One for the price of seven

- Buying your favorite movies again and again


If you are a film geek you inevitably buy the same film more than once. I did that recently and it got me thinking about which films I've bought the most times.

That's right, it's time for another list!

First, though, let's look at the primary reasons behind the multi-buy:



1) Aspect ratio

Back in the late VHS days this was the main reason for an upgrade. When films were re-issued in widescreen format I HAD to have them. My old pan/scanned VHS tape was laughing at me.

2) Director's cutses

Blade Runner, Aliens, and The Abyss were some of the early films that were upgraded to a longer version. Nowadays I'll go out of my way to obtain the original theatrical cut! How times change.

3) Format change

Speaking of change... The most common reason for multi-buying these days is, of course, the upgrade to a new format. I was there for all of them. VHS to LaserDisc. LaserDisc to DVD. DVD to Bluray.

4) Special features

The presence of an audio-commentary. An exclusive featurette. There's a Korean special edition with a 2 minute deleted scene? Where can I get it?! Once you get that nagging feeling that your collection is incomplete, you're lost.

5) Look! It's got a thing!

A cool new box. Post cards included. A testicular hologram cover (that's what they're called, right?) Sometimes you've got to buy a film again, just because of the packaging. Admittedly this happened more often in the old VHS days. This problem has all but disappeared from the DVD marked, and it's even less prominent on Bluray.



Keep the reasons above in mind when you read the following, and try not to judge me too hard.

The Abyss (1989)

We kick it off with The Abyss.

First buy was the standard VHS edition. Pan/scanned to hell, of course. Second buy got me the Special Edition of the film, still on VHS of course, but now at least in widescreen. Third buy happened quickly after this, when I stumbled over a limited box set version of the very same tape I just bought. This included the "Under Pressure" documentary, which I don't think the unlimited version did. Fourth buy: The LaserDisc version. Gorgeous, huge, box set, with all kinds of extra goodies. Fifth buy was essentially the same version, only this time on DVD. It's worth noting that the DVD is NOT in anamorphic widescreen. Hopefully a Bluray version will come out soon. I'm ready with my money Mr. Cameron.

Alien (1979)

Next up: Alien.

First buy: VHS. Theatrical version. Pan/scan. Nothing groundbreaking here. Second buy: VHS in widescreen. One of those flicks that were upgraded just for the correct aspect ratio. Third buy was the EPIC Facehugger box set, featuring all the Alien movies (back when there were only three). High quality stills! Badges (I wore those)! An extra tape featuring one of those generic EPK making of programs - the same ones we complain about now, when they are included in a special edition - and a T-shirt! I slept with this box for several weeks. Fourth buy was the LaserDisc box. Oh man, those box sets were the coolest thing ever. They cost an arm and a leg, but who needs 'em, when you can have nerd heaven in a cardboard box? Fifth buy got me upgraded to DVD, with a very impressive 4 film collection. But the really impressive version came with the sixth buy, a 9-disc DVD collection, featuring all 4 films in both standard and extended versions. I slept with it for a week.

Star Wars (1977)

Here's to you Mr. Lucas. I put your kids through college.

First and second buy was the usual VHS combo of pan/scan and widescreen versions. Then came the VHS box set as the third buy, and then I started making my own money. Good thing, because the fourth buy cost me a month's pay. The original LaserDisc Definitive collection weighed as much as a small truck, it came with a hardcover book about George himself, and featured all 3 movies with epic special features.

Then came the shiny new special editions, where Mr. Lucas started to mess around with the films. Fifth buy was the first DVD box. Sixth buy was the second DVD box, where he attempted to correct fan outrage by once again tampering with the films. We didn't care, though, because the second disc for all three films in this 6-disc box set included the original unaltered version, the one we had on LaserDisc basically! Does that mean we've come full circle? Is it safe now? Is it safe? No, we still need the Bluray.


So these are the three titles I've purchased the most times. All three have (at the time of writing) not yet become available on Bluray. Needless to say I will need to buy them again. Die Hard (1988) and The Godfather (1972) came fourth and second, but they have already been upgraded to Bluray, so they'll have to make due with just pictures.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) almost made the list (twice on VHS, twice on DVD), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) is another favorite. I thought about including So Close (2002). Due to my Shu Qi fansite (shuqi.org) I've purchased four DVD copies of this, but since they're identical, except for the cover, I don't think they count.

In the words of Casey McCall and Dan Rydell, from the TV-series Sports Night, which I've bought twice on DVD...  "It's a vicious circle." "Just keeps going round and round." "Never ends." "That's what makes it vicious." "And a circle."


I'm sorry if you have read this far thinking that I had some sort of solution to this problem. I don't. There's absolutely nothing you can do. You WILL have to re-buy all your favorite films until the end of time. Even if everything becomes "download" (spit on the floor), or "streaming" (curse the sky), or perhaps crystals, like they got on the sci-fi shows, you'll still need to upgrade every so often.

It's a battle you have already lost. Just be zen about it. And clear some shelf space.


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