Video Rental Store: The Tour

Lets Go Look Around A Classic Video Store
On
February 09, 2015
As you walk up to a Redbox at your local grocery store, you stare into an LED touchscreen. It’s the same kind of screen on your tablet, laptop, smartphone, and so on. You see little pictures from the cover of different Blu-Ray titles and flip through with your fingertips. “There are no old movies.” You think to yourself as the person behind you waits impatiently. You hurry and just select the first new movie that sounds sort of interesting. There is no one to ask questions about the film, so you go by the description. The movie is a disk in a white bland envelope. No fun at all, renting a movie is just like making a decision between a Coke or Pepsi.
Just as you turn around, a silver DeLorean is parked next to your car. “Great Scott!” yells a quirky old man with white hair and a lab coat, “You need a change of pace, are you renting a movie from a vending machine? You need a reminder of how fun it was to RENT a movie. Come with me!” You say, “Wait, what about this movie?” Doc replies, “Forget that movie. It’s abysmal, you hated it. I saw you returning it tomorrow and decided to come back to this exact location in time to take you on a journey.” You think, “He could have at least come a few minutes sooner. I paid for this stupid disc.”



Video Store:



The year is some point in the 1990s. You’re a kid excited with nerves abound. It’s Friday afternoon, your mom just picked you up from school and wants to take you to the video store. You walk into the doors and the smell of nostalgia fills your nose. Over by the register is a buffet of candy, popcorn, soda, and the video store cashier. Your mother would ask the cashier his or her advice. “Which movies are good this month?” She liked to discuss the “language” of this or the “violence” of that. Remember actually having conversations with the clerks about movies? You could get a better idea of what to watch and what not to watch. Plus it was fun just discussing movies.
The store is broken up into sections; each aisle is labeled by genre. Most video stores were the same. I went to various chains such as “Blockbuster” or “Hollywood Video” and even “Movie Gallery.” Then you had the local “Highway 247 Video” or “Random City Video” in the smaller rural areas. The new releases were usually on the outer walls lined up in alphabetical order. Picture this, the sounds of movie trailers are playing in the background. You look up and see the television monitor. “Welcome to Jurassic Park” says John Hammond as the previews play above the VHS tapes.

Remember how exited you were when you walked down each aisle? You used to pick up each VHS tape physically in your hand, look at the cover, read the description on the back, and put it down until you found the right one. Going to the video store was an “experience”. Each aisle had a unique tone and affected you differently.

Action/Adventure:



You are in your own little world here. You look at “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and see Harrison Ford on the cover with a fedora and whip. On another shelf there is “T2: Judgment Day” Arnold on a motorcycle with those dark shades on, classic. Who could forget the cover of “Rambo: First Blood”? There is Sly Stallone with that gun and bullet belt. Then there is Tom Cruise with aviator sunglasses on, “Top Gun” who else felt the need for speed? This aisle was the definition of cool when you were 8 years old. (Even as an adult) The pictures on the VHS tapes really promoted the film. They were the selling point. You would hold them in your hand and really appreciate the effort each company put into the artwork. Some covers had stills from the movie in poster form; others had an almost painted or drawn characterization of the lead actors (e.g. Star Wars)


Family/Animated:



Warm fuzzy feelings creep in as you turn the corner and stroll down this aisle. Your favorite movies are on every shelf. “An American Tail” I love that little mouse. Remember the cover of “All Dogs go to Heaven”? Don Bluth really knew how to make his films an experience. The attention to detail is exquisite. Ah, look on that shelf, it’s Disney. Sometimes Disney had its own area due to its extensive library of Masterpiece films. The clam shell white cases were special, they said “We are Disney, we are just better than everyone else.” (most companies had the cardboard box cases, Disney’s were built to last) There was “The Little Mermaid” “Beauty and the Beast” that unforgettable blue genie in “Aladdin” (R.I.P. Robin Williams) and of course “The Lion King”. Who could forget the epitome of animated films? The cover is beautiful, that pride rock with Rafiki holding Simba above the animals below. Scar mischievously hiding under the rock (Even your 8 year old self knows he’s up to no good) Then you had the live action family film classics like “Home Alone” , “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, “The Mighty Ducks” and “The Goonies”. Wow, who could forget “The Neverending Story” VHS? I mean, it’s a picture of mythical creatures like trolls, rock monsters, a kid that looks really happy to be riding a dog-dragon named Falcor (I want to be that kid). That is the definition of awesome. So many good titles.

