Black Dog Newsletter March 29 – April 4 “Shrinkage Issues Edition!”


Oh, George!

So I recently saw a story on the intrawebs detailing how Netflix is suffering from a bout of shrinkage, how they have lost more than 2500 titles in the last couple of years (US Netflix but you can do the math) which equals about 1/3rd of their catalogue. Not too surprising but that’s a huge number. I couldn’t imagine losing a third of our stock. In fact, our collection is ever increasing. Just one more reason to head on down to your local and grab some fine, quality entertainment! That said, it’s a pretty slight selection for new releases this week. But don’t fret as we have scads of great things to tantalize your sweet eyeballs!

New Releases


Cartel Land – Heavy-duty, Oscar nominated documentary about some upstart vigilante type fellows who take on Mexico’s murderous drug cartels. Might make a nice double bill with Sicario. Or maybe a nice double bill with Love, Actually if that previously mentioned double bill is too heavy for you.


Concussion – Will Smith puts away the smarm and breaks out his acting boots to play a real life doctor who uncovers the truth about why football players keep getting concussions. I dunno, maybe it’s because 300 pound monsters run full speed at each other head-first like a couple of mountain goats vying for the attention of the lady mountain goats? My head hurts just writing about this.


Point Break – The remake that we’ve all been waiting for! My belly button has been puckering and un-puckering with anticipation ever since I heard about this! Same story – a young FBI guy infiltrates some extreme sports guys who’ve been doing some extreme heists and everyone high fives and gets all extreme. Soundtrack by Extreme. But really, no Swayze, no Canoe Reeves, what’t the point?


Veteran – Fun-looking action comedy from Korea finds a gritty detective going after a spoiled rich kid who keeps buying his way out of the crimes he commits. Or as the IMDB description puts it, “A detective hunts down a young and successful man.” How can you say no to that?!

Coming Soon!

Banshee S3
Break Point
Doc Martin S7
East Side Sushi
The Expanse S1
Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Recently Viewed and Recommended!

Cartel Land
The Big Short
Hateful 8
Leftovers S2
Fargo S2
The Editor
Game of Thrones S5

For more swell recommendations please click this button.

Have a fine week folks. Enjoy the beautiful sunshine. Go for a walk, pet a dog, drink wine in the park and remember, keep watching.

Copyright © 2016 Black Dog Video, All rights reserved.

Black Dog Newsletter March 22nd to 28th “Beer and Hockey Edition!”


Now that’s some Old Time Hockey!

Just wanted to throw some words out to you about a cool charity event that I’m involved in this weekend. I’ll be playing some hockey at a charity beer festival at Britannia Ice Rink this coming Saturday (26th). There will be hockey and beer and music and beer and a little hockey and even some beer! Check out the details here.

New Releases!


All Roads Lead to Rome – Ugh. Why did I get this? Horse-headed Sarah Jessica Parker goes to Italy to reconnect with her daughter, eat some hay and get mixed up in some romantic hijinks. I apologize in advance if you accidentally watch this.


Daddy’s Home – Uptight step-dad Will Farrell is trying to get his step-children to love him and call him dad. Marky-Mark, who’s their real father and drives a motorcycle (so you know he’s a badass), returns home and causes problems. This is the kind of comedy that, listed under plot keywords on the IMDB , one can find things such as “basketball hitting special needs child in the face” and “basketball hitting cheerleader in the face”. Let the hilarity ensue.


Don Verdean – A biblical archeologist, who’s fallen on hard times for some reason, starts to bend the truth about his discoveries. Bring on the comedy! From the doods who brought you Napoleon Dynamite. Stars Sam Rockwell so it has that going for it.


Flowers – Spanish film about a woman who receives flowers on a regular basis but without a note. It’s a mystery! I never get flowers anymore. Makes me sad.


Forsaken – Some Sutherlands (Donald and Kiefer) get together to fight some ruthless land barons in this gritty western. I’ll see your two Sutherlands and raise you one Demi Moore! Call!


