Is the Time Right for a VHS Comeback?


Halloween Horror Nights VHS Player” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by pokemonprime

When a world seems obsessed with the new and innovative, it seems to defy logic that we continue to worship the old ways of doing things. But there’s no denying that we have a fascination with the retro and no format seems to be immune from this attraction.

The increasing, and highly documented, popularity of vinyl is perhaps the highest-profile of the formats that are back with a vengeance. There have also been some even more surprising resurgences of technology with one of the most notable being the return of Polaroid cameras.

It seems like, however much the digital revolution has arrived, there is still great nostalgia for the good old days – even if it involves considerably more hassle. So it should really come as no big surprise that one of the clunkiest and most unreliable formats of all – the VHS videocassette – is starting to make quite a comeback.

To put this into a little historical context, the last films were released on the format in 2006 and, two years before that, the electrical retailer Dixons announced that they were to stop selling the machines on which to play them. But it seems like, unlike the long-gone Dixons, the VHS tape is now getting a second lease of life. Along with this, it’s also offering film fans the chance to enjoy movies and other entertainment that is distinctly pre-2006.

VHS collection” (CC BY 2.0) by wachovia_138

This might not just be good news for the charity shops up and down the country that have shelf upon shelf of VHS tapes gathering dust. It might even have a knock-on effect for online iGaming sites like Space Casino that feature slots themed around movies like the 1995 original of the Jumanji franchise or bands that were big in the 70s and 80s like Motorhead. Rediscovering these old favourites on VHS movies or live concert recordings could lead fans to explore these slots and the hundreds more that feature on the site.

Anyone who can remember the VHS experience from the old days might be a little perplexed as to why anyone would want to revive them. Terrible quality images, tapes that tangled up in the machine and the ever-present danger of someone erasing a favourite movie or programme were all issues. As for extras like outtakes and a director’s commentary – they simply didn’t feature.

One of the secrets of their popularity has possibly been the cases that the bulky tapes come in. There’s no doubt that they do look good lined up on the shelf. This is why the US store Target has started selling a number of DVD titles including Jaws and The Breakfast Club in VHS-style boxes complete with replica scuff-marks.

So it would seem that the conditions are just right for the comeback. The only issue might be finding the machines to play the tapes. But, just as turntable manufacturers have upped their production levels to cater for the new trend for vinyl, maybe we’ll see the same thing happen for VHS recorders.

Then, the next step could well be the return of the video rental shop on a high street near you!

Tech Digest Correspondent