Film

When Tape Was King

Adjust Your Tracking Rewinds to the VHS Era

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LONG BEFORE we could conjure movies on our phones, there was only one option for watching what you wanted to watch, when you wanted to watch it: VHS. And though the last standalone VCR came out in 2008, there still exists a growing legion of diehard collectors who hoard videotapes like gold. It's these aficionados who are the subject of Adjust Your Tracking: The Untold Story of the VHS Collector, a documentary from directors Dan Kinem and Levi Peretic. (Full disclosure: As an employee of Movie Madness, I was interviewed for the film. Behold my vast knowledge.)

"So many people believe that VHS is a dead format," says Peretic. "We wanted to prove to the disbelievers that VHS is alive and well. The date on the metaphorical grave has yet to be inscribed."

Peretic and Kinem—who will be in attendance for Adjust Your Tracking's Portland screening—took off on a hunt for the biggest tapeheads in the country, visiting the last wave of independent video stores and discovering a collector culture that, while not as popular as some others, is just as fervent.

"People disregard [tapeheads'] credibility as collectors," Peretic says. "It's not like Star Wars and comic book geeks, who have entered the mainstream and are now accepted by society. [VHS collectors] are just as intense. They hunt for their prized possessions, and they can shell out large sums of money to get what they want."

"I believe VHS collectors, myself included, are coming from a rescue-stance," says Kinem. "Because VHS has gotten to the point where everyone views it as worthless junk. The longer people wait to find and buy these tapes, the more will get thrown out and lost for good."

But not if the motley crew of VHS fiends in Adjust Your Tracking has their way, Kinem included.

"My personal collection has reached the 8,000 mark," he says. "This time next year, I'll be living in a house made of VHS."

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