Video Store Nostalgia

In preparation for last October’s month-long horror movie marathon, I bought a few cheap DVD collections. You know the sort – $5 for 7 movies on two discs? Nothing made in the past decade? Maybe one decent one mixed in? We never got around to watching most of them, but over the weekend, the lady-friend and I tossed in one of those discs and watched Devour, a straight-to-video flick from 2005.

Picking that one was easy, as she’ll watch anything with Jensen Ackles and I’ll watch anything with Shannyn Sossamon. Gilding the lily, William Sadler showed up for two whole scenes. I’d always assumed it was a vampire movie, due to the cover, but it turns out it’s actually about Satanists, demonic possession, a very ill-defined phone-based live-action roleplaying game. That last element doesn’t fit the story too well, but I assume the screenwriters were just big fans of Fincher’s The Game.
More than anything else, the movie made me miss video stores back in the halcyon days of the early ‘00s. I have so many fond memories of wandering through Blockbuster without a specific movie in mind to rent. I’d usually end up grabbing something I’d never heard of. Maybe it would have an interesting cover or intriguing title. Maybe it just featured Bruce Campbell. Either way, I rented so much weird stuff that never made it to theaters.
Sure, there are modern equivalents. Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services are filled with all sorts of wild straight-to-whatever stuff. But clicking and scrolling through options doesn’t have any of the same romance to it. There were times when I wandered through Hollywood Video for longer than the runtime of the movie I eventually decided on. Sometimes, the wandering was more fun, too.
I was lucky enough to stumble across a functional Blockbuster in Oregon last year, and the resulting tweets got a surprising amount of attention. It made me feel like I wasn’t so alone in pining for those sorts of experiences. I’m heading back to Oregon again later this month. You’d better believe I’ll be looking for a video store.


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