I worked at a video store in my youth for almost four years. Starting in October 1990, I worked at a retail chain called Major Video. In August of 1992, it went into receivership and was unfortunately swallowed up by Blockbuster. I then worked there until my unfair dismissal in August of 1994. Anyway, enough with the history lesson. The purpose of this blog is not to lament about how Ballbuster runs their business, but rather to document that old store's best attribute - their horror section.
Being an avid horror film watcher from a very early age, I was quickly put in charge of this vast section that took up a very large area of the store. Being the go-to-guy for people who cared to ask for recommendations was something I very much enjoyed. This was, of course at Major, before the corporate structure of Cockbuster had stifled all individuality. This horror section was a far cry from the pathetic back-of-the-store one unit sections they have today. It is a sad state of affairs, that pains me to even describe it.
There were several hundred titles in this section, some of which I have never seen since. Luckily, due to having spent so much time looking at their cover boxes - the horror section was closest to the registers - I have most of them committed to a special cache in my memory. I may not remember all their names, but if I see the cover box art, an instant spark of recognition is ignited. For those who have read or seen Stephen King's Dreamcatcher will recall the memory warehouse. Those old battered VHS cover boxes are in that "special" room. So, I guess this blog is a way of cleaning house.
Early on in my tenure, I had vowed that I would watch every single title starting from A through Z, but that turned out to be a little ambitious. Such an undertaking would have required a lot more time than I had at my disposal. My goal now is to recreate that old section from my past, bringing it back to its former glory. Armed with my memory and the world wide web, I hope to document it as best as possible. I haven't really decided how I'm going to do this yet, but I'll probably be updating it a little at a time. I'll also be throwing up new reviews and comments as they come to me, as well.
When all is said and done, our old catalogue might not seem too impressive to a real film aficionado - big city archives like my old Toronto haunts like Suspect and Queen Video would put it to shame - but for a small suburban video store owned by a major conglomerate, I propose that this section was quite unique. Now, you may also notice that countless titles from this era are missing (Last House, Cannibal Holocaust and Maniac to name a few), but keep in mind that this was a so-called "family" video store. Many of our titles were "Rated" versions. Dead Alive, Hellraiser and Return of the Living Dead Part 3 were titles I know for sure were heavily cut. This is where it gets odd though because some others (Romero's Dead films, H.G. Lewis' oeuvre) were available in their full bloody glory. It was as if this section had been made up of several different inventories. The bean counters had also failed to notice that some of them hadn't rented in years, yet they weren't purged from the system until way after I was ousted.
I still own a few of them today. The Video Dead, Cannibal Girls, Color Me Blood Red and the colourfully titled Beast of the Yellow Night are some I can see from where I'm sitting right now. This manifest will really only scratch the surface of the beautifully bizarre range of titles that were around during the golden age of video, but to me, that old section was my home away from home.