May 132011


Wasted Youth is going to be a regular Saturday feature on the site. In wasted youth I will cover films I used to watch over and over again when I was young. I’m going to mostly focus on films I discovered between the ages of 9-14. Over these five years I believe I watched more films than at any other part of my life (until recently).There are a lot of films to consider so to narrow my options I’ve given myself some loose criteria to follow. I’m only going to cover films that I watched repeatedly but have watched a limited amount of times in my adult life. I’m going to look at why I used to watch them over and over and look at how I feel about these films now.

I was lucky enough to have parents who were relaxed about what was appropriate viewing for a young boy. They were very much of the opinion of there’s worse things he could be seeing or doing. This meant that some of the films I managed to watch were more than likely ones other parents were not letting my peers watch, and for this I’m very thankful to my parents.I’m from the VHS generation and was lucky enough to have had a video player in my room from a very young age. Now to those from the DVD generation this may seem strange but when I was young VHS players were expensive and my Master System didn’t play VHS, unlike modern game systems that all play DVDs. Having this luxury gave me the opportunity to be able to watch films from when I got home from school until when my parents insisted I eventually go to sleep.

Now all children remember their first kiss and the first time they got drunk. But you talk to any film geek and they will remember what their local video rental store was called. Mine was called Take One! Videos. Some of my twitter followers told me theres.

@Discuss_Cinema “Jack Beanstalk” @LostinSweden “Premiere Video” @rollinthunder “The Video Man” @TheLDHunter “Foothill Video” @Hanha1979 “Cloverlea Videos” @jebutlin “Blockbuster” @ianloring “bp peterol station” @gregeden “Rox” @Metalrich “Azad Video” @legobloke “Trax” @MondoDan “Grange Video & Video Nites” @mpmassacre “choice video” @PBRstreetgang73 “Top50 Video & Martins Video Van” @Reverand_Scott “Family Video & Big Top Video” @lancec50 “Hogan’s Video” @markwall84 “Dawley Video & Bryants Videos (owned by his dad & grandad)”

It was my favourite place on earth. A modest sized independent video store that never had more than two copies of the latest releases. But hey, I wasn’t interested in those anyway. What I was interested in was anything that looked like it was gonna be violent, scary or to be honest have nudity!Every Saturday early evening I would cycle there come rain or shine and come home with 3/4 tapes and usually only pay £2.50 for the lot. I would spend around an hour in the store chatting to Zed (don’t think that was his real name.) about what I’d rented the previous week. I had a formula for renting as well. I’d rent one that I could show my mum or dad like Surf Ninjas so they’d think that’s what I’d be watching while they were out. Then the next would be a classic I’d heard about, so films like Citizen Kane and Some Like it Hot were viewed because of this method. Then the third film would be one based on the cover art and whether it looked like I’d see some serious gore or better yet boobs (don’t judge me). The last film would always be one that Zed would recommend to me and he’d usually have this waiting for me.

A lot of the time these films were not even ones available to rent in the store. In hindsight they were most likely from his own collection and he saw me as somebody he could school in films outside the realms of usual childhood viewing. Some of the titles I saw first because of Zed include The Exorcist, Opera, Caligula, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Last House on the Left, all of which were banned at the time.I’d then cycle home and when my parents asked what I’d rented I’d show them whatever child friendly fare I’d rented to fool them, whilst thinking I was really cleverly hiding the others in my bag. Now almost twenty years on I’m pretty sure my folks especially my mother knew that I was coming back with a lot more than The Boy Who Could Fly for the fifth time. My sister being 2 years older than me was in charge while my parents were out. Our arrangement was her and her friends had downstairs and I would stay in my room until 11pm then I would have the front room and the big tv it housed to myself. In exchange for this privilege I would not tell my parents about any boys that had been round.

It was now my favourite time of the week. Two litre bottle of coke, check. Apples and a knife to core them, check (I never really liked sweets). Duvet and pillows on the floor, check! Another trick I used to pull to again fool my parents was aided by our Alba double deck video player. In the top deck I would insert the child friendly film I’d shown my parents earlier in the evening and I had previously watched upstairs, and in the bottom deck I’d insert one of the films I’d rented that I probably shouldn’t be watching. Then when my parents taxi arrived I would stop the inappropriate one and quickly start up the more age appropriate tape that had been set up for around half way through. When my parents came into the room I could pause this film leaving them non the wiser.

As I’m guessing with most film geeks, I had certain films I’d watch over and over again. If I ever watched a film that really connected or spoke to me I’d take advantage of the double record feature on the Alba double decker. Before returning the videos the next day I would copy them so I’d have a copy to watch throughout the week. I also ran a little business at school where I would sell copies of manga and other notorious videos to other kids at my school. Doing this I made a fair amount of money. Now that my parents didn’t know about!

So keep an eye out for my look back over my wasted youth.

Anyway peace out suckers!