Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Remembrances of Video Stores Gone By

The year is 1987. I move into an apartment above a bar. Thinking back on it, it's like in Westerns where you could rent a room and the room would just have a bed and a sink to wash up in and that was it. The apartment was sorta like that, rented out to all the drunkards that frequented the bar below...and my Mom who was a waitress/bartender there.

Anyway, the street this bar was on was a very busy street. All along that block was a jewelry store, a small Chinese restaurant, a check cashing place (You know you live in the ghetto if your block has a check cashing place), and last but not least a small video store.

My mom LOVES movies, any kind of movies. Comedies, romances, dramas, sci-fi, action, and yes some horror. Since I was 7 at this time, she had to be careful with the movies she'd get but all thanks to her and this video store, I seen such great movies as "Rear Window", all three "Star Wars", "Die Hard", "Terminator 2", and a whole shitload of movies I'm sure many people probably don't remember. Like "The Bedroom Window" which was like "Rear Window" but with Steven Guttenberg. Yes, I promise you this movie really exists, I've seen it roughly 10 thousand times.

Anyway, this video store, in my 7-13 year old mind, was FUCKING AWESOME! The instant you walk in, off to your right, was the horror section. And it took up most of the store. Next to that was the comedy section. I spent most of my days between these two sections. Here, I saw both versions of "The Fly" (Yes, I saw Cronenberg's "Fly" when I was like 10 years old. I know ADULTS who can't handle that shit. And THIS is why I have a tough guy image.), both "Airplane" movies, "A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3", and "Police Academy".

I loved this video store. It had every movie, a new release every week. It was awesome. Then, of course, it closed around 1993 and I was sad. It didn't matter cause the next year we moved and I found another video store. This video store...had an adult section in the back! OOOH!! I couldn't wait to be 21 to FINALLY go back there! Until then, my Dad's old Playboys would have to do.

This new video store was neat because in order to rent the videos you had to take these magnets up to the counter. And for each movie, there were two magnets: one for VHS and the other for Beta! Yeah! Remember Beta! I was like "WTF is Beta?" and I always would forget which magnet was for which (it was color coded, Blue for VHS and Red for Beta...I think) and I'd end up with a Beta. Yada yada yada, we had to buy a new VCR and we owed the store some money.

And one final memory: the reciept. It wasn't a small piece of paper. It was this HUGE GIANT DOT MATRIX paper thing. God, how many of those I found in my room when I moved in 2000.

Watching the video Matt posted at "Chuck Norris Ate My Baby" made me think about all this and how awesome video stores were. It really is a shame they had to close to make way for Netflix and Redbox. Honestly, nothing beats going into a giant store just full of movies and looking at each one, wondering how awful it is, maybe it'll be great, or remembering the good times you had watching these movies. If I had 3 wishes, one of them would be to take me back to the good old days of video stores galore.

The other two I'd just wish for booze and naked chicks.


Dr. Blacksteed said...

Great story! I was a year younger in 87, and the only video store for like 30 miles was a Blockbuster (they'd only been around for a couple of years then - I think it was one of the first ones ever). They may have lost some charm over the years, but 1987 Blockbuster was a cool, cool place. We didn't have a check cashing place by the house, but we did have a combination liquor store/pawn shop/gun store in the same building that seemed like an awesome time just waiting to happen.

Nick said...

... I was 1 year old in 1987.