Horror:



This aisle always gave me the creeps, but I secretly loved it. The covers on the VHS tapes were usually pretty gruesome, even if the film was a bit silly. The selling point was “gore”. You look around at the “Friday the 13th” movies. The covers were always sickening. Blood splashed on a hockey mask with a knife in the eye opening. “The Exorcist” with that disgusting girl’s face and eyes. The possessed puppets of “Puppet master” or “Child’s Play” (I had to throw “My Buddy” in the trash) and who could forget Freddy Kruger on the covers of “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” I think the simplest, but most eerie could have been the mask of Michael Myers from the “Halloween” series. It was just a white mask with black eyes. I know the original had a pumpkin with a carving knife, still equally creepy. The lesser known horror films usually had gross covers; it was as if they were compensating for being a bad “B” film. Like I said, the cover art was very important in the late 80s early 90s.


Drama/Romance:



You might browse here, but there wasn’t much to see. This aisle usually had Academy Award winning films or romantic dramas. (As a kid I didn’t really appreciate this, as an adult I love it) Sometimes “Rocky” was put here but the sequels were usually in “Action/Adventure.” There were some interesting covers, but mostly adult stuff like “Rain Man” “When Harry Met Sally” although you know you loved “Forrest Gump”. What a classic cover, just a man sitting on a bus station bench with a white background. Sometimes simple is better. This is where I found “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” at age 10 and started appreciating dramas. I seriously thought Leonardo DiCaprio was mentally handicapped for a few years until “Romeo and Juliet” and “Titanic” came out. Sometimes “Braveheat” was here, sometimes it was in “Action/Adventure” (You see an overlap depending on the store between drama and action). “Braveheart” may be in my top ten VHS covers, the picture of the man holding a sword, the quote “Every man dies, not every man really lives”. Somehow they captured the mood/tone of the film. It’s hard to do that with cover art.

Comedy:



This was my favorite aisle. They had to put funny pictures or hilarious quotes from the film to sell these VHS tapes. Who could resist Jim Carrey in “Ace Ventura”? What a goofy looking guy with weird hair on the cover. That screamed funny. My favorite was probably Bill Murray in “Ghostbusters” So many great lines in that film. You had the traditional white Ghost Logo with the tag “Who Ya Gonna Call?” The back had a few pictures of the guys in full suit and slimmer. Look over your shoulder its “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Coneheads”. Up and down the aisle there are movies with Tom Hanks, Robin Williams, Chris Farley and Adam Sandler. I think my favorite cover was “National Lampoon’s Vacation”. It was one of those stylized covers that looked like a painting of Clark Griswald (Chevy Chase) with a ripped body and his wife fighting over him with a supermodel. It looked epic and funny all at the same time. The “Christmas Vacation” cover had Chevy Chase being electrocuted by Christmas lights, still a classic look. Finally you had the “Ernest” Series. His covers were the perfect example of an 80s-90s comedy VHS tape.


Video Games:




I remember looking through the SEGA Genesis and SNES games trying to find a cartridge. I couldn’t afford every game I wanted, so I would rent games and test them out. Some of my favorite games were “Mortal Kombat” or “NBA JAM” “Final Fantasy III” “Nickelodeon Games like Rocko’s Modern Life” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and some sports games. I owned “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Super Mario Bros.” but I had to test out the newest releases every month. Sometimes they released unique versions and variations of Mario or Sonic.


