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While you wait for V/H/S/85 later this year, V/H/S/99 has hit Blu-ray and DVD. Among the extras for the fifth installment in the found footage horror franchise is an audio commentary moderated by Bloody Disgusting’s own The Boo Crew Podcast hosts Trevor Shand and Leone D’Antonio.
All six filmmakers participate for their respective segments: Maggie Levin for “Shredding,” Johannes Roberts for “Suicide Bid,” Flying Lotus for “Ozzy’s Dungeon,” Tyler MacIntyre for “The Gawkers,” and Vanessa & Joseph Winter for “To Hell and Back.”
Here are seven things I learned from the V/H/S/99 commentary…
1. The film almost didn’t have a wraparound story.
Wraparound segments are traditionally used to make an anthology feel of one piece rather than a random collection of shorts, but the producers originally intended to forgo the framing device on V/H/S/99.
It was later decided to use the increasingly ambitious stop-motion videos made by the 14-year-old Brady (Ethan Pogue) from “The Gawkers” for the wraparound. Despite fan theories, they were not intentionally designed to foreshadow the segments that follow.
“This first one was in the script, but then we ended up kind of expanding this idea to become the wraparound, which is kind of notoriously tricky for V/H/S movies and anthologies in general,” MacIntyre explains. “So we kind of wound up trying something different, just trying to surprise people. Rather than having someone in a room somewhere playing tape one after another, we wanted to try something a little lighter, kind of reflects the overall tone of the movie being a little more comedic.”
2. There are two references to V/H/S/94.
V/H/S/99 features two references to its predecessor, V/H/S/94. The first is a snippet of The Veggie Masher, Steven Kostanski’s faux-commercial, which appears at the beginning of “Shredding.”
The second is a crocheted doll of Raatma, the fan-favorite monster from “Storm Drain,” which pops up in one of the stop-motion wraparound sequences. It was made by artist Tales from the Stitch and borrowed from “Storm Drain” director Chloe Okuno.
3. Some of the movie was shot using analog cameras.
While most of the movie was shot using modern digital cameras, some filmmakers utilized analog cameras to capture the VHS aesthetic.
“We, for safety, shot everything on a modern camera, but also we worked a lot on the Sony VX1000, which is like a skating legend camera of its own.” Levin notes of “Shredding.” “When we brought that in the skate parks it was like a celebrity showed up.”
She and editor Andy Holton (whose home movies also make an appearance in the segment) then worked to process the footage with analog technology to give it a genuine VHS look. Meanwhile, MacIntyre mentions shooting “The Gawkers” in Hi8.
4. Bloody Disgusting’s comments section led to Roberts joining the project.
In the wake of Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City‘s release, Johannes Roberts was discussing the “wonderfully vitriolic” comments section here on the site with Bloody Disgusting co-founder and V/H/S franchise producer Brad Miska. It was during this conversation that Miska offered Roberts the opportunity to helm a V/H/S segment as a palette cleanser.
5. “Suicide Bid” features several horror nods.
In addition to citing inspirations like urban legends, Mean Girls, The Breakfast Club, and Carrie, Roberts included subtle nods to several horror films in “Suicide Bid.”
The filmmaker found the mausoleum while location scouting for a different project and was instantly reminded of Phantasm. “It was the natural choice to come back there. There’s no real need for them to be in the mausoleum, but I just wanted to shoot in the mausoleum, so we just put a whole section in there.”
The coffin emblazoned with a glass cross design was inspired by a Wes Craven film. “The cross came from The Serpent and the Rainbow. That video cover, I used to love that. It makes no fucking sense. Why would you have a glass cross in a coffin? But I always loved that imagery.”
Although it’s not explicitly stated in the final product, the college that the characters attend is called Gatlin Christian University. Gatlin is the fictional Nebraska town in which Stephen King’s Children of the Corn is set.
6. An actor put a real tarantula in his mouth for “Suicide Bid.”
As the ghoulish Giltine, actor Chris Page put a real tarantula in his mouth for it to crawl out. Spider wrangler Diana Terranova had previously pulled off a similar stunt with Billie Eilish for her “you should see me in a crown” music video, but Roberts details how it didn’t go quite accordingly to plan for “Suicide Bid.”
“The first take, the spider went the wrong way. It went up his throat, not out. That was pretty disturbing. And then the second take, it did what it did, but then it got a bit freaked out. We tested it beforehand but we hadn’t tested it with the makeup, and it got a bit freaked out by the glue and the paint and the smell of all that, so it shed all its little hairy skin. The guy’s whole mouth had spider in it, so we had to stop.”
7. A Deadstream creature makes a cameo in “To Hell and Back.”
Fans of Vanessa & Joseph Winter’s previous film, Deadstream, may notice a cameo from a certain creature in the underworld depicted in “To Hell and Back.” The puppet is nicknamed Pest, as that’s the title of the couple’s short film in which it first appeared.
“We’re all about recycling creatures,” Venssa chuckles.
V/H/S/99 is available now on Blu-ray and DVD via RLJE Films.