Everyone can recall their favourite film to watch on tape. That square-cropped version you remember rewinding just as much as playing forward. There was an easiness to watching VHS tapes: the tape always remembered where you stopped; you could skip parts to your heart’s content; and no need to find a remote to select play on the menu. You may have even mastered the skill of skipping all the adverts when fast-forwarding the beginning.
We’ve put together a top ten list of classic films we all loved to watch on VHS. Find out whether your favourite movie made the cut:
1. Star Wars Original Trilogy (1977 – 1983)
Have you really seen Star Wars if you didn’t watch (one of) the original versions on VHS?
George Lucas paved the way for capitalising on films through home videos. His production company’s insistence on revamping Star Wars by issuing new releases with improved audio, screen ratios and even edits of the movies delighted (and annoyed) fans to no end.
Everyone had their version of Star Wars on tape that they believed to be the best way to watch the film. Each new release came with unique, stunning artwork covering the boxes and sometimes collectable items if you invested in the trilogy. Disney+’s version will never compare to the original Star Wars releases on tape.
2. Wizard of Oz (1939)
The Wizard of Oz is infamous for bringing technicolour to the screen. Although it was not the first video to be watched on home televisions in colour, it was still a film to marvel at when colour TV’s became popular in England through the 1980s.
Not only was it a fun history lesson to teach children about the wonders of colour television. But, the poor special effects of monkeys tied to string flying through the sky and painted backdrops made it perfect for watching on a standard definition tape. Who would want to see that in Ultra High Definition?
3. Jurassic Park (1993)
One of the later releases on this list, Jurassic Park earnt a place in everyone’s households for its high-quality production and epic storyline. In addition, the combination of science fiction with horror gave the film an edge that other family-friendly films at the time didn’t have. In fact, the movie ranked as the 5th most popular film ever bought on tape.
Jurassic Park answered everyone’s question about what would happen if dinosaurs were to walk on Earth again.
That’s the answer. The special effects and realistic T-Rex saturated everyone’s need to visualise what it would look like to walk next to dinosaurs—a fantastic film for every dinosaur lover out there and one to watch again.
4. E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982)
It goes without saying that E.T. would be on this list alongside Jurassic Park. Spielberg’s classics ruled the eighties and nineties because of their family-centric storylines and revolutionary special effects. Likewise, E.T. touched many of our hearts as the film focused on a dysfunctional family home where the siblings learn to work together to ensure that the alien makes it home safely.
A pop-culture phenomenon, E.T. had a special edition VHS release in 2002 with higher quality effects and never seen before footage to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
5. Sound of Music (1965)
Did anyone actually enjoy watching Sound of Music?
It didn’t matter. The musical tracks composed by Robert Wise and sung by Julie Andrews meant it was ideal for any parent wanting to catch a kip whilst entertaining the kids. The Sound of Music was a comfort film through and through. Although not as popular today, it will always be in our hearts as the tape to watch on a rainy day.
6. The Little Mermaid (1989) – and every other Disney animated film released on tape.
I’m going to be honest with you if this list matched the top 10 favourite films watched on VHS, then it would have been a top 10 of Disney animated films. Of course, there were many popular choices for us to choose from, such as The Lion King. But, The Little Mermaid is one many of us fondly remember only watching on tape.
Let’s not forget the controversial artwork on the original VHS release that banned the tape in shops and caused a new cover released in 1990. The original artwork looked very similar to the one kept in many of our houses. But, if you looked closely at the golden castle in the background, you would see that one of the spires resembled a not-so child-friendly male body part. This rare but naughty version of The Little Mermaid now sells for up to £200 on eBay.
7. Ghostbusters (1984)
A film smeared in our minds for its ghostly horror. Bill Murray earnt this tape’s place on our shelves as we fell for his sardonic Dr Peter Venkman. Ghostbusters‘ infamous theme tune and logo have left a lasting memory in everyone’s minds. But, sadly, we will only remember the VHS edition for its poor aspect ratio that cropped Ernie Hudson out of so many scenes.
8. Grease (1978)
Loved by all, Grease is still watched on repeat today. The film encompasses the rollercoaster of young love with some of the best musical hits ever written. And, let’s not forget the eye candy of John Travolta.
Grease stood the test of time when released for home viewing. The film’s 20th Anniversary Edition release made an extra $28 million from cinema and home movie viewings in 1998. To make you feel really old, Grease has recently been released on Blur-ray in 4K Ultra HD for its 40th Anniversary in 2018. Please take me back to the days of tapes!
9. Jumanji (1995)
Okay. I never said that this list was for the best films ever released on VHS. Jumanji may never be a cult classic – but people did love to watch it on tape.
Ever thought you could hear the drumbeats too?
Finding a dusty covered tape of Jumanji on your brother’s shelf added a whole new layer of meaning after watching this film. The fear of participating in this game lingered over any child watching it at too young of an age. The fear of participating in the game was not helped by physically pushing this tape into the VCR player, making any tape viewer feel involved with the game.
10. The Snowman (1982)
“Does anyone know where The Snowman tape is?”
It always felt like a ceremonious occasion when my Mum would finally find The Snowman tape behind the Christmas decorations. The film’s short duration always made it the perfect movie to watch between decorating the Christmas tree. Even the physicality of owning the tape always made the whole occasion feel unique and personal to my family. Unfortunately, this participation in a family tradition of rewatching the one Christmas film you owned will never have the same feeling thanks to the convenience of streaming services.
Is your favourite VHS tape still sitting on your shelf? Bring it back to life by using a film digitisation service like Digital Converters.