Hateful Eight – Tarantino’s latest is a western that finds a bunch of potty-mouthed criminals and bounty hunters holed up in a shack in the middle of winter. There’s a mystery to be solved and bullets to be fired and the “N” word to be thrown around. Pretty fun flick (not near the top of the QT canon), if overly long, with a stellar cast (Walton Freakin’ Goggins!) and boasts some amazing cinematography.


Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II – The last instalment in the Hungry Games series finds Katniss and the rebels storming the capital to take out Donald Sutherland (again!) and restore order to the hungry lands.


Midwinter of the Spirit – Intense and scary looking British TV show about a female exorcist and all the exorcizing she must do. I need more exorcizing I have to say. Getting old.

Coming Soon!

Cartel Land
Point Break
Banshee Season 3
Break Point

Recently Viewed and Recommended

The Big Short
Games of Thrones Season 5
The Editor
Bone Tomahawk
Hateful Eight
Leftovers Season 2
Fargo Season 2

That’s it for this week folks. Spring has sprung, love is in the air (is that what that smell is?) and there’s movies to be watched. Hope to see you soon.

Copyright © 2016 Black Dog Video, All rights reserved.

Black Dog Newsletter March 15 – 21 “Saving the Day Edition!”



Every year at this time one is left to ponder, why do we still have daylight savings? I bet you’re pondering it right at this moment. If you’re like me, and I’m sure that you are, you hate it. I got suckered by it twice this weekend, once Sunday morning as well all did and then again Monday as I woke up at 8:30 am (on the old clock), friskily jumped out bed, ready to take on the day! Of course it was 9:30. Lost another hour I did. Dang. We can thank the Germans or the farmers or the German farmers for this nonsense. Why don’t we just stop? Someone stop the madness!

Great week for releases it is. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.

New Releases


Alvin and the Chipmunks 4: Road Chip – I guess they needed to make another one of these blasted things. What else is Jason Lee going to do to pay the bills? I also guess that a road chip is a piece of chipmunk poo? That probably sums up the movie right there.


The Big Short -Excellent comedy (yes comedy – it’s made by Adam MacKay who made Anchorman and Step Brothers (but don’t let that stop you from watching this fine film) – dealing with the housing bubble and all the confusing corruption thrust upon the people by the big banks. Why aren’t those pricks in jail? Has a great cast, Pitt, Carrell, Bale and our favourite baby duck, Ryan Gosling.


Brooklyn – No it’s not a film about beards and hipsters and kombucha but the tale of an Irish woman moving to NY in the 1950s where she falls in love and stuff. Heard very nice things about this very nice movie.


Carol – Mentioned this fine film last week but we have it at both stores now.


Game of Thrones Season 5 – More dragons! More boobs! More beheadings! More! MORE! (Word of caution – we’re still waiting for most of our shipment to arrive – looks like Wednesday. Our apologies)


Sisters – Two funny ladies – Amy Poehler and Tiny Fey are a couple of siblings (the title kind of gives that away) who decide to throw one last party before their parents sell the family home. Hilarity, I presume, ensues.


Spoils of Babylon – Hilarious little mini-series finds siblings Kristen Wiig and Tobey McGuire driving everyone bonkers with their crazy love for each other. I wonder if that means what I think it means. Part of me hopes so. Will Ferrell adds to the yuks.


Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine – I guess it has been a few weeks since we’ve last seen something on Steve Jobs. I mean seriously, how many projects to we need on the man? I can only hope that he at least fights a bear in this or goes to outer space or fights a bear in space. Space Bear! Directed by Alex Gibney (Going Clear – Scientology doc) so it has that going for it.

Coming Soon

Daddy’s Home
Everything Will be Fine
Hungry Games: Mockingjay Part 2
Midwinter of the Spirit

Recently Viewed and Recommended

Finders Keepers
The Big Short
The Tribe
The Editor

For more recommendations hit this right here!

Follow us on the Facebooks and the Twitters and the Instagrams (Sorry no snapchat)

See you all next week.

