I really think it’s hard to completely understand the video boom of the 80s and early 90s unless you actually lived through it. While studios were busy discovering this new revenue stream of letting people not only watch films in the comfort of their own homes, but own them as well; there was also another market that began to surface.
I guess the best blanket term would be direct to video infotainment. They were videos made for do-it-yourselfers, self-helpers, religious fanatics and even people actually trying to learn something. Media was cheap and if someone had an idea for a niche to fill there was probably a VHS tape made for that market.
Video producers weren’t the only ones getting in on the fun either. Now that anyone could purchase a tape at their local grocery store, all they had to do was hit record to make a video-mix tape of their own. Odd programs and music videos acquired this way were heavily traded and bought and sold via mail-order catalogs by folks looking for something they might have missed or simply only heard about.
Enter Video Pirates…
Eric Bresler has plunged the depths of these oddities, bringing you a very Philly-centric snapshot of the glory days of VHS, bringing some truly odd clips together in this collection of the groups first year of programs. The disc contains Video Pirates: Horrors (10 Minutes), Video Pirates: Sparks (51 Minutes) and Video Pirates Live: The Maiden Voyage (1 hours and 42 minutes) the recent live show for those that might have missed it.
The origin of Pogs, how to spot counterfeit Beanie Babies and how to use the power of Jesus to battle against an addiction to online pornography these are all things you can learn about from Video Pirates: Year One and be a better person for it. For those fans of the band Sparks, there is also a great collection of music videos and clips celebrating them as well that was shown at the The PhilaMOCA SPARKStacular earlier last year.
If you’re a fan of found footage, there are definitely some great bits you probably wont see elsewhere. Eric presents the clips in a context that really shows not only a knack for exemplifying some of the stranger things out there at the time, but also a very deep nostalgia for a time long gone as well. This is definitely a disc once you put in you honestly can’t look away.
You can pick up DVD Video Pirates Volume 1 from the great folks over at Diabolik DVD, its was released in a limited run of 100 and is a mere $14.99. If you’re into found footage or looking to know if your Cubbie the bear beanie baby is legit, you should probably pick this up.