Getting a CLUE

Sometimes you can make peace with your past in the strangest ways.

Nathan and I love board games, and over the years, we’ve amassed quite a few. Recently—in the interests of downsizing becoming not too much longer than a decade away—I decided to go through them, and keep only those we actually played/enjoyed on a regular basis.

We love Clue, and have two versions: the 1972 release, which I got for one of my birthdays—I’m thinking I was 9 or 10 and yes we played the crap out of it when I was growing up; and Disney Parks’ Haunted Mansion Clue in a shiny tin, which we bought on one of our many Disney trips (not sure which one; I’m sure there’s a photo someplace). But then I found another version in the trunk, one that I’d gotten for Christmas of 1985: the Clue VCR Mystery Game.


The CLUE VCR MYSTERY GAME box. It’s in really good shape for being almost forty years old, although I did tape up all the edges with clear packing tape to reinforce it, because I plan on using it a lot in the near future.

I was actually shocked I still had it. I recalled getting rid of it because the cassette had broken, but there it was. Intact.

In 1985—when I was fourteen—the Petersens had just gotten a VCR. And we kids were enamored with the idea of playing Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Empire Strikes Back over and over again on our machine. Owning a movie on VHS was quite pricey back then—most first-run popular release films cost around $80 (as I recall and that’s over $200 now), and Raiders was around $40 (which was considered very cheap for the time, but there’s a whole story on why about that here: If that doesn’t sound like much now, you have to recall that, at the time, a dozen eggs cost under a dollar and the median household income was $23K ( and that $40, adjusted for inflation, is now about $113.00. VHS tapes—if you wanted to own them instead of rent—were an investment. Most of my friends’ families only owned a handful of films, if they owned any at all.

Likewise, games like Clue VCR would’ve put a dent in Santa’s wallet, but Dad, while he reveled in spoiling us, also had a habit of complaining that we didn’t appreciate what he’d spent his hard-earned money on. I can’t say we weren’t guilty once in a while—in the case of the ugly sweaters, we probably were—but honestly, we were innocent most of the time, especially when it came to games and toys, as we were left to entertain ourselves a LOT. We loved that game to death, to the point at which I can still recall many of the actors’ lines. But it always bothered me, every time I thought about any gift my dad gave me, if I had loved whatever it was enough.

I just about cried when I opened it for the first time in many, many years—to find everything in love-worn, but excellent, condition (it probably hadn’t fallen victim to the mildew and mold at Dad’s because I took it with me to college). The true treasure, though, was finding the used game sheets inside. Although, sadly, they had no dates on them, they detailed who played, their results, and their notes. I sat there, blown away that these pieces of paper had been sitting in the box for thirty-eight years. It seemed insane that that much time had gone by.


These are the old sheets from past games that I’d saved in the bottom of the box.

Nathan and I sat down to play a game, and we had a blast. The whole time I kept thinking, I wonder how Dad would feel if he knew I still loved this game all these years later. That whatever he spent on this was more than worth it.

In 1987, Dad got us Clue II: Murder in Disguise. I had actually forgotten I owned that one—it’s weird how your mind works, the fact that I could block something I loved so much completely from my brain. But that one was my favorite, because they went to places like Rangoon and Tangiers (it was actually filmed in Newport, RI’s Belcourt Castle, which oddly enough, a friend of mine tour guided there when I was at URI back in 1991), and being a teenaged Indy Jones fan, that really rang my bell. God knows what happened to it, though—a few possibilities. I might’ve left it at Jackass Ex #4’s apartment (I found a note in my Clue VCR game that we’d played Clue VCR on at least one occasion sometime in 2002). Or my Dad could’ve chucked it when he felt the need to go through my room because my sister trashed it and throw everything away (I lost a lot of my younger writing due to that). Or maybe THAT was the VHS tape that got damaged so I got rid of the game (which was way before the era of conversion to DVD and YouTube, so at the time I got rid of it, there would’ve been no way to play it without the tape).

It doesn’t matter, though—one thing about this day and age is it’s allowed us to find things again we thought we’ve lost forever. I’ve found a used copy on Amazon, and I’ve just ordered it. It’ll be sweet to have that back in my life, but the bigger lesson for me was this: sometimes we come back to things, they get a second run, and I will be able to say, Yes, Dad, I loved it enough, and I will for many years to come. And I can lay all of that to rest.


The sheets from me and Nathan’s game. We’ve only played the Intro so far.

If you love the Clue VCR Mystery Game, here’s a documentary I found, Who Did It? The Story Behind the Clue VCR Mystery Game, that’s way excellent:

For a trip down memory lane (without the game—or, if you still have your game but nothing to play the included VHS tape on), here are the game’s films on YouTube:

The Clue VCR Mystery Game

Clue II: Murder in Disguise

If you’d like to own a piece of this classic, you can still find used copies on both Ebay and Amazon. You can also find people who have converted the old VHS to DVD on Ebay.

Happy sleuthing!

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of both the New England Horror Writers and the Horror Writers Association. Follow her adventures at

Posted on July 18, 2023, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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