Do you buy movies (VHS, DVD) you haven't seen?

My home video library is fairly extensive, but it isn’t huge. I try to be fairly discriminating about what I purchase; I don’t feel the need to own something I won’t watch again at least a couple of times. So while I may very well have enjoyed, say, Executive Decision (with Kurt Russell) as a professional and effective action/suspense movie, I don’t have any pressing need to see it again, and so I don’t consider buying it.

And I certainly wouldn’t buy a movie sight (screen?) unseen, not even a supposedly highly-regarded film. For example, I didn’t see Dancer in the Dark when it was in theaters. (I meant to, I really did, but I missed it, partly because it came out while the dot-com I was working for was melting down.) I finally did get to look at it a few days ago, and while I respect the craft, I think all the praise was seriously overblown; Von Trier isn’t saying anything with the film that wasn’t said decades ago with more finesse and subtlety by Jacques Demy in Umbrellas of Cherbourg. The point is, had I taken the acclaim at face value and purchased Dancer in the Dark instead of just taping it off Starz like I did, it would have been a wasted disc in my library, as I have no particular desire to see it again; I think I’ve gotten everything out of it there is to get.

I differ in this habit from a good friend of mine, whose library is probably five times the size of mine, but it’s got a bunch of filler, movies ranging from adequate to dross. I won’t provide a complete list of what I think is superfluous, because I don’t want to impugn anybody’s taste; that’s not what this thread is about. But seriously, does anybody really need to have Along Came a Spider on their shelf? I mean, really? But he accumulates these titles because he’s willing to take a chance on something he hasn’t seen. He’s maybe heard something good about it, or he knows an actor in it, so he buys it. Not rents, buys. I don’t know how else to explain the presence of Stepmom in his collection.

But a couple of days ago, I broke my own rule. I actually bought a movie on DVD that I hadn’t seen. Get ready to laugh at me, folks; the title of this movie: Say Anything. Yes, that’s right, I, the self-proclaimed movie geek, haven’t seen John Cusack’s quintessential romantic comedy, the debut feature from writer/director Cameron Crowe. (Laugh-a while you can, monkey-boy. I’ll wait.)

See, I was at Best Buy grabbing some Zip disks for my wife, and Say Anything was in the checkout-line impulse-buy rack, marked down to clearance. Hmmm, I said, picking it up. Deleted scenes. Alternate scenes. Commentary from Crowe and Cusack. Y’know, I bet I’ll really like this, I’ve been intending to for years, it’s a gap I feel bad about, and the features are surprisingly complete. Screw the rule, I’ll buy it.

Haven’t actually seen it yet; it’s been only a couple of days. So I don’t know if it was a good gamble. I assume it is, or I wouldn’t have done it.

But the point is, I never gamble, at least not on this. I don’t buy a movie unless I’ve seen it and know it’s an appropriate addition to my collection. I just used a birthday gift certificate to pick up three more DVDs, and what did I get? Movies I’ve seen and love, and that I want to see again. One of them is Never Cry Wolf, a film I’ve seen probably twenty times, and will happily watch at least that many times throughout my life.

And no, it’s not about sticking with the familiar. I’ll go see just about any movie in the cinema, within reason (no Britney in Crossroads, thank you very much). When I fill out my schedule for the Seattle film festival, I pick 20 must-sees, another 20 should-sees, and then I toss in a few random picks. Sometimes they suck, sure, but sometimes it’s a revelation, like Devils on the Doorstep, an obscure flick from China that turned out to be one of the best movies I saw all of last year. No, the only time I won’t take a chance on a flick is when I’m adding it to my permanent collection. Then it must be a known quantity.

Does this make me weird?

Nope, I bought LOTR and Black knight that way
LOTR- Great Movie
Black knight- sucked

My girlfriend will buy those shitty movies at Hollywood Video for 2.00. We will try to watch them but most the time they are just awful.

I just bought a movie called “The Basket” it was filmed in Spokane WA where I used to live. It stars Peter Coyote and a slew of local actors whom I’ve met and worked with. It sucks.

