VHS Boxes – A lost artform (The Good)

I’ve got a growing obsession with bad films.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, my other site is a review site of these bad films, and I thought I’d get a little into the origin story of this obsession.

When I was younger, probably about 7 or 8, my family got our first VHS player and there was a local video store that was owned by our mailman that we got a lifetime membership to.  The membership cost $20 and you got 10 free rentals with the membership.  When you went to the store, they had all the vhs boxes out on the shelves with a number on the side of them and when you took the box to the counter they’d get the tape down from a shelf behind and give you the video.

I used to go to the store with my sister all the time and rent movies there.  The one movie that sticks out in my mind that we rented from that store was “The Terminator”.  I remember we rented that movie at least 5 or 6 times and we watched it over and over again.  My sister was usually the one that rented movies, and while my parents weren’t usually too keen on letting us see R rated movies in the theater, oddly they didn’t mind if we rented them and watched them at home.  She was much more into action/adventure films, but horror movies always had the coolest covers, and those are usually the ones I remember the most.  My friend Chris that lived down the street was the one that usually told me about the horror movies because he and his brothers would rent just about anything they could get their hands on.  Now that I’m an adult, and I have the resources to find just about any movie I want, I go back a lot of the time and I get movies that I remember the covers for.  That’s probably also the main reason why most of the movies I write about are movies from the mid 70’s to late 90’s.

The VHS box cover is really a lost art.  Sometimes they’re highly detailed artwork, and sometimes they’re crudely drawn sketches.  They can range from scenes from the movies to shots where the stars heads are superimposed on better bodies, and most of the time they had nothing to do with what the movie was about.  DVD’s really never moved into the territory that VHS artwork had because VHS tapes were cranked out for any garbage movie and a lot of them are never going to see a DVD release.  If they do, there’s probably going to enough work involved in transferring it that they’re going to put some work into remaking a cover too.  Sadly, As we move into the digital age, I think a lot of this artwork is going to disappear altogether.

I also find it ironic that the more I upgrade my tv’s and start streaming content over my home network, the more I find myself watching stuff that’s been ripped from VHS – because that’s the only place that you can find these films

Below the cut are some of the good ones I’ve seen, or I still want to see:

I always thought this was one of the cooler covers I've seen, and it's a pretty good movie to boot.
I always thought this was one of the cooler covers I've seen, and it's a pretty good movie to boot.
This is one I remember, and I still really want to see it.
This is one I remember, and I still really want to see it.
Looking at the cover, you'd think Adam and the Ants were inhabiting a local Drive-in Doing some cool stuff.  Instead it's a mediocre Aussie film.  Bummer
Looking at the cover, you'd think Adam and the Ants were inhabiting a local Drive-in Doing some cool stuff. Instead it's a mediocre Aussie film. Bummer
Mad Max?  No, it's Italy's really slow and boring version of Mad Max.  The cover is a good way to fool people though!
Mad Max? No, it's Italy's really slow and boring version of Mad Max. The cover is a good way to fool people though!
This one reminds me of the cover for Rollerball with James Caan.  It's probably the same helmet or something very similar.
This one reminds me of the cover for Rollerball with James Caan. It's probably the same helmet or something very similar. Also, I think it would be more effective if the cover said something like "Their reign of terror is just about to BEGIN!" Seems more effective that way.
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It mentions Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Jason from Friday the 13th, so I'm guessing this is a slasher, and I've already set the wheels in motion to watch and review this one. Of course, just because it's a slasher doesn't mean it's any good.
I remember this one from back in the days of wandering the endless shelves of the video store.  I know it used to give me nightmares, and I always imagined eyeballs rolling out from under manhole covers chasing me down the street.
I remember this one from back in the days of wandering the endless shelves of the video store. I know it used to give me nightmares, and I always imagined eyeballs rolling out from under manhole covers chasing me down the street.

So for now, that does it for what I call “The Good”.  Stay tuned for “The Bad”

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