• Robert Saucedo

Stupid video store customers and the movies they love

During my time in college, I worked at a local video store to pick up some extra spending cash. Being a huge movie buff, I loved this part-time job. From heated debates with co-workers and customers about cinema to the employee discount to being able to take an early glimpse at what new releases we were stocking the walls with every Tuesday, my job was full of perks.

Not everything was sunshine and flowers, though. There were, of course, the stupid customers.

There was the person who demanded a refund on THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE because they did not realize how inappropriate the film would be for their four-year-old child — despite the words “Texas,” “Chainsaw” and “Massacre” being in the title. There were people who tried to return foreign films because they hadn't agreed to any reading in their movie. And, worst of all, there were the people who didn’t bother to read the back of the box for the movie they were renting or buying.

I once had a thirty-minute argument with a customer who was surprised that the copy of THE BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA she had rented was the 1985 version (rereleased by an enterprising rightsholder) and not the 2007 version that was, at the time, currently playing in theaters. To make matters worse, she was upset that while the video box had pictures of fairies and goblins, the actual movie was “really boring.” Needless to say, she did not get her refund.

This was not an isolated experience either. Customers were constantly being fooled by movies. Whether it was renting SNAKES ON A TRAIN instead of SNAKES ON A PLANE or THE DA VINCI TREASURE instead of THE DA VINCI CODE, deceptive packaging and a timely appropriation of a famous name tricked many a customer into renting a substandard film.

I used to mock the customers foolish enough to rent a cheesy direct-to-video version of THE BLACK DAHLIA instead of the Brian De Palma film scheduled to be released later that summer. Surely customers couldn’t possibly think that they had somehow lucked into finding the only video store in the world that carried major Hollywood movies before they were released in theaters. Right?

I have realized, though, that it’s not the customer’s fault. It’s the fault of the "creative" video companies who like to make a quick buck through bait and switch.

Through the use of these so-called “Mockbusters,” films made with a low budget and created with the sole-intention of riding the coattails of a summer blockbuster, studios are all too keen to make a quick buck off of somebody else’s poor reading skills. One studio alone, The Asylum, was responsible for such cinematic rip-offs as AVH: ALIEN VS HUNTER, TRANSMORPHERS, I AM OMEGA, SUNDAY SCHOOL MUSICAL, THE DAY THE EARTH STOPPED, and so many more.

So how can customers protect themselves against renting PIRATES OF TREASURE ISLAND when they really meant to rent PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN or from buying WHEN A KILLER CALLS when they had intended to purchase WHEN A STRANGER CALLS?

It’s tricky sometimes. These Mockbuster studios are notorious for releasing their films with box art derivative of famous movie posters. The key is always to read the back of the box. Always. If, for some reason, you are still unsure if you are holding the right movie in your hands, feel free to ask one of the store employees. Once they finish laughing at you, they will be more than happy to help you find the right movie.

There will always be stupid customers, though, like the one who came in asking for a movie that was about some Indian dude. "It's called the Nama-socke," they said. They were looking for THE NAMESAKE.

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