Friday, January 4, 2013

For The Love of VHS - Part 1

Come back in time with me for the moment. Back to 1995, where everything was baggy, the Spice Girls were everywhere, everyone in your school was eating snack packs and trading Pogs, everyone was saying NOT after every sentance, rectiting stupid limerics like "miss mary mack mack mack, all dressed in black black black.." and the best thing to do with your spare time was to go down to your local Video Ezy and rent some vids. Well at least it was my favorite pass time.

I could think of absolutely nothing better than to get my five bucks and walk down to the video store and scope out all that this wonderland of entertainment had to offer me. I always made sure I went by myself, for two reasons; firsty becuase it was extremely difficult to convince your mum to allow you to rent something utterly stupid and secondly becuase I had an unhealthy obsession with the horror section. I went there first, I would walk through the door pretend to not know what I was looking for and "come across" the horror section tucked away there in the back. This place was forbidden to my ten year old eyes but I looked forward to picking up every single title on the rack and having a good look at it. They scared me and I loved it, I would never watch them from fear of reoccuring nightmares and my mother's wrath but there was one thing about them that drew me in and facinated me. The covers.

I have always been facinated with interesting works of art, something that intrigues you and something that makes you wonder what its all about. The VHS boom in 80s and 90s is a piece of pop culture history, revolutionizing how consumers receive cinemtaic entertainment, the invention of the home video was the beginning of everything. Back then there was no emphasis on high quality it was simply awesome to be able to take a ride with Hollywood in your own home. Nowadays people base their DVD or Blu Ray purchasing on how inexpensive it is or how high quality the picture or sound is, back then it was all about catching your eye. There were thousands of titles per year created by distribution companies purely for the home video market and all they had to sell them with was their hook. Most of the time they could do that with advertisments that bombarded your attention the minute you walked through the door but the most successful videos were those that wouldnt let you ignore them. They had big bright titles, boobs on the cover, an axe weilding maniac that wasnt even in the film. It was visual trickery for visual entetainment, it sucked me in and still does. To cap off this ode to the VHS cover I have picked my all time 5 favorite ones. Some of the films I haven't even seen ( I will once I find them) but I have never forgotten them.

Number 5:
I love this cover, It's simple, it's awesome and I dont even care what it's about. You get the general gist that there's a tape someone evil has possession of it, aparently during a full moon and there is going to be violence aplenty. I was instantly attracted to the cartoon aspect of it, it shouted out "FUN" and " I'M EVER SO SILLY". You can't argue with that.

 1983 Continental Video,
Synopsis: Well I was kind of right, this tape is a compilation of various horror and exploitation  movie scenes, most of which are very obscure, it's worth a look as an advertisment for further random VHS gold.

Number 4:
Oh man I would have loved to have put this cover higher up on the list but there are too many. I like to think that this crusty critter is extending his hand to me as if to say " Hey how fucking awesome is this? I'm riding the lightning in a frikkin television bra, give me five" I am more than happy to oblige.

1987 Embassy Home Entertainment.

A family come across a TV set, considerably stoked are they, little do they know that the TV will serve as a gateway for a zombie hell bent on tasty human flesh. It is said that the director was not satisfied with how gory the film was so he paid everyone extra to come back and film some extra gnarliness. Awesome level 20 achieved. Enjoy

Number 3:

I'm still trying to find this one, it's just too cool. Here's a dude who is already dead, he's all skin and bones literally but he is such a bad ass. The art work is amazing and the film shots, however un neccassary capture the 80s facination with home video violence perfectly. This cover tells you "come in for the hoedown stay for the carnage."

1988 New World Home Video.

This movie revolves around a "modern-day" deputy that tracks an abducted girl to a ghost town populated by the spirits of the past who took her. There are no limits to how badly I want to see this film. I want to hold it and hear it tell me all of it's delicious secrets.

Number 2:

This looks like an extremely elaborate heavy metal tattoo. I would like to imagine it draping down a metal head babe's bare back as she writhes all over her motorcycle listening to Anthrax. Ive seen my face there I'm not going to lie. I come across this cover from time to time and I smile that there are peices of art out there that not only have attitude but they are diretly realted to something that has an equally as awesome attittude. Everything about this cover is something that I dig and I'm happy to say it is a part of my life.

1989 Imperial Entetainment

Demons trick the population of a town by hypntizing them through rock and roll. Yes it is that cool and yes it is a corny 80s horror movie but if you cant have fun with it then you have no soul. Look at that cover and tell me you dont want to be a part of the grand design that is Black Roses.

Number 1 :
The second I saw this cover I fell in love. It is so retro, colourful and brutal at the same time. It is so hard to depict true action in a work of art and this picture has a movement to it thats endlessly energetic. The tag line is the best I have ever heard and the fluidity of the body line is perfect. Some friends of mine, knowing that I love this image dearly made me a shirt with it's visage. I may have peed a little.

1970 Vestron Video

 A serial killer, who drains his victims for blood is on the loose in London, the Police follow him to a house owned by an eccentric scientist. Okay so this movie has Vincent Price, Peter Cushing AND Christopher Lee. My mind  almost exploded at the sheer awesomeness of what I was about to watch. This is a little oddity of a film. Very retro and campy and not to mention somewhat irrational but it is a great ride and it features some very interesting scenes. Not for those who dont have the patience for slightly dated films.

There it is , my list in all its technicolour beauty, if you noticed a pattern then well done smarty pants you figured out I'm a horror fiend. Horror is the most creative and free form of visual media and it has capitivated me ever since I was too young to even grasp the concept. The gimmicks of yesteryear could be dismissed as cheap ploys to gain a buck but now as I become increasingly disilluisoned with distributors' lack of emphasis on packaging, I look back at these and see a subtle poetry to them. They tell a story on their own and I will always have my young imagination working away, testing the limits of this art form.

Stay tuned for part deux:
Cover Story Not Included

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