Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Thursday, May 22, 2008

My New Toy

A few weeks back, we were shopping at a local discount store called Mardens. Because they basically pick up overstock or remaindered items from other businesses, you never know what you're going to find on their shelves when you stop in, but if you're lucky enough to find something you want, the price is usually fantastic. Well, on this particular visit, they had a small stack of name-brand DVD recorders marked down to less than half their normal price. It was too good a deal to pass up, so we bought one.

Since then, we've been going through our boxes of old VHS tapes, and slowly transferring most of them to DVD. We have lots of obscure movies and TV shows on tape that are not available commercially on DVD, so we've been busy. My wife, in particular, spent a lot of time years ago taping movies off TV and she has piles of these tapes that she now wants to preserve in a more convenient (and theoretically more permanent) format. In my case, I spent a lot of the 80's and 90's accumulating new and used pre-records of strange shit, most of which just hasn't made it to DVD yet.

And frankly, the VHS tapes take up way too much room, and with over 3,000 DVDs, a couple hundred laserdiscs, and another few hundred VHS tapes – never mind all our books, comics, magazines and CDs – well, space is becoming a huge issue in our little old farmhouse. Also, with all those tapes packed in boxes and stacked away, it was a real pain in the ass digging out a specific tape when the urge hit to watch one.

So, what sort of things are we recording?

About ten years ago, AMC (when it was still "American Movie Classics") had a big Tarzan marathon, and I taped a bunch of those off the tube. While all the Weismuller films are on DVD, none of the later ones with Gordon Scott, Jock Mahoney or Mike Henry are, so I've been preserving those off-air recordings on DVD-R. They don't look so great, as I originally recorded them in EP mode, and I've watched them a lot over the years, but it's a lot easier to watch Tarzan's Greatest Adventure or Tarzan The Magnificent on disc than on tape.

I've been transferring the few Eurospy tapes I've picked up over the years, like Lightning Bolt and Operation Atlantis to disc, and I made a fun double feature of the two 80's teen spy spoofs If Looks Could Kill and Never Too Young To Die (oh man, that last one was just as horrid as I remembered!). I also put both of the Ian Fleming television bioflicks – The Secret Life of Ian Fleming (a/k/a Spymaker) with Jason Connery and Goldeneye with Charles Dance – on one double feature disc.

Been saving the contents of some rapidly-deteriorating mystery tapes, too: anybody remember Showtime's noir series, Fallen Angels? You do? Then how about the Dan Turner Hollywood Detective TV movie with Marc Singer? Or Sherlock Holmes in New York with Roger Moore as Holmes? Or A Study In Terror? Well, my tapes may not look that great (especially Holmes in NY), but as far as I know, none of those are on DVD at all.

I've transferred my Cadillacs & Dinosaurs and The Maxx cartoons – and my sole Thundarr The Barbarian episode – to DVD-R, too, with a bunch of old rare anime tapes soon to follow.

Anyway, the best thing about this new toy, is that as long as I don't plan any fancy editing (that's my wife's thing!), I can just set up a tape and leave it to record while I go do other things. Hopefully, by the end of the Summer, we'll have saved pretty much everything we want to keep and will have cleared out a bunch of storage space... fill up with other stuff!


laughingwolf said...

great way to preserve treasures, likely get it all done in a few years? ;) lol

Charles Gramlich said...

Wow, that sounds like a whole lot of work. You'd have it easy if you were me. I had only about four video tapes and I gave them all away except for one that is a gift. I just counted. I have seven movie CDs, a couple of which were gifts.

Craig Zablo said...

Chris, since you're a Jock Mahoney fan, you'll get a kick out of my blog today!

El Vox said...

Sounds like fun going thru some of the stuff to transfere to disc, and a bit of work, but I imagine it fells good getting a better copy. I've thought of doing the same thing, but have yet to take the plunge. Like you have many things I'd like to get on a disc, but where to start? Someday maybe.