June 8, 2013 It's with a mixture of sadness and acceptance that I've learned the greatest videostore for renting horror films in northern California -- Videoscope in Mountain View -- is finally shutting its doors. It wasn't just the greatest video store in Silicon Valley for the past 20 years -- it was also the area's last video store! There are not more rental stores in the Bay Area.
Videoscope opened in 1981 during the height of R-rated horror craze. Crammed on shelves holding tens of thousands of movies in VHS in the 1980s, then DVD in the 1990s, were some of the rarest of horror and exploitation titles to hit stores. For more than 30 years, horror fans were able to rent VHS copies of "Blood on Satan's Claw," Ken Russell's "The Devils" or "Bloodthirsty Butchers." Basically if a film was released to VHS or DVD, Videoscope carried it on its shelves.
Videoscope survived the rise of Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. It apparently isn't surviving Netflix and Redbox. Videoscope, like the countless other video stores going out of business around the country, is essentially being killed by Netflix, whose streaming service now offers access to many of the same second-rate movies that made up the back rooms of these stores -- you could rent them for 50 cents a day at most places.
As the owner told the Mercury News, she could have closed the place 10 years ago -- and maybe should have from an economic standpoint. While countless smaller independent stores have dropped from the scene in Silicon Valley, where everyone has a high-speed Internet connection anyway, and probably a Netflix subscription -- this place had a true fanbase that spanned the decades.
The closure of Videoscope really does mark the end of an era -- one that got many of us into horror movies in the first place. There was something about the experience of going to a video store on a weekend night, plunking down hard-earned money for the experience of watching a movie that was actually difficult to find.
It's sort of like when the last tree is cut down in Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax" -- you don't really realize you are going to miss something until the last one is gone. While it was perhaps inevitable, many of us will mourn the death of the video store.