Greetings, film fanatics!
Remember those buildings you used to go to where they had a bunch of movies that you could pay to borrow for a few days? Those of us old enough to remember these places know them better as video rentals stores, with Blockbuster being the biggest one in the country.
Then along came Netflix, an online service which allowed you to browse hundreds of movies and make a queue of DVDs for the company to mail to you, You could even keep the DVD for however many days it took you to actually watch the movie before mailing it back so they could mail you the next one. All without putting on pants!
Unless your mailbox was outside, then you better have put on pants. Don’t tell me, I don’t wanna know.
By the time this service went to mainly streaming movies online without mailing DVDs anymore, the video rental industry was endangered to practical extinction.
I used to love going to rent videos. Our local Blockbuster always had a particular smell that I can’t describe. Apparently, when a bunch of VHSs and DVDs get together in one big room, they can create a certain smell. And if you have never smelled it, I simply cannot describe it to you.
The good news is the art form of renting videos does still exist in pockets of the US, and one of those pockets is Portland, OR (you shouldn’t be surprised at all). The best video rental store, and by far a little slice of heaven on earth for this B-movie fan, is MOVIE MADNESS– 4320 SE Belmont Street, Portland, OR 97215.
A little history on the place before I get into what makes it worth writing a blog about (besides my obvious nostalgia for video renting).
In 1991, Mike Clark had just moved back home to Portland from working as a film editor and post-production supervisor in L.A. and opened a small video rental store called Movie Madness with himself as the only employee. Though he carried new releases as well, he wanted to specialize in hard-to-find films. Despite a rough start, the community strongly supported his dream; clearly, this kind of market was in demand. Slowly but surely, he began collecting more and more rare films. Now, 25 years later, we have this.
Yes, you read that right: Movie Madness has over 90,000 rentals available. That means practically any movie, short film, TV series, or even collection of commercials you could possibly want is inside this 6,000 square foot building.
Movie Madness prides itself on the way they categorize their rentals. Sure, you can select something from New Releases, Drama, Comedy, Action, and the like, but there are many uncommon categories or subcategories. For example, they have sections dedicated to actors or directors that have done numerous exceptional films. Want to see every film Meryl Streep has ever been in? She has a section in Actors and Actresses. How about you David Lynch fans, want to see every film he has ever directed? He has a section in Hollywood Directors. The Foreign Films section is divided into countries, One whole wall of shelves is dedicated to 90s Television Shows, and the Cult Classics category has many subcategories (besides Cult Actors and Cult Directors) such as Biker Movies, Demented Kids, Yahweh is Angry!, Childhood Icons Gone Terribly Wrong, and oh so much more. It’s almost beautiful. Now, such categorization can make it hard to find a specific movie, but that is what the computers in the store are for.
But wait, there’s more!
Not only did Mike Clark collect movies over the years, he also collected movie memorabilia. Inside Movie Madness is Mike’s MUSEUM OF MOTION PICTURE HISTORY. Through various actions and sellers, Mike has collected well over 100 costumes and props and it’s all displayed throughout the store.
His collection incorporates the many years of motion picture history from Frank Morgan’s pants in The Wizard of Oz to the bar of soap in the ads for Fight Club and so much in between, such as an original celluloid painting from Pink Floyd’s The Wall,a Fu Dog statue from Citizen Kane, costuming from Jeanne Eagels, Some Like It Hot, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Young Frankenstein, and more. The website doesn’t even cover everything they have, so it is highly recommended that you see it for yourself.
Even if you can’t rent a movie because you’re not local (I don’t know, maybe you can, asking never hurts, I suppose), this is definitely a memorable side trip in Portland.
Portland is a diverse city with a wide range of personalities and activities. Movie Madness is definitely a prime example of this celebrated melange.
… before you start giggling, I said “melange,” not “menage.” Well, okay, NOW I said it, but… I’m going to stop now.
Until next time, dahlings…