Go ahead and grab those old horror VHS tapes you had as a kid. Not only are they newly minted collector’s items, if you have some popular “not on blu-ray or DVD’ titles, you might have something worth a bit. As a collector of all things horror, the VHS era where straight-to-video and remastered tapes ruled, was a good era. We got plenty of titles that haven’t seen the light of day outside of the wonderful work of companies like Vinegar Syndrome, Terror Vision, or Culture Shock.
It’s not just that, though. There’s something else that captures the feeling of your youth better than any figure from NECA or a t-shirt from Fright Rags could. It’s watching a poor-quality VHS tape of a horror movie you love. I had the pleasure of staying in a horror-themed AirBNB complete with a VHS library of tapes, official and some not. I can tell you right now, there’s nothing better than popping in a copy of Halloween III: Season of the Witch and seeing the scanlines of an old-style CRT TV. In addition to that, they had a copy of Scream that someone had recorded from a PPV channel, with all the PPV programming info intact. It was like stepping into a time machine for a night back to 1996.
That’s the feeling we’re all chasing, aren’t we? We just want the nostalgia of heading out to Blockbuster/Hollywood Video/Mom and Pop Video Store to grab some tapes and bring them home. Something is missing with just hitting play on a streaming service or putting a Blu-ray in. You get an actual physical feeling and the possibility that the tape you’re watching could disintegrate and degenerate.
In the era of HD, 4K UHD, Blu-ray, Dolby Vision, and other luxuries, sometimes it’s just nice to go back to basics. And I mean like really basic, like 240p. Like we did for music with vinyl and even cassette tapes coming back; collector’s edition companies are seeing the prospect of putting out VHS versions of newer movies. In addition, there’s a bourgeoning market for Etsy creators to make new VHS tape boxes for movies that would never see the format.
Blu-ray and DVD are nice, but there’s something aesthetically pleasing about holding a VHS tape and the shape of the box in your hand. It just feels right. It also fits the format of a movie poster much better than changing the dimensions to fit a Blu-ray case. In an era where everyone cares about reviews, box office draw, and what social media thinks; it’s kind of nice just to throw that all away for a night.
So, when you head over to eBay after reading this and check out some of your favorites on VHS. Just remember, don’t buy the first thing you see. I made that mistake by grabbing a box-set of A Nightmare on Elm Street that didn’t come with the box.
The VHS tape is a physical manifestation of the nostalgia we crave deeply. It’s the feeling that drives 99% of the companies making merch and putting out old movies.
Just make sure to get some good Jiffy Pop or an old-style microwave popcorn bucket when you watch anything.
So, do you have any horror movies on VHS or are you getting back into collecting the medium?
For more on Halloween, make sure to check out Fright-A-Thon, the Halloween content marathon!