The End of Cult Movies?

The End of Cult Movies?

Every movie I’ve ever wanted can now be mine. Why does this make me sad?

I own a copy of this poster, framed, and signed by Kirs Kristofferson, Ernest Borgnine, and C.W. McCall. I am very proud of this.

On my bookshelf, there’s an old VHS tape with a faded, hand-written label. It says, “Convoy, 1st Gen.” This is because in 2000, when I tracked down and rented a copy of the 1978 Sam Peckinpah movie, after years of searching, I was so excited that I made two copies of it. Then I made another six copies off of those two copies, and gave them away to friends. (I am blessed with the sort of friends for whom a bootleg copy of Convoy is a great gift.) Anyway, the “1st Gen” on the copy I’m looking at indicates that this one was dubbed right from the original. I’ve lugged it from apartment to apartment over the last ten years, even though I haven’t always had access to a VCR.

But I probably won’t ever watch it again. If I wanted to see Convoy now (and I kind of do, after writing the last paragraph), I could just put it on the top of my Netflix queue. They’d send me a nice new DVD that would look ten times better than my old videotape. Actually, I don’t even have to wait for the DVD. Convoy is currently a “Watch It Now” movie on Netflix, so I can stream it right to my computer. Or I can use my XBox to watch it on my TV. And if I wanted to buy it, the DVD is $13 via Amazon.

This is simultaneously awesome, and a teeny bit sad.

It’s easy to forget that only 15 years ago, finding a movie was a very different experience.

Here were your options:

  • You went to Blockbuster. If they didn’t have the movie you wanted, too bad.
  • You went to Suncoast, Tower Records, or another then-thriving-now-bankrupt movie store. If they didn’t have what you wanted, maybe they could order it for you. But probably not.

Internet killed the video store.

And that’s it. I know this seems unthinkable to those of you under 20, but as recently as the late 90s you only had access to the movies you could drive and pick up. In those dark days, a well-stocked video store was a geek’s best friend. I will always have a deep fondness for Best Video, located in Hamden, CT. At Best Video, you stand little chance of finding anything without one of the clerks to help you. For instance, the Comedy section is divided into “Comedy” and “Best Comedy.” But there are also comedies in “Best of the Best,” and certain directors have their own shelves. I preferred to wander aimlessly, discovering movies I had never heard of but couldn’t wait to see. There were days when I’d rent ten tapes, watch five of them, and dub the other five to watch later. I was a kid in a candy store.

My favorite find there was a horror movie from the Philippines, called The Killing of Satan. The cover asked one of my favorite questions of all time: “What power should a man possess to challenge the Prince of Darkness?” It’s the word “should” that really makes it work for me.

He's gonna need a sturdier shirt.

Back in its heyday, Best Video would rent movies by mail as well. You could literally have them mail you a single VHS tape, which you’d watch and mail back in a week. Geeks all over the country happily took advantage of this. In the days when watching anything more bandwidth-intensive than the Hampster Dance seemed impossible, Best Video was the only way to see some of these rare imports and limited editions. The video store is still around, but they’ve shut down the mail order rental business. Between eBay, Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, and BitTorrent, almost anything ever made can be yours to watch, in days if not instantly, at little cost. For instance, The Killing of Satan can be had for under $10.

Once again, let me make it clear that this is a good thing. I love movies, and I love having them at my fingertips. But something has been lost. Part of being a movie geek is priding yourself on seeing the obscure stuff that lesser geeks and mere mortals don’t bother with. This used to be challenging. Today, a movie can have cult status because only a small group of people like it… but not because only a small group of people have access. Finding the movies is never a challenge (finding the time to watch them is another story).

But what I really miss is the sense of community. Back in the day, the best way to expand your movie-going horizons was to find friends with the same passion, and borrow, trade, and share each other’s collections. There’s even an episode of The Simpsons where Bart and Milhouse discover Comic Book Guy’s secret room of bootleg videotapes, and make serious money by charging admission to screenings. I have totally been to parties like that. The episode aired in 2001. Less than five years later, it was completely obsolete. Nowadays, Comic Book Guy’s random clips wouldn’t be on VHS tapes–they’d be all over YouTube. And the people of Springfield would watch them at home, alone.

