Tuesday, 18 February 2014

VHS? FOR FREE? WHY YES, I THINK I WILL!

A good friend of mine, Natalie, got in touch recently to tell me her dad was moving house and wanted to get rid of his old boxes of VHS. She told me he asked if she knew anyone who would want them, and yes indeed, she certainly did. My friend dropped me a line and I was astounded that the gent didn't want anything for them. I promised a large homemade lunch at the very least, and a date was set for my dear friend to visit.

The day came this past weekend, when she arrived with her boyfriend David and brought three huge – and heavy – boxes out of their car. She warned me there might not be much I wanted, but when I opened the boxes up my eyes almost popped out of my head. This was the VHS haul that VHS dreams are made of.

Video Nasties... Rare NTSC horror... a stack of horror movies on home-made tapes and a plethora of retail releases. There was even a selection of hilarious 80s Electric Blue porn tapes, including a couple of Betas! I couldn't stop laughing or going “Ooooh!” as more horror classics and rarities came out of the boxes.

Actually, my favourite moment was in-between pulling out The New York Ripper and Last House on Dead End Street, when I found a copy of... The Tigger movie! I'm almost tempted to keep that and shelve it alongside some extreme horror. Some might say that I'm easily pleased if you stick three boxes of dusty videos in front of me, but these tapes are absolute gold to cult film addicts.

Hell, I just finished writing a book about VHS horror and the VHS hobby, and thus these tapes felt like a reward for finishing the long slog of writing a book which has been delayed an entire year due to changing day job commitments and childcare. These boxes of videos are a message. A reminder that I still need to make time for the things that I love while maintaining the lifestyle I must now lead.

For a long while it has seemed that my VHS collecting and cult film fandom have been drawing to a close due to time and money issues, but these boxes reawakened the dying embers of my fandom in a big way. I was pretty much done. It felt like that chapter of my life was drawing to a close and I was supposed to move on, but here with this huge haul of new (new to me anyway) treats to enjoy, my love for the format and the delightfully mad things it brought us once again.

So far I have enjoyed uncut versions of Bloodsucking Freaks, Splatter University, Absurd and a Sisters Of Mercy live tape. But there are some seriously surprising finds amongst those tapes. Nekromantik 2. Faces of Death. An original InterVision Creepshow. And hidden amongst them, a tape labelled up as containing notoriously unsettling Video Nasty Fight For Your Life. Yeah. I never saw THAT one coming, I can tell you.

Hell, a lot of the tapes might not work any more, but it's going to be a lot of fun finding out. Slipping off those cases, enjoying the chunky sound of them going into the machine, and then the thrill as the static clears and the film can begin.

It may all just be the last hurrah, the last big explosion of VHS love before my hobby fades into the mists of time and I am swallowed forever by Suburbia and my mortgage. Whatever it is, I have masses of videos to explore, and who knows what delights they will yield? Dear friends, amazing hauls are still out there. Somewhere.