The 1981 video project
In 1981 my Dad rented a video player from Peterlee's long-defunct Redifusion shop, which was a kind of precursor to Dixons, Comet and Curries. We only had it for a year (after that the cost of living went up - thankyou Mrs Thatcher - and we had to get rid of our car and lots of other little luxuries - we didn't get another video until 1987).
Anyway, there was a little room at the back of the shop where you could also rent videos, which came in big chunky boxes. About once a week we would rent videos and watch them, which was an amazing experience at the time. Some of the videos I was banned from waching (I was 8 and prone to nightmares as my grandfather had just died in a traffic accident). It was the period of the "video nasty" anyway so my parents were probably right not to let me watch Dawn of the Dead etc. However, I remember almost all of the films that we rented during that 12 month period, and lately I've started collecting them again - watching the same films at the age of 33, to see how much I remember. It's a bit disturbing that I have the same poor taste in films as my Dad when he was about my age. Some of the films I've been collecting are below. All of them left a strong imprint, for better or worse on me.
The Island - weird Michael Caine movie which I thought was about the Bermuda Triangle, but is actually about pirates in the Carribean.
The Beyond - naff Lucio Fulci horror film about a hotel that was built "on one of the 7 gates to hell" - that concept really freaked me out when I was a child and I wanted to know where the other 6 were.
Dirty Harry - Clint Eastwood cop film with a vaguely right-wing "reading" and groovy music by Lalo Schifrin. I think I was playing with my Lego when this was on, and I only looked up during the "Do you feel lucky punk?" scenes.
Killer Fish - Jewel Thieves hide their booty in a lake full of piranhas. For years I thought this film was called Pirahna. All I remember about it was that it had a great theme tune called "The winner takes all".
Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice We never hired this, although I was fascinated by the box cover which showed two men in the same bed (granted there were also two women in the bed, but at least it was a start).
The Time Bandits. "You'll like this one," said my Dad, bringing it in one night. And I did. I totally identified with the little boy and had a crush on Sean Connery ever since.
The Elephant Man. After much debate, my parents decided it was OK for me to watch this, despite it being rated A or AA. I forget which. They thought it would teach me about tolerance and sensitivity. And they were so right. Both me and my mother cried through the last half.
Hands of the Ripper. After much debate, I was banned from this one. Still haven't seen it.
Poltergeist One of the last films we rented, before the video was returned to the Redifusion shop. Again, I was banned from seeing this, although my Dad told me the plot in so much detail that they may as well have let me see it.