Bizarre? You Might Say So


Gervasi with some of his film and music posters.
photo: Jacqueline Neale


You'll go straight to hell for watching that one." Joseph Gervasi is talking about Cannibal Holocaust, one of the 1,700 movies of dubious taste he sells through Bizarre Videos, an independent mail-order service based in Blackwood, NJ. Gervasi's candid warning could apply to most of his exhaustive stock, movies with titles that tell you up front exactly what to expect. Basic Autopsy Procedure and Terror Creatures from the Grave might not send you to hell, but they won't be playing the Ritz anytime soon.

Gervasi, 27, founded Bizarre Videos in 1994, after drifting through "a bunch of crappy jobs" that swallowed his soul like a ghoul from Evil Dead II. Gervasi's service is quick, friendly and straightforward. His soft-spoken disposition and assured critical observations are in marked contrast to his gross-out goods.

Gervasi doesn't think much of today's horror movies, which satirize genre conventions with self-deprecating humor. "I thought Scream was amusing, but I don't think the '90s have produced as many gems," he says. "They seem to have no heart."

Gervasi saw his first horror movie in a theater at age 4, when he convinced his father to take him to Grizzly, a movie about a killer bear. "It was rated R, so I was really happy to be seeing an R-rated film," he says. Since then, Gervasi has graduated to NC-17 and XXX, with some classy (and contradictory) esoterica thrown in to mix things up.

Bizarre Videos vends a queasy inventory of Italian splatter movies and spaghetti westerns, live tapes of hardcore bands and - go figure - The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Blow-Up and the films of Atom Egoyan. Sex tapes include home videos from Rob Lowe and Chuck Berry, as well as titles like Kung Fu Cockfighter and Euro Geezers (don't ask). Gervasi also stocks an assortment of Nazi-oriented films, though he is quick to point out, "I am not what I sell. Some people may be offended by the far left-leaning titles or the mondo stuff, but they are free not to buy it. I sell what sells."

Gervasi doesn't miss his days punching a clock. "It's great," he says. "I can ride my bike around the park. It's a storage nightmare, but it's a lot of fun."

The Bizarre Videos catalogue costs $1 and can be ordered from Joseph Gervasi, 142 Frankford Ave., Blackwood, NJ 08012-3723. Gervasi's e-mail address is jag666@erols.com.

-Hans Kellner