Sunday, May 23

The Tail End of Horror on VHS - Saw (2004) and Land of the Dead (2005) on tape...

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For me, VHS died as the "preferred viewing" format the moment I received my first DVD player as a gift in late 1998--about one year after the digital disc that would be king debuted. After that VHS was honestly dead to me as a viable option if a DVD version was also available. Yet millions soldiered on with their tapes and the format endured for a couple of years in the face of rising disc sales. Though the writing was on the wall by the time the '00s were half over and major chains like Best Buy, Wal Mart, and Blockbuster began phasing out the bulky cassettes with the road cleared for DVD by 2006. Major studio releases on VHS also ended the same year with New Line's A History of Violence. That was effectively "it" despite the final nail being hammered in 2008 when the last major VHS replicator called it quits. Tape-based home video was thrown on the trash heap of history for obsessive dorks who care far too much about bullshit to dive in head first.

So these two tapes, along with 2005's Saw 2 (the third sequel never made it) and The Devil's Rejects, represent the last major Horror releases on North American VHS. I actually had no idea these even made it to tape before last year while digging around Amazon. Lionsgate's Saw cover is a barely re-purposed take on their first DVD's cover; however, Universal's Land of the Dead features a fairly unique artwork layout compared to their DVDs. Land's cassette is also different with the two tape spools having black plastic reels like an old reel-to-reel machine and a face label sticker. On the other hand, Saw is a flimsy cassette with the title sloppily screened on the plastic in white. It's kinda nice Romero's last "proper" ...of the Dead sequel graced VHS since Dawn of the Dead proved wildly popular on the format ever since its early '80s home video debut from Thorn EMI.

Note how Big Daddy is mysteriously doubled in the back's zombie crowd...

4 comments:

Buscemi said...

Any chance that we could see the scans of the tapes as well?

Jayson said...

Here you go!

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/Kz4lFHqUEDDmL-K_ayUKqIOB1LEshK_uJ9msqRM_wig?feat=directlink

Jayson said...

Also Land of the Dead is a dead center full screen crop that doesn't "pan and scan" at all.

Buscemi said...

Thanks. The Saw tape label reminds of the old Live/Artisan tapes rather than the labels that Lionsgate usually used.

And I figured that they stopped with dead-center crops after the late 1980's. I remember a full-screen copy of The Seventh Sign that had a shot of two people on the far sides of the screen (the movie was filmed in Panavision, so imagine a very wide screen). But due to the dead-center crop, both people are cropped from the picture and you see nothing but scenery in the shot! (By the way, it was a driving shot so it would make sense to include people on-screen.) I hate full-screen crops of scope films.

...do you dare tread upon the staircase?
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