Category_Cartoons, Category_Collecting, Category_Groovy Stuff, Category_Horror, Category_VHS -

Video Era Enthusiast Eric Plouffe Invites You to Take a Virtual Trip Through His Magnetically Delicious, Nostalgia Soaked Rental Shop Remembrance: The Mom & Pop Video Store! DIG IT!

Most any certifiable Videovore will readily admit that nostalgia is a major player when it comes to their affection for slabs of analog amazement. Our collective video era memories will attest to the notion that there’s just nothing quite like the experience of roaming through those stacks and racks of video excess featuring an arsenal of too groovy video covers leering out at you, offering an assortment of arresting images, titillating titles and the distinct aesthetic allure that only VHS can capture. And for the past couple of years now our fellow video era enthusiast Eric Plouffe has been sharing a treasure trove of rental shop remembrances to preserve, celebrate and promote that inimitable experience of old-school video shop glory. So hop on in the wood-paneled station wagon, grab some Dunkaroos and don’t forget your renter rewards card, Tapeheads. It’s time to travel back in time with Mr. Plouffe to The Mom & Pop Video Store…


SAMMI APPROVES, TAPEHEADS!!! Legends Never Die, Kid.

LM: What was the inspiration to start up The Mom and Pop Video Store page? How long has it been since you’ve started? How has the experience been sharing out all these amazing cinema memories? I loved video stores growing up. Heck, I lived video stores. I probably clocked more hours staring at video boxes than any suburban kid should legally be allowed to. I knew every pimply clerk by name and I’d convince store owners to give me their outdated standees, posters and trade mags like "The Mailer", so even my then-bedroom took on a distinctive video store odeur. As did I. Which was awesome. In the weeks leading to creating the page, I’d been looking to relive my days as a Video Store geek. And from the looks of things, I’m not alone! The nearest the page has to an origin story goes back to the Fall of 2012. I’d bitten the bullet and signed up for Netflix (the anemic Canadian Netflix) and found myself spending more time looking at thumbnails and reading movie synopsis than actually watching the movies… pretty much the same behavior I exhibit in Video Stores. Can’t teach and old dog new Flix. Signing up with the Blockbuster-killer sparked a deep nostalgia for the golden age of Mom and Pop video stores (circa 1980 to 1996) and I wanted to delve back and recreate the experience of lurking in the aisles and digging through cinematic ephemera. For me, half the fun of renting is reading the back of boxes, ogling posters, memorizing credits, making mental must-see lists, comparing notes with friends, etc . So, I created a Facebook page (as one does) and just started posting about the little things I obsess over. I never expected to have more than three followers (not including my mom), so I’m amazed at the response I’ve gotten. I love movies, but somehow I love renting movies more.


Ahhh, the good old days. When age restrictions on tapes were a mere formality. Sure, you can rent this one, Buck... it's your 9th birthday tomorrow! This picture RULES.

You always seem to hit the spot when it comes to nostalgic magnetic magic, man. How do you choose which flicks to feature and highlight on the site? Any random Video Store memory potentially becomes a post. I started out very systematically, with episodic posts and lists on subjects that I drew directly from my time spent in video stores back in the day. Lately, it’s more of a reflection of my daily nostalgic fixations and interests. I also really like highlighting odd forgotten gems like the cheap Filipino RAMBO knockoffs and low-rent Teen comedies that were staples of the video store shelf. It’s so great to bring up some obscurity like ROBOT NINJA or ANGEL FIST only to find that it’s got devoted fans who are happy to see it discussed somewhere. I’m also a horror nerd, so admittedly, that’s my low-hanging slow-news-day go-to inventory. Anything regarding a guilty pleasure writes itself, if I could dedicate my life to writing about TEEN WITCH or TRAXX, I would.


Any chance I get to talk about JOYSTICKS, it's gonna happen. This is the epitome of low-rent, just for laffs, heroic filmmaking. And it has video games. And punks. And ketchup on chocolate cookies. Perfect fodder for your classic Mom & Pop shop, mannnnggg.

You have an ardent and enthusiastic following on Facebook. Have you thought about branching out and getting a separate website or anything? Maybe some Mom and Pop Video Store shirts or stickers to help spread the analog era love?! Now that you mention it, I am! Certainly T-shirts are going to make a rather stylish appearance in the near future. I’m working out a design that celebrates the simple joys of magnetic tape and plastic casing. I’m also contemplating throwing another blog on the fire… time will tell.


So, that would possibly entail whipping out more analog awesomness such as this, correct, Eric? BRING IT ON, BROTHERRRR.

