The Video Store Days #12: My First Laserdiscs


I grew up in a VHS household. I think that 95% of people out there will say the same thing, I had a friend who had a Beta player, but finding tapes for it was really hard, so we never really had anything to watch on it. By the time I was in my teens, I wanted to branch out and start watching more things. This was becoming a problem because there would be films I wanted to watch, but the only rental copy my local video store (R&R Video) carried was on laserdisc. I had heard some really good things about laserdisc, so I started to do my research and after reading up on it, I knew that I wanted a laserdisc player.

I worked on my parents for months. I had found a whole bunch of written info, so I would present it to them whenever I got it. I found all the different places that sold laserdisc players and would stop by them whenever I got the chance so I could see the players in action. I would explain what the term “widescreen” meant to my parents and show them when I could. By the time my parents said yes, I knew all there was to know about laserdisc players.


In May of 1995, my parents took me to our local Best Buy and told me that I was getting their cheapest laserdisc player. I was overjoyed and went looking for the movies while my parents got the player. The problem was Best Buy didn’t carry laserdiscs. They sold the players, but not the movies you could use the player to watch. They had a pretty decent VHS section, but nothing on laserdisc. In the car on the way home, my parents told me that I would have to wait a few weeks before I could get any movies to own on laserdisc as the player had kinda wiped them out for the rest of the pay period. They would, however, rent me some movies to watch until then.

On our way home, we stopped at R&R Video to look for laserdiscs. I somehow lived in a town that had not one, but two video stores within city limits that rented and sold laserdiscs. There was only one other video store a few towns over that rented laserdiscs. It was always weird to me that laserdiscs were a niche thing but my town had two video stores that carried them. It always felt like I was exactly where I needed to be at that time. I always loved looking at the laserdiscs any time I went to the video store. They always had beautiful artwork and because laserdiscs are the same size as vinyl, the artwork was always huge. I love VHS artwork, but nothing can top laserdisc artwork.


Anyway, I rented some laserdiscs (TRUE ROMANCE and THE CHASE) and went home to watch them. We set the player up in my bedroom and my dad watched the first laserdisc with me (TRUE ROMANCE). He complained about the widescreen bars cutting off the top and the bottom of the image until I showed him what the differences were. I had TRUE ROMANCE on VHS, so I was able to actually show him the difference. From then on he never complained about widescreen.

After a few weeks, my mother told me that she was taking me to Suncoast Motion Picture Company (or Suncoast, for short) to pick up one or two laserdiscs. She knew how much they cost because she had read everything I found on the subject including price, so she wasn’t shocked when she saw the prices. She told me to pick out one or two laserdiscs and she would be back in a little while. She left me to it and I spent a long while trying to find the right laserdiscs.


I looked at the films I considered to be the best. Then I looked at the films that were fun. Then I looked at films I couldn't get anywhere else. There were a few Cynthia Rothrock films I wanted along with a few from Billy Blanks. Then I saw PENTATHLON.

I had been a fan of Dolph Lundgren since I saw MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE in the theater in 1987. To me, he was just so cool and he could hold his own in action scenes. I watched every film he made after MASTERS (RED SCORPION, I COME IN PEACE, THE PUNISHER, just to name a few) and tried to see them in theaters if I could. I knew that he had released a film around that time, but none of the video stores in my area had it. I figured that this one would be awesome, so I put it in the pile. Then I saw SPITFIRE.


I had been an Albert Pyun fan since watching CYBORG on a rented VHS. This man had a style that I liked and watched everything he did (DOLLMAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, NEMESIS just to name a few) and always liked the films. I saw that SPITFIRE not only was directed by Pyun, but it starred Tim Thomerson (DOLLMAN) and Lance Henriksen (HARD TARGET and STONE COLD), so it went into the pile. All in all, I picked about ten titles and then made the decision to get SPITFIRE and PENTATHLON. We paid for them and left.

I watched the films within the next few days. I liked them both, but they were a step down from the previous works from those involved. I kind of regretted buying these two films as my first laserdiscs. Whenever you buy a new format (VHS, DVD, Blu-ray) or you buy a new TV or receiver, the first thing you watch on it should be something special. This way you don’t curse the player. It sounds stupid, but think about the last time you bought into a new format or bought a new TV. You wanted to watch the best things in your collection because you wanted to see how they looked. Don’t lie now. You know it to be true. By buying two films I had never seen, I cursed my collection. My laserdisc collection was never that big and I would often choose to buy something on VHS because it was cheaper. Not always, but I did do that on more than one occasion. My laserdisc collection means a lot to me, but I always felt like I neglected it. I still look for laserdiscs today whenever I go to a used shop. I have found a ton of great deals in the last few years and my collection has been growing ever since. I still watch them too.

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  1. It is amazing how certain parts of the country laserdisc were easy to find and rent other places didn't Cary them in any way

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