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Ranking a discovered VHS collection

| Thursday, September 10, 2020

Mary O'Reilly | The Observer

When I decided to live in Annunciata (the fourth floor of Holy Cross Hall at Saint Mary’s) last year, one of the perks was having a lounge for Annunciata residents only. COVID-19 restrictions have caused all the room’s comfortable seating to be reduced to two hardwood tables and the full kitchen to a single microwave in the corner of the room. The walls have vinyl quotes telling us to “Laugh and enjoy life” — especially ironic, given the room’s new decor. Upon closer examination, one might notice (as I did) a shelf of videotapes in the corner of the room; I realized that COVID-19 might take away all forms of comfortable seating, but it will never destroy the VHS. 

The Annunciata VHS collection is fantastic. I am assuming that it is made out of abandoned movies looking for a forever home they have yet to find. Until they do, here are my picks for the best videotapes in the Annunciata lounge in no particular order. 


The best of a great selection of all-ages films (both Disney and not) that includes “Babe,” “The Parent Trap,” “Looney Tunes” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Picking just one of these was a hard choice, and maybe it was the collection of “Hercules”-themed lunch plates my family had growing up that swayed me, but this movie is fantastic. It has stylized animation, a sassy heroine with a fantastic love ballad in “I Won’t Say (I’m In Love)” as well as a mostly likable hero who also has a killer ballad of his own with “Go the Distance.” This is a good go-to movie for a group of friends — a crowd-pleaser that works no matter how old you are. 

“The Exorcist”

I cannot say I’ve seen this movie in whole, but considering the selection of horror movies including “Halloween” and “The Grudge,” I felt like I had to include one. As October creeps around the corner I feel I’ll finally get around to watching this one. There is something intensely compelling about watching “The Exorcist” on a Catholic campus; I plan on pulling up a blanket and popping in this movie at some point this fall.

“Animal House” 

I cannot say I was surprised when I saw a copy of this on a female college campus; the film may be outdated and raunchy, but when watched in the right context it can be fantastic. That context is, perhaps surprisingly, an all-female college. Girls grow up consuming media that either patronizes or ignores them. Watching a movie where the female gaze is not just ignored but never even considered, then, is liberating in its own way. If you find yourself with the ability to watch this movie in an all-girls setting, do it. The jokes are funnier. For further viewing, the movie “A Futile and Stupid Gesture” (about the founding of “Animal House” creators National Lampoon magazine) is a beautiful example of the merging of storytelling and filmmaking and makes the “Animal House” viewing experience even better. 

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