For the longest time, VHS was the best friend of the dedicated movie freak -- but after millions of rentals and a good deal of sales, the Vertical Helical Scan cassette is officially ... dead. As you enjoy your year-end shopping season, be sure to scan around the stores and count how many VHS movies you can find on sale. Aside from the blank varieties and the bargain bins, you simply won't see 'em around anymore. VHS has gone off to join vinyl records and audio cassettes; if this were the end of a Star Wars trilogy you'd see a little glowing E.T. box right next to the glowing Beatles records and a glowing cassette tape of The Eagles Greatest Hits. (They'd all be sitting around playing an Atari 2600.) Alas, such is life in the world of home entertainment; VHS is now just another kitschy relic for young kids to look at and wonder "how'd they get the movie in there?"

For those who share my pain at the passing of an old friend, check out this clever little Variety article in which the details of VHS' 30-year-run are wittily disseminated. (Snif, I promised myself I wouldn't cry!) Let's all think back and hum "Memories" for a sec: the battles with Beta, the curious reason that a lost/damaged Smokey and the Bandit 2 VHS tape cost so much money, the way the little flippy panel in the back would break off if you happened to drop the cassette, thereby rendering your Friday night screening of Sister Act completely worthless. Key Video, Vestron, Media... Those ridiculous clamshell boxes that looked like plastic pillows... Ah yes, VHS. Already it feels antiquated and silly, something Mr. Burns would refer to in a fit of anger.

I just can't believe I'll never have to fiddle with that damn "tracking" button ever again -- not that I truly believe it actually fixed anything. But what I'll really miss is that digital clock that's been blinking "12:00" non-stop since 1991. :(
categories Features, Cinematical