Festival brings VHS back from the dead

For better or for worse, Eric Bresler and the Video Pirates rescued these kids from VHS extinction.

With DVD having long since driven a stake through the heart of the late and only occasionally lamented VHS format, thrift stores and yard sales are now teeming with stacks of unwanted videotapes. Those discard piles are treasure troves for Cinedelphia.com founder and PhilaMOCA director Eric Bresler, who will debut his VHS found-footage performance outlet, Video Pirates, Friday night. “Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, VHS was my generation’s format,” Bresler says. “I’ve always had a collector’s mentality and an appreciation for the bizarre, and that carried over well to VHS collecting.”

Culled and edited from a collection of more than a thousand tapes, the inaugural Video Pirates program is a grab bag that includes pieces on the Beanie Babies and Pogs fads, bizarre dog-training videos and the story of a Japanese comedian who lived in a single room for 15 months, among other oddities. “I realized that a lot of this VHS stuff would be lost for all time,” Bresler says. “I wanted to make this about more than just simple mockery. Some of these things easily lend themselves to mockery at times, but it’s also about exploring past trends and topics and preserving them.”

If you go
   
Video Pirates
Friday, 8 p.m.
$7, PhilaMOCA
531 N. 12th St.
www.philamoca.org


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