Fantastic Fest 2019 Review: VHYES

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Just like The Kentucky Fried Movie lampoons television and movies of the seventies and Amazon Women on the Moon does the same for the eighties, VHYES satirizes, celebrates and loves late 80s cable television and VHS pop culture. Director Jack Henry Robbins takes his older audiences on a nostalgic journey to this different era and introduces much younger adults to a time before YouTube, smart phones and digital streaming. The movie is a delightful, entertaining and sometimes poignant time capsule during a video revolution that forever changed entertainment and the archiving of personal memories.

This anthology piece is presented as the recorded memories of one 12 year-old young man named Ralph. When Ralph’s parents give him a camcorder for a present, his life is forever changed. At the start, Ralph spends a lot of his free time making fun and silly videos with his friends, However, after he discovers he can record live television with his device, Ralph begins to enjoy the benefits of “time shifting.”

As someone who lived through the 80s VHS and cable television dawn, I had a great time through this sentimental and often hilarious journey. Some of the segments are a little exaggerated, but this only adds to the humor. The segments recreating real life memories and public access cable television are spot on, while others have a heightened sense of reality for entertainment purposes. Most of the humor hits its mark with very few bombs in the mix. Writer/director Jack Henry Robbins and co-writers Nate Gold and Nunzio Randazzo have made a wonderfully giddy and heartfelt tribute to a time in low tech entertainment that no longer exists.

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