Kinder-Editorial :: Kinderpal Erczilla on the Death of Blockbuster Video & the Awesomeness of Evil Dead 2

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.

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12 years ago

I was never a fan of Blockbusters because of the destruction of the locally owned video store. In my hometown, there were two great video stores. One (TJ's Video) was really small and I frequented them on their Tuesday dollar day. The other one (Green's Video) was much bigger and I went there to pick videos for the weekend. I could spend hours in that store looking because they had everything! The horror section was to die for. Ah! Memories!

unkle lancifer
12 years ago

The trailer video store Ericzilla mentions sounds amazing. I agree with you Mickster, I think Blockbuster destroyed the best part of the video business.

Remember when stores (video or otherwise) were like homes and could have their own personalities? It's almost impossible to have a small business anymore and everything is so homogenized.

12 years ago

man ericzilla – your post made me all wistful and nostalgic.  i love being able to stream stuff, but i totally miss the days of standing in the horror section – mostly of the mom and pop style places – and staring at VHS box covers that freaked me out. RABID was one that i will never forget.

12 years ago

Boy, do I ever remember when video stores were like that. There was a great one in my home town called Video Library and believe me, the name says it all. It was HUUUUUGE! I think it was the first big video store in my area starting in 1980 and it stayed alive until around '06 or '07. Pretty long time.
The Blockbuster by my house wasn't too shabby and I remember renting there a lot as a kid before my grandparents helped me discover Video Library. After that I just felt like a fool for renting anywhere else. They had a huge kids section and since I was about 5 or 6, that was a pretty big deal. They were the only ones in town that had The Muppet's classic Hey Cinderella.
Even as a little tyke, I was drawn to the shelves and shelves of horror films. God, just thinking about it makes me want to cry. They still have the sign up and every time I'm home and I drive past it, I get a little bit depressed.
R.I.P. Video Stores, especially Video Library. You'll never know how much you inspired me.

12 years ago

Ah yes, the days of staring at walls of VHS covers in warehouse size buildings. I remember renting the whole VHS player as well,  long before they were a common household item. I've always loved all sorts of movies from a very young age (a trait passed on to my daughter it seems) and spent countless hours with "kid in a candy store" syndrome literally overwhelmed with choices. And the horror films…oh yes, the horror films.
My renting days started at a gas station that had a small rack of movies, myself and a group of friends would pool our limited 11 year-old kid resources and rent a VHS player and a few of the 30 or so available movies we had already seen a dozen times before but the magic of being able to watch, pause and rewind a movie in your own home was mind-blowing. I would later find Video Depot which was a goldmine of sorts. Years later, the shops closed one by one and like other have said, walls of cult, foreign, documentary and obscure films became walls of 20 or so new hollywood movies with a hundred copies each. I started scouring flea markets, garage sales and the like for my fix of strange and rare celluloid adventures but they too started to wane.
A couple of years ago we decided to move to a small town for a year for a change of pace. I went to the local blockbuster for some rentals and was sorely disappointed with the selection.  A few weeks later I decided to check the phone book for something unrelated when I noticed an small ad for a local video store and deciding it couldn't be worse than BB went to check it out.  Imagine my surprise as I went into this seemingly small building and was rewarded with walls upon walls and alcoves and nooks and crannies that never seemed to end all STUFFED with old VHS and DVD films and a horror section (as Mickster said) to die for. We only stayed a year but I  watched more great movies in that time than I had in probably 15 years previous. I sure that it too will one day close down as on-demand and streaming becomes the norm but for a while there every time I walked though that door I was right back in 1985 and it was pretty damn cool.

12 years ago

i totally remember renting the VCR along with the movie!  and then getting home and it taking like an hour to figure out how to hook it up.  hilarious!

12 years ago

My first video store was Warehouse Video. It was also where for years I was able to buy my Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Glenn Miller tapes. (I was born in the wrong era. I don't listen to anyone discovered after 1979.) I was quite sad when it closed.

However, fear not for the taticle sensation and picking of bad movies! Just go to your local library! Yes, libraries have movies and guess what – most of them let you borrow them for FREE! (Of course you pay if you return them late….)

We have a few horror movies like The Hand, all three Omens, and all three Evil Deads. Plus things like Van Helsing and The Monster Squad at my library.  (The Evil Deads and Monster Squad are my doing. And we've also added Bubba Ho-Tep cause I asked for it. It's not on the shelf yet because the librarian likes the fancy Elvis suit cover it came in so much he's keeping it on his desk to admire it a few days more.) I'm hoping and praying we'll soon add The Bad Seed and Freaks – if they're in Baker & Taylor we can add them. If they're not we can't.  (It's a rights issue. If it's in B&T that means libraries can lend them out. If not then we could get in trouble legal wise.)

I know our librarian also wants to add the classic Dracula, Wolfman, Mummy, and hopefully The Creature From The Black Lagoon. We've talked about it before. And at our annual DVD drive I sponsered the double feature Blackula & Scream, Blackula, Scream – which I hope is in B&T!

So just high tail it to your library. You never know what little known gem might be there.

But if we can't add Freaks, Blackula, and The Bad Seed I guess I'll have to finally give in and get a Netflix account.