Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box: Vol.1: By Jacques Bayreau, 200pgs. By Billups Allen

May 04, 2010

People might have casually predicted the resurgence of vinyl records, but few could predict that there would be any nostalgia attached to VHS tapes. Whether or not it is a superior format is questionable, but there is definitely something lost with the fazing out of VHS, particularly as a lot of ‘80s and ‘90 low budget films are getting lost in the mix. That and the fact that many bookstores are selling off their videos for pennies certainly justify an ever-widening interest in VHS. From Fantagraphics, the company who brought you all of Peter Bagge’s Buddy Bradley adventures, comes an art book dedicated solely to the art of VHS boxes. Video enthusiast Jacques Boyreau collects an interesting array of video boxes, ranging from obscure titles that you may not have heard of, to titles you might know in weird boxes. Boyreau starts the book with a timeline of his first memories of retail rental. For those of a certain age, there is a surprising amount of depth attached to the wonder of first having home access to movies. Like Boyreau, my first rentals were before there were actual stores dedicated to renting tapes. Often times, for me, it would be the supermarket. In the case of the book, a furniture store.

Some other reviewers have taken issue with the fact that there are non-grindhouse titles included in the book. If you want to get hung up on the word, it is not all technically grindhouse, but it is a cool-looking collection of covers. And for those who love fishing through boxes at bookstores, yard sales, and thrift stores, it is a nice book to flip through. Boyreau is a fan of videos; his interest makes you wish he would write more on the subject. There is a Vol. 1 attached to the title. Perhaps there will be a Volume 2. –Billups Allen (Fantagraphics, 7563 Lake City Way, Seattle, WA98115)

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