For Bay area film lovers, this was the best of times and the worst of times. Tampa's best (and nearly last) independent video store, Video Mayhem, bit the dust this year after fighting the good fight for many, many moons. That's the bad news. The good news is that even though Video Mayhem's doors are shut, the store's spirit lives on. Former Video Mayhem owner Stephen Biro is now focusing his energies on Unearthed, a line of DVD titles that, in keeping with Video Mayhem's rather, uh, unique sensibilities, will feature the most unusual, obscure and occasionally shocking films that Biro can get his hands on. The latest Unearthed title is Junk, an ultra-gory Japanese splatterfest that offers the always-appealing combination of yakuza gangsters and zombies. Flesh-munching, stylishly dressed tattooed men aiming high-powered weapons at one another — what more could you ask for? Video Mayhem will be missed, but the new DVDs appearing from Biro's vaults should keep lovers of fringe cinema happy for a long time to come. Runner Ups: The dismantling of the USF Film Department; the demise of AMC Hyde Park.
Video Mayhem, www.unearthedfilms.com.