VHS: Collection or Curse?

VHS: Collection or Curse?

VHS: Collection or Curse?

0 comments 📅13 June 2016, 08:04

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I’ve owned VHS tapes my entire life. At least as far back as I can remember. When I was thirteen I special ordered Brain Donors on VHS from Sam Goody for, like, forty bucks. Yeah, I was that kid. At one point in the early nineties my collection had grown to “quite impressive for a kid with no job”. I imagine I had a few hundred. At some point in the early 2000’s I got rid of most of the VHS and started mainlining DVDs pretty hardcore. Once again, the collection grew and grew until I had around 300 or so. I sold them all on Craigslist to some creep in a van. From there I was all about collecting movies via download.
“Digital! It’s all digital now! That’s the ticket!”, I told myself. I bought a hard drive and started compiling a file collection that would make Julian Assange cream in his pants.  This was fun for a while as well, but ultimately I got rid of it all and found myself once again left with the ten or so VHS I had had since I was a kid. There was clearly a void. A hole in my heart. And it could only be filled with tape.

Sometime in 2014 I started buying VHS again for fun. And it was cheap. A few movies here and there. No big deal. It  started out as buying up all my childhood favorites – the basics, if you will. The Naked Gun series, a few Nightmare on Elm Streets, a couple of Hellraisers here and there, When Harry Met Sally (back off, I like it). Just the normal selections you would find in your local thrift shop, leaning ever so gently against discarded copies of You’ve Got Mail, Titanic, and Jerry Maguire.
The next phase all happened so fast. I started finding some pretty cool stuff laying around – Masters of the Universe, Opportunity Knocks, Spaceballs. Some real classics. The great part about buying movies on VHS in 2014 was that I didn’t have to necessarily spend an arm and a leg to buy,  let’s say, 30 VHS at time. I was spending less than 10 bucks on hauls like that and before I knew it I had more VHS than I could count. All of them had came from local thrift stores. It became the weekend ritual: wake up,  throw on some clothes and go hunting for some “rare specimens”. I’m not going to lie. It still is the weekend ritual. I digress.
At some point, I got the idea to hook the VCR up to a projector. If I wanted to experience these movies again, I wanted it to be BIG. Almost like I was rewatching them in a theater. I found and bought a cheap projector on the internet. Brought it home, e751b594276273931d3df22fbe8dccb3dbdbc4b9d8ae7fd555d92ca139450226connected all the cables, put in (most likely) Bloodsport and my jaw hit the floor. This was amazing. All my childhood dreams had come true. I had a VHS movie theater in my basement. At that point the collecting and hoarding of any half way decent movie on VHS I could get my hands on went in to….that’s right, you guessed it…MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE.
I had starting collecting so many from second hand shops that thrifting was beginning to get a little stale. I remember I had this one movie on my list. I was tired of looking for it and convinced I was never going to find in the wild. Mel Brooks’ Life Stinks. That movie is near and dear to my heart due to being introduced to it by my Grandpa. Gramps had good taste. Anywho, I couldn’t find it anywhere, so I decided to bite the bullet and check out eBay.

Holy. Shit.

I am not sure if discovering eBay 20 years late, sometime in 2015, was the best or worst thing that has ever happened to me. Obviously, Life Stinks was gently placed into a cart. As were, to date, over a hundred other movies. Some of the “you ain’t ever gonna find this one at Value Village, holmes” variety. The Silent Night Deadly Nights. The Dirtbike Kids. The My Demon Lovers. The Chopping Malls. The Stuffs. The Popcorns. The list goes on and on. I have backed off a bit on the eBay shopping due to it not being quite as adventurous as driving into a strange town and finding an even stranger store that may or may not have the VHS I never knew I wanted. It can also get a tad expensive if you’re going after the rare ones.

So far in the last 2 years, my collection stands at approximately 820 VHS tapes. Yes, I have them all cataloged online. No, I will not make out with you.

Why do I tell you all this?

I got asked recently why I collect VHS. And particularly why I am seemingly  so obsessed with it. I’ve tried really hard to answer that question and every time I try, I have to go back to the beginning. Back to being a little kid and getting lost in movies picsvhlate at night in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Watching Dolls on Cinemax and turning it off because I was scared out of my mind. Watching Revenge of the Nerds II and Back to the Beach over and over and over and over. A lot of these movies to me need to be witnessed in the format they were created for. I don’t need to watch House II: The Second Story in 1080p. I need to watch it in literally the lowest resolution possible and I also need the sound to get wobbly and then the tracking to go haywire thirty four minutes in. That is what is all about.
In my journey to buy every movie that I ever/never watched in the 80’s on VHS, I have been turned on to a cornucopia of movies I never knew existed. If you haven’t taken a deep dark dive into this rabbit hole, I highly recommend it. There is a vast underground of pure trash that was filmed, called a movie, and slapped onto a video cassette for your home viewing pleasure. These movies never made it to DVD because, for the most part, the entire world forgot they existed. So in a sense, I feel I am rediscovering them – so you don’t have to.

That’s what this column will be all about: finding a movie that you most likely never knew existed and telling you why you should give it a try. Or stay the hell away from it at all costs. But let’s be honest, if I tell you to stay away…that will just make you want to watch it even more.

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Joshua Veach
Joshua Veach

Guitar shredding, VHS collecting, beer chugging, midwestern manchild residing in Vancouver, WA. I'm a child of divorce, give me a break.

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