I can remember the first movie I rented: RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD PART 2. It was my favorite and seeing all the stuff TV cut out was really great to a 3rd grader! There were certain movies I rented over and over... EVIL DEAD, EVIL DEAD 2, DAWN OF THE DEAD... those were rented more times than I can even begin to count. Later I began buying movies... which at that time was expensive! A lot of tapes were $30 or so new... bargain tapes were cheaper but had lower quality prints. Also, most movies were out of print... Evil Dead was out of print until I was in high school... and obtaining a copy of out of print movies was nearly impossible so if you were lucky you either found a bootlegged copy (usually a 2nd or 3rd generation print that looked awful... I can remember splitting buying a Cannibal Holocaust bootleg for $40 with my friend Rob and having to drive an hour and a half just to do so) or had to steal said tape from a video store (which we did often) because the convenience of Ebay didn't exist yet to be able to find virtually any tape within seconds.
Every video store was different and had different movies. Some movies were the stuff of legend and if your local stores didn't have it seeing it was next to impossible. The covers jumped off the shelves with fantastic, often graphic artwork and pictures. As a kid, the more outrageous or graphic the cover, the more i wanted to watch, but my dad was a barrier to this until i was old enough to get my OWN video card and then it was on! I waited so long to finally be able to get my own video card and on that day I was finally able to rent the grossest, sickest looking movies that had previously been forbidden to me and what a sweet day that was! I never understood the Big Boxes until later... I didn't get why those old movies had bigger boxes and could have never fathomed that they would be so desirable today, but we had a saying about the Big Box.... and i was "if the movie has a big Box... you're in trouble!" because usually those movies were graphic or really stunk... either was desirable. The WIZARD VIDEO and PARAGON boxes to me were the most memorable.
|Remote w cable from 1st VCR|
I cannot end the section on Video Store nostalgia without mentioning the greatest video store of all time: ANTHONY COCCA'S VIDEO LAND. In the Youngstown area no place could beat it. Their horror selection was top notch. They had every Wizard release and virtually every movie that now can be found on the "most desirable/most expensive" VHS lists. They had SPINE, SPLATTER FARM, LUNCHMEAT, DEMON QUEEN... they had 'em all and much, much more to boot! At the time when they went out of business I recall going there to buy tapes for $5 each... Spine and many other big $$$ tapes were movies I passed on (because it sucks as a film) and I kick myself everyday because now it is so highly desirable! But I woulda probably just sold it anyhow because I don't really see the value in movies I don't even care or enjoy to watch.
VHS gave way to DVD. A lot of movies that were out of print were sold at rock bottom prices when video stores made the DVD transition. this was a golden time to get many of those rare movies you had rented countless times. We would fill the trunks of our cars going to such sales. This was the great, short lived era of VHS CONQUEST where anything and everything you ever wanted was FINALLY available to own. I recall going to a Hollywood Video once I caught wind that they were selling off all VHS and GALAXY OF TERROR was the gem I wanted... I knew they had it as I had rented it there numerous times. I got there and it was gone! I was so pissed! I wonder to this day who the hell bought that... it wasn't any of my friends so I have no idea who else in my town wanted that movie as badly as me. A few years after that great era most video stores went out of business all together with the rise of Netflix, Redbox, etc and here we are today with a new generation rediscovering VHS.
Everyone has their favorite eras and genres of movies. Some people like early Universal stuff, some 70's, some Euro, slasher, monsters, vampires, sleaze, action, martial arts, etc. I personally like a large array of genres and have my own opinions as to what is the best and what was crap as does everyone out there. Personally I liked the mid to late 80s through early 90s as this was the period which was current and relevant to me. I liked Early 90's and still do and I consider the era of the 80s to have spilled into the 90s and consider it the final golden era until the horror industry kind of collapsed for quite a while until being revived with movies like SAW, HOSTEL, etc many years later. Companies like FULL MOON, NEW HORIZONS, VIDMARK, etc put out great releases like CARNOSAUR, BASKET CASE 2, and DEAD ALIVE (the movie which i use as the measuring stick as to the end of the great era of horror on VHS as I consider it to be the final truly great/important movie of the VHS era) as well as some awesome major studio releases like GRAVEYARD SHIFT, POPCORN, BODY PARTS that still hit theaters but were overlooked at the time. I remember anxiously waiting for these movies to come to my video store.
|My #1 most rented tape|
I have seen many gems come and go. When I fall upon hard times I have sold my entire collection multiple times over the years and have rebuilt it multiple times. Some tapes I will never obtain again but the memory of watching said movie to me is more valuable than the physical copy sitting on my shelf because I rented so many movies and was never able to own them back then so that knowledge or memory was all you had of that movie once you returned it to the video store. That still sticks with me today. I made many friends over the years who shared a love for horror and VHS. It was something that an alienated kid found and it allowed me to escape into another world. For all of these reasons I still love horror and VHS.