Monday, February 25, 2013

Riske Business: 15 Reasons You Own DVDs You'll Never Watch

A few weeks ago I walked into my home and I thought I was robbed. There were DVDs spilled out on my living room floor all the way to my front door. I walked in and soon realized, to my relief, all that happened was my DVD rack fell over. At this point I came to terms that I own too many movies.  As I picked up the pieces I paid closer attention than ever before to what I actually own. It was a sobering and embarrassing experience leaving me with one question repeated dozens of times over.


Here are the reasons I can come up with.

15) My Disc’s Bigger!

I don’t know how many people will relate to this one, but sometimes I see another movie fan’s DVD collection and it’s bigger than mine and I turn into Michael Jordan. I must win! I must defeat this person! Luckily, I don’t have this problem very often anymore.

14) Gag Gifts

Your family and friends are wonderful people. They know you better than anyone, and sometimes they want to make a joke at your expense by giving you something they know you will dislike. Just like birthday cards, you feel like you can’t throw the DVD away so it sits there and takes up space -- probably knowing itself that it serves no purpose. Kind of like Gerard Butler.

Examples from my collection: 4 Movie Marathon (Dudley Do-Right, Sgt. Bilko, Cop and a Half, Ed)

13) You had 20 Minutes to Kill…

More than once I have been early to be somewhere so I run a quick errand. For example, I might need toothpaste and I see a Target. I walk into Target and buy toothpaste and now I also own Jerry Maguire.

12) I Liked it When I was a Kid

Most movie fans are also in the bag for all things nostalgic.

People live in castles at our expense.

You don’t have to buy a movie just because you liked it when you were 12. Odds are you are never going to get another experience as fulfilling as the one you did when you saw it as a kid. Let sleeping dogs lie. The younger version of yourself will not come to your room and start crying one night because “we” don’t own Good Burger.

Examples from my collection: First Kid, Man of the House, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Ernest Goes to Camp/Ernest Goes to Jail/Ernest Scared Stupid Triple Feature, The Best of Muppet Babies

11) Welcome to the New-Fangled World of DVDs

When DVD first came out, you bought A LOT of movies because you were excited about the format. It was not about the movies. This is why most people own a copy of Lethal Weapon 4. This phenomenon ended around the year 2000.

Examples from my collection: Keeping the Faith, The Perfect Storm, The Patriot, Big Daddy, Black Mask, Enemy of the State, The Dish, Finding Forrester

10) One Day I Will Watch This or Need This
I heard Solitary Man is good. I’m sure I’ll get around to it one of these days. It costs almost as much to own as it does to rent.

The Contender, yeah, I’ll own it. Never know when people will come over and want to have a Joan Allen marathon.

Examples from my collection (never seen): Shut Up and Play the Hits, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, Killshot, The Darjeeling Limited

Examples from my collection (will need it one day): Ray, Napoleon Dynamite, In Good Company, Dave, Dodgeball

9) You Felt Like Watching a Movie, Couldn’t Decide on One so You Went Shopping Instead

What’s playing at the theaters? Nothing good. What’s On Demand? I don’t know. Nothing that gets me excited. I don’t see anything at RedBox. I guess I’ll just walk around Best Buy and pick out something and watch it tonight. The irony is you get home (maybe leave the bag in your car) and end up going to bed instead.

8) Convention Fever

You are walking around a convention or special event looking at the souvenirs and get the nonsensical notion that buying something is more important than what it is you are buying. This is how you will end up with all of the bootleg DVDs that you own.

Examples from my collection: Elvira’s Movie Macabre Double Feature (Count Dracula’s Great Love/Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks), Welcome to the Grindhouse Double Feature (The Bodyguard/Sister Street Fighter), The Munsters Two Movie Fright Fest (Munsters Go Home!/The Munsters' Revenge), Michael Jackson Masterpiece Video Collection (Thriller/Captain EO, Moonwalker, Ghosts), Maniac Cop, The Man with the Screaming Brain, Alien Apocalypse, Bozo’s 30th Anniversary Special

7) That’s a Good Looking Display!

