Feb 21, 2023

The World Beyond Blockbuster

Mom n' Pop: The Indie Video Store Boom Of The 80s/90s
Bobby Canipe Jr (2022)
We had the opportunity to watch this documentary with the other Simplex Tier members of the Mahoning Drive-In Theater's Patreon, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

It's only in recent years that I've come to realize how short of a window the video rental store had in our culture. If you grew up in the 80's and 90's, it was just a part of your world, no more or less prevalent than fast food restaurants, and the idea that it could all disappear in our adulthood wasn't even a consideration. Only now can we look back and recognize that this iconic part of our childhood, with its own unique feel and culture, was something that could have only existed at a specific time and place, and only for a short time.

This film examines that culture - specifically that of independent rental stores and the ways that they influenced our lives, and it does so in a way that fits what these rental shops were. It's not a sterile history lesson with a Blockbuster Video logo slapped on the cover - it's a collection of stories and memories shared by people who have a genuine love of movies and whose experiences at small, independent video stores have a permanent place in their memory and in their hearts. Watching this reminded me of my own experiences of renting tapes at places like Heights Terrace Video in Hazleton, PA or at the Pantry Quik convenience store near my grandparents house.

I would strongly recommend this to anyone who loves movies. Watching this feels like it felt hanging out at the video store when I was a teenager, and whether you were there to experience these stores or not, I'm confident that it will bring a smile to your face.