Copyright © 2016 Black Dog Video, All rights reserved.

Black Dog Newsletter March 8 – 14 “Famous Celebrities Edition!”


Sorry Kevin, but we’re not hiring.

Yes, that’s filmmaker and all round good dude, Kevin Smith posing in the Commercial store on Monday. He was amazed that there was still a video store in town and totally stoked to find out he had his own section. He was like a kid in a candy store. Neat! We’ve had a few famous folks who’ve some through our doors over the years; Matt Dillon (cool guy), Oliver Stone (weren’t allowed to talk to him), Benicio Del Toro (stole a movie) and Udo Kier (one of my favourites!) No George Clooney yet though. Dare to dream.

Big thanks to all who came out on this past Saturday to show their love and support while grabbing some quality entertainment, enjoying some cake and balloons to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Good times were had by all. And a shout-out to Bomber Brewing for donating a swell tour and tasting prize as well as the Cinematheque for chipping in with some movie passes. Let’s hope that we can do this again 20 years from now!

In case you missed it or would like to revisit, here’s a link to the Black Dog blog and a nice little tale of how we came to be. It’s sure has been a long strange trip.

New Releases


Androgynym – Underground horror/thriller about a sex-addicted thug who’s goes on the lam and then, for some reason, attempts to redefine his gender using extreme measures. You can take from that what you will. At Commercial location only.


Carol – Swell looking film from Todd Haynes (Superstar: Karen Carpenter Story, Far From Heaven) finds Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett falling in forbidden love during the 1950s. Was nominated for some awards or something. (At Cambie soon to Commercial)


Entertainment – New weirdo flick from the weirdo filmmaker who made The Comedy finds a broken down comedian (Neil Hamburger) playing a string of terrible shows in the Mojave desert. This played at VIFF this past fall to (mostly) awesome reviews. Sounds pretty much right up my alley although my alley can be best described as weird at times.


The Forbidden Room – Another weirdo film from the great odd Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin follows a never-before-seen woodsman (?!) who mysteriously appears in a trapped underwater submarine (where else would you find one of those things?) that is carrying some sort of unstable cargo. Best not to try to describe it too much as I may go crazy in doing so. Stars the awesome Udo Keir, so there ya go.


Floride – An old man who’s losing his memory (but refuses to admit such) decides to go to Florida for some reason. French comedy and hijinks, I presume, ensue.


In the Heart of the Sea – Thor fights a whale in this remake or retelling or reboot of Moby Dick.


Kilo Two Bravo – Intense heavy war drama about a bunch of British soldiers surrounded by a nasty mine field. Such an insidious invention. I hope whoever invented these things (Gary Minefield?) is happy with himself.


Peanut’s Movie – I used to quite enjoy the Peanuts when I was a kid until I came to the realization that it was quite preachy and kind of boring. Great music though. This is a movie version.


Punk’s Dead – SLC Punk 2 – A trio of young punks embark on a road trip to a big punk rock show. Sex drugs and punk music are the order of the day in this sequel to SLC Punk from many a moon ago.


The Tribe – Odd intense bleak film about a deaf kid making his way through a boarding school for the deaf. No dialogue and no subtitles make for challenging viewing but, from what I’ve been told, an awesome shattering disturbing experience. Yes please!


Victor Frankenstein – An interesting take on the overdone story of the Frankenstein (yes THAT Frankenstein) told from the perspective of Igor (played by Harry Potter – he is kinda weird looking) as he grows up and comes to hang with the famous mad doctor.

Coming Soon

Game of Thrones Season 5
The Big Short
Alvin and The Chipmunks 4
Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine

Recently Viewed and Recommended

Americans Season 3
Leftovers Season 2
Fargo Season 2
Broad City Season 2

That’s it for this week, folks. Stay dry. Stay warm. Keep watching.

Copyright © 2016 Black Dog Video, All rights reserved.

Black Dog Newsletter March 1st-7th “Reflections Edition!”