In 1999, I got a copy of Peter Jackson’s Meet the Feebles off of eBay. This is a spoof of the Muppets that he made at the tender age of 28. An early scene features a puppet cat performing oral sex on a puppet walrus. The whole thing is very funny and strange and wonderful. When it arrived in the mail, I watched it with 20 people, and again the next week with 20 other people. Now, you can see the whole thing on YouTube:

Cartoon All-Stars To The Rescue is a half-hour special produced in 1993, in which a dream team of Saturday morning cartoon characters join forces to help a teen give up drugs. My favorite part is when Alf threatens to eat Garfield. When I got a copy of that one, I had to reserve my dorm’s common room for a giant screening. Once again, it’s on YouTube now:

And then there’s the Star Wars Holiday Special. This was George Lucas’ fantastically ill-advised 1978 variety show, in which Harrison Ford tries to get Chewbacca home to his family in time for “Life Day.” The most jaw-dropping of many painful moments is probably Bea Arthur, singing a song in the Mos Eisley cantina. The Special was aired exactly once, and (unsurprisingly) never released on VHS. For years, it was a kind of geek legend. No one I knew had ever seen it, but everyone had heard stories from friends of friends. “One day,” us young geeks told each other, “we will get our hands on a copy of that!”

And now, it’s on YouTube:

This all applies to more than movies. When I was a kid, my brother was a giant Phish fan. And any real Phish fan knows their commercial CDs aren’t where the special sauce is–you need to listen to live performances, where they could spend 45 minutes playing one song.

Because you can never have too many versions of Golgi Apparatus.

So Danny would hit up the tape trading websites. While he was doing his homework, he’d be running off dubs of his collection, to exchange with fellow Phishermen. And when a new tape arrived in the mail, he’d put aside whatever he was doing, run into his room, and emerge two hours later humming meandering guitar riffs to himself. He even had a special rack for storing his carefully organized Phish bootlegs.

Nowadays, you can get all your concert recordings online, no communication with other human beings required. is actually for sale. I doubt anyone will buy it.

Overnight, we’ve come to expect any movie ever made to be available at the click of a button, and we usually get our wish. It’s an amazing embarrassment of riches. But when entertainment flows as freely as water from a faucet, we start to take it for granted. We don’t get the pleasure of seeking it out, and we don’t bother sharing it with friends. Part of the fun of watching obscure movies used to be the thrill of finding something rare… but in the Internet Age, no movie is rare. And like I said before, that’s a good thing that makes me a little sad.

[Update: We took up the question of what makes a movie a “cult” movie on a recent episode of the Overthinking It Podcast [iTunes link]. Download Episode 89: Wang-Free Zone. —Ed.]

61 Comments on “The End of Cult Movies?”

  1. ActualButt #

    Let’s not forget MST3K tape trading, which, if I remember, was encouraged at the end of each show! Now, you can get a number of the episodes on DVD, and on iTunes. And they MST3K version of “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”, one of my favorites, is on YouTube in its entirety.


  2. RiderIon #

    I remember in the mid-90s when I started tape trading for fansubs of anime. I even remember my first set of tapes I got: the Super Android film (movie 7) and Rebirth of Fusion (movie 12?) of Dragon Ball Z along with some random episodes (134-137 if memory serves) of DBZ where Piccolo fights Android 17. I still have them floating around somewhere and I even have some fansubs of shows that were never commerically released in the United States. One thing those tapes had were Japanese commericals. Like the media itself, I can get those online via Youtube but it’s not the same as the episode going to its eyecatch and then an actual commerical starting.

    There’s also an economic impact from the change of distribution fron tape swapping to digital distribution but that’s a whole another can of worms that gets rather ugly, very quickly.


  3. Redem #

    Amusingly I’ve watch the simpsons episode about comic book guy bootleg collection last week-end and kinda muse a bit oon how the idea of a bootleg collection totally lost to our generation


  4. Eagle #

    That’s not entirely true, there are still a lot of things only released in one region or another that you have to buy bootleg bad dvd copies of..

    I remember the days of searching for Shock Treatment, I was the only one in my RHPS troupe to get it, my D&D group and I spent countless weekends watching it. Arena is another one like that, though much less amusing ;-)


  5. Brian E #

    Some movies are still rare. Like Unico and the Land of Magic.


  6. fenzel #

    @Brian and @Blinks

    I remember that movie being so, so good.

    Of course, it’s one of my earliest memories — from when I was in preschool, literaly at age 3 or 4. I remember what Unico looked like, and really loving it, and getting a bunch of Unico stickers from my preschool teacher by way of my parents, probably after the school year was over.

    Unico was perhaps the first fictional character I really, really loved, but I haven’t seen him/her/it in, what, 25 years?

    As much as it sucks that we’ve lost this treasure-hunting opportunity, it is pretty awesome that I can see Unico again.


