Taped off TV
2. Taped off TV.
We were fortunate enough to have HBO in my house in the 80s, and my father was big on taping stuff off television. In fact, most of his video library consisted of stacks of VHS tapes full of stuff he taped off TV or later, Pay-Per-View (we’ll get to that later). My father had this whole label-lettering system in place to keep track of what was on which tape. If we wanted to know where to find Annie, for example, we had to check the list and then find the tape with the corresponding letter. The title of the movie was only ever printed on the tape if that tape had been upgraded to "Don’t Tape Over" status. If the label had a title on it, you didn’t tape over that tape for any reason. Especially not the one with Ghostbusters II and Superman on it, as my brother watched that one on a daily basis.

The downside to taping stuff off TV is that sometimes we didn’t catch the beginning, or the tape got messed up. It’s for that reason that I’m far less familiar with the first ten minutes or so of Pete’s Dragon than I am the rest of the movie. I actually still have a couple of these tapes (see image above) because I'm nostalgic like that.

Pay per view
3. Pay Per View, the On Demand before On Demand.
Let’s move into the 90s, when home video was becoming more accessible than ever. For a little while, it seemed like Pay Per View was all the rage for movies in their post-theatrical run. It’s because of Pay-per-view that I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for HouseSitter (starring Goldie Hawn and Steve Martin) and Son in Law (Pauly Shore and Carla Gugino), as those were the first two movies my father rented via Pay Per View, and we were thrilled by the idea of getting to rent a movie just by dialing a number and setting the cable box to a certain channel. I think it was somewhere in the ballpark of $5 to rent a movie and yes, you had to call a number to order it. They didn’t have interactive TV menus back then. It was our first taste of On Demand. And once you ordered it, the movie played continuously for the next 24 hours, so get the VCR tape ready and watch it a couple more times while you have it, because you can!

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