Only a few more days until our 20th Anniversary extravaganza! Drop in this Saturday to either Black Dog and say hi, enjoy some cake, rent 2 flicks and get a third for free, pick up a great Black Dog T-Shirts for only $15, rent something to enter our fabulous raffle. Prizes include a 10 film punch card, T-Shirt and an amazing tour of Bomber Brewing plus tasting for you and 3 of your friends. Tell your fiends! Tell your enemies! Bring your dog! Bring your enemies dog! Should be a fun day. Hope to see all of your lovely faces.

In keeping with the spirit of the anniversary here’s a little blog post I put together about how we got to where we are.

New Releases!


Americans S3 – Everyone’s favourite spies are back doing their best to win the Cold War for Mother Russia! Very good show.


Broad City S2 – One of the funniest shows on the TVs is back with Season 2. Get this in your face!


Creed – I so wanted to write the words “Best Actor winner Sylvester Stallone” but it was not to be. That quiet guy from Bridge of Spies won for wearing a nice hat. I’m not too sure what number this falls into for the Rocky series – 9? 10? Remember the one in space? That was awesome. Ahem. I’ve heard nothing but great things about this latest instalment. Lot of punching and life lessons, I presume, can be found here.


The Danish Girl – That guy from Jupiter Ascending (I believe he won a Razzie award for that film) stars as artist Lili Elbe who was a pioneer in the world of transgender confirmation things. Much drama and crying and yelling and acting, I presume, ensues.


Jerusalem – Very nice looking IMAX 3-D (you can watch in in not 3-D as well) doc about the famed city. Rents a little cheaper as it’s a short film.


Legend – Tom Hardy plays both Kray brothers – notorious British gangsters (also played a few years back by the twins from the band Spandau Ballet in the great film The Krays) from back in the day. Two for one on Tom Hardys in aisle three! Oh my, I’m swooning here.


MacBeth – Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) stars in this latest edition of the famed play written by Shakespeare’s sister. As rumour has it.


The Night Before – Three life-long friends Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50/50 to his friends), Seth Rogan and Anthony Mackie spend Christmas Eve looking for a killer party. What are the odds that Seth Rogan smokes weed and laughs in this fun flick, 50/50? From the writer/director of The Wackness and 50/50.


Room – Award winning heavy drama about a mom and her kid held in captivity (probably the room of the title) by some sick freak. They finally escape after more than 5 years and have to adjust to “normal” life. Not to be confused with noted thespian Tommy Wiseau’s epic The Room.


Togetherness Season 1 – Excellent new TV series from the Duplass Brothers (Safety Not Guaranteed, Your Sister’s Sister) about two couples who decide to share a home for some reason. Check this one out.


Victoria – Awesome looking German film about a woman falling in with the wrong crowd. Crimes and misdemeanours ensue. Of note – the film was done in one continuos shot. Amazing since it’s over 2 hours long. Heard very good things about this little number.


We Are Twisted Fucking Sister! – Don’t really need to expand on this title do we now? Well maybe a little – new doc about those wacky guys guys behind that terrible song “We’re Not Gonna Take It!” Enjoy.


Youth – Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel are best friends hanging out in the Alps when one of them gets a call from the Queen. What’s that all about you ask? From the director of The Great Beauty. At Cambie, soon to Commercial.

Coming Soon!

In the Heart of the Sea
Victor Frankenstein
Peanuts Movie
The Big Short
Game of Thrones Season 5

Recently Viewed and Recommended

Leftovers Season 2
Fargo Season 2
99 Homes
The Editor

Have a fine week my lovelies. See you Saturday. Viva la Video Stores!

Copyright © 2016 Black Dog Video, All rights reserved.

Reflections On The Way We Were and Are


I had much more hair 20 years ago.

