I was in my 20 and early 30s in the 1980s, and for me the super scary Netflix series Stranger Things is nostalgia trip with reminders of the works of Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, and Stephen King. For someone like me, half the fun of watching it is grabbing all those 1980 Pop Culture references to films such as: Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986), Altered States (1980), The Fog (1980), Firestarter (1984), Body Double (1984), Gremlins (1984) and especially E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982).
You kids are probably too young to remember them, but one thing I am not nostalgic for is those 1980s video rental shops. I know it must be hard to believe, but to watch a movie on your television in the 1980s, you would have to travel to a physical retail business that rented home videos. The rental store had certain conditions and terms signed in a rental agreement, including a credit card. My first video store, circa 1982, required a trip from my apartment on Seattle’s Capitol Hill to downtown, and required $100 yearly dues. Then, you had to rent it for $6 (equivalent to $15 today). I really had to want that movie. If someone had told me that in the 21st century, you could get a video for a dollar out a box in front of the grocery store, I would have thought them daft.
In the 1980s, video rental stores rented VHS and Beta tapes of films. In a lifetime of making questionable choices, in the 1980s, I bought a Sony Betamax player, betting it was the way of the future. Most video stores dropped Beta tapes when VHS won the format war by the end of the decade. I have a 1984 episode of Murder, She Wrote that I appeared in… on Beta.
So, don’t feel even a little sad if see your video store is in now a Payday Loan, run out of business by Netflix and other on-demand streaming services. Yet, if for some reason you do want to remember video stores and just how crucial they were to your weekend nights in the 1980s, and you feel that you really need to go back to VHS, Target has released a special collector’s edition of Stranger Things, Season 1. It looks just like it has been sitting on the shelf at a video store since 1986, complete with faded packaging. The four CDs or laser discs inside the VHS-styled box even have the Please Be Kind & Rewind sticker. The package comes with a special poster and a post-it note reminder that reads: “Friends Don’t Lie”.
Besides the deal with Target, Netflix is partnering with dispensaries with another unique product coming in 2018. They will be offering their own strains of marijuana and special edibles for your binge-watching pleasure. Now that’s something we didn’t have in the 1980s; legal weed (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington)!
I haven’t read if Stranger Things will also be released on Beta. I hope so, I still have my player!