Wednesday, August 8, 2012

VHS Treasures at the Goodwill

Yesterday I had the chance to do something I rarely get to do--peruse the aisles of the local Goodwill thrift store. It's true that 99% of the things you'll find there are junk, donated by others mostly to get the tax write-off and to dispose of stuff they no longer have use for but don't have the heart to throw away, lest it be destroyed forever. It's the inanimate objects equivalent of "doggie heaven"--the stuff isn't dead, it's just gone away to roam the pasture freely.

I only had a few minutes to spare while I was there, so I didn't take stock of the entire store. I focused on the one area I thought would bare the most fruit--the VHS tape aisle. You see, despite this being the 21st century, with its lightning-speed Internet, streaming media, high-definition picture, and on-demand services, I still have no less than four--count 'em, four--VCRs in my home, two of which are parts of TV/VCR combos (remember them?). While I also have four DVD players and am addicted to YouTube, I still have a decent library of VHS tapes that I don't plan on parting with. In fact, as will be evidenced by this article, I have no trouble replenishing my stack of tape--as long as the price is right.

And indeed, the price was right in this instance. The store is having a sale--I still find that funny, a thrift store having a sale--on video tapes this week: two tapes for 99 cents. 99 cents! How can any video Luddite turn that down? I left the store with six videos in all, and here they are!

The first thing I noticed (besides the fact that they had a healthy dose of betamax tapes available, but that's another story), was The Magic Christian, starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr. I've known of the film for nearly as long as I've known of the Beatles, which is a really long time, but I've never actually seen it. Now, for only half a buck, I can watch it whenever I want.

The next tape I picked up is another Sellers classic, Murder By Death, also starring Eileen Brennan, Peter Falk, David Niven, and Alec Guinness. I saw a short segment of the film in my early adolescence, but that's about it. This movie would later be ripped off somewhat by the 1980 TV-movie Murder Can Hurt You, which I've written about before.  One notable thing about the packaging of this tape is that the cardboard box (as opposed to a "clamshell" box) has a flap you can close on the side rather than a constantly open slot. Boxes with that flap weren't made for very long and aren't easy to find, although I do have a copy of Dr. Strangelove with the very same box and flap. It must have been common for video released by Columbia Pictures at one time--both Murder By Death and Dr. Strangelove are Columbia video releases.

Next is a tape containing two episodes of the Disney/Jim Henson coproduction Dinosaurs, featuring a nuclear family of dinos acting like your typical American sitcom family. This is sure to be a hit with my two little ones, and it was a favorite of my wife when it first aired circa 1990.

The next two tapes are full Disney productions: The Rescuers, the 1978 film starring the voice talents of Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor, which I don't recall ever seeing, even though I was the target audience when it was first released. The store also had the sequel The Rescuers Down Under, but I didn't want to potentially waste 50 cents on a sequel when the original is yet to be judged. Ever the cheapskate am I!

The other Disney film is the original Love Bug, which has always been a favorite of mine from the first time I saw it, and I can't wait to share it with my children. I was determined to drive a car just like Herbie one day, and I haven't yet given up on that dream!

Finally, the tape that is the most obscure of my new collection, and it's a Christmas special--The Gift of Winter. This is a Canadian animated special featuring the same characters from the bizarre yet awesome Halloween special Witch's Night Out, which is one of the first things I ever blogged about. In this one, Bazooey, Small, Tender, and other characters petition Old Man Winter to ease up a bit on the town, but later regret their decision. I have yet to actually see this special, but I'm happy to finally add it to my collection after all these many years.

If I have time, I'd like to go back to Goodwill and pick up some more tapes. Two for 99 cents people!


Amanda Mac said...

We have Murder By Death on VHS. You could have had it for nothing!

Phillyradiogeek said...

Then one day I'll raid your VHS stash when you're not home :)