I don't know about the rest of you, but every now and again, I get a hankering to watch movies on videocassette. As obsolete and inferior as they sound compared to the present digital technologies out there, there's just something "nostalgic" about popping a vertical helix scan cassette into the trusty (if ignored) VCR and sitting back to enjoy.
Sometimes, it's unavoidable — despite the fact that all of those previously-unattainable cult flicks (the ones that used to cost us $25 or better for fuzzy B-grade copies) started to see the light of day on American home video once DVD came about, there are still the odd titles that we simply cannot find. I should know, I still hang on to my cherished copies of Umberto Lenzi’s Eyeball and Antonio Margheriti’s Yor, those classic double-cassette Republic Serials, the Spanish-language issues of various El Santo adventures, and even that bootlegged copy of the now-banned Splatman to this day.
Normally, I'm a big stickler when it comes to the quality and presentation of a movie. For me, the introduction of DVD was a blessing (until they started releasing some DVDs as Full Frame only since the Wal-Mart masses didn't "get" the concept of widescreen, that is). But there's just something about an old video cassette that makes me say. "Aww…" I suppose, in a way, you could compare it to the compact disc vs. vinyl album debate if you wanted to, although I'm not sure where that would get you, really.
Nowadays, finding some of your truly favorite titles on videocassette has become a bit of a chore. Sure, there are still a few companies that distribute copies of movies on VHS, and, while you can find practically every officially licensed Barney video ever released sitting in a secondhand store, your chances of finding some vintage Vincent Price flicks from HBO Video are remote, unless you visit Sinister Cinema’s website today.
Sinister Cinema is a mail-order company that has been a favorite for the ever-devoted fans of vintage horror, science fiction, film noir, sword and sandal, spy, mystery, B-western, serial, and fantasy genres (to name a few) for well over two decades. Back before the whole DVD thing really caught on, Sinister Cinema carried a number of VHS pre-recorded products from other distributors. In going through their inventory, Sinister Cinema discovered that they had some remaining VHS titles — many of which are recorded in the preferred SP mode, and all of which are still factory sealed, and ready to ship. Best of all: they’re free. Yup, I said FREE.
Truth be told, collectors are still looking for these titles on VHS, and, in the right market (or right marketplace if you will), a videocassette you paid nothing for can make a good return on investment. The titles are all limited to quantity on hand, so interested parties should look soon. For your reference, the major in-stock titles include Ulli Lommel’s Boogey Man (1980) with John Carradine (this is the original Magnum Video release); the epic Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1973), which is a personal favorite of mine; Gorgo (1961); Cesar Romero in The Lost Continent (1951); and Untamed Mistress (1956), which the folks at Sinister Cinema refer to as the “Plan 9 of jungles movies.”
For fans of classic '60s/'70s horror, four HBO Video titles (all of which are in SP mode) include: The Tomb Of Ligeia (1964) and Cry Of The Banshee (1970), both with Vincent Price; Die, Monster, Die (1965) with Boris Karloff; and Joseph Cotten and Elke Sommer in Mario Bava’s The Torture Chamber Of Baron Blood (1972). Two additional titles, Bert I. Gordon's Beginning Of The End with Peter Graves, and The Crawling Hand are also available (albeit in extremely limited supply).
All of these titles are, of course, out of print.