I like that movie but I don’t need to buy it. Maybe I’ll just rent it. I’m here for something else. OOH! That’s a sexy looking end cap! There are so many copies! It’s a big deal! I can’t not be part of the zeitgeist!

Examples from my collection: National Treasure, The Dark Knight Rises, Ted

6) 4 Movies for $10? IT’S LIKE THEY’RE PAYING ME!!!!

I’m a slut for discount DVD collections -- especially the 4 film favorites. There’s comfort in knowing that I can see Bed of Roses on a whim. Somewhere the following is being said at a movie studio’s home video department: "We can’t sell these separately for $10 each, but if we pack it together with two other turds and one good movie, we’ll make a fortune."

Examples from my collection:  The Wes Craven Horror Collection (The Serpent and the Rainbow/Shocker/The People Under the Stairs), Triple Feature (Nixon/Billy Bathgate/Blaze), Miramax Four Feature Films (Full Frontal/Playing by Heart/Four Rooms/Beautiful Girls), 4 Film Favorites Kevin Costner Collection (The Bodyguard/Rumor Has It/The Upside of Anger/Tin Cup), 4 Film Favorite Denzel Washington Collection (Training Day/Fallen/John Q/The Pelican Brief)

5) It Was the Heat of the Moment

You watch a movie and are so moved you stand up from your couch and walk right over to your laptop to order the DVD. The problem is you don’t consider that you will never feel the urge to pull The Lives of Others from your DVD shelf and pop it in. Any time this could happen you will choose taking a nap or watching Law & Order re-runs instead.

Examples from my collection: The Greatest Game Ever Played, Across the Universe, Antwone Fisher

4) You Thought it Would Make You Look Smart and Deep

There will not be a time when someone comes over to your house, looks at your DVD collection and tell you what a brilliant and reflective person you are because you own Precious. This will never happen. These movies are what rentals are for.

Examples from my collection: Closer, The Red Violin, The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, Traffic, When We Were Kings, The Virgin Suicides

3) If I Watch It Enough Times I Will Like It

This movie can’t be that bad? It’s me. I had a headache when I was watching it. The kids were talking. I was doing a crossword puzzle. I’ll give it another chance. It’s not the movie. I’ll just keep watching it until I “get it.”

Examples from my collection: Made, Observe and Report, Ali, The Lawnmower Man, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, Titan A.E.

2) You are a Completest

This one is common. You love the original, the sequel is fun and then the third one is completely awful. What do you do? You can’t just stop! It’s like having a couch minus a cushion. How can you wake up in the morning not owning Pirates of the Carribbean: At World’s End? Or Pirates of the Carribbean: On Stranger Tides? Seriously, they need to stop making Pirates movies.

Examples from my collection: The Matrix Revolutions, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Scream 3

How many times have you decided to buy another DVD because you were $3 away from free shipping?

How many times have you decided to buy a movie because of a ridiculously affordable Black Friday offer?

How many times have you decided to buy one more disc because HAL 9000 or whoever runs things over there suggested you might also like it?

Are there any other reasons?  If so, please share!


  1. How about this one: "It's on sale NOW! If I wait, it will cost more later!" So I buy it, take it home, and continue building the fort in my bedroom.

  2. There's the "If I don't like it I can always sell it."
    And then you realize nobody wants Sanctum on dvd. Not even for 1 dollar.

    Fuck you, Sanctum.

  3. I probably own way more movies than i need to, but at the same time i try to be selective and purchase movies I deem to be "good." I've been a victim of almost all of these at one time or another, however. I'm sure it's happened many more times than I'm prepared to admit. I really don't know how many times, if ever again, I wiill watch those copies of The Other Guys or Meet The Parents/Fockers or Role Models or Analyze This that I own, all comedies that I may have cared about at one point, but don't anymore. I suppose these instances falls under #5. They seemed like good ides at the time. (Note: There is a possibility these might not even be terrible movies. I just own them and haven't watched any of them hardly at all since I got them when they first came to DVD/Blu-Ray,), but I'm guilty of others, too, Including Steve's addition to the list.

