Saturday, September 8, 2007
In Memory of Jerry's Video
I was surprised and saddened to learn earlier this week of the closing of Jerry’s Video Rerun, easily one of the best video stores in all of Los Angeles. Yes, Cinefile, Vidiots and Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee have always gotten much of the press but I’ve long enjoyed browsing the racks at Jerry’s looking for older titles that I haven’t seen yet. Plus, it was within walking distance. As with any video store, for years there have been titles that I’ve noticed and put on a list somewhere in my head, thinking that I would get to that movie one of these days. Sadly, that day won’t come for a few of those films.
I walked over Thursday evening and found Jerry himself with his wife packing up stuff. Lots of tapes were already gone. “I’m just tired,” he replied when I asked why. I’m very aware that there have been issues with rising rents in the area but I didn’t press him. He told me that they had been selling off tapes and I was welcome to look at what was still being offered. Sadly many titles, like much of the foreign section, were already gone. I could think of a few things I would get for sentimental reasons, but they didn’t seem to be there. I walked back into the horror section and, among other things, saw some grey market tapes of various Argento, Bava and similar titles around. Years ago, I would have gone crazy at the thought of tapes of some of these films being right in front of me. Now I have them on DVD. I noticed a grey market tape of the Italian version of BLACK SABBATH but the American version wasn’t there. For years this film was known through that American version, now only the one from Italy, titled THE THREE FACES OF FEAR, has pretty much replaced it since it’s what can easily be purchased on disc.
I picked out a few tapes and brought them up. Apologetically, Jerry told me that a few of them—namely GAMES and SCREAM OF FEAR—were “unavailable”, but I bought the rest of them. Nothing too special, but they did include the Hammer remake of SHE which is letterboxed and Bava’s THE EVIL EYE. That tape actually looks pretty terrible but since this was the day that the Bava book arrived, that seemed somehow significant. I made my purchase, thanked them for all the films I had rented from them over the years and went off into the night. As I walked home, I thought of various times I had rented from them through the years, beginning with Mike Hodges' PULP. It went back to several years before I had a DVD player. There were many films to see and I tried to take advantage of what they had. A lot of time has gone by since then.
The video landscape isn't what it used to be, what with so many people renting discs via Netflix. One of the nice things about living in L.A. has been the knowledge that there are video stores with an awareness of history, stores that will hang on to VHS tapes since there are many titles that have not yet been released on DVD and probably won’t anytime soon. There are still many films to see and if the only way to see them is on VHS, then so be it. Jerry’s was one of those stores, one of the best, but it’s gone now. The world is changing. Jerry’s will be missed.