10 VHS Tapes That Are Worth Money (No, Really)

iStock.com/axeiz77
iStock.com/axeiz77

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Blood Lake (1987)

This shot-on-video effort garnered praise among horror fans for its scrappy DIY approach to filmmaking. Collectors pay $120 and up for a VHS copy.

  1. Barney (1992-2009)

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

5 Weird American Cemetery Legends

iStock/grandriver
iStock/grandriver

These strange, spooky cemetery tales of vampires, ghosts, and bloody headstones will keep you up at night. (If you're not too scared, add them to your next cemetery road trip, and keep this guide of common cemetery symbols handy for when you visit.)

1. The Vampire of Lafayette Cemetery

Perhaps it's not surprising that a grave with "born in Transylvania" etched on it would invite vampire comparisons. Local legends say that a tree growing over this grave in Lafayette, Colorado, sprung from the stake that killed the vampire inside, and that the red rosebushes nearby are his bloody fingernails. There are also reports of a tall, slender man in a dark coat with black hair and long nails who sometimes sits on the tombstone. It's not clear what the man who bought the plot—Fodor Glava, a miner who died in 1918—would have thought of all these stories, especially since he might not have actually been buried there.

2. The Green Glow of Forest Park Cemetery

The abandoned Forest Park Cemetery (also known as Pinewoods Cemetery) near Troy, New York, is known for several urban legends. One of the strangest concerns local taxi drivers, who say they pick up fares nearby asking to go home, only to have the passenger mysteriously vanish when they drive by the cemetery. Others tell of a decapitated angel statue that bleeds from its neck—although the effect may be attributed to a certain kind of moss. But one of the eeriest parts of the grounds is a dilapidated mausoleum said to be home to a green, glowing light often seen right where the coffins used to be located.

3. The New Orleans Tomb That Grants Wishes

Famed "Voodoo Queen" Marie Laveau is buried in arguably the oldest and most famous cemetery in New Orleans, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. (Or said to be, anyway—some dispute surrounds her actual burial spot.) For years, visitors hoping to earn Marie's supernatural assistance would mark three large Xs on her mausoleum; some also knocked three times on her crypt. However, a 2014 restoration of her tomb removed the Xs, and there's a substantial fine now in place for anyone who dares write on her tomb.

4. Pennsylvania's Bleeding Headstone

The Union Cemetery in Millheim has one of the nation's weirder headstones: It's said to bleed. The grave belongs to 19th-century local William (or Daniel) Musser, whose descendants tried to replace the tombstone repeatedly, but the blood (or something that looked like blood) just kept coming back—until they added an iron plate on top.

5. Smiley's Ghost in Garland, Texas

A single plot in the Mills Cemetery is home to five members of the Smiley family, who all died on the same day. Rumor has it that if you lie down on the grave at midnight (especially on Halloween), you'll find it very difficult to rise back up, as the ghost of old man Smiley tries to pull you down, hoping to add one more member to the family's eternal resting place.

8 Fun Facts About Muppet Babies

The Jim Henson Company
The Jim Henson Company

Before prequels were a thing, Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies imagined a world in which the felt-covered characters of Henson’s Muppets franchise—Kermit, Miss Piggy, Animal, and Fozzie Bear among them—met up as children in a nursery. Left to their own devices, the animated cast led a rich fantasy life while in diapers. For more on this 1984-1991 show, including why it’s so hard to find anywhere except YouTube, keep reading.

1. Frank Oz didn’t really want Muppet Babies.

The idea to infantilize the Muppets came from Michael Frith, a longtime collaborator of Jim Henson’s, in the early 1980s. Frith believed that regressing the characters could allow them to impart moral or educational messages to children already familiar with them. But Frank Oz, a Muppets performer (Miss Piggy) and film director, argued that the Muppets needed to maintain their subversive edge. It was Henson who found a compromise, suggesting that younger versions of the characters appear in a dream sequence for 1984’s feature film The Muppets Take Manhattan. The response to the scene was overwhelmingly positive, and Henson soon teamed with Marvel Productions and CBS for an animated series that began airing in September 1984.

2. Skeeter was the result of a gender imbalance on Muppet Babies.

Most of the principal Muppet Babies cast was made up of recognizable characters, including Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Rowlf, Gonzo, Animal, Bunsen, and Scooter. But Frith, Henson, and producers Bob Richardson and Hank Saroyan decided that the babies were skewing a little too male. Aside from Piggy and their caretaker, Nanny, there were no female characters. To balance the scales, they introduced Skeeter, Scooter’s twin sister, a brainy problem-solver.

