Stuart Shapiro’s “Impact Video Magazine”: It was so good… we couldn’t show it to our mom!

By on October 16, 2017

In 1989, after “Night Flight” had ended its nearly decade-long run on the USA Network, Night Flight founder and creator Stuart S. Shapiro released the first issue of his new Impact Video Magazine, a jam-packed, magazine-style VHS home video which promised to feature stories about rap music, political humor and underground artists, among other topics.

Watch the first full-length issue from the video-magazine series — which contains unrated “and frankly outrageous material that some viewers might find offensive” — over on our Night Flight Plus channel!

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In the opening scene of this historic first issue, Impact Video Magazine host actor-director Alex Winter — who that same year would be co-starring with Keanu Reaves in the smash-hit comedy Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure — tells us that Impact was “dedicated to the idea that the mainstream media ignores a lot of the exciting and import things in our culture.”

Winter later on says that Impact was “completely unencumbered by good taste,” and, right there on the box art, we see Impact being advertised this way:

It’s so good… we can’t show it to our mom!

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Back in the day, Stuart Shapiro declared that Impact was his “attempt to capture the exciting, streetwise texture Rolling Stone used to have … only this time around, it will be on video instead of paper.”

The VHS box also claimed that Impact “flexes its First Amendment Muscle and digs deep into the counterculture to unearth exclusive rock footage, shocking performers, vicious political satire, outrageous films, razor-sharp comedy, on-the-edge animation, and much more!”

Read more about Impact Video Magazine below.

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Hey! Do you have a Night Flight Plus subscription?

We’re offering up original uncut air masters of Night Flight programming from the video vaults of the 1980s TV show, as well as provocative new selections from the world of music, documentaries, animation, cult films and more. Sign up today!

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Here are just a few of the bullet-point highlights you’ll see in this first issue:

  • A rare, in-depth interview with the controversial rap legends Public Enemy, including excerpts from their Fight The Power home video;

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  • A short film performance by Texas psych-metal rockers Butthole Surfers “in a cannibalistic black comedy and demonic stage show”;
  • An exclusive clip from the L.A. homecoming concert by Jane’s Addiction at the John Anson Ford Theatre in Hollywood, CA, on April 15, 1989;
  • An interview with one of the creators of Zap Comix, Robert Williams, “America’s foremost underground painter,” who talks about Gary Panter’s The Asshole underground comic book, among other topics;

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  • A profile on Mark Pauline and his Survival Research Labs:“colliding metal behemoths as machine performance art”;
  • A performance of “scandalous humor” from edgy stand-up comedy genius Bill Hicks;

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… and that’s just some of what you’ll see in this first issue of Impact.

Originally, Impact was paired up for release along with a second video magazine, Gorgon, which featured behind-the-scenes horror trivia and interviews with prominent horror stars, directors and special-effects technicians.

Gorgon was hosted by actor Michael Berryman, the star of the awesome ’70s horror film, The Hills Have Eyes.

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The aforementioned Alex Winter — along with his filmmaking partner Tom Stern — are both credited as “Senior Directors” on Impact.

Read more about their directorial debut as a NYU student filmmakers — which aired on “Night Flight”right here.

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In 2013, Winter told the TV Store Online blog how he got involved with Impact:

“We were just roustabouts around L.A. We knew a lot of bands, a lot of artists. This guy Stuart Shapiro, who did the Mondo New York (1988) movie, came to us. He also was the guy behind the television show “Night Flight.” He had seen our stuff cause it played on “Night Flight.” Stuart came to us with the project in the pre-DVD era. So we talked about doing a magazine that was distributed on VHS.”

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“The very first one was just us pulling our friends together. Then pooling in stuff from Bill Hicks in New York, and Public Enemy, Robert Williams, Jane’s Addiction. Most of the stuff on the first one was just [Tom] Stern and I running around with a camera, shooting the stuff on our own. It was really low-fi. It was like we were both guerrilla filmmakers shooting stuff 24/7 like this for years.”

In the introduction, Winter tells us what we’re going to see while he’s being frog-marched and dragged by a security guard through the hallways of a building, then dangled from the roof and dropped (a helluva way to make an impact).

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One of the highlights in the first issue was Winter’s 1988 11-minute combined Super 8mm/16mm film, Bar-B-Que Movie — a.k.a. Entering Texas — which is described on the VHS box as “a cannibalistic black comedy and demonic stage show from the legendary off-beat rockers Butthole Surfers,” in which members of the band spoofed scenes from the opening scene of the 1974 horror classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

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Also featured were: Snub TV’s European-centric look at “House Music”; celebrated Village Voice columnist Michael Musto, who takes a close “Mondo Musto” look at “depravity in New York City at The World”; Charles Schneider’s classic bloodbath cabaret Sans Amour; and various assorted animated short films, including the legendary Bambi Meets Godzilla, and Twist and Shout animation by Joe Horne.

The VHS tape ends with a segment which Winter introduces as “Home Video From Hell,” where we see a granny taunting her friends with a dildo “sex pistol” while they’re apparently having the time of their lives on a cruise ship.

This silly home video footage — submitted to Impact by someone in Janesville, Wisconsin — is preceded by Winter’s encouragement to send Impact their “most outrageous, repulsive, hilarious home movies.”

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Sadly, this debut issue of Impact (featuring music by Blind Idiot God) was the only VHS tape in the planned series that was ever released, but it sure was a great first issue, as you’ll see!

Watch the first — and only — issue of Impact Video Magazine over on Night Flight Plus!

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.