  7. Nick Minichino #

    There is a LOT that is still not available. And without any profitable motivation to make it available it is now much less likely to be unearthed. Thank God for Warner’s desire to make digital backups of its prints and willingness to make burn-on-demand DVDs or nothing in the Warner Archive would be available on DVD. And if not for the explosion of cable, with its attendant need to fill broadcasting hours, films’ TV rights would never have been sold and therefore none of the stuff that’s not on DVD would even be on the internet (because it would never have been recorded onto VHS in the first place).

    It may no longer be possible for a movie to become rare but plenty of rare movies remain. I will grant you, though, that if/when someone (Google?) creates a computer translator effective enough to effectively break language barriers, another whole slew of rare things will become available. But there will always be some sort of pay wall to the past, so to speak.


  8. Harold #

    I remember renting and dubbing the entire season of Majin Buss saga (200 like episodes) on tape one summer. All in spanish which I can’t speak. The good old days. And on a certain kind of TV I had, I could see Playboy and Skinamax. It was in Black and White, and no sound. And who needed sound when you are 14 and can lock your door. I taped and taped over stuff, it was great! :)


  9. Ed #

    I got a huge part of my movie education just watching movies rebroadcast on TV. One station or another would always be showing an old movie, good on rainy Saturday afternoons. You could see alot of movies that way, and I saw alot of movies I never would have seen otherwise just by turning on the TV.

    And yes, this was broadcast TV with a black-and-white set, with the rabbit ears. I am that old.

    I find the hyperavailability of movies now means that I watch fewer movies. Actually I don’t know how to work netflix, but I’m sure it is easy to use if I bothered. But if I can access any movie I want, when I want, then why spend a Saturday watching “The Killing of Satan”, particularly when its nice out, when I can go do something else and watch it later? There is no longer any opportunity cost to not watching it, the movie is always available. So later never comes.

    There is also value in browsing, in just looking through a random collection of stuff, like movies in a Saturday TV schedule, and just picking one and finding something that you never would have thought you had wanted to see before. Now I can get any movie on demand, but I have to demand it. I have to know what I want to see. But at this point in my life, any movies that I know I want to see, I’ve seen already. We are getting the same problem with books now that bookstores have started to disappear.


  10. rtpoe #

    Ed: Try the B-Masters Cabal ( to help you discover new movies to watch. Thanks to the Cabal member Keith “Teleport City” Allison, I was introduced to the wonder that is known as Turkish Star Wars.

    Cult films may be finding a new life online, but in the form of international movies. There are wonders awaiting you in the genres of Mexican superhero wrestlers, Eurospy, and Asian martial arts flicks for example where the joy comes in telling your friends, “You have GOT to check this out!” You may not be swapping cassettes, but you are swapping information – and that’s always been the central pleasure.


  11. Mikey #

    Recognizable, a lot of movies here weren’t released theatrically here in the Netherlands. We only get the more high profile movies.

    So when I wanted to watch Child’s Play 3 after seeing a preview on a movie-show on TV I had to go to the Video rental store which owned one copy which was constantly rented. After going back everyday to see if they had it, it took me about a week or two before I finally scored and could rent it myself.

    Same thing with Terminator 2. Now you just go to a torrentsite and type in that obscure movie or its in the budget DVD bin for sale for a mere 2,-. That’s the case with Child’s Play 3 here…

    It’s great that movies are now so easy obtainable, but it does take away the exclusivity


  12. Shawn Pitre #

    I had one of those hunting moment.

    I wanted a copy of the Last Temptation on Christ. I looked everywhere. I couldn’t find one locally. I couldn’t find one on Columbia House. The only place I could find it was on, and it was 60+ dollars, and I would have had to pay international fees.

    So, I left it to my mother, for a pipe Dream Christmas Present.

    Lo and behold, she managed to find one, and when I opened it that Christmas day, I come to find she left it in its ‘envelope’. It was shipped to us in a burlap sack with our address written with a Sharpie. It got to my parents house within a couple days of Christmas. It was one of the best presents I got.

    I also remember having to wait over a month to get Technical Ecstasy (A Black Sabbath CD) from Sam the Record Man, imported from England, because they had none here. (I know its not a Movie, but still :P )


  13. EVDebs #

    I remember how pleased I was a couple of years ago to find that someone had put a copy of (local Bay Area New Wave legends) the Psycotic Pineapple’s Where’s the Party online (I almost wrote “ripped a copy of…” but I’m not sure it ever even came out on CD).

