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Top 15 Movies You Can’t Find on DVD

Bryan Johnson

In the early 2000s, DVD technology gradually overtook VHS as the most popular consumer format for playback of prerecorded video. Interestingly, the 2005 American crime film, A History of Violence, has the distinction of being the final major Hollywood motion picture released on VHS. With the change, production companies were given the task of converting classic movies to DVD. It was a lucrative process for the film studios, and this is why we see almost every movie in DVD format. As we travel into 2011, a large majority of people have tossed out their old VCRs. Everyone wants to enjoy the simplicity of a DVD player, as well as the HD picture quality, without spending a fortune on the VCR/Blu-ray combo player.

In the movie industry, certain companies (mainly Disney) use a practice called a moratorium, which is delaying or suspending the release of a DVD movie for a certain period of time. The process is used to make DVD copies rare and, in many cases, nonexistent. People want to watch their favorite films on DVD. This is why groups of individuals regularly become upset when they can’t find their favorite movies in DVD format. The collective demand for a DVD release does not pass by movie executives, and every year old movies are converted to DVD. One great example is the 2011 DVD release of the horror movie, Santa Sangre. This article will document fifteen pictures that need to be released on DVD.

15

The Wild Life
1984

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The Wild Life is a 1984 comedy-drama film, written by Cameron Crowe and directed by Art Linson. The movie examines the stereotypical teenage issues that you find in 1980s cinema. The plot revolves around the characters of three teenagers living in the suburbs of Los Angeles. The Wild Life contains great character actor roles, and includes stars Eric Stoltz, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, Chris Penn, Randy Quaid, Rick Moranis and Lea Thompson. In the film, the three boys set out for a night of fun at a strip bar and later have a large house party.

The Wild Life has faced copyright infringement lawsuits due to the music used in the film, and the picture is only available on VHS and Laserdisc, with stereo analog tracks. No DVD version has been released due to the objection of the artists on the soundtrack. Some of these tracks include songs written and performed by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Madonna, Buffalo Springfield, Little Richard, Jimi Hendrix, Huey Lewis and Billy Idol. In the middle of the 1980s, The Wild Life video tape was mass produced, so today you can find a copy of the VHS on EBay for less than $10.

14

Queen of Hearts
1989

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Queen of Hearts is a film that tells the story of Eddie Luca, who is the youngest son in a family of Italian immigrants that has moved to London. The group travels with nothing, but soon opens a cafe in an Italian neighborhood. After experiencing gambling problems, the Luca family is faced with some hardship. The film has aspects of drama, but is largely a comedy. Queen of Hearts was directed by Jon Amiel. It is a fun movie that can be enjoyed by the entire family. The film was released on VHS in 1989, but has not been converted to DVD. In the early 1990s, Queen of Hearts was shown on PBS in the United States and many people regularly search the internet for the DVD. On August 6, 2010, Queen of Hearts was played on the MGM HG channel. You can find a copy of the VHS on EBay for $20 and up.

13

Mr. Boogedy
1986

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Mr. Boogedy is a family film that originally aired as an episode of The Disney Sunday Movie, on April 20, 1986. The story follows a gag gift salesman and his family as they move into a new house in New England. The Davis family initially ignores strange sounds and sights in the house, suspecting their father’s practical jokes, but it soon becomes evident that the house is haunted by people that lived there 300 years ago. The film stars John Astin, who is best known for his role as Gomez on the 1960s sitcom, The Addams Family.

Mr. Boogedy is a great ghost story that kids and adults can enjoy. A sequel to the film, named Bride of Boogedy, aired on April 12, 1987. It tells the continuing story of the Davis family and their encounters with the evil 300-year-old ghost. The film takes place in the fictional New England town of Lucifer Falls. Unfortunately, Mr. Boogedy and Bride of Boogedy have never been released on DVD, and remain in the Disney Vault. A VHS of Bride of Boogedy was released, but copies are impossible to find, and highly valuable. Another spooky Disney classic that people have been requesting for a DVD release is the 1978 TV movie Child of Glass. Others want the 1972 family western Justin Morgan Had a Horse.

