What is the deal with Films from the Basement? It’s a pretty typical story, actually. Since early 2000, I have been locked in the basement of what would eventually become The Nerd Mentality offices. I never saw sunlight or ate real food in that entire time, but I did have an allowance of $3 a week. I used this money to buy films to preserve my sanity. Unfortunately, with the budget being so low, I was only able to afford the cheapest, most terrible films and instructional videos available to mankind.
The majority of people have never seen or even heard about these films. Now that I have been released from the basement, I will be able to unleash these monstrosities and take over the wor … er, I mean, I will be able to share them with the world by the power of the internet. Join me, won’t you, as we delve into Films from the Basement! This time we will be looking at the educational film Smart Shopping for Good Nutrition.
The full title of this bad boy is Educational Video Network: Smart Shopping for Good Nutrition 2065D Interactive Educational Media. There is no run time listed anywhere on the box or the disc which already greatly worries me. I noticed it is a DVD-R, so it isn’t even a pressed disc. Apparently this is/was some kind of business that made money as the back of the DVD case has massive amounts of contact information including a fax number. Unfortunately most basements do not come equipped with a fax machine so I guess I won’t hear from them any time soon with my telegram.
The voice over guy sounds like he is speaking through an old Windows microphone. You know one of those little skinny plastic mics that came with your computer when your dad bought it from Sears in 1998? He sort of sounds like KITT from Knight Rider so at least it entertains enough that it doesn’t make me want to fall asleep. Right away the video assumes I’m watching this because I want to make changes in my diet. Well, if I did that I might live longer so there is no way they could convince me to make changes.
Any who, the camera sort of hides behind some weight lifting machinery and quietly watches someone with their workout. And the camera hides across the street watching old people eat brunch at some outdoor cafe. I wonder if anyone actually knew they were being filmed for educational purposes? Is it like donating your organs to science after you die? Hey old guy, I wanted to get your permission to film you as an example in our Smart Shopping video, is that OK? Yes, yes sign here on the dotted line mwahahaha!
The friendly voice tells me that I need to learn how to sort out the claims from advertising and shows a list of those kinds of magazines you see at the super market checkout. You know like Women’s Day, Low Calorie Digest, Cooking Life, Weight Watchers, Eating Well, Prevention Magazine, Old Men’s Testicles, and Foods You Can Prepare In Your Car While Driving Over Pedestrians Weekly. The voice also joyfully tells me that I need to learn how to read labeling and figure out pricing of goods. This sure sounds like a lot of work buddy!
I am told not to be confused by terms such as “lite” or “low fat” or by strange men telling me that they are my real father. Honestly this is pretty good advice as I can’t be confused by terms that would never get close to the food I eat. So apparently smart shopping starts in my kitchen. So if you want to shop smart literally everyone in the world has to drive over here and be in my kitchen before shopping. I had no idea it was this time consuming and complex of a task. Suppose I really lucked out renting this apartment since everything has to go right through here. I really think this is something I should have been told in school.
The music sounds like a cross between 1970’s era porn, the weather channel and what you might hear on the elevator at your Grandmother’s favorite department store. This might sound oddly specific but I had a weird childhood. The video continues to tell us to make sure we have a budget, and to do all our accounting at a table covered in a massive doily. Also it apparently helps to be a woman, wear a blue sweater and allow our hair to have the volume of an 80’s metal band (wow, that’s a nice pun). We are encouraged to make a shopping list including only the things we need. So I put Net Neutrality and Universal Healthcare on my shopping list *rimshot*.
I suppose if a person were raised by wolves and had never been around a family these tips would be necessary but I can’t imagine there being anyone who got to the age of being able to place an order and watch a DVD by themselves not having those abilities. Do they make videos on how to buy videos? Perhaps you need to have a caring loved one see you eating box shavings and celery for dinner and they put it as a gift under your Christmas pallet (because obviously this person is mentally challenged and doesn’t realize that you put up a tree). They probably wouldn’t gift wrap it unless there is a video on how to open gifts as well.
The voice is getting a bit more personal now. He wants to know what kind of food I typically make meals out of. He specifically wants to know if I, and I quote, “eat soups, stews, pasta sauces or pancakes”. What an odd assortment of flavors. He also tells me to plan to buy the ingredients to make large batches. First off, haha large batches, secondly why? I live alone so do you still want me to make a large batch? Looks like I’m buying the family size Doritos this week! Oh good, the friendly voice said I could just freeze the surplus (not asking me how large my freezer is) but how do you freeze Doritos smart face? I’m beginning to think he doesn’t have my particular meals in mind.
Apparently the Egyptians came up with some food pyramid or something, I’m not quite sure because I passed out from all the pasta sauce and pancakes I was making and when I woke up there was a large pyramid on the screen with some weird symbols next to it. After fast forwarding for like an hour I came to a part with macaroni in bowls, so I figured they were going to talk about Hamburger Helper but I never saw a glove. Grains and vegetables are supposed to be good for you. I guess that’s why it looked so unappetizing in the video.
The video mentions evolution so I guess this educational product was never popular in the South. They seem to advocate eating little meat and gave some alternative ideas about protein but nothing that you haven’t heard before. It’s all very dry in the delivery so it still feels like something you would have watched in school. It does caution against extreme diets that focus on only one food type or completely cutting out types of food, so that’s interesting I guess. Perhaps my soda and pain killers diet would not fly in this format.
The video suggests trying yogurt as a dipping sauce … are you out of your mind, YUCK! I wonder about some of these people and their tastes in what makes a good idea for food. The voice told me to check my refrigerator and ask myself if that celery really is edible. Well no, but that’s because I don’t have any. The voice also mentions that I should check the tomato sauce that’s left in the can (insert bathroom joke later). Who leaves food in a can? I have no idea what kind of person leaves stuff out and then has to throw away food.
Honestly, it’s not a horrible video considering what it is. It’s just so boring that even someone really into the subject might find it hard to get into it. The film feels like those short subjects from the 1950’s that Mystery Science Theater 3000 made so much fun of in the past. I’m not exactly sure who this film would be made for as the subject is either self explanatory or something you would see and understand just being around your parents or relatives.
Ha, I can’t believe it! Halfway into the video and Hamburger Helper shows up in a picture. I wonder if they paid for product placement? The video is 18 minutes long in total but it feels like much longer with the almost slide show presentation. There is very little video and I might be putting as much effort into writing the review about it as they spent making the film. But I guess if you really needed a video about food shopping and how to do it this would fit the bill. Smart Shopping for Good Nutrition gets the Basement stamp of approval for not being entirely made of shit.
If you are interested in this or their other films feel free to visit the Educational Video Network website straight out of the mid 90’s and check out the entire catalog of films.