If you’ve built up any sort of DVD and/or Blu-ray collection over the years, undoubtedly you’ve found yourself purchasing movies or TV shows that you just never get around to watching. For this week’s Roundtable, we’re ‘fessing up to the most ridiculous lengths of time that certain titles have gone unwatched in our collections.
In case you’re not the buying type, we’ll also accept titles that have lingered in your Netflix or other rental queues for an embarrassingly long time.
I’ll start things off:
I’m going all the way back to the Laserdisc days for this one. Once, in an obsessive collector’s fit, I spent more money than I care to admit importing a rare set of Japanese LDs for the complete collection of Jim Henson’s ‘The Storyteller’ TV series from the late ’80s. This was a seven-volume set comprising all nine episodes of ‘Storyteller’, two per disc (until the fifth disc, which had just one), plus all four episodes of the ‘Storyteller: Greek Myths’ follow-up. The first five discs are so old that they have only analog audio, with an English mono soundtrack on one channel and a Japanese mono dub on the other. The two ‘Greek Myths’ volumes have digital sound, but in only the original English. Because these last two discs were released in Japan without a Japanese dub, that means that they instead have large, unremovable Japanese subtitles burnt into the picture.
Why did I buy these? Well, the show seemed like the sort of thing I might like. More importantly, the discs were highly collectible and I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to purchase them all in one complete lot. (You may commence eye rolling now. I certainly have.) At the time, this series was already long out-of-print on VHS in North America, and appeared unlikely to ever be officially re-released here. (This was well before the TV on DVD craze hit.) My collector’s instinct kicked in, and I just had to have them.
The best part: I’ve still never watched an entire episode all the way through. I put in the first disc for a few minutes, just long enough to see that the video quality looked like absolute garbage, and the audio wasn’t much better. And that was even by Laserdisc standards on an old standard-def TV. Lord only knows what I’d think of them today.
Of course, the entirety of ‘Storyteller’ was eventually released on DVD. I’m told that the picture quality on the DVDs doesn’t look great either, but they’re bound to be at least marginally better than the Laserdiscs, and won’t suffer from forced Japanese subtitles.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
Dateline: 1999. Troma was celebrating… something, I guess, so the studio re-priced every single DVD it had released up to that point for a quarter. Yup, a quarter, as in $0.25. Okay, $1.89 after shipping, but still. Even in an era when sites like 800.com and reel.com were just about literally giving away the store, that was a moderately insane deal. I gobbled up every last one of them. Twelve years later, a lot of ’em still haven’t gotten a spin in my DVD player. I’ve pretty sure I never watched ‘Rabid Grannies’ or ‘Def by Temptation’, period. Others I’d caught on VHS, like ‘Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD’, ‘Redneck Zombies’, and ‘Monster in the Closet’, but I never got around to watching them on DVD. A huge stack of others I’d watched for a few minutes but didn’t bother finishing. I did watch enough of the rest for it all to be worth it, especially ‘Sucker the Vampire’, which really, really ought to be a cult classic right about now. I think these may be the only movies I’ve actually paid for and haven’t watched. Everything else that’s collecting dust were gifts or somehow wound up being given to me for free.
I mentioned in a long ago Roundtable that my friends and I have an ‘Unbreakable‘ ticket stub that we wrap up and exchange as a gag gift from time to time in commemoration of the time I dragged all of them out to see M. Night Shyamalan’s first truly shitty movie. I also have a DVD copy of ‘Unbreakable’ that one of those friends gave me in 2001, likely as punishment for making him see that turkey in the theater. It’s still in the shrinkwrap, unopened, neglected in the far back of the movie closet. But I don’t think that counts, since I can never change the fact that I did in fact see that piece of crap once.
So, the longest I’ve had a disc and never watched the movie at all, ever, is probably the eight years ‘Scarface‘ has just sat on my shelf. I have no interest in the movie. None. My friend gave me his extra copy when he upgraded to a new edition, but I’ve just never had any inclination to watch it. I don’t even have enough interest to look it up or get beyond the first sentence of any review I’ve ever seen about it. ZERO! Shameful, but true. I just can’t be bothered learning anything about that movie. I think I know “Say hello to my little friend.” That’s it. De Palma directed it, right? Ugh. Is there an iguana in it or am I thinking of ‘Licence to Kill‘? Blech. Either way. not my cup of tea.
I got the ‘‘Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy‘ a few days after it came out last year because I remembered loving ‘The Wrath of Khan‘. My wife is also a big ‘Star Trek’ fan. We watched ‘Khan’, but since then we haven’t gotten around to watching either of the other movies in the trilogy (‘The Search for Spock‘ and ‘The Voyage Home‘). It’s not that I don’t like them. It’s just that we haven’t found time to watch them. They’ve gotten lost in the shuffle, and now I’m afraid that Spock may stay lost forever.
I’ve probably said this before, but since ‘There Will Be Blood‘ is still sitting in a bright red Netflix envelope on my TV stand, I think it’s worth mentioning again. According to Netflix, I’ve had the disc since late November. It’s not that I’m not interested in the movie (I really am); it’s just that you need to be in a certain mindset to watch a movie like this. More often than not, I’m watching movies while cooking, cleaning or hanging out with friends. During those times, ‘Birdemic‘ tends to work out better.
When you review stuff, a lot of things come in and a lot of things don’t get watched. (Of course, when a classic like ‘Short Circuit 2’ arrives on Blu-ray, it will immediately go in my player.) Off the top of my head, I can say that I have a screener of last summer’s ‘Happiness’ pseudo-sequel ‘Life During Wartime’, which I’m only remembering now because it looks like Criterion is working on the home video release. Maybe I’ll get around to watching it before the big C puts out its disc… but probably not.
We’ve aired our dirty laundry. Now it’s time for you to do the same. Look through your collections or rental queues and tell us in the Comments about those titles you’ve put off watching for far too long.