Thursday, April 13, 2006


It Came From the Rental Store – Poptique’s cut and collect tribute to the early days of home cinema.

Remember your old video rental store? I’m talking about the really old one, which you abandoned long ago for a franchise like Blockbuster, (which you subsequently left behind for Pay-Per-View, rent by post or perhaps even naughty downloads…).

Back in the early days of the rental boom your local independent was most likely a veritable Aladdin’s Cave, bloated by an endless supply of unfamiliar but strangely appealing titles. It didn’t matter that many were mastered from battered, badly dubbed prints and barely fit for mainstream consumption – the idea was to stack ‘em high and rent ‘em cheap.

This was mainly due to the major Hollywood studios, who viewed the rental boom with the same suspicion they granted Television in its infancy. This allowed a massive gap in the market, eagerly filled by independent and fly-by-night distributors. Shelves were soon flooded with lurid exploitation movies and top-shelf titillation, often resorting to incredible depths and outright fabrication to grab the attention of the more adventurous or foolhardy viewer. Virtually anything was fair game when it came to separating the punter from their hard earned cash for the pleasure of an overnight rental (to be returned by 6pm the next day).

The idea that you could actually take home an entire movie to watch whenever you wanted was incredibly exciting, especially to someone who grew up when this was all brand spanking new. Out of reach to the average pre-teen, kaleidoscopic rows of fascinating forbidden fruit littered the walls - each promising an incredible experience, invariably undelivered.

I’ve remained transfixed with this era of exploitation, when the glut of Grindhouse titles left an indelible thumbprint upon the industry and impressionable young minds. In fact, I’ve spent the pass few years researching, sourcing, and distributing videocassettes from this era, earning some decent spare cash from the little bits of knowledge I’ve acquired.

So, all this pointless pontification leads to this : one of the features I’ll be providing on the Poptique blog for your entertainment and approval - a personal guide to some of my all-time favourite exploitation movies alongside their unforgettable artwork from the glory days of your local rental store!


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