VHS Collecting in 2017: The Perks of Online Tape Trading and The Thrill of Hunting the Rewind Wild!

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VHS Collecting in 2017: The Perks of Online Tape Trading and The Thrill of Hunting the Rewind Wild!

I had originally written this piece on July 24th, 2016 on a bus ride up to Horror Boobs Headquarters in New York, subsequently submitting it to the first issue of an indie VHS-centric zine which unfortunately never made it to publication. This piece has stayed in the back of my mind since last year, and after re-reading it the other day and finding it to still carry relevance in the culture, I thought to publish here in Lunchmeat Land as a throwback. Here’s that piece in its entirety, with only a couple minor tweaks… Let's get back to July 2016, Tapeheads!


I consciously started collecting VHS for the express purpose of building my film library. It was easily the most economical choice, since I could grab slabs for just about a quarter each, and VHS was abundantly spread upon on what seemed like every other table at flea markets and dirt malls. There was always at least a one small box of VHS at each and every yard sale, but usually, there were more. Goodwill and Salvation Army were consistently stocked with tapes. I did buy a few tapes online here and there. I actually bought my Camp Video big box release of Video Violence on Amazon. It was somewhere around 15 or 20 bucks and I remember thinking to myself, "Man, that's a lot for a tape but damn, dude... I NEED this." And that business was purchased. But all of this was circa 2003.




The same copy of VIDEO VIOLENCE that I grabbed from Amazon all those years ago, now signed by director Gary Cohen. When I first met Gary, it was for the Camp / Lunchmeat release of the Video Violence Diehard Videovore Edition. He thought my name was Jared, then realized his mistake, and then feverishly scratched it out, apologizing profusely. A sincerely funny and amazing moment I'll never forget.



Fast forward to 2016, and the VHSituation has remarkably changed. I've been doing Lunchmeat for close to 10 years now (holy shit time flies!), Adjust Your Tracking and Rewind This! have made the rounds and spread the news of the VHS collector culture, The New York Times has talked about the resurgence of tapes, and Yale has created a VHS preservation project that protects nearly 3000 horror and cult home videos. It really doesn't get any more official than that, man. But as these things certainly help the culture bleed into the mainstream, and the recognition of the VHS re-animation continues grow, it's the interaction between analog enthusiasts and VHS collectors online that has really changed the Videovore world. Analog-obsessed and rewind-inclined minds flock to VHS-centric Facebook forums like Earl Kess' Horror VHS Collectors Unite, VHS Misfits (and the Misfits-born VHS Dipshits group) and a dozen other offshoot groups that focus on the appreciation and celebration of the format.


And inevitably, these interactions turn into tape transactions. That is to say so much of VHS collecting has moved online. It's understandable. EBay, Amazon, VHS-centric Instagram accounts and the online VHS boards offer an indispensable resource to grab your favorite slabs of analog insanity and home video nostalgia, especially if you’re after a particular title, or thirst for tapes from a specific releasing label. But here in Lunchmeat Land, there's one thing that we will perpetually champion in VHS collecting: physically searching for radical slabs of magnetic magic.




This is the tape that really started it for me. Around 2002, I found this for a dollar at a news agency / video store in Franklinville, NJ. That's when I knew, man. That's when I knew.



For me, adventuring into the rewind wild is truly one of the most essential and exciting aspects of VHS collecting. But before I explore the reasons why, I wanted to share a slightly VHScientific comparison.




Two of the slabs that originally inspired this piece. That orange tape, man! And it truly is a must-see for all Halloween fans (the holiday AND the movie)!



The following four tapes were found in the wild by yours truly just last month (June 2016), but let's imagine for a minute that they were all purchased online. Here's what they might have cost, based on the range of recently ended auctions on eBay.

PALE BLOOD: $7 - $15.99 YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (Magnetic Video release) : $1.50 - $9.99 (Magnetic Video release selling for around $7)

ELECTRIC DREAMS: $9.95 - nearly 30 bones!

DR.SHOCKER Halloween Special: N / A



The other half of my score from that Vineland, NJ Salvation Army. Gotta love that Magnetic, man.


So, altogether, these tapes would have cost anywhere from $18.50 - $55 online depending on the auction, and I couldn't even find a comp for Dr. Shocker. It's an obscure (and killer) slab for sure, and the first example of why the wild offers specific perks. recently shown up on eBay.> Now back to that rewind reality in the wild. These four tapes cost me a grand total of one dollar at Salvation Army in Vineland, NJ. That's already a fairly obvious reason to venture out into the wild: you usually can't beat the prices.



Okay, so I know, not a total dope rarity... but this is a cool tape, and I found about 7 or 8 of these at a Goodwill outlet a few weeks back, and I've been able to spread them around to other collectors that would appreciate them. And that’s pretty groovy, man.


But there's something much more happening here, man. That excitement of finding Daniel Roebuck's Dr. Shocker Halloween Special on that awesome orange tape, the surprise of unearthing a nice copy of Electric Dreams, the discovery of a Wings Hauser erotic vampire thriller I've never heard of, and the VHSolid sense of victory once I picked that sweet, sweet minty Magnetic off the shelf. Those feelings are inimitable. It's a distinct rush of energy that is directly related to the act of rifling through racks and stacks of videos and pulling out solid gems. I never got a wiggly jiggly rush of excitement up my VHSpine when I click the Buy it Now button online. Just sayin.



Another thrill of the wild! Covers like this. I didn’t purchase it (I left it for someone who might actually need it), but it was inspiring enough to snap a pic and share. You can see that stack of Count Floyd tapes in the background.


I can't help but think of purchasing analog online vs. the rewind wild akin to Netflix / On Demand entities vs. the physical video store. Sure, there's selection aplenty online, but honestly, where's the thrill? Scrolling through a list of tiny thumbnails on a TV or computer screen embarrassingly pales in comparison to the experience offered by physical video store. That rush of rows offering vibrant box art, the act of sifting through them by hand and finding stuff you never knew existed, holding it, taking it home and feeding it to your VCR. It's a full-bodied experience, and those feelings still exist and persist when you dig through tapes to this day. I urge you to go find that sensation.


So in final VHSummation, online is just fine. It connects you with like-minded-magnetic magic-loving peeps, and offers you an amazing resource for finding slabs of every persuasion. But get out there, Tapeheads. Dig. Dig and search and stack and don't stop. Once you shockingly unearth that copy of Splatter Farm that you didn't want to pay $300 for online, and you hold it in your hand and it's staring back at you, and you get that rush... that's when you'll know why the wild will always rule. The wild is alive, Videovores! Rewind or Die!


We’d love to hear your thoughts on this, Tapeheads! VHShout it out in the comments below!


Groove and Groove and Never Stop VHSearching.





Josh Schafer

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