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Mike Vraney RIP

Though he’s rarely mentioned in the same breath as high-brow film archivists, Mike Vraney probably did as much as anybody to rescue, preserve and share nearly lost films. Through his home video company Something Weird Mr. Vraney tirelessly unearthed a staggering array of films. Specializing in grindhouse style exploitation fare, the company championed masters of the genre like H.G. Lewis, David F. Friedman, Harry Novack, Frank Henenlotter and Doris Wishman. Their spectacular catalogue offers a cross section of exploitation cinema and includes gory driver’s ed films, peplum, hardcore, softcore, nudie-cuties, peepshow loops, spaghetti westerns, all sorts of educational shorts, regional film noir, martial arts and the list goes on. Vraney was a longtime friend of Scarecrow Video, a projectionist at some of Seattle’s more notorious (and now defunct) adult cinemas, and he was an important part of the city’s early punk rock scene. Now he’s gone at the young age of 56 but has left us a great legacy of an incredible film archive with something for everyone. Though I never spent a lot of time with Mr. Vraney I always found him to be a low-key, no bullshit guy with a lot of passion for what he did. His dedication will be missed but we still have much to watch!

Here is Scarecrow’s very own Marc Palm’s recollections of some time spent with Mr. Vraney:

I've loved Something Weird Video since the nineties when I saw their titles for rent at an amazing shop in East Lansing MI. Mike told me later that he wanted the box art of the movies to look like candy. Then years ago I met Mike at Scarecrow Video when he and Lisa Petrucci came in with Frank Henenlotter for an in store signing. I remember talking to Mike outside and he said that he liked my style and invited me out to dinner at an all American family restaurant in Wedgewood (apparently his favorite kind). Frank was nearly passing out because of sleep deprivation but he still had to introduce the late showing of Bad Biology at the Grand Illusion. I was so happy to be with these Gods of sleaze in this well-lit old folks home-like grill. As I rode with them to the theater, Mike asked me if I wanted to do the honor of taking the trailer reel he had made up for the show to the booth. I couldn't have been happier.
It was nice to meet him, wish I could have known him more. Something Weird is up next to the Criterion collection for me. Movies from the "low end" are just as important as the "high end".

Probably the best memorial can be found on Something Weird’s website. Click on the link below to go to their site.

Here's a story from KING Television's Evening Magazine that features Mike and his wife (plus lots of great clips!)



Now, be sure to watch some lowbrow cinema in Mike Vraney’s honor!

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