In the past, I’ve often found it difficult to relay to younger readers the absolute boundless joy that was the video revolution of the late 70’s lasting through the early 90’s. Thousands upon thousands of hours of tape was shot from places around the world; and due to the lost cost of production practically any Tom, Dick, Harry, or Sven could get a film available for release on any corner home video store. Yes, like most things the revolution didn’t last; but – while it did – audiences who were willing to pony up a few bucks on an unheard-of release were treated to some quality schlock the likes of which you just can’t find any more. Granted, there are hints that some glory days could still be ahead for the next generation as youngsters are learning how to craft, shoot, and edit mini-motion-pictures on their smart phones; but so much of what came before them still hasn’t seen the light of day.
Thankfully, I can now just point them to ADJUST YOUR TRACKING. While it may not supply a perfect accounting of that wonderful, wacky revolution, it’s still pretty darn close.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the product packaging: “Some see VHS as worthless plastic, but Adjust Your Tracking shows a vibrant world of collectors and movie fans who are keeping the format, and the movies, alive. Over 100 collectors, filmmakers, producers, and video store owners express how VHS changed their lives. Travel back to the days of video rental stores with those who still buy, sell, rent and trade the format that will not die – VHS.”
It really was an era all unto itself: the home video craze. Today’s generation just doesn’t quite understand how the ability to record a programming library really took the planet by storm (most of this is because they’re so used to having practically any entertainment hunger known to man available at the click of a mouse); but for so many of us growing up meant watching only what was available on five, six, or maybe ten channels. Once our families had the ability to tape any of our favorite programs, you practically couldn’t tear us away from the Boob Tube.
And that’s what ADJUST YOUR TRACKING kinda/sorta explores to a certain degree. It explores the history from only a circumstantial position, however, as the true lion’s share of the 90 minutes is (right so) dedicated to these collectors, their adventures, their misadventures, and their lives. While I may not share their sentiments in the enjoyment of watching old video tapes (the graininess, the occasionally inaudible soundtrack, etc.), I can certainly grasp the delight they take with keeping that medium alive. As so very many of those titles have yet to see the light of day in the current DVD and digital revolution, their commitment to maintaining the glorious depraved history of so many obscure or arcane titles deserves the up-front-and-center portrayal it gets here.
ADJUST YOUR TRACKING: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE VHS COLLECTOR (2013) is produced by VHS Hitfest (name slightly modified to make it Amazon accessible); although there appears to be some participation from Horror Boobs and Lunchmeat cited on the product packaging. DVD distribution appears to be handled by the same. As for the technical specifications? I wouldn’t want to spoil it entirely, so let’s just agree that you’re likely to see the exact level of quality associated to a celebration of the VHS that you’d expect! (It’s all handled with wonderfully creative charm.) Lastly – if it’s special features you want – then prepare to be wowed: the 2-disc sets boasts over 7 hours of bonus content including audio commentaries, behind-the-scenes shorts, three short films, extended interviews, and more. Seriously, you couldn’t ask for a finer assortment. Well done and hats off to all involved.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Although I’m quick to point out that many of the smilers featured in ADJUST YOUR TRACKING didn’t quite appear old enough to have truly experienced the VHS revolution first-hand (many of them stumbled into it via their own reckless youth), what comes easily to the surface is the unabashed love all of these collectors have for the kinda/sorta dying form of art that is the VHS presentation. While I may not quite agree with the sentiments of discovering so much video schlock, I can certainly understand and appreciate the fascination that goes hand-in-hand with being a voracious collector of oddities; on that front, TRACKING excels.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at VHS Hitfest provided me with a DVD copy of ADJUST YOUR TRACKING: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE VHS COLLECTOR by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.
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