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

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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.

8 Surprising Facts and Misconceptions About Recycling

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iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

If you pat yourself on the back for just remembering to separate the recycling or haul that big blue bin to the curb each week, you're not alone. Despite the strides we appear to be making toward eco-consciousness as a country, we have a long way to go in helping the Earth, as evidenced by our complicated relationship with recycling. These facts about the most prevalent of the three Rs will make you pause the next time you throw anything away.

1. The United States's recycling rate is low—really low.

Figures from the Environmental Protection Agency show that America recycles about 34.7 percent of the garbage it produces. (The world's top recyclers—Germany, Austria, Wales, and South Korea—report a rate between 52 and 56 percent.) But Mitch Hedlund, founder and Executive Director of the organization Recycle Across America isn't even sure the recycling rate often quoted is accurate because there is so much junk mixed in with actual recyclables.

Recycle Across America is currently working to encourage the use of standardized labels for recycling bins to eliminate the confusion over what actually belongs in these receptacles. "If the U.S. gets the recycling number up to 75 percent, which we believe is completely possible once the confusion (over what to place in the bins) is removed, it will be the CO2 equivalent of removing 50 million cars from the roads each year in the U.S. and it will create 1.5 million permanent new jobs in the U.S. (net)."

2. Proper recycling can result in monetary savings.

Businessman stepping on green squares with recycling symbols
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While Hedlund admits the idea of providing universal labels clearly stating what should be placed in the bins is a simple one, it's making a serious impact on those who have jumped on the bandwagon. "Many schools are seeing dramatic increases in their recycling levels since using the society-wide standardized labels on their recycling bins," she says. "For instance, in the pilot program at Culver City schools in Los Angeles [County], their recycling levels doubled when they started using the standardized labels and the materials they were collecting in their recycling bins were so much less contaminated with garbage." Another story, she says, is that "as a result of a donation from Kiehls (who makes a donation to Recycle Across America each April in the sum of $50,000), all of the schools in the San Diego Unified School District and San Diego County started using the standardized labels. San Diego Unified School District reduced their landfill hauling fees by about $200,000 (net) in the first year."

3. Recent changes from China have severely impacted the recycling industry.

Until 2018, China took 40 percent of the United States's recycled paper, plastic, and metal. But in January of that year, China imposed strict new rules on the levels of contamination (think food or other garbage mixed in with the recyclables) it's willing to accept—standards American cities are largely unable to meet. Because of that, and a lack of suitable destinations closer to home, many cities have been forced to incinerate or stockpile recyclables until they can find a better solution.

4. Only 9 percent of plastic is recycled in the U.S.

The nation recycles less than 10 percent of its plastic, compared to 67 percent for paper materials, 34 percent for metals, and 26 percent for glass. And China's restrictions have especially affected plastic—while exports of scrap plastic to China were valued at more than $300 million in 2015, they amounted to $7.6 million in the first quarter of 2018, down 90 percent from the year before.

5. Clothing can be recycled, but it rarely is.

Clothing at a garage sale
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Unfortunately, most curbside haulers don't accept textiles, and America has a serious problem with old clothes ending up in the trash. In 2019, the nation is on track to throw away more than 35 billion pounds of textiles, according to the Council for Textile Recycling—almost double the number from 1999. On the plus side, some cities have set up drop-off points for unwanted clothes, and there are a variety of ways to sell or donate unwanted items. Some brands, including Eileen Fisher and Patagonia, have also introduced buy-back programs for their items.

6. Aluminum is the world's most-recycled packaging product.

Crushed aluminum cans
iStock.com/hroe

Nearly 70 percent of aluminum cans are recycled internationally, according to Novelis, a leader in rolled aluminum products and recycled aluminum. Aluminum is infinitely recyclable without degrading, meaning it can be reused in a way completely different from what it was in its previous life, or recast into its original form. Not only is aluminum the world's most-recycled product, it's also the most profitable and the most energy-efficient. Using recycled aluminum instead of virgin materials saves about 95% of the energy, compared to 60% for paper and 34% for glass [PDF].

7. That soda can you're drinking from could find its way back to you more quickly than you think.

According to Novelis's research, an aluminum can that is recycled can be back on a grocery store shelf within 60 days [PDF]. That's a seriously speedy turnaround.

8. Scrap recycling is big business.

While the words scrap recycling might have you humming the Sanford & Son theme song, it's far from being a junkyard industry. According to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), in 2017 U.S. scrap recyclers processed more than 130 million tons of scrap metal, paper, plastic, glass, textiles, and more—material that was sold back to industrial consumers in the U.S. and around the world, generating close to $18 billion in export sales. All told, scrap recycling was a $117 billion industry in 2017 [PDF].

This list first ran in 2015 and was updated by Mental Floss staff in 2019.

From Cocaine to Chloroform: 28 Old-Timey Medical Cures

YouTube
YouTube

Is your asthma acting up? Try eating only boiled carrots for a fortnight. Or smoke a cigarette. Have you got a toothache? Electrotherapy might help (and could also take care of that pesky impotence problem). When it comes to our understanding of medicine and illnesses, we’ve come a long way in the past few centuries. Still, it’s always fascinating to take a look back into the past and remember a time when cocaine was a common way to treat everything from hay fever to hemorrhoids.

In this week's all-new edition of The List Show, Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy is highlighting all sorts of bizarre, old-timey medical cures. You can watch the full episode below.

For more episodes like this one, be sure to subscribe here.

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