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Escape From Alcatraz movie review and the Tomb of Tapes at VideOdyssey Studios

by Andy Johnson. Published Tue 13 Apr 2021 10:04, last updated: 13/04/21

Dear Reader,

Writing this on the inside of a Weetabix box, procured when the wardens weren't watching this morning, before sending it to the publications who might dare to run these meandering thoughts... Purple Revolver.

Hopefully someone out there will read this and send help, coffee and lawyers.

Have you been staring at the surrounding four walls and thinking they're moving ever so slightly closer... is that person you live with looking at you funny when eating your evening meal... Are you feeling a bit Stir Crazy like Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder?

Still dreaming of a daring dash through a loophole you carefully cultivate in the lockdown labyrinth? My advice is to put on Clint Eastwood's classic cinematic jailbreak - Escape From Alcatraz - and see just how far you can go.

Clint plays Frank Morris, a criminal with an exceptional I.Q. who after absconding from other jails, arrives at the maximum security prison on Alcatraz Island.

He is summoned to the warden (Patrick McGoohan), who takes palpable pleasure in informing him no inmate has ever escaped with their life. During the conversation, the warden fails to notice Frank steal one of the nail clippers on his desk, later used to scrape an escape.

There are other prison films worthy of note. Cool Hand Luke and Escape From New York, to name a couple. But this real life tale, adapted for the big screen in 1979, steals the show with its stripped back purity.

Ex-video shop clerk and famous Clint Eastwood fan Quentin Tarantino calls it: "both fascinating and exhilarating... cinematically speaking, it's Siegel’s most expressive film."

Shot on location at 'The Rock' in San Francisco Bay, after the prison closed due to the successful escape. Director Don Sigel, who collaborated with Clint on five films, including the iconic Dirty Harry perfectly captures the murderous tension, whilst making the characters human and likeable, so you will them to do it.

Watching it again recently, the most amazing scenes feature the prisoners' tiny cells. The very definition of claustrophobia.

Seeing how some inmates made themselves a home beyond the railings, with paintings and a few books. I've decided I lack any excuse not to tackle the mammoth task of cataloguing our VHS collection. What else should I do with this spare lockdown time?

Here at VideOdyssey Studios, you could drown in video tapes. We have amassed more than 10,000 in the three years we have been open.

The growing resurgence of tape collecting means we now need to know exactly what we've got in stock. This needs to be balanced with the fact the council recommends us as an alternative to people taking tapes to landfill, meaning we receive a constant influx of new inmates.

But fear not dear readers, this is what we signed up for, we're on a mission to save films from oblivion.

Everyone I speak with has an opinion on how they should be sorted. Genre order obviously. But also 'alphabetised. Numbered one onwards, like a music library. Dewey Decimal system has its advantages...'

It's enough to provoke a malaise of madness and to fully succumb to the fate of being buried in this... Tomb of Tapes.

The only real way to start sorting the sea of spines, replete with titles long cast away to obscurity... was to pull them onto the studio floor and create a giant Crystal Maze type puzzle and accept that this is the first step in my new hobby.

"Hobbies!? Ain't nobody got time for that!" You may be screaming at this printed page... and I can fully empathise, having a little boy called Luther who turns three at the end of the month.

But having watched this movie, I'm trying to harness the inspiration and carve out at least an afternoon a week to unlock this cinematic crypt.

So perhaps you can make time to have a play with your own brush and canvas, before your painting privileges are revoked by Boris and Co.

Can you still rent tapes and a VCR from us? Well I'd like to say no... I really would, so I can get finally sorted.

Although, I'm a big softie really... so yes! We are still serving up our Nostalgia SOS packs, which include rental of a VCR and 10 tapes featuring your favourite actors.

This proved popular on the original lockdown and we offer the service for free for the over 70s. So you can watch those old home movies on VHS.

We're also preparing a big relaunch at the film studio and shop, for when the world starts spinning again. Please check us out online - so you can get the invite for when we're ready to welcome visitors again. Until then, enjoy the view from The Rock.

Be kind, rewind!

Andy



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