Friday, August 4, 2017

VHS Massacre: Cult Films and the Decline of Physical Media

Director(s) - Kenneth Powell (Troma's Monster Kill) and Thomas Edward Seymour (Bikini Bloodbath)
Starring - Mike Aransky (The Land of College Prophets), John Bloom (Monstervision), and Lloyd Kaufman (Killer Rack)
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Horror
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     I'm a collector.  Growing up I collected many different things.  It started out as collecting anything Goosebumps before spilling out to anything R.L. Stine and other horror novels before finally moving on to movies.  At the time VHS was king but in just a few short years DVD would completely take over not only at the video store but in my collection.  I slowly upgraded my VHS to DVD and with the close of my senior year in high school I no longer collected VHS.  I love DVD and blu but I can see why so many movie fans are having a hard time letting go of the dead format.  I sometimes miss adjusting the tracking on the film and the gritty look of some of the films I used to watch late at night. People are still in love with VHS and spend most of their time collecting.  I know because there is several documentaries on the subject...more than there should be.  Fans of documentaries or VHS collecting may be aware of the documentaries Rewind This!, Adjust Your Tracking, VHS Revolution, and the recent release from Troma VHS Massacre: Cult Films and the Decline of Physical Media.  Troma and CAV were kind enough to send this one my way to review.  Thanks guys!
     This documentary follows VHS and BETA as they spawned an entire industry of video stores privately owned.  Which lead to mega video stores that put the ma and pop video stores out of business and the rise of streaming that killed the video industry.  We follow veteran filmmakers, distributors, critics, and former video store owners and how the changing industry has changed them.
     I fucking love Troma.  People that know me personally know that I will go out of my way for Troma.  I frequent Cinema Wasteland every April and October and the Troma booth is where I spend a great deal of my time shifting through the films trying to figure out what I still need and what I already have in my collection.  Saying I'm just a fan is an understatement.  I'm going to watch everything Troma releases but I was curious as to why they were behind yet another VHS documentary.  VHS Massacre is not a bad documentary.  Hell, it was actually very well put together and had a couple jokes tossed in here and there that worked but a lot of the information was covered in other VHS oriented documentaries starring some of the same people interviewed here like Lloyd Kaufman and Joe Bob Briggs.  The interviews are very informative and precise to the topic being discussed but it is something we have heard before.  I also like how we have such a wide range of people being interviewed.  We have the president of Troma himself Lloyd Kaufman, the man Joe Bob Briggs, we also have a ma and pop video store owner, and indie filmmaker, and film collectors.  This wide range of interviews shows just how everyone is connected and this change really affected them.  I also liked how the documentary spearheaded into their live show/podcast.  They have a pretty unique idea that would be fun to do with a group of friends but just doesn't seem that appealing to others to watch from the outside in.  Finally, the doc is very well put together.  The editing looks great and the addition of small clips and montages based around the topic was a nice touch.  The topic transitions are seamless and the editing is very, very smooth.  Overall, VHS Massacre: Cult Films and the Decline of Physical Media is a very entertaining documentary that will appeal to a very specific group of media collectors.  The documentary doesn't really offer up anything new in the way of information and arrives about 4 years too late.  VHS fans should really check it out if you haven't already seen the previously mentioned documentaries.

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