It’s been decades since VHS tapes and players populated living room shelves, but that doesn’t mean the format has totally disappeared. On eBay, Facebook trading posts, and other outlets, collectors are actively buying and selling videocassettes for prices that can stretch into the hundreds of dollars.
Forget those VHS Disney movies, or “Black Diamond” tapes, released between 1984 and 1994 that are purported to be selling for thousands: They aren’t actually anywhere near that valuable. Instead, VHS aficionados are more likely to plop down cash for obscure horror, kids’ content, and genre material that either never got a DVD release or pushes their nostalgia buttons. Here are 10 tapes to keep an eye out for the next time you’re at a yard sale.
The Dark Planet (1989)
Fantasy artist Richard Corben directed this low-budget sci-fi and horror anthology that’s virtually impossible to find, and possibly for good reason. According to those who have seen it, it’s a somewhat cheesy effort with rather crude Claymation special effects. Corben fans, however, consider it worth pursuing, and the VHS release features a beautiful Corben illustration. It occasionally pops up on eBay, with one recent auction closing at $250.
Out of the Box (1998-2004)
Disney’s library of classics may be overvalued, but that doesn’t mean some of their out-of-print material can’t fetch a few bucks. Commercial tapes of Out of the Box, a Disney Channel preschool series that aired from 1998 to 2004, are in demand on the secondary market. Out of the Box: Happy Holidays sold for $219.99, while Out of the Box: Trick or Treat sold for $74.99.
The Prowler (1981)
Not many horror films open at the conclusion of World War II and hint that the rampaging killer may be a war veteran who was abandoned by his girlfriend, only to return to kill again 35 years later. This slasher with make-up effects by gore legend Tom Savini was released on DVD, but fans still seek out the cassette, which was released by different home video distributors in packaging ranging from hard plastic clamshell to a cardboard slipcase. An oversized “big box” version sold for $336.83 on eBay. The standard cardboard edition trades for roughly $60.
Tammy and the T-Rex (1994)
A small cult following seems to have developed around this eccentric comedy about a young man (the late Paul Walker) who finds his brain stuffed into the body of an animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex, and his girlfriend, the titular Tammy (Denise Richards), who tries to find him a more appropriate vessel. A VHS of the movie—which isn't available on DVD—can sell for up to $80.
Deadly Prey (1987)
This cheaply-made action drama about a vengeful Vietnam veteran is a favorite among fans of B-grade films for its low-rent charm. (The AV Club described its aesthetic as “if it were filmed in someone’s backyard.”) An unopened copy with some stellar box art recently went for $125 on eBay.
Blood Lake (1987)
The purple dinosaur of your childhood (or nightmares) appeared in a long list of VHS releases, and a few of them seem to hold particular appeal for fans owing to their rarity. A copy of Barney’s First Adventures sold for $300, while the singalong Waiting for Santa netted $125 and Barney’s Rockin’ Rhyme Time finished with $200.
Professional Wrestling Tapes
Pro wrestling was a popular genre on VHS, and some events that are otherwise hard to come by often sell for a premium. A sealed copy of Halloween Havoc 1993 sold for $349.99, while a copy of Wrestlemania III went for $190. Halloween Havoc 1996 can sell for up to $100.
Star Wars (1977)
It’s possible that no other film or film franchise has seen has many home video releases as the original Star Wars trilogy. Their value on VHS is due in large part to the interest of Star Wars collectors, who often fork over $76 and up for the 1982 rental version of 1977’s Episode IV: A New Hope. It's one of the few ways to view an unaltered version of the movie, as many home video releases later changed or added special effects.
A History of Violence (2005)
Why would a film easily available on DVD and streaming services command a premium price on cassette? Because this David Cronenberg thriller about a family man (Viggo Mortensen) with a dark past was the last major studio movie to ever be released on VHS. It recently sold for $75 on eBay.