Video Vision

This post was contributed by Dale Lloyd, known in the world of video collecting as @VivaVHS.

I used to go to a video rental store every Friday night with a friend when I was young. We’d always take a parent with us, as we were only interested in renting the obscure 80’s horror titles. The store was called ‘Video Vision’ and was located in Tipton, a town in the West Midlands, UK. Don’t tell anyone, but i’ve still got one of their tapes that I never returned. I found the case in the attic a few months back. It contains a terrible film, but the Video Vision artwork on the sleeve is just incredible and it instantly takes me back to days of old whenever I look at it. I wonder what the late return charge would be?

Video Vision
Video Vision was turned into a curry house at the end of the millennium. I eat there regularly and often think back to its glory days in the mid to late 90s. What is more disturbing is that I never go the toilet when i’m there, as that’s where the kids section used to be. In my experience, the greatest thing about video rental stores was that the horror section was always separated from the other genres by a partition wall. It was dark and eerie, and I always felt uneasy when I walked around that area viewing such titles as The Burning, Lucifer, Superstition and Visiting Hours.

We’d get one of our parents to rent us a few horror movies at random and take them home. We’d wait until it got late and then watch them until about three or four o’clock in the morning. Good or bad, it mattered not, as it was the experience of going to places like that and finding hidden gems that mattered. I don’t get that feeling these days when I walk into the various high street stores or a Blockbuster store. I guess it’s a feeling i’ll never experience again. My VHS screening room is the closest I get.

There are many reasons why I have come to love VHS so much. The grainy picture and classic trailers from bad 80’s movies at the beginning of each tape; the classic artwork; the hard cases; the great studio logos and sounds. I could go on all night.

It used to be the case that when a film finished its run at the cinema, it would take a long time before it was released onto VHS for rental purposes and then a further six months or so before it was released for general sale. Video rental stores used to flourish because it was the only way to see these films if you had missed them on the big screen. These days, movies are easily accessible online and the time between a theatrical release and the arrival of a DVD/Blu-ray has shortened to just a few months. I think they’re actually available to buy in the shops on the same day that they are released for rental. The last time I checked, films were £5.00 to rent for two nights, but only £12.99 to actually buy. No wonder these stores started closing down around us!

I do appreciate that piracy is a huge deal these days, so it only makes sense that the release times are shortened. I’m no format freak; I own hundreds of DVDs and many Blu-Ray titles, but for me, VHS will always win through as it is a constant reminder of my rental years. I miss the days when we had to rent our VCRs and our video tapes from places like Video Vision. Every VHS I own has a story and I could tell you where I found or purchased each tape in my collection. I cannot say the same for the disposable and lightweight DVDs that I own.

I guess I just love a bit of nostalgia.

4 comments on “Video Vision
  1. This is fascinating Dale. There seems to be a strong link between fans of horror and video shop culture in general. As you say, this could stem from memories of shop areas categorised by genre where there were separate, perhaps forbidden, spaces for material you weren’t really supposed to watch. Naturally, we all ventured into these areas, and as you say, they became the sole reason for going there in the first place. I wonder if others share the same experiences of the artwork associated with these tapes and the long movie marathons that ensued afterwards? My first VCR was also a rental, from a chain called DER, who later merged with Radio Rentals in the UK. We had two tapes, Trading Places and Superman III. Good times!

  2. Great post Dale and many thanks for being the first contributor. When I first started renting in the mid-80’s I was mainly interested in the action blockbusters of the time and ninja/martial arts films. Though I had been a horror fan from a very early age, it really was’t until the early 90’s when I started to gain an interest in renting/locating slasher films, especially those that were once banned or heavily censored. I recall going to a video shop in Bromsgrove that had an over-18 section that was separated from the rest of shop by a door of some kind. I wasn’t a member of the shop but I was desperate to go in and see what was on offer.Interestingly, my first rental was from an electrical shop in York Road in Kings Heath where we bought our VCR from. As a six year old, my first rentals were Spider-Man (the pilot for the Nicholas Hammond television series) and Rambo: First Blood Part Two. Good times indeed.

  3. The thing that terrifies me is seeing Dale say that the Video Visions art takes him back to his childhood, it takes me back to my 20’s.Ouch.Our local emporium was Rainbow Video, it transformed into an off licence before finally dying and becoming a convenience store. But yes, I too was mesmerised by the horror titles art and often shooed out of the ‘over 18’s’ section by the owners.In my day you took a little tag out of a pocket taped to the front of the box and exchanged it for your tape at the counter, blue for VHS and pink for BETA.I scored Friday the 13th parts 1-8 and Elm Street 1-6 (including glasses for the duff 3-D bit) there once for under 20 quid, a bargain at about the time Dale was still in short pants.They would also rent a video camera too, it was a big silver thing that went over your shoulder and took a VHS. We’d hire it for the weekend and take it to the woods for crap remakes of Halloween.Happy days.

  4. Ha! I know what you mean. I’m not that much older than Dale, although he likes to pretend that I am. Nevertheless, I was watching Back to the Future at the cinema when Dale was born and that scares me too. What is more interesting is the idea that Dale, who essentially became a film fan in the late 90s, could still have such a strong connection to the VHS format. Perhaps the the affordability of VHS tapes during this period, on second hand market stalls and such like, lead to a big take up of VHS tapes among young film fans?Now, how about digging out some of your Halloween remakes for us? I’ll wager you made a better job of it than Rob Zombie.

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