    I agree that there’s been a big cultural change in movie (and music) availability. But a lot of stuff is still difficult to find. And in general the change has been a good thing. Now I’ll never again be without “I Wanna Wanna Wanna Wanna Wanna Wanna Wanna Get Rid of You.”


  14. Caroline #

    I can certainly relate to losing the thrill of the movie hunt being bittersweet. When I was younger I had several books that ranked and described movies in various categories. I would make lists of movies I wanted to see, and ride my bike to the video store. Of course, the only video store I could get movies from was the Blockbuster – so my selection was highly limited. This continued well into high school, when I made one of my friends over the age of 18 join the less-popular video store so I could finally see True Romance and The Devil’s Advocate (the Blockbuster was that terrible). When we joined Netflix I was able to add all of the movies I’d been longing for over the last ten years.

    That said – this new age has not granted all my movie wishes. Why isn’t there a DVD of Muppet Classic Theatre? Oh sure, I can watch it on YouTube. But that was my sick day cheer-up VHS as a kid, and I want it!


  15. Gta #

    I like it better for movies to be more available. It kind of ensures they are preserved and not lost forever.


  16. vanav #

    Well one thing hasn’t changed: Bootlegging…


  17. Felix Vasquez Jr. #

    Amazing article. I came in at just the tail end of this craze, but I can definitely sympathize. For a long time my uncle had movies no one else had on Betamax and the only way anyone could see them is if they’d go to his room and watch it with him. It was fun back in the day getting a bunch of people together to watch a movie. Now people just prefer the solitude and pretend that era never existed.

    Yeah I’m all for progress, but a lot of the little things were lost when the internet offered everything for everyone. The thrill of the hunt is gone, now. The community is gone now. Sad.


  18. deathbee #

    Octaman. I must see this movie…


  19. deathbee #



  20. hex #

    I remember my dad bringing back a vhs copy of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ from a trip to Amsterdam – before Amazon etc, and before the movie was unbanned in the UK… Sitting watching that movie at 16 with my dad was made all the more surreal by the hardcoded dutch subtitles…

    I have the same problem now with music. When i was younger, I had a few binds i loved obsessively, and would try to discover all of their imported records, often paying 25 pounds a disc for maybe 7 songs. Now I have every single song ever thought about by those bands, and i don’t listen to them anymore…


  21. m #

    Are you serious?
    At these days that “you can find anything”, I am still trying to find some movies, like any of the two “The Unholy three” movies! You might find one of them in the internet somewhere but with no sound! If you live in the USA it is easy to have most of the movies on your feet, but still these movies are not released on DVD! Outside USA it is hard to find movies, even in these days because they are not all released in all regions. So I am still trying to find some way to dig up some movies. I would love it if I could see what I’ve been searching for years now. I am tired by now of searching and just hope that they will be released some day and be restored properly. What can I say, I am a dreamer, and no one will do this job because it is too expensive and the audience is too small. So masterpieces will be destroyed by time or get lost.


  22. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    Okay, just want to head this one off at the pass…

    I am not saying that ALL movies are now easily available (and I feel your pain, people outside the US). I am saying that WAY WAY more movies are now easily available than ever before. It’s gotten to the point where we EXPECT every movie to be accessible. That was not the case in 1995.


  23. Caroline #

    I can’t tell from your post if you live outside the US. I’m not sure what the region on it is, but you can get the silent version The Unholy Three for $14.99 here:


  24. Lars #

    Nice article, Matthew. I enjoyed it and agree with most of it.


  25. Johnny99 #

    One thing that the decline of fall of ‘trading in obscurities’ culture has wrought is an end to a lot of geek snobbishness. Part of the attraction of being a cult movie obsessive (or a punk in the early days thereof) was the snobbish thrill of looking down one’s nose at others who didn’t share the love.

    Having been one of those people as a young man, I have to say that in the balance it is better that easy access to huge amounts of film and music is now the norm, and that more people are on board. If the film and music industries are to create a revised economic model and survive, they need FANS, lots of them, who in addition to taking stuff for free from the web will also pay to go to live shows and buy merchandise and go to the cinema and pay for downloads, etc. Fandom needs to be fed, constantly.

    And on a purely technical note, you can keep those crappy third generation VHS tapes with three lines of burned in subtitles I used to have to put up with to be able to see cult films; I have no nostalgia whatsoever for poor quality recordings!


  26. Ward M #

    The same applies to music…I can rember a friend of mine paying $25 circa 1984 to but a copy of the 45 with “hey hey what can I do” by led zeppelin. It was a released a few years later on their CD box set.

