The Yale University Library and its Information Technology Services division has now assembled, as part of its Film Study Center’s Video Collection, an archive of over 6500 VHS tapes that form a homage to the age of scuzz. Thanks to the diligent work of Yale librarian David Gary, scholars and students can now delve into such cultural treasures as I Spit On Your Grave or Toxic Zombies, or others that first helped define the category “straight to video.”
What’s more, these films are not simply being digitized, but are actually being preserved as physical artifacts, in homage to what Gary defined for Bloomberg as the “physicality” of the medium. As well as an allusion that David Cronenberg would recognize, that term should have some resonance for other librarians and archivists in all media – with not only the content but the medium itself also a key concern for the archive, even down to the packaging.
Horror and exploitation flicks are absolutely not the only films available on VHS at the Video Collection – other more notable works from 12 Angry Men to 12 Monkeys are also available in the same format. But they’re certainly the ones that have attracted the most attention. So plug in a cassette, kick back, and grunge out, without shame.