With the arrival of August upon us, and the end of VCR production by Funai Electric, the last company still producing them, announced due to declining sales, I thought it might be a fitting tribute to the format's long run by listing the very first ten movies I bought for my collection, popped eagerly into my Panasonic PV-1270 VHS, which, for the record, ran over seven hundred bucks at the time. As you'll see, it wasn't just the players that were pricey back then.
1) Halloween (1978) Media Home Video
Fifty bucks later, I had my favorite movie at the time, to watch repeatedly, which I certainly did, over three hundred times over the next decade or so. I still remember the faulty tracking as Michael pulls down his mask and Loomis feeds him a chamber full of late night lead-based Halloween treats. Useless trivia for you, Halloween would be the first movie I bought when I finally switched formats, to dvd, in the late nineties. I'm nothing, if not consistent...
2)The Fog (1980), Magnetic Home Video
Just under ten sawbucks (ninety-two, if my memory serves me correctly) at an electronics outlet on Wyoming Avenue got me a Carpenter favorite. The apex level Magnetic Video title card with it's TSR-80 graphics and elevatory shmaltz will stay with me always.
3)Night of the Living Dead (1968), Media Home Video
At one point in the nineties, due to the perceived public domain status this movie had, there were dozens of different cheap VHS releases available for purchase for as low as a dollar. Fifty-two different ones at the time of this writing, to be exact. Media's release, the original, cost me fifty bucks at the time I bought it. Worth it back then to a thirteen year old horror nut, I guess.
4)Dawn of the Dead (1979), Thorn-EMI Home Video
My first clamshell (not Enter the Dragon (1973) as some close friends might speculate) was this Romero splatter opus which cost me sixty-five bucks from a source which escapes me at the moment. Wyoming Valley Video, mebbe? We watched this one all the time, and my Ken Foree impersonation remains impeccable, to this very day.
5)Blood Feast (1963), Cult Video
I snagged this title and the next one from a Violent Videocassettes magazine ad in Fangoria, which was my bible at the time, for sure. The order cost me just under a hundred clams despite the reduced "Merlin Mail Price". Looking back, actually pretty steep for Herschell Gordon Lewis movies, if you think about it, though there are some of you out there that may have just dumped over two bills on a UK blu-ray box set that might disagree with me, unaware of the irony of H.G. and "hi def" being used in the same sentence...
6)2,000 Maniacs (1964), Force Video
By the way, my name's Haaaarper.
7)Basket Case (1982), Media Home Video
Snaked this one in the glorious video section of Joe Nardone's Gallery of Sound store at the Wyoming Valley Mall for fifty spondulix, money well spent for the opportunity to see Frank Henenlotter's cult classic midnight movie for the first time, and several more afterwards over the years.
8)Zombie (1980), Wizard Home Video
Another mail order score, that I recall being produced in the small box long before ever seeing it in the trademark Wizard Video big box, so savory to the neck-bearded, man-bunned, late-to-the-party dork knobs out there these days. How do I know? I was fucking there, you bell ends. Plus, mine was of the small variety, so...
9)Gates of Hell (1980), Paragon Video
Another sixty-five clams well spent at the Gallery of Sound. Classic Fulci at his brain-squeezin'est, innard-chuckin'est, head scratchin'est best, with those signature Paragon trailers preceding the feature and accentuating it perfectly. We watched the shit out of this one.
10)Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Wizard Home Video
At this point, I had already taped over the recording tab on my bootlegged copy of the Hooper classic, and put something else on it. Probably some MTV videos, a Saturday night kung fu movie, or Billy Sims running all over the Vikings, knowing me. Either way, I shelled out the obligatory forty-five bucks, and added this to my shelves, meager at the time, but growing steadily as the mid-eighties approached, with the advent of Mom and Pop video rental places and mail order mayhem yet to come.