Josh Johnson’s documentary chronicles the VHS format from birth to death, and those for whom the words on its “Be Kind Rewind” sticker remain a way of life. In 94 minutes, he covers a ton of ground: the Beta vs. VHS showdown, the porn explosion (pun intended), the dawn of sell-through tapes, the lost art of cover art, the proliferation of the evil Blockbuster, the legion of DIY filmmakers inspired, the tape-trading and bootlegging circuits — heck, even how the sudden glitch on a tape signaled that a lucky renter was seconds away from seeing nudity.
Among Johnson’s interviewees are Something Weird Video’s Mike Vraney (rest in peace, Mike); Basket Case director Frank Henenlotter; Cassandra Peterson, aka Elvira, Mistress of the Dark; Full Moon’s Charles Band; Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman; and a number of film programmers, shop owners and obsessive collectors still touting VHS’ dominance. What I can’t tell — and it’s impossible to know — is if their love is misplaced; the format is inferior, but the sheer volume of titles it brought to their homes is mind-boggling.
Rewind This! is rife with clips, including oddball releases and outright obscurities from a Bubba Smith workout video to 1984′s tasteless Black Devil Doll from Hell and other atrocities, now preserved for the enjoyment and delight of future generations.
The documentary's goodness is matched by FilmBuff's DVD package, bursting with an hour of additional scenes that didn't make the final cut, but not out of inferior quality. This disc is a cult film lover's dream. —Rod Lott
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