Saturday, February 28, 2009


With digital projection and Blu-ray giving us about the most pristine picture quality we could hope for, I've been kind of wondering if there would be a VHS-throwback movement. You know, some bad tracking chic factor that makes your little indie film seem "authentic" (think of the 4-track revival of 1990s indie rock).

Recently, Pitchfork TV put up a recorded performance of the pop-hardcore band Fu*ked Up. It was recorded on a VHS camera, and I thought, "oh no, here we go"...

I guess for an indie band worried about purity and obsessed with hardcore-ness, using a VHS camera is kinda cute, but god, what if those flatline mumblecore nerds started using it???

However, there's another side to the sustained life of VHS tapes, and that's that they're the best we've got for a lot of older films which haven't been transferred to DVD yet... and may never be! Zack Carlson, a local programmer at a specialty theater here in Austin, puts it into perspective best:

VHS is crucial, not just as nostalgia but also because it's a viable way to grow as a person who appreciates movies. Only 25 percent of the movies ever made prior to the birth of VHS were ever actually released on home video. Today, approximately 50 percent of the movies that were available on VHS are now available on DVD. So you're looking at huge sections of films that were just lost. I think there's about 90,000 feature films – besides porn – that are available on DVD, which means that there's another 90,000 movies out there that people are willing to just let fade away if they're going to forego the VHS format.

And that alone makes VHS completely valid and an integral part of being a movie fan. I want to beseech people to not throw away their VCRs – or go get one for $5 at a garage sale – because VHS is that important. (Austin Chronicle)

I don't know if Carlson's percentages are correct, but even if they're somewhere in the ballpark, those are some frightening numbers to any hardcore movie fan. "Hardcore movie fan"... hmm. Maybe that's the problem right there. Maybe there aren't enough people around to care if small jewels like Abel Ferrara's China Girl or Jonathan Demme's Citizen's Band or Robert Altman's Brewster McCloud disappear off the shelf forever.

Moving Image Source posted an article this week about this very phenomenon of a "vanishing history":

(Dave) Kehr worries that the movies of important little-known American auteurs—for example, Lew Landers and André De Toth—are simply "vanishing into the ether," he says. "They’re just gone from the conversation and that’s unfortunate. The younger critics haven't seen this stuff, but how could they?" (Moving Image Source)

In that same article, Jonathan Rosenbaum worries about a movie renting future that doesn't offer the sweet Joel McCrea film, Stars in My Crown, as an option. The mentioning of that movie, in particular, stands out for me.

Six years ago, while unemployed, I would go to the same video store every two-for-Tuesday and rent six movies for the price of three. This was a time of awesome purging that is probably more responsible for my movie knowledge than anything else. I think I may have enjoyed "the hunt" at the video store as much the actual viewing of the films. When you have time on your hands you can take chances, so I would often randomly grab movies I'd heard nothing about.

I thought the box cover was goofy, but I liked Joel McCrea, so ... what the heck! I loved it, so I went back to rent another of the director's films. I picked out Night of the Demon. And so went my history lesson of Jasques Tournier. That video store is more important to me than the largest library in the world.

We also shouldn't underestimate the value of nostalgia that could be lost with the erosion of VHS tapes...

Recently, at The Dancing Image, MovieMan wrote about watching a recorded VHS copy of the animated-for-TV movie The Wind In the Willows. Not only was this a chance for him to watch something that wasn't available on DVD, but it served up a priceless nostalgic quality that no DVD transfer could ever duplicate:

In 1987, in an event which I dimly recall, my father taped an ABC airing of The Wind in the Willows, a Rankin/Bass animated production of the Kenneth Grahame classic (I still own a lavishly illustrated edition thereof). The cartoon, watched again and again on various occasions, was woven into the fabric of my childhood and as the years passed, it became more and more a relic of some half-forgotten, romanticized era. We only taped one commercial break, but it distinguishes the entire tape with its colorful Fruit Loops spots, uber-80s scored Capri Sun bits, and claymation galore. Every time the channel is ready to break for a commercial, a claymation cowboy stands in front of a brick wall and croons, "After these messages, we'll be riiiight back," (later a 50s chorus replaces him). The juxtaposition of these once-modern, now-fondly-dated artifacts with the wistful, pastoral Edwardian milieu of Grahame's tale only adds to the impression that one is looking through some kind of portal across time (perhaps several layers of time).