    There are no more grails :(


  27. J Blevins #

    I think the headline “The End of Cult Movies?” is alarmist, bordering on ridiculous. The cult movie phenemenon existed well before the home video revolution — decades, actually — yet you’re acting like cult movies and “obscure tape trading” somehow go hand in hand.

    The article has merit, but you’re grossly misusing the term “cult movies” by defining it far, far too narrowly.


  28. Abby #

    being someone who is a bit younger i can attest to the fact that there are still film geeks out there, seeking out and watching movies that no one else would ever even think twice about, and than trying to convince their friends too watch it with them.

    i go to a school that blocks most movie sites, so i still have to search sometimes for over an hour for a link (that isn’t blocked) to watch some obscure foreign film. i’ve also spent a countless amount of time on Netflix browsing movie titles trying to find some rare gem that i’ve never heard of.

    an argument can also be made that even though these movies are more accessible, there isn’t always a desire to watch them. my friends would rather watch a twilight film than to delve into my indie movie collection.

    i think things that you are talking about being lost are fundamentally still there, in a way, they’ve just morphed to reflect the habits of a different generation. (and i know that my example stated earlier are not 100% comparable to having find movies “in the good old days” but i believe that they still get to the essence of it)


  29. Rob #

    i never actually realised how hard it was to get a film back in the day…i’m 18 and what usually happens for me is:

    1) hear about a movie

    2) look up the trailer on YouTube

    3) order an unopened copy from Amazon (must be unopened like)

    it’s scary just trying to get movies any other way =/


  30. Fairportfan #

    There are cult films that will never be available on (legitimate) DVD – one of my own favourites, 1983’s “Get Crazy” (with Malcolm McDowell doing his won singing as rocker Reggie Wanker) will, according to director Alan Arkush, almost certainly never do so because the original elements are lost, for instance…


  31. Sean McCann #

    Here’s something to make you weep. Try seeing the full print of Abel Gance’s 1927 epic Napoleon, with the Carl Davis score, with the full triple projector finale for the invasion of Italy. Only problem is, due to Coppola’s lawyers, you can’t see it anywhere in the world. You need three synched projectors. And a full orchestra. It was last screened in London In 2004. I was there. It makes Avatar look like the Star Wars Holiday Special. Sigh.


  32. buzz #

    You young whippersnappers and your VHS — imagine what it was like living way off in the hinterlands back in the 1960s, getting only 3 or 4 staions (and some of them pretty fuzzy) and having to set your alarm clock to get up at 1am to watch DUCK SOUP or FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN or VOYAGE TO THE PLANET OF THE PREHISTORIC WOMEN. And you don’t know what you’re missing now that most of the revival houses are gone and there’s no longer film geeks programing a brand new double feature every night.

    You gain some things, you lose some things…


  33. the casablanca kid #

    Okay, I love the comments and the article for listing source points. Now, my sore’s point – where can you get the Max Headroom movie and series?


  34. pyppy #

    The 21st Centuries is the exact opposite of what the title suggests. Everything is a cult. You got your cult, she got her cult, they got their cult. Because personal choice is everywhere. You can ignore Avatar and still be the most unstoppable film buff now. This is not the case before the BT/ Internet/ Youtube/ Blog era. What is dead are blockbusters, giant theaters, giant dvd retail shops, giant online megastores, dry film awards and monopolized film critics.


  35. Rick Brands #

    Hey, great that you mentioned Meet the Feebles; I saw it on VHS at a friend’s place in ’99. I was temping factory night jobs, and after work I’d hook up with this guy at his bar around closing time, we’d go to his place, get wasted and watch weird videos. Other great memories of that time include tapes like Zappa’s 100 Motels, Koyaanisqatsi, La Planète Sauvage, Naked, Un Chien Andalou and many more.

    It is a fact that obscure films have lost a lot of their panache due to easy accessibility, but I’m glad to be living in a time where you can talk to people about your cinematic favorites, and from time to time you’ll meet someone who actually knows what the hell you’re talking about – and might even give you some good tips. Granted, it doesn’t happen all that often, but still.


  36. Jack Gattanella #

    Obviously, having netflix and the possibilities of amazon and ebay have helped tremendously for us hungry movie buffs (and I’m the kind of movie buff that if a day goes by without having watched a movie, I feel a little sad). But there is something to be said about a video store, about that feeling of someone having taken the time, personally (or even in the case of Blockbuster by corporate mandate) to stock the shelves with things people want, or don’t want, to consume. Over the years I’ve seen video stores I’ve loved dearly slip away; I still remember fondly going into the little Video Box Office near me in town, with it’s wicked horror section and how tantalizing copies of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Fulci’s Zombie looked in those HUGE video boxes with BANNED on the covers.

