Film, News & Commentary, Screen

The VHS goldmine you might have packed away in storage

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It might be time to dig out the old VHS tapes now that collectors are paying thousands of dollars for rare videos, with the market continuing to grow. UK site loveantinques.com recently published a list of the most expensive VHS tapes in the world and some of the prices are genuinely shocking.

At the more reasonable end of the scale is Sam Raimi’s ’80s classic The Evil Dead. The UK release by Palace Films with the ‘Not Guilty’ variant cover is valued at £200 ($400 AUD) a copy, yet some collectors are willing to pay £400 for this coveted release. What makes this VHS sought after is the unique cover art. The Evil Dead (like countless other horror films in the ’80s) was caught up in a UK scandal, which saw video stores raided and ‘obscene’ titles ripped from the shelves. When obscenity charges against The Evil Dead were dismissed, UK distributor Palace Films printed a cheeky new cover for video retailers declaring “Not guilty! – The Evil Dead is back, B.B.F.C certificate applied for.” However, as many store owners had already turfed their tapes, very few of these rare sleeves made it into circulation, explaining its rarity and value with collectors.

Evil Dead Not Guiltyed_palace_pictures_10

Other exy VHS’ include; Anthropophagus the Beast (released by Video Shack UK) valued at £500 ($1000 AUD), Flesh Eaters (Knockout) £800 and The Beast In Heat (JVI) valued at £1200 pounds or $2400 in local currency. Depending on which experts you ask, the pinnacle of collector’s VHS’ is either 1987’s direct to video release Tales from the Quadead Zone (which recently sold for $1000 USD but has since been valued at up to $2000) or Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks (JVI UK) which has been valued at a whopping $3000 AUD — if you can find a copy. Neither of these two titles has had a release on any other formats and nor are they likely to which, in part, explains their astronomical value and appeal with hardcore VHS collectors.

Closer to home, a scan of ebay.com.au reveals an interesting array of high value VHS titles. Horror makes a good showing with Fright Night Part 2 in a rare coffin shaped case for $300, a mint copy of The Deadly Spawn for $250, 2000 Maniacs with a double-sided cover for $190, a preview tape of Frankenhooker for $240 and Terror from the Year 5000 at $169. Other genres get a look in with first edition Star Wars VHS for around $200, Danger Island (from Banana Splits) for $400, Rascal and Robber’s The Secret Adventures of Tom & Huck for $999 and Back For Revenge from 1990 being offered for between $1500 and $2000 a copy.

Which brings me to Nicole Kidman’s first film BMX Bandits. Do we now live in a world where a VHS of this ’80s Australian classic is worth big bucks? If the urban myth is true that Kidman sought to destroy every known copy, then an original VHS should be hard to come by. While the collector crowd seems mostly interested in horror titles, surely a wild ringlet-haired teenager thrashing around Waringah Mall on a BMX qualifies as some form of horror scenario. And in the absence of unique cover art, perhaps a Kidman-signed copy: “Ride On! Love Nicole xx” might significantly ramp up the value. Beyond these factors it seems, for now, BMX Bandits hasn’t hit the big time, currently selling for a reasonable $19 on ebay.

In the sometimes crazy world of collecting, you never know. Time to dust off those VHS tapes!

For more info on valuable VHS cassettes, click here and for a downloadable documentary on the world of VHS collectors, check out adjustyourtracking.com

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