From the mid 80s to the mid 90s, VHS tapes owned the home entertainment landscape. If you couldn’t talk your parents into going to the actual movie theater, the next best thing was a trip to Blockbuster to bring home the latest Hollywood VHS tape release.
It was quite the experience strolling through those high-walled shelves, narrowing your pick to that one special rental you’d end up happily taking home.But times change, and that nostalgic stroll through the VHS-littered shelves of your local movie rental place are long gone. Since about 2006 to be exact. First VHS was replaced by the DVD, then Blu-ray after that. And now, you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your home couch to pick what you want to stream or rent. Heck, most kids today have probably never even seen a physical VHS tape.
All this brings to mind one nostalgia-inducing question: What were the last Hollywood (important word there) movies made on VHS?
A History of Violence makes … well, history (March 14, 2006)
In the early to late 2000s, Vigo Mortensen was just about everywhere. From his iconic role as the sword-swinging future king in The Lord of the Rings trilogy to a horse-racing cowboy in Hidalgo to a survivalist in the bleak, post-apocalyptic movie adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Mortensen was all over the big screen. And his last movie to go from big screen to VHS movie screen was 2006’s A History of Violence. Mortensen plays an ex-hitman turned sleepy town family man. But when his past demons comes back to haunt (or hunt) him, he has to pick up his old hitman habits to protect his family.
TRIVIA FACT: This is noted as the last major Hollywood movie ever to be released in VHS format.
Now, being that this is “a last of” list, it’s only fair that we talk about the last VHS films by genre. So, here we go.
Horror VHS – Saw II (February 14, 2006)
Before the Saw’s iterations became synonymous with Halloween for seven years in a row, this young franchise was just catching steam with Saw II. Starring Donnie (bad boy) Wahlberg as a hot-headed detective bent on catching the Jigsaw killer who has his son and a bunch of other strangers held captive in a boobietrapped house – all part of one of his twisted little games. Saw II also goes down in history as being the last “decent” iteration to the franchise … before it just became a terribly acted, low budget gore porn franchise.
Comedy/RomCom VHS – Just Friends (March 7, 2006)
Ryan Reynolds has it all. Charm, looks, physique, humor – everything. The guy is unstoppable. Which makes Just Friends hilarious because it’s about a guy who lacks all of those things in his youth. And when he does finally come into his own, is he able to get the girl that put him in the friend zone back in high school? It also stars Anna Farris in probably her funniest career role.
Family VHS – Yours, Mine & Ours (February 28)
Basically a modern adaptation of the Brady Bunch, the movie Yours, Mine & Ours pairs two single parents (played by Denis Quaid and Rene Russo) who fall for each other. The kicker? They have 18 kids between the two of them. Although, the funniest part about this movie – other than shenanigans of 18 kids and two parents trying to coexist as one family, under one roof – is that this is actually a remake of a 1968 film of the same name. So really, the Brady Bunch stole their idea from this film and not the other way around. “Here’s the story … of a TV ripoff …”
Sci-fi Action VHS – Doom (February 7, 2006)
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson may be the biggest action movie star of the last decade – maybe even box office draw – but back in 2006, he was just getting his blockbuster feet wet. Doom was a movie that tried and failed to recapture the iconic first-person action perspective that made the game so innovative for its time (back in the early 90s). Not even a young and hungry Rock (or Karl Urban) could save Doom from its imminent doom.
Adventure VHS – The Legend of Zorro (January 31, 2006)
Antonio Banderas’ first foray as the masked and caped avenger in 1998’s The Mask of Zorro was a huge Hollywood hit. And while it was a fun sequel to a surprisingly great 90s classic, The Legend of Zorro just couldn’t quite capture lightning in a bottle again. But hey, most sequels can’t.
Action VHS – Domino (February 21, 2006)
In the early 2000s, Kiera Knightly could do no wrong. She struck it big with the Pirates of the Carribean franchise and never looked back. Unfortunately, for every hit, you’re bound to miss here and there. And audiences just weren’t buying her fashion model turned bounty hunter character in this shoot ‘em up flick. I mean, 18% on rotten tomatoes … yikes.
Drama/Romance VHS – Pride & Prejudice (February 28, 2006)
Remember how Kiera Knightly was huge in the 2000s (read above)? Well, unlike the flop that Domino was, Pride & Prejudice was a successful box office retelling of the infamous 1813 Jane Austen novel. A powerful movie about the unfair truth of being a woman in the early 19th century, P&P dealt with issues of marriage, mortality and misconceptions.
Thriller/Dark Comedy VHS – Ice Harvest (February 28, 2006)
What does the Wichita, Kansas mob, a lawyer, a strip club and Christmas have in common? Most of the time, nothing, but in this brilliant dark comedy, they’re all incahoots with one another thanks to hilarious performances by Billy Bob Thorton, John Cusack and Oliver Platt.
War VHS – Jarhead (March, 7 2006)
Not all war movies have to show intense Saving Private Ryan battle scenes to invoke trama. Sometimes the biggest war waged on the battlefield is the psychological one, which is exactly where Jarhead exceeds by pitting the viewer in the middle of mental warfare during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the Golf War.
Yep, 2006 was a sad year for the VHS tape as we said goodbye to the “Be kind, rewind” movement. But just because the VHS tape isn’t king of the home theater anymore, it doesn’t mean you should bid farewell to your home VHS collection. If you’ve got a bunch of aging home videotapes, dust them off and send them in to get digitized.