Finally you check out with one movie and one game. Usually your mom gets a movie for the family or for the parents to watch. I would leave thinking ” Friday night I’m going to watch my movie and Saturday morning I’m going to play my game after my favorite cartoon block is over. “
Doc says, “It’s time to go back to the future.” You turn and say, “Please don’t make me go back! I really want to enjoy this a little bit longer.” You have forgotten how pure and fun it was to experience something that seemed so mundane or routine in the 1990s. Doc says, “No, that’s not how this works. I reminded you of your past and it’s time to go back.” He drops you off in front of the Redbox and you get into your car with your boring white envelope. Later that night you think about how much you miss the experience of renting movies. “He was right, this movie does suck.”
53
More Articles From MelloMovieReview
Comments
3 years, 7 months ago
In Fort Worth Tx we have family video and a place called movie trading company. I rent my movies from one of those places. I hate redbox!!!!
    6 years, 2 months ago
    You can still recreate the feeling at the local library or a retro game store. Movies at the library are free, and the games at the retro stores are usually under $10, not much more than Blockbuster's 5 day rental rate.
      6 years, 2 months ago
      Store closings all seemed to take place about 2009. I remember picking up a booty of used DVDs at Movie Gallery and Hollywood Video when they closed.
        6 years, 2 months ago
        The early 90s is when a lot of variety in stores was lost as Blockbuster and Movie Gallery came to power. The mid to late 90s was the peak of the video chains. Even grocery stores like Kroger and Bruno's, and super stores like Walmart cut a piece of the pie. The internet and Redbox killed it though.
          6 years, 7 months ago
          i have bought for cheap at salvation armies so many vhs tapes and have a modded x box with all the retro games on it i'm like my own blockbuster video now and i don't charge for late fees lol!
            6 years, 10 months ago
            I miss Blockbuster so much. I remember my dad went there sometimes. Reading this article made me think about him as he is no longer living. I had a Blockbuster right in my neighborhood and it's just so sad that it's gone now. A VHS tape I ordered ages ago is actually a former Blockbuster rental with the sticker and everything. For all I know my mom probably has that old Blockbuster card hidden away somewhere. Also I loved your Doc Brown. Back to the Future is one of my favorite old movies.
              6 years, 10 months ago
              Oh man...remember bugging the cashier about which movie just got turned in? That feeling you got when the movie you wanted to see and thought was sold out was on the front counter!?
                6 years, 10 months ago
                You hit the nail on the head with this article, my friend. I have a lot of fond memories of my weekly trips with my mom to Blockbuster. I'd happily pay 10 movies worth of rental fees just to take it the expeirence one more time.
                  6 years, 10 months ago
                  Thank you Classic1990. I'm glad we shared similar experiences with our mom taking us to Video Stores. I hope many others out there can look back on their experiences as well. I agree, I'd pay rental fees to experience it again!
                    6 years, 11 months ago
                    Man o man I'm getting old. There won't be anything like the video store for my kids to go to. Im glad I can take them to the movie theater where they can still play arcade games and the comic book stores. Right now my 4 year old is loving Thundercats and it makes me proud :)
                      6 years, 11 months ago
                      Love, love, love this article! I remember everything all too well! Seriously, going to the video store was one of my favorite things to do growing up and I miss it very much. Great narration, fit the article perfectly. Thanks for this one!
                        6 years, 11 months ago
                        I think the "experience" is what's lost on people. When I hear people say " I can just download it" or " I can rent it with Redbox" I say, yeah but the experience is what made it great. Like going to a world of movies.
                          6 years, 11 months ago
                          Exactly! I agree 100% I loved just walking around Blockbuster and seeing what I could find. It really was like a little world unto itself.
                            6 years, 11 months ago
                            This was great!!! I loved going to the video store and the other day I found my blockbuster Rewards card while I was cleaning out a box. There is so much I wish still existed and this is one of them. Yes it's more convenient to have movies on OnDemand or for only a dollar at Redbox, but like u say it was a whole trip going to the video store back in the day! Great Times!
                              6 years, 11 months ago
                              Found my membership card too. That's funny. After I wrote this article I found it in a drawer with old stuff. That takes me back...
                                6 years, 11 months ago
                                Well done my friend, well done. A nice piece of nostalgia for those of us who had the luck of perusing these fine stores. Thanks for the memories.
                                  6 years, 11 months ago
                                  Thank you for enjoying these memories like I do, glad I'm not the only one who had them!
                                    6 years, 11 months ago
                                    I Might Go To Family Video Sometime.
                                      6 years, 11 months ago
                                      Another good article (especially the intro)! "Great Scott! ... You're renting a movie from a vending machine." Haha! I've never rented (or been with someone that rented) a movie from a Redbox, but it doesn't sound like fun. The only time I rent a movie these days is when I'm visiting my mom. And the "experience" consists of picking it from the guide on DirecTV. Boring! And yes, most of the movies we end up watching suck.

