Fantasia Film Festival Review: REWIND THIS!

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If you were fortunate enough to be a kid of the video store era, you know exactly what that entails. That feeling of overwhelming happiness that washed over you immediately as you gazed over the labyrinth of tapes housed within. The giant smile that began to form from cheek to cheek, right before making a mad dash to whatever section or genre you thought about on the car ride over. The selection is endless, but your parents restricted you to only picking one. Even though that is an exercise in futility, all you can do is frantically pace back and forth in hope that maybe, just maybe, the tape housed within was just as tantalizing as the adorning box art.

Starting off with accompanying a fellow VHS enthusiast on the hunt to find anything besides the dreaded double tape edition of TITANIC, REWIND THIS! segues into a crash course in the ground breaking origins of the video home system; and how it changed our lives. The heart of the film lies within it’s interviewees, who harmoniously wax poetic about the now defunct analog format. From legendary exploitation director Frank Henenlotter; Cassandra Peterson (Elvira!); Icon’s friend & true video-vore Phil Blankenship; to STREET TRASH‘s Roy Frumkes; and a laundry list of participants who all recount their VHS memories. This isn’t ironic, or some kind of fad; it’s warm & genuine. These people love the phenomenon that was & is VHS, and you truly feel it.

I’d wager that the major highlight of the film comes from David ‘The Rock’ Nelson, a Chicago based filmmaker who’s been dubbed the “Ed Wood of the 90s”. Nelson’s films include DEVIL ANT, THE DEMON MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE and a slew of other shot-on-video epics. This man embodies the DIY spirit of filmmaking, and drops some seriously enthusiastic advice will surely bring a slight tear to your eye. Not satisfied with only North American’s view of tapes, REWIND THIS! globe trots over to Japan, notably discussing the video revolution with seminal anime director Mamoru Oshii (GHOST IN THE SHELL); even visiting the famed film corporation Nikkatsu!

Society would have you believe the days of video stores are ancient history, but thanks to REWIND THIS!, we know that just isn’t so. REWIND THIS! is a documented ode to that little magnetic tape that changed the world & entered our hearts forever. Film fan or not, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who can’t relate or recall memories of taking a trip to the video store. It was liberating. It was tradition. It was fun. Tangibility is becoming a thing of the past more & more as physical media is taking a turn towards the digitally streaming. New formats and high definition gimmickry be damned, REWIND THIS! reminds us that VHS will always be victorious.