To me, getting rid of a recorded-on VHS tape like that (something we've all done) is as sentimentally destructive as burning a photo album. Did that particular videotape alter the content of The Wind In The Willows? No. But watching it/remembering it in that context is as personally valuable as me relating Stars in My Crown to a local video store.

Recently, in the clearance section at Half Price Books, I found an old copy of the Louis Gianetti textbook Understanding Movies. Was it there b/c of it's condition, or was it there because it had been on the shelf for twenty years and nobody cared to buy it? When you get down to it, the elimination of VHS tapes by video stores is just smart business. You can't blame owners for unloading stock that is generating zero money and taking up space.

But for every movie fan out there who cares about the preservation of the art they love, it is now your duty to buy as many of those $0.50 VHS tapes as you can. Yes, your spouse, parents, or roommate may hate you for bringing all of those ugly little black rectangles into the house, but just tell them you are saving the world... and, really, who can argue with that?


hokahey said...

I have definitely held onto my VHS tapes that I cannot replace with a DVD - and I really cherish them.

Among the tapes I have that I would like to see on DVD, but just aren't, are Waterloo(1970), Germinal(1993), and
Shake Hands with the Devil (1959), as well as the aweseome TV movie Son of the Morning Star. I also have the director's cut for John Wayne's The Alamo (1960), which I have not seen on DVD.

Also, there's something refreshing about putting a VHS tape into the old VCR and not having to wait for the menus to come up.

Fox said...


I looked at my VHSs today and I seem to mostly have copies of newers stuff (1970s and on). I am gonna try to keep an eye out for earlier stuff.

This list that TCM has posted of readers voting for their favorite not-on-DVD movies is eye opening to me in that I haven't heard of a lot of them.

And you're right... I always though of DVD as much faster, but with all of the pre-menu previews et al on them now (some of which won't let you skip straight to the menu) are getting annoying. Gimme that old FF button!! :)

Joseph B. said...

I have to give you props for just MENTIONING "China Girl". One that many Ferrera fans forget about. Ohh, and when the hell will they release "The Addiction", which long overdue on DVD.

Fox said...


I hear ya on The Addiction. That's another one I fear could get lost in the shuffle. You wouldn't think so b/c it has star names in it, but it's really been loooong overdue, as you say.

I think it could also have to do with the reality that a lot of people seem to hate that film.

Daniel Getahun said...

Fascinating thoughts here. I've definitely come to the point where I just expect that everything I'd want to see is on DVD, but that's clearly not the case. Recently I missed an arthouse screening of The Magnificent Ambersons, and I've regretted it for months (of course I can just get the VHS...). And I can't believe something like The African Queen isn't on DVD, but fortunately I have seen that one. Actually I would be interested to see how many of that TCM list are not on VHS OR DVD.

I don't think there's going to be a VHS-throwback movement anytime soon, but suffice to say they'll remain important for all of us who grew up with them.

Fox said...

Hey Daniel-

I was lucky to see The Magnificent Ambersons at a theater here in town, and I hope it gets a nice DVD package someday soon. I imagine a lot of the wait is over the three cuts of the film that existed at one time.

I think one of the two "original" cuts is gone forever, and I'm not even sure if the other one is available anymore either. For the record, I love the edited down "third" version that I saw, and hope it comes out someday. However being able to see one of those original cuts would be a thirll.

It's definitely worth a viewing on VHS.

RC said...

vhs throwback now that's an idea...

i have a feeling the idea could work, that is until people realize they have to rewind the tapes when they're don.e

Fox said...


I can totally see some purists wanting to films their movies with the aesthetic of an aged 1988 videotape.

It sounds weird, but hipsters will try anything to get their 15 minutes.

Jonathan Lapper said...

Fox, I just saw this. Anyway, I couldn't stand VHS for its pan and scan and poor quality. I understand not wanting to lose all those movies though, I just wish they would get transferred digitally rather than having to be kept in such poor condition on a tape. I have thrown away many VHS tapes over the years but have kept the ones that can't be replaced. Like for instance, the original Star Wars trilogy with the original effects. Still unavailable on DVD and probably always will be. I don't even know if Lucas did a separate print or desecrated the original when he fucked with it. All I know is it's the only record I've got of how the movies were originally. I got the trilogy in 91 and won't ever throw it away.

Jason Bellamy said...

