"Revenge of Slashback Video" Rewinds to Horror's VHS Heyday
Courtesy Slashback Video

"Revenge of Slashback Video" Rewinds to Horror's VHS Heyday

One year ago, a time capsule was unsealed in Burbank. "Slashback Video," a loving homage to the days of independently owned video rental shops at the Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum in Magnolia Park, offered a peek into the past with an installation featuring VHS and Beta cassettes, mostly of the horror and B-movie variety. With vintage video nasties galore, the mock store celebrated the days when distributors had to sell a scary movie based on the gruesome box art alone. 

This Saturday, Sept. 8, co-creators Ryan Turek and Ciara Aumentado and Mystic Museum owners Erick Wessel and Kiko Bailey will reopen the video vault with "Revenge of Slashback Video," a second helping of the mixed-media memorial to ’80s and ’90s horror cinema. Returning to its original location at the Mystic Museum, the exhibit offers retro aficionados another chance to revisit the lost art of the video store, including old box art and offbeat in-store displays from the past along with new creative concoctions inspired by them from the brains of local artists.

This encore performance of "Slashback Video" was due to the monster success of the first exhibit, an idea that first came to fruition thanks to a lively chat between friends. “The original installation was born out of dinnertime talk, to be honest … one of those, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if’ conversations. We approached our pals at the Mystic Museum with the idea and they loved it as much as we did,” Aumentado says. “Planning for the show was 100 percent a team effort, and what came out of it was a really good amalgamation of what all of us loved and remembered from our mom-and-pop video stores growing up.”

“Last year's response was overwhelming. I don't think any of us expected a line around the block on opening night,” Turek says. “Since we closed up last year's exhibit, we've kept 'Slashback Video' alive on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter — it's especially popular on Instagram — and we recognized that there was definitely a demand for it to return.”

The "Slashback Video" sequel corresponds with the ’90s retro resurgence that is currently holding pop culture hostage. As choker necklaces, high-waisted jeans, Doc Martens boots and Soundgarden T-shirts make their way back to local malls, interest in anything and everything from the Clueless generation has captured the fascination of Gen Z, including lost artifacts such as the videocassette.

“The interest in VHS is not only in the nostalgic and unmistakable art of the era but also in the time and place you remember watching that particular movie for the first time,” Wessel explains. “Not only the movie itself, the original previews and advertisements that go along with it. It definitely triggers your childhood.”

“Everything goes in cycles. Speaking from a horror perspective, for my generation, we write endless love letters to ’80s horror because that's what we grew up with. We're aware a lot of great horror films came out of decades prior, but the ’80s were formative years for us. Now there's a generation that looks at ’90s horror with as much affinity. It gave us Candyman, Jacob's Ladder, Scream, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Cemetery Man. ... There's plenty to love,” Turek says.

But in a technology-driven era where 4K resolution is king, why are folks seeking out formats that are of a decidedly lesser quality?

“I think perhaps it comes from the fact that there are still a lot of wild movies that are not readily available on DVD, Blu-ray or on digital,” Turek says. “From a collector's angle, it's about having something physical, it's about the packaging and, again, it goes back to that nostalgic feeling people get. I obviously want to see movies in a pristine format, but there's something fun to just tossing in a VHS from time to time and, sometimes, seeing the fun retro promos that accompany the feature film. Bringing 'Slashback' to life has definitely introduced me to a number of films I've never seen before or I thought got lost to time.”

This time around, the architects behind the exhibit promise the display will be bigger, better, bloodier ... a perfect Instagram opportunity. “Our favorites for this exhibit will definitely be the photo ops. An interactive experience that will throw you back in time,” Bailey promises.

“This year, it's slightly bigger. We've got a new assortment of tapes with highly visual, crazy covers,” Turek says. “There are new posters and new promos. If last year was 'Slashback' embracing the ’80s mom-and-pop video store vibe, this year the ’90s are creeping in a bit.

“There is one specific piece we've just included that you'll see hanging up this year. It's a hanging mobile for Maximum Overdrive that's got the Dixie Boy, the truck and Stephen King. Totally mint shape. I bought it off someone who never took it out of the box!”

So, will there be a "Slashback Video 3: Season of the Witch"? No spoilers here but Aumentado, who obviously loves a sequel, will say this: “Goonies never say die.”

"The Revenge of Slashback Video" opens Sat. Sept. 8, at the Bearded Lady's Mystic Museum, 3204 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, and runs through December. More info here.

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