Netflix is great and all, but in some ways it just can’t beat the old-fashioned experience of picking out a movie from your neighborhood video rental store. Here are some of the joys of renting videos that online streaming services just can’t replace.
1. The pesticides that the rental stores sprayed on the videos to keep bugs away had a wonderful smell: Video rental stores always used to spray a glamorous pesticide all over their videos to keep bugs away from them. The pesticide made the video rental store smell like birdseed and it was one of the most beautiful smells in the world. Netflix might be convenient, but it just can’t replace that special video store smell.
2. The rental store gave you one free haircut every time you rented Good Will Hunting: Back in the golden age of video rental stores, if you rented Good Will Hunting, the people at the rental store gave you one free haircut. It was a deal that could not be beat, and any true ’90s kid remembers renting Good Will Hunting over and over again just to get that amazing haircut that the fashion magazines called “The Blockbuster Locks.” Sadly, those days are gone forever now. When you watch Good Will Hunting on Netflix, you almost never get a haircut.
3. A Vincent Price impersonator used to read the backs of the pornography movies aloud: For a truly erotic treat, you used to be able to drive down to your local video rental store and, for just $40, you could listen to a Vincent Price impersonator read the synopsis off the back of a pornography video. It was a titillating experience that Netflix could never hope to replicate.
4. If you didn’t like the movie you rented, the video rental store would send someone to your house to dump a bucket of salt water on the VHS cassette: Back in the day, if you rented a movie that turned out to be bad, the store would send a trained technician to break down your door, place the bad movie on the floor, and dump an entire bucket of salt water onto it. You really felt taken care of. Today, if you’re watching a bad movie on Netflix, you have to dump a bucket of salt water onto your entire laptop, which is incredibly expensive.
5. The dog at the rental store was old: Most video rental stores had a dog who would lay on the floor right in front of the family movies shelf. He was old and, on top of that, he was almost dead. It was nice to look at him.
6. Sometimes you found some loose grapes behind the movie boxes: There were few greater joys in life than tracking down your favorite movie at your local Blockbuster, pulling the box off the shelf, and discovering a few loose grapes hiding behind the box. If nobody claimed the grapes within five days, the store let you take them home and you got to eat them all by yourself! Netflix can’t offer that kind of happiness.
7. If you got honey on a rented DVD, the people at the rental store licked it off for only $200: Don’t expect this kind of special treatment now that Netflix is around! This was the kind of service—and the kind of incredible price—that only existed in those halcyon days when the video rental store was king.