The Video Archives Podcast two hosts
Illustration by Alyssa Tarry, University of Michigan, Stamps School of Art & Design
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The Video Archives Podcast two hosts
Illustration by Alyssa Tarry, University of Michigan, Stamps School of Art & Design

Hosts Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary break down iconic movies weekly!

Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary are going back to the place where it all started — the video rental store that jumpstarted their careers.

In 1985, Tarantino began working at a popular video rental store, Video Archives, located in Manhattan Beach, California. There, he met and befriended Avary. Taken under the wing of store owner Lance Lawson, Tarantino, who was already a cinephile, grew to love films even more.

More than 35 years later, “The Video Archives” podcast was born. The title of the podcast pays homage to the pair’s first job in the film industry, at the mom-and-pop style video store that paid $200 a week.

The legendary duo will dissect films in weekly podcast episodes that, in accordance with its title, will be hand-picked straight from the original store’s archives. The first episode highlighted the films “Dark Star” (1974) and “Cocaine Cowboys” (1979), two popular cult films with distinctive plots. Afterward, the hosts announced that from now on there will be three films chosen weekly.

The “Video Archives” podcast opens with Tarantino humbly presenting himself as the former employee of the Video Archives store. He then proceeds to roll off an entire list of titles for Avary, who he describes as his co-host, colleague and co-writer on an Oscar-nominated film. Before the film commentary takes off, the two delve into the history of the video store that ultimately inspired the podcast. Tarantino discloses that he actually bought the remainder of the store’s film collection once Video Archives went out of business.

Tarantino also describes the clientele of the video store: “Like 80% of the people were just regular, well-to-do families. They weren’t like us, but they liked that the people running the video store were like us. They were like, ‘Let’s go down with the crazy movie guys!’”

As the two hosts reminisce, listeners can feel the pair’s admiration for the video store.

Avary’s love for the film “Dark Star” is obvious from his detailed account of the first time he watched the film, a shared family experience that he described as deeply personal. Tarantino’s love for the film developed over time, illustrated by his comparison of the way he felt toward the film as an 11-year-old (initially despising it) to the present time (“using the M word, masterpiece”).

The film’s commentary is best understood if you’ve watched the film as well. Spoilers: Without watching the movie, podcast listeners may not understand the reference to the comedic beach-ball alien or catch the twist revealing Sergeant Pinback’s true identity.

Though “Dark Star” was initially John Carpenter’s USC film project, it eventually became a $60,000 production. Since then, this project has delivered decades of satirical humor to sci-fi film lovers.

For the second half of the podcast, the discussion is joined by a special guest for just a couple of brief minutes. The guest happens to be Avary’s daughter, Gala. She quickly drops some fun facts about “Dark Star” and shares her commentary on the film’s witty dialogue and stylistic visuals.

The remainder of the podcast focuses on the film “Cocaine Cowboys,” a crime drama that follows a rock band involved with drug smuggling. Again, actually being familiar with the film helps a lot with the context of the episode. Spoilers: For instance, a small bag of cocaine worth $2 million dollars prevents the unnamed rock band from reaching total stardom.

Tarantino and Avary share great banter and the conversation flows as they give their responses to the plot and characters. Tarantino discusses several aspects that make the film excellent, such as the hippy elements that are “absolutely captured.” Avary enthusiastically agrees, and the two of them analyze the plot in a back-and-forth conversation.

The first episode is a great preview of what the podcast will entail. The compelling film commentary reflects the passion of two cinephiles. For fellow film lovers, especially those who love the classics, this level of film appreciation can be absorbed and shared.

Prior to the podcast, Tarantino and Avary earned a multitude of film accolades. Tarantino is well-known for films such as “Pulp Fiction” (1994), a project that he conceived with his film buddy, Avary. Together, the two wrote the script for a film that is now considered a cult classic.

On his own, Tarantino created the “Tarantino 10,” which are famously known as the 10 films in his filmography. Some of the most popular titles include “Jackie Brown” (1997), “Inglorious Basterds“(2009) and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (2019).

Avary also has a reputable film career of his own. Mostly recognized for his screenwriting craft, Avary has participated in many important film projects that have left a lasting impression. Films such as “Beowulf” (2007) and “Silent Hill” (2006) are projects that sprung from his screenplays.

Together, their reputation precedes them. Their brilliant minds and insightful film commentary are shared through the medium of podcasting. “The Video Archives” provides new insights into popular films that are still being watched and cherished today. Some individuals will already have watched the films that the two discuss; others will be moved to watch them for the first time. Either way, the podcast will serve as a guide to the movies from the perspective of two respected film geeks.

For as long as this podcast runs, “The Video Archives” will remain a creative space for film appreciation led by two well-known filmmakers. Roger Avary and Quentin Tarantino’s film commentary on aged, iconic films will leave a lasting impression on any and all listeners out there. Film buffs have found the latest podcast to lend their ear to, one that makes you wish you could just participate in the dialogue.

Writer Profile

Ally Najera

California State University, Northridge
Broadcast Journalism, minor in Marketing

I am a student currently studying broadcast journalism. I love to read, like it is a religion. I also love watching films, writing on my free time and trying new places to eat with friends.

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