This is a story of a time long ago, a time of myth and legend, when the Earth was still young, the ancient Gods were petty and cruel and they plagued mankind… Wait, that’s the intro to Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.

This is a story of a time long ago, a time when VHS tapes were hi-tech and mullets were fashionable. This was a time when the ancient stores, Circuit City, was petty and cruel and overcharged for modern convenience. This was a time before Best Buy, the interwebs or even DVD… This was the 1980’s-mid 90’s.

Okay, that sounds like a joke, but it wasn’t. If you grew up in this era and were a fan of Kaiju movies your choices were limited. Back then, VHS was scarce. It’s not like DVD where EVERYTHING is readily available. When it came to Godzilla movies, you had to get them while you could. Don’t even think about what cut you’d be getting. Paramount released some, Goodtimes made others, you were just happy to get Godzilla. And please, Gamera? No chance. You couldn’t hop on Ebay and find VHS tapes either. You were restricted to whatever was in your local area. I have no idea how we survived. This is a look back at some of the epic VHS artwork that adorned these tapes and a little trip through time.

First up we have the original Godzilla King of the Monsters VHS. Notice the nice artwork of Raymond Burr on the front cover. In high school I actually used this VHS cover to do a tracing to a larger artwork piece where I used a knife and cut it out. My version sadly did not look as good as this one and with it went my aspirations of being an artist. Next to it is a very similar Godzilla versus the Cosmic Monster. Just who is the Cosmic Monster? Why that’s MechaGodzilla! And look at the picture of him, MechaGodzilla looks NOTHING like that.

Next we have two films starring Ghidorah. Now you would think they would both have similar covers, but you’d be wrong. Monster Zero opts for a still from the movie, while Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster has more artwork. The artwork on everyone but Godzilla is pretty groovy. Fun fact, this was back when Ghidorah was simply Ghidrah. Somewhere along the way he got an extra O and they changed how you pronounced his name. I will never call Rodan, Radon though… That’s just fucking stupid.

We’re back to artwork now with another bizarre Godzilla picture in Son of Godzilla. Minya looks perfect, but Godzilla looks way off model. I suspect the same guy who drew the cover for Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster, also drew this one since the Godzilla looks similar. I give the guy credit, he can draw all kinds of Kaiju… BUT Godzilla. The artwork on Terror of MechaGodzilla is really good. You might also notice that these videos very clearly came from video stores. Back in the day, if you wanted an old Godzilla movie your only chance of actually OWNING a copy that wasn’t taped off of TV was begging your local video store to sell you their copy. Chances are if you were the only dork ever renting it, they would eventually part with their 50 year old worn out tape for a high price.

When the newer Godzilla movies finally hit American shores I was overjoyed. You see after Godzilla versus Biollante NOTHING else came. Unless you had some kind of cool hook up, there was no way to know what was going on in the world of Godzilla after Biollante. Eventually Circuit City got in two tapes, Godzilla versus Mothra and Godzilla versus King Ghidorah. Oh happy day! A few months later they got in Godzilla versus Destroyah. Do you know how much these video tapes cost? $20! That’s just insane. A few years later Best Buy would open and Circuit City would never recover. I like to think it’s because they hosed a young me out of $60 for Godzilla VHS tapes.

Finally we have the last Godzilla VHS tape I ever bought. Destroy All Monsters. You’ve probably seen this same artwork in DVD form, it’s nothing particularly special. What is special about it is that it’s Destroy All Monsters! In the 80’s-90’s this film was legend. There was information about this film, but no one aired it. TNT ran every vintage Godzilla movie BUT this one. They got tons of requests for it. Joe Bob Riggs once said it was their most requested movie on the entire catalog. Nobody had a copy of this tape prior to it’s release in the mid 1990’s. Except my school librarian. In middle school on the last day of school in 6th grade, they randomly aired some movies as there really wasn’t any work. Suddenly they started airing a Godzilla movie that I had never seen before. I immediately knew this was Destroy All Monsters. I begged my teachers to let me out of class, I had to know how someone had this tape. Plus the stupid kids in class were more concerned with switching the TV to Ricki Lake. Ugh. I went to the Library and begged the Librarian to give me the video. Apparently it was her son’s copy. He must have been the coolest guy ever. I asked if I could have a copy of it at least, but she said she would have to check back with him. It was the last day of school. She eventually said to come back at the start of the next school year and she could work it out then. I agreed. A whole summer passed and when I finally got there the next year… WE HAD A NEW LIBRARIAN! The gods were cruel.

It wouldn’t be till Junior or Senior year in high school that Destroy All Monsters was released on VHS. It was the last VHS Godzilla movie I bought and probably the last VHS tape I bought. I waited years to see that movie… And god did it suck.

2 Responses to Adventures in Godzilla VHS Tapes

  • Hey Bro, how about at least giving a little credit where its due….. you got most of that collection of crappy VHS tapes because your recently stroked out big brother was god king of video stores. Our collection was the best around at that time we were the foremost authority on Godzilla this side of the Algheny mountains, and that had to do w/the fact I was video store Emperor. Not being concieted, just saying…..

  • kngfu says:

    I went to the dirt mall in Pennsaukem NJ to get my Godzilla bootlegs

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