The collector, known only as ‘the Mayor’, has an amazing collection of VHS tapes that runs into the thousands – including some that are rare pre-certification ‘video nasty’ horror flicks
A VHS lover has turned his home into a replica of a Blockbuster store and filled the house with thousands of rare VHS tapes.
The man, known only as ‘the Mayor’, has over 10,000 tapes in his home, many of which are extremely rare as they were withdrawn because of copyright issues.
The ‘irreplaceable’ collection stretches from floor to ceiling in his house in Liverpool, and one room is a faithful recreation of an old Blockbusters rental store, complete with illuminated sign.
The Mayor has so many videos that he’s now running out of space, but he says he’ll never give up his collection as finding rare tapes is his hobby and passion.
He said: “I’m always building it and building it. It’s a full-time occupation and I travel all over the country to get video collections.
“I’ve also found some in a skip in Watford. There will always be a gem in there, a catalogue filler.
“I first started collecting in 1993 when I went to a car boot sale. I wanted to own my video shop one day but then DVDs came out and ruined that idea.
“I always buy ex-rental tapes because they were built to last longer on high-grade tape and the quality doesn’t degrade, unlike sell-thru retail videos. They only last around 10 plays and the quality in picture and sound would degrade, and they aren’t worth anything.
“When videos were dying out I still continued to collect ex-rental VHS tapes. I couldn’t see the point in buying films on DVD that I already owned and have to pay yet more money.
“They are arranged by date in catalogue order number. Even though there are so many, I can find any title pretty much instantly.”
Many of the Mayor’s videos are highly sought-after “pre-certs” – referring to the period in the early days of VHS tape when they did not require a certificate from the British Board of Film Classification.
This all changed following the “video nasty” moral panic of the early 1980s, when the market was flooded by cheaply made, gory horror films which anyone could buy or rent. Later, videos had to be given a certificate in the same way that cinema releases were.
He has multiple copies of particular titles – such as Alien and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – as the packaging was different each time it was released, depending on whether it was a ‘pre-cert’ or ‘post-cert’ copy.
The Mayor said: “The collection as a whole is irreplaceable, and must be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
“I’m so glad that I never replaced my collection with DVDs because they’re worth nothing these days and yet again another format came out to replace DVD anyway.
“What gets me is how people still keep replacing their films with so-called better formats and keep wasting money, then a new format will come out of the same film they upgraded and off they go upgrading again. Absolutely mind-boggling!
“Everybody had VHS back in the day and it’s made a huge comeback. My collection has grown massively in recent years, through buying various job lots on eBay and other sources.
“I have no idea how many I actually own as it would be very hard to count, but there are absolutely thousands here and it must be one of the biggest in the country.
“But now I’m running out of room. I need to get my museum off the ground.
“It’s a fun passion, keeps me entertained and I don’t think I could ever sell them. I only sell my swaps but that’s it. Every tape that I’ve not got that comes in goes straight into the collection.
“If you’re thinking of collecting tapes then be sure to only buy ex-rental as the retail tapes will near enough be unwatchable over time.
“If you have a collection of tapes make sure they’re not stored in a damp place as they can become mouldy, so avoid the garage or garden shed.”