Portable Grindhouse

Measuring only about 7½ by 4 inches, videocassette boxes were not—unlike their LP forbears—large enough for collectable, frameable artwork. Yet that’s a limitation that editor Jacques Boyreau seeks to overturn with his Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box (Fantagraphics, $19.99). He argues that the obsolete format, now scorned even at yard sales and Goodwill, carries its own ’80s aesthetic—personal, portable, and knowingly cheap. Back during the great VHS gold rush, B-movies were presold and financed with a handshake. Old movies were repackaged and new ones shot in a week to replicate Hollywood hits. Slumming stars who needed new swimming pools rubbed shoulders with wannabes who never made the big screen. The box art had to be effectively lurid and eye-grabbing to get plucked off the shelf at the corner video store. Surely you haven’t forgotten Stunt Rock, Delirium, or Alien Massacre, have you? This third-anniversary bookstore party will also feature several comic-book artists (including locals Peter Bagge and Jim Woodring), plus music from Can You Imagine?, led by famed Seattle record producer Steve Fisk. (Boyreau also holds a panel discussion, with film clips, Sun. at 4 p.m.) BRIAN MILLER

Sat., Dec. 12, 6 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 13, 4 p.m., 2009

 
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