    (Schindler's List also comes to mind. I mean, I'm sure it's a great movie, from what I remember, but I just have a hard time getting in the mood to watch a Holocaust drama, no matter how good it is. But this falls under #7 and #4, I think.)

    This is a great and eye-opening post for a movie collector like myself!

  4. @John - Interesting you mention Schindler's List. I almost called that out in my list but I thought it might be too specific. But yes! I own it more out of guilty feelings than any other reason.

    1. Exactly. It's definitely one that I own because I feel obligated to, not because I plan on watching it again anytime soon. I mean, c'mon, it's Spielberg making one of his great historical epics. That has "must own" written all over it.

      Now, please excuse me while I go watch Saving Private Ryan and pre-order Lincoln (to be fair, this might not be the best comparison, as those movies are more watchable, I think, than Schindler's List).

  5. First of all...EVERYONE should own the "Best of Muppet babies"!

    Second of all...Great Article! I am a sucker for nostalga and I find myself buying for that reason a lot. I mean why else would I own every Rankin/Bass stop motion holiday DVD out there (Year Without A Santa Clause, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, etc). The only time I watch them is around Christmas and they show them all on ABC Family every year. Most years I only watch 1 or 2 of them, but it makes me feel like a kid again when I pull them out of storage for the month of December.

  6. @GDiddy - Thanks for commenting! I agree with everything you said :-)

    1. There is one thing I have to get off my chest...How dare you compare Gerard Butler to Dudley Do-Right! While he won't be on my best actor list of all time...he did give me a great performance in Phantom and as King Leonidas. I own both of those and they are no Gag gifts sir!

      Sorry I get so defensive when it comes to Mr. Butler. I feel like I have to stick up for him because of his name. It's slightly different, but I also get very defensive about former Menudo star Gerardo as well.

  7. @GDiddy Are you actually Gerard Butler?

    1. no...but you will always be my Rico Suave! Keep up the great work Adam!

  8. I own DVDs for all those reasons, and one more.

    The Special Edition! The first disc was kind of crappy, this one has real widescreen and some special features. How many times can you realistically watch The Mummy or A Fistful of Dollars though? And then I bought Dollars on Blu Ray too, still haven't watched it.

  9. I have one more key reason for you: It's going out of print!

    I can't tell you how many times I've yelled that phrase in alarm after reading that some company has lost the rights to a title or after noticing that it's no longer available at Amazon except used or through third-parties at exorbitant prices.

    Immediately I'd become obsessed with purchasing whatever title it was because obviously if I didn't find it at once I would never get to see it again ever and as a result it would completely vanish from cinematic history to be forgotten.

  10. I've bought new releases of movies that nobody really saw in theaters on the off chance that it may someday become a kind of cult classic or that it may be so rare in 30 years that it'll be a collectors item.

    Example: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

    I've never seen it, and I doubt I'll be rich in 30 years selling it on ebay, and yet I still own it.

  11. Ugh, childhood nostalgia. This is why I own the entire set of ROBOTECH cartoons. You're right, Adam, about not having a better experience than you did when you watched the thing as a kid. Mostly, when I watch stuff from my childhood (especially cartoons), I am amazed at how stupid I was as a child. "I found THIS entertaining?" What I'm saying is, I never remembered drooling all that much, but guess I was wrong.

  12. Great article. Replace 'DVD' with either 'HD-DVD' (for me) or 'Blu-ray' (99.9% of high-def nuts) and the argument 'because I want to hold on to a physical copy of the best/sharpest-possible version of a movie out there while it's still in print' surfaces. Bonus argument: 'Because Netflix On Demand proves that, at any moment, a movie or TV show can be taken off without explanation or previous notice.' And if you don't want to live in a world where you can't download/stream "Fire and Ice" at a moment's notice, who am I to tell you otherwise?

