Looking at Speculative Fiction from Another Dimension.

Adjust Your Tracking and the Untold Story of Streebo’s Trip to the Tape Swap.

Streebo goes to the Adjust Your Tracking tape swap!

Streebo goes to the Adjust Your Tracking tape swap!

This past Wednesday, the Back Alley Film Series closed out its second year of programming at the Charlotte Crownpoint Theater with a special one night only screening of the documentary Adjust Your Tracking: The Untold Story of the VHS Collector from directors Levi Peretic and Dan Kinem. Adjust Your Tracking tells the heretofore untold story of the rabid VHS collector – just like the title says. Prior to the screening, BAFS and the filmmakers hosted a VHS swap that allowed collectors to barter with their fellow devotees. Levi and Dan are in the middle of a twenty city screening tour that is taking them across the country but that didn’t stop them from bringing along a truck load of VHS tapes and even a nifty spinner rack to display them.

Your humble guide and narrator was able to pawn off a couple tapes including a ragged former rental copy of Frank Henenlotter’s Basketcase as well as the slightly more rare Trick Or Treat – the 1986 version with Skippy, Ozzy and Gene Simmons not to be confused with the similarly titled Trick ‘r Treat from 2009 but of course you know that already or you wouldn’t be reading this. Despite the fact that I had amassed quite a collection of VHS over the years – spanning from the time of the medium’s dominance to now – this was my first ever official tape swap. Special shout out to VisArt Video for hooking me up with a copy of Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound – which had up until this point evaded my collection in every medium, shape and form. Mission accomplished in my mind. I got rid of two tapes and brought home one new one.

Adjust Your Tracking: The Untold Story of the VHS Collector tape swap in Charlotte, NC.

Adjust Your Tracking: The Untold Story of the VHS Collector tape swap in Charlotte, NC.

Co-director Levi Peretic gave a brief introduction before the screening and then we were off to the races. For the next 84 minutes, we were transported into the world of the VHS collector and before we knew it, our arms were strapped in tight with our eyes pinned open, screaming and laughing our way through a cornucopia of video schlock, corny dialog and corn syrup. The movie unfolds as a mosaic of memories with various collectors relating how they first discovered VHS, became entranced with the arts involved and summarily dedicated their lives to the hunt for more.

Through it all the dedication and love for the medium shown through. The entire film is degraded with artifacts and tracking errors to make the experience more akin to that of watching an old VHS tape. The aspect ratio is even shown in full frame ala the pre-millenial standard instead of the widescreen 16:9 ratio that is commonplace today. This nostalgic approach may not appeal to some viewers but the target audience should eat it up.

I don’t know the exact number of collectors that were interviewed for this project but I felt a kooky kinship with each and every one of them. Some were scary while others were funny, but they all felt like friends. Friends that I might not call too often because they’re smelly and have bad table manners – but on the nights we do get together it’s anything goes and I’m sure to wake up in a puddle in the front yard wondering where my pants are.

There was something special about that time in the 1980’s when the Mom and Pops video stores dotted every corner and their shelves promised your deepest dreams or darkest desires. Those that lived through it were affected inside and some felt a spark ignite that went on to consume their lives. Some became artists. Others became filmmakers. There’s probably a serial killer or two in there as well – but we won’t focus on them. A few became collectors dedicated to preserving the magic of a bygone era and Adjust Your Tracking resurrects its glory for its running time. As soon as it’s over – you’ll want to see it again. I know that I did.

Check out the videos below to see the chronicle of Streebo’s journey to the tape swap. Part two contains the full post-screening Q&A conducted by the filmmakers. For more information on the Back Alley Film Series, visit their website. To find out how you can see Adjust Your Tracking: The Untold Story of the VHS Collector, contact Levi and Dan at their website.

Adjust Your Tracking: The Untold Story of the VHS Collector [2013] coming to a town near you!

Adjust Your Tracking: The Untold Story of the VHS Collector [2013] coming to a town near you!

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