Thursday, January 27

Boston Phoenix Online Article: "VHS is the new vinyl" by Michael Neel

Here's an interesting article published yesterday at the Boston Phoenix Online addressing the ever-growing popularity of VHS collecting. Unsure why the writer decided to forgo asking BoGD for comment; however, the piece touches upon the right reasons as to why people collect tapes. Especially the part that describes the thrill of watching old horror/exploitation on the analog format, check out The List of Horror, Cult, and Exploitation Movies "Enhanced" by VHS, and this is a big part of the reason I collect. Strange considering I don't particularly have too many early memories of when the format was very much alive. My collecting bug was triggered by DVD around 1998, but I'll be damned if there isn't something about popping in an old favorite on VHS that I had only previously seen on disc. Not to mention the additional thrill of hunting for them in small, musky video shops and swap meets. It's like hunting for treasure out in the open. If that makes any sense.

One thing I grumbled at in the article is the mention of a nearly $3k VHS copy of Night of the Demon (1980) on Amazon's Marketplace. I've said this before and it bears repeating; just because some maniac/hustler asks an absolutely outrageous rate for a tape doesn't make it worth anywhere near that. If you dig around enough, you'll find sellers on Amazon that have nothing but sky high prices on relatively easy-to-find videos both in cassette and disc form. I guess they throw a party every time someone is stupid enough to actually buy a copy of Forrest Gump for two hundred dollars.

Actually, there's an ebb-and-flow to VHS prices on Amazon. At a certain point they'll be no copies of a given film except for a couple ridiculously expensive examples. Eventually, new sellers will add their copies while gradually dropping prices on the tape to attract buyers. This will, or at least "can", get to a point in which one can pick up a copy for a fraction of the once highest price. So if there actually was such a copy of NotD on the Marketplace, just wait a few months, it'll drop to sane levels. Or, like the article points out, keep trolling those flea markets and yard sales. By the way, Night of the Demon itself isn't that rare being released several times on video (found a copy for a buck myself); although the original VCII release is indeed rare and collectible--just not three thousand dollars(?!?).

Saying that, there are many that have justifiable values that reside north of a hundred bucks. That's one of the most enticing and daunting aspects of collecting the old format nobody cares about anymore. There's just so damn much of it and a good chunk is irresistibly impossible-to-find. Even seasoned collectors, from around the globe, continually discover releases they weren't aware of before everyday. The format, along with Betamax, certainly still has the largest catalog of any. Despite sweeping domination, DVD's title availability is a chump by comparison. When you hear people speaking of a home video "boom"; it's true, I wouldn't be surprised if everything ever filmed or taped in history before about 2005 wasn't granted an analog video release. Now you just have to unearth them.


Jenn said...

Interesting, indeed. I was in the local musky video shop today as a matter of fact. And those tapes he used to not want to sell me, he let me have for a buck or two today, because, you know, in TODAY'S ECONOMY!! I got some rare big boxes (THE NIGHT AFTER HALLOWEEN [serious OZ'sploitaion and rare to boot]) and some other (check the Cavalcade in the next day or so for details), and he didn't even flinch at letting them go!

That dude knows me too, and I've been trying to filch his collection from him for FOREVER and that damn Matt from HorrorHound beat me to it. But goddamn it, I'm sort of drunk and now I don't remember the point I had to this, except that it was about VHS collecting. Bah.

I'm waiting on more wine. Viva la VHS!

Anonymous said...

Very well said. I was also kind of appalled about the mention of the price for Night of the Demon. I sold a coverless copy for about 7 bucks a while ago.

-Ryan Gelatin you dare tread upon the staircase?

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