With technology constantly jumping forward it’s often fun, if not funny, to go back in time and look at the “advanced technology” from just over 20 years ago. While Tamagotchis and Pogs were all the rage in some circles it was VHS that was the king of the home video market.
So after this many years and DVDs, HDDVDs, Blu Rays it’s time that the VHS gets some love as it’s the focus in the documentary Rewind This!
Rewind This! is a documentary film based around the VHS tape and how it revolutionize the Home Video market and changed the way we watch movies and TV in general. From its first debut in Japan to the homes of nearly everyone with a TV, the VHS is still loved by film fans to this day.
The film focuses on certain parts of the product’s history such as the battle between VHS and Betamax, the explosion of the Porn market, direct to video films and the formats death and its lasting effect felt to this day.
At it’s heart Rewind This! is a love letter to the tape and features a wide variety of people interviewed during the films 94 minute running time. From collectors, to DIY filmmakers to even pop culture icons like Cassandra Peterson (Elvira, Mistress of the Dark), Lloyd Kaufman (Troma Entertainment) and Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell).
Sprinkled into the film is VHS footage taken from a range of tapes from direct to video shlock (i.e. Deadly Prey) to even fan films or home movies of collector walking through flee markets. All of these clips are presented as is, with the tracking and other issues that old VHS tapes suffer from after years of use.
Director Josh Johnson, presents the film with no narration only letting the subjects tell the story as they transition from topic to topic. This style makes the film feel lost at times as the flow is sometimes interrupted and broken up by another subjects interjection. That being said, the information that’s presented is entertaining and covers a wide variety of topics.
The film is presented almost in two parts; with the first half being a more oral history of the tape and how each small incremental change would affect the way people consume media, and the latter part dealing with how this technology is tread to this day.
While the first half might be more interesting up front, the final part goes deeper into why this form was so important, and in a nutshell it’s cause the VHS is a physical thing.
While it might be easier for use to watch a film like Rewind This! through streaming or digital downloads (I personally watched it off iTunes) the idea of owning a item that holds media is becoming less and less common. With torrents and illegal streaming, why would people take the time and money to track down and watch a film on a formate that’s less impressive technically?
Many in the film claim it’s for the same reasons people collect vinyl records, each copy has a life and stories of its own. It’s not just a copy of a copy from a website, it’s a thing that’s been used, abused and with every play and rewind the overall quality is affected. We get use to the way the tape looks, the way it flickers and how long it takes to rewind after your done.
As a “child of the 90s” (I was born in 91, I get that I’m not a 90s kid) I remember taping episodes of WWF Monday Night RAW as my mother wouldn’t let me stay up to watch it. But each time I would record a new episode, you could see more of the older footage and for some reason their was an attachment to that. It’s a difficult thing to explain, but I almost think of these taped over shows and movies as memories from our childhood.
In the end, Rewind This! is an amazing documentary that will remind some of their old VHS player that’s in a basement somewhere in their house. It’s worth the time and effort to find and watch.
Rewind This! was produced by Imperial PolyFarm Productions and is available on various forms.