Usually, no. Sometimes, yes. Most of the movies I buy are ones I’ve seen, but there are some movies that had strong enough word of mouth (Julie Taymor’s Titus) or reputation (The Coen’s Blood Simple), movies which I had to own for pure novelty value (Straight to Hell, for the Pogues cameo), or movies I bought because I was shopping under the influence ('50s B-movie Angry Red Planet). I also tend to buy anime based on word of mouth, because there aren’t any good rental places that carry anime convenient to my house. There, I miss more often than I hit: Princess Mononoke and Ninja Scroll were happy exceptions, but mostly I get drek like Ninja Scroll II or mediocre “anime mad-libs” like Legend of Escaflowne

However, generally, I only buy movies that I’ve A) seen B) really liked, and C) intend to watch frequently enough to make up the initial investment.

I’ll buy sight unscreened if recommended by someone whose taste I trust. However two gems that I have I bought on a whim without personal recommendations: Bedrooms & Hallways based on reviews on Amazon and Gosford Park based on critical reviews. Otherwise, I prefer to have seen a movie first.

I actually make a point of buying movies I haven’t seen, unless they’re prohibitively expensive. I do my research to know I’m going to want to watch it repeatedly, but most of the time it’s: “Next time I or a friend want to see a movie like this one, do I really want to be bothered to go out and rent it?”

But with DVDs, I dig the extras.

I have a couple hundred* DVDs (out of over 1000) in my collection that I hadn’t/haven’t seen yet, but before I buy an unseen title, I do research, read reviews and have to know in advance that it’s something I’ll probably like. If I don’t like it I can always sell it. However, I bought most of them on eBay or at steep discount at video stores. The first, and only, DVD I bought sight-unseen and paid FULL price for was The Manchurian Candidate, and it was worth it.

I look at my DVD collection as a LIBRARY, one that will eventually contain just about every movie I’m interested in that I might ever want to see, in full or in part (IOW, to look at a particular scene or double-check a quote), but I can understand your point of view too.

Btw, you did well with Say Anything. Also, Never Cry Wolf is in my Top 10 all-time favorite films. I’m sure I’ve seen it as many times as you have. What a wonderful film!

*about 75-80 of those are Hong Kong films in various genres. I tried to buy what research told me to be the “cream of the crop.”

I bought Titan AE & Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within sight unseen because I was interested in the computer animation techniques. The stories were okay, but I felt I got my money’s worth.

I’d say at least half of the DVDs I own (I have about 200) were bought sight-unseen. A lot of the movies I enjoy (mostly obscure horror movies and foreign art-house flicks) are impossible to find at most videostores, and the area where I live has a pretty good used DVD shop (which incidentally does a lot of it’s business in the types of movies I like).

I’ve purchased a few videos (just got a DVD player, hurrah) sight unseen. Like most here have said, I research it, and usually if it’s got an interesting storyline, perhaps with an actor that I dig, I’ll take the gamble. Usually it’s something I’ve wanted to see, but haven’t yet, that just hit the clearance rack, so I’m not spending full price.

I can see how it seems weird, but on the other hand, I buy books “sight unseen” as well. Sure, I’ll always go for my favorite authors, but for others - the description on the jacket is often hit-or-miss, but I purchase anyway.

Absolutely, there’s usually a price differential between a paperback and a DVD, and you’re usually going to spend more hours reading the book, but why do we (the collective “we”, here) balk at purchasing a movie sight-unseen, but rarely hesitate to do so with a book?

It’s late, and I’m brain-dead, so I might not be making sense…

I have over a hundred dvd’s that I bought without having seen the movie first. Most of these are Hong Kong imports; the quality of the average Hong Kong action movie is far above that of the average Hollywood action movie, for about $6-8, it’s only slightly more than a rental, and they are usually unavailable elsewhere. Netflix sometimes has a title I want to see, but it’s hit or miss. Even if it’s something that turns out to be a total turd, I’m not out much money, and the gems are really worth it. The problem comes when a high quality North American release of the same movie–anamorphic widescreen, original language, music, and effects track–is released. If it’s a movie I like, I have to replace it with the better version. For example, Columbia Tristar recently released a bunch of early Jackie Chan movies with excellent video transfers and the original language tracks left intact. Dimension, on the other hand, has done a consistently crappy job with their Jet Li and Jackie Chan properties, replacing the soundtrack (English dub only), editing for length, unnecessarily changing titles, and are still releasing non-anamorphic widescreen. Last month saw one of Li’s best movies, New Legend of Shaolin released as a non-anamorphic widescreen improperly tagged as 4:3, dubbed only, and retitled Legend of the Red Dragon. Needless to say, I stick with my imports rather than support such abuse.

