Friday, June 2, 2017

Friday's Choice Cuts: VHS Massacre: Cult Films and the Decline of Physical Media (2016) 1h 20m

I've made it no secret that I'm a fan of Troma Films.  So recently I was on their website looking through the sale items and I noticed this gem:  VHS Massacre: Cult films and the Decline of Physical Media.

I'm old enough to remember the mom and pop video store.  Originally our local pharmacy had a small video rental section.  After that we had a place called Video and Sound where you could rent Beta and VHS tapes.  It eventually evolved to VHS and game rentals.  Our local grocery store opened their Iggle Video which was a full sized video store in one corner.  I remember turning 18 and getting cards for both of these places as well as the Blockbuster which eventually came to our town.  As of now all these places are closed.

VHS Massacre examines how VHS rentals, and especially mom and pop stores, helped independent film companies during its boom.  I still remember seeing VHS sleeve art like House or Critters and being scared of it as a tiny child, but those stuck in my mind.  Having that availability and visual presence helped to culminate that era of cult film.

This documentary gives us a decent history lesson, bringing up studios, films, actors/actresses, and even personal memories which I had forgotten about.  It also goes into detail about how corporate structures made it hard then, and make it hard now, for the indie companies to get things out or even keep up.  At the same time they tackle how people view things like torrents, where some use the term "piracy" but, in the case of Lloyd Kaufman, he uses the term "file sharing" and claims it has been helpful for people to see the films they put out.

The climax of the film is the actual VHS Massacre which was a competition where the people involved had to find VHS tapes where they would watch any random five-minute section of it to find the worst one.  The winner is well deserved.

All in all, this is a definite watch for anyone that is a fan of cult film.  The people in this film are very passionate about how they fit into this world.  It presents a ton of info that I never even considered and gave me a bunch of directions to pursue to not only expand my knowledge but to find some great movies I would be missing out on otherwise.

"Never give up the fight for truly independent cinema!"

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