A light-hearted but entertaining look back at the glory days of VHS tapes and those who still remain passionate about them today, Rewind This! is a near-perfect documentary. Rewind This! explores the historical impact of VHS and celebrates everything we love about the now-dormant format that lives on through the collectors who still pound the pavement in search of the perfect tape.
Directed by Josh Johnson, Rewind This! features a fantastic blend of informative interviews with those who were there firsthand when VHS forever changed the entertainment industry, including Charles Band, Lloyd Kaufman, Frank Henenlotter, Roy Frumkes, Cassandra Peterson and many others. Johnson uses his experts to lay the foundation and then fills in the gaps with an array of fan and collector interviewees that proves that even though VHS tapes are a thing of yesteryear, there may never be a format that will ever revolutionize home movie distribution the way that VHS did back in the 1980’s.
Beyond exploring just general VHS fandom and those who still collect and sell tapes today, Rewind This! also takes a look at the VHS/Beta War, how pornography, cult films and home fitness both were all revolutionized due to the advent of home distribution, and it does an incredible job of paying tribute to all the inventive and wonderful cover artwork that was created specifically for VHS. Johnson also does a great job exploring some more obscure topics as well like Japanese “V-Cinema” (which I will wholly admit I knew nothing about until this), the various projects of infamous DIY filmmaker David “The Rock” Nelson and there’s also a good discussion on the oddball workout tape of Bubba Smith, which was admittedly one of the weirder things I discovered here.
All in all, there’s a genuine enthusiasm for the topics discussed here, making Rewind This! all the more enjoyable with each passing moment. It perhaps spends a little too much time discussing pornography and not enough time delving deeper into more of how all the business aspects of home distribution changed in the 1980’s but those are minor quibbles at best. Anyone who ever grew up watching VHS or just finds themselves curious about just what makes videocassettes so special will find Rewind This! worth a viewing.
The Rewind This! DVD also has a good amount of extras that are just as much fun as the main documentary itself. There’s an engaging commentary track that features Johnson, producer Carolee Mitchell, and DP/editor Christopher Palme, revealing many details on how they secured their interviews and their experiences with their lively participants along the way. There’s also a ton of additional interview footage that’s absolutely worth a watch for VHS enthusiasts as well as some bonus animation and a music video to boot.
A truly fun and often enlightening trip down memory lane, Rewind This!is made for those who have fond memories of clamshell cases and rewinding video cassettes and for those who maybe have always wondered what all the fuss has been about since the format went dormant almost 20 years ago now. Though VHS’ best days may have come and gone, Rewind This! certainly proves the case for the technology's enduring legacy by speaking with those who were there to live through it and with those who continue to collect and sell tapes even today.
Movie Score: 3.5/5, Disc Score: 3.3/5