NOVEMBER’S LOCAL HOT SPOT OF THE MONTH: THE VIDEO RENTAL STORE.
Your bored and have nothing to do. Nowhere to go. Not old enough to drive but still too young for permission to walk around town. Then suddenly, your sister screeches up the driveway in the wood-paneled, family station wagon and calls out to you…
“HEY LET’S GO TO THE VIDEO STORE”
Whether it was Blockbuster or the little ratty video store on the corner with the grumpy desk clerk who also sold cigarettes and rubbers, EVERYONE misses video rental stores. The current age of “movie browsing convenience at your fingertips” will never hold a candle to walking those carpeted aisles of endless VHS wonder. The ritual of physically walking into a video store to choose a movie is something we didn’t even realize at the time was so precious.
Anyone remember TNUC’s Love Letter to Blockbuster? That was basically our attempt at an apology on behalf of all the online bashing the video rental legend received from whiny nerds who somehow were still complaining about their “bad experiences” at Blockbuster back in the day. Mind you, this was also happening while the business was rotting away and slowly closing their stores. Soulless idiots!
I have just as many fond memories of browsing rows of VHS covers at the mom n’ pop rental places as I do at Blockbuster. When I was in 5th grade I clearly remember reaching into the bargain bin at our Blockbuster and pulling out a copy of Surf Nazis Must Die for $2.99. Normally I’d be too intimidated by horror titles to actually rent one during that time, and browsing around just staring at them was enough excitement. But a Nazi with a robotic hand and machine gun, surfing a wave over a babe looking up in pure terror? Count me in.
There are many things these days that instantly remind me of being at the video store. Fake-buttery popcorn, microwaved pizza, clam-shell plastic, weird carpet smells…the list is massive. Also whenever I see those rubbery Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from from the 1990 movie…instant video store dreams.
One strange memory that sticks out in my mind from video store days, which would actually foreshadow an obsession later down the road, was this:
I’ll never forget combing the action/adventure section and seeing 1987’s THE BARBARIANS staring right back at me. I’d usually do one of those quick looks back and forth while moving down the aisle, excited but a little uncomfortable at what I was looking at. It isn’t everyday a 9 year old comes across an image of oily, bulging twin meatballs in loin cloths.
Are there any video rental locations still in operation where you live? Did your local shop have an adult XXX section with those bizarre saloon doors? Tell TNUC everything in the comment section!
† R.I.P. †
[Local-Hot-Spot-Of-The-Month is a adrenaline-thrusting history lesson and celebration of signature hangout spots one might recognize from television, film or real life. Our objective is to not just rediscover and dissect these places, but more importantly create a feeling like you’re really there. Take your time with these entries. Hang out. Turn some music on.
To visit the rest of ’em, go here.]