VHS Review: Death Row Diner




Beating a dead horse with a stick is fun and all but discussing SOV gems that are rarely shown attention can be 5, 000 times more entertaining. Don’t get me wrong, Camp Video (Independent label that purposely released over a dozen terrible SOV films in the late 80s like Video Violence, Gore-Met Zombie Chef From Hell, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, and Slime City,) holds the championship title for worst horror films of all time with abysmal special effects, poor video quality, and amateur acting. It’s amazing that these films were even rewarded a release and thrown onto video shelves. That being said, this is 68-minutes of schlocky humor and it’s not meant to be taken seriously.

With this being such a short film, there isn’t much here to cover. Death Row Diner opens in 1948 at the big house with cheesy narration, “I didn’t even have my last meal!” And a very hungry Otis Wilcox screaming, “I’m hungry!” All the way to the electric chair. Otis is a studio exec that has been framed for his wife’s murder. 40 years later, an evil filmmaker is married to Otis’ granddaughter and they’re filming in the now abandoned prison. Julia (The always nude but not in this movie Michelle Bauer) is having an affair and hubby Bill is aware of the affair. Evil Bill is also aware that Julia is Otis’ granddaughter and he plans to out her dark secret but not before an outrageous electrical storm (It’s always some stupid bullshit like an electrical storm) brings Otis back to life and he moves in on the film crew like a wrecking ball.

This is a film that pokes fun at Indie films with no apologies. There’s plenty of gore with ridiculous special effects. The computer graphics are odd with yellows and purples. One man is killed by Otis’ repugnant gas. Another victim’s eyes are popped out of his head after a ping pong paddle barely knocks at the back of his head. It’s LULZ!

Copies of Death Row Diner are not easy to come by but I was fortunate enough to find a copy at Movieland and paid $2 for it before selling it for $10 at a VHS swap meet in Austin. I had a few offers from the guys in the VHS group (Sorry Jesse) but shipping is such a pain in the ass which makes swap meets more fun. Sometimes I wonder if I made the right decision by selling this. That thought was laid to rest after typing this out and remembering how horrible of a movie it is. Maybe you can make a drinking game out of it with your friends. Still, I’ll watch this over Harry Potter and Twilight any day.