Are you involved in any other video era / fringe film appreciation projects? Besides TM&PVS what do you do for fun, man? Beyond doing my part to promote Video Store culture (both past and present – there are still a lot of neighborhood Video stores out there, kids) I enthusiastically rally behind the various brilliant VHS-boom era documentaries being produced right now. I’ll happily wear the cheerleader outfit for any worthwhile project, and if one need a little extra expertise or TLC in digital design and marketing (my day job), I’m all ears. In the name of fun, it’s anything that allows me to indulge in my cult and pop culture obsessions and collections.


Remember this one, Tapeheads? It's okay if don't... The Mom and Pop Video Store will bring you back to this 5-day rental and so many more. Yes, there are more like this. It's pretty insane.

What is it that you love(d) about rental shops? Can you give us some any groovy memories from the shop(s) you grew up renting from? What I loved most about video stores when they first arrived on the scene, (and I remember the day it dawned on me - I was standing in the middle of the aisle holding the box to CANNONBALL RUN) was that all of this filmed entertainment was available “on demand”. Until the advent of rental shops, budding suburban film fanatics were at the mercy of the local cinemas or the ABC Monday Night Movie for their flick fix. If you enjoyed a movie it could be years between viewings. Then suddenly anything I wanted to watch (except for E.T.) was 2 dollars and a short walk away. Having all of these movies at my disposal was like having a dream library… and since the home videos weren’t exactly “priced to own” yet, this was as good as I thought imaginable. It blew my mind. Back in the day the shop owners weren’t too conscientious about renting our R-rated movies to impressionable 11 year olds, so there was very little I couldn’t smuggle home to watch in the basement. I was a big fan of the likes of Cirio Santiago before I was in my teens, and just devoured anything put out by Cannon or Empire. Later, anything by Raedon and Camp were special treats enjoyed (and sometimes heckled) with friends. As fun as these films were, the most vivid memory I instantly associate with them is seeing the dusty video box on the shelf, and below it, the Velcro-attached token.


And here's an exemplary piece of eye-grabbing, irresistible rental bliss. How could you be a 12 year old kid into horror flicks and NOT want to rent this?! I'm convinced it's scientifically impossible. Also, this is the better cover for this flick that was hidden underneath a more "tame" cover. DIG IT.

Do you collect VHS? If so, what is it about the format that enthralls you? I used to have a pretty sizeable collection, by the time the 90’s rolled around a lot of stores were selling their “previously viewed” B movies or dated shelf-warmer titles that were taking up valuable space away from the latest blockbuster releases. So, I’d pick up whatever interesting ephemera I could get my hands on, from KISS MEETS THE PHANTOM OF THE PARK to the NINJA RAP video cassette single. The more store stickers on it the better. I loved seeing those vestigial faded “Be Kind Rewind” warnings or catalogue numbers. I still adore the feeling of the plastic casing in my hands, the slight hollow rattling, and who doesn’t love the sound of a top loading machine biting down on the cassette as it snaps shut? The format has such a visceral tactile quality and a connection to the media that no other home video format provides. The delicate fingertip manipulation of a disc and the gentle whir of a DVD player doesn’t come close to it.


Eric's lookin' BOSS in this one. Wait... that's not him? I knew that. Of course I did.

You got that right, brother. Overall, why do you think it’s important to share the memories of these films? I think the important take away from this whole undertaking is that video stores aren’t dead and the whole rental shop experience is alive and well. I may spend most of my energies waxing about how great things were in the good old days, but I enjoy being in video stores (and picking up dusty obscurities) as much today as I did back in 1982. There are a lot of people out there who remember and miss Mom and Pop video stores, who themselves have strong nostalgic ties to renting movies and the huge untapped library of video treasures at their disposal (Netflix certainly doesn’t come close). Many don’t realize that a Mom & Pop rental shop is likely just a few minutes’ drive away, and rather than scorching white neon light and blue & yellow signs, you get a cozy atmosphere and a smiling face behind the counter. They’ll gladly direct you to the Something Weird collection behind the staff picks, and you may even get a nod of knowing appreciation if you grab a collection of Cirio Santiago titles for an all-day marathon. And last but not least… who would win in a fight? Deebo from FRIDAY, or Sloth from THE GOONIES? Good one! Deebo would win the fight AND steal his Baby Ruth. I’d quietly be rooting for Sloth, though…

It would be real slobberknocker, no doubt, Tapeheads!! Personally, I’d love to see those two brutes claw it out in the squared circle with Deebo magically transforming into Tiny Lister’s Zeus character with Sloth then decapitating him via an oversized Baby Ruth tossed into the ring by a fan. Damn, that would be insano! But if you want to wrestle with reality instead, may I suggest you groove on over to Eric’s most magnetically delicious spot on the world weird web and give him some love. Mom and Pop Video Shops may now be a rare breed, but as his page shows, no digital download could ever eradicate the mountain of magnetic memories.

Groove and Groove and Support Mom and Pop Rental Shops!

Josh Schafer

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