The Internet Archive Hosts 20,000 VHS Recordings of Pop Culture from the 1980s & 1990s: Enter the VHS Vault

Image by Evan-Amos, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

My neigh­bor­hood thrift store has a very large VHS wall, filled with Hol­ly­wood movies, end­less chil­dren’s videos, instruc­tion­al tapes, and best of all a box of unknown vids. Maybe they’re blank. Maybe they con­tain 6 episodes of Mat­lock. And maybe, just maybe, they have some­thing com­plete­ly nuts.

But who has time or the old tech­nol­o­gy for that, espe­cial­ly when the Inter­net Archive has recent­ly expand­ed its VHS Vault sec­tion to 20,000 dig­i­tized tapes under the (non) cura­tion of archivist Jason Scott. We make no claims for the qual­i­ty of the videos con­tained there­in, because that’s real­ly up to you. A cur­so­ry glance shows episodes of Blues Clues next to Traci Lords’ work­out tape next to Mys­tery Sci­ence The­ater along­side Ger­ry Anderson’s Laven­der Cas­tle, a mix of clay­ma­tion, pup­petry, and rudi­men­ta­ry CGI.

So look: you have to go dig­ging. There’s gems among the junk. There’s That’s My Bush! the ill-con­ceived and ill-fat­ed sit­com from South Park’s Trey Park­er and Matt Stone that dis­ap­peared down the mem­o­ry hole after 9–11.

Or check out this Law Enforce­ment Guide to Satan­ic Cults, 75 min­utes of para­noid luna­cy with a halfway decent ambi­ent sound­track and some groovy visu­als. Once you hear “abnor­mal sex­ol­o­gy” you’ll be hooked!

This 1994 footage/interviews from the playa at Burn­ing Man is a fas­ci­nat­ing time cap­sule. “We have enough guns out here to start World War III,” one man says. Yep, it was cer­tain­ly a dif­fer­ent time.

You’ll also find plen­ty of just straight-up “no idea what’s on this, just hit play and record” VHS tapes, like this 4 hour block of MTV from 1995.

The Archive also serves anoth­er pur­pose: right now it acts as a kind of “safe space” from the increas­ing­ly unfor­giv­ing algo­rithms of YouTube, designed to take down any­thing its AI hears as unli­censed footage or music. It’s one rea­son for the amount of Mys­tery Sci­ence The­ater episodes up here, as some can no longer be shown due to expired film rights.

And unlike YouTube, all the videos are avail­able for you to down­load, keep, remix, edit, and/or purge. You won’t have to wash your hands like after a trip to the thrift store, but your soul will feel equal­ly gross. Enjoy! Enter the archive here.

via Boing­Bo­ing

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Inter­net Archive Is Dig­i­tiz­ing & Pre­serv­ing Over 100,000 Vinyl Records: Hear 750 Full Albums Now

The Inter­net Archive Makes 2,500 More Clas­sic MS-DOS Video Games Free to Play Online: Alone in the Dark, Doom, Microsoft Adven­ture, and Oth­ers

Watch 700 Videos Nos­tal­gia-Induc­ing Videos from the Ear­ly Days of MTV

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the artist inter­view-based FunkZone Pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at and/or watch his films here.

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