It's August 2017, and in the basement of Edinburgh's marvellous venue Monkey Barrel, Rob Kemp is getting us all shook up. His show The Elvis Dead may sound niche - reanimating the 1987 cult movie Evil Dead 2 with added Elvis - but was the talk of that year's Fringe. Then it enjoyed a lengthy afterlife, like a happy zombie, or whatever they call them in The Evil Dead (we'll get to that).
Now The Elvis Dead is reanimating lost loft-based equipment too. The good folks at Go Faster Stripe are releasing Kemp's show not only as a download, and an increasingly rare DVD, but also a lovingly-crafted VHS tape. It comes with a lyric book, postcard, a download code, and a hidden extra. A rip-roaring ride that recording is too.
But how do you even go about conjuring a VHS these days? Let's ask the grisly Presley. It's now or never.
This VHS release is tremendous - how did the idea come about?
It is thanks in no small part to Twitter. We did the record during the fourth Go Faster Stripe festival, and I was keen for it to have some kind of physical release (because I am a man stuck in the past. Who doesn't want their own DVD; and action figure for that matter?).
Chris Evans [from GFS] was up for it, despite the slow death of physical media, as long as there was demand. So he put a poll on Twitter to see if anyone actually wanted to own a thing beyond the file. In response Phil Tate [@mangyhare] suggested a well-worn video-nasty VHS edition, and the idea was so good that Chris immediately began looking into the feasibility of such a thing in 2020.
It feels very appropriate for The Elvis Dead.
It really is the perfect format, given that the show is a love letter to those films. Shortly thereafter, a 'commemorative DVD' release seemed like a good idea too, and we set to thinking of all the ways we could make each format an item worth owning.
Could you give us a quick Elvis Dead backstory, for the uninitiated?
Sure. The show began as a green room chat about my resemblance to [Evil Dead star] Bruce Campbell, after I watched his film Bubba Ho-Tep, in which he plays Elvis. I have a deep love for horror movies and Elvis thanks to my dad, and the crossover seemed obvious to me - ahem. The show was made in my kitchen with my mate Ben. It is a mash-up of Elvis songs and B-movie comedy horror.
How tricky is it to physically make a VHS, nowadays? A fun process?
I can't claim any involvement in the actual process. I imagine the toughest part was scouring charity shops for blank tapes. Or building a time machine.
What do you reckon are your three most-watched VHS tapes, ever?
1. A long-play tape with all three original Star Wars films as broadcast on TV, paused during the ads, which I am surprised I didn't wear out.
2. A Christmas present of the animated Transformers animated movie.
3. The pre-special edition (regular edition?) of Aliens.
How has your 2020 been - better or worse than a zombie apocalypse?
Well, if we're going to be pedantic, The Evil Dead doesn't involve zombies, 'coz Deadites are demon-possessed humans, so my specialism isn't zombies at all. That said, I reckon I have stayed home more than I would've in a zombie apocalypse, and worried less about my family being out in the world than I would in a zombie apocalypse.
So, I reckon I'd take my chances with the zombies.