Stuck On VHS: The Book Your Nostalgic Heart Needs
When I was growing up, there was so much more to visiting our local mom & pop video store beyond renting movies. Those cavernous repositories of cinematic wonders were often chock full of sensory stimulators. In a matter of moments, one might hear the clinking of quarters being dropped into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game in the corner or smell the freshly popped popcorn which sat next to the counter by the register in an old-fashioned kettle popcorn trolley.
There was also the signage. Each aisle would have a unique, handwritten sign for the various film genres in it: the comedy aisle would usually have a drawing of those chattering teeth—you know, those novelty toy teeth that you could wind up and annoy your friends with–and you could almost always count on the horror section having the word “H-O-R-R-O-R” written alongside drawings of skeletons, Jack-o-lanterns, and vampires. Blood dripping off the lettering was a plus.
And then there were the stickers. Lots and lots of stickers.
By stickers, I’m not talking about the kind you might have traded with your kiddie friends at summer camp. No, I’m talking about movie store stickers—the kind that littered video stores and the myriad tapes they rented and sold to media hungry customers, like the author of this article. Video store stickers, like the ones warning you to rewind your tape (or else!) and those highlighting a particular tape that might be too scary for people under 18 years of age, were integral parts of the video rental ecosystem.
Stickers applied to the VHS box art (or the tape itself) was also a way for that establishment to mark its inventory. These stickers were important for communicating all kinds of information to the renter or seller and served as another colorful way of curating movie collections. Peanut butter is to jelly what stickers are to VHS tapes.
Which brings me to Stuck On VHS: A Visual History of Video Store Stickers, a glorious new book by Josh Schafer, VHS enthusiast, collector, and advocate, and designer, Jacky Lawrence. Through Josh’s LunchmeatVHS brand, he’s been an important fixture in the larger VHS community for years, so, it can hardly be a surprise that he channeled his passion into a book that is less an oral history of VHS as it is a historical touchstone documenting VHS ephemera.
These VHS stickers are tiny portals into a bygone era. But this book isn’t just quirk for quirks sake. Rather, Stuck On VHS is an important, visual time capsule that seeks to remind (or educate for first-timers) readers that ephemera from the golden years of VHS is important and can tell us a lot about those communities. These stickers—each one of them—has a story to tell. Thanks to Schafer and Stuck On VHS, those stories are now being told.
I caught up with Josh Schafer recently to find out a little bit more about the genesis of this project. Here’s what he had to say: “These stickers were something that we didn’t see getting a ton of attention, but really just capture so much history, aesthetic, and culture from the video era. We wanted to create a document and curation that took you right back to being between those video store aisles; these stickers, however small or ephemeral, really help illustrate and define that time and expand the scope and rear view of that era.
They have a life all their own, and we wanted to preserve that inherent element of video store culture for people to revisit and enjoy – and hopefully, inspire them to take a closer look at those little stickers that live on all those former rentals.”
To be honest, I love all the stickers in this book, though I do have my favorites: the handwritten labels like the one that reads, “Mac + Me #2” presumably referring to their 2nd copy of the film in stock and those iconic green horror stickers we all remember (with my favorite being a green sticker from a copy of CREEPSHOW which sported a chubby vampire wearing glasses).
Then, of course, there are the individual video store stickers themselves, with some truly fantastic names like Ganges Video Ranch, Savage Video, Pick-A-Flick Video, and DJ’s Video & Snacks. There’s no shortage of interesting and rare videotape ephemera to marvel over on each and every page of this book. Trust me.
So, what are you doing reading this article? Go grab a copy of Stuck On VHS before they sell out again! Published by Birth.Movies.Death.. Hard Cover, 160 pages (plus three sticker pages). Available Here
‘Scream VI’ Has Passed Impressive Worldwide Box Office Record
Scream VI is slashing up major dollars at the worldwide box office a the moment. In fact, Scream VI has made $139.2 million at the box office. It just managed to beat out the box office for 2022’s Scream release. The previous film made $137.7 million.
The only film that has a higher box office place is the very first Scream. Wes Craven’s original still holds the record with $173 million. That is quite a number if you take inflation into account. Go figure, Craven’s Scream is still the best and is likely to stay that way.
Scream 2022’s synopsis went like this:
Twenty-five years after a streak of brutal murders shocked the quiet town of Woodsboro, Calif., a new killer dons the Ghostface mask and begins targeting a group of teenagers to resurrect secrets from the town’s deadly past.
Scream VII has already been given a greenlight. However, at the moment it looks like the studio may take a year off.
Have you been able to watch Scream VI yet? What did you think? Let us know in the comments section.
‘Joker: Folie à Deux’ Gives First Incredible Look at Lady Gaga as Harley Quinn
Lady Gaga has appeared and given us all a better idea of what her version of Harley Quinn is going to look like in the new Joker film. Todd Phillips’s follow-up to his hit film is titled Joker: Folie à Deux.
The photos reveal Quinn descending some stairs outside of what looks like either Gotham’s courthouse or Gotham’s police station. Most importantly one of the photos reveals Quinn in full costume. The costume is very reminiscent of her comics costume.
