For many VHS is a format that has long been dead. However there is a small but passionate subculture dedicated to keeping the format alive. You can learn all about this community and their passion in the fantastic new documentary from Dan Kinem and Levi Peretic “Adjust Your Tracking: The Untold Story of the VHS Collector.”
This documentary truly lives up to its namesake subtitle as it focuses solely on the community of VHS collectors. If you come into this hoping to learn about the history of VHS you will be disappointed. Instead the filmmakers keep the tone light and breezy, making this film a fun expose on an interesting group of people.
I think it is important to note that Kinem and Peretic are themselves are VHS collectors. Them being members of this subculture is what makes particular documentary this work. They have a passion and dedication for the subject matter and without that I don’t this film would have worked as well as it does.
The art direction deserves praise. As I was watching I was convinced this was shot-on-video. I found out during the Q&A afterwards that is was not, it was shot digitally. Kinem and Peretic went out of their way to make it look like a VHS tape and that really shows their passion. At certain points in the film you get tracking lines, blurs, and grain. They mentioned during the Q&A this film was made for only $5,000 and that is quite impressive seeing how the film turned out.
For this film the interview subjects are really the heart and soul and they managed to find some great subjects. While it is nice to people like Lloyd Kauffman, Mike Ruso from Camp Motion Pictures and the staff of Everything is Terrible it is the collectors and the collectors and smaller writers/bloggers that make the film stand out. Their passion, not only for VHS but film in general, is contagious. I saw this with a friend and he told me that these collectors were able to articulate why he loves movies so much. As a collector of movies and I was amazed at some of the collections these people have.
The only real criticism I have is more of a nitpick and that is it would have been nice if there were chapter indicators. Personally, I like it when documentaries are broken up into different chapters. It makes the viewing experience easier because I know when one topic ends and the other starts. There are different topics discussed in this film such as video covers, the different horror/exploitation titles, the VHS community and the infamous “Tales of the Quadead Zone” story. It would have been nice to have those guideposts but like I said that is a nitpick. In no way did that detract from my enjoyment of this film.
Anyone who enjoys movie collecting or has a passion for cinema should check this one out. It is an fun watch filled with passion for the subject manner and plenty of interesting interviews. This should give you an idea of how good it is, my friend I saw this with now wants to get into VHS collecting.
It is currently not available on home video but a DVD/VHS release is in the works. The film is currently touring so check out adjustyourtracking.com and see if it is playing near you soon.