THESE DAYS, sell-through videos are so cheap,
the old-fashioned video shop seems to have disappeared. It's all
Blockbuster round here (what was wrong with Azad Video?). But back in
the 80s, when you'd pay 40 quid for something three or four years
after it came out at the pictures, and it wasn't in widescreen and
didn't have stereo sound, people were a lot more wary of buying
videos, and tended to rent a lot.
So, quickly fast-forwarding through Simon Bates
explaining the British Video Classification System, we present the TV
Cream Video Rental Shop, where the shelves still heave under those
slightly oversized video cases used to house Mad Max, Firefox and
many, many more - you know, the ones with the rounded spine. You
never see 'em any more, except at car boot sales...
HORROR NASTIES: Driller Killer, Basket Case, etc etc. The government got
tough on nasties in about 1983-84, and they went rather underground.
Which of course meant you could get them absolutely anywhere.
QUIRKY HORROR MOVIES THAT FLOPPED AT THE
PICTURES: Q: The Winged Serpent (and
lots of other Larry Cohen flicks). Often horror films that were a bit
too intelligent and/or had an actual story to them.
THE OMEN: Get
all three out cheaply 'cos they'd been on telly. Don't forget to stir
in the playground myths about what had happened to various people
who'd seen them and starred in them.
ITALIAN HORROR MOVIES: Dario Argento's psychotic stuff. Mario Bava. Lucio
Fulci. Films where you know precisely what they spent all 200 lire of
the budget on - an analogue synth and a big bucket of blood. Best
watched with the sound and the colour turned right up 'cos otherwise
you don't get the full effect.
CHARLES BRONSON MOVIES: Every Death Wish movie you could ever wish for and a lot
you couldn't, plus rack upon rack of unwatchable copies of Telefon
and Mr Majestyk.
ONE FOR THE LAYDEEZ: Gentlemen of colour with big todgers getting all
sweaty, cf Mandingo and its sequel Drum. Or was it the other way
ONE FOR THE LADS: A collection of old Sylvia Kristel, Electric Blue and
(if you're really unlucky) Mary Millington skin flicks. Unwatchable
'cos of abdominal unguents stuck to the tape and/or worn out because
of excessive use of the pause button.
CHEAP VIETNAM MOVIES: Made in the immediate aftermath of Apocalypse Now and
The Deer Hunter, starring people who looked a bit like Tom Berenger
and Willem Dafoe but who on closer inspection you realise you'd never
heard of at all.
KRAMER VS KRAMER: Nuff said.
Plus Bruce Li, Bruce Le, Jet Lee (who was pretty good - Communist
China's top martial arts star), and even the legendary Bluce Rhee.
Yes, he did exist. Martial Arts deserves a whole page to itself
sometime. No video shop was complete without at least 50 vids bearing
the words Ninja, Shaolin, Temple, Warrior, Style (as in Snake Style,
Crane Style, Mad Monkey style...)
Porky's II, Porky's III, Porky's IV, God only knows how many of them
they made. That whole genre of bad smut teen comedies that Animal
House either started or parodied wonderfully... Many of them had the
likes of a young Tom Cruise or Shelley Long in the cast (but not the
ALL THREE ROCKYS: Usually cheap too if you rented them all together. Both
Mad Maxes used to be a pretty common pairing too - particularly fun
to note how the first one had been dubbed into American rather than
CALIGULA: Caligula, in one of the butchered prints with no story
and a lot of porn. However, having recently seen a print that had the
story too, it was just as bad.
TAT SCIENCE FICTION: Often from Roger Corman or some of his alumni, or
Italian. Stars would be the likes of Peter Coyote, Robert Urich,
Richard Kiel, Malcom McDowell etc. People who were either telly stars
moonlighting or second-banana film actors roughing it. Special
effects dodgy, plots generally sub-Mad Max or sub-Leni Riefenstahl
Star Wars. Actually, Mad Max is already on this list, nearly.
SWORD AND SORCERY: Worse than the above. Lou Ferrigno Hercules movies.
Conan the Dialogue-Free. Krull! Jesus, Krull was regarded as
something quite special - a movie with Bernard Bresslaw in it! David
Carradine in that weird one with Eli Wallach living in a barrel of
oil until his genitals shrivelled up! Early Rutger Hauer movies! On a
good day this sort of rubbish would make up at least half of the
shop. Could also be Italian (usually shot in Turkey), in which case
it was even worse.
RANDOM SELECTION OF EPISODES OF SOME
JAPANESE ANIMATION: Not enough to see
if there's actually a connected plot running through it. and in any
case the animation was never as good as, say, the classy Battle of
the Planets (qv)...
SMALL SELECTION OF MUSIC
VIDEOS: That one about the Eagles gig,
and The Song Remains The Same. Possibly never, ever, rented
INEXPLICABLY LARGE NUMBER OF VIDEOS OF CAR
CRASHES: The HAVOC! series that seemed,
fortunately, to die out in the late 80s...
MISMATCHED BUDDY COMEDIES: Generally starring Terence Hill and Bud Spencer.
There's also one whose title escapes us but whose sleeve picture
strangely hasn't - two cops back-to-back, the serious one posing with
his gun, the kooky chilled-out one posing with a hairdryer. 'Twas
always there in the same place on the shelves, week after
PEOPLE WHOSE FILMS YOU ONLY EVER SEE IN
NASTY VIDEO SHOPS: Or Channel 5 at peak
time, or Sky Moviemax between the hours of 2am and 6am. Definitely
not at the
pictures. Step forward Jim Belushi (particularly in films where he
wears a light suit and dark shirt), Greg Evigan (the poor man's
Steven Seagal) Tawny Kitaen, Linnea Quigley, not forgetting the later
oeuvre of Steve Guttenberg, whose fall from Lee'n'Herring-noted
mediocrity into "ex-rental £2.99" arse has been swift.
FOR THE KIDDY'S: Butchers' apostrophe mandatory. Half a dozen pieces of
tat that make Krusty The Klown look top-quality, plus a random
assortment of old ponk that's been on the telly every year since
about 1959. May contain traces of Digby the Biggest Dog In The
AND: The rack
of Betamax stuff mouldering quietly by the door. We don't go
There was a Japanese movie I saw in about 1984
about a platoon of modern Japanese soldiers on an exercise being
accidentally sent back in time to the early Tokugawa era. Bloody
brilliant in its own way, sort of Kurosawa meets The Final Countdown
only it wasn't crap like The Final Countdown was. Does
know what I'm talking about here!? - Pete Fenelon (Thanks to
everyone who's informed us this was TIMESLIP)
My favourite only-on-video film was No Retreat
No Surrender, one of those films that I've never seen, but kept
hearing about at school. Anyone seen it? It's probably arse now. -
Acting surly behind the counter: Pete Fenelon,
Gareth Randall, Ian Tomkinson. All film's must be returned by 7pm the next
day. Send your video rental memories here. Customer's forgetting
to rewind their tape's will be fined.