Hands up who’d like some extra cash?
As part of my goal to help you become the best darn movie nerd that ever lived, I realised something incredibly profound: you’re going to need to fund those efforts. I’ve got some ideas on how to accomplish your cinephile ambitions if you wish to do so without selling a kidney. One area that you might not have considered? Out of print DVDs.
Since the dawn of man (or around 1998) the home video format of choice has gone on quite the journey.
At first, they were considered the cutting edge of home cinema viewing. I distinctly recall being blown away listening to actors and directors talking over the movie, offering tidbits of trivia and amusing behind-the-scenes anecdotes while I was watching it!
Slowly but surely, the allure of audio commentaries began to fade, right before DVDs made their final transition to the bargain bin. Time heals all wounds and also renders amazing technology obsolete faster than you can say “Halloween 3 is proper underrated!’
With that window of availability for DVDs so brief, there are a bunch of movies released onto the format during that period that now fetch a pretty penny. Good or bad, this lot is worth more than you’d expect. Here’s my rundown of the rare and out of print DVDs you should keep an eye out for when you next hit up the thrift store.
Or who knows? Maybe they’re sat on your bookshelf right this very second.
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11. The Killer
Criterion. Forget your standard two-disc sets, these feature glorious artwork, crisp transfers, and excellent films. You hear that word, ‘criterion’ and immediately know you’re in the presence of greatness. It’s more than just a word, though; it’s an emblem of high quality. Oh, and these home video releases? They have the capacity to become rarer than rocking horse sh*t. Take the absolutely superb The Killer by John Woo. Yeah, this guy? Goes for $399.
10. Dead Again (1991)
This Kenneth Branagh-directed thriller has aged surprisingly well and stars Emma Thompson sporting an early-’90s ‘do and an American accent. It’s since been deleted from Paramount’s DVD catalogue making it a bit difficult to track down unless you’re willing to part with a generous amount of cash. At the moment it’s listed on Amazon for $76.
9. Drop Dead Fred
A childhood favourite for many, this inane comedy stars Rik Mayall, Phoebe Cates, and Carrie Fisher. Drop Dead Fred’s a real cult classic that yanks on the heartstrings and also encourages utter silliness when Cates’ childhood imaginary friend turns up as she struggles with her hideous husband. The US region 1 has been out of print for some time now, and it fetches up to around $50 on Amazon. I picked up my copy from a thrift store in Seattle two years ago for $1.
8. Truly Madly Deeply
Like feeling uplifted and bawling your eyes out at the same time? Truly Madly Deeply should help you with that. Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson star as Jamie and Nina, a couple truly, madly, deeply in love, who are torn apart when tragedy strikes. Luckily for Nina, Jamie returns from the afterlife to keep her company. For some unknown reason, it’s been denied a proper DVD release since 2002 and now fetches around $200 online.
7. Good Burger
Yes, that Good Burger. It might seem unusual for a movie inspired by a Nickelodeon sketch to generate so much demand that the DVD now goes for around $50. And yet here we are. The original 2003 release of the disc has been out of print for years, driving up the value to a price that no-one could ever have expected.
6. Dead Alive
Way before Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson gave us this: a splattergore movie about a young guy in New Zealand who has to contend with his grotesque mother. I’m not being horrible, she really is rank after being bitten by a Sumatran rat monkey that turns her into a… actually, I don’t know what it is. Zombie? Ghoul? In any case, it’s fucking disgusting. The US DVD release from 1998 goes for around $40.
From the guy who made Jeepers Creepers, Clownhouse is a questionable psychological horror movie that apparently Francis Ford Coppola financed. Can’t be that bad, right? It revolves around three young brothers who are tormented by three escaped mental patients who decide to wear clown outfits because their unhinged psychoses aren’t terrifying enough. The controversy surrounding the film’s director forced MGM to yank the movie from shelves, making it somewhat of a collector’s item.
4. A Dangerous Place
Martial arts movies tend to go in one of two directions: they either blow your mind through expertly choreographed fight sequences, or they blow your mind through their inexpertly crafted dialogue. This ‘80s Corey Feldman vehicle is a glorious mix of the two, wangling its way into the hearts of cult movie fanatics the world over. Alas, those dying to see it will have to fork out $30 for the pleasure.
If you’ve seen 2000’s Shadow of the Vampire, that crackers flick with Willem Dafoe, you might have heard of its director E. Eliot Meringhe. No? Well, Begotten is his cinematic debut, and it too possesses a strange streak. A psychological, supernatural horror, it’s utterly deranged, and also, utterly out of print. You can grab it for $273.
2. Clockwork Mice
This ‘90s drama from Vadim Jean got a wide release in the UK – on the good ole Cinema Club label! – yet never made it to US shores. It stars Ian Hart in a sterling lead role as a teacher assigned to a special needs school who tries to bring about change. Might be a tad sentimental for some, but it’s still gripping stuff. Well, if fancy coughing up $123 that is.
1. Mighty Aphrodite
Given the opportunity, I’d talk about Mighty Aphrodite ‘til the cows come home. Woody Allen’s mid-’90s comedy stars Allen as Max Weinrib, a sportswriter on a mission to locate his adopted son’s birth mother who turns out to be Mira Sorvino’s helium-voiced prostitute-porn star, Linda Ash. It’s a shame that the DVD has never been re-released and currently goes for $45. Still, it’s worth it.
What will you do with your out of print DVDs?
Whether you’re heading out to the thrift store, or planning to hit up some garage sales this weekend, here are 11 DVDs you should absolutely keep your eye out for. And yes, you might quite like the movies in question and not want to give ‘em up – ahem, Drop Dead Fred – but if you’re wanting to splurge on something else this could help your wallet.