For any film geeks who grew up in the 80's, the local video store was Mecca. For several of my formative years I had a "Ma and Pop" video store within walking distance from my house, and I promise it would not be an exaggeration to say that I saw almost every title in that store. It was a time before tough age restrictions on R rated rentals was even a thing, and fortunately my parents were totally clueless. These are the films that, for better or worse, made me the movie nerd I am today. When the 90's came along and brought with them the Blockbusters and myriad of other large video store chains I've long forgotten, the vibe changed forever as the old school jumbo boxes made way for smaller, sleeker VHS covers and the crazier B movies became harder and harder to find. By the time I graduated from college and was working my final summer job in a video store here in Austin, VHS were slowly but surely being converted to DVD. Not ALL of them made the change over, however. Several years later when asking one of my best friends why in the world he was hanging onto so many VHS tapes when DVD was the superior medium, he totally schooled me and explained that most of his collection was simply not available on DVD. I was astounded. Though a lot of his favorite titles have been made available since then, many of his most beloved films to this day still exist on VHS only.
The documentary REWIND THIS! expertly tells a comprehensive story of the rise and fall of the VHS format and how it completely revolutionized the entire film industry. Told mostly from a collector's standpoint, the film chronicles the early days when the idea of being able to tape a television show or movie and watch it over and over again was completely novel. Up until the late 70's, unless you had a projector and owned a print of a film, watching it more than once meant buying a ticket at the theater. For television, the only choice was waiting for the occasional rerun. Not only did JVC's introduction of the home video recorder change this concept, it also forever changed the way film studios would market and sell their films.
From the expert collector to the artists whose handiwork graces some of the most revered cover boxes, director Josh Johnson manages to include a ton of information without making the topic feel tiresome whatsoever. We fully witness the joy that each interview subject feels when sharing his or her love of VHS while also learning the importance of preserving a medium that for most has been relegated to the bottom of the barrel. From the VHS/Betamax war to the first shot-on-video porn FOOTBALL WIDOW, Johnson and his team, producer Carolee Mitchell and DP/editor Christopher Palmer, expertly pull a fun and informative narrative from a plethora of images and info, culminating in a wonderfully nostalgic and cohesive documentary.
Whether you are a hardcore movie geek or simply a casual fan, I cannot recommend REWIND THIS! strongly enough.
- Rebecca Elliott