Though I expected it to happen one day given all the troubles the company has been facing, I was still pretty shocked to see the giant STORE CLOSING banner strung up below the BLOCKBUSTER sign when driving through my home town earlier this month. I was even more surprised to see the building completely empty upon my next visit a week later because I thought it would take longer to clear everything out. Disappointment followed when I considered all the good deals I probably could have gotten on DVDs as they liquidated their inventory, but then faded quickly when I realized they wouldn’t have had anything worth buying. Even if I had been the first person inside after the announcement was made and had access to the entire collection I probably would have left empty handed. That was the problem with this particular Blockbuster; their collection was a joke, especially the horror section which only seemed to cater to people who enjoyed remakes or direct to DVD movies that had a 2005 or newer release date -- many of which were still being rented out at new release prices even though they had been on the shelf for years. Making the situation even more ridiculous was that there didn’t seem to be a logical reason for doing this given all the empty space on the shelf, space that could easily have allowed for three times the amount of DVDs being offered. Even the employees didn’t have any real explanation for why this location did this, though one teen behind the counter did tell me that the reason the remakes had replaced all the original movies on the shelf was because they were ‘newer and better’. The horror of the statement was further enhanced when he added that he had never actually seen the original movies, and never planned to watch them because he didn’t like old movies. Had my jaw not dropped to the floor I would have tried to curve his attitude, but instead I simply grabbed my rentals and hurried to the car, my mind trying to reassure me that most kids his age did not feel this way. Sadly, having sat through enough college classes with his age group, I know he is not alone.
Before the horrible decline in quality, this Blockbuster was a wonderful video store that provided many amazing memories that I will forever cherish. The greatest of these date from my high school days, specifically my senior year. By that point my little brother and I were unredeemable horror fans and lived for moments when my parents would be out of town so we could turn off all the house lights every night and watch an endless stream of horror movies until our eyes could no longer stay open -- a frequent occurrence since my Mom was a travel agent and got to go on trips every couple of months. Our goal was to be scared senseless; most of the time though we just laughed and laughed because the movies were ridiculous. It was still fun, however, and every morning (if we didn’t have school) we would head to Blockbuster and pick out several new movies from the horror shelf, our focus being slasher and haunted house movies. After that the countdown to darkness would begin, the time slowly moving forward as we played round after round of Goldeneye (still our favorite game). To this day I have no idea how many horror movies we actually watched during that time, or what the majority of the titles were, just that we enjoyed ourselves so much that we now will try to recreate the atmosphere whenever the two of us are together. Of course we no longer need the video store when engaged in these events, not when the Internet pretty much provides us with every movie ever made, but that doesn’t dampen the early memories or the knowledge that it played a huge role in fueling our desire to seek out and watch such obscure horror titles.