It all started in a hot spring in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico during American Thanksgiving. It was the fall of 1995, I had just left my job fixing bicycles and my friend, Larry, and I decided that a 5 week road trip through the American Southwest was in order. When you spend 5 weeks in a car with someone many topics of conversation are broached (not to mention a certain desire to occasionally kill one’s travelling companion. Just kidding, Larry, you know I love ya!)). One topic that came up time and time again was what was I going to do when I returned? I loved movies and I was constantly lamenting the fact that there weren’t any good video stores in my neighbourhood (Cambie and 18th). Sure there was Megamovies and Blockbuster but, as you know, they were shit. I remember going there on occasion, browsing for a while and then leaving dejected and empty-handed wanting to kill myself. Sad days.

So it was while soaking in those lovely hot springs during American Thanksgiving in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico that I decided that I was going to open my own goddamn video store! And that’s what I did. It took about 3 months to get everything organized – securing a location, raising the capital, buying the films and so on. Black Dog Video (named after my girlfriend’s black Labrador Retriever) opened for business on March 5th, 1996 in a tiny 800 square foot store on Cambie St. with about 900 movies and a boatload of enthusiasm. We made about $100 that day and I thought that was pretty amazing. I had all of these great ideas for Black Dog. So many video stores were lame in their layout and their decor. I wanted something different. Something that reflected my aesthetics. I had my old classic monster models shipped out (almost all of them were eventually stolen), installed nice lighting and astroturf, and built everything ourselves. I thought it looked pretty cool. In keeping with the dog theme I wanted to use dog biscuits with corresponding numbers written on them to rent out the films. The plan was to write a number on the biscuit, shellac it so it wouldn’t rot, Velcro it and fasten it to the shelf. Folks would bring up the biscuit and get the film that they wanted. I spent many hours in my basement shellacking and Velcroing. I imagine that you can see where this is going. The very first day of business, in the very first hour a customer came on with their dog and much to the dog’s delight the store had free snacks right at mouth level! Before anyone could do anything the big yellow lab had eaten about 6 shellacked, Velcroed dog biscuits right off the shelf. That ended that “great” idea.

Those early days were pretty damn fun. I had less children (none) and led a much more carefree existence. We’d sneak beer down the alley from Kino on Saturday nights, enjoy exchanges with other businesses in the hood – movies for food/drink etc. It was wonderful. The Cambie hood sure was a different animal when we first got started.

Business was great back in those days. I knew that we’d done the right thing when notes and resumes would appear under the door while we were renovating. “Hurry up and open, we can’t wait” was a familiar refrain. Two things that I learned early on was a) not to hire friends – it seemed like a great idea at the time but it changes the dynamic of the relationship pretty fast when all of a sudden you’re the boss. I had some friends that did a great job and one or two that, well, not so much. It works much better to hire people you don’t know and then become friends afterwards. I’ve made excellent friends with some of my employees (and customers for that matter) which is pretty darned amazing. The other thing I learned is, while it’s OK to solicit advice from others, stick to your guns and follow what you believe is the right path. When we first opened I didn’t really know how the rental business worked. I hooked up with this company that leased films. The guy I dealt with told me I needed X amount of copies of new releases. What he didn’t tell me was that they have a relatively short shelf life. I remember him telling me that I need 6 copies of this piece of shit Keanu Reeves film, A Walk in the Clouds. And remember, this is back in the day when new release VHS tapes cost around $100. So I reluctantly agreed. And man did I pay the price. That stupid decision almost sunk us right out of the gate. Nobody rented it. I took an almost $600 bath. I even resorted to putting rented tags on half of them to try to drum up interest. So from that moment on, I decided what was going on the shelves and how many copies. I still make mistakes to this day doing it but at least I only have myself to blame. Well, me and Keanu Reeves.

It only took a couple of years to outgrow our first location and we moved across the street into the digs that where we currently reside. Business hummed along quite nicely for years, many of the employees staying on for a long time. My role behind the desk declined as business was good enough that I didn’t have to work at the store. When I was doing research into the logistics of opening a video store (there was actually a binder on that very subject with tons of info at City Hall) one of the comments that has always stuck with me was “high propensity for absentee ownership”. I liked the sound of that. And while it was true and I didn’t work a lot at the stores after a while, I did miss it as I liked most of the customers and I really enjoyed working at “The Dog” as it became to be known. It was fun. We had some great parties there. That was back when I enjoyed staying up late as the parties wouldn’t get started until after we closed and they would carry on until the sun came up. Think sex drugs and rock and roll and you kind of get the picture. Good, hazy times.

