Retro Review: Channel 13 (1986, 2015)

Much of my personal viewing time recently has been spent watching various shot-on-video horror flicks. As I have been making my way through Richard Mogg’s Analog Nightmares book I have been compiling a list of various SOV movies to view for the first time. The Polonia Brothers, Mark and John, have come up a lot during my reading. For my introduction to their filmography I decided to watch their long lost, recently unearthed film Channel 13. 

While going through some storage in 2014, Mark Polonia came across a box with some VHS tapes in it. When he played the tapes, he discovered some shorts that him and his late brother had filmed during their teenage years in the mid 1980’s. Mark had completely forgotten about the shorts, and thought it good that they get some sort of release. So in 2015 the shorts were spliced together as anthology, with wrap around footage being shot fresh to connect them. What resulted was Channel 13, a film about a video game nerd who watches TV and discovers that he can only see one channel: channel 13. On this channel is a mysterious rotting ghoul introduced the three shorts.

The first segment titled “All Hallows Eve” ended up being a staple of the Polonia brothers career. It followed a young man who ends up using power derived from a haunted scarecrow on Halloween to exact revenge against bullies and other deserving jerks. The atmosphere during this low budget SOV short is quite impressive. There’s some fun gore, and a pretty good performance from a young John Polonia playing the tormented teen who is starting a descent into madness. The brothers would revisit this particular story many times during their career, eventually resulting in 2009’s feature length Halloween Night.

The second story is the weakest, however it isn’t totally worthless. It follows a man walking through the snow, being tormented by a gigantic bird. With a shorter run time and no dialogue, the segment would’ve fallen completely flat if not for the ridiculous stop motion bird effect. This felt a bit like a scene ripped from a larger work, and without context it just isn’t anything special. But that bird though. Yikes.

The last story is called “Slaughterhouse.” This is loosely based off their speculations about the classic movie Motel Hell. I say speculations because while Motel Hell inspired “Slaughterhouse,” the Polonia brothers hadn’t actually seen the film. They had only seen the poster and read some snippets about it in a horror magazine. In this story we get another great performance from John as the lead redneck cannibal, who serves human flesh to folks staying in his house. Some more fun gore effects are littered throughout, rounding out a decent piece of SOV schlock.

When all is said and done, I really enjoyed Channel 13. It was exactly what I look for in classic SOV films: cheesy acting, ridiculous plot, and buckets of gore. The effort is impressive coming from teens without a budget, and definitely whet my appetite for me Polonia Brothers fare. I eagerly anticipate my next Polonia Brother viewing, and will surely write about it when it happens. SRS Cinema has released a ton of their flicks, and if you like SOV horror even a little, you owe it to yourself to check them out.

IMDb: 5.8/10

Chuck: 7.5/10

About Chuck Ransford 100 Articles
Ah now for the one thing everyone loathes...writing about themselves! Well for starters, my name is Chuck, and I am a south Jersey transplant living in Amish country. I’ve been a horror fan since 5th grade, about 16 years ago. My horror fandom started when I got my hands on a copy of Jay Anson’s novel The Amityville Horror. The book terrified me, and I knew I just had to watch the movie. An older cousin of mine had a copy of it, and that was the genesis of my obsession with the genre. Over the years I have expressed my horror fandom in many ways. Since about 2005 I have been regularly attending horror conventions. These have been great ways to amass collectibles, movies, and to meet some of my favorite celebrities. My best friend Mike and I used to run our own horror blog years ago, and we also dabbled in script writing. I am looking forward to going back to writing about horror, something I’ve always loved. When I’m not working (I work at PNC Bank), my non-horror interests are studying theology and economics, watching Japanese tokusatsu, and doing play-by-play commentary for professional wrestling. I’m also a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society and singing in a Barbershop quartet. Oh, and I’m probably the biggest fan of the Golden Girls you’ll ever meet. My top 5 horror flicks (definitely subject to change): 1. Cannibal Holocaust (1980) 2. Basket Case (1982) 3. Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) 4. The Beyond (1981) 5. Dawn of the Dead (1978)