VHS Massacre (2017)


I grew up in the glory days of small video stores with shelves stacked with wonderful (and terrible) films for me to salivate over. As a kid i spend my summers watching stacks of VHS tapes picked out from the local mom & pop video store so of course i’m a sucker for vhs era nostalgia. There have been a handful of interesting docs about VHS culture in recent years and i’ve enjoyed the ones i’ve seen like Rewind This and Adjust Your Tracking. VHS Massacre bills itself as another jouney through the world of VHS and so naturally i wanted to see it.

VHS Massacre is a documentary produced in New York that isn’t really about VHS as it is about home video in general. The film interviews cult favorites like Joe Bob Briggs and Lloyd Kaufman and Debbie Rachon about the impact of home video as well as independent video store owners, distributors (like Vultra Video), and the film makers themselves who apart from making this doc have made a few features themselves.

Unfortunately VHS Massacre lacks focus. It feels like a hodge podge of ideas tenuously linked together with a general sense of warm fuzzies for the good old days. The film (running only 71 minutes) feels more like a grab bag of ideas and information. There aren’t any coheisve segues between subjects, one scene crashing into the other. It feels as if the film makers didn’t really know what the end result of the film was going to be and decided to shoot interviews and segments with little regard as to how they would fit together to create and interesting whole. It feels unpolished and unfocused but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some tidbits that are interesting and some solid content, especially in the back end of the film. VHS Mssacre isn’t without charm, but it does suffer from lack of focus. It felt as if it should have either been much longer to fill in the gaps where segments don’t fit together or it feels as if it should have been cut into pieces and released as individual shorts.

VHS Massacre isnt the slam dunk i was hoping for. I’m an easy mark for this kind of film but it’s lack of focus and general rough around the edges vibe didn’t work for me. I enjoyed some of the interviews and perhaps with more development and additional shooting it could have been something special. Here’s hoping the film makers learned from the experience and crank out another doc with a clearer idea.