Tag Archives: Video Ezy

Video Ezy/Your Loan Mortgage Brokers – Narwee, NSW

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I’ve written before about the legend of Video Ezy, and much has been written since about its downfall. Gather ’round, kids, and I’ll tell you a tale.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the days of the video shop are long over, with so many titans of the industry falling in recent times.

As recently as 1996, today’s home entertainment climate seemed unthinkable – an era in which an unlimited well of entertainment options is available in one’s own home. Sure, occasionally you’ll spy a lone DVD kiosk, now the pillar of the industry (an industry…), standing unloved in a shopping centre somewhere, but I’m willing to bet very few of you have ever used one.

So neglected by society is the concept of renting entertainment that few, if any, memorial sites exist today for what was once such an everyday part of life. That libraries survived the format war – and continue to thrive today – speaks volumes about how far from grace the video shop has fallen.

But here, in this dark, menacing alleyway in Narwee, the legacy lives on.

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Look up and you’ll see a typical example of the de-ezyfication process. Even before the graffiti artists got to it, a more professional job had been done on the “Ezy” part, presumably as some off-brand video shop took up Video Ezy’s old space in those dark later years.

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Around the front, you’d never know any of that. Four separate, entirely uninteresting businesses now occupy the huge floorspace you know Video Ezy would have filled effortlessly. If there’s one thing vendors of unwieldy tape-to-tape spools contained in cumbersome plastic cases did well, it’s take up real estate.

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On the west side, our quarry is left relatively untouched, and we can see that the building once housed a supermarket as well.

Just for a moment, take yourself back to one of those Friday nights, when someone couldn’t be bothered cooking and there was nothing on TV. You’d head down to the video shop, where part of the fun were the hours it took just to decide on one title (and with the prices as they were, who could blame you?). You’d grab some popcorn because you’ve been conditioned as a corny traditionalist. You’d hit up the supermarket for a bucket of exotic ice cream (which for some meant a Viennetta). And then you’d head home via the nearest fast food joint and ring in the weekend with the biggest Hollywood stars of the day.

That’s right, you didn’t ask for much out of life.

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On the back wall, however, an urban Rembrandt tells another story…

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..one of community, harmony, and happy weekends full of leftover Viennetta, when you got it the first time or got it free.

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Pizza Hut/Liquorland – Port Macquarie, NSW

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The picture says it all: it’s pretty much a textbook example of a Used To Be A Pizza Hut. But it’s actually not that much of a stretch. Pizza Hut dine-ins were fully licensed back in the day (!), so all that Liquorland have done is do away with the doughy, yeasty stuff to make room for more booze.

In Port Macquarie, that’s actually kind of an affront. Back in 2003, the town set a national record for the most amount of pizzas eaten in a day. According to the Port Macquarie News (and really, who’d be better qualified to know), 4890 pizzas were consumed on Saturday, December 13, 2003. Whether the record still stands is unclear, but since those figures came from Domino’s, you can bet a similar record for most amount of toilets clogged in a day was set on December 14.

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It’s not all bad news for Port Macquarians jonesing for a fix of crusts thick, thin or stuffed, however: they’re still makin’ it great at this downgraded Hut down the road. For those who knew the dine-in Pizza Hut experience biblically, the above picture is a sad sight, and for everyone else, it’s a shocking reminder that there’s a Video Ezy still in operation.

Epping Theatre/Fashions Galore/Video Ezy/Network Video & Gloria Jean’s & Jackie’s Hair and Beauty – Epping, NSW

Another testament to the power and influence of video shops in the old days – it took three shops to replace one giant Video Ezy. You can see on the left the space where new release posters would have hung, luring potential new members inside and forcing them to think of a password of the easily forgettable variety in order to get a video card just to be able to hire Maverick for the night. Sadly for the former king of weekly entertainment, Ezy Street is a long way away these days.

Meanwhile, if you paired up locations of the ubiquitous Gloria Jean’s with Thai restaurants, you might find the number is a perfect match. Even Mickey D’s doesn’t cover this kind of territory.

