How one Newfoundlander raised a Blockbuster in his basement

There’s a house in St. Louis. John’s where the video era lives on in all its glamorous glory

Corey Lynch has built a blue-and-yellow time machine in his St. It is a portal to his own past, and perhaps yours too.

Welcome to Megahit Video – the alternative universe where it’s Friday night, Netflix does not exist and you have to pick snacks and negotiate with your family or friends about which video to watch, then hope all copies are not already rented. Literally, what Lynch has built is a deeply loving tribute to the all but released Blockbuster Video Chain. But in a truer sense, he has created pure, life-size nostalgic joy. “I’m a fan of things, “he laughs, citing his extensive VHS and toy collections as proof.” I’m generally all-in on the things I love. Now I realize of course that this is the extreme. I will not build a toy museum next door either. “

It all started with a pandemic renovation project and Lynch’s search for a theme for a new wet bar in the basement. He’s a lifelong movie fan, so the idea seemed obvious, and his wife was game. “It was craving that feeling of nostalgia and making sure I had a place to go where I felt comfortable and warm,” he says. “That was the experience of going to the video store when I was young – it was so exciting.”

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Lynch does not consider himself a nostalgic person, simply because he has never left behind the things he loves. Megahit has his own collection of 1,000 VHS tapes, with about 350 on display at any given time, along with dummy movie boxes he made in Photoshop. This is not a store where you can actually rent movies; it is a monument to that extinct creature, like a museum exhibit. The attention to detail is what it all sings: a large promotional box cut by Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, a “Big Release” wall with 30 (fake) copies of Independence Day, a giant red M&M figure holding up a bowl of candy, the cobalt blue walls, every item you can see branded within an inch of its life.

Lynch’s favorite detail is the store. A friend of the contractor’s managed to buy and install a commercial steel and glass door next to two windows with steel frames, so that if you step outside Megahit and look back from the other side of his basement – Lynch and his family living in his former youth home – there is the shop, hung in time. The windows look out of his daughters’ playroom, but when Lynch films Facebook videos of movie reviews or goofy comedy sketches in the store, he erases that domestic gleam with a greenscreen display of colorful St. John’s houses.

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And for actually watching movies, it’s all about VHS for Megahit’s owner – a bit grainy, perhaps, with wonky tracking or sound, just like movies feel in his memory. “We are an analog video store for the digital age,” he says. It’s easy enough to find VCRs these days, but what’s tricky is finding TVs that connect them, so Lynch has a dongle that connects the VCR to his MacBook, so he can go to his TV in his Blockbuster. ” store “can stream. He currently has four VCRs because they are not repairable. “If they go, they go,” he says. “We’ll give her a Viking burial.” He watches movies, he says, “when I’m 14.” Among his favorites are Big problems in Little China, Halloween, Jurassic Park en Raiders of the Lost Ark, which he considers a “perfect film” that can not be improved upon.

Lynch sees Megahit as an immersive experience to be shared with anyone who has fond memories of those Friday night outings (“members” are welcome to join in the fun on their Facebook page). The name obviously evokes Blockbuster, but he deliberately gave it a generic tweak so that it would appeal to everyone in its long-running local video store.

As a teenager, Lynch chose his path through the building zone of a new Blockbuster located in St. Louis. That high school job felt like he had landed in Hollywood, with the crowd and energy feeling like a nightclub every Friday night. The video store was the place to be, until one day it was not. Blockbuster had 9,000 stores worldwide at its peak, but in 2018 there was only one left, in Bend, Ore. Everyone lured them back to their banks and their streaming services where they never had to worry about all the copies being rented. Good thing that Corey Lynch, like the hero of many good hairdressing movies, built us all a time machine.

This article appears in print in the February 2022 issue of of Maclean magazine with the headline, “Rewinding with gusto.” Subscribe here for the monthly print sheet.

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