22 November 2010

Your "Batman" VHS Can Buy a Drink

I meant to post this a few days ago and got the date wrong.  I thought about just posting this retroactively to the 15th, but I'm lazy.

1989.  Batman had already conquered the box office.  Warner Bros., hoping to strike while the iron was hot, elected to rush the home video release and give it a consumer-friendly, "priced to buy" MSRP.  You young kids and your DVDs take for granted that you can wait five months after a movie opens in theaters to watch it at home, but there was a time when the window between theatrical opening and home video release was much longer, and those VHS tapes were substantially more expensive.  We weren't meant to own VHS tapes; we were meant to rent them.  Batman changed that, released 15 November 1989 and priced at $19.99.

I turned 11 just two weeks later on 1 December, and it was the gift I wanted.  I didn't expect to get it, though; we weren't generally a "movie family."  My mom baked a Batman logo cake, and I got several Bat-gifts.  I couldn't tell you now what they were, but I know I got my VHS. I have no idea how many times I've watched my VHS.

Batman was my "sick" movie; I'd get a bug and spend an afternoon curled up on the couch (remember, this was an era when it was unusual for every kid to have his own home entertainment system in his room) and pop in my Batman VHS.  Sometimes I wouldn't even look at the TV.  It was comfort enough just to hear Michael Keaton say, "I'm Batman" or to hear Jack Nicholson ask, "Where does he get those wonderful toys?"  Today, I can call to mind everything about any given scene, from Danny Elfman's score to the way Kim Basinger screamed.  It's the kind of obsession that only the young can have for a movie. If  Batman was a celebrity, I'd have been cautioned to stay 500 feet away from it.

In the years since, I've bought it on DVD and now own it on Blu-ray Disc.  Unlike nearly every other VHS title I ever owned, though, I haven't gotten rid of this one once I upgraded.  It isn't in High Definition.  It's pan & scan, for crying out loud!  Regardless, I can't bring myself to part with it.  And now, it's 21 years old.

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