Week 5: “VHS Collecting For the Horror Fan”
As we move ever so closer to an all-digital, world DVD and BD sells, for the most part, have dwindled year upon year except for maybe for us horror fans who continue to purchase Special Editions and Anniversary Editions of some of our favorite horror films. Recently, a 30th Anniversary Edition of Ghostbusters I & II was released to BD. The entire Halloween series was released in a massive 15 disc BD collection not to mention the long awaited Clive Barker’s Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut and such companies as The Criterion Collection, Scream Factory, Shout Factory, Kino Video, and Blue Underground are among some of the more boutique distributors who cater to horror fans.
But what about all the long forgotten horror gems still left unreleased either to DVD or BD? For every new version of Army of Darkness re-released to DVD/BD there are ten Willard (1971), Ben (1972), Amsterdamned (1988), and Tobe Hooper’s Night Terrors (1993) which can only be found on VHS. This is a reason why the VHS secondary market thrives to this day. For every ten films newly released to DVD or BD there are still another 100 films yet to be released whether they be films like Bog (1983) or Peter Jackson’s Forgotten Silver (1995). To make matters worse there are also the plethora of OOP films like Watchers (1988) or Fright Night Part 2 (1988) whose DVD on the secondary market can command upwards of $80 or more. Instead of shelling out this crazy amount of money for a single film many horror fans have continued to purchase VHS copies of some of their favorite films (or the strange oddity relegated to the VHS dump bin).
I’m a huge collector of horror films both from some of my favorite directors and even more of the obscure horror films and documentary specials like Transmutations (1985) and Clive Barker: The Art of Horror (1992). A lot of television specials made their way to VHS but have been completely forgotten since then like Dracula in the Movies () and Dean R. Koonz’ Whispers (1990) and Servants of Twilight (1991).
As I continue to research more forgotten horror films I try to search them out whether they are on DVD/BD or still languishing on VHS. My VHS collection continues to grow year over year. For me, searching out horror films that I either didn’t know about growing up or haven’t seen since I was a kid is a huge joy. Every year my list gets longer and longer but I still manage to cross many off from time to time. My VHS films share the same space on my shelf with all my other films.
Now, collecting VHS, like collecting anything else, can take up a lot of shelf space. One of the great things about DVD and BD are that they take up so little space but VHS tapes look so much better on display. Besides the regular VHS style boxes there are the Big Boxes and clam shell boxes and Special Widescreen Hard Cases that make VHS tapes more appealing. My Widescreen, Hard-cased Dawn of the Dead (1978) makes a great visual companion on the shelf with its DVD cousin and the rest of my George A. Romero films (it sits with my VHS Widescreen Editions of NOTLD: 30th Anniversary Edition and Season of the Witch). My Special Edition of King Kong (1933) in a box that (still) roars when you press on Kong sits next to my Special Edition DVD Box Set (and the Peter Jackson remake). Of great proud to me is my VHS screener copy of Rawhead Rex (1986), originally given to video stores to entice them to purchase more copies of the film for rental.
On a non-horror film note I also have VHS copies of animation auteur Ralph Bakshi’s Coonskin (aka Streetfight - 1975) and the polarizing The Plague Dogs (1982). Movies from all genres are still waiting legitimate DVD/BD release. I’m always on the lookout for films from all genres that are hard to find. Most of the films I find can usually be found on eBay or Amazon but collector editions of even VHS films can carry a hefty price tag. I can still manage to find some used book stores and Goodwills that still have VHS tapes at cheaper prices (because they have no idea of what they may truly have gathering dust on their shelves).
VHS collecting is not for everyone. The industry to moving to an all-digital world and pretty soon (unfortunately) both the DVD and BD collecting market may completely dry up which means that the VHS market will ultimately completely disappear and become extinct. I don’t look forward to the day when I only have a large hard drive to look at rather than my large Big Boxes and Clam Shell VHS tapes and Special Edition DVD and BDs.
What about you?