Alamo Presses Play on VHS Celebration
Special shows launch first book from Drafthouse's book imprint
By Richard Whittaker,
4:30PM, Wed. Jan. 8, 2020
The Alamo Drafthouse is synonymous with film restoration. but it's also dedicated to the preservation of another fragile part of movie culture, the good old VHS tape. Starting tonight, the theatre chain kicks off a deep dive into what's on – and stuck on – the tapes that defined Eighties film culture.
Tonight is the first show for the Found Footage Festival's new VCR Party Tour, a celebration of the bizarre corners of magnetic tape mayhem. If you can't catch it today, there'll be a second show tomorrow night, Thursday Jan. 9, at the Alamo South Lamar (Can't make either of those? The show will be at these Drafthouse locations around the country: Downtown LA on Feb. 10; Denver, Feb. 22; Brooklyn, Feb. 27; and San Francisco, April 8.)
But for those of you who don't just want to watch the content of the tapes, but remember how the material object, the thick black plastic slab, looked when you got it off this shelf, then later this month the Drafthouse will get into the book publishing game with Stuck on VHS: A Visual History of Video Store Stickers. This month's shows will act as launch parties for the first volume under the Birth.Movies.Death imprint, the book contains every kind of sticker from a VHS case or cartridge imaginable, from printed titles to home-made replacements, from hastily-sketched "Recommended!" notes to the famous green circle for horror and the ubiquitous "Be Kind, Rewind" reminder.
Inspired by Joshua Hedges' zine Video Store Relics, author and official Alamo VHS Culture Captain Josh Schafer described the book as a collection of "all this ephemera that is totally inherent to the history of video stores, and I just wanted to collect this stuff and curate it, and show everybody how much history is inside all these stickers, how much aesthetic is inside all these stickers, and how they all told stories."
There have been plenty of books about video box art, but Schafer (who also manages Video Vortex, the Drafthouse's video rental store in their North Carolina location) sees value in everything else on the case, from price stickers to the addresses of mom-and-pop stores long gone. "Some of these video stores are the only way that people will know a video store existed."
Found Footage Festival presents the VCR Party Tour.
7pm, Wed. Jan 8, Alamo Ritz, 320 E. Sixth.
8pm, Thu. Jan. 9, Alamo S Lamar, 1120 S. Lamar.
Tickets and info at www.drafthouse.com.
Stuck on VHS: A Visual History of Video Store Stickers by Josh Schafer with photographs and design by Jacky Lawrences (Birth Movies Death, PP 160) will be on sale through Dratfhouses and via Mondo. Come back for a full interview with Schafer when the volume is released on Jan. 20.