|which is real and which fake...?|
Well, this is a new one. After randomly popping in on the Horror VHS listings on eBay last week, this sought-after Tokuma Video VHS of The Devils (Xie Mo, 1981) was staring back for $20 shipped as a Buy It Now. That's chump change for this particular tape as its one of those "certain titles" that seems to be on every Japanese VHS collector's priority want list. The stateside big box from Video City Productions, titled simply "Devil", under their Chop 'Em Ups Video line-up is also extremely hard-to-find, easily more so than the Japanese cassette. Too good to be true?
Pretty damn much. It's not only a bootleg, but one hell of a bootleg. If such a copy fell into the hands of a novice, it's a good bet they'd probably not realize they've been had. I'm unsure even the seller knows for sure. The clarity and color of the properly sized and untrimmed cover sleeve is great, the tape has a full color face label, and the black plastic case matches "real" Japanese cases with a rounded spine. The black cassette even has a tan brown flap just the real deal. The color on the spine is faded, but as I've said before this issue is par the course with most Japanese ex-rentals, like postal markings on stamps.
So what gave it away? The quality of the cover's paper. Although that's not to say the paper is your average cheap copy paper. It's almost of the same standard, just a little more "waxy" looking compared to the usual flat glossy appearance of the real paper. It's difficult to see this without slipping the cover out of case and virtually impossible to tell from a picture online. Also if you really look hard, you can see some fine dotting around edges from a high DPI, but not professional, printer. Again, you literally have to place the cover within inches of your eyes to see the difference. That's the danger, many could easily be fooled if they found such quality fakes online.
At least a portion of these dubious tapes appear to be coming out of Japan, if the experience of one reputable eBay dealer is any measure. Ed McHale, a.k.a. terror-fantastic on eBay, relayed a story involving an assortment of tapes purchased from Yahoo Auctions Japan. After beginning to sell them through eBay, he realized all of them were deceivingly well crafted bootlegs, and promptly refunded the buyers of any from this particular lot. So buyer beware, I can only assume more high value Japanese tapes will show up as bootlegs online there and eBay. I'm not going to divulge the eBay seller I bought this from yet because I haven't contacted him about this tape. I'll update the comments section after that's settled and any findings upon actually watching the tape (probably tonight).
REAL COVER, from Backyard Asia's entry: THE DEVIL (Taiwan, 1981)