I repaired many VCRs when I was involved in consumer electronics repair service.
Once in a great while, I serviced a VCR that wasn't used for some time, and when the owner tried to play a tape, the VCR would not "play" or the VCR turned itself off. Recently this happened to my own old RCA VCR model VR500. Note: I have not used this VCR (I have others) for about a year.
I removed the top cover and looked at the video heads cylinder assembly. When I pushed the "Play" button, it did not spin as the tape was "threading". This VCR turned itself off after the tape was "withdrawn".
I put my finger on the top edge of the cylinder and noticed it was "stuck". I moved the cylinder and now it moved "freely". Afterwards, I had no trouble playing (or recording) a tape.
If you have a VCR that hasn't been used for some time, with this same symptom, do what I just did. Note: There are other possible causes for this "won't play" problem.