Checking Your Pulsions

  • videoarchives
  • October 18, 2022

The American Giallo theme continues all month on the Video Archives Podcast, and this week our guest customer Eli Roth stops by the After Show for a bonus interview! This is a wonderfully nostalgic episode, full of childhood memories of video stores and movie theaters, plus more thoughts from the gang on Dressed To Kill and Eyes Of Laura Mars. I’ve got French movie posters and some memories of my own on today’s Counter Talk – let’s get into it…


There’s a very important Video Archives first on today’s episode – it’s the first time you can hear my voice on mic! I’m always in the room during these recording sessions, monitoring levels or taking notes, and you’ve probably been able to pick out my laugh once or twice if you’re listening closely. But while tracking Gala’s voiceover for these after show episodes, Gala asked me my favorite Brian De Palma film, and I panicked and picked Mission: Impossible, probably the least cool possible answer. Given a little more time to think about it, I would have picked Carrie, or maybe I’d stick up for the under-appreciated Mission To Mars, although the original M:I is a top-tier franchise film. (I really had to fight with the podcast editor (myself) to keep this exchange in the final cut.)

It's me! Photo by Gala Avary

As long as I’m going first person in this newsletter, Eli’s stories of finding weird old horror titles at his local video rental shop got me flashing back to my early video store memories. I’m older than Gala but younger than Quentin and Roger, and I grew up in West Hollywood in the twilight of the video store era. Blockbuster had devoured most of the indie video stores by the time I was visiting them regularly (and within a decade, they would eat their just desserts and get devoured by Netflix.) But there were still a few indie stores in my Sunset Strip neighborhood, where friends and I would go to buy candy, show each other the funniest-looking boxes and hang out for hours. Even when we spent more time browsing around than actually renting titles, there’s no way I would have become the movie lover I am without those formative experiences in the VHS and DVD stacks.

Pictured: The dearly departed Video West in WeHo.

(I still remember the first R-rated film I ever checked out, with my parents’ help: 1994’s Speed. 30 years later, I’ve got nothing but a pension and a cheap gold watch, but I WILL get my nest egg!)

Roger shared some video store memories on this episode too - specifically, of the Dressed To Kill lobby card that once graced Video Archives. Last week, he also brought up the French Dressed To Kill poster that terrified a young Gala. Here’s that poster:

“Pulsions,” Dressed To Kill’s French title, means “compulsions” or “violent urges” in French – a very apt and Hitchcockian choice, though it lacks the wordplay of the English title. Here’s more from Roger on the cinematic journey this poster has taken:

Both True Romance & Killing Zoe were made back-to-back by French producer Samuel Hadida. I was on the set of True Romance providing writing services to Tony Scott, with Quentin’s blessing (he was busy directing Reservoir Dogs at the time). I was also preparing to direct Killing Zoe with the same producer, and so in both screenplays I made sure to sneak in mention of “a French Dressed to Kill” metro poster, simply because I had bought one in Paris, and since both films were to be shot in Los Angeles I had it placed into the backgrounds of both films, one in Eric’s “Parisian” flat in Killing Zoe, and the other in Clarence’s apartment in True Romance. Gala Avary grew up from a baby having that same French metro poster hanging in her bedroom over her crib. We still have it hanging in our home.

The poster in True Romance

The poster in Killing Zoe

To conclude this trip down memory lane, many of you have been writing in with your favorite movie theater experiences since Gala asked about it in the last After Show. This one comes from @80spowerextreme on Instagram:

“When I was 4 yrs old my mother took me and my older brother (7) to see Aliens. She, til this day, loves horror and sci-fi, and we talk all the time about the movies we're watching. Anyway, we went to a theater on Queens Blvd, which is no longer there, it was 1986. The theater was frigid. AC was on full blast. I remember just being so immersed in the movie because of how cold the theater was. How the crowd erupted when Ripley said 'Get away from her you bitch'. I've never had a theatrical experience like that since. I'm 40 now and still remember that night like it were yesterday.”

That sounds incredible - I’ve still never seen Aliens on the big screen!

Today’s merch photo comes from Murdoch MacNeil, who says “Working long hours on set is always made a little sweeter listening to the video archives pod! Always preaching the gospel to the fellow film workers! Thanks for everything you guys do.”

And that wraps it up for today – next week, we’ve got Quentin, Roger & Eli talking about the final two films of American Giallo month, Alice Sweet Alice and Happy Birthday To Me. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, check out the website at, and keep tuning in!