The picture above is of one of my VHS shelves – yes, just one of them. I own several hundred VHS and I still collect. Does it seem incongruous to you that a girl who is known for being a true film fan collects an “inferior” form of media? It shouldn’t. Film snobbery comes in many forms. I would far far rather watch a film on 35mm than on digital, but at home I prefer VHS to DVD. Why? I’m glad you asked.
First we have the nostalgia factor. VHS was the first medium I started watching film on, so it just feels natural to me to pop in a tape to my VCR. I like the heft of them, the box art, the fact that unlike DVD’s which can become scratched very easily, VHS is pretty sturdy stuff. Almost every tape I own runs perfectly, even after 20 years of use.
I love that I have bootlegs. My copies of Heavy Metal Parking Lot and The Star Wars Holiday Special are both worth their weight in gold to me. Both are bootlegs of bootlegs of bootlegs and I think that there is no better way to watch these “films”. Who would want to see either of these in crisp, clear HD? Not me. The fuzziness and bad quality actually help these films a bit. And in terms of The Star Wars Holiday Special, it needs all the help it can get.
I also love that I’m preserving a medium that is dying. All video stores are clearing their stock, and that means I can get great films for a dollar a piece or less. And while I am sad that VHS is no longer going to be able to be rented, I’m happy that they will be going home with me where they will be loved. Not to mention that I own several movies that I doubt will ever make it to DVD. Every media change several films fall through the cracks. Think of all the films on 35mm or 16mm that never made it to VHS! And the same thing is true for the switch to DVD. I can pop Rad into my VCR and watch Cru Jones ride Hell Track any time that takes my fancy – sorry Blu Ray snobs.
Recently my friend Julie generously donated her VHS collection to me. She dropped it off at the New Bev and after I rifled through and picked out what I wanted, I left the box there for fellow VHS hounds to explore. It’s been great watching people light up when they see the box and pull out some free tapes to take home with them.
So here is my call to all of you! If you have VHS you don’t want anymore, bring them to the New Beverly! Let’s make us the hub of a huge VHS exchange in LA. Instead of just dumping them in the trash or dropping them off at Goodwill, drop them off with us. Not only will we be super excited to receive them, you will get the guarantee that they will be given a loving home.
May VHS never die.