Brothers and Sisters of the Psychotronic Video World, 2013 sucked. We lost a lot of major lights from the world of cult/exploitation cinema, leaving the flickering celluloid light a whole lot dimmer. I’d hoped 2014 would be a brighter year, but we’re off to a bad start.
Mike Vraney, the magnificent madman who birthed Something Weird Video onto an unsuspecting world, left us on January 2, 2014 after a year-long battle with lung cancer. He was only 56, far too young to leave this breathing world behind, though as they say about the flames that burn brightest…and to tell the truth, there’s precious few whose passion for these movies burned as brightly as Mike’s did. His eagerness and excitement for these films is readily apparent in this clip from a 1992 interview:
Without Mike Vraney and Something Weird Video, I know I wouldn’t be the cult film fan I am today. So many of my favorite movies I owe rediscovery of to him and SWV. I never would have discovered Mexican horror cinema, perhaps my favorite world cinema, without SWV’s releases of NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES, BRAINIAC and THE WRESTLING WOMEN VS. THE DOCTOR OF DOOM. Without Mike Vraney, GOD MONSTER OF INDIAN FLATS would never have seen the light of day, and such gems as STING OF DEATH and THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF ZORRO might never have been seen again.
Without Mike Vraney, Herschell Gordon Lewis would be forgotten in a rest home in Florida somewhere, and David F. Friedman and Doris Wishman would have gone to their graves unremembered and unmourned.
Mike Vraney was taken from us far too soon, but not without leaving an incredible legacy behind him. May his shade find a cozy projection booth in the afterlife, and the company of all such exploitationeers who preceded him into the great beyond. He will be missed, and I doubt the world of cult cinema fandom will ever see his like again.