12

The Last Movie
1971

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The Last Movie is a drama film that was written and directed by American actor Dennis Hopper. In the movie, Hopper plays a stunt coordinator named Kansas, who is in charge of horses on a western film being shot in a small Peruvian village. Following a tragic incident on the set, where an actor is killed in a stunt, Kansas decides to quit the movie business and stay in Peru with a local woman. He thinks he has found paradise, but is soon called to help with a bizarre incident. The Peruvian natives are “filming” their own movie with “cameras” made of sticks, and acting out real western movie violence, as they don’t understand movie fakery.

The Last Movie touches on ideas of fiction versus reality, especially in regards to cinema. It is presented in a way that challenges the viewer’s understanding of storytelling and includes several devices typically only seen behind the scenes of movies. The film was initially a commercial failure, and led to Dennis Hopper’s virtual exile from Hollywood for over a decade. During the production of The Last Movie, Hopper was in a period of severe alcohol and drug abuse. His mental state was recorded in an extremely rare and barely released documentary, called The American Dreamer.

The American Dreamer film is sharing this entry with The Last Movie, as the documentary has never been released on DVD and is impossible to find. During his lifetime, Dennis Hooper was very proud of The Last Movie, and hosted several different private screenings. In 2006, Hopper told Playboy that he had re-acquired the rights to the film and was planning on a DVD release. Sadly, Dennis Hopper did not realize his plans to put the film on DVD before his death, by way of prostate cancer, in May 2010.

11

Deadman’s Curve
1978

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Deadman’s Curve is a made for TV movie based on the careers of Jan Berry and Dean Torrence, who made up the rock and roll duo Jan and Dean. In 1964, Jan and Dean released the hit single Dead Man’s Curve, and two years later Jan Berry experienced a near-fatal car accident in his Corvette. The crash occurred in the proximity of the actual dead man’s curve that is referenced in the song. It is located in Los Angeles, California. Jan suffered severe head injuries in the accident and the film documents his recovery from brain damage and partial paralysis. After the accident, a comeback into the music industry was slim, but Jan’s willingness and Dean’s support helped the men make a musical revival. The film has appearances by Dick Clark, Wolfman Jack, Mike Love, Bruce Johnston and Jan Berry, himself (who, sadly, died in 2004). It features a great soundtrack of Jan and Dean original recordings. Deadman’s Curve has never been released on DVD and the VHS tape is a hard find.

10

Captain EO
1986

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Captain EO is a 3-D film starring Michael Jackson and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The name, Captain EO, was taken from the Greek goddess of dawn. The film’s executive producer was George Lucas. It was written by Rusty Lemorande, Lucas and Coppola. Starting in 1986, Captain EO became a feature attraction at Disney theme parks. The movie is regarded as one of the first 4-D films, 4-D being the name given to a 3-D movie which incorporates in-theater effects, such as lasers and starfields. The experience is different from a modern day 3-D film, as the lasers can bring the objects farther away from the screen, extending into the audience.

The movie tells the story of Captain EO and the crew of his spaceship on a mission to deliver a gift to the Supreme Leader. The movie’s special effects resulted in the seventeen-minute feature costing an estimated $30 million to produce. At the time, it was the most expensive movie ever made on a per-minute basis, averaging $1.76 million per minute. Concurrent with the opening of the attraction, a behind the scenes documentary, entitled Captain EO: Backstage, was produced for television. The piece was hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and features interviews with cast, writers and the director. The movie score for Captain EO was written by Titanic’s James Horner, and features two songs, We Are Here to Change the World and Another Part of Me, both written and performed by Michael Jackson.

After the death of Michael Jackson on June 25, 2009, Captain EO regained popularity over the Internet. For several years, a small group of fans had petitioned Disney to bring back the attraction, and Jackson’s death brought the campaign to a peak. In response, the film, now entitled Captain EO Tribute, re-opened at Disneyland Park, on February 23, 2010, after a sixteen year absence. It also returned to Discoveryland at Disneyland Park (Paris), Epcot at Walt Disney World and to Tokyo Disneyland. However, the reason the film was originally stopped was cost, and the 2010 version does not include the in-theater lasers and starfield effects. If you were able to experience Captain EO from 1986-1998, you were lucky. Captain EO has never been released on VHS or DVD. People have attempted to convince Disney to create a DVD set with the film and the documentary.

