Videonomicon, an old-school Saskatoon video rental store, provides a more evocative way to watch movies

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They’ll even rent you a VCR if you don’t have one

A great piece of advice for those trying to be creative is to seek limitations. Write a story set inside of a single room, a haiku that doesn’t use the letter “e”, or draw a picture using only different shades of green. From limits can come inspiration.

I think the same philosophy can apply to entertainment. Endlessly scrolling through Netflix for something to watch is only interesting for so long, and their setup doesn’t always give me a compelling reason to watch anything.

I’ve had friends tell me that they start watching movies online only to turn them off five or ten minutes in, deciding that it’s not worth committing to. It’s easy to do when the next thing is two clicks away.

Did you know there is a better, more evocative way to watch movies?

Videonomicon is an old-school video rental store that offers a collection of VHS tapes curated by Tyler Baptist and John Vaughn that you’ll have a hell of a time finding anywhere else. The location is also one that should be familiar with those whose tastes also encompass indie music – the store is a space shared with Beaumont Film & Record on Third Avenue in downtown Saskatoon.

Go with a friend and compare ridiculous ’80s cover art and read through the summary text on the back of the case, your only friends on your trip to spending an hour and a half watching whatever you end up renting. Even if it’s bad it’ll be good, though.

My friend Emily and I stopped by last week to rent an afternoon’s worth of tapes. We each picked one:

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WARRIORS OF THE WIND

Emily picked this one out because the art in it looked “Miyazaki-esque” (Hayao Miyazaki made a bunch of anime movies like Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro, and Princess Mononoke.)

We watched it first because it looked less manic and way, way better and immediately noticed that the animation was indeed very Miyazaki-like, and the story was Miyazaki-like, and the voice acting was horrible. It turned out to be about some giant insects threatening the last safe place in the world, the Valley of the Wind.

“That’s weird,” we both thought, “Isn’t there a Miyazaki movie called the Valley of the Wind? Is this a rip-off?”

Every teenager in this movie is either a prince or a princess and the elders all believe in a prophecy about a blue guy with a goatee saving them from complete destruction. Immediately following this discussion their princess puts on a flowing blue robe and it’s impossible not to notice how very blue everything she wears is throughout the movie, even when she’s flying around on an awesome jet glider that only she can use for some reason. No spoilers, though.

Further prophesied; the very first thing you see when the end credits start is that Hayao Miyazaki wrote and directed it. As it turns out the Warriors of the Wind is the name of the American release of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and we are kind of dummies.

ELVES

My choice was easy an obvious and Christmas-themed. Santa’s elves on a murderous rampage!

Rather than link the elves to Santa Claus, though, the filmmakers chose to have the villain be a summoned forest demon. I didn’t mess up my tenses in that sentence, either, since they also chose to have their movie be about one elf but call it Elves anyway.

The only real reason for this movie to be set at Christmas at all is so that Grizzly Adams can be a mall Santa with a thirst for justice and a penchant for mall-based mystery. He was a department store detective in the past and it shows in his investigative skills, which involve going to the library and sleeping at work. FBI material he isn’t.

I don’t want to spoil the mind bending twist at the end, but you should know that Nazis show up and things get even more confusing.

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Our experience is kind of Videonomicon wrapped up in a nice Christmas bow – you might think you have an idea of the insanity you’re getting yourself into but you very likely have only peeked through the door.

So, if you’ve ever found yourself feeling unsatisfied with the Netflix experience, give Videonomicon a try. All of their stuff is on VHS tapes and a lot of it has only ever existed on VHS tapes, making this little shop the only way you’ll be able to see it. They’re swapping out the available tapes with a new set from their personal collections every couple of months, so check in soon and often if you don’t want to miss out on something amazing.

They’ll even rent you a VCR if you don’t have one.

– Videonomicon is located at Suite 100 – 220 3rd Ave. South, Saskatoon, SK.