Our Dopey Home Action Movies (1989–91)
I guess this is as good a time as any to see if anybody wants to watch these silly home movies that my brothers and I made circa 1989–91.
Yeah, they’re alarmingly violent. Statute of limitations, I hope?
I was 15–17, my brother Tyler 13–15, and our younger brother Davis 6–8. My mom had a job working for the early childhood development office where they had a video camera on hand to document families in need of services.
On weekends my mom would bring the camera home and we’d fool around with it and make these improvised action movies.
I know my mom is reading this right now thinking, “Oh God, they’re all going to think I’m a terrible mother!” Relax, Mom—we love you! You’re the best!!
I would “direct,” to the extent I’d set up a shot, and talk Tyler and his friends (who played the “Clone Guard”) through the action (this was all intended to be M.O.S.). Then I’d roll the camera back and record the next shot right on top of the previous shot. Very crude, of course—but it gave it a lot of forward momentum through the cutting.
I guess this was, quite literally, “camera cutting.” That’s what they call it for film editing, when the director only shoots pieces to be edited one specific way. It all seemed natural to me!
When it was done—which is to say, when we’d gotten bored enough, it was dark out and/or Ty’s friend had to go home—I would set up the camera with our VCR and use an “audio dubbing” button (possibly unique to this camera) to wipe the soundtrack and replace it with a synchronized track I’d made of my favorite film scores. I would record the edited music track onto a cassette and then play it live from a boombox into the camera’s microphone, while I added the ridiculous narration.
I had a very high voice as a little boy—I hated it when people called me a girl on the phone—and you can hear it change during the course of these videos.
The fourth video, “Up–Island Moron,” I made with my friend Bill Ewart, who was the manager at Up–Island Cronig’s, the grocery store near us where I worked. Bill was and is the greatest boss ever! We made it Sunday afternoon after closing (the store closed at 1 or 2pm, thanks to the old Massachusetts “blue laws”). That old, red, rat-infested supermarket building was torn down in 1996 and replaced with the new one (Islanders will know what I mean). This video has a moodier, more electronic soundtrack (a lot of Labyrinth) because Bill used his collection.
I think the fifth and final video is my favorite, with some good gags. And a great soundtrack!
If you’re appalled, hey man, this was the 1980s.