Blog, It Came from Canada — July 1, 2014 1:28 pm

It Came From Canada: Jumbo Video

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When you utter the words “Jumbo Video” to a Canadian, the first response it elicits is a fond memory of free popcorn—its slogan from 1990-1998 was “Home of Free Popcorn”, after all. The second? A chill runs down their spine as they remember the Jumbo Video horror dungeon.

jumbo-video-logo-originalThe original Jumbo Video logo.

Jumbo Videos began popping up in 1987 and survived until 2004 when financial issues influenced the sale of the chain to Quebecor Media. Jumbo is still around, but re-branded, and with very few stores surviving. The closest one to me is two hours away.

jumbo-video-logo-rebrandedAnd the re-branded logo.

As a child, going to Jumbo Video was an experience. The store was massive—an endless maze of VHS titles to explore in every direction. You got your free bag of popcorn at the front of the store and set out on an adventure to find that weekend’s video rental.

Even Rick Moranis liked Jumbo Video!

As you made your way through the store, taking stock of the cartoons, new releases, comedies, and other videos, you might happen upon a snack aisle. A personal staple for me was the Lucky Elephant Popcorn, which was pink candy-coated popcorn that came in a box with stickers inside. Why I chose to buy popcorn when I was already eating popcorn can only attest to my love of popcorn. How many more times can I use the word popcorn in this article? Popcorn popcorn popcorn. Another popcorn-related story: when I was little, instead of holding my hand in the mall like proper parents, mine would just buy a bag of popcorn at Kernels and hold it at toddler-level. I would follow closely behind, munching on popcorn the entire time. Popcorn.

Jumbo Video commercials featured top-notch celebrity impersonators.

If you remember Jumbo Video, we know why you’re really here reading this article. You want the deets on that Jumbo Video horror dungeon. On the main, wide-open area of the store, you’d find no spooky titles. Jumbo Video took the horror genre seriously and kept every horror movie in a separate room at the back of the store. This wasn’t just some weird back room with sticky linoleum floors, either—this was a dungeon, plain and simple. Enter through the gated castle door-shaped entrance and you were greeted with fake candle sconces lining the walls along with the heads of classic horror movie characters. Cotton cobwebs and plastic spiders adorned the fake stone walls. Jumbo Video went all out and even played spooky music and sound effects to up the creepy factor in the dungeon. Some stores even had life-size cutouts of Jason, Freddy, and Pinhead. If you were really lucky, yours may even have had a Freddy mannequin in a cage.

This wasn’t a small space with a couple hokey cotton balls stuck to the wall. This was a big room with a huge horror selection—something that never translated to the likes of Blockbusters or Rogers.

I was terrified of this room. Absolutely terrified! I remember Pinhead especially freaking me out and I wouldn’t go near Freddy, either. But I munched on my popcorn and tried to brave it before scooting out of there and renting something a little more in line with my tastes. And it’s funny, I can’t remember much of what we’d rent on a regular basis, but I vividly remember the experience of going to Jumbo Video.

What are your fondest memories of Jumbo Video? Did you frequent a different video rental chain?

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