Depending on how old you are the word VHS will invoke different feelings and emotions. For some younger readers you may not have a clue about the meaning of the word, or who knows you may be an avid collector. For me in my late 30s, the term VHS brings fond memories of a great time in my life, a time I am still trying to keep with me even now.
Last year we had some pretty fun retro based movies come our way. Mad Max: Fury Road gave us some awesome action (mostly) without the use of today’s CGI effects, while Turbo Kid had splatter gore lovingly thrown into a great 80s techno-scored storyline. But is there any way these throwback themed movies could get more retro? How about having specially made VHS covers for them? I think that would do it.
Recently there has been a step back to the cinematic style of the 1980s, and with it the movies that use this style are bringing back a forgotten (by some, not by me) format, the VHS tape. Drive and Hobo with a Shotgun are two of the earliest versions I can think of that have encapsulated the spirit and aesthetics of the ’80s.
Hobo with a Shotgun in particular takes the gritty, grimy feel of the VHS phenomenon and brings it right back to the modern-day. Turbo Boy also follows in this vein, while V/H/S brought a more gritty view of the found footage genre. Wolf Cop may not have had the same color scheme as many of the films from the ’80s, but it had that sense of wackiness, fun and violence that I would expect to see from VHS of that time.
With Halloween fast approaching, Grizzly Bomb has dusted off the keyboard and delved deep into the crypts of the world-wide web to dig out some really unique, fun and creepy horror creations made by independent artists with a very unique style.
This collection of artistic creation is all neatly bundled together for you, giving you a visual guided tour of some of the web’s coolest creations.
People love harking on about the good old days, when things were ‘so much better,’ or if nothing else slightly more innocent than today. Now I am as guilty as anyone of this, my life mostly revolving around the entertainment of my youth, be it retro games, comics or movies. I love modern entertainment as much as the next person, but ’80s media is where I really get my freak on! And it would seem that I’m not alone in my desire to celebrate the things from my youth, as a series of creators have made their own products which all incorporate an 80s theme to them.
When VHS tapes first came out, demand was so high that shop owners were constantly looking for copies to line their shelves. A lot of rubbish got rented out back in the day due to the fact that, in general, there was no public resource available for additional information on these films; customers took their chances based on what looked interesting. Those days are long gone now, with On Demand and streaming services allowing us to find and watch specific titles in minutes, whenever we want. Obviously this a great thing, but we lost the mystery and grab-bag feel that renting a movie used to have. It also means the death of amazing VHS box art – Images specifically designed to catch the eye and make a sale. Horror movies were particularly good at capturing the imagination of potential viewers, flaunting covers so gory and shocking that customers were bound to pick them up. In honor of these classic freaky designs, we’re taking a look back at some Halloween-themed VHS box art that kept people on their couches every October throughout the 80’s and 90’s.
Synopsis: Sammi Curr was a famous, devil-worshiping rock star who died under mysterious circumstances. Now he wants to come back to life. Doing so requires possessing radio wave & automobiles and making a few human sacrifices.
Synopsis: A psychotic murderer institutionalized since childhood for the murder of his sister, escapes and stalks a bookish teenage girl and her friends while his doctor chases him through the streets.
Synopsis: A group of teens decides to have a Halloween party up at the deserted funeral parlour. They accidentally awaken a demon while having a séance. The demon enters the body of one of the women, and soon the teens begin experiencing an attrition problem.
Synopsis: Phil, Melissa, Mitch, Mary, and Vinnie are high school friends, who unwittingly raise the dead on Halloween night. Once the dead have returned, Pitchford Cove will never be the same again….or will it?
Synopsis: A baby sitter is stuck watching over a young brat on Halloween night that keeps playing vicious pranks on her. To add to her trouble the boy’s deranged father has escaped from an asylum and is planning on making a visit.
Synopsis: In Halloween, three friends seek an ancient cemetery in the suburb for fun and remove a cross from a tomb, where Jack-O was buried many years ago by the farmer Arthur Kelly. The evil creature is unleashed, kills the trio and seeks the descendants of the Kelly family for revenge.
Synopsis: Twenty years ago a deadly accident forced Eddie Burber from his home. Since Eddie was younger he wanted to be part of the family business “The Burber Haunted House.” A note is placed on the local Fraternity giving permission to use the old house as a fund-raiser. While the students prepare the house, they soon are hunted down and placed in the Haunted House for amusement. One thing is for sure. Nobody knows it really happening – People are dying, and people are laughing.
For some, the idea of a shop where you physically had to get a title you wished to watch rather than download or stream seems like a concept conceived in the Stone Age. But for a whole generation, this was the go to place for hot (and not so hot) releases. The video store was a place where families could venture out together and get any type of film they wanted. It was a great bonding experience (this reviewer has great memories of those days) but also a thrill to know what new titles were coming out. In the 1980s, when the video store truly came into its own, there was little information about movies available to the public other than fanzines so it was always a gamble when taking out a movie. Also, there was some effort involved, with the staff needing to know about what movies they had in at the time. Hell, Quentin Tarantino used his time in video stores to further his knowledge and love of movies, eventually turning him into a big time director of terrific, generation-defining movies.