                                      I have fond memories of renting from Blockbuster. I'm not sure how often we did it with my mom, but I remember it was a regular experience with my dad (my parents divorced when I was in Kindergarten, and we visited my dad about every other weekend). God Bless my dad for putting up with my selections. There was a very limited list of movies I would want to rent. The list included the "Back To The Future" series, "Ski Patrol," the "Police Academy" series, the Ernest movies, "License To Drive," the "Naked Gun" series, and "The Burbs."
                                        6 years, 11 months ago
                                        Thanks for the feedback. I loved the Police Academy movies and Naked Gun series, now that takes me back!

                                        Glad you liked my Doc Brown intro. I used it because it was my favorite movie as a kid. I was trying to decide between that and "Bill and Ted" because they were among my favorites too.
                                          6 years, 11 months ago
                                          "Must be a Gene Pick"

                                          I really liked this article, I was only a small child when my family rented videos in the late 90's at our local Hollywood Video outlet and it was mostly kid-stuff (Rugrats tapes, Doug's First Movie) but it's fun to see another of these.
                                            6 years, 11 months ago
                                            "Must be a Gene Pick"

                                            I really liked this article, I was only a small child when my family rented videos in the late 90's at our local Hollywood Video outlet and it was mostly kid-stuff (Rugrats tapes, Doug's First Movie) but it's fun to see another of these.
                                              6 years, 11 months ago
                                              I remember the late 90s. Great times. Right before they closed all these chain stores down there was a store (local) that had 5 Movies, 5 Days, 5 Dollars. They were non-new releases on DVD. Even that was nice for older films. They closed two years ago here. Great memories!
                                                6 years, 11 months ago
                                                Man, this was a damn good article. Definitely brought back a lot of memories from my childhood, going to a Major Video or the local American Video a few blocks away from my home. Every Friday, after school, my sisters and I would walk or my father would take me to the video store to rent movies and a game for the weekend...It was great. Thanks for the good, creative read.
                                                  6 years, 11 months ago
                                                  You're welcome. Thank you for the response. Sounds like we had a similar experience growing up. I think the Video Store was one of my top memories as a kid. Just an overall fun time.
                                                    6 years, 11 months ago
                                                    Ah the 90s let me take you further back to the early 80s when half the store was VHS and other BETA. All my stores are gone now one is a Spar Local and the other was semi demolished to retain the buildings facade and turned into a block of flats.
                                                      6 years, 11 months ago
                                                      Ever see a video rental store with LaserDisc? Oh yeah. My dad had a BetaMax player, a VCR, and a movie reel projector in our basement. He collected so much stuff. I used to play with the JVC video camera that basically had a VCR on the side. Great times!
                                                        6 years, 11 months ago
                                                        My former Blockbuster is now a pool supply store and what used to be my Hollywood Video (for however short a time since it was in the shopping center next door to Blockbuster, talk about bad planning) is now a Planet Fitness. I can also remember three other places in my home town: Video Adventure, Video Adventure Part II (re-opened in the same store front, cute name too), Three Village Video, and our very first rental store Video King, which despite it's name was extremely small. That was way back when they were still using those solid brown, marble textured VHS cases. Public libraries could count as replacements except for their lack of genre sections. And nice job capturing Christopher Lloyde as Doc Brown, very convincing. Over all a total nostalgia over load, good job! :)
                                                          6 years, 11 months ago
                                                          My Hollywood Video wound up as a bike shop, while my local Blockbuster became a liquor store after the liquor privatization law passed in WA.
                                                            6 years, 11 months ago
                                                            Thanks! I'm glad you appreciated my Doc Brown.

                                                            I had a local video store in my home town, it had those brown cases too. They would put the movie posters on the wall and replace them with new releases. They also had a marquee outside, total cinema nostalgia.

                                                            Also loved the title "Video Adventure Part II" how awesome. I think the creativity of those old stores. Great response!
                                                              6 years, 11 months ago
                                                              I Want To Go To Family Video Sometime.
                                                                6 years, 11 months ago
                                                                :D Oh my word i rymenber that stores, even ive had own loyalty card at one local store
                                                                Just pass the card to clerk and you can rent from one to 3 stuff from that store for free, without card renting only are for money.

                                                                Today that local store dont exist its been turned into Pizza restratunt, [img]http://i.imgur.com/nVY2DHE.jpg[/img]

                                                                When still existed ive rented a lot films on VHS tapes, and Video games, i still rymenber :D my future girlfriend was very sad, so with her rented Walt Disney,s Little Mermaid on VHS, we watched, and from her sadness turned cutie cat smile :3.
                                                                  6 years, 11 months ago
                                                                  It's amazing all the memories those Video Rental stores gave us. At the time we just assumed they'd always be there. Great comment, sad to see these old video stores turn into new businesses.
                                                                    6 years, 10 months ago
                                                                    That's the funny thing about it. Never once did I think there would come a time when I would rent a movie from a vending machine. Makes me wonder what is in store in the next 10-15 years.
                                                                      6 years, 11 months ago
                                                                      For me, Hollywood Video, Blockbuster, and the rental section of Albertson's were great for selection. Hollywood Video especially, as it was THE video store that turned me on to Godzilla movies.

                                                                      The last great bastion in my neck of the woods, Seattle's Scarecrow Video, is making a transition from a video store to a video library. Now that's a good way for most local, non-chain stores to stick around.
                                                                        6 years, 11 months ago
                                                                        I would love to see more stores doing what Seattle's Scarecrow Video is doing, that's great.

                                                                        I have got to the point where I take my son to the local library to check out a video just so it's "somewhat" close to my childhood. Anything is better than picking on a touchscreen. I mean, I enjoy Blu-Ray, but for older films, I take him to the library.
                                                                          6 years, 11 months ago
                                                                          very good and nostalgic article!! i was funny with video games, if it was a game i was really enjoying, i'd stop playing and eventually buy it. i didn't wanna "ruin" the experience more than i had. lol but yes while kids today might be too lazy or think it be too much work to find movies to rent in this way, it was indeed a fun experience. i always checked out the new release and horror sections the most. if i found nothing there, i'd check out action, fantasy and/or sci-fi. i was too young to see horror in theaters in the 80s so i discovered many movies thanks to the local video store! and some (like the Evil Dead franchise) i never saw til the late 90s, sacrilege i know!
                                                                            6 years, 11 months ago
                                                                            Thanks. I got inspiration when my wife took my four year old to a Redbox to pick out a movie. He was looking at the little pictures. I kept thinking how sad it was compared to my childhood experience.

                                                                            I did the same thing with games! Ha, that takes me back. I didn't want to beat games if I knew I was going to buy them. Thanks for the response.
                                                                              6 years, 11 months ago
                                                                              no problem :)
                                                                                6 years, 11 months ago
                                                                                My two big video rental places back in the day were Woodman's grocery store (which had an absolutely huge movie and game rental section), and a local place called Video Station, which wasn't as big, but was a 20 minute walk from my house. I loved walking there during the summer, renting a movie or a game, then getting a soda from the machine outside the store for the walk or bike ride home.

                                                                                I used to love going to the store, and seeing what new games had come out. Games did not have release dates back then, so the best way of seeing what had just come out was either going to the video store, or convincing your parents to take you to Toys R Us. The video store was usually easier to convince them, since it had stuff for them, too.
                                                                                  6 years, 11 months ago
                                                                                  I agree, it was easier to convince my parents to go to the video store due to the fact there was something for everyone. I always tried to get them to go to the ones with actual VHS covers on the shelf. Some small towns just had black plastic cases with black and white writing.
                                                                                    6 years, 11 months ago
                                                                                    Great article! I have some pretty fond memories in the 80's of my local video store called Entertainment Video. This store had all the NES games on the wall secured by Velcro, I can still see all those games hanging on the wall and the excitement of getting to pick one out.
                                                                                      6 years, 11 months ago
                                                                                      I remember going to a local video store attached to a convenience store when I was really young to get NES games. I remember the newest releases coming out and getting excited to see what titles were where this week. The walls were wood panel. Great memories.
                                                                                        6 years, 11 months ago
                                                                                        im the 1st comment go me
                                                                                          6 years, 11 months ago
                                                                                          Loved going to BlockBuster as a kid one of my best places never been to Hollywood Video before loved going there and getting the latest N64 and PlayStation games to rent and getting a VHS not a DVD loved the kids section
                                                                                            An unhandled error has occurred. Reload Dismiss