Friday, September 14, 2012
VHS: I LOVE YOU, I HATE YOU
For countless millions around the world, VHS tapes equal nostalgia. Below are some of my memories of that era...
During the VHS era, video rental stores were a dime-a-dozen, and I truly loved renting from various locations.
It was almost like visting a movie theater. Many stores had displays made by the video companies. Such as standees, counter displays, and posters.
In addition, you would occasionally find promotional flyers, posters, and other freebies.
They'd also have theater sized boxes of MILK DUDS, RAISINETS, SNO-CAPS, GOOBERS, and others.
THE RENTAL SECTION.....
Walking down the "new arrivals" aisle was fun, especially when the racks were filled with tapes from independent companies.
The majority of the massmarket releases didn't appeal to me. I preferred the smaller companies that distributed low-budget flicks.
Most of the smaller companies seemed to use poster art, or original artwork on their boxes. That's one of the things I loved most about those companies. Even the boxes that used photos were extremely appealing.
I think most folks remember the major studio labels, and other companies like VESTRON, THORN, and MEDIA.
But, how many people remember MOGUL, PARAGON, LIGHTNING, CHARTER, IMPERIAL, and a ton of other small companies?
Almost forgot to mention the "late fees"... I was never late, but I knew a lot of folks that NEVER returned their rentals on time.
On a related note, most - but not all - stores had a slot in one of their doors. Whenever I used it, I'd hear my tapes hit the other tapes at the bottom of the "drop-box"... And then I'd wonder if they had been damaged.
THE "FOR SALE" SECTION.....
Most stores also sold their ex-rental tapes after a certain amount of time. I'd also go to Swap-meets to buy VHS tapes.
Nowadays, most people feed their VHS addiction via online stores like AMAZON, or online auction sites, like EBAY. They also go to secondhand stores ( those places gross me out ).
Just for the record, I never paid more than five dollars for a tape.
One of my favorite places, was located on Grand Avenue in Chicago. I can't remember the name.
If I remember correctly, there were also a few places in Manhattan, and Brooklyn I liked ( that was a long time ago folks ).
THE NAUGHTY MOVIE SECTION.....
Back then, most of the smaller chains, and almost all of the mom-n-pop stores rented and sold X-rated titles.
QUOTES from the LOS ANGELES TIMES ( July 18, 1986 )
"SEX FILMS PULLED; STAR ALLEGEDLY TOO YOUNG"
"Video shops and adult movie stores and theaters nationwide were pulling products featuring sex film star Traci Lords from their shelves Thursday because of an investigation by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office into allegations that she was underage when she made most of her movies"
Traci on the LATE SHOW with ? ... This may have been her first post scandal televised interview... ( I can NOT remember the name of the host ).
I still remember the panic that gripped most of the video stores, after news broke-out about Traci Lords.
This was big news in Southern California, and I still remember the local newscasts.
For some of the smaller stores, the X-rated sections seemed to account for at least 40 to 50 percent of their rentals and sales.
Most of the local video stores closed their X-rated sections for the day. This gave them time to remove her tapes from their shelves, and to call customers that had rented her movies.
For those that do NOT know, Ms. Lords only made 1 LEGAL X-rated movie. It is called TRACI I LOVE YOU.
There were a lot of popular performers during that era. Such as Ashlyn Gere, Ginger Lynn, Porsche lynn, Britt Morgan, Christy Canyon, Shauna Grant, and of course Traci Lords.
I remember Ashlyn Gere the most. Why?.. Because she starred in a lot of low-budget flicks, and most of them were released on VHS. I had a lot of fun watching her in ultra-cheesy flicks like CREEPOZOIDS, EVIL LAUGH, and LUNCH MEAT.
Ashlyn Gere - AKA Kim McKamy - in CREEPOZOIDS
Ashlyn Gere - AKA Kim McKamy - in EVIL LAUGH
Ashlyn Gere - AKA Kim McKamy - in LUNCH MEAT
Some adult sections were separated by walls made from wire racks, and they were covered with posters, so people could not see inside. The entrance was hidden by a red curtain.
Other stores would put their adult sections by the rear wall of the store, or in another room.
THINGS I HATED ABOUT VHS.....
It was a CRAP FORMAT!
FAST FOWARD, or REWIND, took forever!
I HATED crumpled tapes. I also hated, when the tape would get stuck in the VCR. And worse of all, BROKEN tapes!
On a few occasions, I would get home and pop a rental tape into my VCR, only to discover that the tape was blank!
Either someone went to the trouble of unscrewing the VHS and replacing the prerecorded tape with a blank tape, or they somehow managed to remove the main label from the prerecorded tape, and put it on the blank tape.
I would immediately go back to the video store, to report it, and get my money back.
I loved the VHS era, almost as much as the DRIVE-IN era.
Lately, there seems to be a mini-revival of both, VHS and DRIVE-IN theaters.
FYI: A handful of U.S. companies seem to be selling NEW titles on VHS.
THE BASEMENT VHS by ALTERNATIVE CINEMA
HOUSE OF THE DEVIL VHS by MPI HOME VIDEO