I was a huge fan of the great DIY documentary about VHS collectors Adjust Your Tracking, which was released last week on DVD thanks to the great folks at VHShitfest. Like the nostalgic look at VHS of the doc, this release itself is also nostalgic of another time for film collectors in the not too distant past, when DVD special editions were just that, “special”. The set comes on 2 discs and boasts 7 hours of bonus analog themed content which I have been slowly combing through in my downtime since I got the set a week ago.
Adjust Your Tracking: The Untold Story of the VHS Collector chronicles the rise, fall, and eventual resurrection of VHS through the eyes of some of most prominent members of the VHS collector community. While these interviews often wax nostalgic on the reasons for tape collecting, we also learn that the format’s other big draw is the availability of some titles that are not available otherwise. Only about 40% of films made the jump from VHS to DVD and even less have made that transition to Blu-ray. So for the true film geek looking for things that may have been forgotten by the mainstream or off the beaten path, VHS is the place to find those lost treasures.
When you first put the disc in, from the menus alone you know what you’re in for. Seriously, I haven’t seen DVD menus this creative since S-Video on a TV set was a big deal. The first disc has the film paired with 2 audio commentaries one with the directors (Dan M. Kinem and Levi Peretic) and another with producers (Josh Schafer of Lunchmeat Magazine and Matt Desiderio of Horror Boobs), that function more as a behind the scenes record than the usual play by play of what’s going on, on screen. (Most of the producer’s commentary is hilariously spent coveting Zack Carlson’s ball pit.)
There are also 3 great short docs on the first disc, 2 that feature video stores sadly closing their doors and the third focuses on one of the most notorious directors for tape collectors Chester N. Turner. Turner’s film Tales from the QuaDead Zone is prominently featured in Adjust Your Tracking since the tape went for over $700 in an eBay auction. The short recounts how Louis Justin, owner of Massacre Video tracked the thought to be dead director down and chronicles his first horror convention appearance confronting the fanbase he never knew he had.
If this was your average release they would have probably stopped right there.
The second disc is where this set really digs in and gives the true geeks a great heaping helping of analog discussion in the form of over 2 hours of uncut interviews and tours of some of the interviewees collections. The bonus disc has 3 sections: Behind the Scenes, Extended Interviews and Deleted Scenes. While the Behind the Scenes offers 2 post-screening Q&As and a short, Extended Interviews and Deleted Scenes is the real meat of the disc offering up not only the uncut interviews, but segments that didn’t make it into the film, like the piece on Everything is Terrible and their massive collection of Jerry Maguires, that they hope to use to open a video store filled with, you guessed it only Jerry Maguire on VHS.
While I dug the film when I first saw it. I really feel this set does an amazing job of contextualizing the film within the collector culture, which would have been impossible in the normal running time of a feature film. If you’re a collector like me, there is nothing you probably like more than listening to other folks who share your passion talk about their love of film and you get plenty of great discussion on this set. I honestly have to admit this is probably my favorite special edition I have reviewed so far this year, I just wish this was still the norm rather than the exception.