The film continues Arthur Fleck’s descent into his identity as the Clown Prince of Crime. Although it is still confusing to see how this Joker will fit into the world of Batman considering this is so far off from the time that Bruce Wayne is active as Batman. It was once believed that this Joker was the spark that would ignite the Joker that Batman famously faces off with but, that can’t be the case now. Harley Quinn exists on this timeline now as well. That doesn’t make sense.
The synopsis for Joker went like this:
Forever alone in a crowd, failed comedian Arthur Fleck seeks connection as he walks the streets of Gotham City. Arthur wears two masks — the one he paints for his day job as a clown, and the guise he projects in a futile attempt to feel like he’s part of the world around him. Isolated, bullied and disregarded by society, Fleck begins a slow descent into madness as he transforms into the criminal mastermind known as the Joker.
The Joker returns to theaters beginning October 4, 2024.
5 Must-See Cosmic Horror Films
Stare into the void with me: a look into cosmic horror
Cosmic horror has been having a resurgence as of late, and horror nerds like me couldn’t be happier. Inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, cosmic horror explores concepts of an uncaring universe filled with ancient gods and those who worship them. Imagine that you are having a great day doing some yard work. The sun is shining as you push your lawn mower down the lawn, and you feel content as some music plays in your headphones. Now imagine this serene day from the viewpoint of the ants that live in the grass.
Creating the perfect blend of horror and science-fiction, cosmic horror has gifted us some of the best horror films ever made. Movies like The Thing, Event Horizon, and Cabin in The Woods are just a few. If you haven’t seen any of these films, turn off whatever you have on in the background and do so now. As always, my goal is to bring something new to your watchlist. So, follow me down the rabbit hole but stay close; we won’t need eyes where we are going.
In The Tall Grass
Once upon a time, Stephen King terrified his readers with a tale about some kids and their corn god. Feeling that he set the bar too low, he teamed up with his son Joe Hill to pose the question “What if grass were evil”? Proving they can work with any premise handed to them, they created the short story In the Tall Grass. Starring Laysla De Oliveira (Lock and Key) and Patrick Wilson (Insidious), this film is a powerhouse of emotion and scenery.
This film shows why cosmic horror is so important. What other genre would dare to explore a concept like evil grass that can control time? What this movie lacks in plot, it makes up for in questions. Luckily for us, it isn’t slowed down by anything close to answers. Like a clown car jam-packed with horror tropes, In the Tall Grass is a fun surprise for people who stumble across it.
It would be sacrilege to talk about cosmic horror and not include a movie about cults. Cosmic horror and cults go together like tentacles and madness. For almost a decade Last Shift has been considered a hidden gem in the genre. The movie has gained such a following that it is receiving a facelift under the title Malum and is set to be released on March 31, 2023.
Starring Juliana Harkavy (The Flash) and Hank Stone (Santa Girl), Last Shift pulses with anxiety from its opening scene and never stops. The film wastes no time with trivial things like backstory and character development and chooses instead to jump right into its gritty tale of illusions. Director Anthony Diblasi (Midnight Meat Train) gives us a bleak and terrifying look into the limits of our own sanity.
Horror films have always drawn deep from the well of unethical government experiments, but none more than MK Ultra. Banshee Chapter mixes Lovecraft’s From Beyond with a Hunter S Thompson acid party, and the results are spectacular. Not only is this a terrifying film, but it doubles as a great anti- drug PSA.
Starring Katia Winter (The Wave) as our heroine and Ted Levine (Silence of the Lambs) as the Wish.com version of Hunter S. Thompson, Banshee Chapter takes us on a paranoia-fueled adventure into a conspiracy theorist’s dream. If you’re looking for something a little less campy than Stranger Things, I recommend Banshee Chapter.
John Dies at The End
Let’s look into something a little less bleak, shall we? John Dies at the End is a smart and hilarious example of how cosmic horror can be taken in new directions. What started as a webseriel by the brilliant David Wong evolved into one of the wackiest films I have ever seen. John Dies at the End opens with a reference to the Ship of Theseus, to show you it has class, and then spends the rest of its runtime stripping away that mirage.
Starring Chase Williamson (Victor Crowley) and Paul Giamatti (Sideways), this film emphasizes the weirdness that comes with cosmic horror. David Wong shows us that if you break the rules of reality not only would it be terrifying, but it would probably also be hilarious. If you want something a little lighter to add to your watch list, I recommend John Dies at the End.
The Endless is a masterclass in how good cosmic horror can be. This movie has everything, a giant sea god, time loops, and your friendly neighborhood cult. The Endless manages to have everything while sacrificing nothing. Building on the craziness that was Resolution, The Endless manages to create an atmosphere of absolute dread.
This glorious film is written by, directed, and stars Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. These two creators manage to give us a haunting and hopeful tale of what family really means. Not only do our characters have to tackle concepts beyond their comprehension, but they must also face their own guilt and resentment. If you want a film that will fill you with both despair and anguish, check out The Endless.