VHS Massacre Too (2020)

“VHS Massacre” was one of many looks back at the golden age of VHS and how physical media is dying in the age of streaming. Thomas Edward Seymour produced a very good and insightful glimpse at a time where the death of physical media seemed imminent. So it feels only logical that he’d follow it up with a further look in to the death of physical media. The problem though is that “VHS Massacre Too” is a less focused and somewhat confused successor that never quite knows what it’s trying to tell its audience.

“VHS Massacre Too” feels a lot less focused is because Thomas Edward Seymour has an idea of following up on the phasing out of physical media—for the first half. About mid-way he delves very heavily in to the indie film scene and about how tough it is to not only get a film made, but distributed. In a day and age where big streaming companies are opting for more mainstream and less underground fare, the independent filmmaker is running out of options. The problem is that none of that ever really reconciles in to a cogent examination of the death of physical media. There’s a look in to the remnants of America’s mom and pop video stores. There’s a much too nostalgic glimpse in to the death of Blockbuster video.

There’s long detour in to the indie filmmaking scene, and then it dives right back in to the end of physical media. Not much of the content here ever really comes full circle and connects, even when the interviewees like James Rolfe and Joe Bob Briggs make the efforts. I think the director could have easily allowed for a sequel of “VHS Massacre” while taking the middle of the film and turning it in to its own documentary about the hardships of being a filmmaker in the current economic client. There are some great gems of hard truths and wisdom to be mined here, for all intents and purposes. Debbie Rochon in particular sheds the light on much of her troubles making movies she’s passionate about, censorship of the art form, and how so many studios just don’t want to understand artists.

There’s also a much deserved scrutinizing of Netflix and how their once indie friendly platform devolved in to an elitist service for boutique movie studios. I just wish we could have seen so much more about the world of mom and pop video stores, perhaps a glimpse in to how studios are attempting to control how movie lovers consume cinema. And I would have loved to see the movie go harder on Blockbuster Video and how it virtually destroyed the video store. You can’t explore the struggles of the modern indie filmmaker in one breath and then romanticize Blockbuster video in the next breath.

And what of studios attempting to preserve and distribute cult and indie films like Scream Factory, Vinegar Syndrome, AFGA, or Facets? “VHS Massacre Too” is a decent follow up to the superb predecessor, it would have benefited from more time adhering to its premise of the death of video stores and how they relate to the gradual death of physical media.

Now Streaming on Tubi TV.