It is difficult to describe to an on-demand society what it was like to not have access to almost everything you wanted immediately. For many of us in the last decades of the 20th century, this was a constant issue. The VCR really helped with this problem, but it was really the internet and faster connections that opened up the doors to what we have now. It is a glorious time to be alive, but things about the bygone eras are quickly vanishing. While we are quick to lament the demise of DVD or the VCR, because they are well know, other media has gone the way of the dinosaur and nobody blinked. One such media was the Super 8 home movie version of films.
In a pre-VCR world, film was king. If you wanted to watch a film, you needed to own a projector, screen, and a copy of the movie. This could get pricey, so alternatives arose. One of those was businesses that would edit and release a Super 8 home movie version of films. These would be condensed or highlight reels. Most of the time only 15+ minutes long at maximum. Although occasionally longer or even full featured.
One of my favorites of these Super 8 films was the Ken Films Super 8 home movie version of The Empire Strikes Back. Released on two reels. One amazing person was nice enough to edit them together and post them online. Watch it and you will see how satisfying even a condensed version of The Empire Strikes Back can be.
Watch Ken Films Super 8 home movie version of The Empire Strikes Back
Ken Films, which released a lot of these packaged films scored a coup when they released a 200′ color and sound Star Wars while the film was still playing in theaters. The Empire Strikes Back was Ken Film’s last 400’ non-MGM title, but they would continue to release films well into the early VCR age. Sadly the handwriting was on the wall for them. VCRs were just so darn convenient. Now these films just live on through garage sale purchases and the occasional digitization.