Back in 2002 a friend told me about a little mom & pop video store going out of business in another county. The phrase “they’ve got horror movies I’ve never seen before” was all I needed to hear to know I had to find the place fast. I hit the road with some pretty vague directions (turn at the shrubs, if you see the train trestle then you’ve passed it), cash, and a ton of adrenaline brought on by the prospects of finding some rare titles. There was a hint of danger in the air because the county I was traveling to had a reputation for catching travelers in crooked speed traps.
Check It Out Video was located in the corner of an L shaped strip mall, wedged between a Subway and a dusty antique store. The horror section was really impressive, especially for a small store, and contained many titles I had never seen before. Best of all, many of the horror videos proudly displayed “unrated” across their covers. The hard part was trying to decide which titles to grab and which ones had to wait for another day.
During my first visit to Check It Out, something rather bizarre occurred. A guy wandered into the store, asked the owner for a ride home, but then backed off when he saw me in the horror aisle. The owner looked at me, said, “He has a trusting face.”, and took the guy home. The owner didn’t know me from Adam but left me, a rabid horror fanatic, alone in his store. That’s when I backed the car up to the door, unloaded the entire horror section into the trunk, and hauled ass out of town, never to be seen again. No, that’s a lie. I stayed until the owner got back. There’s a reason why I have a trusting face.
That summer I made a trip to Check It Out every couple of weeks to grab more videos. The sun was up when I got there but it was always dark when I left. The owner recommended a local Chinese restuarant so that got incorporated into the ritual. Hit the road after work, fill up on Chinese, and then grab as many horror movies as my budget would allow. Sometimes I took my girlfriend along so she could keep me from going too crazy during my buying spree. Our first trip together almost ended badly when one of the Chinese waitresses told her “I’m so glad he brought you. He here all the TIME!”
By the end of summer, the owner moved away and left his family in charge of closing down the store. High school football had started by then, which meant the folks in charge closed really early so they could go to the games. Unfortunately, I never made it back to Check It Out Video and missed out on some titles I wanted to add to my collection. Still, I was very happy with the titles I did find and enjoyed every trip I took to that little mom & pop.
Some of the Finds: Lunchmeat, Cannibal Campout, Silent Madness, Hell High, The House that Vanished, Satan’s Blade, The Ripper, Nail Gun Massacre, Drive-In Massacre, Mortuary, Sleepaway Camp 2 & 3, Video Violence
The Ones that got Away: Movie House Massacre, several S.O.V. horror flicks so obscure that I could never find them listed in any video guide. They looked so cheap with their black & white covers but now I wish I had grabbed them.