Farewell to VHS

So after this month,┬áno more VCRs will be produced. Wait, they were still making VCRs? I guess there are probably some folks out there with shelves full of movies – purchased or taped from TV, professional and personal – who were never interested in buying them all again in a digital format, or didn’t want to invest the time and effort to convert them to digital.

I know I still have some tapes stored in a cabinet in our basement. Some of those tapes hold great sentimental value, even if I haven’t watched them in 20 years or more. There is a single tape that holds the 1988 NCAA national championship game on it. After the game is a couple hours of post-game coverage from CBS, CNN, and local stations in Kansas City. And after that, I have random coverage of the parade to honor the newly crowned Kansas Jayhawks, speculation of whether Larry Brown would leave KU for UCLA, and other local sportscasts from that week. I think that tape is just about full. It would be fun to watch one more time.

But the video I’d most like to watch is one my buddy John N. and I made our junior year of high school. For our creative writing class we wrote and filmed a parody of the movie Colors, a dark, gritty look at the LA gang scene that starred Sean Penn and Robert Duvall. We loved that movie because it was probably one of the first mainstream feature films that embraced hip-hop culture. I’m not sure how well the movie has held up, but I bet I could listen to the soundtrack today and still love it.[1]

Anyway, we decided to make a suburban version of Colors, which we cleverly called Colours. Our version followed the major plot lines of the original, just dropped into our sleepy, Kansas City suburb. Instead of slinging rock, the drug of choice in our film was cherry Pez. We included a drive-by shooting and battles between the cops and gang members, only we used water guns rather than real weapons. There’s a dramatic scene in the real movie where, in the midst of a gun battle, the guns of a cop and gang member simultaneously jam as they aim at each other. They struggle to clear their weapons and reload so they can get the first shot off. We stole that scene too, but in our version the combatants ran out of water and had to dip their “water-type Uzis” in buckets to reload.

We filmed the whole thing in one afternoon following school. When one key “actor” failed to show, we sent a crew up to school to recruit someone who would shoot baskets for a few minutes then get blasted in a drive-by. So a sophomore none of us really knew had a bit part in this grand cinematic effort. We had parts of scenes get wiped out when our camera person forgot that her family’s video camera would back up 5 seconds each time she stopped filming.[2] But it ended up being pretty much what we wanted: funny and fun to do.

Looking back, I wonder how we didn’t get invitations for immediate entrance into the USC film school.

My favorite memory of Colours, though, came from our teacher. She had not seen the original movie, and in order to fairly grade our project, she thought she should. So she went to the theater with several viewings of our flick fresh in her mind. She told us later that people were staring at her in the theater because she was laughing out loud at appropriate times. She couldn’t help but think of our comedic take of certain scenes nor contain her laughter.

I believe we got A-’s.

I may need to find that tape and make sure it gets digitized before it’s too late.

  1. I checked, it’s not on Spotify. I could only cobble together about half of the tracks from checking each artist. I bet I have it on cassette, though.  ↩
  2. WTF?!?!  ↩

1 Comment

  1. Stace

    Am I remembering correctly that your “drive bys” were done from the Can Van?

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