Amvest Video

From Home Video

Amvest Video was a fly-by-night public domain video label founded in early 1988 by Dante Pugliese, whose bad business practices date back to 1962. Technically, the label dates its origins back to 1957 when Audiofidelity Enterprises was founded, with a music label called Audiofidelity Records.

Audiofidelity Records (1957-1987)[edit]

Audiofidelity Records was a music label that often released unauthorized The Beatles albums on vinyl. Various copyright owners filed lawsuits against the label. The label was acquired by Dante Pugliese in the mid-1970s and was the first record label to release oldies compilation CDs, dubbed from scratchy 45 RPM vinyls of various albums. In 1984, the label introduced a series of infamous chipmunk-like albums called "The Happy Chipmunks." One of the albums in the series was an infamous exploit of Michael Jackson, called "The Happy Chipmunks Sing Michael Jackson's Greatest Hits". Shortly after, Ross Bagdasarian Jr., who owned the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise, filed yet another lawsuit against Audiofidelity Records. The series was later renamed "The Happy Hamsters," with the release of another album, "The Happy Hamsters Go Ghostbustin'", an infamous exploit of the Ghostbusters franchise that basically pokes fun at the lawsuit. Surprisingly, MJJ Productions and/or its marketing agent, Epic Records, itself a division of CBS Records (now known as Sony Music Entertainment), never filed a lawsuit against the label over the Michael Jackson exploit, and neither did Columbia Pictures over the Ghostbusters exploit. The label ceased operations sometime in late 1987, with most of its catalog sold to a slew of other music companies.

Videofidelity (1986-1987)[edit]

Videofidelity was a video division of Audiofidelity Records. It was a public domain video label that mainly released animated titles, under the video lines Kid Pics and Christmas Classics. During the label's lifetime, it never had any on-screen logos and their video releases were often sourced from crappy quality 8mm or 16mm film prints. In late 1987, Pugliese acquired a similar public domain video label, called Vintage Video, which released live-action films and horror films. In early 1988, both labels were merged to form Amvest Video.

Amvest Video (1988-1990)[edit]

At the time of this label's foundation, a special video line of public domain horror films was introduced, called Grampa Presents. The line basically starred Al Lewis as Grandpa Munster, the host of the titles, who was named Grampa to avoid legal issues with Universal City Studios, who owns The Munsters franchise. The Happy Hamster was introduced on video as the host of the Kid Pics video line, played by Dante Pugliese himself, and looked like an infamous parody of Michael Jackson. A new club, called the Kid Pics Happy Hamster Club, was also introduced, but according to various sources, including but not limited to The Delbert Cartoon Report (Blogspot), various YouTubers (including Oddity Archive) and Cartoon Research, children that signed up for the club were sold to various pedophiles. Most of the tapes were duplicated on recycled second-hand cassettes with record tabs kept intact. In January 1989, Dante Pugliese married Michele Pugliese. In mid-1989, The Walt Disney Company filed a lawsuit against Amvest Video over the use of the name "Disney" on some video releases. In 1990, the label was abandoned, and Pugliese asked his mother, Florence, to form a new label, called Passport International Productions.

Passport International Productions (1990-2008)[edit]

Passport International Productions specialized in workout titles, in addition to public domain titles. Their releases had a notation on the back cover that said "Licensed from Passport International Productions." This label was much similar to a company called Peter Pan Industries. Between 1993 and the early 2000s, the label had a pact with Brentwood Home Video under which Brentwood Home Video distributed Passport International Productions's catalog titles, including those from its predecessor Amvest Video. In the early 2000s, the label began releasing its titles on DVD. Dante Pugliese told his wife it was because they were just updating their technology; however, most DVD releases of the titles previously released on VHS were basically amateur-digitized versions of the original VHS prints. The label went defunct in early 2008 when the Pugliese family went to court, only six years after both Dante and Michele divorced, and shortly after, Dante went to jail for an unknown sentence of time.

Current status[edit]

Due to many lawsuits, it is assumed that the entire company is no longer in existence. Only a couple of VHS titles from this company were re-released on DVD.