Generation VHS: A Film Nerd’s Quest to Save a Lost Era



More often than not, nostalgia is a pretty crappy way of gauging any sort of entertainment. We’ve seen it countless times — heralded dreck is lifted to the throne of the cult kingdom, forever to reign in dorm rooms and midnight screenings across the globe.

Let’s zero in on film and television specials. When you think of a nostalgic cult classic, the typical time frame ranges anywhere from the mid-'70s to around 1995 — use the Star Wars Holiday Special and Clueless as your bookends. (Yes, we’re ignoring the stuff that Mystery Science Theater 3000 usually covers.) Around that time frame, countless pieces of oddball history made their way into the novelty hall of fame.

During my time as a film nerd, I’ve been able to head back in the annals of the cult classic library and view some of the relics that most champion as nostalgic revelries of their childhood. While I appreciate the films that have come before me, I’m ready to break out my own rock 'n' roll records to horrify my classical-loving parents.

It’s time a new era of cult movies emerged at the forefront of film culture. A new generation is making its way to college campuses and repertory houses — a generation that experienced the rise and fall of VHS, the uneven output of Disney animation, and the dawn of multi-channel children’s programming. Unfortunately, many in this age group are now brainless zombies, wasting away in a sea of Call of Duty and Code Red Mountain Dew.

As a connoisseur of junk cinema, I feel as if it’s my duty — my privilege — to bring to light a few of the films that I adored as a kid. The hall of records is missing an important section of film history.

Allow me to fill in the gaps.

This post launches a weekly column that will range from under-the-cut Disney titles to critically panned kiddie flicks. You may cringe at a few of the choices. Indeed, in today’s light, most of this stuff will be better suited for a landfill as opposed to an arts and culture blog.

But nostalgia is a funny thing. You might think the Rocky and Bullwinkle live-action movie was funded by Advil, but I see something … nostalgic. (Man, I can’t wait to get to that week. Double bill: The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle AND Brendan Fraser’s Dudley Do-Right. Goosebumps.)

So join me on my quest to unearth some true gems that have sadly been all but forgotten. These are the films of Generation VHS.

I wouldn't dream of spoiling next week's movie of honor ... except to say, it’s time to slam now.

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