    Another store, much better with selection, was Two Boots Video in Manhattan (they also have pizza, but it sucks, and they also had a small movie theater that showed super culty stuff). This was a film geek’s paradise, as they had ALL of the major or not-so-major director’s work categorized by name, and had all of the videos of that director possible to find, going back years and years (that’s how I first saw Cronenberg’s Shivers and Rabid, and some hard to find Robert Bresson like A Gentle Woman). I was a member for too short a time, though, and they closed the video store and the movie theater. Boo-hiss.

    While I would contend some movies are still hard to find for cheap on VHS, due to their lack of availability on DVD and netflix (i.e. Abel Gance’s Napoleon and Eustache’s The Mother & the Whore), not to mention the occasional really hard to find overpriced foreign DVD like Godard’s History of Cinema DVD set (that became an epic quest, first to buy it, then to transfer multiple copies as part of a christmas present), netflix and youtube don’t change a lot entirely for watching movies with friends. If something is really desired to be shown by me or one of my friends, we’ll get together and crowd around monitor to watch it. It’s not as comfortable as a couch, but it works (recently we sat through the epic 70 minute Phantom Menace review by Red Letter Media, a classic of film criticism). The drive is still there, though the availability does make one put off watching certain things – i.e. my netflix queue has about 500 movies now, many of which have been there since I joined in 2004.


  37. Bluesoul #

    I would concur to the idea that you “loose some and gain some”. Turning 40 in fall 2010, I remember the days before VHS(!) and after it. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, playing the silent ninja around the house to watch (with the sound toned down) a rare movie–which strangely enough are even more rare on TV nowadays…Go figure.

    Some of the magic disappeared when we got a video-recorder, but then the video-store became a real cave of treasures. I connected with a LOT of people (yep–“geeks”, LOL)

    But with video-shops gone, I went through some kind of limbo until Amazon took over.

    Nowadays, I just remember these rare titles and (sometimes) one-time experiences from my late-TV nighters and order with a “click”. I miss “meeting” with the like-minded very much, but forums are out there on the www, experiences can be shared, movie-titles can be shared. It is so “convenient”, but the “magic”…somehow…has gone…Strange, isn’t it…?

    Maybe the era of “discoveries” and “mapping” the world wide cinema is gone, and it is the era of “consuming” world wide cinema. “Convenient”? Yes! “Magic”? I…don’t…know…I really don’t know…Let’s just travel, we will see where it leads us…!


  38. Alex Stockwell #

    When I was in high school(the mid-90s), there was a video store in town which had wall to wall of obscure movies, and my dad go practically every night and rent something we’d never heard of, like “Desert Warrior” with Lou Ferrigno, “The Last Days of Planet Earth”(Toho’s only non-giant monster based movie), and “Mr. Mike’s Mondo Video”.


  39. Thegloop #

    I can’t even tell you how completely, unironically obsessed I was with “Cartoon All-Stars To The Rescue.” I was so happy to find this on Youtube a few months ago that I actually did a little dance. I’m pretty sure I ignored the anti-drug message, and just liked to watch all of my favorite characters randomly mashed up together. Loved Who Framed Roger Rabbit for the same reason, actually. For me, I don’t think there is anything “lost” in having whacked out things out in the open. While the video store near me when I was a kid was great and all, and I definitely have awesome random video memories (Master of the Flying Guillotine, anyone), I’m SO happy I can get all these things without having to hunt for them. I’m a librarian, and it is sort of like the people who miss the card catalog. I’m like, ok… we have an OPAC that will allow you to find things SO much more efficiently. What is it about the cards you miss so much?


  40. Dave #

    Handicap yourself. Stop using the internet to find things. Buy only what you come across in person. Just because we can use the internet to find almost anything doesn’t mean we have to. Maybe the flavor will come back for you.


  41. Walsh #

    This was an awesome article. I always fondly remember my kid and teen past. I’m 34 now. I remember going to Video Club 5 in the 90’s and renting all kinds of indie movies. My buddy would go to a place by his house and get all kinds of horror and action flicks along with Sega Genesis video games.

    We often talk about how entertainment is so much easier now, but it sucks! Gone are the days of cartoons from 3pm-5pm after kids come home from school like in “our days”. Gone are Sat. moring cartoons and Sat. morning pro wrestling like it “our days”. During the week here in Michigan they show back to back hours of The Tyra Banks show from 3-5pm now. Sat. Morning has weekend versions of network morning news shows.

