Saturday, January 4, 2014

Mike Vraney (1957-2014)

Mike Vraney, the founder of Something Weird Video, has died, claimed by lung cancer at only 56 years old. Off the top of your head you may not know the name, but if you're a film buff, you owe Vraney. I've long argued the company he built has earned a significant place in history. With Something Weird, Vraney revived an entire world of wonderfully insane, eccentric, marginal and underground films, creating the first market for them in decades and, in the process, saving a great deal of them from oblivion. It's hard to overstate that: without Vraney's efforts, that big chunk of American culture with which Something Weird Video deals would have simply died and disappeared forever.

Upon the passing of Joe Sarno, one of the filmmakers whose early flicks Something Weird helped save and revive, I wrote an article on the company and its work that summed up my feelings about it. I'll not be able to improve upon it here. I concluded, among other things, that "SWV belongs alongside the Criterion Collection and Mondo Macabro as the most important DVD labels we have." Vraney was the fellow behind it all, and someone I very much wanted to meet. I never had the chance. I was sad to hear of his passing.