During the videotape format war of the late 1970s and early 1980s, JVC’s VHS would compete for market share against Sony’s Betamax. Betamax was, in theory, the superior recording format but VHS would ultimately emerge as the preeminent home video format in 1986. Consumers could not justify the extra cost of a Betamax VCR, which was often more expensive that the VHS equivalent due to the higher quality construction of Betamax recorders.
The Mission (1986): Other than the all-star cast—Jeremy Irons, Robert De Niro and Liam Neeson—the score of this historical drama by Ennio Morricone alone makes it material for a best of list, and while it’s not the only great reason to watch the film, it’s definitely one of the reasons you’ll come back for more.
“If might is right, then love has no place in the world. It may be so, it may be so. But I don’t have the strength to live in a world like that…”
A Tale of Two Sisters (2003): From its eerie opening credits – indistinct ripples ebbing over green wallpaper – to the plot twists and revelations at its climax, ‘A Tale of Two Sisters’ is worthy of admission to the ranks of the best psychological horrors with greats such as ‘The Innocents’ or ‘The Others’.
“Do you know what’s really scary? You want to forget something. Totally wipe it off your mind. But you never can. It can’t go away, you see. And it follows you around like a ghost.”
Battle Royale (2000): Enforcing the terms of the new ‘Battle Royale Act’ one class of ninth-grade students is selected annually by lottery and relocated to an isolated island, fitted with explosive collars, given random weapons and forced to participate in a 3-day survival competition in which the last student left alive is the winner.
“There’s a way out of this game. Kill yourselves together…here…now. If you can’t do that, then don’t trust anyone… just run.”
In 1971 JVC put together a team to develop a consumer-based VTR, but by early 1972 the video recording industry in Japan began to struggle financially. JVC was forced to restructure their video division, effectively shelving the VCR project. However, JVC engineers Yuma Shiraishi and Shizuo Takano continued to work on the project in secret. By 1973 the two engineers had produced a functional prototype.
“It feels nothing… it fears nothing… there is no escape.”
Anyone with even the slightest interest in home entertainment recognises the importance of VHS. The marketing and promotion from the independent distribution companies elevated the medium to such an extent that collectors today now happily pay significant amounts of money for a VHS tape; not for the movie itself, but for the incredible artwork/design featured on the cover.