Thursday, August 12, 2010

Why I Love Horror: The Video Station Years

I’ve been working at a new office for the last couple of weeks, and today when the cleaning guy came in and did the floors in our file room I was suddenly transported to my first real job – swing shift at my local video store (although I didn't work at the one pictured above - it was pretty similar).

I had had plenty of jobs before, but the Video Station was my first job as a husband and a father. I started by working the swing shift, which is to say Midnight to 8:00am on Tuesdays and Wednesdays followed by an 8:00am to 4:00pm shift on Thursdays and Fridays. The hours were terrible but the pay wasn't bad.

My evening shifts included cleaning the entire store (hence my smell-induced memory this morning) and the luxury of watching whatever kind of movie I liked after midnight (not including the backroom stuff obviously).

This meant once my cleaning was done (about an hour of work), I had six hours a night, twice a week, to watch all the movies I wanted (the last hour was spent doing prep work for the day shift), and believe me, with two young kids in the house, I checked out an awful lot of horror.

Like I mentioned in my first post about my love of horror, I watched a lot of slasher flicks as a young kid (for anyone else who did, I strongly recommend the documentary Going to Pieces, as it looks at the subgenre and puts the films into a context – which I love), but it was in my twenties working as a video store employee that I began to work my way through the genre, alphabetically, based on the movies that weren’t rented out that night.

Long story short – I saw a lot of crap. But for every ten or eleven films that had only a few minutes of cleverness in them, I saw some amazing films, films that showed me exactly how well any genre can work if everyone is doing their job correctly.

Case in point – The Exorcist (pictured right). I saw this film the first time when I was still in Elementary, and you know what? It was pretty boring, the shocks were too far apart for my taste, and I didn’t get a lot of it. I next saw it around the age of seventeen, the demonic aspect of the film hit me a lot closer to home, and I could appreciate the technical work that went into the film. As a young father at the Video Station however, the film terrified me, I literally could not get the creep factor of this film out of my head for months. Not the demonic stuff, not the pea soup, but specifically the idea that something is wrong with your kid and no one can help, something so bad that eventually you give up on the doctors and head to a priest. That was some scary stuff indeed.

I worked at the Video Station for a few years, and by the time I was done I had seen a lot of older movies (they didn’t get rented as often), had developed a love of western novels (which I posted about here) and could honestly say I was definitely no longer just a guy who liked horror movies, but had become an enthusiast of the genre.


  1. Good job. young clerk! May every job you have from now on be superior in every way.

  2. I totally agree with you on watching The Exorcist when your young and watching it later. When I was younger I reacted more to the eery special effects but now I recognize the mother's confusion and desperation in the film, which makes the movie better.