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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Tuesday Top 10: Favorite VHS Box Covers

OK, so, it's still technically Tuesday in some parts of the country/world, so let's proceed...

This week I'm hearkening back to those halcyon days when I was just discovered this crazy, mixed-up genre we all know and love so much. Back in the days when there was a mom-and-pop video store on every block (damn yoouu Blockbuster!! oh wait...damn yoouu Netflix!!), and watching a movie on tape in the privacy of your own home was still a big deal, my dad would take me out almost every night to pick something new out. As he invariably pored through the new releases, I would wander over to the horror section.

There was something about the illicitness of it that drew me in, those shocking box covers sitting there on the shelves, plastered with images I instinctively knew I was too young to see. I guess there was a certain element of the pornographic to the thrill of it all (and perhaps it was no coincidence that that was the exact section which lined the other side of the shelf).

And so culled from my childhood memories of countless visits to Video Reflections, Caso II and Video 66 in my beloved Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, here's my look at the ten VHS box covers most indelibly burned into my brain...

10. APRIL FOOL'S DAY


The knife hidden behind the back. The infamous noose-braid. This one always stopped me in my tracks.

9. THE COMPANY OF WOLVES


God, that image of the wolf literally emerging from the mouth of its human host is something I'll never forget. Neil Jordan's twisted fairytale definitely took lycanthropy to its furthest extreme...

8. THE SPECTRE OF EDGAR ALLAN POE


Great Scott, what a brutal cover. Definitely falls under the category of "imagery an 11-year-old never would have imagined if he hadn't seen it on a box cover."

7. SCANNERS


This was definitely one of those which would leave me wondering just what the hell kind of horrors this movie contained. I mean, what on Earth was happening to this poor guy??

6. THE GATES OF HELL


Now more commonly known as City of the Living Dead, this one always creeped the life out of me, with its grim warning label about "shocking scenes".

5. SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS


How could you not love this cover? I got such a kick out of the clever references to Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Well, it seemed clever to me at 12, anyway.

4. DEAD ALIVE


This is the most recent one on the list, but even though I was an adult when it came out, I had to include it. I can honestly say that I might not have rented this then-obscure title if it weren't for this attention-grabbing cover. This one definitely stood out amongst the glut of direct-to-video crap.

3. BLOODSUCKING FREAKS


Where to start? The title. The dinner table. That bloody, cross-eyed guy. This one used to just scream out at me: "You should not be looking at this."

2. I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE


With its riveting mix of sex and violence, this cover would have a virtually hypnotic effect on me. Camille Keaton's bare back, covered in sweat and scratches--I couldn't take my eyes off it, even if I didn't understand why at the time.

1. ZOMBIE


I can remember this as one of those ridiculously gigantic VHS cases that were briefly popular in the '80s--which made its imagery that much worse. The catch-phrase was enough to turn my bowels to water, but that now-iconic photo of ol' wormface... I literally would have to avert my eyes, that's how terrified this box cover made me.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is probably the best Top 10 List I've read on this site, or any Horror site for that matter. I love the old art work that used to adorn the cover of VHS. DVD artwork, and movie poster artwork for that matter, has become so incredibly sanitized and boring. Even the good ones these day, e.g. Drag Me To Hell, look too clean, especially compared to ones from the 80s. Also, my favorites had to be all of the Evil Dead flicks (the skeleton w/ eyes scared the crap out of me as a kid) and the Halloween flicks (the fucking covers gave me nightmares).

Anonymous said...

Where's all the wonderfully lurid video covers from Wizard that were painted, like A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD, OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES, MONSTER HUNTER, DEMONIAC, EROTIKILL?
-Mike

B-Sol said...

I never really liked the Oasis of the Zombies cover. Almost as bad as the movie itself.

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

April's Fool's Day is one of my favorite horror movies of all time. The I Spit on Your Grave VHS cover always gives me chills. Still haven't seen that one yet.

What about Basket Case?

You could do a few of these list, showcasing best horror covers or posters.

John said...

They sure don't make 'em like they used to. I remember when I started actually getting into horror in my early teens and I delayed watching Fulci's "Zombie" for a long time because of how unnerving I'd always found the VHS box to be. Probably just as well, considering how graphic it still is and that at that point I'd only see a few F13's and The Shining and what not, so my sensibilities would have been crushed.

B-Sol said...

Katie, there will certainly be more of these cover lists in the future. There's just too many to choose from! Basket Case was a great one too, also brings to mind It's Alive!

Planet of Terror said...

The Company of Wolves cover still terrifies me to this day. I mean just look at it. Great list B-Sol.

Jonathan said...

Sigh...this brings me back. The old Northport Video (on Long Island) is now a Blockbuster, and Video Treats in Poughkeepsie is a tanning salon.

I used to love browsing that glorious aisle, picking something with a terrifying or disgusting cover, and then trying to convince my little sister that we should rent The Howling instead of whatever she picked, like Splash.

I have a bunch of horror VHS's with great covers, including some of those huge plastic monstrosities. Is there a site where people can upload them and share? If not, can I send them to you, B-Sol? Maybe you can include them in a big retrospective or soemthing.

Scab said...

I spit on your grave was always an intriguing cover for me as a kid. I wanted to see it so bad and my father would not let me... until I secretly rented it with mt big brother.

B-Sol said...

I'm glad everyone is diggin this list! Jonathan, please feel free to send whatever you'd like, I'd love to do more on the whole VHS horror gimmick. I think this might just be the tip of the iceberg!

Anonymous said...

Best Top 10 List Ever!

John Sunseri said...

You folks might like this;

http://wellmedicated.com/inspiration/100-illustrated-horror-film-posters-part-1/

gord said...

The ones that have stuck in my mind since my early years are Monkey Shines, It's Alive and Evil Dead.

Great nostalgic list B. Also thanks to John for that posters link.

BJ-C said...

Day of the Woman...FTW!

B-Sol said...

Hmmm...I think you're a little biased, girly.

Joe said...

Great post, B-Sol! I had to steal your idea and make my own list...
http://maddrey.blogspot.com/2009/05/top-10-vhs-box-covers.html

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