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Rewind This!

posted Feb 17, 2014, 8:30 AM by Vu Nguyen
Rewind This!

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I just saw the RoboCop remake at the ICON Theater in St Louis Park earlier today. As a fan of the original 1987 Paul Verhoeven film, I was really looking forward to the remake since 2010 (when Darren Aronofsky was .…

I just saw Rewind This! a documentary on the rise of VHS and its impact on culture. Like many of you who grew up in the 80s, I had a little VHS collection, but I gave them up when many of those movies started appearing on DVD, which was a much more superior format.

However, there are a few appeal of the VHS, that the documentary does a great job highlighting:

(1) VHS was the very first format that was aimed at the consumer to bring the movies into the home. Unless you're incredibly rich and own your own home theater with projections, the VCR and VHS was going to be way you experience films on the television screen.

(2) Amazing artwork covers. Studios were discovering that attractive and enticing artwork got people to rent or buy their product, the more ridiculous and bloody the artwork was, the more units they could move. For a time (particularly during the Video Nasty era), it wasn't uncommon to see very gory covers, leaving nothing to the imagination. There was also a boom in hand painted artwork, which pretty much died out in the 90s.

I honestly think they could have spent more time on artwork and Video Nasty. If you get the DVD, they did put the extended Video Nasty segment as a bonus feature. The producers took it out for pacing reasons. You know what they could have taken out? That whole guy shopping at the flea market or guy talking about making his "giant spider" movie and a spotlight on the "filmed on video". I had no interest in that and I think it really distract on the point of VHS.

They also left off Laserdisc, which is understandable, but you have to know about Laserdisc and how it was tied to VHS.

As much as I miss those hey days of the VHS dominance and missing the video rental stores, I truly believe that the introduction to the DVD (which was, in my head, a 'smaller compact version of Laserdisc') was the best thing that could have happened to movie fans. There are many reasons for this, but it's mostly because the format is digital and, depending on the source, a much better image and sound quality.

While Rewind This! was enjoyable, I really don't understand the VHS culture. I'm all about moving forward, and VHS, although an interesting niche, is going backward, in my opinion. The only saving grace is that VHS are now super scarce and some movies never made that jump to DVD. Even if they digitalized the film, the original box artwork may not survive the transition. That artwork part of the movie culture can never be captured again, because movie retailers (the Best Buys and Targets of the world), will not purchase "offensive" cover artwork. Instead, in today's market, all DVD and Bluray covers are usually bland and boring.

Rewind This! is available on, ironically, DVD and digital, as well as VHS. Purchase information can be found on rewindthismovie.com.

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