SXSW 2013: REWIND THIS! Review


Film Pulse Score

Release Date: August 27th, 2013 (iTunes)
Available on other VOD platforms September 10th, 2013
MPAA Rating: NR
Film Pulse Score: 8/10

Rewind This! plays out like a glorious love letter to the glorious days when VHS ruled the world.  This documentary from director Josh Johnson tells the story of VHS from its inception to its demise, to its ultimate rebirth.  With dozens of voices from the cinema world including filmmakers, bloggers, enthusiasts, and collectors, this will most assuredly prove to be the definitive guide to all things VHS.

The film starts out with a wonderfully 80s style introduction and quickly jumps into the act of combing flea markets looking for those diamond in the rough among the endless copies of the Titanic double tape version. From there the film discusses the early days of home video entertainment, from the advent of VHS and Beta Max, to the adoption of putting feature films onto the tapes.

Rewind This! is just about as in depth as you can possibly get, covering every aspect of the home video revolution.  From the full screen aspect ratios, to those pesky tracking problems, it’s all covered in this film with hilarious and expertly done interviews interspersed with some of the best movie clips I’ve ever seen.

Most fans of the format will know that the adult film industry also played a vital role in the success of VHS and that is also touched upon in the movie.  Like most other forms of media, it’s success is almost entirely determined by whether or not the adult industry adopts it, and fortunately for everyone, porn producers realized that people would much rather watch erotic cinema in the comfort of their own homes.

The film as a whole might be looked at as something of a novelty now, with a niche audience who have a strange love for the format, however in time this will be looked at as much more than that. It’s imperative that we recognize the importance of VHS and what it has done for the film industry as a whole. When all the remaining tapes have worn out or just disintegrate, this film will act as a time capsule for future generations to look back at the medium that changed everything.

It doesn’t hurt that the movie is expertly compiled, with an even flow of talking head interviews and hilarious clips.  It’s also worth pointing out that this was entirely crowd-funded and is again a testament to just how high quality a crowd-funded film can be.

For cinephiles, checking this one out is a no-brainer.  Though it will certainly appeal more to fans of campy 80s straight to video releases, there’s still plenty of fun to be had even for more casual movie lovers.  It’s informative and laugh out loud funny, two things that make a good documentary great. Now go do your part and buy up some of those flea market tapes and start collecting!