Following our interview with Dale Lloyd of Viva VHS, Martin Deer looks back at his VHS memories…
My parents were divorced and every fortnight I’d spend the weekend with my Dad. Each Saturday on those weekends we’d visit either Blockbuster or Global Video and pick out a couple of films and we would spend what felt like hours in there choosing the right one. There would always be two films that we would take home; one we hadn’t seen and T2: Judgement Day. Every time.
I couldn’t tell you when I first saw the film but it became a fortnightly watch when I was around 8 or 9 I would say, which would make it 3 to 4 years after the film was released. And yet there it was still in the video store – it really is a shame video rental stores are not what they once were, the excitement at browsing the films and deciding which one you were going to take home, especially at that age, was phenomenal. And so we would watch that video every fortnight, and every fortnight I’d be amazed at this world where a kid not much older than myself was on a mission to save the world and got to hang out with the ultimate friend.
I probably made my Dad rewind and play the ‘Asta La Vista, Baby’ scene ad nausea – the sound of the VCR rewinding and the grey lines that appeared on the screen, ah nostalgia. I think we just bought the tape at some point, and of course over time it got replaced by the digital future.
My collection of films now is dominated by DVDs and Blu-rays and LoveFilm downloads, but there are 6 VHS’ in my collection that will be there forever, despite no longer owning a VCR, as these are my pride film possessions.
Five are part of a boxset of Bruce Lee’s Hong Kong films, which I bought from the Virgin Megastore at Universal Studios, Los Angeles. The sixth is an original and uncut 1973 release of Enter the Dragon. It’s worn beyond all belief now but I guess it’s become a family heirloom in my eyes, I’ll probably pass it on to my kids and tell them about how their Grandad made me watch it over and over until one day I became Bruce Lee obsessed. As much I love The Dark Knight Trilogy and those DVDs / Blu-rays are to me what the Enter the Dragon tape was to my Dad, I probably won’t be passing them on to my kids, there just isn’t that sort of romanticism with a disc that there is with a video cassette.
Much like the debate raging now over digital and petrochemical film making, the analogue versions just feel more real, you know you are watching a film with the imperfections in the stock and the noise as the reel spins. It’s a shame we’re about to lose all that. Although rewinding a video when you were eager to watch it again was absolute torture!