06 May 2010

I Weep for VHS

I Weep for VHS
By Kristin Battestella

Memorex MVD4544 DVD VCR Dual Deck PlayerGrowing up in the eighties, there were two essentials machines that I could disassemble and put back together:  my typewriter and my VCR.  Call me old-fashioned, but I still record tapes from my DVR to VHS.  VCRs are piling up in the Thrift Shops alongside the records; and unless I need a spare VCR for $10, my DVD/VCR combo will probably be the last VCR I’ll own.  Is it premature or overdue to ask for a moment of silence at the death of VHS? Here’s a list of my VHS movies and series that have either never been on DVD or are now discontinued or not available in North America. Typical! 

Not Available on DVD
Automatic (1995)
From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of A Saga
Gideon (1999)
Kimberly (1999)
Kung Fu: The Movie (1986)
The Man in the Santa Claus Suit
Lonelyhearts (1958)
Raintree County
Treasure Island (1990)
Wild River (1960)

Out of Print DVD Sets
The Beastmaster
Best Years of Our Lives
The Four Feathers (1939)
King Creole
Last of the Dogmen
Nemesis (1992)
Powder (1999)
Rules of Engagement (2000)
School Ties
The Shootist (1976)

Unavailable in Region 1
The Buccaneer (1958)
The Hi-Lo Country
Johnny Guitar
Samson and Delilah (1949)
Three Days (2001)

Series Not Available on DVD
Batman (1966-68)
Blake’s 7
The Cape (1996)
Dark Shadows: Scariest Moments
Dead Man’s Gun Seasons 1 and 2          
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones DVDs are recut and aren’t all the same material, it figures, right?)

So, why all this doom and gloom for an inferior technology, anyway?  Just because VHS tapes abound at yard sales and second hand shops doesn’t mean you should get rid of that jumpy, grainy, chewed tape just yet.  Make of list of your collection and be sure your favorites are readily available on DVD or blu-ray before you toss any irreplaceable tapes.  My Dad is determined to save old classics and home movies with his new DVD/VCR recorder.  If you’re into upgrading or have the time and technological know how to digitize-there’s software and equipment out there to preserve not just VHS, but cassettes and records.  A few taped-off-TV videos also might not play in a VCR other than the one it was recorded on, so know your assorted tracking parameters and adjustments, too. Some of the time, effort, and equipment is more affordable than others, but a videophile must way the costs of preservation against the entire upgrade of one’s collection. 

As a dedicated classic film fan, I browse the cable listings for the pictures not available on DVD.  If I find one I like and really want to have, I tape it.  Maybe it’s not the best medium, but it’s better than nothing.  If the government wants to make some money, they should release all the movies in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry in a special blu-ray series.  After seeing The Searchers, Gone with the Wind, and The Wizard of Oz on blu-ray, I’d buy every one of my restored classic favorites if I could.   Dreams, I know!  Until then, don’t be so hasty to axe your VCR.  There’s still time to treasure your tapes-and to think, I didn’t list all the VHS tapes I own or the ones I’ve upgraded to DVD and blu-ray!  We’d be here a long time then!

No comments: