It’s hard to overstate the convenience of today’s streaming services. The selection. The ease. The affordability. It all makes the home theater experience easier than it’s ever been. Heck, there are even profiles for the whole family – mom, dad and kids.
But in a time where no one really seems to buy movies anymore, it poses an interesting question. What were some of the movies of yesteryear that people just had to own. That kids couldn’t live without. Forget renting or borrowing from a friend. These were the movies your collection wouldn’t be complete without.
Let’s jump back 30 years to an era when TVs were smaller yet somehow heavier, when movies needed to be rewound after every watch – where VHS was king. Here are the top VHS tapes every 90’s kid owned.
Disney cartoons. All of them.
If you were a 90s kid, this one’s a no brainer. Before Disney went heavy on the CGI thanks to the popularity of Toy Story, some of their biggest hits were hand animated films that came out in the 90s. Colossal releases like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Lion King (among many others) not only dominated the box office, they dominated the at home VHS library for kids everywhere. Yep, if you were a kid in the 90s, then you remember those oversized white plastic boxes that housed your favorite Disney animated movies.
It’s not just one of the greatest Christmas movies ever. It’s one of the biggest hits of the 90s. We all know the story – it’s part of the annual Christmas tradition watchlist. But what made this movie so good? Simple, one name: Macauly Culkin. This eight-year-old rising star made us laugh, charmed us and warmed our hearts. Every kid who watched Home Alone back in the day had dreams of boobytrapping his or her house. Some of us actually did … sorry, mom and dad.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the movie)
I’m not sure which is crazier, the fact that something as ridiculous sounding as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ever became popular, or that fact that over 30 years later they’re still just as relevant as ever. Kids like myself grew up religiously watching the cartoon and collecting the action figures, but we were all floored when a live action movie hit the big screen in 1990, and its sequel the following year (we don’t talk about the third one). Seeing Mike, Ralph, Donny and Leo on the big screen was a kid’s dream come true. Having the ability to watch it on repeat at home – Cowabunga!
Fun fact: For nearly a decade, the first TMNT movie was the highest-grossing independent film of all time … until 1999’s Blair Witch Project terrorized theatergoers.
The Mighty Ducks
Everyone loves an underdog story. Especially when that underdog story is about a bunch of misfit kids and their peewee hockey team. The movie captures everything that the 90s stood for. Hope, dreams and questionable fashion choices. “Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack! Go Ducks!”
Okay, so there’s some questionably adult content in this film, but as a kid it all went right over our heads. We were just captivated by the ridiculously hilarious Jim Carrey, in one of his first and greatest performances. I mean what kid didn’t love some solid slapstick, physical comedy? ALRIGHTY THEN!
What happens when you pair the greatest athlete ever with the most memorable bunch of cartoon characters ever? Action-packed, comedic gold, that’s what! Space Jam had it all. A killer soundtrack, all your favorite 90’s basketball players and the Looney Tunes characters you grew up laughing at. Seeing an animated Bugs Bunny and real-life Michael Jordan was the coolest thing since pogs.
A movie that perfectly encapsulates summer and youth. The Sandlot was a nostalgia-infused coming of age movie that left us wanting to run faster and jump higher just like Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez. With classic lines like, “You're killing me Smalls!” and literally everything that comes out of Ham Porter’s mouth, this quintessential kid’s movie is a 90’s legend in every way. And you know what they say, “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.”
Special effects in the 90s were pretty hit or miss. For every Jurassic Park there was a Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. But when Jumanji was released smack dab in the middle of the decade, audiences were treated to a visual and story-telling masterpiece. Led by the late but great Robbin Williams, Jumanji made every kid who watched it want to play the game. Which is a good thing it wasn’t real because I’m pretty sure that would have been all she wrote for human civilization.
Alright, so not every VHS tape that 90’s kids proudly added to their videotape collection was actually from the 90s. Some of the most prized films were smash hits from the decade prior. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a 90’s kid without essential cinema gold like The Land Before Time, The NeverEnding Story, The Goonies, E.T. … and many more. From animated classics to ragtag gangs of adventurous kids, the 80s gave its 90’s predecessors a solid foundation to build their collection around.
What quintessential 90’s movie got left off the list? More importantly, what 30-year-old home movies do you on VHS have worth revisiting? Worth saving? With Southtree digitizing, you can protect and relive those 90’s glory days and the magic of memory from when you were a kid. Just like Squints infamously said, “FOR-EV-ER!”