Videodrome keeps brick-and-mortar rental experience alive with rare collection of cinematic gems

Atlanta's beloved video store Videodrome carries on the tradition of brick-and-mortar video rental stores with a carefully curated film archive.(Courtesy of Isadora Pennington)

For many film viewers, picking out something to watch often means scrolling indecisively through pages of algorithmically-filtered options on a streaming service at home. The days of Blockbuster Video are behind us, but a few true cinephiles are keeping the brick-and-mortar video rental experience alive. Matthew Booth is the owner of Atlanta’s beloved video store Videodrome, and he joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to talk about how his store has remained a community fixture for so many years. 

Interview highlights:

The birth of Videodrome, inspired by the cinephile sensibilities of Atlanta’s bohemia:

“That was a time when there were a lot of corporate video stores, and they were just expanding and expanding. So [my employer] almost immediately got taken over by another store called Video Update, and they moved me to the Little Five Points location over on Moreland…” recounted Booth. “I met [Videodrome co-founder] Jeff Sutton; he was also an employee at that store. We kind of fell in love with the Little Five Points neighborhood and really enjoyed the customers that came in and interacted with a lot of businesses there.”

He went on, “You know, that store, it was good, but that neighborhood had a real appetite for independent and foreign films, and that organization just didn’t fulfill that need. So, we were like, ‘How can we start our own place that’s more tuned with this area or the customers in this area?’ And we started looking around for a space. We took our VHS collections and combined them. We started buying VHS, collecting VHS, and we got lucky in our current location at North Highland and North Avenue… The landlord gave us a shot, and we’ve been there ever since.”

A lovingly curated film archive as much as a business enterprise:

“We try to make it as nerdy as possible. So we’re constantly micro-categorizing, making these micro-sections and micro-genres, and the idea would be that if you find something in a section, that there will be more stuff like that, right near it,” Booth said. “So a lot of people are just kind of working their way through, maybe like, a folk-horror section or a ‘shot on video’ section or ‘action trash,’ or whatever they’re interested in at this moment. We have a lot of these tiny, curated, specific [sections], and then we also have a section of directors.. we have [their films] all together.”

“Some of my favorite categories are Italian horror; Hong Kong action is one of my all-time favorites; American independent. We have stuff like Korean crime films, ’70s American crime films, samurai films…Asian horror is always a big deal. We have as many small categories as we can get; we’re always subcategorizing things.”

What the customers love:

“Our number one renter of all time is ‘Hausu,’ which is a Japanese horror film from the ’60s. It’s like a crazy mix of horror-comedy. It’s just a really fun cult film that has a following, that Criterion put out, I don’t know, 20 years ago, and it’s just been a hit ever since for us,” said Booth. “Outside of that, [David Cronenberg’s] ‘Videodrome’ always rents at the store. The Cronenberg section does really well. The David Lynch section does really well.”

A possible bright outlook for indie video stores:

“There’s a huge boom in boutique Blu-ray collecting right now, so there’s all these boutique labels out there, and they’re all creating this amazing product that people are engulfing at the moment,” said Booth. “I know personally a couple video stores, one in Austin and one in Los Angeles, that are about to reopen, that had shut down for a while. And then I’ve talked to a few other people around the country that are trying to open stores at the moment, too, so I’m hoping that there’s a way for video stores to survive. It might not be the same. It’s not gonna be that corporate video store with 50 copies of everything on a ‘new release’ wall and nothing else. But I think it’ll be something more like us, like a curated store.”

Videodrome is open from 12:00 PM – 10:00 PM daily at 617 N. Highland Ave. More information is available at