VHS Resurrection: Why Some Tapes Are Selling for Thousands
Dust off your VHS player, because tapes seem to be making a collector comeback. Just like vinyl records, VHS tapes have been a hot commodity in the realm of collectors of physical media. According to Screen Rant, in June 2022 a collector paid $75,000 for a VHS copy of Back to the Future. That’s a great deal of money for a piece of media that has long since been dead. Is it the ever beckoning call of nostalgia finally making its way to the mainstream, or is their worth measured by something more?
The film industry has one of the highest rates of change when it comes to physical media, and collectors of such are ruthless pack rats. DVD’s first spawned in 1997, and according to CNN, the first movies to be released on the new platform were Twister and Mars Attacks! The cutting edge technology that once was a DVD strived to beat out VHS thanks to the ease of user functions, eliminating the need to rewind manually. VHS tapes would continue to be manufactured until 2006 before completely being declared dead.
Today, there is a resurgence in VHS collectors clinging to the outdated form of media and nostalgia is on the rise. Medium did a survey on people’s interest in VHS tapes. Their research is vast, but one fact that stands out is that horror tapes are among the most collectible VHS tapes available. Further, their research concluded that this is because there are many horror flicks that weren’t released on any other format than VHS.
In June 2022, the sale of a sealed copy of Back to the Future caught the attention of collectors across the internet. According to News 11, the VHS belonged to Tom Wilson, who played Biff Tannen in the franchise. The film currently sits at the highest amount paid for a sealed VHS at auction ever, but other classics sold for almost just as much. The Goonies sold for $50,000 and a copy of Jaws sold for just above $32,000. Why the sudden desire to hoard sealed VHS tapes?
The truth is that nostalgia is at an all-time high, especially for the 80s and 90s. Streaming services offer the convenience of video on literal demand. Mostly anything you could ever want is available at your fingertips. However, some titles are hard to find and are available only on VHS or DVD. Collectors strive to find sealed VHS tapes because they truly are a rarity, and in the digital age it is common to long for a trip down memory lane to simpler times before the fall of the video store. Yet, like cassettes and vinyl records the desire to collect such an archaic piece of media seems outlandish. Is the maintenance and trouble to own and operate a VHS tape even worth the hassle? Collectors would argue yes, while others are just fine with their remote controls.