These days, when even playing a Bluray seems like too much of a pain compared to just hitting play on any number of streaming services, the notion of watching something on VHS, buying a movie or TV show on VHS, or even owning a device capable of playing VHS tapes, is usually brought up only as a joke. But just maybe you should think twice about throwing those old tapes out. A copy of the best Arnold Schwarzenegger movie according to critics, 1984’s The Terminator, just netted over $30,000 at auction.
No, this wasn’t a glitzy, celebrity-filled auction with rich people holding up their assigned numbers with paddles. NME reports the VHS copy of the early Arnold Schwarzenegger hit sold on the online auction site Comic Connect. No doubt adding significantly to the collectible’s value, the first print tape was professionally graded by IGS. As you can see on the listing’s description, every inspection element of the virtually mint tape earned between a 9 and 10 (out of 10) grade, except for “corners & edges,” which earned a 7. The tape sold within 3 days of being posted, for $32,500.
We’re not going to promise you that you can get thousands for your own old copies of The Terminator or any other Arnold Schwarzenegger flicks, but the last few years have seen something of a growing surge in the popularity of physical media, including VHS. Writers on sites like Attic Capital argue there is a “Physical Media Tidal Wave” on the way. One reason more people are making sure they have physical copies of their favorite movies, according to Red Shark, is that depending on streaming can leave you wanting. The site offers as an example Ron Howard’s 1985 classic Cocoon. While Red Shark’s article was written last year, a quick trip over to JustWatch shows the film is still completely unavailable for any kind of streaming, while the largely disliked 1988 sequel Cocoon: The Return is widely available.
The Terminator survives not only as one of the films that catapulted the career of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but one of the only films in which Arnold plays the bad guy (certainly the only good film, we’re looking at you Batman and Robin). The titular cyborg goes back in time to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), the mother of John Connor who will otherwise lead a successful human resistance against the self-aware machines. Connor is saved only by the intervention of Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn). In future entries of the franchise, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 would either be reprogrammed or otherwise “reformed” into a good guy.
Loved by both audiences and the more critical eyes of reviewers, The Terminator‘s titular cyborg proved to be the signature Arnold Schwarzenegger role. He would go on to reprise the role on the big screen four more times, most recently in 2019’s Terminator: Dark Fate. The film also launched the directorial career of James Cameron, who would continue to make science fiction classics like 1986’s Aliens, 1989’s The Abyss, and 2009’s Avatar. While Cameron’s time with the Terminator franchise may be over, his time on Avatar has just begun, with the director filming three sequels to the original back-to-back-to-back.