BY MICHELLE MEDFORD
The other day, I was organizing my video game cupboard when I can across a blue hard cover notebook. Actually, it was a database; my original movie database. Inside were organized lists of movies we had on VHS. I almost threw the book out, knowing I’d never use it again, but when I flipped through it, I realized I could never part with it. Through my preteens, this book had guided me to my passion for movies and meant a lot to me.
My dad had let me use the book it also had kids movies, the likes of Honey I Blew up the Kids, Mr. Nanny, The Sandlot, Camp Nowhere and Jumanji, to name a few (which were pretty great at the time, some even still today). As I neared middle school, I grew tired of these and started to explore the book a bit more. Handwritten by my dad, some titles even included genres, years released, runtimes and lead actors or actresses. All I had to do was pick what interested me based on this limited criteria and search our shelves of movies. It was a pretty handy system. We also had Internet at this time, so I’d google unfamiliar titles and after reading a sentence or two, I’d make my viewing decisions, a task that feels impossible today without a trailer (this was pre-YouTube).
This was how I found my way to movies like Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction, The Usual Suspects, and gems I know I’d never have otherwise seen, like The Fisher King. Obviously, I was watching stuff I shouldn’t have been, best illustrated through my comedy picks alone: Wayne’s World, Tommy Boy and Billy Madison. In retrospect, I can also see the beginnings of my horror passion, watching movies like Poltergeist, Friday the 13th and Night of the Living Dead, which reminds me that it wasn’t always all fun without a price. One day, I brought Child’s Play 2 to my grandparents’ house to watch with my cousins (some slightly older, some younger). My grandpa walked by the room as Chucky was running off his R-rated mouth and attacking someone. My grandpa came in, turned the TV off and lectured us. But our moms took the blame for letting us watch “movies like these.”
As DVDs took over, we packed the cassettes into a box and put them under the stairs, where most of them still are today; others are lost. I wish they were in order on a shelf in the basement because there are some I’d still like to watch today, like The Puppet Masters, Quiz Show, The Frighteners, or even my dad’s Bond collection or his favourite Clint Eastwood westerns. Of course, it’s not that I can’t watch these movies today; it’s just that it’ll never be the same. It’s so tough to pick a movie today based on curiosity alone, rather than on reviews, directors, actors and trailers. I’m not just going to stumble upon movies like Cameron Crowe rom-com Singles or Stephen King anthology Creepshow 2 (well, at least not before Creepshow). Although I’d like to try some less influenced movie picks today, to venture into film by myself, I just don’t feel it’s possible anymore.