With the up and coming documentary about poster artist Drew Struzan coming to cinema screens soon, it seems that more and more people are interested in the movie poster as a valid and exciting part of the cinema going experience. Back in the 80s, poster art reigned supreme with some of the greatest examples becoming not only popular with fans, but iconic for film goers. Who can forget the posters for movies like Star Wars,The Goonies, Back to the Future, Big Trouble in Little China, and how these images bombarded our senses when we went to see a movie? It seems in the last few years that interest in the fine art of poster making has picked up again with some truly stunning pieces of art coming out for mainstream blockbusters. There has also been an interest in the 80s style of poster making. It has a very distinct quality with brass colors, fully loaded designs filling the screen with outlandish characters from the movie, or in some cases just posing down. Here are some eye catching examples, most of which are official alternative posters for mainstream films that have come out in the last few years.
So without further ado, let’s brace ourselves for neon lights and over the top action with ten of the best 80’s inspired posters…
10) Drive (2011)
Drive, with its thumping 80s soundtrack and gritty feel really caught the imagination of many cinema goers, and the original artwork for it is incredible. This early promotional piece gave us the cool factor that Ryan Gosling exuded in this film, but it also gives off a MiamiVice vibe with its bright, but not over powering, use of color and the sun back rising up from behind the cast.
9) Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)
The poster that really started the ball rolling with a return to the grindhouse style of artwork found in cinema houses and video shops back in the early 80s. Sure the Grindhouse movies by Tarantino and Rodriguez (which spawned this film) did a great job of bringing this particular style back to the masses, but it was this gritty poster art that really got a lot of viewers’ attention. This poster just makes you take notice, even with its muted color scheme, it still manages to elicit a response. Many 80s posters had guns shoved into the viewer’s face and this is following in that long tradition. Below is one of my favorite examples of this style from an actual 80s movie…
8 & 7) V/H/S and V/H/S/2
On first glance the poster for the great horror throwback V/H/S does not seem incredibly 80s, but when compared to the poster below for the 1982 William Shatner and Micheal Ironside horror thriller Visiting Hours, you can see they share a striking resemblance.
Now for V/H/S/2 they have gone over board with the poster art. There are tons of great promotional pieces out for this movie, but the key one was in the incredibly gory cover by ex-WalkingDead artist Tony Moore. It encapsulates the gory covers VHS stores used to use to grab viewers into to the store. It also bears a resemble to one of the most notorious horror covers of all time, the cult movie Cannibal Holocaust. Not an exact copy, but the style is very similar.
6) The Heat (2013)
Now the more popular and incredibly generic posters that have come out for this movie in cinemas recently has come under tons of controversy due to the abuse of Photoshop to enhance one of the co-stars features. This could have all been avoided if the advertising department had decided to go for the more action packed poster shown above. I had no interest in this movie up until I saw this poster that basically just told me that everything explodes in this film. Whether it does or not hardly matters because this is a great example of how to advertise a mainstream movie using poster art. Here is another great example of how the 80s action flick used to use this very same method of presentation.
5) Rewind This (2013)
We have mentioned Adjust Your Tracking on Grizzly Bomb before and also Plastic Movies Rewound, but we have never really looked at the other recent VHS related documentary Rewind This, and it gives me great pleasure to present it here. It covers a mix of those other two documentaries and will definitely be one to look out for VHS fans. The cover is amazing and it looks exactly how I remember the 80s movie art. Horror pictures especially always had a hand sticking out the front. Look at this one for example.
Another great retro poster though not based on any film is this one for Video Nasties which I just threw in here as a companion piece for Rewind This just because it look to good not to include it.
4) The Last Stand (2013)
The film may have been a bit of a damp squib in the action department, feeling like a cross between Knightrider and Jackass in places, it did give us this great late 70s-early 80s style action poster which seems to follow the motif we have seen for many action movies past and present, the bomb exploding! It’s a great way to grab an audience’s attention and certainly got me to watch the movie.
3) Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
Now it is easy to put a poster about video games into this article because of how many of the classic (and not so classic) 80s sprites popped up within this heart-warming tale, but what really caught my attention was this great poster actually showcasing Wreck It Ralph as a real life computer game coming soon to your local arcade. It’s the attention to detail which I found fantastic, and it reminded me of my childhood and seeing similar poster advertisements in issue of Crash magazine.
2) The Expendables 2 (2012)
The Expendables posters have always been full of testosterone, but this cover really gives off that macho 80s action movie vibe, with its collage of armored killers ready for action. This cover looks so much like a 80s action flick that someone decided to create a VHS cover and 80s style trailer for it!
Shame the film did not deliver on the action goods but it does not take any power away from the extreme cover which is an amalgamation of several different types of 80s poster. [Ed. Note – I disagree. Obviously.]
1) Manborg (2011)
By far the best cover on this list is for retro film Manborg, which takes the best elements of 80s cheese and rolls them up into a tiny package for a new audience. The cover reminded me of so many other covers from the dawn of the video shop era. Just look at some of the VHS sleeves for TheEliminators and Rotor and you can see where this cover got its inspiration. Absolutely stunning.
That was just a small taste of what’s around at the moment and websites like Mondoand The Alamo Draft House are making superb posters like this all the time. It has never been such a great time to be a fan of poster art. Here is hoping we get more and more examples of this type of art popping up in the near future.