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Robbie Parry
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Joined: 17 June 2007
Location: United Kingdom
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Posted: 05 May 2018 at 10:48am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Anyone want to share any? Good or bad.

Around 1989/90, Blockbuster Video came to UK shores. Prior to that, my family and I had used small independent video stores. One was called Vision on Video. I loved going there. But when Blockbuster appeared, with at least three times the amount of videos (including TNG videos!), I had "found Paradise".

In this day and age of streaming, where all STAR TREK shows are on Netflix (to name one example), I don't think millennials appreciate how special video stores were back in the 80s.

There was the good such as a wide choice, stores that seemed to have a lot of one kind of video (one store by me had loads of WWF videos), the joy of walking to the store, the banter with video store workers, etc.

There was the bad such as the dreaded "On loan" sticker found on top films, the late fees if you took a film back a day late.

And there was the downright bizarre. One video store by me sold car accessories (can anyone tell me the link between video rentals and car accessories?). There was a video store I couldn't visit as the owner kept his pet Alsatian there - and it was quite aggressive. "Don't worry, Benji won't hurt you, he's being playful." (Yes, as he nearly wrestles you to the ground and shows his teeth).

Video stores are a product of another era. Very few are open now. And why would they be? Who'd pay six quid for 2-3 films that have to be returned either the next day or within three days? Who'd browse a limited range of films when Netflix or Prime have so much more? Who'd risk late fees when you can simply watch a TV series over several days via Netflix?

Yet video stores had a charm. They were an event. When I got to 18, the age at which you are allowed to rent videos here, it was such a delight. I went to the video store every Friday after work and took advantage of 2-for-3 price offers and the like. And whilst the choice was limited, you found something. I can sit there for an hour browsing Netflix's choices, but in a small or even big video store, you found something within 20 minutes or less.

I'll add one more anecdote: one guy ran a very small video store by mine. His nickname was "I did have it..." His stock was very limited. Whenever I, or others, asked him if he'd got a certain film, his robotic response was, "I did have it, but I don't have it now." To make matters worse, perhaps in a desire to compete with Blockbuster, he got rid of more stock to make way for an ice cream freezer and shelves for Coca-Cola bottles.

Share all anecdotes here! I'm particularly interested in any bizarre ones.
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Bill Collins
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Joined: 26 May 2005
Location: England
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Posted: 05 May 2018 at 12:09pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Our first house was more or less next door to a video
store, one of the guys who ran it was going to use one
room to sell comics,i would have been in heaven! But
apart from selling some of his collection, the planned
new release items never happened!
I remember going in for a Saturday night movie and all
the good stuff being `out` and having to navigate the
titles with misleading covers to find something half
decent!
One memory i have is of picking up a competition
leaflet around 1984/85 with a comp to win The Empire
Strikes Back, which i duly won! This was when you
could only rent not buy home videos!
Then there was Batman, which if i remember correctly
was the first video to be available for rental and
purchase on the same day, i ordered from `Next door`
and i think it cost 10!
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James Woodcock
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Posted: 05 May 2018 at 4:00pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I saw most of the late 70s & early 80s horror movies that I love on home video first. I had been introduced to classic horror through the BBC running double hills on a Saturday night, some were great, some were not.

But as an 11-13 year old I desperately wanted to watch things like Alien, the Thing, the Howling, American Werewolf in London. Films I was reading about each month in Starburst but would not be able to see as I was just too young.

& then. Video arrived. I could watch these films. My brothers would get them out, & I would watch them as well, probably from about age 14 I reckon. There were some Amazing films I managed to watch.

& then there was the dross. The films that you had never heard of but gave a try, wishing afterwards that you could erase them from your memory. 1 wasted on a video rental. & the American tv shows that were released before being shown on TV like Galactica 1980 - my word was that terrible.

Small, independent video stores will always hold a special place in my heart
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Matthew Chartrand
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Posted: 05 May 2018 at 4:11pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply



 I just cleaned out my basement and one of the things I took to Goodwill was a big box of Video tapes. I wonder if people will actually buy them?
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Bob Simko
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Joined: 16 April 2004
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Posted: 05 May 2018 at 9:43pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

One thing I liked about Blockbuster was their in-store kiosk that let you go
through and rate films you've seen so it could generate potential
interests...found a lot of older noir films I would have never otherwise run
across.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 05 May 2018 at 9:50pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

There was a magic to video rental stores that is hard to communicate. The magic, strangely enough, was (generally) inversely proportional to the number of videos available.

To me, therefore, the most magic time existed before pure rental stores like Blockbuster appeared, and back in the good old days when the videos competed with other fare (I guess there's a crossover with comics here).