In the summer of 2004, my wife and I bought our first home. It was a nice little bungalow up around Fraser and 33rd. Then we found out the she was pregnant. And then in early October of that year the grow-op that was secretly housed in the apartment above the store caught fire. The resulting smoke and water damage destroyed Black Dog. All of our tapes, shelves, equipment – everything – was wrecked. I remember standing in the middle of the dark smoky store, ankle deep in water, weeping. Shit, that was an awful feeling – looking around at everything we had built and seeing it turned to garbage. What was I going to do?

Actually there was no question – I was going to rebuild. And that’s just what we did. Three friends and myself spent about 2 months working in the gross, mould-riddled building, gutting it and then re-shaping it into what it is now. We rebuilt the walls, the shelves, the desk, the ceiling, the floor, everything. It was a lot of work but it was fun at the same time. If there was one positive to having almost our entire VHS tape collection destroyed, is that it was destroyed right when the big format shift to DVD was happening. The silver lining: insurance covered replacing our collection, so we replaced all our destroyed tapes with DVDs. It was great fun going to my distributor’s warehouse with shopping carts and buying thousands of movies.

Another amazing thing that came out of the fire was the love and support that the community showed Black Dog. Choices grocery store down the block threw a fundraiser for the all-of-a-sudden out-of-work employees and hundreds of people showed up on a rainy Saturday afternoon to help out. The outpouring of support (and money) was quite amazing and touching in many ways. It helped the employees get through the next few months until we could re-open and really made me feel that we were a valuable part of this little community. I felt bad our new guy, Duncan, who showed up for his second shift that Sunday morning only to find the store destroyed. We laugh about it now.

So we re-opened just before Christmas of 2004 and the response was so over-whelming. Folks brought us gifts of cakes and booze and flowers. It was pretty fucking great I have to say. It was amazing to be back.

So we had our first (and only, thank christ :)) child in the summer of 2005. It was then that I thought it was a good idea to open a second location because I didn’t have enough on my plate with running the Cambie store and getting used to being a dad. We took over the old Celluloid Drugstore in October of that year and haven’t looked back since. I always think of the Commercial location as Cambie’s grimy little East Side brother. It’s a fun and interesting place to say the least. I work mostly there now as it’s just down the street from my house (we sold our first place in 2008 and bought over there when things were still remotely affordable). It’s much different than the Cambie location being on the east side and all that that entails. I could tell you stories.

So we hit 20 years of being in business this coming Saturday March 5th, 2016. It blows my mind that I’ve been this privileged to be doing something that I love (most of the time – up yours, taxes!) for a good chunk of life. It’s been a long strange trip. We’ve had many amazing people work for us and come to us for great movies. We’ve made fine friends and a few enemies (there’s been a couple of misguided fools who accused us of being racist because of our name. One woman even wrote a multi-page diatribe about how I was the worst person on the planet and that she hoped that I would end up being thrown into the world’s largest volcano!). We’ve seen kids grown up into adults, we’ve had people get married (and then divorced) in the store. We’ve had good people die (R.I.P. John) and people go on to open their own successful video stores (2 friends 1 brother).

I don’t know what the future will hold for Black Dog. We’ve survived fire, transit construction, floods, rocks through windows, barfing dogs, pooping kids and flying monkeys but now we face our biggest challenge – The Interweb! We’ve been on the precipice of closing (thank you again to all the people who saved our bacon during our Indiegogo campaign in 2014) but, as the last video store standing in Vancouver, we are going to do our best to be here as long as we can. And with the continued love and support of all of you good people, I’m looking forward to more great years and more great films to come.