David Moseley

Nice people rewind tapes

2013-08-21 11:23

David Moseley

When I saw the sign in my local video store, announcing its closure at the end of the month, I felt sad. Sad for the pleasant staff who would have to find new jobs, sad that the owner would lose his business and sad from experiencing the actual moment of a happy childhood experience becoming extinct.

Whether the cause is satellite television, internet downloads, file sharing or a combination of these, it's clear that people just don't go to video stores anymore.

In modern reality, it's no great loss. Milling amongst frustrated people to find something that you might enjoy because all the new releases are out is a painful experience. But at the same time, how many hidden gems are you missing out on, how many dreadful viewing experiences that turn into lasting memories are you avoiding?

No longer will young movie fans be able to scratch around a store for something entertaining, only to approach the counter nervously with a Missing In Action and China O'Brien kung-fu combination.

Chuck Norris became the internet sensation he is today thanks to fans of a certain age all watching his dire action movies in the 80s. The people who laugh loudest at the Chuck internet memes are those who giddily walked away from a video store, eager to get home to see Colonel James Braddock in action. And if you don't know who China O'Brien is then you've had no kind of childhood at all.

Being generally left to our own devices during school holidays was always a movie-watching boon for my brother and I, the ultimate goal being the chance to sneak a Jean Claude Van Damme treat like Cyborg past the spotty video store clerk. Thankfully I've been over six-foot tall since I was 12, so my brother would dutifully wander amongst the comedies and cartoons, while I confidently approached the action section.

Pulling VHS boxes from the shelves I'd examine the cast lists for known action luminaries of the time, flashing titles like Martial Law, American Ninja and Red Scorpion in the direction of my brother, whose finely tuned sense of gore could sniff out a hit from just a passing glance at the cover artwork. A quick shake or nod would confirm what holiday homework we'd be doing that day.

Then of course, there was the unexpected new release delight, something that will never happen again when choosing a movie or show because these days you can pretty much choose what you want to watch, when you want to watch it.

When a new release hit the video store invariably it was unavailable for weeks, even months, because adults had "booked" it. But on rare occasions you'd stumble into a store, expecting to take out another Jackie Chan masterclass (his Hong Kong movies only, please. Not the polished US rubbish), when a brightly shining beacon from the new releases would catch your attention with the abruptness of a fish hook in the nostril.

Careful not to leap towards it too eagerly, we'd first look around to ensure no adult supervision was on our tail.

"The new Terminator, Steven, it's in," I'd whisper to my brother, barely able to contain my excitement.

"Ja, should we get it?" he'd whisper back while lunging at the video cover at the same time.

Of course we should get it, but we'd been on a bad run of late, cuffed by the owner for attempting to rent too many 2-18 action flicks.

Placing the video on the counter, a perfunctory "how old are guys" would follow. "I'm 18, and my brother's 14" (nowhere close) "but we’re taking it out for our parents".

Silence. And a painstaking pause.

"Okay, but be sure you drop it off by 11am tomorrow. It's booked for tomorrow."

No problem, we agreed. We'll be back.

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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