|Tell me this doesn't look bad ass.|
When I was young, my favorite place in the world was the video store. Not the cold and impersonal Blockbusters that came along to push every mom & pop joint out of business, but a place called Video Galaxy in Springfield, MA. It was there that I discovered movies – not just the ones that I had seen, but the seemingly limitless supply that would fascinate me for the majority of my life.
You probably remember stores like this if you’re old enough. You see, when you walked into Video Galaxy, there was row after row of hundreds of inspired and awesome VHS covers staring out at you with titles like Timerider, or The Blade Master. These weren’t the cut-rate straight-to-video fare that would permeate the outlets of the 1990s, nor were they the blockbusters that occupied megaplexes for weeks on end in the 1980s. These were those in-between films – the ones that someone was able to convince a major studio to put money into, but were marginally successful, if even that.
Some of these movies made it on to HBO, or late night on TV-38 in Boston, or WPIX in New York. I drank up movies like Zardoz, Buckaroo Bonzai, Surf 2 and Sword of the Valiant because they seemed ephemeral – this might be my only chance!! My parents’ VCR was programmed to record every James Bond movie that played on ABC, as well as Critters, Tremors, and other B-movie fare. It didn’t matter that a good many of these movies were patently awful (I can’t even recall viewing some of them though I know I did), all that mattered is they were something I hadn’t seen, and wasn’t sure I’d have the chance to see again.
But it was the experience of walking into Video Galaxy that was so intoxicating. I was probably 9 or 10 years old and these covers were like beacons of possibility to me. Worlds I hadn’t yet visited – often because of an R rating – but still had time to explore. I can remember the carpet in that place, the counter you brought your cases to, even the smell. And I remember it all like I was just there yesterday. But a lot has changed since then, and what has changed the most is not me, but the movies.