Netflix. Blockbuster online. Mail order brides. All offer products on demand, in-home convenience, and recurring monthly charges. What’s not to like? It’s great to browse titles online and have them show up in the mailbox a day later, but are we forgetting the joys of the video store? I’m not talking about the generic and sanitized Blockbuster/Hollywood video experience, but the real deal mom and pop video store. The ones that only had 1-2 copies of popular titles, horrendous late fees, and a curtained ‘adult section’ minors could innocently wander into to emerge as men…confused men.
We all have memories of that one video store we used to frequent as a child/teen. I actually have two, Alpine Video and Video Scene. I like to think these two places probably had a major part in shaping me into who I am today. What do parents really do for us anyways? It was truly a treat to visit these stores on Friday and Saturday nights searching for something interesting to watch. The stores themselves had so much character! They were usually family owned with various odd looking relatives operating various parts of store. The checkout counter was operated by lonely souls who needed to tell you how great/bad your movie selection was. I’m glad I was never old enough to rent from the adult section during this time. Feelings might have been hurt.
The surroundings in these stores were always interesting. Is it me or are posters considered the only type of movie promotion left in chain video stores? Back in the days of Mom and Pop stores, I clearly recall a 6ft tall FRANKENHOOKER standee that would say, “Wanna date?”, every time you passed it! How genius is that? How could you not want to rent a film, even a bad film for that matter, that at least put some effort into getting your attention? Now we just end up staring at various big head poster shots. None of them offer us a date, just massive forehead from the lead characters.
Some would probably say the major downfall of these stores was the limited selection of popular titles. Sure it was annoying waiting 1 to 2 weeks for that one copy of ‘Garbage Pail Kids: The Movie’ to be available for rent, but that also allowed for something beautiful…experimentation. I’m not talking about that time when you thought a popped up polo collar looked great, but when you actually took a chance on an unknown movie. How many brave souls attempt such a feat now? Between 100 copies each of ‘10,000 VD’s’ or ‘P.S… I’m Dead’ being ready to rent first day of release, who takes the time to rent the ‘Basket Case’, ‘Dead Alive’, or ‘Terror Vision’ of our generation? Are quality *B movies soon to be extinct by such mainstream availability?
The FRANKENHOOKER sign slowly weeps at the thought…minus a paying date.
P.S. I’m back from vacation like that old pimp boyfriend you just can’t shake. “I swear Mom, he’s really changed…”.
* I’m not talking about the digital video crap that currently pollutes the store shelves either. Digital blood, bad photo-shop cover art, a post-it note sized script, or putting a’ Z’ at the end of your title does not qualify as a respectable B movie.