The last new VHS tape rolled off the assembly line in 2008, but here at the Found Footage Festival the format has never been more alive. We found more tapes at thrift stores across the country this year than in any other year since we started collecting in 1991. It’s been fun to share the spoils of our harvest each week on our website and at our live shows, but as we prepare for a big 2011 tour, we thought we’d take a moment to reflect on the VHS gems that warmed our blackened hearts in 2010.
10. Yo-Yo Woman
What’s more exciting than watching “the best yo-yoist there is in the world,” Linda Sengpiel, in action? How about having the opportunity to win $100,000 of her hard-earned yo-yo dollars? Go ahead, grab a couple of yo-yos and a guy who’ll sit in a chair and let you fling them at his face, then get practicing!
9. Danny Bonaduce’s Mortal Kombat
Home movies are always our favorite finds because they rarely turn up at thrift stores and when they do, they’re almost always boring. So when a friend sent us a home movie he’d found of a “Mortal Kombat” martial arts demonstration shot in a gymnasium, we were understandably excited. And when we spotted former child star Danny Bonaduce doing nunchucks, we could barely contain our video boners.
8. Crystal Stix
Our pal Harry Loomer-Young found this confusing promotional video for a hippie’s brand of devil sticks in Wisconsin earlier this year and it literally left us breathless. You’d think that host Bill Vestal’s silver ponytail would be the standout here but no. We were unable to focus on anything other than his frequent and intense inhalations at the end of sentences. Here are all of those inhalations in a row.
7. Computer Beach Party: Glass of Water
We find a lot of feature-length movies on VHS but we never considered any of them worthy of showing until we found “Computer Beach Party,” a 1985 sex comedy that time simply forgot. It’s hard to put into words just how perplexing and remarkable this movie is, but this soon-to-be classic scene between the two romantic leads will give you some idea.
6. What I Want
God bless David Cross, who somehow got his hands on this raw footage from an aborted self-help infomercial and sent it our way. Is there really anything more to life than wanting to touch people and wanting them to touch you? Yes. There are also amazing “Running Wild” t-shirts, for one.
5. Shattered: If Your Kid’s On Drugs
Where has this 1986 anti-drug movie been all our lives? Not only does it feature a young Dermot Mulroney, it’s hosted by Burt Reynolds and Judd Nelson, who we think may have done this as part of some court-ordered rehab program. Regardless, it’ll make you think twice about forcing your girlfriend into prostitution.
4. Cat Training With Trisha Menke
We know, we know, it’s another cat video on the internet, but trust us, “Cat Training With Trisha Menke” is not just another cat video on the internet. Cats wearing sunglasses, cats dressed in football uniforms, cats peeing on toilets, and a cat trainer who seems more like a Catherine O’Hara character in a Christopher Guest movie than a real person. This video is what every other cat video on the internet aspires to be.
3. Another Side of Jack Rebney
In 2010, we couldn’t have been prouder to play a part in the awesome documentary, “Winnebago Man,” about the man behind the profanity-laced outtakes we found on tape back in 1999. Watch these rarely seen deep cuts from the raw footage, then check out “Winnebago Man” on DVD for the full story.
2. When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
We’ve been counting our blessings ever since stumbling across a whole series of sing-along videos at thrift stores in southern Wisconsin earlier this year. I guess you could call it the luck of the "Irsh." And this just in: we tracked down the production company and the singer a couple of months ago and paid them to make a custom sing-along video just for us! Can’t wait to show it off in Volume 5.
1. Phone Jeopardy
Maybe it’s the schadenfreude of watching Little Mr. Perfect get flustered, maybe it’s the nostalgia of seeing Alex Trebek with a mustache (the only Alex Trebek we officially recognize), or maybe it’s just the fun of watching a TV celebrity say the f-word. For whatever reason, these outtakes from a 1990 Phone Jeopardy promo were our favorite find of 2010. It’s been a tough year, but as Alex Trebek so wisely summed up, “Fuck it!”
See You In 2011!
Joe & Nick