As part of the never-ending office cleanout, I’ve tossed well over a hundred videocassettes. God, it was probably more than two hundred.
But even if my chances of firing up a VCR anytime soon are slim, I’ll never throw away some of these tapes. The box art is just too phenomenal.
It’s especially true with the old horror videos. The artwork is sometimes misleading, but always inspiring. I was a late bloomer with horror, but even at my youngest, I could never pry my eyes from the “scary section” of our local video store.
What I didn’t realize was that the films were usually way less frightening than the box art made them seem. I spent my childhood imagining movies a hundred times more brutal than anything I’d watch later, even as an adult.
Below: Ten awesome old videocassette boxes, from my private, dusty collection.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2: That box is what turned me on to the whole franchise, and I saw Part 2 long before the original.
I only knew about TCM lore in broad strokes, but man, look at those characters! How could I not be totally fascinated?
I was mostly excited about the zombie guy lying sideways at the bottom, so you can imagine my disappointment to find out that he wasn’t really a character in the movie, but more of a prop. (Actually, it’s the corpse of the Nubbins Sawyer, from the original!)
Zone Troopers: This one freaked me out as a kid, and why wouldn’t it? How was I supposed to know that this scary beast was actually a virtuous alien who fought for the powers of good? To me, this was just another giant fuzzy bug, waiting to eat my heart.
Monkey Shines: The monkey from Monkey Shines was a real terror, but she didn’t look scary. Her cute little face simply would not do on promotional materials meant to inspire nightmarish curiosity.
A psychotic toy monkey with a bloody razor was a great compromise, but I still think they missed a golden opportunity. The crazy eyes are great, but stick-on googly eyes would’ve made this box legendary.
Ghoulies: This is it! The big one!
Nothing makes me feel like a scared six-year-old quite like this box. At our old mom & pop video store, that box was always there, ready to frighten me like nothing else could. You just can’t ignore green goblins popping out of toilets.
I’m kind of glad that I was such a baby. I’ve seen Ghoulies since, and it was nothing compared to what I’d imagined. That goes for a lot of horror movies with similarly awesome boxes. I never figured that the monsters in these films would be used sparingly, and envisioned two hour gorefests consisting of nothing but creatures killing and eating people. The truth was almost always never that.
As for Ghoulies, the box was a unfortunate case of false advertising. The green dude was in the movie, but there were no toilets present. (So popular was this image, though, that they actually made good on a “Ghoulies toilet scene” in the sequel.)
The Devil’s Rain: I doubt that this is the original box style for The Devil’s Rain, but it’s still pretty effective. We’ve got Satan and assorted people melting as if they were made of wax, and I’m elated to confirm that this is super close to what happens in the movie.
Bonus points: That devil? He’s played by Ernest Borgnine. Everyone else hears his name and thinks “Poseidon Adventure.” When I hear it, I get to picture him with goat horns, melting. I feel like I win.
TeenAlien: I know nothing about TeenAlien, and I’d like to keep it that way. I refuse to even look at the back of the box, in fear of ascertaining even the slightest synopsis. If it’s about anything other than a kid who explodes into the form of a sun-bleached Gillman, I’ll be crushed.
Fire & Ice: Would you ever guess that this was an animated film? Well, maybe you would, because it seems like I’m the only person alive who knows jack shit about Fire & Ice. Strangely, these “fantasy painting style” boxes often freaked me out more than the all-out monsters.
The Stuff: Ah, this one. The one that got away. For some reason, evil white goo brought out the bravery in me. Not to the point where I took the plunge on a rental, but I at least considered it. Many times. Wouldn’t have been such a bad decision, either. Even as a weeping child, I think I could’ve made it through The Stuff.
Fun fact: I went to a horror convention last September, and someone was selling a handcrafted replica “Stuff” cup, complete with fabricated ooze. It was $25, and it still kills me that I didn’t buy it.
Instead, I opted for a cardboard standee, depicting the Creature from the Black Lagoon drinking a bottle of Mountain Dew Pitch Black.
…which is still in our trunk.
Don’t believe me? Say so, and I’ll show you tomorrow.
Slashdance: There’s often a fine line between horror and porn, and considering this one’s “MUST BE 18 YEARS OF AGE TO RENT” sticker, it may have crossed it.
As you’ve likely figured out by now, I own a lot of movies that I’ve never watched. This is one of them, but I will bet any amount of money that it involves naked women dying and/or shooting guns.
At our old video store, any movie with a sticker like that was kept in a special section. A curtained aisle where no kid could venture. I had no idea that porn even existed, and just assumed that this section was for movies even more horrifying than Ghoulies or Zone Troopers.
I was happy to stay away, even if I never could understand why they placed all of the Walt Disney Classics right next to it.
Krull: Okay, did I call Ghoulies my #1 “I didn’t know what it was but it scared me to death” video? Maybe it was, but now that I see Krull again, I’m not so sure. I don’t know if anything ever scared me quite like the blue monster from Krull.
Admission: I’ve still never seen Krull. Not in full, anyway. I tried to a few times, but never made it far. To this day, I don’t know if my childhood impression of THAT BLUE MONSTER is at all accurate.
And what was that impression? Well, given the structure and positioning of the art, I pegged him at around 400’ tall, and possibly part octopus. True/false?
If even 5% true, I’m watching this movie as soon as you tell me.
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