Last Chance to See ... VHS
December 4, 2009 5:15 PM   Subscribe

My local library is ditching VHS -- in one swell foop. They're going to sell the inventory next month. What should I salvage?

There will a be a pre-sale for Friends of the Library members to get first pick.

Obviously, "stuff I like" is one answer, and I'll work on that. Another obvious one would be "stuff that hasn't been released on DVD". Tips in that vein would help. But basically anything hard to find would be good. I'd like to have a list that I can pre-check with the electronic catalog and pare down to what I expect to be there and allow for not getting some stuff.

I'm going to start with this MeCha thread: Movies you never get tired of watching, so anything in there will be considered if I don't already have it.

What I like: science fiction and action, yes, thrillers and mysteries, yes, but also personal films like Heavenly Creatures or The Sweet Hereafter, modern auteur stuff such as the Coen Bros., and (often lesser-known) black and white classics like I Know Where I'm Going. Acting tour de forces such as The Verdict. Documentaries sometimes. Not many musicals. Upscale comedies such as Kind Hearts and Coronets or What's Up, Doc?
posted by dhartung to Media & Arts (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If they have any Disney movies that were released early on (late 80s, early 90s) before Disney started the marketing gimmick of putting movies "back in the vault" only to be released piecemeal later, grab them up. Some Disney collectors will salivate over them and pay well for the privilege.
posted by amyms at 5:25 PM on December 4, 2009

Best answer: I'd suggest anything they have on the Tartan label will be interesting and maybe you could even sell.
posted by selton at 6:00 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I sold the VHS version of Bladerunner for a ridiculous amount of $ on eBay a while back. Who knew it was so in demand, there were 4 different bidders seriously competing for it. So: Bladerunner. Then eBay it.
posted by jamaro at 6:18 PM on December 4, 2009

Second thought: forget flipping Bladerunner, I just checked ebay's listings and there's tons of them with buy it nows for a fraction of what mine inexplicably pulled in.
posted by jamaro at 6:25 PM on December 4, 2009

Movie Movie (1978) -- from 'You can put your blouse back on now" (after an examination by an eye doctor) to "Dese fists are for readin' books" (says the upwardly-mobile boxer) this is an easily-overlooked pretty funny damn movie movie.
posted by hexatron at 6:35 PM on December 4, 2009

Response by poster: I don't see this as investment, so that's out (I could use the money, but I'm just no good at collectibles arbitrage). I just wondered what sorts of things from a pretty broad selection of about (guesstimate) 2500 movies would be good to look for from a cheap entertainment perspective. They intend to replace as much of it as they can in DVD, so good chunks of it will still be available to me to check out. I had hoped to be able to pre-sift with some efficiency.

I did like the out of print Tartan films list and will check it against the catalog.

But perhaps you're right and this is just too broad.
posted by dhartung at 6:40 PM on December 4, 2009

i wouldn't buy anything mainstream. anything that is crazy or weird and will probably never see a dvd release. now get drunk with your friends and watch them, its a blast!
posted by mattsweaters at 7:00 PM on December 4, 2009

See if they have the Star Wars trilogy pre-Lucas meddling to "make 'em better." No school like the old school!
posted by Atreides at 7:53 PM on December 4, 2009

I don't believe "Hamburger: The Motion Picture" or "Chopping Mall" have ever been released on DVD or any other post-VHS format. I would kill for a (digital) copy of either and thus would be inclined to buy and digitize the tapes...
posted by rr at 8:45 PM on December 4, 2009

A few months ago my daughter was looking for Bette Midler films at Blockbuster and their computer indicated that they used to have VHS versions but they were never made into DVDs (at least that Blockbuster purchased). So maybe Bette Midler films.
posted by CathyG at 8:50 PM on December 4, 2009

Our library does this on occasion. Out with the old, in with the new so to speak. The only difference is that they just put it all out there on a table for a day or so with the old books. I'd suggest just going and seeing whatever catches your eye. If you have any interest on travelling to some far away place, see if they have travelling videos of those places. Even if your not going to in the next year or so, they'll still make nice viewing. Sometimes you just have to go on instinct as to what you should buy. If in doubt, buy it or at least hold onto it before some one else does. Think later. Our library's prices are low enough that you just buy now and take you chances. If you don't like them ( the videos) donate them later to a charity.
posted by Taurid at 9:30 PM on December 4, 2009

Best answer: Anything on New Yorker label. They went bankrupt and their catalog is in limbo. Great titles.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 10:06 PM on December 4, 2009

Oh, and jamaro, there are two different releases of Blade Runner on vhs. The one with the Deckard voiceover is harder to get.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 10:08 PM on December 4, 2009

Best answer: They Might Be Giants. Not on DVD. Great flick with George C. Scott as a mental patient who thinks he is Sherlock Holmes.
The Dam Busters. Not on DVD. WWII British flick about a dam busting bombing run.
The African Queen, Not on DVD

Heck just read this site.
posted by Gungho at 5:57 AM on December 5, 2009

> The African Queen, Not on DVD


A friend of mine who is sort of in the biz claims that there are still fewer films out on DVD than there were on VHS/Beta....
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:29 AM on December 5, 2009

Best answer: I bought an old VHS of Blade Runner for a buck at a sale once, but it was unwatchable because the video quality was so freaking awful.

