I have a bad habit of thinking that the things I love will always be there. Like drive-in theaters. We had three of them in my hometown. I went as much as I could, but I thought they were forever. I should have been out there every damned weekend.
It seemed that the cool bookstores would always be there. I had no idea Amazon and their Kindle would tear the guts out of our communities.
It wasn’t that long ago when I used to see great old VHS tapes at the thrift stores. I’ve been buying a lot of genre stuff up as interest in them has risen. Mostly I find later things from the latter half of the ’90s and first half of the 2000 decade.
I remember so vividly when the thrift stores were filled with horror books. Paperbacks, hardcovers, all kinds of great things.
I got rid of my videotape collection somewhere around 2002. I am kicking myself for it now. I had hundreds of them. Big box packages from Wizard and Vestron, horror, action, raucous comedy. Not just the mainstream stuff either. Rare tapes from tiny distributors. I donated them to a library.
Space was the biggest consideration. I have a lot of books. I continue to get a lot of books. I had the tapes all boxed up. I needed shelf room for the hundreds of DVDs I had, after all. Some of those tapes are worth pretty good money now.
I get sick thinking of them all. How much I’d just like to see them again. To relive the wonder and passion I had for my collection of videotapes.
And books. I got rid of so many. They were plentiful. Who even wanted those old shitty horror novels from Zebra and pre-Don D’Auria Leisure? I donated, gave away, even tossed some of the beat up ones in the garbage. I never thought for an instant that there would be such a collector’s interest in them.
You live and learn. That’s the theory anyway. I’m still working on that one.
Even DVDs are going up in value. The older horror titles are no longer in the thrift stores. Horror is hot. Hotter, perhaps, than it has ever been. Fans — real fans that is — know the worth of physical media. When you own a tape or a disc, the powers-that-be can’t alter it. The streaming company can’t reclaim it. If you lose your internet connection, you still have your precious movies.
I still have a lot of DVDs and I will be selling them at conventions. I don’t mind letting some of them go for fair prices. Especially when I know that they are going to good, worthy homes. Same with books. I can’t keep them all, and I like selling them to those will will appreciate them.
I plan to make a sign for my next horror convention dealer’s table: PRESERVE OUR HERITAGE: COLLECT PHYSICAL MEDIA!
Mark Sieber learned to love horror with Universal, Hammer, and AIP movies, a Scholastic edition of Poe’s Eight Tales of Terror, Sir Graves Ghastly Presents, The Twilight Zone, Shirley Jackson’s The Daemon Lover, The Night Stalker, and a hundred other dark influences. He came into his own in the great horror boom of the 1980’s, reading Charles L. Grant, F. Paul Wilson, Ray Russell, Skipp and Spector, David J. Schow, Stephen King, and countless others. Meanwhile he spent as many hours as possible at drive-in theaters, watching slasher sequels, horror comedies, monster movies, and every other imaginable type of exploitation movie. When the VHS revolution hit, he discovered the joys of Italian and other international horror gems. Trends come and go, but he still enjoys having the living crap scared out of him. Cemetery Dance recently released his collection He Who Types Between the Rows: A Decade of Horror Drive-In. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and at www.horrordrive-in.com.