric Rohmer's "Clair's Knee" and two Kurosawa films--"Red Beard" and "Throne of Blood." Bunuel's "The Milky Way" and two other Rohmer films from the early '70s--"Chloe in the Afternoon" and "My Night at Maud's"--are in the Cinematheque vaults.
Unlike Embassy's $29.95 titles, Cinematheque is charging $59.95 and $69.95. But, Marai contended, price won't be a deterrent: "We're trying to appeal to the hardened foreign-film collectors. If it's available on cassette, they'll buy it. The price isn't that important to them."
NEW AND COMING MOVIES: MGM/UA's "Runaway Train," the thriller with Jon Voight and Eric Roberts, will be available Sept. 23. Both stars received Oscar nominations for their performances.
On Sept. 17 Paramount will release "Lady Jane," a costume drama about the nine-day reign in 1553 of Lady Jane Grey, starring Helena Bonham Carter. Its rental appeal may be boosted by Carter's star role in "Room With a View," which has been enjoying some popularity. CBS-Fox is planning to put out "Room With a View" around the end of the year.
Ralph Macchio, known for his two "Karate Kid" movies, also starred in "Crossroads," about the adventures of young New York musician who travels south to become a blues guitar player. It will be out on RCA/Columbia on Sept. 19.
Coming on Aug. 19 from Touchstone, the romantic comedy "Off Beat," about an offbeat romance between a librarian (Judge Reinhold) and a lady cop (Meg Tilly).
This week two Lou Gossett movies are available from CBS-Fox--the action/adventure "Iron Eagle"--a cross between "Top Gun" and "Rambo"--and the sci-fi drama "Enemy Mine," co-starring Dennis Quaid.
Next week: "Youngblood," the hockey drama starring Rob Lowe, and Argentina's "The Official Story," which won the Oscar as last year's best foreign-language film.
Later in the month: "Trouble in Mind," "Quicksilver," "The Clan of the Cave Bear" and "Target."
OLD MOVIES: Next week, MGM/UA will release, at $59.95, three excellent examples of Hollywood's sentimental, flag-waving approach to World War II--"Bataan" (1943), "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" (1944) and "They Were Expendable" (1945).