I come to both bury Blockbuster Video and faintly praise it. With Blockbuster Video filing for bankruptcy protection, it signals the final nail in the coffin of brick and mortar video stores. Blockbuster itself signaled the end of the greatest video stores of all, the mom and pop owned video store.
My appreciation of all things horror was heavily influenced by the gamble that was picking out a video off of the shelves of the local video store. The proprietors hardly had a clue of the deviance and insanity contained inside some of their tapes. Often the artwork would creatively disguise the crapfest one was about to rent, as in the case of RETURN TO HORROR HIGH or BLACK ROSES. The best moments were when one was able to mine through the stacks of slasher movies and ALIEN rip offs and discover a movie that would rock your socks off.
My older sister and I had such a moment when we picked up EVIL DEAD 2 off of the shelf of our local video store. The store was actually a gutted, double-wide trailer that reeked of mold and old newspapers and the poorly made shelves lined the wood paneled walls. There was a rickety old fashioned bar door that separated the normal videos from the porn tapes. The horror and science fiction tapes were of course very close to that rickety bar door. The store was the perfect mixture of sleaze and low rent cheesiness.
The video box cover with a smooth skull with intact eyes and the three star review from non other than ROGER EBERT were all it took to convince me. The experience was like no other and it shaped my taste in movies from then on. It was one of the only movies that I can recall rewinding and watching from the beginning just as soon as the credits started rolling.
When I heard that Blockbuster was going to open up a store in my small northern New Mexico town, I could hardly wait for it. The reality was rather disappointing. The small horror section was filled with popular mainstream titles and edited versions of movies that I had already seen. The mom and pop stores started to close one by one and took all the magic and mystery with them.
Netflix and streaming video is king now and I certainly appreciate them, but lost is the tactile experience of picking up the video box and being scared and titillated at the same time. If you don’t like a movie now, you can just click on a new title to stream or mail back your DVD and get a new one in about a day. If you made a bad choice with a video rental you had it for two days and had to beg your parents to let you go back and get a new one before the weekend was over! No one will be traumatized by having to keep TROLL and GHOULIES for an entire weekend anymore.