For Your Eyes Only

Have you ever watched a video and wondered how it ever left the household? Imagine an entire festival dedicated to screening the oddest and most jaw-dropping compilations rarely heard of, and multiply that times infinity. Last Thursday, the Found Footage Festival held its Salute to Weirdos show at the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline. Hosted by Brooklyn Brewery as part of its month-long Mash Series, this touring showcase was the brainchild of Joe Pickett (The Onion) and Nick Prueher (Letterman). Throughout their travels in the U.S., the curators browsed endlessly through thrift stores and bargain basements to uncover the most obscure and delightful VHS treasures.

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With more than an hour’s worth of priceless footage, the founders engaged the audience with witty commentary on their memorable selections. While each clip outdid the other in ridiculousness, the following three were destined for the limelight:

1) Rent-A-Friend

If the title alone didn’t raise any eyebrows, then 60 seconds of this gem was enough to do the trick. Viewers were treated to an intimate conversation with Sam, a prepster with a wandering eye and enthusiastic demeanor. Watching this reminded me of a bad date in which one person would talk up a storm and leave the other person hanging. Props to Sam for his undivided attention throughout the entire 45 minutes.

2) Petpourri

This next segment left animal lovers holding on to their tails.  For pet expert Marc Morrone, his public access show was supposed to be a fun way to educate the pet owner community. However, no one foresaw the chaos that’d be brought on by his wild companions. Despite the drama, the host admirably did his best to maintain calm and continue with the program.  Now that’s what I call a professional!

3) Carnival In Rio

Long before fighting robots in blockbuster films and governing the Golden State, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a young man yearning for worldly exposure. This video wound the clock back to 1983, the year he filmed a travel special called Carnival In Rio. From the get-go, it was clear that Arnold took a liking to the Brazilian culture, especially its beautiful women. From partaking in Carnival celebrations to wining and dining with locals, the star did little to suppress his hormones, a far contrast from the smooth operator he’d later evolve into. Lucky us for catching a glimpse of the Terminator’s “awkward” phase.

What struck me most about the festival was how it revolved around an obsolete technology. Even DVDs, which replaced the VHS in the early 2000’s, found themselves on the outskirts thanks to online streaming sites like Netflix and Vimeo. Regardless though of how we consume media, there’ll always be a home for weirdos in entertainment.

 

Do you miss the days of VHS? What’s the strangest video lying around in your collection?

 

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tatia.sikharulidze@live.com

16 Comments

  1. I remember our first VCR in the late 80’s – some friends had cable TV by this time lol! I ran home from school excited to watch a film, any film.

    I do not miss having to rewind the video, especially when we borrowed from ‘the video shop’.

    Gosh – I feel ancient now!

    • Amazing how time flies Phoenicia. I too remember the feeling of rushing home to watch a film before it was time for dinner and homework.

  2. Ha! This was like getting in a way back machine:) I was one of the first to get a VCR way back then…oh those tapes were such a pain, but I loved it anyway. Funny how the technology changes, but the weird never will!

    • Well put Jacqueline. Even when technology is a pain to deal with, one can’t help but feel nostalgic about its odd charms.

  3. Hi Tatia – we bought a TV/VCR unit back in the early 90’s and it is still going strong. We don’t want to buy another TV simply because we don’t want to lose our VCR and lose the use of our VHS tapes. I must admit though that we really don’t have any of the ‘weirdo’ tapes. This was fun. Thanks.

    • I’m so impressed that your VCR unit is still going strong Lenie! I know the feeling of not wanting to lose use of VHS tapes. I have so many great videos from childhood that need to be converted in order to be preserved.

  4. The Found Footage Festival sounds like fun. I no longer have any of my VHS tapes, but I don’t think my collection every included ones this “interesting”.

    • The Festival was the perfect blend of bizarre and fun Donna. I think if we all took a deep look into our collection, we might stumble upon a hidden gem haha.

  5. Imagine all the stuff, much of it no doubt truly horrendous, they must of watched in order to come up with these gems. VCRs and VHS tapes seem so clunky now but at the time we thought it was pretty cool to plug whatever shows you wanted into your TV and not be limited by the broadcast schedule.

    • Funny you mention that Ken. The founders of the festival joked about the extent of videos they browsed through before coming across the highlighted material. That takes some serious commitment right?

    • It is pretty unsettling Tim. I’m actually surprised the footage hasn’t become more of a viral hit.

    • Small victory for Sam! I’ve never played Blockhead before. Is it fun?

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