In the surreal character odyssey 'The Last Blockbuster On Earth', comedian Scott Limbrick visits an era lost in technological translation.
Scott's keen to fire up his video cassette recorder in the hopes of introducing (and maybe re-introducing!) audiences to a time of cinematic wonder taken from us too soon. . . Gone, but not forgotten. The characters through the show are sure to break you down and rebuild you.
Here, before he tackles despair, regret, isolation and Microsoft Excel, Scott lists five unavoidables which always stood inevitably side-by-side with hiring a VHS back in the day. Ahh, memories.
Piracy warnings. Before the days of the 'You Wouldn’t Steal A Car' banger, studios had to find a way to force people to watch a piracy warning when they had the option of fast-forwarding. The solution? 'Have You Got What You Paid For', a droning voiceover with large words at intervals visible even when trying to skip them. As a result, the phrase 'Have you ever bought or rented a videotape that wasn’t quite right?' is etched into the memory of a generation, and no one ever pirated a film again.
An explanation of the film classification system. There were a few versions of these, but my favourite is the family sitting on the couch wearing t-shirts with ‘G’ through to ‘R’ on them. There must have been a miscommunication somewhere in the editing suite, because the cut from the husband making a sexual growl to a chainsaw revving in a scene from a horror film is one of the strangest decisions in cinematic history. You could watch it for the rest of your life and never truly understand.
Previews for other movies. These were usually for the same three or four movies on rotation, so they would get baked into your mind more than the movie itself. This was probably a good thing in the case of movies like 'Super Mario Bros.', which should only ever be experienced in trailer form.
Promotional tapes in different colours. Remember 'The Rugrats Movie'? Remember that if you hired it on video, that video was Nickelodeon orange? It was like a gold Zelda cartridge – completely precious and 100 per cent mass-produced. All these tapes are lost to time.
Ads for DVDs. This was the modern equivalent of trying to advertise colour TV on a black and white monitor. Clearly no one knew how to show that DVDs had a much higher resolution, so for no apparent reason these ads usually tried to demonstrate that watching a DVD would feel exactly like being in the middle of a massive explosion. The only way to get an even higher def experience is to make your way to 'The Last Blockbuster On Earth' – it’s in person, explosions will be minimal, and no one will yell at you to rewind anything.
'The Last Blockbuster On Earth' plays The Improv Conspiracy Swanston (Melbourne International Comedy Festival) Fri-Sun from 26 March-18 April.