Sunday, January 10, 2010

VHS Horror Memories

Have you ever looked at an old VHS copy of an even older film and thinking to yourself “man, I remember when I saw that… on VHS?” Today, I want to talk about something that should only be discussed with people who love nostalgia and to those who can respect the olden days for what they were. I am talking about VHS horror memories. Back when us horror fans would pop in a tape into the VCR and we would watch an obscure horror movie as though it was playing in a theater. I am a strong advocate that VHS is somewhat superior to DVD but I also believe that the only way to truly watch some horror movies are by watching them on an old dusty VHS tape back from the 80s or 90s.

See, the way I see it… DVDs are good when you want to watch for clarity and when you want to watch a more modern horror movie or even an action movie. Some people like DVDs because they take up less storage, there are features, it has a menu and the sound is good. All good reasons and I agree with it. But, when it’s a dark stormy night I think that watching a horror movie on a scratch VHS tape is the best way to go. Think about it; when you watch a VHS tape, you get that grainy effect that you often see in theaters and don’t forget the sudden audio jumps. Most people would look at these as though they were flaws, which they are, but us nostalgia guys look at it as a trademark for that format. Vinyl’s scratch and when a vinyl guru hears a record scratch, its music to his ears. Film collectors love the sound of reel changing and VHS collectors love the sound of audio jumps and dial tone sounds.

The other day I popped in Fright Night into the VCR and as I watched it I remembered the time when VHS or even Betamax (My dad had all this old stuff) dominated. I loved how VHS used to start the movie off in widescreen then shift to full screen, those periodic film scratches or the thin slanted heading at the top of the screen. Here is my argument: you have a really shitty movie, or a really cheesy movie that you love and you watch it on DVD and the transfer is so bad because the original print was bad. The movie that comes to mind is Bloody Birthday. It’s a case like that where I would recommend seeing it on a VHS because the quality won’t change but at least with a tape you can feel vintage for a bit.

There was a discussion on a forum that I belong to and one of the members stated that it takes a certain bad, cheesy or classic horror movie to be watched on VHS. He went on to state that he retains the idea that some horror movies need to be watched on VHS tape. I agree with this statement. Even movies like Halloween or Fright Night are VHS kinds of films because you cannot beat the graininess.

Some might even ask me why I like VHS, to a degree, more than DVD… and that just goes with the way VHS is. With a DVD, if you get tired and you want to stop the DVD you have to stop the whole movie then when you wake up find the place that you left off and watch the rest. With a VHS, you stop, turn off the set, wake up and then start where you turned it off. Little mundane things like that. I still have more DVD then VHS but I still enjoy the format

I asked around and a couple of people gave me some of their movies that they would like to see on VHS or they would rather see on VHS than DVD and here it is:

Last House on the Left
Blood Diner
Bloody Birthday
The Video Dead
Garbage Pail Kids (though not horror)
Street Trash
80s slasher movies
Any Italian horror movie

Side note: A vast majority of the horror movies that people would rather see on VHS belong in the slasher, cheesy grindhouse genre. Surprising? I think not.


Hell In A Handbag said...

Sing it! Give Last House on the Left a try. Yikes.

the jaded viewer said...

I have a ton of VHS tapes and have no way of watching em anymore as I do not have a VCR. So sad. I also have a ton of 8th generation dubs from horror movies I traded back in the early days of the internet.

I would love to watch these flicks again. If I sell em on eBay will I even get a bid?

William Malmborg said...

Going one step further, I love watching movies that I taped onto VHS in the mid 90's because seeing the old commercials in the spots where I always remembered commercials being really brings me back to my early days as a horror fan -- days when I would wait up all night because the TV Guide said a certain movie was on at 1 AM. Plus just seeing the old ads is fun.

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