9

Last Summer
1969

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Last Summer is a 1969 coming-of-age movie about adolescent sexuality. It was directed by Frank Perry and filmed at various locations on Fire Island, in New York. In 1969, the movie was controversial and it gained an X rating. Last Summer follows the random activities of four teenagers during a summer on Fire Island. As sexual tensions increase on the island, the more experienced and dominant girl, Sandy, encourages Dan and Peter to take advantage of Rhonda. The character development in the movie is flawless.

During the film, the three teenagers explore their youthful sexuality and their individual personalities arise, with Sandy showing some psychotic tendencies. Rhoda is also staying on the island and looking for companionship. She forces herself into the wrong tangled group and Sandy takes a seductive mental control over the boys. The memorable performance of Catherine Burns was nominated for an Academy Award. Upon the movie’s VHS release, it was given an R rating after edits to the scene depicting rape were made. The VHS copies of the film are hard to find and will cost $50 and up. Last Summer remains one of the most requested DVD releases.

8

So Big
1953

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The oldest film on the list is the 1953 drama, So Big. The movie’s screenplay was written by John Twist, and is based on the 1924 novel by Edna Ferber. The story follows Selina Peake and her life journey. Selina is a talented musician that has a pure taste for the arts. After her father’s death, Selina travels to a small community outside of Chicago. She marries a man named Pervus DeJong and the two have a son named Dirk, but as he grows older the boy is given the nickname So Big.

When Dirk is eight years old, Pervus dies and Selina is left to struggle for money. At this time, she begins her quest to grow high quality vegetables and provides for her child, ultimately guiding Dirk’s life until he graduates from college as an architect. It is an inspirational story with a good message. The movie has withstood the test of time and is highly entertaining. Unlike other films on this list, you can’t even find a VHS copy of So Big, so don’t plan on watching the movie anytime soon.

7

Treasure Island
1990

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Treasure Island is a made for television movie that aired on January 22, 1990. It is an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous 1883 novel. The story revolves around a young boy named Jim Hawkins (Christian Bale), who discovers a treasure map and embarks on a journey to find the loot. Upon arriving at the mysterious island, the ship’s cook and scaliwag, Long John Silver (Charlton Heston), leads a mutiny of crew members who want the treasure for themselves. Jim helps the Squire and Espaniola officers to survive the mutiny and fight back against Silver’s men, who have taken over the ship.

The movie is a great adaptation of the novel, with good acting, and an adventurous theme. It was filmed in 1989, on location in Cornwall, England, Jamaica, and at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England. This version of the story is noted for its faithfulness to the book, with much of the dialogue coming directly from it. It also removes several violent scenes to make the movie more children friendly. The film’s music was composed by Paddy Moloney, who is the leader of the Irish folk music group The Chieftains. Despite its cult status, Treasure Island has yet to see a DVD release. The video, now out of print, can be found on various websites and usually costs $20 and up.

6

The World’s Greatest Sinner
1962

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The World’s Greatest Sinner is an underground film, written, directed and starring the character actor, Timothy Carey. The movie established Carey as an important figure in independent film. The self-financed movie tells the story of an average man, Clarence Hilliard, who quits his day job as an insurance salesman to form a rock band. Hilliard finds that he can whip crowds into frenzy with his wild performances, so he takes advantage of the situation by turning his fan base into a political party. He eventually forms a religious cult based on the premise that every man is God.

As Clarence grows more powerful he becomes detached from reality, eventually insisting upon being called God with a capital “G” (God Hilliard), and having his followers worship him as such. He personally challenges the God of the Bible. The World’s Greatest Sinner has never had an official release, although it has aired on the Turner Classic Movies channel. The film originally achieved cult status through repeated screenings at the “midnight movies” in Los Angeles during the 1960s. It features a musical score that was composed by a very young Frank Zappa. Martin Scorsese has selected the film as one of his favorite Rock and Roll movies of all time.

5

A New Leaf
1971

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A New Leaf is a dark comedy based on the short story The Green Heart, by Jack Ritchie. The movie stars Elaine May, Walter Matthau, George Rose and James Coco. The story revolves around Henry Graham, who is a man that has run through his entire inheritance, and is completely unequipped to provide for himself. Henry is completely unwilling to complete the only solution he sees suitable, which is suicide. Instead he devises a plan with the help of his imaginative butler. The film was a critical success upon its initial release and is now considered a cult classic. However, despite several good reviews and award nominations, A New Leaf performed poorly at the box office and remains little known by the general public. It is one of the funniest films of the last forty years that nobody has seen. A New Leaf has never been released on DVD, but you can purchase the VHS online from various websites.

4

Dudes
1987

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Dudes is a 1987 film, directed by Penelope Spheeris and starring Jon Cryer and bassist Flea. The film tells the story of two punk teenagers from the big city as they travel across the country in a Volkswagen bug. Along the trip, the pair embraces the western culture and must take revenge against a group of rednecks for killing their friend. Dudes is a lighthearted road comedy that keeps the viewer interested. It has been praised for a good script, beautiful scenery and strong editing. Lions Gate has yet to announce any plans to release the film on DVD, most likely due to music copyrights. The VHS copy of Dudes is available online for a reasonable price.

And: The Decline of Western Civilization Trilogy (1979-1998)

Sharing this entry with Dudes is the epic three part movie series titled The Decline of Western Civilization, which was also directed by Penelope Spheeris. Spheeris has quite a resume, also directing the hit movies Wayne’s World and Black Sheep. The Decline of Western Civilization is a documentary about the Los Angeles punk rock scene. In 1981, the LAPD Chief of Police Daryl Gates wrote a letter demanding the film not be shown again in L.A. Over the years the films have gained a cult status in the underground music world.

The second film covers the Los Angeles heavy metal scene of 1986-1988, and the third documentary chronicles the gutter punk lifestyle of homeless teenagers in the late 1990s. The 1979 original movie features concert footage of legendary Los Angeles punk bands, and has interviews with band members. It gives a look into a subculture that was largely ignored by the rock music press of the time. Bands included are Black Flag, Germs, X, The Bags (billed at the time as The Alice Bag Band), Catholic Discipline and Fear. The second movie in the series was released in 1988, and examines the metal years of music.

It features interviews and concert footage with some legendary bands, including Aerosmith, Kiss, Megadeth, Motörhead, Ozzy Osbourne, W.A.S.P and Alice Cooper. The third movie involves the story of hardcore street punks who take the anti-establishment message with extreme seriousness and tune out society completely. Spheeris talks to homeless teenagers living on the street or squatting in abandoned buildings in Los Angeles. The movie features performances by Final Conflict, Litmus Green, Naked Aggression and The Resistance. The Decline of Western Civilization trilogy has not been made available on DVD, but has been released on VHS. The tapes are extremely rare and collectible.

3

No Holds Barred
1989

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When examining the shrinking world of lucrative VHS videos, wrestling events stand out. People like to watch old WWF wrestling promotions, events and videos. In the history of the World Wrestling Entertainment Company, run by Vince McMahon, the business has faced many copyright infringement cases. In 2002, the WWF was forced to change their name and stop trading WWF merchandise. Additionally, the court required the company to remove both auditory and visual references to “WWF” in its library of video footage (1979-2002), outside of the United Kingdom. This doesn’t mean the company lost the rights to the videos, but it does make it so the old wresting events don’t make it to DVD, thus raising the VHS prices immensely.

The World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) video library is currently the largest collection of professional wrestling videos and copyrights in the world. It is comprised of professional wrestling promotions dating back to the 1940s. As of 2011, the library stands at over 100,000 hours of content, including weekly television shows, pay-per-views, and recorded house shows. The collection represents a very significant portion of the visual history of modern professional wrestling. Although not wrestling content, the library includes footage from various WWF/E produced ventures, including the 1985-1987 cartoon series Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling and the 1989 film No Holds Barred.

No Holds Barred is a movie that was launched in an attempt to boost Hulk Hogan’s acting career several years after his appearance in Rocky III. In the film, Hulk Hogan plays Rip, a very popular professional wrestler. Rip looks and acts like a brute, but he is actually a good-hearted guy. The movie is concluded with Rip facing off in a deadly match against the hardened wrestler Zeus. No Holds Barred: The Match/The Movie is a wrestling event that was shown on pay-per-view on December 27, 1989. The program consisted of the film in its entirety, followed by a match with the movie’s stars, including Hogan. In all, the movie was a commercial failure, but has gained a significant following over the years. No Holds Barred has never been released on DVD and a VHS copy sells for a good price. However, the VHS was mass produced and other WWF videos are much more collectible and valuable.

2

Song of the South
1946

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In the year following the official end of World War II, the Walt Disney Company released a film named Song of the South. The movie is a mix of live action and animation. It is based on the fictional character of Uncle Remus. Uncle Remus was made famous in a collection of African American folktales adapted and compiled by Joel Chandler Harris, in 1880. The stories are told in Harris’s version of a Deep South slave dialect, which was adapted for the Disney movie. The live actors provide a frame story, in which Uncle Remus relates the folk tales and the adventures of Brer Rabbit and his friends. In the film’s most famous scene, the animated animals and Uncle Remus sing the classic song Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, which won the 1947 Academy Award for Best Song. The movie inspired the Disney theme park attraction Splash Mountain.

Song of the South has been re-released in theaters several times (most recently in 1986), but Disney Enterprises has avoided making the complete version of the film directly available on home video in the United States. This is because the story was deemed controversial by studio management. Disney executives think the movie will be construed by some as racist toward black people, and is thus subject to much internet rumor. Some portions of the film have been issued on VHS and DVD as part of either compilations or special editions of Disney films. In late 2010, Disney released a statement indicating a possible upcoming release.

“I can say there’s been a lot of internal discussion about Song of the South, and at some point we’re going to do something about it. I don’t know when, but we will. We know we want people to see Song of the South because we realize it’s a big piece of company history, and we want to do it the right way.” The movie is probably the most discussed film that has not been officially released on DVD. It was recently featured in the ListVerse article discussing ridiculous cases of political correctness. Song of the South has been released on video in its entirety in various European, Latin American and Asian countries. In the UK it was put out on VHS tape in 1982, and again in 1991. These tapes are highly collectible and can bring $25 and more on EBay. For the time being, Song of the South remains locked in the Disney Vault, along with many other classics that have never been released on DVD.

1

Rad
1986

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Many internet groups are demanding the release of the 1986 BMX racing movie, Rad to DVD. Rad is a film that focuses on Cru Jones, who is a young BMX racer living in a small town with his mother and sister. In the movie, Cru is faced with a tough decision, the qualifying races for the Helltrack bike competitions are on the same day as his SATs, which he must take in order to attend college. Winning Helltrack means a lucrative sponsorship deal and fame. Racers from all around travel to the small town to participate in the competition and Cru meets Christian Hollings, who becomes his girlfriend. While the film was critically bombarded by the media, it has developed quite a following.

Parts of the movie were filmed at Cochrane High School in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada. Rad was released at a time when competitive bike racing was in its infancy, and the film has been credited with helping put a generation of kids on the bike. Today, Action Sports and the X Games are a largely competitive and growing market. In 1986, Rad was released on VHS and laserdisc. At that time, the film became a top-ten video rental in the United States for two years. However, the movie has never been released on DVD. This has made the VHS copy of the film valuable. Copies of the Rad VHS routinely sell for $25 and more on EBay. The soundtrack is also highly collectible because it was only released on 12″ vinyl and cassette. Various illegal and bootlegged DVD copies of the movie have been sold over the internet.

+

The Keep
1983

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The Keep is a horror film that was directed by Michael Mann. The movie focuses on a deserted citadel in WWII Romania, in which an entrapped and dangerous entity named Radu Molasar lives. When the German Wehrmacht occupies the castle to control the Dinu Mountain Pass, the creature is unwittingly unleashed from the deep. The pure destruction puts the Nazi soldiers into an uneasy alliance with a Jewish professional. Despite being a critical and commercial failure, the movie has gained a cult following over the years. This is mostly due to the movie’s music score by Tangerine Dream, and the bizarre mixture of Gothic horror and World War II elements. The Keep was released on laserdisc and VHS, but an official DVD version of the movie has never been released.