classic 1980’s movie hero was a commando who could inexplicably bury himself in
mud, yet spring up at exactly the right time to ambush an enemy army. Today’s prototypical protagonist is a man-child
who tries to win back his elfin girlfriend by working in an organic food
coop. How did we go so far wrong as a
culture? Back then, the best way to
watch a bunch of crap blow-up was on VHS.
It still is for some die-hards. Josh
Johnson profiles the VHS tape and the people who love it in Rewind This (trailer here), which screens
during the 80’s themed Awesome Fest in Philadelphia.
are scads of oddball films that were released on VHS, but have yet to get the
DVD treatment. Partly this is because
the big studios were late to party (like they were right on time for the
digital download thing), leaving the field open to bargain hunting
independents. More importantly, the
voracious demand of mom-and-pop rental stores across the country required a
constant stream of new product, regardless of good taste or logic. Those zero budget wonders are a major reason why
some collectors bitterly cling to their VHS tapes.
gives a good overview of VHS’s origins and its triumph over Betamax. While he covers the love affair between VHS
and porn, he does not belabor the point, preferring to focus on the old school
action and horror movies that became mass market commodities thanks to home
video. In addition to a motley crew of
blogger-collectors, Rewind features
commentary from legendary grindhouse director Frank Henenlotter, Cassandra “Elvira,
Mistress of the Dark” Peterson, Lloyd “Troma” Kaufman, David “The Rock” Nelson,
and dudes from SXSW, Something Weird, Twitch, Severin Films, Cinefamily, and
Alamo Drafthouse. There is also a
Japanese contingent, including Shinji Imaoka, the director of Underwater Love, probably the most
endearing Pinku Eiga film ever.
Rewind does not skimp
on the vintage clips, reveling in the aesthetics of direct-to-video
exploitation movies with lushly painted pre-Photo Shop covers. Unfortunately, the not infrequent whining
about big media corporations quickly grows tiresome. It is also rather off the mark. No distributors were bigger cutthroat
capitalists than Golan-Globus, yet they brought us VHS milestones like the American Ninja franchise. Sadly, viewer tastes just shifted from red
meat to vegan comfort food.
Despite the occasional eye-rolls, Rewind This offers some heartfelt
nostalgia for some of the scrappiest films ever haphazardly released. Good, kind of clean fun overall, Rewind This! is recommended for all cult
cinema fans when it screens Monday night (6/17) as part of Awesome Fest, which
also totally deserves your support for their 30th anniversary
screening of The Adventures of Bob &
Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew on July 8th.
Labels: 1980's, Awesome Fest, Documentary