Five Great Video Store Scenes in Movies

Movie fans continue to celebrate the video store to this day, and for good reason. Once upon a time if you wanted to watch a movie that you didn’t own, you’d have to get dressed, go out, and peruse aisles upon aisles of movies looking for the right movie to take home for a few days. Although it seems kind of like a chore, there was a sense of community and camaraderie with the very good video stores. You communed with others to find the newest release on video, and always pretended not to sneak a peek in to the Adult movie section.

Movies still have a tendency to pay homage to the video store era, and these are five of my favorite video store scenes from feature films.

5. Blockbuster Video – Captain Marvel (2019)
After breaking free from her imprisonment, Carol Danvers manages to hurl toward Earth circa 1995 and eventually crash lands in to a closed Blockbuster Video. Although a brief sequence, the scene is meticulously crafted and directed, as Carol brushes through the whole store, shoots the head off a Schwarzenegger standee for “True Lies,” and then proceeds to admire a copy of “The Right Stuff.” For fans of the now obsolete corporate video store chain, it’s a great establishing shot that brings us right in to the mid-nineties.

4. Visiting the Local Video Store – I Am Legend (2007)
Left alone in New York City, Will Smith’s hero Robert Neville spends much of his time hunting, scavenging and, of course, visiting his local video store. By then he’d seen just about every single movie in the store, but at least he’s able to pass the time while conversing with his mannequin friends. It’s one of the better moments in a pretty good horror drama that displays the feeling of isolation and loneliness well. Later they emphasize how many times Neville has seen these movies, as he is able to repeat every word of dialogue for “Shrek,” verbatim.

3. Stallone in T2? – Last Action Hero (1993)
Hero Danny Madigan is stuck in the movie universe of one of his favorite movie stars, and to prove he’s just a fictional being, takes him to the local video store to prove it. What amounts is a hilarious bit of commentary on movies in general and the video store climate at the time. With big corporate chains consuming mom and pop video stores, every video store looked like sterile airport terminals. To add to the hilarity, Danny runs in to a standee of Sylvester Stallone, the star of “Terminator 2.”

2. Freddy Krueger: Krite Hunter? – Critters (1986)
In “Critters,” Charlie helps space hunter Ug look for Krites. As the faceless amorphous Ug begins searching for a new face, they stop by a closed video store. Ug begins looking around for a new face, and begins peering at a standee of Freddy Krueger. By sheer reflex he begins transforming in to Krueger, but before he can complete the change, Charlie shows him the layout of a gorgeous model, prompting Ug to transform in to her. We never quite see what he looked like as Krueger, but damn it’s a fun Easter Egg.

1. Randy Theorizes on Ghostface – Scream (1996)
The centerpiece of “Scream,” the turning of the tide if you will, is the big argument between Stu, Billy, and rabid horror movie buff Randy. It’s the culmination of everything that Wes Craven was aiming for; it drops itself in to a meta-setting where Randy uses horror movies as a source of learning who the ghost faced killer might be. It’s a passionate, unnerving moment where Randy hysterically urges us to look at the movies, while Stu and Billy do everything they can to gaslight and berate him. It’s also a fun look at what quickly became a bygone era: the video store clerk who actually knew something about the movies they were selling.