Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Memory Mixtape #19: Video Shop

Compared to a lot of my friends, we didn’t get a video recorder till quite late – probably 1985 or ’86. Not soon enough to record the first series of Moonlighting when it aired, but I taped and kept every episode from the second season on. An even bigger thrill was in store at the weekend...

By the time I was 15, I was regularly baby-sitting on a Friday or Saturday night for my brother or sister’s kids, so a trip to the video shop beforehand was a must. I’d usually grab two or three films: a blockbuster (small ‘b’ – we didn’t get a Blockbuster near us till the 90s), a teen movie (I must have watched Ferris Bueller fifty times before it became available to buy) and the worst 80s horror flick I could find. I worked my way through all the Halloween & Friday The 13th movies and their ilk, developing an abiding love for the slasher movie, though I never really dug Freddie Krueger. I mean, it was all just a dream!

There is no greater symbol of 80s nostalgia than the video rental shop. Within a decade, video had been replaced by DVD, video shops had been replaced by online DVD rental (remember how Netflix started out? DVDs mailed to you in the post!) and within the blink of an eye, we were all swamped with choice fatigue by the streaming platforms. Everything you could ever want to watch available whenever you want to watch it (except when it’s not). Things were so much simpler back in the good old days…

I don’t have anything particularly revelatory to add to this post, no specific anecdotes to illustrate the excitement of a Friday night trip to the video shop, when compared to the mundanity of flicking through endless online options. Still,  this delightful little time capsule from Moxy Früvous, released back in 1993 at the height of the video rental boom (hard to believe, but DVD didn’t come along till 96/97) does the job for me…

Don't be too confused by the little reviews
On the back of the box, just pick up the boxes, all the boxes you can use
The hipedi-hoppest videos in the land
Maybe something foreign, maybe something panned, maybe something formerly banned
Perhaps it's something you can watch with friends, or something that inevitably lends
Itself to shapely curves and bends of exploited women and their friends
Perhaps it's "New York, New York" with Liza Minnelli and Mickey Rourke
No. That's not right... It was Robert Deniro, everyone's favourite video… hero


  1. Yes, video shops were great. Our local one was owned by Dundee United and Scotland footballer Paul Sturrock (he sometimes worked in there too). I remember my brother and I renting some strange films such as Scanners (I think it was about people whose heads exploded).

  2. Ah George, we too rented Scanners from our corner shop. Every corner shop had one of those small carousel kind of things, with an array of odd titles.

    I loved my first VCR, bought when I first moved north and thought I'd be lonely. It was a complicated business setting the machine to record stuff when you were on holiday, or during the night, or when you were at the pub but what a joy when you got back and it was all there. Hard won so made it much more special. When DD was small we went to the same caravan park for a few years in a row and they had a very small selection of videos to choose from - every year we watched The Royal Tenenbaums. To this day I always think of our caravan holidays (complete with telly and VCR) whenever I see that film pop up on the schedules.

    A lovely nostalgic post Rol. A happier week on your blog, I hope.

    1. In my head, that film isn't so old... but a quick check shows 2001. I guess they were still selling videos then, although the DVD was ascending.


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