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Image by Archi Banal
Image by Archi Banal

Pop CultureJanuary 18, 2024

An ode to the weird bach DVD collection

Image by Archi Banal
Image by Archi Banal

There’s no better feeling than arriving at a bach and seeing that dusty little pile of random DVDs beneath the television, writes Alex Casey. 

For many of us, the long summer holiday period is over and we’ve returned to our desks with a few more happy memories and hopefully not quite as much sun damage. We’ll flick back through the photos, revive personal jokes in the group chat, tip out the last grains of sand from our tote bags, but what will we remember in a month, a year? I hope to remember the rattling of Rummikub tiles in the scorching sun, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ by way of YouTube karaoke, and shivering on the beach in torrential rain as we screamed farewell to 2023. 

I will also, possibly above all else, remember watching Kath & Kim season three on DVD. 

Just as a trip to Hanmer Springs was defined by Mr Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie, Wainui by the Atmosfear DVD game, Pukehina by The Fellowship of the Ring, the random assortment of DVDs at any bach can have a profound impact on the lasting impression of a holiday. They are also, often, my favourite part. Away from the constant deluge of content, the overwhelming choice paralysis, and the inevitable funk that comes from wasting 20 minutes on yet another Netflix shitter, you simply have to give yourself over to a hodgepodge curated by a stranger. 

Trying to unwind like…

The first rule of a bach DVD collection? No Fight Club. No “cool” or “edgy” movies allowed. There must be at least one early 2000s British rom com, ideally ft. Hugh Grant. There must be at least one Adam Sandler film. There must be at least one DVD that is actually a 3-in-1 DVD, which features at least one movie that seems entirely fake. There must be either a copy of The Scorpion King or something really similar in energy to The Scorpion King. There must be at least one interactive DVD game, and a handful of loose pirated DVDs in skimpy sleeves.

Finally, sequels reign supreme here. If you find only the first seasons of a TV show or the first movies from a franchise available – run. This is not a real bach, these are not your real friends and family, and Nigel Latta is about to emerge from behind the two way mirror in the bathroom to tell you that you’ve been swindled by a sophisticated AirBnb scam.

When you discover a true blue bach DVD collection, you discover the wonder of movies all over again. Despite having access to thousands of hours of the best movies and television series ever made at all hours of the day, suddenly nothing feels more urgent than voting on which crappy old movie is the most deserving of your precious holiday time. Happy Gilmore or Billy Madison? Ice Age 3 or The Land Before Time? Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest or Bridget Jones 2: The Edge of Reason? Or why not both? 

There’s also the joy of being forced to return to using exclusively physical media. You can hold each movie in your hand and marvel at how the cover art doesn’t randomly change based on which cast member the algorithm decides has the most appealing cleavage. And the menu! The interactive DVD menu! Navigating the confusing menu for Kath & Kim season three consisted of patiently clicking through different buttons on an early 2000s Nokia cellphone onscreen. We watched a disc every night, and then the blooper reel (another lost art form), and it was bliss. 

Returning to civilisation, I am bringing the spirit of the bach DVD collection with me. I hope to hold onto the renewed sense of wonder at having choices, but also the discipline to stick to those choices and just watch the whole damn movie, instead of farting about and thinking that halfway through M. Night Shyamalan’s Old is in fact the perfect time to start The Sopranos. We’re lucky in Ōtautahi to still have Alice in Videoland, where you can spend about as much as a Netflix subscription for unlimited rentals from one of the largest movie collections in the country (they also do a postal service). 

And if the moment should come where I have watched all my DVD hires, I’ll skulk back to Netflix with that newfound vision and purpose, and head straight for Kath & Kim seasons 1, 2 and 4. 

Keep going!