OK. I'm confused by the "Star Wars" reference. I've held on to my original VHS tapes of that series, too, which I got one by one (the VHS for the 1977 original is in one of those big plastic cases...awesome!).

Anyway, I thought the LAST DVD release version of the "Star Wars" films included two DVDs, one of which included the totally original versions ... original effects and everything. I'm almost sure of this, because I think I watched one of them and -- among other things -- remember the joy of seeing the old-school explosion of the Death Star.

Fox said...

Jonathan & Jason-

I can't speak to the Star Wars stuff b/c it seems like George Lucas messes with those movies so much I don't even know which ones are in their original form anymore.

I know I saw the REVISED edition of THX 1138 and boy oh boy was it disgusting to see. Now, I may be wrong (I'm gonna check after posting this...) but I think THX 1138 is only on DVD in it's new form.

MovieMan0283 said...

Thanks for the quote, and for the great post. It's especially pertinent since I hear that Kim's Video, an old haunt of mine and many other's, is closing doors in New York (though apparently the collection may be sent to Italy where it will prop up a town looking for tourist dollars - apparently they hope to have endless simultaneous screenings of all the videos in the collection).

Recently I relocated to a buddy's neighborhood and he stopped by on his way back from work. I was watching a DVD of Manhattan, not Criterion-quality exactly but still relatively pristine. I asked what he wanted to watch. Nearby was a suitcase overflowing with VHS tapes and he seized on the terrible (but entertainingly terrible in this context) Batman Forever which I hadn't even meant to pack. We ordered pizza and watched Batman movies all night - complete with coming attractions, ads for the soundtracks, and that weird touchstone phone noise that sets the tone so well at the beginning of every videotape (what was that all about anyway?). I will never be getting rid of my tapes or my VCR (in fact I bought a new one last year, mistakenly thinking that my old one was gone).

Long live VHS!

Film-Book dot Com said...

I have never heard of China Girl before. Hopefully I will still be able to find a copy somewhere.

sexy said...

情趣用品,情趣,A片,AIO,AV,AV女優,A漫,免費A片,情色,情色貼圖,色情小說,情色文學,色情,寄情竹園小遊戲,色情遊戲,AIO交友愛情館,色情影片,情趣內衣,情趣睡衣,性感睡衣,情趣商品,微風成人,嘟嘟成人網,成人,18成人,成人影城,成人圖片,成人貼圖,成人圖片區,UT聊天室,聊天室,豆豆聊天室 ,哈啦聊天室,尋夢園聊天室,聊天室尋夢園,080苗栗人聊天室,080聊天室,視訊交友網,視訊



Anonymous said...

[url=]Rachel Bilson Sexy[/url]

Anonymous said...

I fondness listening to music from my iPod while I'm on the impel, be it on the bus, the edify, or unbiased while doing groceries. Quest of that common sense, I every requirement a shapely up of stereo earphones with me, and of ambit on some days I'd like my earphones to be an accessory, where I twin it with my utensils for the benefit of that day. So I procure a join of designer earphone every other month. Recently, I bought the [url=]Designer Beats by Dr. Dre In-Ear Stereo Earphone with Carrying Bag (3.5mm Jack/110CM-Cable)[/url] from in their Speakers & Earphones section. has change my non-fulfilment online shopping instal that I visit time again to buy whatever I may need. Succeeding to the DIY accumulation or the mall has become kind of less pleasurable than browsing owing to the wide assortment of things at I would also like to get stereo speakers a certain light of day exchange for my home.

These author beats that I bought comes with a carrying suitcase, which makes the artificer earphone definitely at one's fingertips to inventory and carry. I've uploaded a several of pictures of the intriguer stereo earphone and the carrying valise so you can see what comes with the earphone decided I bought from [url=][/url].

On some days, I'd like to hearken to fitting music with a hard-working bass, so I also do ordain in godlike pairs of stereo earphone like Sennheiser. They're not so much plotter beats, but really good on account of getting into the music. Although the conniver beats I bought from is not a clear-cut brand like Sennheiser or Sony, it does serene stumbling-block effectively external uproar, making for listening pleasure. The technique the designer earphone contours nearly the ears also makes seeking comfortable survive, and the good trend back the Draughtsman Beats past Dr. Dre In-Ear Stereo Earphone with Carrying Worry (3.5mm Jack/110CM-Cable) I bought from is that it comes with multiple sizes of heed tips and additional appreciation buds. These things are hard to manage so I'm contented the interior decorator beats came with it. I can use these appreciation tips and buds on my other pairs of earphone too. The carrying jump at is of course a important bonus representing unoppressive storage and portability.

