From Make A Date to Manson TV: The weirdest new uploads to the Internet Archive's VHS Vault

From Make A Date to Manson TV: The weirdest new uploads to the Internet Archive's VHS Vault

Illustration for article titled From iMake A Date/i to iManson TV/i: The weirdest new uploads to the Internet Archives VHS Vault
Photo: Koron (Getty Images)

You probably know about the Internet Archive, an online library stuffed with digitized versions of old books, software, MS-DOS games, and more. It also has an epic catalog of movies, commercials, TV shows, and educational videos in its VHS Vault, which just ballooned thanks to a mysterious organization called the Vista Group. Vice first alerted us to this new deluge of 80s and 90s-era finds—now totaling nearly 500—and these new additions stack up well to the hub’s existing treasure trove of content, making it a true goldmine.

The VHS Vault, to be clear, already contained more than 20,000 ripped VHS recordings. That includes full seasons of old, relatively hard-to-watch relics like Salute Your Shorts, The Tom Green Show, That’s My Bush!, I’m With Busey, and the Sega Star Kids Challenge, as well as completely random shit like the the 1993 Royal Rumble, the first four Phantasm movies, Project ALF, a bunch of commercials from December of 1987, and, our personal favorite, Volcano: Fire On The Mountain, an ABC TV movie from 1997 starring Dan Cortese. What gifts!

What follows is the weirdest, funniest, most genuinely nostalgic stuff we found in the latest wave of uploads, which contains everything from exercise videos and PSAs to audio recordings, Cops compilations, and, weirdly, lots of Mormon content. No matter how strange it gets, latchkey kids who lived through the 90s will no doubt feel the warmth that comes with that quiet hiss beginning each and every rip. It’s a sound we don’t hear much anymore, one that belongs to a bygone era.

Anyways, let’s not get too wistful, for what you’re about to see is some real garbage. Here are eight of our favorites.

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

Advertisement

2 / 10

Make A Date (1994)

Make A Date (1994)

Everybody’s seen that transcendently awkward video dating supercut—thanks, Found Footage Festival!—but fewer have witnessed the exquisite cringe that is Make A Date, likely because it’s still unclear 25 years later what, exactly, Make A Date is. Across 30 minutes, hosts Laura and David—both paragons of mid-’90s smolder—repeatedly encourage viewers to call in to a “discrete” hotline to talk to what’s ostensibly one of the sexy singles dancing in the background. But considering the hotline was open 24 hours a day—and that the hosts can’t stop asserting that men who call “won’t be turned down”—we have some serious doubts about who was on the other end of the line.

Still, everything about this video is perfect. Take, for example, the forced enthusiasm of a line like, “This party is really rockin’, but earlier today it was positively smokin’.” Or the repeated mentions of a “hot bod contest.” Or David’s banter with permed hunk named Kenny around the 16-minute mark. The cherry on top, though? The plug for a Sunday afternoon broadcast of the Saturday Night Live spin-off It’s Pat: The Movie.

Advertisement

3 / 10

Ministry Live In Dallas (1990)

Ministry Live In Dallas (1990)

Perhaps this rank, grainy footage of a debaucherous Ministry show from 1990 will terrify you. Or, if you’re the kind of person who fondly recalls the halcyon days of losing your nose ring in a mosh pit, it will make you wistful. Anyways, it is exactly as advertised: 80 minutes of industrial grime, as presented through a chainlink barrier that obscures any meaningful footage one can get of a band (aside, of course, from frontman Al Jourgensen’s “FUCK ART LETS KILL” shirt). But, hey, it’s not the music that’s fascinating here, but the crowd itself, who can’t stop throwing themselves against the chainlink or lapping up the beer thrown on them by some extremely metal dudes.

Advertisement

4 / 10

Miracle Bow How-To Video (1996)

Miracle Bow How-To Video (1996)

One of the best (and worst) things about the VHS era was how long everything had to be to justify having its own tape. Take, for example, this 27-minute video about the Miracle Bow, which, according to this clip’s host, is “revolutionizing bow-making as we know it.” Now, if you want to show someone how your bow-making product works, you throw up a 90-second video on YouTube. In 1996, you made an instructional epic in which you find two dozen different ways to say it’s so “simple and easy” to use that “adults can use it, teens can use it, and even children can use it.”

