The movie rental giant is dead. Blockbuster is closing its 300 remaining US stores and shuttering its DVD mail business. Thus ends the era of publicly flaunting your movie musings under the nose of some 16-year-old store clerk. So let's raise a glass, and toast goodbye to Blockbuster—and the smaller video stores it killed years ago. What's your favorite video store memory?
You never just idly trolled the shelves of Blockbuster (or any small video store). The errand always morphed into a relationship test, quiz show, or (for me personally) a salacious peek into the naughty world of R-rated gore via back jacket screenshots. Forbidden from all things bare-skinned and bloody, I lived for the horror section. It was a weekly glimpse into a taboo world my church group (and family) frowned upon.
I could spend hours eyeing the cover of Stuart Gordon's Dolls and Fred Walton's April Fool's Day. I had convinced myself that Dead Alive was actually about dead people gestating inside the bowels of teenagers, and was fascinated by the toilet gremlins of Ghoulies. But nothing was more tantalizing than the VHS cover of Fright Night. I've traced that cloudy face a thousand times. And one fine day when the teenage store clerk gave up his last fuck, I rented that movie. It did not disappoint.
Also one time we all got drunk and devised a brilliant plan to run into the store, and back out with all the children's furniture from the kids section. Which we then set on fire.
OK, now you go. Please include VHS cover shots, because they are great.
Top photo by Josh Smith.