The Launch Of V/H/S... In A Video Shop

Last night, I attended the UK launch of the found-footage anthology film V/H/S.  With characteristic imagination and effort, Fetch Publicity located the required free drinks in a pop-up, one-night-only retro video shop.  Foolishly, I had feared that this Shoreditch-based 'shop' might consist solely of a couple of half-hearted shelves, but no, they'd gone the whole hog, with every available stretch of wall covered with old-school videos in racks.  There was also a glowing video shop sign, some TVs with videos playing on them and basically everything to recreate that '80s rental store feel besides the reek of stale fag ash.

It was strangely apt to attend such an event, on the day that Blockbuster went into administration in the UK.  As I said on Twitter, though, while I'm sorry to see that chain go, I also remember how it elbowed a whole host of cool indie video shops out of business, back in the day.

For me, video rental shops were initially all about forbidden fruit.  As a kid, I would gaze in wonder at the lurid front covers, then read the graphically hyperbolic and spoilerific text on the back covers of the nasty likes of Don't Go In The House (people set on fire!) or The Hills Have Eyes (people crucified, then set on fire!) and think I'd never be allowed to watch them.  When I finally did see those movies, the experience was all the sweeter.  Video shops bombarded the eyes with garish posters and cover artwork, the brain with evocative descriptions and the nose with cigarette smoke.   Up until the inevitable horrors of the 1984 Video Recordings Act, when the powers-that-be decided to clamp down and regulate everything, these stores were also lawless, wild new frontiers.  How I miss them.

It was a great night and it was a pleasure, as always, to see the likes of FX maestro Dan Martin, Total Film man Sam Ashurst, The Devil's Business writer/director Sean Hogan, film historian Marc Morris and Doghouse director Jake West.  Oh, and rabid video collector Dale Lloyd, who kindly provided the video boxes for the event.

More photos from the event on my tumblr (feel free to follow while you're there) and my Facebook page (feel free to hit 'Like' in order to receive further updates).

You can read an old blogpost of mine here, which goes into more detail about Don't Go In The House and the lure of the video nasty. 

And here's a good article at The Raygun, about this event and the enduring appeal of VHS.

V/H/S is released in UK cinemas on January 18, then hits DVD and Blu Ray on the 28th.

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1 comment:

Andrew Hawnt said...

Great post sir! I'm deep into writing a book on the rental days and love of VHS, in particular horror movies. Enjoyed reading about your night of retro fun!