The convenience of Netflix, iTunes and other sources of on-demand movies
isn't lost on a generation whose unofficial mantra is “IWWIWWIWI
.” But, for older Gen Ys who spent their formative years watching the same video tape of National Lampoon’s European Vacation recorded off of HBO
, the VHS format has become a touchstone of nostalgia. Knowing a cultural revival when they see one, comedians, curators, and entrepreneurs are resuscitating the VHS era.
The Found Footage Festival
has been collecting VHS oddities from thrift shops, garage sales and dumpsters across the country since 2004. This winter its co-founders, Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher, launched a monthly showcase, VCR Party
, in which its bizarre video mix-tapes are projected onto the big screen and paired with live commentary from comedians and VHS buffs. The latest edition at Brooklyn’s Nighthawk Cinema
—a theatre that holds the distinction of serving alcohol directly to patrons’ seats—included a McDonald’s instructional video stolen by Prueher in 1991
, the Bar Mitzvah video of Seth Herzog (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
), and Vidmark
trailers presented by 92Y
film programmer Cristina Cacioppo.
This summer New York’s Museum of Arts and Design
is presenting VHS
, a three-month retrospective of the original home video revolution, curated to reflect the enormous influence that the consumer videotape format wielded upon the film industry and popular culture in general. Programming includes a survey of Public Access Television’s most poignant camcorder works and multi-genre screenings of little-known gems, rock concert bootlegs, and art house experiments. For three weeks in August, one of MAD’s Open Studios will be converted into an old school video rental store, where museum visitors will be able to admire VHS cover art
, watch tapes, and rent them for home use...with no late fees.
Video Free Brooklyn:
The chances of stumbling upon an unknown cinematic marvel in a genre that you wouldn’t normally gravitate towards on Netflix are pretty slim. Seeking to return movie fans to a time when browsing wasn’t limited to weirdly niche genres
, film critic and journalist Aaron Hillis and his wife Jennifer recently bought Brooklyn movie rental store Video Free Brooklyn
. The store may be stocked with DVDs, but the couple is reinventing it
so that it resembles the neighborhood video stores of the VHS epoch. Plans include a curated library of obscure films alongside related blockbusters, after-hours programming and, perhaps most importantly, a cinephile staff that delivers a very personal film selection experience.