Skeeter has made only fleeting and sporadic appearances in the Muppet franchise since, leading to speculation she might be caught up in rights issues between CBS and the Jim Henson Company, which was purchased by Disney in 2004. Fortunately, the somewhat murky situation appears to be at least partially resolved: It was recently reported Skeeter will resurface in the new computer-animated iteration of Muppet Babies, which is currently airing its second season on Disney Junior and has been renewed for a third season.

3. One of the major creative forces behind Muppet Babies was Moe Howard’s grandson.

In 1985, Muppet Babies writer Jeffrey Scott received a Humanitas Prize from the Human Family Educational and Cultural Institute for an episode of the series which the Institute declared did the best job of any kid’s show that year to “enrich the viewing public.” The episode centered on the group fearing one of them might be sent away. The prolific Scott actually wrote all 13 episodes of the first season. His father, Norman Maurer, worked at Hanna-Barbera Productions and got Scott’s foot in the door. His grandfather was Moe Howard, founder and head Stooge of The Three Stooges fame.

4. The Muppet Babies live-action segments were a result of budgetary constraints.

A hallmark of Muppet Babies is when the cast finds themselves thrust into scenes from famous films, a Walter Mitty-esque bit of fantasy fulfillment that blends live-action sequences with animation. According to Frith, devoting a portion of each episode to clips wasn’t entirely a creative choice. By inserting clips, producers could save money on animation. It was also easy for Henson to secure the rights to popular films like Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark because he was friends with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. While some believe those clips are the reason the show isn’t available to stream—sifting through the legal entanglement of reairing the segments might prove costly—that’s never been confirmed.

5. Muppet Babies never explained what the Muppets were doing in that nursery.

Given time to reflect, it seems odd that the Muppet cast would find themselves in a nursery without being supervised by their own parents. Speaking with the Detroit Free Press in 1987, Michael Frith said that the situation was purposely left vague. “I really appreciate the fact that they don’t [ask],” Frith said of his kid viewers. “Is this a day care center? Is this a foster child home? The more we talked about it, the more we felt it should just exist. The kids accept it.”

6. The voice recording sessions of Muppet Babies included copious farting.

Speaking with CNN in 2011, actor Dave Coulier (Full House) recalled that recording sessions for Muppet Babies sometimes involved flatulence. Coulier, who portrayed Animal and Bunsen, among others, said that “lots of fart humor” punctuated the recording studio. “In one scene, Fozzie [played by Greg Berg] and Animal had to climb a ladder,” he said. “As Animal was pushing Fozzie up the ladder, they were making [grunting] sounds. In mid-scene, Greg Berg farted. I looked at [actor] Frank Welker and we couldn’t contain ourselves. Uncontrollable laughter ensued. I was literally on the floor of the studio laughing.”

7. There was an offshoot of Muppet Babies called Muppet Monsters—and it never aired in full.

Following the success of Muppet Babies, CBS and Jim Henson decided to expand on the Muppets' potential as Saturday morning stars by creating a 90-minute block in 1985 titled Muppets, Babies, and Monsters. (Muppet Babies often aired consecutive half-hour installments for an hour total.) In addition to regular Muppet Babies episodes, the program featured another half-hour of Little Muppet Monsters, which featured puppets of new Muppet monster characters named Tug, Molly, and Boo. The three appeared in a framing device that introduced animated segments of adult Muppets. Only three episodes aired out of 15 produced, reportedly due to both Henson and CBS being unhappy with the finished product and Muppet Babies standing strongly on its own. The remaining episodes have yet to see the light of day.

8. Muppet Babies was turned into a live stage show.

To further incite their juvenile audience and monetize their popularity, the Muppet Babies franchise eventually wound up live and on stage. Muppet Babies Live! debuted in 1986 and featured performers in oversized costumes dancing and acting to a prerecorded track. In one skit, the cast appeared in a Snow White homage. In another, Rowlf became Rowlfgang Amagodus Mozart and played the piano. The arena show toured the country. Hank Saroyan, one of the animated show’s producers, wrote the stage show. The performer for Baby Piggy, Elizabeth Figols, also appeared in a live production of Dirty Dancing. The show ran through 1990.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER