The only thing I love better than odd films are collectible, out of print, and unusual DVDs and Blu-ray movies. Many of these titles can sell for hundreds of bucks on eBay or Amazon, making them an interesting investment option for cinema lovers with dollar signs in their eyes.
The following article lists a number of rare and unusual movies to get your collection started, although there are hundreds more to track down when you have the time. Just keep in mind that rare films diminish in value as soon as you open the packaging, so you may want to get one copy to resell and another for your own enjoyment.
The Criterion Collection and SteelBook Packaging
In addition to the normal list of out-of-print DVDs and limited edition Blu-rays, this article also deals with movies from The Criterion Collection and those released with SteelBook packaging. Since you may not be familiar with either of these, I felt an explanation was in order.
SteelBooks are similar to normal DVD or Blu-ray releases, with the exception of being enclosed in a metal case. This immediately raises the value of the product, but you’ll need to handle them gently, as the soft metal exterior is surprisingly easy to dent if you let your kids loose around it.
The Criterion Collection specializes in films that would normally get a limited release in artsy theatres (although titles like Armageddon and RoboCop have also made the cut), and their presentation is first-class all the way. These collectible DVDs and Blu-ray discs cost more initially, but their value really skyrockets when they go out of print. Even if you’re not in the market for rare DVDs, I would suggest The Criterion Collection for anyone who enjoys quality cinema.
Limited Edition, Rare, and Collectible Movies
Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom – One of the most in-demand titles for collectors of rare DVDs, especially the first edition from the Criterion Collection that was pulled after licensing disputes with the estate of director Pier Paolo Pasolini. It’s also one of the most controversial films ever made, as it depicts a group of 18 children being kidnapped in Fascist Italy and subjected to numerous forms of degradation and torture.
Bullitt – Released in 2000, this version of the classic Steve McQueen cop movie sells for hundreds of dollars on some sites I’ve seen (with used versions listing for just under $100). As if the legendary car chases through the streets of San Francisco aren’t enough, just check out all the other extras you get: 8 original, limited edition lobby cards; original one-sheet movie poster; exclusive, limited edition senitype; and a copy of the original shooting draft script.
Death Proof and Planet Terror – Released at the theatres as Grindhouse, this Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez box-office flop was sold individually on the home video market in an effort to make as much money as possible. The SteelBook versions were peddled through Best Buy in the United States, although another exclusive version was also released by Blockbuster.
The Killer – The Criterion Collection version of this John Woo action classic about a hitman (Chow Yun-Fat) looking to pull one last job has been out of print for a while, and its value just keeps going up. It’s not unusual to see it selling for several hundred dollars, and this version of The Killer is far superior to the one later released by those money-hungry Weinstein brothers.
Heathers – This 2008 limited edition box set brings you Christian Slater and Wynona Ryder in all their teen angst glory, and you can expect to find it selling for more than $50 on both Amazon and eBay. It’s well worth the price, too, as it features two discs packed with 20th anniversary extras, as well as bonus material including: hardcover Heathers yearbook, a “Big Fun” t-shirt, and Heathers-themed magnets. The whole product comes packaged in a metal school locker with a working combination latch.
Watchmen – Ultimate Cut – The director’s cut of Zack Snyder’s moody superhero movie is presented, with the animated Tales of the Black Freighter also woven into the storyline. This makes for an exceptionally long film, but one that’s worth watching for devotees of comic book god Alan Moore. The other discs on this out-of-print Blu-ray release are packed with extras, ensuring that you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck.
Nemesis – A hard-to-find science fiction film about an LAPD cop (Olivier Gruner) loaded down with cybernetic implants and manipulated into taking on a dangerous revolutionary group. The 1998 DVD release has been out of print for years, and you’re unlikely to find this Albert Pyun title (which spawned three sequels) for less than $100.
Seven Samurai – If you’re looking to make money off of this collectible DVD, you’ll want to make sure you get the first printing. You can tell this one by the inclusion of the film restoration demonstration on the extras, which upset the Toho Company and led to Criterion re-releasing the Akira Kurosawa samurai classic without it.
Pig – A limited edition release of the 23-minute experimental film starring the late Rozz Williams (former lead singer of Christian Death). Co-directed by Williams and underground filmmaker Nico B., the surreal, silent horror film was released in 1998 and revolves around a serial killer heading to the desert in preparation for a human sacrifice.
The Big Lebowski – The 2005 release known as the “Achiever’s Edition” is the one that’s most in-demand among collectors, thanks to packaging that includes a bowling towel, coasters with the main characters, and eight photo cards taken on-set by Jeff Bridges. If you like to smoke weed and drink White Russians while pondering your collection of rare DVDs and Blu-rays, then this title is essential.
If you enjoy collectible, out of print, and unusual DVDs and Blu-ray movies, you’ll be amazed at the number of websites and forums dedicated to this hobby niche. And while it does require a bit of surplus cash to seriously pursue, the thrill of finding such titles at a flea market or garage sale will often overshadow any hesitations you might have about forking over some bread.