Saturday, 20 February 2010

Back to the Future with Laserdiscs !

I've been visiting eBay daily for the last few weeks, mostly looking for elusive issues of Video Watchdog, and among the weird and wonderful things I've discovered, are laserdiscs, specifically, a seller from Tokyo, who was offloading some of his Japanese lasers. More about that in a minute. Laserdiscs as film collectors will know were the missing link between VHS and DVD. It was the first format to offer a digital presentation of a film, along with special features (trailer, making-of's and commentaries), issued on a shiney 12" digital disc, and packaged like a vinyl soundtrack. Laserdiscs were a leap forward from VHS, but they were limitations - image and audio quality were not nearly as advanced as DVD, and with only so much information able to fit on one-side of a disc, lasers had to be flipped over (with longer films issued in multi-disc sets).

Last Monday, some lucky guy won an auction for a sealed Japanese laser of Cronenberg's Shivers, and what a beauty it is with its full-on gore drenched sleeve. A deal was struck when the bidding reached $41 - which was a bargain - a laserdisc price guide recommends just over $100 for this edition. Similar prices were paid for a Japanese laser of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, again with a striking sleeve...


  1. I know a blogger - though his site seems to have gone dormant - who originally collected any kind of movie on any format...and then gradually became more and more obsessed with collecting just Japanese editions of movies on VHS. I'm sure he would have been gaga over these laserdiscs. I had a friend who collected them (and laserdiscs were NEVER cheap or bargain priced) and had them in a shelf unit looking like record albums - and kid you not - he must have had twenty linear feet of them side on - which means, at that thickness - he had hundreds and hundreds. In the 90's I house sat for him one afternoon - really I was there to pick up a phone call if it came in while he ran a required errand. I planned to delve in and finally hear one of these "commentaries" he's spoken of. Sadly, with so many to choose from I wasted half the time just trying to pick one. Finally I settled on John Carpenter's Halloween commentary with JC and Debra Hill. Got to hear about a half hour of it before he was home. *sigh*. I am pretty sure I have that commentary on at least one of my multiple purchases of the movie on the smaller formats of disc - but I still haven't listened to it all the way through.

    1. Craig, a great story ! The whole laserdisc thing bypassed Ireland, I'm sure someone somewhere had a collection but they never caught on at all here and by and large we made the leap from VHS to DVD without ever hearing about Chapter Stops, or Audio Commentary... I remember in the very early days of DVD when I had just a few discs to my name, I listened to the Texas Chain Saw Massacre audio commentary 2 or 3 times, such was the buzz of hearing a director and his crew comment over a film - I mean, what a concept ! Nowadays I almost never get the chance to listen to a commentary, hard enough to find time to watch a film, let alone running it with a commentary...