Wednesday, July 8, 2015

VHS Video Cover Art, by Thomas Hodge

If you ever spent any time agonizing over what video to rent, this is the book for you.
 I have vivid memories of the tense, anxiety-laden trips to the video store we took when I was a teen-ager. My Aunt Deb or my Uncle Bob would drive me and my cousins Rob and Joe to the little strip mall that housed a small mom and pop video store, and then the trouble would begin. If my Aunt drove, you had a little breathing room, because she would wait for us to make up our minds, which was not an easy thing. If my UNCLE drove, you'd have a few minutes, max....and when he was done, he was DONE. God help you if you were holding any kind of video box in your hand.

Uncle Bob: Let's go! What's that in your hand?
Me: What...? Umm...It's called "Devilfish"...
Uncle Bob: That's fine. Give it to me so we can go.
Me:  No, we don't really want it, we were just looking at the description. It looks awful.
Uncle Bob: It's fine, I'm sure you guys will love it. Let's go.

We did NOT love DEVILFISH. Not at all. This scene was repeated countless times, as we would return home crestfallen, with some awful movie clutched in our sad little hands. I wish I could tell you that we discovered some hidden gems, but I can't. (Trips with my Aunt yielded more palatable fare, such as THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, BASKET CASE, KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE, and WAXWORKS.) Those were the days....

 Those days are brought back in a delightful hardcover called VHS VIDEO COVER ART, compiled by Thomas "The Dude Designs" Hodge, which presents hundreds of bizarre, obscure video covers, covering Action, Comedy, Horror, Kids, Sci-Fi, and Thrillers. I've never heard of most of these movies, and after reading the film descriptions, I'm OK with that. There's some real zero-budget trash represented here...It looks like they spent most of the film's budget on the box cover art.

 But what box covers! Most of the art represented in this book is breathtaking, and makes you long for the days before photoshop. (That said, there are a few covers in the book that are clearly photographs, which was weird to see in a book that is mainly devoted to artwork.)

 In addition to the art, the back-cover film descriptions provide tons of laughs. I had forgotten just how many RAMBO clones were clogging the video store shelves back in the late '80's and early '90's. My favorite is "The Intruder", which features a slightly effeminate-looking Stallone clone firing a machine-gun as he rises up from the water. The back cover reads:

"An action-packed fast hitting thriller based in a crime soaked urban jungle. Alex Trambuan, known to his friends as Rambu is a lone vigilante who fights for justice as well as freedom from the absolute fear that grips the city."

RAMBU??????? 

 I can't tell you how many times my Uncle Bob was nearly snowed by films like this.

Uncle Bob: Hey, they have a new Rambo film here.
Me: Umm, no, that's just a rip-off foreign film.
Uncle Bob: Are you sure....? It looks just like Rambo.....Let's get it and go.

 I had a blast reading this book...probably more fun than I would have had actually watching any of the films themselves. As usual, Schiffer Books has produced a gorgeous, oversized hardcover that is a joy to behold. Former video-store-kids will be in heaven.

Schiffer Books provided a review copy.