The most magic store I remember, was a newsagent. One side of the (small) store was three quarters magazines, one quarter penny chews. The other side was videos. It was mainly wonderfully lurid fare. I was 8 years old and we rented An American Werewolf in London one night and Creepshow another. A friend of ours told of how the proprietor had tried to persuade him to rent The Thing (gasp!).  It was magical.

If you wanted to go further afield, there was a proper video store in town (we lived in a village). My next door neighgbour rented Hawk the Slayer from there (brilliant!!!) along with a film called The Iron Master (great title, totally obscure and totally rubbish).

Those were the days.
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Steve De Young
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Posted: 05 May 2018 at 11:13pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

When I was in college, the local Hastings had .49 cent rentals from its back catalogue.  So many weekends were spent with a stack of old movies.  A lot of it was bizarre schlock.  We had Full Moon marathons, for example.  But there were a lot of fun times had as well.  And my insatiable love for They Live and Dead Zone were both born there.
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Richard White
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Posted: 06 May 2018 at 11:25am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

In the mid 80s, we had a rental catalogue that we chose from, phoned the place up and had our choices delivered by a guy on a moped!
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Rebecca Jansen
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Joined: 12 February 2018
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Posted: 06 May 2018 at 12:43pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Thanks to a one-of-a-kind video rental shop near where I worked in the late '80s I started getting exposed more to foreign and classic films. I remember renting the silent Wings from 1927 there (which my grandfather said was the first movie he ever saw), art cinema staple Eraserhead, Kurosawa's Throne Of Blood, and stuff like that which I found I really enjoyed. A lot of Criterion and Kino releases. It's now the last rental standing. A similar place in Seattle recently closed though. :^(


Edited by Rebecca Jansen on 06 May 2018 at 12:44pm
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Tyler Kloster
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Posted: 06 May 2018 at 12:48pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

As much as I love streaming, I loved renting from the video stores and never wanted them to go away. Alas...

Where I live, there were probably 15 video stores in town, both chains and privately owned ones, not to mention all the grocery stores and gas stations that also rented movies. I would guess that I literally spent thousands of dollars on rentals over the last 3 decades. One local chain that had three separate stores in town had a terrific deal of 5 non-new releases for a week for like only $3.

My favorite rental store though was a non-chain one, locally owned by a guy who was just a huge, huge film fan and decorated his store as such. He stocked tons of movies, particularly older ones, that pretty much none of the other local stores did, especially the chains. He stocked a lot of older horror and sci-fi rarities, and also had a nice classics section, when most of the other local stores couldn't be bothered to stock more than the 20 or so most obvious older films (Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, etc.).

What I most loved about his store was that his was the only place in town to stock the old Universal Monster movies like the Dracula, Frankenstein, and Mummy series, and even some of the Hammer ones as well, back when I could only afford to rent them and no buy them.

Sadly, his store closed in the early 2000s, long before the big mass video store closings. My guess is that the DVD craze killed him off...as a small business owner, he just didn't have the cash to convert his stock to the new format when that became once the customers wanted.
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John Popa
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Posted: 07 May 2018 at 7:08am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

My high school years were prime time for video stores. My friends and I would find a new store, burrow through their entire horror section until there was nothing left we hadn't seen and then move on to a new store and do the same. So many odd and slight horror movies were coming out then, knock-offs of the big slasher franchises galore! But that's also where I found Italian horror, Hammer movies and everything else. Blockbuster was the last resort - it's selection was so sanitized, they rarely had anything interesting. It was the local stores that had the good stuff.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 07 May 2018 at 7:24am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

From early on, I preferred to buy tapes, rather than rent. Since my disposable income was not quite so disposable back then, I would often rent to copy, with the copy serving as a place holder until I bought the tape. I derived no small degree of pleasure from watching my tape collection grow, and watching as the copies were swapped out for the real thing.

Trivia: first tape bought, THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING

First copied, MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL

Both went thru Beta, VHS, laserdisc and DVD iterations.

(One of the earliest tapes I bought had an "expiration date" on the box, stating that physical ownership of the product would revert to the studio in 1999. I wondered how on earth they expected to enforce that!)

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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 07 May 2018 at 7:59am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Yes, what a peculiar message. How could they enforce it?

Betamax, eh? Ah, that brings back some memories.

A video store owner told me that when video shops first opened, they would pay around 60-70 for a videotape, but it would belong to the store for life (and they'd soon make it back with numerous rentals). Later on, around the mid-2000s, a Blockbuster employee told me that that system changed - and the studios simply took a percentage from each rental.
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