What did the death of VHS movies and video game rentals mean to the low-budget, independent filmmaker? A lot, surprisingly. "Mom and pop" video stores around the country, neighborhood institutions for decades, began shutting their doors in the 2000s, taking a hit from Blockbuster, which took a hit from competitor Hollywood Video, which took their hits from the internet, Netflix and "free" downloading and streaming (i.e., piracy). What goes around comes around: VHS killed Beta because it was less expensive, consumers preferred quantity over quality, and adult movies were exclusive to the VHS format. But, as Carmine Capobianco, co-owner of Funstuff Video, says, "The sell-through (the ratio of the quantity of goods sold by a retail outlet to the quantity distributed to it wholesale) dropped the value of the VHS. Walmart killed the video business. Netflix killed the video business. Computers killed the video business." But how many of us are mourning the loss of our VCRs? I can name several favorite titles of mine that never made that journey from VHS to DVD (which, along with Blu-ray, is also slowing in sales). I can also name many instances where the VHS cover-art was superior to that of comparable DVDs. Are VHS tapes collectible like vinyl records? I never thought so. I don't like the picture quality of VHS, I always hated the occasional tracking issues, and they take up too much valuable space. But the fans, movie makers, actors, distributors and radio personalities brought together in this entertaining documentary obviously feel different, as they reflect on the home-viewing market of the '80s with pride, discussing how independent filmmakers flourished during that time having various outlets for their products. For filmmakers today, starting out small and hoping to build a following, there is no money to be made from streaming. Depressing, yes, but...the VHS may make a comeback yet! And if the industry rallies, watch out "Toxic Avenger"! I'll be the first to buy a brand-new VCR, one with a remote to adjust the tracking from my living room sofa. **1/2 from ****
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