    Anybody 34 and over remember USA “Up All Night” hosted by Rhonda Sheer and Gilbert Gotfried (sic)? Edited B-movies on the USA Network with Gilbert and Rhonda making jokes inbetween the TV commercials. That show has long been replaced by Law and Order reruns..

    I often wonder what kids and teens do these days for fun since they don’t have what we did as an option? Do they just sit in front of the computer with Facebook and Stickcam?

    I’m all about Netflix and as good as the selections are, something to me is still missing. I loved going to Video Club 5, bored, and browsing every box cover there was for something new and different to rent. That’s how I discovered all of Hal Hartley’s movies. And you never knew who you may run into at the store. Could be a classmate, friend, future friend with movies in common, etc.

    There was also the “back room” at the video store for us single guys. Always had to pick your spot to open the door and go in so no kids or families were around. LOL. You can
    get “those types” of movies by computer or in the mail now too.

    I know in a lot of ways I have become a jaded hermit! LOL.


  42. Walsh #

    Man I could go on about this topic forever! I totally know what the poster Ed is talking about! Back in the 80’s there was no internet or on-screen cable guide. You had to get the Sun. newspaper where it had the little TV booklet to know what was coming on in the week. With a lot of stuff it wouldn’t give you full plots. Just the title, year it was made, and one or two stars in it.

    Each Sat. afternoon on Detroit’s Ch. 20 they would do Horror Double Feature. I remember watching this one (edited down of course) called “Rawhead Rex”. Even edited it was brutal and they cut away a lot. Many years later I heard this was a cult classic and actually based on a Clive Barker story. There was rumors it was going to be remade but I guess it didn’t happen yet.

    It’s amazing the changes and history of the local TV stations too. Here in Detroit the local owned channels were 50 and 20. The content when I was growing up was- TV reruns, cartoons in the afternoon, syndicated TV shows, lots of edited movies in primetime, followed by news, and more syndicated or rerun shows.

    Ch. 50 in the late 80’s became the Detroit Fox channel. Then there was an odd switch around in 1994 or 1995 when it became UPN. Now it’s CW 50.

    Ch. 20 in 1995 became The WB Network. Now it’s MyNetwork TV.


  43. Adam Boyes #

    I agree that it’s cool how things that used to be mega rare are now available everywhere on the internet. It’s good but I’m much more in to seeking things out and owning original copies of movies and music. A lot of that is still available on ebay but still it’smore rewarding and a bit more of a challenge to buy a first pressing record than to download off itunes. Same opting for a LaserDisc or VHS over DVD.

    For me, finding the item is half the fun


  44. agent Smyth #

    the FBI will be contacing you shortly
    regarding certain ‘bootlegging’ activities
    we advise you have your affairs in order
    and a travel bag packed


  45. Gab #

    Well, this may sound kind of ridiculous, but if anybody following these comments wants to find a cult movie on the cheap and not from the internet, try a Hollywood Video (or any of its affiliates) near you- they declared bankruptcy again and are closing even more locations this month. I just found a bunch of really obscure movies there and paid at *most* $4.99 for each. Go to the right one, and you could come across some awesome little gems from your childhood or geekdom or whatever tickles your pickle.

    Just a thought.

    Also, I’ve found re-sale video stores, places where you can go and exchange your stuff for store credit, if not just walk in and buy new or used items (think GameStop, but movies), can get some pretty random stuff.

    In both cases (and for me, at least), it really is all about the hunt, too- you have to dig, but there’s a certain satisfaction that comes along with flipping a bunch of cases back and suddenly noticing an old flame you hadn’t seen in years and nobody else you know has ever heard of.


  46. EricTheRed #

    Great article. Being a fan of martial arts movies, I still get to experience the thrill of the hunt. There are a lot of martial arts movies from the 90s that are still not available on dvd to this day. I miss those days of going to the video store when there would be new direct to video martial arts movies pretty much every week starring the likes of Billy Blanks, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Gary Daniels, Jeff Speakman, etc.


  47. Baron #


    there’s PLENTY of stuff for kids and teens to do these days. Don’t be so arrogant. :P

    It’s true that lots of teens use Facebook, but so are adults. Personally I can’t stand any of those sites (Myspace, Hyves, etc)


  48. ShadyGuy #

    There’s also the torrent site option of course. There are a couple of torrent trackers specifically geared towards bad movies, cult films and unknown hiddeng gems. I happen to a staff member of cinemageddon which is a site that has a ton of VHS and DVD rips of movies that were previously considered lost or at the very least hard to get. The site is a real goldmine for collectors.

