Best Place to Rent Bad Movies

Video Vault
113 S Columbus St, Alexandria, VA 22314, (703) 549-8848

Alexandria’s Video Vault claims to have the worst movies in town, guaranteed. Jim and Jane McCabe opened the Old Town store in 1985, with the idea of stocking flicks you couldn’t find at the big chain stores (back then, it was Erol’s Video). The Vault now carries more than 60,000 titles (not counting adult films), including everything you’d find at a mainstream store plus the fruits of the McCabes’ obsession with cult, exploitation, and foreign films. They have a shelf crammed with every blood-drenched shocker by Dario Argento, plus a supporting cast of selections from the wider realm of Italian horror: Lucio Fulci, Mario Bava, Umberto Lenzi. The shop also has the entire collection of the breast-obsessed World War II photographer turned smutty filmmaker Russ Meyer. (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, etc.) Jim McCabe became enough of a figure in the cult film circuit that he went titty-bar-hopping with Meyer when the director visited town. If smut and gore aren’t enough for you, the McCabes also have more than 20 years of porn available for rent. Fifteen black binders next to the modern German cinema collection list all the titles, from the classics to new stuff to the high art of porn, like The Opening of Misty Beethoven by Radley Metzger, which tells the story of Pygmalion with a cheap blowjob artist who becomes a high-class hooker. The McCabes also pioneered mail-order video distribution way before Netflix. Jim credits John Waters with kick-starting the phenomenon—it’s a long story, and kind of boring.

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