‘Rewind This!’: a compelling replay of VHS history
A movie review of “Rewind This!,” a documentary that looks at the history of the VHS video format with savvy authority and a breezily engaging sense of humor.
Special to The Seattle Times
‘Rewind This!,’ a documentary directed by Josh Johnson. 93 minutes. Not rated; contains brief profanity. Grand Illusion, through Thursday.
It will be impossible for cinephiles of a certain age to watch Josh Johnson’s “Rewind This!” without waxing nostalgic about the days when VHS videotape was the only medium that fed our addiction for watching and recording movies and TV shows. Those were the days when VCRs (not DVRs) reigned supreme, when stickers reading “Be Kind, Rewind” requested common courtesy toward the staff and customers of your local video store. You remember those, don’t you?
Today, only the strongest citadels of rental survive (bless you, Scarecrow Video, briefly featured here).
Consider this for perspective: VHS enjoyed nearly 20 years of dominance, even after DVDs arrived 16 years ago. As instant streaming takes over, many experts believe DVD and Blu-ray will vanish by 2020, relegated to the feeding frenzies of die-hard collectors.
So it’s fitting that the breezily humorous “Rewind This!” begins at flea markets, where VHS treasure hunters search for rarities, like NFL star Bubba Smith’s “Until It Hurts” workout tape.
Along with the geek who buys an obscure tape for its “Gorsh factor” (its cast included TV’s “Batman” Riddler, Frank Gorshin), Johnson includes dozens of well-chosen interviewees, from straight-to-video moguls to established auteurs. Many other topics are covered, and Johnson’s savvy authority ensures that “Rewind This!” will leave many film-and-video lovers begging for more.
Information in this article, originally published Aug. 30, 2013, was corrected Sept. 3, 2013. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Frank Gorshin played the Joker in the “Batman” TV series.