Feature: Scarecrow Video

by Mark Rahner, for Seattle Weekly

I don’t worry about Google searches, but if the NSA profiles people by what they rent at Scarecrow Video, I’m on a few watch lists.

On a recent two-for-one Wednesday, I’ve got a Nazisploitation flick, a couple of? ’60s Eurospy Bond knockoffs, and a spaghetti Western. Plus early-’70s Satanic-possession and women’s-prison movies on VHS that’ve never been on DVD.

“Stack o’ trash,” I say sheepishly at the counter. The clerk doesn’t judge me. She’s seen the particularly vile horror title in the stack. (Martyrs. You’re warned.) She recommends something similar for next time.

I began gorging each week when I recently considered leaving Seattle. I’d previously written for The Seattle Times that Scarecrow was the Alexandria library of video stores, and I wanted to take advantage while I could. (Disclosure: The store contributes surplus DVDs to my podcast.)

Recently I’d seen a couple of their jaw-dropping rare-clip compilations at the nearby Grand Illusion. A new espresso bar has a screening area with tables. Beer is even served during the free screenings—currently including Monday-night servings of the 1994 Showtime series Rebel Highway; the reggae documentary True Born African: The Story of Winston “Flames” Jarrett, who’ll attend the 6 p.m. Friday event; a crazy VHS compilation at 8 p.m. Saturday; and Sunday’s All About Eve (1 p.m.) and three TV episodes of Saved by the Bell (5 p.m.).

In addition to a powerful, searchable website, Scarecrow even has a podcast. It would appear that the iconic store—a perennial winner in our Best of Seattle® readers poll—is flourishing.

“What you’re seeing there is us trying new things to try to keep the store open,” owner Carl Tostevin tells me. “I would say we are struggling to the point that I just don’t know how long we are going to last.”

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