Advertisement

5 / 10

The Monuments of Mars: A Terrestrial Connection (Extended Version) (1992)

The Monuments of Mars: A Terrestrial Connection (Extended Version) (1992)

Now that a former member of Blink-182 has reinvigorated society’s search for extraterrestrial life, it’s a good time to revisit The Monuments Of Mars, a speech given at the U.N. in the early 90s that posits some of that weird shit we’ve seen on Mars could have been built by intelligent beings. Well, thanks to 30 years of advancements in photography, that theory’s been debunked. Still, it’s kind of thrilling to travel back to a time when the “face” seen on Mars’ surface could still trigger a sense of cosmic awe, as if the truth was truly still out there. As a new high-res photo shared this month by NASA shows, Mars continues to be nothing but dust, clay, and rock.

Advertisement

6 / 10

VCR Head Cleaner PSA (1990s)

VCR Head Cleaner PSA (1990s)

First off, nobody used VCR head cleaners. Secondly, why does the anthropomorphic VCR talk like Jon Polito? Why is the anthropomorphic VCR a fiftysomething P.I. who’s too old for this shit? Why is he smoking when there’s a no smoking sign? Why is he smoking when, in the PSA, he says smoke damages his tape heads? Why was this choice made? Why is it animated? Are you trying to appeal to children? Kids shouldn’t be in charge of cleaning tape heads.

Advertisement

7 / 10

The First Family Of Satanism With Bob Larson (1990)

The First Family Of Satanism With Bob Larson (1990)

Bob Larson, the Christian huckster known for charging $295 for “Skype exorcisms,” was one of the leading voices in the Satanic panic of the late 80s and early ’90s. In this 90-minute clip from his pre-internet days, he huffs and puffs about Charles Manson and Hitler while debating Zeena LaVey, daughter of Church Of Satan founder Anton LaVey, and her husband Nikolas Schreck. He prefaces the conversation by calling it “revealing, shocking, and, for some of you, disturbing,” and, though it’s not any of those things, it nevertheless remains one of the better distillations of an era of Christian hysteria that would resonate throughout the decade.

Advertisement

8 / 10

Manson TV (1998)

Manson TV (1998)

Speaking of which: The youth of today will never understand just how controversial Marilyn Manson was in the 90s. Thankfully, this “heated half-hour” of the MTV special Manson TV—which host Carson Daly says will be a “battle of beliefs” between “believers and detractors”—helps illustrate just how strange and pearl-clutching the discourse was around the shock-rocker. The special also speaks to a few of the hilarious rumors about Manson at the time, such as him removing a rib so he could give himself a blowjob and throwing “bags full of drugs” into the crowds at his shows. Sadly, both are false.

Illustration for article titled From iMake A Date/i to iManson TV/i: The weirdest new uploads to the Internet Archives VHS Vault
Screenshot: Internet Archive
Illustration for article titled From iMake A Date/i to iManson TV/i: The weirdest new uploads to the Internet Archives VHS Vault
Screenshot: Internet Archive

They really should’ve addressed the one about Manson playing Paul Pfeiffer on The Wonder Years.

Advertisement

9 / 10

Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins extras (1995)

Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins extras (1995)

Mortal Kombat may very well be a thing again should its R-rated cinematic reboot take off at the box office, though it’s doubtful it’ll ever be the force of nature it was in 1995. In the above clip, which includes trailers and behind-the-scenes footage from the first Mortal Kombat movie, as well as a look at the series’ short-lived animated spin-off, there are ads for a Mortal Kombat live show and a Kombat Klub that, gasp, you could only join by snail-mailing a check or money order. As if the nostalgia weren’t already off the charts, it also includes a trailer for National Lampoon’s Senior Trip, which featured a young, floppy-haired Jeremy Renner and that “Boom Shack-A-Lak” song that was ubiquitous on ’90s movie soundtracks.

Advertisement

10 / 10

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.