Thursday, May 19, 2011

All hail the independent video store! Black Lodge Video keeps tradition alive.

I know a lot of you are just like me in the fact that you miss the era of the "mom and pop" video store. Hell, with the way things are going, I know a lot of us just miss the days of the video store, period. Of course, during my time as a video store employee I worked for the corporate devil, Blockbuster and the less evil but no less corporate Hollywood Video. In fact, to date myself, I opened the box containing the first DVDs sent to Hollywood for rental. I was a part of the last generation of video store employees who had to deal with customers who wouldn't be kind and rewind. I always wished, however, that I had gotten to work in one of the non-corporate video stores.
While I never worked in one, I have spent a LOT of time in these independent stores. The ones that stocked the movies THEY thought were worth seeing. The kind that had those rare gems. The ones who offered more than the latest blockbusters. The ones with no corporate studio contracts. I used to search these stores out and spend hours perusing the shelves. There was Orbit Video on Memorial Drive where I would skip college classes and scour the store for obscure flicks I hadn't seen. There was Screenplay Video, whose 5 for $5 VHS rentals allowed me to copy their entire horror section. Oops, should I have said that out loud? There was the store by Joe's house where we discovered many of the movies that are still some of our favorites. I wish I remembered that places name. There have been many others along the way.
All of those places have two things in common. First, they all contributed greatly to my horror movie education. They had great selections, and they had the kind of employees who were always there with a "If you liked ____, then you have to see____!" My trips there were not just for entertainment, but for knowledge. The second thing they all have in common, sadly, is that they have all gone out of business. While the corporate giants started running them out of business in the late 80's, today even the biggest stores are dropping like flies in the face of Netflix, Redbox, and VOD services.

While there may be chains that I want to see die so I can laugh maniacally as I piss on their graves (not bitter at all), I sure do miss seeing these stores dotting the landscape. I miss going in even if I couldn't rent anything, just so see what all was out there. There are a few stores still keeping that flame of tradition alive however. One that I am personally familiar with is Videodrome in Atlanta. That place is great, and I recommend you all check it out. Another one is Black Lodge Video in Memphis, Tennessee. Freddy in Space, which, by the way, is a great blog (you can check it out here) recently debuted a documentary about the store called Where All The Evil Spirits Were : The Rise and Fall of Black Lodge Video. It was directed by Patrick Buttram. It explores the impact the store has had on its owners, employees, regulars, and community. It will make you long for the return of video store culture, trust me. What is most evident in the film is how much the denizens of the shop love movies and love what they do. Places like this are going away fast, and I'm glad someone decided to document the phenomenon while they can. Just to give you a heads up, there is a scene of a girl getting a tattoo where her breasts are visible. If you’re watching it somewhere that this may be a problem, watch it when you get home instead. You can also follow Black Lodge Video on Facebook HERE. Enjoy this short documentary (two severed thumbs, Nathan says check it out) and support your local independent video store!

And now, our Feature Presentation...

Where All the Evil Spirits Were: The Rise and Fall of Black Lodge Video from Patrick Buttram on Vimeo.


Guts and Grog Reviews said...

Awesome. I do miss Video Stores. I am lucky as here in Portland we have one of the biggest video stores in the country Movie Madness. It is local and has everything you can imagine and they do in store appearances all the time. In fact this weekend PJ Soles is gonna be there. I do miss growing up and walking to the corner video store and renting five for five. I would just go to the horror section and grab anything with awesome box art. On a side note I briefly owned a Video store called Videodrome. Long live the five or so video stores that are left.

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