With the whirlwind of activity going on the last six weeks, I never had the chance to report on the VHS documentary I saw at Shock Stock. Let’s fix that now.
Adjust your Tracking is a labour of love conceived by the curators of VHShitfest, Dan Kinem & Levi Peretic. Most people consider VHS a dead format, but there are still a precious few that consider it the best way to view their favourite movies. This documentary showcases these individuals.
This is a fun doc rife with colourful characters. I found their unbridled enthusiasm for the format infectious and made me want to drive around looking for yard sales and swap meets. I’ve never been much good at tracking down these sorts of places, but these guys have it down to a fine art. Some of the titles they pulled out of their archives were just crazy, and the stories of where and how they found them were sometimes even crazier.
In addition to the collectors, Adjust Your Tracking interviews some icons in the industry like Fangoria founder Tony Timpone and Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman. It also features input from indie filmmakers like Gary Cohen (Video Violence) and Keith Crocker (The Bloody Ape) who both likely owe their careers to the direct-to-video market spawned by the rise of VHS. Kinem & Peretic go full on nostalgic with the presentation, with tracking lines and analogue titling abound. There are also a lot of old VHS and video stores commercials peppered throughout that are good for more than a few laughs.
|Director Dan Kinem in his natural habitat.|
As much as I found it this engaging, I’m not sure how wide an appeal Adjust Your Tracking possesses, as there was no real arc to the proceedings. When you look at the really great genre-based documentaries of the past few years, they always lead up to something. Last year’s The American Scream had three families preparing their haunted houses for Halloween and Best Worst Movie (coincidentally also by Michael Paul Stephenson) had the eventual cast and crew reunion of Troll 2. Adjust Your Tracking is, ultimately, just talking heads gushing over VHS. While I found that interesting for ninety minutes, maybe not everyone will.
But then again, I guess that describes the very nature of VHS in this day and age, doesn’t it?