10 prized possessions from a VHS nerd (and 5 more collectibles he craves)

Contributed by

No collector's month (Yeah, we know November's over, but we couldn't let you miss this. - Ed.) would be complete without representing one of the most quintessential kinds of collectors -- the horror movie VHS nerd! Does that sound specific? You'd be surprised. People who crave the siren's song of big box VHS and the ephemera that naturally goes along with it are not in short supply, and they tend to gravitate toward all things horror for one simple reason: horror movie VHS box art is the coolest!

For those of us who are of a certain age, there are few memories more visceral than those times when our parents let us loose in our local mom and pop rental shops, long before Blockbuster and West Coast Video were a thing. Running your fingers along the sometimes lenticular, sometimes literal 3D, always gruesome box art of the horror movie section, inhaling that smell of faded ink on cardboard and magnetic tape, and of course, watching the movies themselves: what could be better? Evil Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween or whatever your quintessential re-rentals may have been, aren't just cool movies. Their marketing, their toys, and the VHS that housed them are all works of art well worth collecting.  

VHS culture is about so much more than just VHS itself. That's why I called upon one of New York's most dedicated collectors of all things horror and VHS, Matthew Desiderio (Matt D for, short), to show off his personal favorites from his massive collection. Matt's been the man behind New York institution Forbidden Planet's video section for years now. After Kim's Video shuttered in 2014, Matt made sure FP could be a boutique, a personally curated one-stop shop for people craving B-movies 2k restorations, VHS tapes (some distributed by Matt's own label, Horror Boobs), 'zines about horror culture, rare and bizarre porno, and a host of everything else a VHS and horror fan might crave. Matt's curated museum exhibits for the Museum of Arts and Design, he's hosted VHS and horror-themed events across NYC with a virtual who's who of horror writers, directors, and creature-makers, and he's got his own horror and VHS 'zine, Blood Video. In short: Matt D is the expert.

And his collection is pretty rad, too. But don't take my word for it. Here's a list of 10 of Matt's favorites and why he loves each one of them. And, for fun, we asked him for five other collectibles he's still on the prowl for. Take a look at Matt's list and tell us what your favorite VHS horror collectible stuff is, and what's on your wishlist!

GOT IT: Basket Case Surgical Mask

"Anything Frank Henenlotter is on my list! Every movie the man has made is a winner. The mask was a promotional item handed out at screenings during one of its original theatrical runs."

GOT IT: Japanese Blood Diner VHS

"My all time favorite film! Up until the recently released Vestron Blu-ray this was the best looking copy of Blood Diner in my collection. Getting to meet director Jackie Kong was a long time dream of mine that recently came true when we hosted a screening with her at the newly opened Alamo Drafthouse in downtown Brooklyn."

GOT IT: Signed Evil Dead Thron Emi VHS

"Seeing the Evil Dead changed my life and I'm happy it's still a successful property so that people for generations can have that experience. This tape is autographed by almost everyone involved in the film but it still needs Rob Tapert, Scott Spiegel and Ted Raimi."

GOT IT: The films of Chester Turner 

"Some of the most sought after films in the VHS collecting community. Rumors of his death were put to sleep when Louis Justin of Massacre Video found him and officially released Black Devil Doll From Hell and Tales From The Quadead Zone on DVD. Chester slept on my couch after we hosted a wild midnight screening of Black Devil Doll From Hell at Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg."

GOT IT: Deadly Spawn Hand Puppet

"A very limited run of these were made by Chuck Jarman of Bump in the Night Productions. Even producer of the film Ted Bohaus once offered to buy mine off of me."

GOT IT: Signed Original The Stuff Container

"Larry Cohen is one of the all time exploitation greats. This actual screen used cup was purchased from Cohen himself."

GOT IT: Troll 2 Treasure Troll

"One of the weirdest pieces I've come across lately. It's not hard to  believe the people responsible for promoting this masterpiece would be in tune with the treasure troll fad of the 90's."

GOT IT: Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers Big Box

"This never used VHS big box was part of a misprinted batch that was nixed for the smaller slipcase most commonly used. This one was given to me by James Golff, president of Camp Video - leader in the absurd during the VHS boom and  my personal favorite label. I have every version of every one of their releases, and endless promotional material... but i'm always looking for more." 

GOT IT: Bloodthirsty Butchers one sheet

"Most people hate Andy Milligan's films but I've become pretty obsessed with the man and collecting anything having to do with his work. I recently saw a packed 35mm screening of this which was a total blast. I spent more time watching the crowd reacting than the film itself."

GOT IT: Nightmare Feddy

"Yes, you read that right... FEDDY! Bootleg toys are always good for a laugh and this A Nightmare On Elm Street Freddy Krueger knock off kills every time." 

NEED IT: Andy Milligan Posters

"The Rats Are Coming The Werewolves Are Here, Guru The Mad Monk, The Man With Two Heads... I'll take anything. Are there even posters for his later films like Surgikill?"

NEED IT: Street Trash Mug

"I love VHS promo items. Distributers made endless amounts of junk to promote their releases. To promote Street Trash Vestron Video made a mug in the shape of a trash can with a lid."


"There are endless tapes I'm looking for. Some people collect for the rarity value or the nostalgia factor, and I get all that but right now I'm just dying to see these movies... Cannibal Rollerbabes, Deadbangers, Nudist Colony of the Dead and Streets of Death have been high on my want list."

NEED IT: Mark Polonia Movie props

"Mark Polonia recently put a bunch of screen used props on ebay. Including the last remaining Feeeders from the 90's Shot on Video alien invasion classic of the same name. This movie was huge for the rental market, especially for Blockbuster Video. I lost every damn auction!"

NEED IT: Ray Dennis Steckler Mask

"I recently read that Don Post made a latex mask of Ray Dennis Steckler for the theatrical release of The Thrill Killers. They were sent to theaters with the intention to get the ushers to wear them and run out into the theater and scare the crowd during screenings.  I love Steckler's stuff: it's on another plane of existence."

Show more comments

More Stories