THEATRICAL UPDATE: After digging a bit deeper (read: having a look around the back), it’s become apparent that this location has a bit more to it than it would seem. From the 1930s to at least the 1950s, this was the site of Epping Theatre, which is laughably obvious when you check out the rear:

If it looks like a theatre etc… The discovery of the ‘Fashions Galore’ sign means that this is now probably the longest titled entry on this blog – quite an achievement given the competition. Epping Theatre is a bit of a mystery; apart from some old ‘staff wanted’ ads and its listing in several State Library photo archives (currently unseen), there’s not much out there. Or is there? Readers, if you can help, you know what to do.

HELPFUL UPDATE: Reader Carmen was kind enough to send in a picture of Epping Theatre in its prime. Judging by the films on show – Johnny Belinda, The Gallant Blade and Red Canyon – this was taken in 1949. Check it out:

Epping Theatre, 1949. Thanks to reader Carmen for the image!

PS. Just in case you didn’t believe this was at any stage a Video Ezy, check out this solid gold proof that awaits those brave enough to wander up the back alley:

It says a lot about the current state of Video Ezy that this guy’s chosen to park there despite the sign. Ballsy.

Movie Supermarket/For Lease – Hurstville, NSW

Only in that wondrous age that was the 1990s could a store like this flourish. Movie Supermarket at Hurstville was the place to go for obscure VHS tapes. The place was huge, like the Gould’s of videos, and carried things Video Ezy didn’t have. The first time I saw Faces of Death anywhere was in here, and it was unsettling. Even worse were the prices – you may be used to $5 DVDs in the bargain bin at JB Hifi these days, but back then movies on VHS cost upwards of $20 each.

And there were no two-disc special features director’s commentary editions in the VHS era either – those were reserved for the hardcore Laserdisc set. Movie Supermarket’s new videos came in at around $30, sometimes more. Their ex-rentals (mostly from the Video Ezy across the road) were a little cheaper, but for what you got it was criminal. Unfortunately, the only alternative back then was to tape a film off TV, and that required the film to be shown. Faces of Death III fans holding their breath for Channel 9 to screen their favourite film probably held on long enough to wind up in Faces of Death IV. If you weren’t satisfied with renting a film, if you HAD to own Lethal Weapon 2 on tape and you couldn’t wait for it to be shown, you coughed up $40 bucks at Movie Supermarket.

But neither time nor technology were kind to Movie Supermarket. The public’s whole-hearted embrace of DVD by 2001 left the original location here with stockpiles of useless, worthless VHS tapes. By 2007, the rent that the sale of a dozen brand new tapes would have covered could no longer be paid, and the shop moved two streets over to a much smaller location. They tried to get into the DVD market, but selling DVDs for $50 each was more of a 1999 thing to do. The Movie Supermarket website is dated 2009, but as far as I could see the shop no longer exists. I hope someone filmed the closure, Faces of Death VII could use some more material.

Blockbuster Video/Rivers Clearance Superstore – Hurstville, NSW

Hmm, what's that big movie ticket shaped sign all about then, eh Rivers?

In the beginning, there was Video Ezy. And it was good. The first Video Ezy store in Australia, it sat on the corner of Forest Road and Queens Road, Hurstville, and had a carpark out the back where each spot was done up to look like it was reserved for a particular 90s superstar. Bruce Willis and Demi Moore were not beside each other. But the small space allotted to Video Ezy wasn’t big enough, so the Caltex petrol station across the road made way for BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO, the biggest, most explosive video shop experience the 90s had ever seen. It had it all – TVs built into the GROUND! Two storeys of videos, with the action and porn upstairs TOGETHER! Sonic the Hedgehog flying a plane IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SHOP!

Yes, you read that right. The shop also featured a drive-thru feature for those not extreme enough to handle the assault on the senses waiting inside. I always thought about how annoying it must have been to be the drive-thru operator at Blockbuster, especially in the 90s, and despite the helpful Top 10 Hottest Movies list they had outside:

45th CUSTOMER OF THE DAY: Hmm…The Specialist! What’s that about?

BLOCKBUSTER GUY: Uh…Stallone–

CUSTOMER: No. Cliffhanger! What’s that one about?

BLOCKBUSTER GUY: Kill me.

These days, it’s pretty standard shoeshop fare inside. Even the floor TVs are gone. They went to a lot of effort to paint over things, but clearly only in the areas they knew the customers would be. Blockbusters everywhere are disappearing rapidly as the video shop ice age sets in. Rivers on the other hand are set for life – people will always need terrible looking ties.