Strange times call for strange entertainment, and genre film fanatics looking for something unusual to watch these days should get a kick out of the American Genre Film Archive’s AGFA Mystery Mixtape series, which mashes together vintage television and home video release clips in hour-long episodes. These “pay what you want” downloads (beginning at Vimeo’s minimum of 99 cents per episode) are well worth the gamble.
AGFA Mystery Mixtape #1: Didn’t You Used to Be Satan? features clips from USA Network’s Up All Night B- Movie Awards, with presenters and award winners such as David Cassidy, Sally Kirkland, and Linnea Quigley. Highlights and awkward moments include hosts Gilbert Gottfried at his Godfrey-est as Rhonda Shear looks on bemusedly, a stammering Bill Moseley running down a list of nominees, and Roger Corman winning a Lifetime Achievement Award.
I won’t reveal everything on this episode nor the following ones because a great deal of the fun of the AGFA Mystery Mixtape series is not knowing what is coming up next, but it is definitely worth mentioning that clips from a Fangoria Weekend of Horrors feature Robert Englund, Rick Baker, Dick Miller, and Wes Craven, among others. An engaging interview with director Stuart Gordon on a VHS screening copy of Gorgon Video Magazine includes clips from one of his early home movies, Mental Illness for Fun and Profit. He also discusses his then-upcoming project The Pit and the Pendulum and mentions attached stars who are quite different from the cast that actually appeared in the film. The titular news piece from the U.K. sees Linda Blair discussing how she went into hiding after the release of The Exorcist.
AGFA Mystery Mixtape #2: Later in L.A. is built around an interview with director Tim Burton for the release of Batman Returns, and also features Werner Herzog discussing the making of Nosferatu The Vampyr, Lloyd Kaufman giving a behind-the-scenes look at Troma Studios, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live cast rehearsing for a tour sponsored by Pizza Hut, and Tom Snyder interviewing Peter Cushing about monsters.
The main wraparound for AGFA Mystery Mixtape #3: Sequelitis is the Horror Hall of Fame III, hosted by Robert Englund, including a terrific tribute to EC Comics. Englund also gets extra screen time here with Slash and Burn: The Freddie Krueger Story. A wacky trailer for microbudget project Invasion of the Killer B’s sees the second letter of the English alphabet on a murderous rampage, while behind the scenes pieces for Jaws: the Revenge and Fear No Evil offer some interesting insights into those films. This episode wraps up with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert trashing a selection of horror, comedy, and action sequels in their pre-“Thumbs up/thumbs down” days.
Besides being amusing diversions, the AGFA Mystery Mixtape series are fun time capsules of 1970s and 1980s genre films, with music videos, video store screener commercials, and peeks at lesser-known films including a Christmas slasher and an animated fantasy outing. These episodes are fun celebrations of filmmakers, special effects experts, actors, and the fans who love genre fare.
AGFA Mystery Mixtape #1: Didn’t You Used to Be Satan? is available now at https://agfaamericangenrefilmarchive.vhx.tv/, AGFA Mystery Mixtape #2: Later in L.A. will be available from April 22, and AGFA Mystery Mixtape #3: Sequelitis debuted on May 6.