Category_Collecting, Category_Groovy Stuff, Category_Horror, Category_VHS, Category_Weirdness -

Charles Band unearths Wizard Video Big Boxes and plans to re-release the magic! But is the magic really back?! Videovores will decide.

With all of the excitement and controversy that has ignited within the Videovore community concerning Charles Band's Wizard Video warehouse find, I thought to try and survey the entire scope of this video era unearthing and see just what the hell is really to think about all of the fervent hubbub. For those tapeheads who haven’t been made privy to the recent excavation, here's a link to Band's press release: So, from what is gathered from this verbiage and its echoes across the Internet, Band finally cleaned out one of his many Full Moon warehouses and uncovered a throng of unused, original Wizard Video big boxes. No original tapes or inner cases - just the big box, all of which are in practically near mint condition. Band plans to re-issue these Wizard releases in bursts over the next several months with newly and professionally dubbed videos with who knows what kind of inner case. Essentially, Band is repurposing his (thought to be) dead stock and inserting newly dubbed tapes and re-distributing them hand-numbered and signed, using the authenticity of the boxes as a backbone for the release.

Detail shot of the newly unearthed boxes, which will all be hand-numbered and signed by Charles Band. MMMHM.MMMHM.

Band, who started Wizard Video in 1980 (and also started Meda, which after sale become the gigantic Media Home Entertainment), has also recently created a tremendously insightful video for the occasion detailing the primordial days of the video era and his involvement with the progression of the format coming into homes across the land. You can view it by clicking the image below of Mr. Band himself.

Clickity-click the image of Charles and hear some groovy stuff all about the Home Video Era. And those weird Atari games that we all love.

However, the sentiment in the video collector community is divided. Some Videovores are irate, and have the belief that the re-insertion of these boxes will tarnish the value and integrity of the Wizard titles that have been in circulation for the past 30 years. A piece from the VHS-crazed blog Basement of Ghoulish Decadence by avid video collector Jayson Kennedy will give you some insight on the infuriated side of Band’s Wizard reincarnation. Being an ardent collector myself, I can sympathize with both sides of the debate here. For a someone who has spent endless hours combing and digging through dirt malls and flea markets (which is always the best way to find tapes, and you know it!), the fact that these much coveted boxes are now available at the click of a button is liable to put particular old-school tapeheads into a state of fury. This sentiment is evidenced in the slew of responses from collectors, damning the re-issue complete with initial accusations of phony reprints. Look at it this way: To have a mint condition copy of DEMONIAC in a Wizard big box before Band’s re-distribution… well, it was a kind of collector victory. You had a piece of veritable home video history that despite 30 years, was still in amazing shape; you could revel in the vibrant analog glory, for you had unearthed a true treasure. For a collector, it’s a beautiful thing. And for those out there who share this point of view, at the very least you can still have the original issue video, which now, will be the deciding factor in what’s a reissue and what’s not when it comes to observation from posterity. Remember, what Band is doing is still a re-issue, just with an original element.

A sample of the promo images Band is releasing for these re-issues. Dig the choice of stills, man.

Then there are collectors that were never able to find their favorite Wizard big box in that oh-so coveted mint condition, with all of the corners intact, no creasing, cracking, scotch tape or stickers (though some would argue that the stickers give that extra little spice of video era awesomeness, and I must agree!). And, from what I can gather, that’s what Band is trying to do here with these big boxes. As he’s stated, it’s for the collectors out there that want them, but can’t seem get them anywhere else. And, honestly, I think that’s commendable. Band’s been in the game for a long time, and he helped launch home video as a whole, AND he’s a collector himself; so, he knows the field. He knows what’s going to happen, and regardless of the judgment that’s passed on him, he’s going to capitalize on it and try to please some collectors along the way. Ultimately, there’s validity in both sides. For the hardcore collector, this re-issue thing is an inflammatory, frustrating act - something that seems like a cash-in, especially at $50 a pop (and a subscription for $1800!). Most collectors know that you can get some Wizard big boxes in more than decent shape for under that price. But, on the same page, some of these more coveted Wizard BB’s go for a couple hundred. But seeing Band’s sentiment and knowing his involvement in home video history, you want try and give him the benefit of the doubt. In reality, he is offering collectors a shot at an authentic piece of home video history, even if it is just the box.

I'm back, but I've only brought my magical boxes! YES, THEY ARE MINT! No... you can't have a Valentine's Day discount.

I really believe one of the major objections with this re-release among collectors is the price. If Band would have released these at $30 each, I really think the reaction would have been a little better amongst the community; it would seem less like a cash-in, and most collectors out there would have accepted it a little more willingly. Hell, that price differential might have even inspired some tapeheads to up and purchase these boxes just to replace a dinged up one, and slip their favorite original Wizard Video in a shiny, brand new home. It’s details like this that may have swayed this whole thing in a different direction. But if it’s one thing that this occasion proves, it’s that VHS is alive again. Like it or not, it’s a vibrant and burgeoning culture that has now bled into places most of us tape collectors could have never predicted. Sure, some of the releases are cash-ins on a craze and it’s going to burn up a lot of Videovores that have been in it for years and years. But, ultimately, these things are a by-product of culture… and there isn’t much to do about it, really. As a huge proponent of the format and all the joys it can bring, I try to just sit back and be amazed about how much this subculture has expanded, and how it’s become visible to those who couldn’t give a shit a few years ago. They see VHS as viable format again, and people are feeding their VCRs again, and experiencing something that a lot of people thought (or still think) is dead. Current happenings evidence that it’s certainly not. And that’s pretty groovy, man. Josh Schafer

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