Digital media may be more convenient in terms of access, quality and storage space, but VHS and other forms of physical movies will have something that no streaming service or m4v file never will: the ability to brag about its size. VHS, DVD and Blu-ray collections are just like any other collection.
You don't just spend your hard earned money and time hunting for tapes so you can sleep easy knowing that you've got a copy of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in three different formats. You do it so you can put them on a shelf and marvel at the movie kingdom you've created while you're vegging out on your couch during The Good Place. You keep the glass doors clean and streak free when your friends come over so they know you have the special edition of The Big Lebowski that's shaped like a bowling ball.
Tapes and discs are to movie buffs what "these guns" are to 'roided up bodybuilders.
The monthly Dallas VHS Swap at the Alamo Drafthouse Las Colinas brings together tape collectors and traders on the first Saturday of every month. We perused through the impressive collection of VHS tapes from their latest gathering and picked out the weirdest and strangest looking films so we could judge them based on their covers.
1. The Lift
According to the box cover, this Dutch horror film tells a chilling tale of a killer elevator. It implores the viewer to "Take the stairs, take the stairs! For God's sake, take the stairs!" Well, how do we know the stairs don't want to kill us either? They're probably mad that the elevators took their jobs. I really hope this means there's a sequel or spin-off out there where the elevator and the stairs do battle and the only person who can stop them is Bob Vila.
2. The Video Dead
The zombie movie is the most overused horror genre by far, so it's not a total shock that the trope moved itself into a corner with this tale about zombies that rise from the dead through the television screen. That's not a knock on the movie; It is a scary thought. Imagine sitting on your couch and Tucker Carlson's permanently confused resting face suddenly pokes out of your television. You'd scream so loud that the people in the next county would call 911 about the noise.
3. Terror Train
Serial killers in movies both mortal and supernatural have used all kinds of frightening disguises to make their forms more horrifying: clowns, hockey masks, William Shatner. A knife-wielding maniac wearing a set of Groucho Marx nose and glasses could be just as horrifying given the circumstances. However, it could make us wonder if the budget couldn't afford costuming higher than a Wish.com listing or if they couldn't convince Gene Shalit to play the murderer and this was as close as they could get.
This VHS box cover would be just another monster animal horror movie, but it's the tagline that makes this movie strange. It's from the writer of Anaconda, implying that writing was somehow involved in that stinker. It might as well say "From the writer of a really bad movie that you could be watching right now instead of this quick cash grab that's just pushing us closer to movies about killer hummingbirds and titmice." Actually, I kind of want to see a horror movie now called Titmice.
5. The Incredible Melting Man
Runnier than a gas station ice cream cone. More liquefied than a bowl of tapioca. Able to ruin living room carpets in a single bound. Look, up in the sky! Is it bile? Is it mucus? Is it guacamole from Applebee's? No, it's the Incredible Melting Man! Yes, the Incredible Melting Man — strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with the most useless powers and abilities since Aquaman's ability to reason with marine life. The Incredible Melting Man who can cost you your apartment deposit and be easily defeated by anyone armed with a Swiffer.
6. Super Dracula vs. Snowwolf
I don't know if this is an animated film or just a cheap way to make a poster or cover for a B-grade horror movie. Either way, it looks like a twisted kind of cool. Any movie where a vampire and a werewolf fight already has my attention but this time, a super advanced Dracula has to fight an arctic were-beast while wearing a sleep mask. Throw in a couple of kids in helmets and knee pads and Marc Summers and you've got the most epic Double Dare physical challenge.
7. Attack of the Crab Monsters
Animal attack movies from the early days of cinema deserve a pass: The filmmakers didn't have anything close to CGI-grade technology, yet sometimes only a bare budget with limited access to design can produce something brilliant by accident. This one, however, makes even less sense, just based on its cover. For starters, they look like ordinary crabs that have been super-sized, not crab-esque monsters. If they don't do something like shoot lasers or spit acid, shouldn't it be called Attack of the Giant Crabs or Attack of the Crabs with a Growth-Spurt? Even Red Lobster's Crabmurderfest would be an improvement.
The title and the poster make this the most epic-sounding movie of all time. Yes, even you, Waiting to Exhale. Then it somehow becomes even more metal with the tagline that just says "Alien death machine." The filmmakers didn't try to make it sound fancy with a dad-jokey warning like "This bike is a real killer," or build a false sense of excitement with something like "The most dangerous thing between a man's legs." This movie knows what it is and it promises nothing less than its best shot at greatness. It's the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese of cinema.
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9. Royalty Bloopers
Remember the days before YouTube, Vimeo and LiveLeak when you had to know some kind of black market tape courier who could get you videos of people falling into mall fountains and the "Winnebago Man" to scratch your schadenfreude itch? They were so rare and hard to come by that watching members of the British monarchy must have been as jarring as those Russian dashcam videos. Now they look as quaint as Strawberry Shortcake's sewing room, thanks to boo-boos like Brexit and Boris Johnson.
10. Titanic: Collector's Edition
AAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUGH! Make the evil go away! Cleanse it with fire! And burn the table it sits on as well for good measure!