The Complete Guide On How To Find Rare and Valuable VHS Tapes
Movies were a staple of my childhood, Before streaming services and digital offerings there was something about having a physical collection of VHS tapes in one of those gaudy entertainment centers to show off to your friends. For many collectors, there still is!
Killer Klowns From Outer Space? Check.
The rare “Not Guilty” edition of Evil Dead? Yup… and the other 12 Groovy editions.
All the Black Diamond Disney films featuring a hidden dick in the cover art? Yeah I got that.
It’s worth saying that I grew up as a video store kid: this website is an online representation of my dads video store Deluxe Video that he ran for thirty three years, kicking the shit out of all the big box rental spots and eventually being the last man standing before the death of the video store.
Gone But Not Forgotten.
Over a decade later you can still find rare and valuable VHS tapes at your local pawn shops or flea markets for as low as fifty cents! Many folks look to get rid of these VHS tapes and get whatever they can for them, not knowing they may be sitting on an incredibly rare piece of media.
While DVD and the streaming services have been around for quite awhile now, they still have barely scraped the surface of what has been released on VHS. Sure you can find the major titles on all these services, but there are still many obscure titles, collector editions, and oddball titles that will never see the light of day in today’s media.
Since this is the only way for film buffs or collectors to see them, it’s worth the time and effort for value hunters to do a little research and get a feel for the kinds of films that are rare and in demand. I’ve outlined briefly below a few tips for locating valuable VHS when you’re out and about scavenging for lost gems.
Look For The Big Box
Some movies that are in print on DVD can still be valuable on VHS due to the age, rarity or design of their cover sleeves (or boxes). Movies with big plastic clam-shell cases are a bit iffy, since a lot of old Warner Bros. and MGM clam-shells aren’t collectible in and of themselves- except for a few early releases of a limited number of popular films.
Disney clam-shell boxes from the early to mid ’80s, however, are. This is probably why you don’t see them too often! Most of the early VHS releases are worth getting. One particularly valuable ’80s Disney movie on VHS that is actually in print on DVD is the original VHS recalled release of The Little Mermaid. Disney films/programs like Child of Glass , Song of the South , Tron , Snow White Live at Radio City Music Hall and Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow also happen to be on DVD and are also pretty valuable! In particular, pay attention to the white-sleeved clam-shells with Mickey Mouse from Fantasia on the front.
Movies with oversized cardboard boxes are pretty difficult to find in good condition these days since they wear so easily, so these are usually worth checking out if you ever run into them. Many of the movies released with big boxes by defunct distributors such as Paragon, USA and Midnight Video also happen to be unavailable on DVD, which increases their value.
Don’t look past the wrestling tapes!
Many live and pay-per-view wrestling tapes from the ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s haven’t yet seen legitimate DVD releases. If nothing else, wrestling fans out there are generally very passionate about their sport, err sports entertainment, and they tend to fall into the spectrum of collectors. As a result there are plenty of rare and valuable VHS tapes that are in high demand.
Wrestlemania, WWF, Starrcade, Bash at the Beach and early In Your House tapes tend to be worth anywhere from 10 to 100 dollars each, easily.
As well, VHS tapes featuring the ever increasing list of dead wrestlers such as Owen Hart, Macho Man, and Ultimate Warrior are also quite collectible.
Buyer beware though: with the release of WWE Network the value for these tapes could drop off quickly.
Keep an eye out for professional instructional videos!
Medical and nursing care, law, heavy duty construction and psychiatry or counseling tapes are often worth your time, and the more niche the better!
Certain craft videos involving painting, sewing, or obscure hobbies can also make good finds. Some examples of valuable instructional tapes:
- Cross-Examination: How to Be an Effective and Ethical Witness
- Mosby’s Nursing Video Skills
- Learn to Sew
- Bob Ross’s The Joy of Painting series
- Dr. Allen E. Ivey’s Therapy series
These may seem yawn inducing to you, but remember to each their own and scarcity rules the day.
The majority of the films labeled simply as “special” or “anniversary” editions are usually not worth much, but movies released with foreign subtitles (especially comedies), foreign imports and promotional screener tapes often are big.
You’ll need to some close inspection to locate a lot of subtitled movies, but imports and screeners are usually not that tough to spot!
Films like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation , The Family Man and Natural Born Killers are examples of popular valuable subtitled movies, while nearly all foreign imports and promotional screeners are worth at least something.
Don’t get scared away by the horror films!
The horror genre is filled with schlocky B or Z level films that had a very limited run. These films barely have any hope ever seeing release on any format so odds are there is someone out there looking for Blood Beach to round out their collection.
VHS Collectors are definitely a hardcore bunch, but Horror fans are certainly a more extreme bunch and will pay top dollar for the hard to find stuff!
I previously mentioned there are the numerous special editions of The Evil Dead that can fetch anywhere from $50 to $900 bucks.
Browsing eBay, there are some decent finds: Dream Slayer ($60), Spider’s Venom ($599), Last Breath ($300) just to name a few.
There’s a market for your rare and valuable VHS tapes, and while you may never get rich off it, there is a lot of fun to be had discovering that rare gem at the pawn shop and flipping it ten times what you’ve paid for it. If you have any suggestions to add to the list please comment below!