As you probably know by now, Wild & Woolly plans to permanently close their doors in March. The news wasn’t overwhelmingly surprising to me, as just about every brick and mortar video rental shop seems to have bit the dust. That’s not to say I’m not disappointed, as Wild & Woolly has been a sort of institution for myself and a hundred thousand other movie-lovers, but I do feel the timing might be perfect. After ear X-tacy died a painfully slow, embarrassing death a few years ago with the owner practically begging for help, maybe Todd Brashear has the right idea by getting out while his business is still making money. I mean, come on, what are the odds that a video rental shop will be profitable in 2020? I don’t care how business savvy you are, because with Red Box and Netflix in existence, it probably ain’t happening. I find it admirable that Todd has decided to go out the way he is, without a sign of any regret or blame. It’s kind of like seeing your sports hero retire coming off of a championship, reminiscent of the way John Elway went out. Now that’s class.
In commemoration of Louisville’s favorite movie rental store, I’d like to tell you my favorite personal Wild & Woolly story. In 2003, my brother graduated high school. The night of his graduation, I had a serious dilemma as Ken Foree (who infamously played “Peter” in Dawn of the Dead) was scheduled make an appearance at Wild & Woolly for a night of pictures, autographs and a little Q&A. Did I choose to see my flesh and blood celebrate his graduation? Fuck no! Of course not! Ken fucking Foree was in Louisville and I had to meet him! Thanks to W&W, this happened for me.
I could write more about how much I’m going to miss Wild & Woolly, and how much I hope the location doesn’t become another Panera Bread, but instead I’d like to share a few films the staff at W&W recommended to me that in one way or another changed my perception of what I like about movies. So without further adieu, here are my top five favorite movies that were recommended by the friendly staff of Wild & Woolly:
THE WICKER MAN (1973)
Over the years, this has become one of my absolute favorite movies. Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle is charismatic and terrifying, while Edward Woodward as is uptight and straight to the fucking point. I really like the scene where he accuses all of the school children and the teacher as being “despicable little liars.” He’s so damned pissed off and I love it. “And you are the biggest liar off them all!”
AMERICAN MOVIE (1999)
If you haven’t seen it, American Movie is a documentary about indie filmmaker Mark Borchardt and his quest to shoot his horror short “Coven.” Nothing seems to go right, but Mark stays the course. He really seems like an intelligent and insightful guy, but it at times he just can’t get out of his own way. I love the scene where he’s trying to put another actors head through the cabinet, but the door won’t break and he nearly gives the guy a concussion.
The staff at Wild & Woolly introduced me to Dario Argento with this movie, and holy shit what an introduction! This isn’t just a movie about witches, it’s more about atmosphere and the sensation that around the corner something is going to scare the fuck out of you. While the opening 15 minutes are already worth the price of admission, the scene where the girl gets caught in the barbed wire still gets to me.
THE CHANGELING (1980)
This isn’t only my favorite George C. Scott movie, but my favorite ghost story. Actually, The Changeling becomes more of a creepy detective story that keeps getting more and more interesting. The scene after the séance where Scott’s character is reviewing the audio tape is especially unsettling.
This “vampire story” is fucking compelling. Is he a vampire? Or isn’t he? Martin surely thinks he is, and his reasoning seems to be sincere. I’ve always thought that the creaters of the television show Dexter must have been fans of this movie, as both main characters knock out their victims with a tranquilizer-filled syringe. While this isn’t my favorite George Romero movie, it is absolutely my favorite “vampire movie,” even if Martin may or may not be one.
WORTH MENTIONING: Wild & Woolly has begun a liquidation sale. This means that every movie they’ve ever rented is now up for grabs for the right price. Read more about here.