    Super-cinephile geeky argument: 'I love ____ commentary track or the _____ documentary on 'X' movie, and the only way to own it is on home video so I have to have it.' I'm a David Cronenberg whore, so I own his unremarkable "Fast Company" movie DVD from Blue Underground because (a) Cronenberg's commentary is the shit (including a candid moment when a shot he thought had been lost forever appears and he clearly wasn't expecting it) and (b) his two earliest fully-formed films, "Stereo" and "Crimes of the Future," are included as bonuses. And no, I haven's seen the latter on the DVD (saw them ages ago at a Cronenberg retrospective in NYC) but I'm glad I own them just so I could watch them if I ever get the urge. :-)

    My recent new-to-me movies (i.e. my own way to deal with my pile of unwatched DVD's/HD-DVD's/Blu-rays).

    2/24/13: before he went all Ozu on his intros, young Woody Allen tried hard even during the colorful opening credits to make you laugh in BANANAS (1971) on MGM-HD. Bonus Review: THE EQUINOX... A JOURNEY INTO THE SUPERNATURAL (1967) on DVD.

    Dating Sayid? Way more dangerous than walking in Central Park at night. Neil Jordan's THE BRAVE ONE (2007) on Action Max-HD.

  13. So is the start of a support group? I could use one...

    Number #1 is the worst for me - when I'm in a store holding it and looking at the price and thinking about shelling out the cash, I can talk myself out of it pretty quickly. But Amazon and their friggin deals - for some reason a virtual cart is so much easier to fill! And getting parcels in the mail is always fun too, right?

    I would add "pretty packaging" to that list as well. I have definitely bought some stuff I might not have otherwise (or re-bought something I already had) because the box it's in won me over. It's a sickness really!

  14. #3 and #5 are the most resonant to me, personally.
    (for #3) I bought 'Dark City', after seeing it twice and not really liking it, thinking "Once i see this in 1080p, i will then know why people love it." Have yet to watch it.

    (for #5) I might be in the minority here but, i think 'Where the Wild Things Are' is a pretty great movie. I was surprised at how much i enjoyed it, the following weekend, i went out and bought it. And yea, i have never been a 'Where the Wild Things Are' kinda mood since i first saw it.

    (for #2) I think i used to be worse with this one. Like recently, i exchanged some dvd's at Best Buy (with that $5 trade and save deal)and bought Spiderman (solid) and Spiderman 2 (perfect). But i didnt feel the need to buy 3. Maybe it's because it' shitty and bad but i had no interest in owning it just to complete the trilogy.

  15. Most of my dubious purhcases were made when video stores hadn't quite made the transition from VHS to DVD. I would buy things that would have better off rented but were not readily available.

    Also, I used to like the ritual of going DVD shopping weekly and would feel disappointed if there wasn't something released that week worth buying. I made some dubious purchases back then just to not walk out empty handed.

  16. OMG, it's like you're looking into my SOUL!

  17. JB mentioned in a podcast that, at one point, a DVD/movie collector has to stop being a library and give up on getting everything. I've reached that point... many times over... and over and over... and I'm still buying stuff (95% less than before but still, 5% on top of what I already have is a lot). Someone stop me! :-(

  18. @Clint J - Your comment made me laugh out loud. As someone who saw Sky Captain on opening night, it will never ever be a collector's item or cult hit. You should use it as a test to see how far you can throw something.

    @Sol O - Yes! We should start a support group.

    @Anonymous - I'm FINALLY going to see Dark City for the first time next month at a Portage marathon. Can't wait to be disappointed, I guess????

    @Darren - your mention of 'video stores' made me smile because it reminded me that I've bought a bunch of stuff at Blockbusters as they were closing and unloading inventory. A closing Blockbuster is one of the saddest places to be on Earth after a dying mall (watch commerce die) and a theater playing Les Miserables.

    1. Oh yeah, the Death of Blockbuster and the resulting blowout sales landed a lot of shitty $3 blu-rays on my shelf. I really felt like a vulture in there, though I was a regular customer so I feel like I at least earned my spot at the carrion pile.