I’ll also buy a Criterion release of a movie highly enough regarded, especially if it has extra features such as commentaries. I’ll buy if a movie is highly recommended by a friend.

I’ll buy a movie if it’s by a director I like and is a known quanitity through reviews, even if I haven’t seen this particular movie. Dario Argento is a good example here.

The way I look at it, it usually costs less to buy a dvd than it does to go to a theater with my wife, and the choice of movie at a theater is often an impulse decision, whereas dvd’s I buy are usually carefully considered purchases of movies not readily available for rent.

I hardly ever buy a DVD of a movie I have not scene. And like the OP, just because I liked the movie doesn’t mean I will buy it. I have to have liked enough that I could see myslef watching it multiple times.

My exceptions:
Prisoner TV series. I saw about 40% of the episodes. Buying the series seemed the best way to see the rest.
Toy Story 1/2 boxed set. I saw TS1, but didn’t see TS2 (but heard good things about it)
Seven Samurai: I think there was some deal where I got a price break if my order was over $x, so I decided to get a “Classic” movie that I had not seen.

I’ll buy them if they’re cheap, or if they are somewhat hard to find. For instance, the first DVD I ever bought was The Big Sleep. I wanted to see it, but knew my video store would never have it. So when I saw it I bought it since that’s the only way I’d get to see it.

I have a fair number of movies on my list that will probably never be in my video store. If I can’t find them on a movie channel, I’ll probably buy them if I see them.

I almost never buy a movie I’ve never seen, unless it is dirt cheap. However, there are two movies I’ve never seen that I’d probably buy if I found them: Drawing Flies(the “missing” Kevin Smith movie) and Whatever Happened to Bunny Lake? because one is by a favorite director, and the other sounds really interesting.

Edit: I meant “seen”. It was 7:19 in the morning, and I was thinking of movie scenes (ya, thats the ticket)

Wow, Never Cry Wolf is on DVD, cool!

As for books, I often will try to borrow or get from the library before trying a new author.

You could rent a DVD before purchasing (if you haven’t seen it in the theater), but I hardly ever do that.


I rarely buy a DVD for more than $20. Usually I get the pre-owned ones from Blockbuster for $14 or wait for Red Dot 3 for $45 Specials at the Virgin Megastore. At that price, I don’t necessarily mind buying movies sight-unseen. I have had mixed results:

Black Hawk Down - (paid $22) - Liked it a lot

Pearl Harbor ($14) - I actually like it the more I watch it.
Unfortunately its on Starz 3 times a day. (You also have to watch it as an action movie/love story like The Patriot and not a ‘real’ war movie like Full Metal Jacket or Saving Private Ryan)

Ocean’s 11 ($14) - Pretty entertaining. (My prefered movie staple is war movies, good sci fi or criminals hanging out acting slick)

Traffic ($14) - Won an Acadamy Award. I watched it once and that was it.

Tomb Raider($9) - I have yet to sit through the entire movie. I now own a $9 drink coaster.

If they are marked down cheep. I mean to watch a movie costs 10 bucks. 20 if I take the wife. So plunking down 15 dollars or less I don’t see as a real gamble.

My loser pile include such ‘great’ films as

Nashville boooring and filled with country music (hard core country)

Days of Heaven (why don’t they just say “get stoned before watching” on the box)

Say Anything is a great film and the commentary track with Crowe, Cusack and whatshername is great. They do 20 mins of talking before the film even starts.

I usually do not buy films that I do not plan on watching more than once. However, for awhile Blockbuster was selling VHS at $4 per tape. It cost less to buy it then to rent it so I bought a few. My father on the other hand does not rent movies so he buys them.

I don’t buy any movies I haven’t seen. With one exception - the MST3K DVDs that are coming out a couple of times a year. I don’t need to see those - I know I want them.

Our copy of Dances With Wolves, purchased when it came out on VHS, is still in its original plastic wrap. One of these days we’ll find 3 hours to watch it.