I like to double this team of designer beats close to Dr. Dre with my pink spaghetti strap and drained shorts, I reckon it goes well with this outfit. While waiting in queues or waiting for a new zealand mate seeking a lunch job, I put on my favorite Wire-tap Knocking Pirouette recreation on my iPod Match with this yoke of stereo earphone. The visible bedlam gets blocked in sight so well, and coupled with the hugely engrossing tap tournament, I don't balance out make out when my compeer arrives! Cooked through, that's what a merit yoke of stereo earphone should do, I believe. Notwithstanding how, I do away it a sense to let only earphone unlit of my ear whenever I pettish the way, or when I'm walking on a relatively unpeopled road. This I do for the benefit of protection reasons. I sure wouldn't after to sway into an accessory or be in damage's system just because I was wearing my deviser stereo earphone and couldn't hear danger approach my way.

Anonymous said...

[url=]live messenger[/url]

Anonymous said...

buy [URL=]karen millen outlet[/URL] to get new coupon WgtjIfWT [URL= ] [/URL]

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the best for you [URL=]outlet coach purses[/URL] for gift ANjtNVgM [URL= ] [/URL]

Anonymous said...

Many educational experts suggest that a standardised uniform rule eliminates distractions and enhances student concentrationHowever because Detroit self-destructed, this champions seized their own chances, Clay Matthews intercepting Stafford tipped complete inside 2nd quarter as well as returning this to the Lions 13-yard line in which Rodgers rapidly hit Jennings to increase 7-0 This is one sport that has a power of uniting families and friends If you decide on the Astros game you can see a diagram of Moment Maid Park and decide on which segment you want This is why dedicated fans seek to pay tribute to their favorite players by purchasing mugs with their pictures emblazoned on them
These are numbers that win on many occasions well enough to Betting on sports online has never been easier! And now they have gone even further, by providing their bettors with sports handicapping picks from the world's top professional handicappers to increase their chances of winning So this latest hats certainly will be hot saleIt already been a little bit of backwards and forwards There is another way to show loyalty towards you team by using NFL jerseys of your team colour, logo and team nameChris Williams dislocated his left wrist and the Bears offensive line had showed improvement in the recent weeks that will not include Williams on the rest of the way CODANK specializes in Search Engine Optimization (#( SEO )#), Graphic Design, Online Marketing, and Web Design and? Development
e display lots of individuals men as well as exactly how reckless they're using the soccer Presently, in this association there are 32 teams and they are from United States The affordable jerseys are here that you make the best entry to them throughout the excellent American football seasonAcquiring a ticket for Jersey Boys was going to be a difficulty however the present seemed to be a victim of its own recognition but thankfully I eventually found an remedy by heading to the world wide web and booking equally my hotel in London as effectively as my ticket to Jersey Boys, I could easily get a ticket allocated to me one particular of the very best obtainable in truth An NFL jersey permits that you produce a assertion about who you are and especially where you take place from

[url=]Womens Owen Daniels Jersey[/url]
[url=]Brandon Banks Jersey[/url]
[url=]Perry Riley Jersey[/url]

Anonymous said...

cheap [URL=]coach purses outlet[/URL] and get big save NsfUnObo [URL= ] [/URL]

Anonymous said...

you love this? [URL=]moncler[/URL] with confident rHCHxlWp [URL= ] [/URL]

Anonymous said...

best for you OjzeQvWR [URL=]discount moncler jackets[/URL] at my estore wSuDuhVm [URL= ] [/URL]

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the best for you blAeJtVx [URL= - knockoff handbags[/URL - online shopping JfupEyrb [URL= - [/URL -

Anonymous said...

sell qaaopkdL [URL= - burberry store[/URL - , just clicks away QOKnSMgp [URL= - [/URL -

Anonymous said...

buy a [URL=]where to buy louis vuitton[/URL] to take huge discount UBzlGsHm [URL= ] [/URL]

Anonymous said...

you must read [URL=]coach handbags outlet online[/URL] with low price OHxdflUR [URL= ] [/URL]

Anonymous said...

for vMHoDCzu [URL=]chanel handbags outlet[/URL] suprisely cXsPUmCr [URL= ] [/URL]

Anonymous said...

nike norge mzdiqixn nike shox dame ynbhmyal nike shox norge vwlqqvcy nike shox sko peznixrk nike shox bmqxqoxr nike sko norge uxqpsfog nike sko p? nett rjddvfog nike sko xitaaams nike xiausvqo

Anonymous said...

michael kors bags kmzqtgca michael kors handbags azfrynpt michael kors outlet pkkyonkv michael kors purses shlayvje michael kors sale zbktctvy Michael Kors veypnjwa

Anonymous said...