    Although we are pirates we don’t allow most mainstream films and we have a 12 month rule that disallows the uploading of new dvd releases for at least a year after its release.


  49. Walsh #

    I’m sure that’s true Baron. But it sure doesn’t seem as if the times these days are as fun for them with various options as they were then.


  50. Baron #

    I’m not sure.
    I bet our parents and grandparents said the exact same thing back when we were teens.
    I see where you’re coming from though.


  51. Alex #

    I saw this coming. There seems to be less of everything in regards to older movies, tv shows, and even music. I still have my original CD versions of Peace Sells and Killing is My Business before they were remastered. I still have my Ultimate Edition of T2 which was releases on DVD fortnantly. How long before so many movies I’ve gotten lazy on end up fading from existence despite my love of them. This is what the internet has brought. I don’t see too much on television that I like to watch. Oh, there’s some things out there I like, but it’s not like 93 and I could sit there and watch for hours if I had nothing to do. Not to mention video games. I got rid of my Nintendo. Man, do I miss Metroid. Fortunantly, they still have hobbie stores for stuff like that. I have some MST3K copies I got froms some guy. Good stuff. Now, if I can only get more Saturday Night Live from the 88-95 years.

    Some advanced future we live in.


  52. Natty #

    I think it’s cute that you resevered your dorm’s common room for that VHS


  53. Oscar #

    You have to admit, though, that while the exclusivity and the chase may be gone, the community you have to share it with is now way bigger. You have this blog and all your followers to share it with. Back when we were kids, and my brother and I would go to the local video rental place, we’d only have each other to talk to about the crazy horror and martial arts flicks we saw. You see, we lived in Mexico and went to school in the states. While our friends rented from Blockbuster, we had more local video stores (in the early nineties there was one on every street corner in Mexico, not all of them illegal). So we saw all kinds of stuff that our friends didn’t and weren’t really interested in. Now the internet is out there to share this knowledge with and gain some of it back. I might not have seen Donnie Darko or Let The Right One In or Oldboy if it wasn’t for the internet.


  54. Kyrkos Ekaterinaris #

    While it’s true that a lot more movies are now easy to find, there are still many that have not been released to DVD and many that (for whatever reason) are hard to find on Torrents. Plus many of the indie/low-budget variety are never carried by the local video store, particularly in a small country like mine. So it’s always a thrill to finding A Gnome named Gnorm or D.A.R.Y.L. after years of searching.

    The thrill of movie hunting is anything but gone.


  55. Kim W. #

    True, it may be easier to find the movies themselves.

    But watching BLOOD FREAK by yourself and watching BLOOD FREAK with a group of friends (some of whom have seen it with you before and are giggling in anticipation and some who are swearing to themselves that they will ask you NEVER to show it to them again) are two very different experiences. I think as long as people still want to gather and trade riffs on bad movies, cult movies will still exist (hell, one MST3K Meetup Group I belong to is gearing up to do that with TWILIGHT, which is only a couple years old).

    (Speaking of BLOOD FREAK: it’s weirder than MEET THE FEEBLES. Trust me.)


  56. Walsh #

    In a dream world, I’d say that everything that was made and still has a good print should be put on DVD! It should be a law! LOL.. But in reality I know it’s about money. Producers dont want to risk spending money putting something out if there’s not going to be big demands for it.

    I remember several from back in the day that aren’t out. “Liberty and Bash” starring Miles O Keefe, Lou Ferrigno, and Mitzi Kapture (from the show Silk Stalkings). “Peacemaker” starring Robert Davi and Robert Forster. “Pizza Man” starring Bill Maher..etc.

    In addition to the video store tons of these movies could be seen on cable with Joe Bobb Briggs Drive In Theatre. Once in a while now something like “Eye of the Tiger or “Crawlspace” will pop up on one of the Encore channels or Showtime Beyond but it’s very rare. Cable now replays the same old stuff more than ever. Showtime Beyond shows stuff that’s recent that can be found Direct to DVD or on Sy-Fy channel.

    Again I’ll say a lot of the magic is gone for cheap and ease by movie companies and networks.



    In the 1970s I first glimpsed the authentic Elvis shakin’ it on stage thanks to a collector who arrived at my apartment with projector and bootleg film library. $20 passed between us and she opened the gates of understanding thanks to original images otherwise completely unavailable. It is one thing to study history and another to experience it which is what cultists attempted, and at some personal risk, as well. Today I can see all the Elvis I want but nothing compares to the initial experience of having reality revealed.


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