17th May2015

‘VHS Forever? Psychotronic People’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Written and Directed by Darren J. Perry, Mark Williams

vhs-forever

The latest in a growing strand of films that take a fond look at the VHS era, VHS Forever? Psychotronic People is a feature length documentary taking a look at the explosion of movies that became available on VHS in the UK. Taken from the perspective of those who tried to unearth that elusive movie at all costs known as psychotronic cinema…

There has been an explosion in recent years of documentaries taking a look back at VHS, mainly from an American perspective (and often focussing more on the current rarity of said tapes rather than the nostaglia factor) with films like Rewind This! and Adjust Your Tracking. However here in the UK most documentaries related to the VHS era have focussed more on the video nasties (think Jake West & Marc Morris’ two popular docs). However VHS Forever? Psychotronic People takes a fond look back on the early days of video from a very British perspective, including the underground videotape scene in the UK – in particular those folks connected to the Camden-based video store known as Psychotronic Video – and those who lived through that period of time, including the likes of Evil Dead artist Graham Humphreys, screenwriter David McGillivray, journalist Allan Bryce and director Norman J. Warren.

Shot over the space of 9 months, VHS Forever? Psychotronic People is, for the most part, a series of talking heads with not only familiar faces and those in the industry at the time, but also with fans and collectors like Colin Stone, aka YouTube’s The Deuce Lives and one of the guys behind the superb “The Good, The Bad and The Unseen” film club; and Lovely Jon (a stalwart in the UK VHS scene). It’s these “new” faces that make this documentary such essential viewing. The stories they share haven’t been heard before, perhaps for a portion of the Video Nasties: Draconian Days which discussed the trials and tribulations of being a part of the tape-trading community in the late 80s and early 90s. Given that, and the very British attitudes of those involved – there’s very much a punk ethos to collecting these forbidden tapes, sticking two fingers up to the authorities, which is a trait you don’t get in the US-focused documentaries - make this a refreshing new take onto what is, essentially, a familiar subject matter.

VHS Forever? Psychotronic People is as old-school as the format it professes love for… The documentary was filmed on a combination of VHS tape, Digital and Hi-8 tape in what would – in the majority of cases – make for a very amateur-hour production. However here the lo-fi presentation only serves to bring an extra air of authenticity to the film; authenticity which is matched only by the very people who appear in the doc. These are the people that lived through that time: these are the filmmakers whose work was released on badly-duplicated VHS; these are the fans who bought and sold tapes at dodgy film fairs, in back rooms of back-street VHS vendors; these are the fans who still, to this day, keep the format alive. The true collectors, the true VHS aficionados, the true psychotronic people…

An unmissable documentary for anyone with an interest in films and film formats, fans and academics alike, VHS Forever? Psychotronic People is available now on a Limited Editon VHS/DVD combo (200 copies only) from PsychotronicStore.com

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One Response to “‘VHS Forever? Psychotronic People’ Review”

  • Great review!!

    Many thanks for your kind words which are really appreciated by both myself and co director Darren J Perry .