Ellen Degeneres has this bit on her show where she gives younger people a time frame to work out how to use a rotary phone and a boom box among other things. Ask a younger person what a VHS is and they are going to mostly look at you in bewildered confusion. If you are looking for a hit of nostalgia about VHS movies and recorders, VHYes will give you all that a belly full of chuckles.
VHYes will be embarking on a theatrical run from January 17th all around the USA. Directed and created by Jack Henry Robbins alongside creators Nunzio Randazzo and Nate Gold, VHYes premiered in 2019 at Fantastic Fest.
- Mason McNulty
- Rahm Braslaw
- Kerri Kenney
- Charlyne Yi
- Courtney Pauroso
- Thomas Lennon
- Mark Proksch
You’re not only going to recognize the cast while feeling like a teenager again, but you’ll also feel like you’ve gone back in time. VHYes is shot entirely on a VHS camera.
Some of the comedic elements utilized within the narrative will make you wonder if that old VHS player might be in a box somewhere in your garage. For those who think TikTok was the beginning of anyone anywhere making anything on camera, you’re wrong. We (Gen Xers) were. Back in the 70’s VHS cameras showed people eating weird things on camera way before the rise of kicking tops off bottles and dancing online.
In this film, VHYes, we follow Ralph (played by Rahm Braslaw) who begins his zero-budget career as a filmmaker and immediately begins taping over his mom and dad’s wedding video. The story is told similarly to channel surfing as it switches from late-night television sketches and Ralph’s own narrative as he documents his life.
Inserted in between the segments of the 1980’s un-technologically advanced television and infomercials, the film’s story of Ralph navigating everyday life is all set up between bouts of soft porn, art shows, and punk rock music set up in loungerooms. He literally records anything he finds interesting. I’m certain I have many recordings of the same both in cassette and VHS video. If you listen to what seems to be the erratic channel flicking, you’ll pick up on lots of current social topics. Times really haven’t changed all that much really.
In one scene with Ralph and his best friend Josh at the cinema, they discuss the film they are about to see. Both are excited. Ralph, of course, wants to record the occasion and in what is more than a pivotal moment seconds later Josh says;
“You record it, I’m going to enjoy it.”
With small quips throughout the course of the movie, messages about lots of things in present-day are pushed to the forefront. The film becomes less haphazard and more unified as a result.
Capturing Forgotten Memories
What this film did for me was stir up a whole heap of forgotten memories. My time spent setting timers to record music videos and painstakingly pausing the tape to remove all the ads. There were only so many songs you could get on one VHS tape. The results were never perfect but it mattered. The thing is, everyone wants to remember their lives. It’s evident in the global entity that is social media. The fact that literally anyone and their dog can now present who they are is still as cool now as it was then, only with a wider audience. Well, maybe it’s not cool all the time, but it’s probably better than a hot Winter.
VHYes is short enough (72-minutes) and has enough going on visually that you really find you won’t look away from the screen. The storyline is minimal, but you simply have to see it to understand that it’s worth a second viewing.
I give VHYes
3 ‘we don’t need polar bears‘ out of 5
You absolutely know you want to make a TikTok now not VHS movies, here, buy this tripod and do it right.
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