Your library might have some odder and harder to find stuff than your typical yard sale videos. If it were me, I'd be looking for older foreign films, old PBS series like Connections or Masterpiece Theater, stuff like that.

Why not go in now and look over what they've got on the shelves, and do some planning...
posted by DarkForest at 7:30 AM on December 5, 2009

NOVA is not on DVD. It can be viewed online but sheesh, that hardly ensures possibilities to see it in the future the way VHS would.

I also second the recommendation of travel videos. A lot of those are destined for the trash and will never be transferred to DVD but they are really interesting specimens and worth grabbing.
posted by k8lin at 7:36 AM on December 5, 2009

Best answer: The original edit of Picnic at Hanging Rock, which is ten minutes shorter than the current cut available.

From the "famously not on DVD" list:
Hal Hartley's Trust
Brewster McCloud (Bud "Harold & Maude" Cort's first feature)
The Landlord (directed by Hal Ashby)
posted by pxe2000 at 7:41 AM on December 5, 2009

Best answer: Re: Blade Runner -- a rare VHS becomes instantly worthless once the title is released on DVD; they're not like LPs, which can still retain value even when there's a CD release. There was a time when Disney's "Black Hole" might fetch $100 on VHS; now you'll be lucky to get a buck for it.

I know you said you weren't asking in terms of profit making, but consider this: I just paid 25 cents for a Stryper concert VHS (yes, the 80's Christian rock band) that sells for $30+ online.

In any case, consider building a collection of "unusual titles no one else you know will have because they're not on DVD", these are often the same titles which might be worth a few bucks if you decide to sell them.

Generally speaking, this would include:

obscure movies from the 1930's, 40's, & 50's; especially if they have big name stars in them but are not among the generally accepted "classics". Even if you really sincerely have no interest in reselling, you will find lots and lots of really enjoyable movies in this category.

Low budget horror movies from the late 70's - early 80's

Teen sex comedies from the early 80's

Music videos / concerts from bands that have small but ardent fan bases (heavy metal & Christian rock in particular seem to do well

TV miniseries from the 70 & 80s -- these will often be in sets of 2 or 3 (or more!) videos, as they were usually 4 - 10 hours long, and they can be GOLDMINES....until the "Winds of War" miniseries finally came out on DVD recently, you could get $150+ for it (I think it was on 8 VHS tapes).
posted by the bricabrac man at 8:49 AM on December 5, 2009

A few months ago my daughter was looking for Bette Midler films at Blockbuster

OMG - what was I thinking. It was MAE WEST not Bette Midler
posted by CathyG at 9:18 AM on December 5, 2009

Along the bricabrac man's thinking, go for 1990s indie features, which seem to suffer in the same rights limbo of many of the genres he mentions.
posted by pxe2000 at 10:14 AM on December 5, 2009

The Dam Busters. Not on DVD. WWII British flick about a dam busting bombing run.
Not sure about Region 1, but that one is on DVD in Region 4. I've seen it in the bargain bins. It will probably get a special edition release if Peter Jackson ever gets around to doing the remake he has planned.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 3:47 AM on December 6, 2009 swell foop...

I thought I was the only one who said this.
posted by neuron at 9:39 PM on December 6, 2009

Response by poster: Pace wendell, neuron, but I thought I was the wittiest 7th grader in the 70s for saying it. Apparently, it's at least a century old.
posted by dhartung at 2:22 PM on January 4, 2010

Response by poster: FYI, I have the four-disc Blade Runner set (should've gotten the five). Visual feasts like that are what I want on DVD. I also have the original-original Star Wars and the revised first trilogy (IV-VI), which is fine, although these are still VHS.

It was MAE WEST not Bette Midler

Heh. I figured you actually meant Bette Davis, and you're probably still right.

I suppose I could have phrased things better, but there were some worthwhile suggestions here. I'm going to the pre-sale early so I can make the most of it. Thanks!
posted by dhartung at 2:28 PM on January 4, 2010

If there's a copy of 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould, snag it immediately. It was out on DVD for a minute but hasn't been available for years. It's a wonderful, wonderful film.
posted by mediareport at 3:56 PM on April 28, 2010

Er. Didn't catch the date when I saw this linked in Meta. Never mind.
posted by mediareport at 3:58 PM on April 28, 2010

Gungho and dhartung, I personally worked on Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Dam Busters and am familiar with They Might Be Giants. They are currently out of print but were in fact released in the US, and can be purchased used on Amazon.
posted by infinitewindow at 5:38 PM on April 28, 2010

I'm only interested in the print of the Dam Busters where the dog is still called nigger. I hate it when the PC police change stuff... it changes history. Anyone want a DVD copy of a laser disc of Song of The south?
posted by Gungho at 7:33 AM on May 2, 2010

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