Dan Kinem Introduces Us to VHSHITFEST

On this beautiful Spring Friday, I wanted to highlight some great low budget indie film from the new Vinegar Syndrome partner label VHSHITFEST! Who better to introduce the label to us than Dan Kinem, the founder of the label!

Without further ado, here’s our interview with Dan of VHSHITFEST!

Hey Dan, thanks for taking the time for a quick interview. Let’s start with the reason we’re here… you’ve got a Blu-ray releasing label with some new stuff coming out and you’re a partner label with the great Vinegar Syndrome. For those who haven’t heard of it before, what is VHSHITFEST exactly?

VHSHITFEST is a blu ray company dedicated to shining light on obscure, underseen and lost films that I’ve discovered through over a decade of collecting VHS. Our focus is on releasing the best of the most obscure. 99% of the titles we release will be stuff that has never been released on any disc format and that people have most likely not heard of, but that we feel deserve to be seen by more people. We are also heavily special feature focused too. I love extras so we try to always pack our releases with as much as possible.

So, who exactly is Dan Kinem and how did this venture come about?

I’ve been a film fan and collector for well over a decade. I’ve always loved collecting hard to find movies and just trying to experience as much cinema as possible from all around the world. I also have dabbled in making movies too, mostly documentaries. So combining these two things is how VHSHITFEST came to be. I used to release stuff on my own until a couple years ago when my friend Earl Kess reached out to me with the idea of possibly doing a partner label. He put me in touch with Justin who runs OCN and the rest is history. Doing this label with Vinegar Syndrome and OCN is a dream come true since it was a company that I already loved and collected.

I know you’ve got a lot going on and more on the way. What are some of the recent and upcoming releases from VHSHITFEST?

The most recent release is Justice Ninja Style. It may be the release I’m most proud of. We put so much work into the release and packed it with hours of extras. It’s a movie that I truly believe deserves to be seen by as many people as possible. A ninja movie made in small town America in the mid 80s? It does not get better than that. We also released a poster and shirt to go along with this title. In July is our next release. I can’t reveal the title but I can say we put so much work into this one and it’s another two disc set. We also have some VHS titles coming this summer too!

Your releases so far are all new to me, but as a lover of low budget fare, exploitation, and genre film, it seems like this stuff is right up my alley. I’ve got my eye on Justice Ninja Style and Blood Hunter. Tell me a bit more about these films and how the releases came to be.

Justice Ninja Style was the first title I wanted to try to license once the Vinegar Syndrome deal was done. It is a movie I genuinely love that I want everyone to watch. It’s one of the few movies that I can almost guarantee everyone who watches will enjoy. It’s about a guy who gets falsely accused of murder by shady cops and a ninja has to come and save the day. The man who made the movie is actually a real life ninja and the story behind the film and the story of his life is one of the most interesting I’ve ever heard. I loved working on this release.

Blood Hunter was a title I’ve had licensed for years before the VS deal. It was one of my favorites that I’ve found through collecting tapes. A friend of mine, Grant, told me about the movie like a decade ago and once I saw it I knew I had to license it. I was going to do a blu ray and VHS long before we became partners, but thankfully I waited because I was able to do an ultra special edition with VS. Anyone who loves regional cheesy horror will love this movie. It’s packed with hilarious one-liners and interesting non-actors. Can’t recommend it enough! It’s also a genuinely unique take on the vampire genre.

In addition to the unique titles you are putting out, the aesthetic of the releases and the artwork is fantastic. Can you tell us more about the artwork and the artist(s)?

Thank you! I mentioned my friend Earl. He does all our artwork. He is the GOAT. I love everything he does. I can give him any idea and normally he is able to make it even better than I imagined. For Justice Ninja Style I wanted to get a hand painted cover and Earl reached out to his friend Michael Parsons and they teamed up to create that masterpiece cover. Since I’m a collector I know what I want to have on my shelf so I’ll never release anything I wouldn’t want to own myself. That goes for movie wise, but also artwork wise.

What’s it like working with a label and staff like the folks over at VS?

We mostly just work with Justin LaLiberty. He’s great. He handles everything and does a great job. OCN/VS has so many interesting and unique partner labels I’m just honored to be among them! They help give these movies a whole new audience.

Once we start diving more into your releases ourselves, we’d love to have you back for a podcast or a full interview, but for now can you tell folks the best ways to grab these releases and follow what is coming in the future?

You can follow me on Instagram @vhshitfest. Same with Facebook and Twitter.

You can find all of our releases and products at: https://vinegarsyndrome.com/collections/vhshitfest

Go buy some and support!

Thanks Dan, talk to you again soon! Keep on putting out fun and weird independent films and we’ll keep on covering them!

Thanks Dan, talk to you again soon! Keep on putting out fun and weird independent films and we’ll keep on covering them!

Justin has been running websites since his first Geocities site in 1994, but only did he ever start covering anything of substance years later. After he stopped regularly running local concerts in Northern NJ and the greater Philly area, he knew he needed to step up his writing game if he expected to continue to get free music to listen to. He writes regularly here and at Cinapse, as well as contributing to a few other sites on occasion. He likes music, film, the Philadelphia Eagles, the 76ers, talking about Criminal Justice, reading Intelligence Report, and his family... not in that order. His beautiful wife is far more talented than he is and his kids far more adorable... and crazy.
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