Part V: Top Quality Video Tapes…and some truth finally…unfortunately.
Around about the time we were making ‘The Super Cops Trilogy’ a stall popped up at the local Saturday market in town. It was a video stall…a pirate video stall. For a fiver each you could get the latest “top quality video tapes!”. This is where Adam and I’s pocket money went every week for the next few months. The first tape I bought was ‘Beverly Hills Cops 3’, was it “top quality”? Was it bollocks. But I knew that going in, I’d already had my fair share of experiences with crappy quality bootlegs by this point. But there were two films that I was desperate to get my hands on, ‘The Crow’ and the recently controversial ‘Reservoir Dogs’, which was taking forever to get a UK video release. I eventually got ‘The Crow’ a few weeks later and considering pirate copies are usually darker anyway, a film that is set primarily at night wasn’t going to fair well, but I still watched it a load of times. I also heard later, from someone who worked in Video World, that the Wallaw, because it was a small cinema and only had 3 screens, had to have a toss up between getting ‘The Crow’ or ‘Robocop 3‘…They chose ‘Robocop 3‘. Jive ass mothers…
‘Reservoir Dogs’ was a different matter though, I’d ask if he had it, he said he’d try to get it. I figured he would because me and Adam where there every week handing over our pocket money to buy his not very “top quality video tapes”. He would even refer to us as his “best customers”. We were chuffed that our new hero, a dodgy bloke illegally selling bootleg movies and pretty much conning kids out of their pocket money, thought of us as such.
One day we were browsing his latest selection of movies that our local cinema hadn’t gotten yet when a woman came over and started flirting with our hero, she asked if he had got her “that film” he said yes and produced a copy of ‘Reservoir Dogs’ from inside his coat. She walked off smiling and he proudly proclaimed to us “Oh aye lads, gonna get some tonight”. Great, the only way I was going to get a copy of ‘Reservoir Dogs’ was if I had a vagina.
A while later, he wasn’t selling video’s anymore, but towels…”Top quality Egyptian cotton” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.
But back to ‘Reservoir Dogs’…For me this was another case of being misinformed before I knew too much about the movie. A friend of mine, who I will call Bill, that would lie quite a bit, told me he had seen the movie and explained certain scenes and dialogue with a cockney accent, confused I asked if it was set in London, he said yes. I’d also noticed a picture in a film magazine one of us had, it was the scene which I would eventually realise was from ‘Scanners’, the infamous head-explosion….Which Bill was quick to point out was a picture from ‘Reservoir Dogs’.
Eventually we came to understand that Bill would spin complete horse shit on an almost daily basis, so we took most things he said with a
grain wheel barrow of salt. He would always tell us that a guy who lived a few doors down from him had hundreds of movies and he’d probably have anything we could think of, but whenever the chance came to go and knock on his door we would be informed by Bill in a sheepish manner that his neighbour works nightshift, or is on holiday etc. The same can be said for Bills uncle who would also have loads of cool things; we quickly began referring to this imaginary uncle as ‘Uncle Bullshit’.
One day Adam and I decided to catch him out, and came up with an imaginary movie by the name of ‘Bubbles’, which had been banned and was ridiculously disturbing and violent. Why we picked such a non-threatening name for such an apparent violent masterpiece is a mystery to me now, but it was most likely to see if we could get some bullshit out of something that sounded so fake. So Adam and I began chatting to Bill about the legendary ‘Bubbles’ and described a few scenes and lo and behold, Bill says “Oh yeah, I think I’ve seen it!”, instead of letting him continue and embarrassing himself further, I launched straight into a tirade of “It doesn’t exist, you liar, fuck you…etc”. I kind of felt bad afterwards, but by this point, as the evidence suggest, I was probably just sick of people spoon feeding me horse shit and telling me it was chocolate cake on a regular basis.
But, I did finally manage to see ‘Reservoir Dogs’ after a neighbour of Ste’s got a hold of it and I quickly borrowed it, watched it, liked it a lot. Though was surprised that the ‘ear slicing’ scene was off camera, as another pal had told me he saw it in the cinema and how gory that scene was. I’m sure this is more the power of suggestion than an outright lie of course…actually, probably not, I’m just constantly surrounded by “fucking liar bastards“ to quote Nigel Buckland.
Staying on the subject of Tarantino for a moment, I was a big fan back then and eagerly awaited ‘Pulp Fiction’. Myself and Ste were the biggest Tarantino fan boys out of our friends, and would pop down to the market every Saturday to see if the other -more legit but still sold a few pirates- video stall had it. They never did. Me and Ste were determined to see it, and Ste even stayed at my house a few Fridays in a row, so we could be up at the crack of dawn and be at the market first; yes, two 12 year olds getting up before 9 on a Saturday, so we could buy a video…that’s a story I’ll tell my grandkids…and they‘ll call me a “fucking liar bastard“.
A little while before ’Pulp Fiction’ was released on video, Kevin, a friend in school mentioned he’d just seen it and told me about the male rape scene, I immediately called bullshit, as you would. Of course when I rented it, things started falling into place and everything Kevin had told me was unfolding before my eyes; Hold up, they’ve gone in the back room…Bruce Willis has picked up a samurai sword, shit, I was rather nervous…Then that door opened and there was Ving Rhames getting taken to brown town by Peter Greene. I don’t know what I was more shocked by, the bumming or that someone had told me something so unbelievable about a movie that turned out to be true for once. I think I apologised to Kevin the next day.
When ‘Natural Born Killers’ was set to be released, we saw that The Wallaw would actually be screening it, so myself and Ste were all set to go and catch it on the big screen. The Wallaw never really gave a shit about ratings on movies, I only ever got turned down to see an 18 once and that was in high school and a girl I knew from school was working there and decided to be a bitch and tell the other members of staff that me and my friends were under age.
The Wallaw as it stands today 😦
So the day before we were going to the cinema, I come down with a rather bad case of diarrhoea (I know, I could have just said “a stomach bug”, but its the little details that count). I was gutted, almost literally considering how much of my innards were flowing out of me every 20 minutes. So Ste comes over and I tell him about my arse trouble and how I’m thinking that we should reschedule for another day, but I really did want to see it, so I decided to go for it…hopefully I wouldn’t have an accident or be racing back and forwards to the rather dank toilet facilities all night.
The screening went off without a hitch and my stomach seemed to be cured, I’ll always say that ‘Natural Born Killers’ cured my diarrhoea…or indeed, saved my arse.
Next, Akira and Revolver Video…