Longchamp bkllwsvf Longchamp Pas Cher iyuawhpc Sac Longchamp aqkigroj Longchamp Soldes nltvjkxg Longchamps ylduvvye

Anonymous said...

botas ugg baratas dsyqfjiq botas ugg espa?a xpltwibo botas ugg ivdszsce comprar ugg online vphymwua ugg australia mabzrgwx ugg baratas pltahmdj ugg espa?a mrxajvjl ugg online pgbdfjvf ugg wxqivnno

Anonymous said...

I am now not positive where you are getting your information, however
great topic. I needs to spend some time finding out much more or working out more.

Thank you for magnificent info I used to be on the lookout for this info for my mission.

Check out my web site - workouts to increase vertical

Anonymous said...

Wow, marvelous weblog structure! How lengthy have you been blogging for?
you made running a blog glance easy. The whole look of your website is great,
as neatly as the content material!

Also visit my weblog st louis science center

Anonymous said...

My spouse and I stumbled over here by a different website
and thought I might check things out. I like what I see so i am
just following you. Look forward to looking over your web page repeatedly.

Also visit my website :: exercises to increase vertical jump

Anonymous said...

I must thank you for the efforts you've put in penning this blog. I'm hoping to check out
the same high-grade blog posts from you later on as well.
In truth, your creative writing abilities has encouraged
me to get my very own website now ;)

Also visit my site :: car insurance for massachusetts

Anonymous said...

Asking questions are in fact pleasant thing if you are not understanding something totally, except this post gives pleasant
understanding yet.

Here is my web page travel zo

Anonymous said...

Great blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?

A design like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog stand out.
Please let me know where you got your design.
With thanks

Also visit my web-site ... exercises to increase vertical leap

Anonymous said...

Thanks in support of sharing such a nice idea, post is good, thats why i have read it completely

Feel free to visit my page Workouts To Improve Vertical Leap

Anonymous said...

I love what you guys tend to be up too. This kind
of clever work and exposure! Keep up the very good works guys I've added you guys to my blogroll.

Also visit my web page - exercises to improve vertical leap

Anonymous said...

I constantly spent my half an hour to read this weblog's articles daily along with a mug of coffee.

Here is my site ... Exercises To Increase Vertical Jump

Anonymous said...

Actually when someone doesn't know afterward its up to other users that they will help, so here it happens.

Also visit my weblog :: exercises to increase vertical leap

Anonymous said...

I have fun with, lead to I found just what I was
having a look for. You have ended my four day long hunt!
God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

Here is my web page - workouts for vertical leap

Anonymous said...

Hello, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues.
When I look at your blog site in Chrome, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.
I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then
that, great blog!

my web-site

Anonymous said...

For the reason that the admin of this site is working,
no doubt very rapidly it will be well-known, due to its quality contents.

Take a look at my blog

Anonymous said...

There is definately a great deal to learn about this issue.
I like all of the points you made.

Also visit my web page - workouts for vertical

Anonymous said...

Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Thank you for providing these details.

My homepage -

Anonymous said...

Hi there mates, how is everything, and what you desire to say on the topic of this paragraph, in my view its truly remarkable designed for me.

Here is my web site :: breakfast zucchini pancake recipe

Anonymous said...

Very good article. I absolutely love this website. Continue the
good work!

my weblog: workouts to improve vertical

Anonymous said...

I visited multiple websites except the audio quality for audio songs current at this website is really marvelous.

Here is my webpage: vertical jump programs

Anonymous said...

Hello to all, as I am actually keen of reading this blog's post to be updated on a regular basis. It consists of good data.

my page ::

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it.
Look advanced to more added agreeable from you!

However, how could we communicate?

Feel free to visit my blog :: Exercises For Vertical Jump

Anonymous said...

I like what you guys tend to be up too. Such clever work
and exposure! Keep up the amazing works guys I've you guys to blogroll.

my blog; exercises for vertical