Meet The Man Who Loves VHS More Than Life Itself
This is Dale Lloyd. He really likes VHS tapes.
Like, he really REALLY likes VHS tapes. He likes them more than you like ANYTHING.
He's a big fan of the kind of film it's easy to turn your nose up at.
Films like this.
Or this, which looks great.
Or this. Which, let's be honest, looks shit.
We got in touch with Dale to get an insight into what feeds his obsession.
How did you get into VHS collecting?
My Mum used to work for BMG Records (who later merged with Sony), and they had a small collection of tapes in a cabinet in the warehouse where she operated. She would bring home a title each week for me and my sister – mostly me – and these were films like The Monster Squad, Ghostbusters, The Blob and Watchers. I was probably be about 5 or 6, maybe even younger, but the power of film took over. Of course, tapes were an expensive commodity back then and you'd have to be a Prince or Sultan to own an actual VCR, so my parents rented one from our local video store - Video Vision. Apparently I requested the Dungeons and Dragons (Vol.1) tape so much that the guy at my Mum's work gave me it as a gift, and I still have it. That was the tape that began it all, my first video tape. It wasn't until a couple of years later that I had my next one, Stay Tuned. Some years later I became obsessed with the work of John Candy and that's when I began 'collecting' in every sense of the word.
What is it you like about the format?
I don't mind the grain, and much like holding a book over a Kindle, prefer to see movies in their original release. Then again, I don't watch what most people watch. As a believer in physical media, I like to own my films, and what better way to own a movie then to have the original VHS tape that you used to take home from your local store? I even look forward to the trailers before the event, as literally anything could pop up and lead you on to more film recommendations. Mostly, the movies I look out for and want to see are pretty low-budget genre flicks and so were made to be of poor quality, and I guess the directors could hide a lot of errors in the grain and darkness, and I'm sure they'd like it to stay that way.
How many tapes do you own?
I haven't counted for years but the collection must be passing the 4,500 mark now. I undertook a pretty large purge some years back, ridding myself of the smaller-cased sell-through titles that you would pick up in the high street shops like Virgin and HMV. Getting rid of them as easily as I did was painful but necessary. I had replaced the majority with their ex-rental original counterparts, so it was the most logical thing to do. My collection consists mostly of post-cert material from all genres, although my fondness for dance movies can be sometimes unsettling to others.
Is there one item in your collection that sticks out as being your favourite?
I don't really have a favourite. Films like Superstition, Suspiria and Straw Dogs will always stand out as I paid what was then a small fortune to get hold of them. Superstition mainly because back in the late ‘90s when VHS was still booming, anything that was deleted and unavailable was almost impossible to find, and my Dad kept going on about this movie he had seen in his teens. Through internet searches I found it was called Superstition aka The Witch. I paid about £25 for a bootleg off the net (after a year of searching), then a week later we found the original VHS release on a market stall. That will always be one of my favourites.
The Pit is another one, as a friend and I found it at our local indoor market. It cost exactly £1. I remember looking at the nightmarish cartoon artwork that was its front cover and wanting to watch it there and then. We paid the man and raced home, sat down with some snacks and let the low-budget magic take over our lives. I dig out and watch the sort of movies I do now because of The Pit.
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