An American Vidiot Presents: “By the fans, for the fans.”
I just want to start by saying that I am very sorry for the delay with the reviews. I promise I will get back on track right after the holidays. But I’m excited to end the year by reviewing two of my favorite documentaries about the history of VHS and the modern day collectors. Although now considered an obsolete format, many people like myself have a nostalgia and passion for the days of mom and pop video stores and the genesis of home viewing entertainment. If you’re someone who appreciates the incredible history of film and media, have a fondness for all things vintage and retro cool, or just appreciate documentary filmmaking, I urge you to check out Adjust Your Tracking and Rewind This!
ADJUST YOUR TRACKING: The Untold Story of the VHS Collector
Adjust Your Tracking is a 2013 documentary directed by Dan Kinem and Levi Peretic. It is one of the two major and only documentaries focused around the VHS culture and collectors of the format. The movie, while talking about the format, mainly focuses on the collectors. Which that may not sound all that interesting, it’s actually very entertaining and extremely interesting. I highly recommend a viewing, especially if you are a VHS collector.
The two directors of the movie run a successful YouTube channel called VHShitfest which mainly shows obscure clips from old VHS tapes, VHS hunting videos, and VHS updates. To learn more about the directors, I urge you to watch their videos. In all honesty, if you like this movie, then there is a very high likelihood you will enjoy their videos.
Many people may shy away from this movie because they aren’t collectors of VHS tapes and don’t understand this subculture. But this is a very well made and compelling documentary that I think you can enjoy whether you’re a collector or not. It’s very informative and a loving tribute to the people who are passionate about VHS because of the great history of the format and the respect for a time when home movie watching was so very new and revolutionary. It’s also fascinating to learn how the once dead format is making a comeback, with my indie and cult distributors releasing modern day horror films on VHS in limited runs.
One of my favorite parts of the film was the Collector Spotlight that would showcase individual collectors throughout the movie. It was great seeing the impressive collections some people have built up, including rare and almost impossible to find films. One gentlemen even has an entire old school video store he runs out of his basement.
One whole section of the film talks about the rarest of VHS finds, Tales of the Quadead Zone, which is every collector’s dream to get a hold of. Some day this will be mine!
Out of the two VHS documentaries I’m reviewing, I personally enjoyed this one the most because it focuses so much on the individual collectors. It reminds me why I love VHS in the first place, makes me proud to be a part of this subculture, and further fuels my love for VHS hunting and finding those elusive and extremely rare collector’s items.
Rewind This! is the other great documentary focusing on the VHS format. It was made in 2013 and directed by Josh Johnson. This film focuses mainly on the history of the format and the rise (and subsequent fall) of the video stores. There’s some great information about the videotape format war in the late 70s and 80s between Sony’s original Betamax and JVC’s competing VHS format.
While I found Adjust Your Tracking somewhat more of an enjoyable watch, I definitely think Rewind This! wins as being the most informative and interesting from a film history perspective. I learned so much about the history behind VHS that added to my love for the format and my appreciation as a collector.
THE BARE ESSENTIALS:
Both movies came out in 2013. Rewind This! was released just four months after Adjust Your Tracking. Both documentaries feature Llyod Kaufman from Troma entertainment, one of my personal heroes. While both these films center around the VHS format and collector culture, they have different overall themes and take two distinct approaches to telling the VHS story. They are each amazing documentaries and well worth a watch for collectors and non-collectors alike.