Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is spending the first weeks of the new decade celebrating an iconic part of film history: the VHS tape. The company is launching a publishing arm with the new book by video historian Josh Schafter, STUCK ON VHS: A VISUAL HISTORY OF VIDEO STORE STICKERS. The new book launches in conjunction with the much-beloved Found Footage Festival’s VCR Party Tour, with the first stop in Austin, TX at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar on Wednesday, January 8, and continuing on to Downtown LA (February 10), Denver (February 22), Brooklyn (February 27), and San Francisco (April 8). The book will be available for sale at Alamo Drafthouse theater locations and MondoTees.com on January 20.
“90% of the movies from the silent era are gone forever,” says Tim League, Alamo Drafthouse founder and CEO. “Sadly, we are seeing that tale transpire again with VHS today. A huge wealth of amazingness is disintegrating before our eyes, and this time it isn’t art from 100 years ago, it is from the 1980s. Josh is Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s VHS Culture Captain, a role not often found in ours or any industry. I’m really proud of his book, a love letter to this fragile era in our recent history, and I’m equally proud of his work to spread the excitement and awesomeness of VHS treasures in general.”
Harnessing the robust rejuvenation of interest in the VHS era and aesthetic, STUCK ON VHS samples the seemingly small, but inherently essential pieces of communication and retrospective aesthetic that populate former rental videocassettes. The book contains essays by Lunchmeat VHS editor-in-chief and VHS Culture Captian Josh Schafter, photography and book design by Jacky Lawrence, and three peelable pages of rad VHS stickers.
“These stickers capture a time and place, not only as important design and communication specimens from a distinct era,” says STUCK ON VHS author Josh Schafer. “But also, these pieces of video store ephemera help up more distinctly remember and understand the incredible and vibrant world of video rental stores.”
STUCK ON VHS is just the latest in Alamo Drafthouse’s commitment to keeping the video rental store alive. Since 2017, the company has opened Video Vortex rental stores inside its Raleigh, Brooklyn, San Francisco, and Los Angeles locations, with plans for more in 2020.
Meanwhile, the American Genre Film Archive, the Alamo’s film archival and restoration arm, has kicked off an initiative to properly transfer and permanently store countless rare films and projects that were only ever released on the VHS format.