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  • Writer's pictureDavid Ullman

Harvesting Happiness with Josh VHSchafer

Updated: Jul 5, 2022

Episode art by Hayden Hall (Originally For Lunchmeat Issue #9)

Part 3 of the FAMILY ALBUM series will be out next week. In the meantime, you're in for a treat, as I'm joined for this first stand-alone bonus episode by Josh Schafer for VHSuper-fun chat about his company (though I've never heard him use that word) LUNCHMEAT.

LUNCHMEAT is your number one destination for the appreciation, celebration, and preservation of VHS and video store culture! Josh and his partner Ted Gilbert officially pressed play in the VHSummer of 2008 with their first print issue of Lunchmeat Magazine, and they’ve been spreading the rewind-inclined word ever since! They have made it their mission to keep love alive for VHS in these modern times.

Over the years, LUNCHMEAT has expanded far beyond the print magazine. They have an outstanding Instagram page @LunchmeatVHS, which Josh jam-packs with all the weird, fantastic, and positively radical VHS culture he can find—including a mess of groovy merch, rewind-inclined apparel, and fresh VHS tapes of all persuasions!

In fact, LUNCHMEAT has just released a limited run of my 2001 documentary, INERTIA: RE-MAKING THE CROW—the four-year filmmaking odyssey that yielded the underground fan-film favorite JAMES O’BARR’S THE CROW.

After premiering at the 2002 New York International Independent Film and Video Festival, this documentary sat on a shelf virtually unseen for 20 years—until now!

Told through intimate behind-the-scenes footage shot by the filmmakers themselves (that would be me and my old friend Matt Jackson), INERTIA: RE-MAKING THE CROW takes an unflinching look at the creative evolution of two young men amidst their struggle to create a faithful, no-budget video adaptation of James O’Barr’s acclaimed comic book series THE CROW, which (of course) was also the basis for the major motion picture starring Brandon Lee in his final performance.

It's a story of passion, obsession, and creativity. Think HEARTS OF DARKNESS meets AMERICAN MOVIE—but with teenagers!

If you head over to LUNCHMEAT.COM (which is also where I've cribbed much of the language for this copy) you can choose between the classic Black Videocassette or the Deadly Revenge Red variant.

Whatever you decide though, you'd better do it quickly, because Lunchmeat merch sells out. I still regularly check their site for the MEDIA CRYPT collab t-shirt I missed out on that says, "As Seen On VHS" across the front.

And while you're clicking through LUNCHMEAT.COM, subscribe to their YouTube Page, where you can VHStream our 1990's adaptation of James O'Barr's The CROW, as well as the exclusive 2020 video commentary I did for the channel. Over the years, I've seen so many terrible transfers of my teenage version of THE CROW, that when Josh reached out to me about putting the INERTIA documentary out, I elected to create a new master of the adaptation—match cut from the original source footage, put back a few scenes I'd cut out, and even filmed an all-new shot! If you watch that commentary, you can see behind the scenes of me using the same Panasonic VHSC PV-IQ303 Palmcorder I used to back in the 1990s to grab an insert shot in 2020.

I also applied the same care to a new master for the INERTIA doc-—though some footage was completely lost to mold. If only I'd teamed up with Lunchmeat sooner...

And before you leave the Lunchmeat YouTube page, check out a bonus 20 minutes excised from this podcast in which Mr. Schafer reveals his favorite VHSeven tapes from his collection of over 1,000 cassettes! The man has a veritable video store in his house, and don't you want to know which flicks are his favorite?!

I'm very grateful for all of the support Josh has shown me. He's really championed our shot-on-video Crow film and documentary, and it's been so gratifying to learn of the adaptation's growing reputation as a sought-after underground tape.

For example.. There is a site - - that lists our adaptation of James O'Barr's The Crow at $10,000! That's bonkers, and I have to imagine that person doesn't even have a copy.

Thanks to Lunchmeat, you can watch that sucker for free on YouTube looking better than it ever has, and you can pop the documentary into your trusty VCR!

Josh partners with all sorts of cool people to do all manner of cool shit.

Last summer, he teamed up with ADJUST TRACKING to present a screening of our VHS CROW film up in Canada.

Through Lunchmeat, Josh has facilitated countless screenings, tape swaps, and VHS-driven gatherings, most notably creating the largest VHS-centric live event in the country with DRIVE-IN VHS Fest, held at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater in Lehighton, Pennsylvania. This year's DRIVE-IN VHS Fest is taking place on July 8th & 9th, so get your tickets, tapeheads!

Josh also co-created HOME VIDEO HORRORS with artist and photographer Jacky Lawrence—another awesome Instagram follow--he helped launch a 70,000 title-strong video store (where all the rentals were free!) called VIDEO VORTEX in Raleigh, NC, and co-authored STUCK ON VHS: A Visual History of Video Store Stickers.

Oh, and check out HIS podcast, VHSnackin' on which he, and his pal Phil from The Spook House horror podcast remember their 90's rental-store favorites. They serve up lots of nostalgic laughs (I love Phil's impressions), as well as creative snacks inspired by their movie of the month.

It was my distinct pleasure to interview Josh for this first bonus episode of the Dreaming Out Loud podcast.

Links to listen (and subscribe!) HERE.


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