Late rental charges on VHS

The CraftMy sister rented the film The Craft upon its video release, and then lent it to her friend. A day later, they both fell out and her friend refused to return the tape. My Mom and Dad didn’t know about this and about a month later my Dad decided to rent another film from the same store. The woman explained to him upon check out that there was an £80 late charge for not returning The Craft. Apparently we were charged for the actual ownership of the tape, and if he didn’t pay the fee the matter would be taken to court.

My Dad ended up paying the £80, and my sister was then (calmly) introduced to his dark side.

The film was never recovered from her friend, but funnily enough I received The Craft as a Christmas present that same year from my Mom. To this day I’m not sure if this was some sort of sick joke, but I laughed, and laugh every time I see the VHS anywhere.

-Dale (@VivaVHS)

What was the most you ever incurred for not returning a rental tape to video shop on time? Or, even worse, do you still have some tapes that you never returned? Let us know in the comments.

A VHS Collection: Part Six

This series has been submitted by Dale Lloyd, aka @VivaVHS.

Next up on the film studios list is my Palace collection. To me, Palace will always remembered as one of the main distributors of horror movies.

During the mid to late 80s they issued a collection of horror tapes labelled ‘Palace Horror’. Each tape in the series was wrapped in a vibrant, bright coloured cover. They even had a cool 18 logo at the top of each case and spine (as pictured). It featured a skull bone which symbolised the number 1, and a skull for the 8.

In the series were the following titles: Vampire At Midnight (need), Dream Demon (need), Edge Of Sanity, Trick Or Treat, Night Of The Demons, Basket Case, Brain Damage, Creepers, Evil Dead II, and The Hills Have Eyes.

Although I don’t own all of the titles in that particular collection, I still own most of them in other cases/covers.

Palace logo 1

I still find it odd that Palace managed to distribute such films like Grifters and King Of New York. I’d love to know if they issued other non horror films.

Palace logo 2

Digitising VHS: Piracy or Protection?

Video Film Rentals sign
Here at Video Cultures HQ, we’ve been talking about the use of digital technology and the Internet as an archiving tool for video content that has never been released in any high resolution format such as DVD or Blu-Ray. In recent years, a number of ‘link sharing’ websites have sprung up online giving rise to communities of film fans who digitise their old VHS tapes so that their favourite films are not lost to the ravages of time. They then share this material over the Internet with like-minded fans.

What are your thoughts on this practice? Is this simply a flagrant violation of copyright or are there some deeper cultural rituals at work here? After all, who hasn’t discovered a great film or a great album by having a cassette copy thrust into their hands by an eager friend? Are these sorts of communities providing a virtual upgrade on the word of mouth recommendations we all used to receive at our local video shops?

In an age when there is little need to have a conversation in order to rent a movie, download a film on demand or stream a movie from Netflix, should we view communities such as these as people with no respect for the ownership of intellectual property, or as film lovers trying to protect forgotten works from extinction? Can we honestly say that the routine of digitising obsolete VHS tapes results in lost income for the content owner?

The argument is that these kinds of online sharing routines destroy the industry’s ability to make money and therefore damage its ability to make new products. The archivist might suggest that using technology in this way gives the next generation of film fans an opportunity to discover material they would never normally have been exposed to and thus increases the chances of commercial success when older films are eventually remastered and released in a modern format.

Historically, there has been fear in both the video and music industries about home taping on cassette. This was, of course, further transformed by the arrival of digital technology that could produce perfect copies at a low cost. In music, an enormous percentage of all of the albums ever recorded are rotting in vaults because there is no financial incentive to make them available. Could the free market research carried out by this new breed of digital archivist be one of the greatest assets the video industry ever had? Or should film fans seek out those video shops that remain open and instead support them with their custom? Are there even any shops in the UK still carrying obsolete video formats for rental?

In its broadest sense, this is a debate that continues to rage today as media producers try to understand the Internet and its impact upon their existing business models. No doubt the answer lies in the grey area between these two polarities. What are your views on this?