So how many of you can remember that crazy time in American history when we didn’t have Netflix, Red Box, or Amazon instant streaming? If you can recall those Dark Ages, then let me date you even further by asking if you remember when VHS tapes were king and the only place you could get your fix of those was at a local video store? I grew up in Homewood, Illinois and was about twelve years old when the phenomena of home video first began. I can still remember the excitement of us watching my dad attach our first VHS player to the family television set. The idea of being able to watch a movie when you felt like it, or taping shows off your favorite channel so you could catch them later, seemed just too good to be true.
By the time I was fifteen we had two prominent video stores within walking distance of my house, ‘Homewood Video” and “All-Video.” Homewood Video was closer and my favorite of the two since they often had a decent selection of scary and obscure movies including the documentary Dario Argento: World of Horror that introduced me to Italian giallo films.
Another great thing about that store was that members were allowed to “pay on return” if they wanted which meant we could walk over there, rent some movies, and then have 24 hours to convince mom to pay for them the next day. I rarely went to the other shop because it was further away and didn’t seem to have the same selection. In fact the only reason I ever went there at all was because the neighbor girl I had a crush on got a job there and wanted me to walk her to work. It’s funny how it never felt like it was all that far away until it was time for me to walk myself home.
Aside from the mainstream films, video stores offered us horror fans plenty of movies we never even knew existed (especially before I was able to get a subscription to Fangoria). They’d often have huge box covers featuring lurid illustrations that usually bared little resemblance to what you’d actually end up getting. Regardless, in a situation where you have no choice but to judge a book by its cover they were highly effective. Not only for horror and sci-fi films but for action movies and raunchy comedies that were perfect for a highschool boy like me. In that regard you often did get the goods as the ’80s definitely didn’t skimp on nudity and my main challenge was trying to pause the sex scenes without having a scratchy/fuzzy line covering the good parts.
In the ’80s of course, horror films weren’t modest either…
Wouldn’t it be great if someone put together a book featuring some of best VHS box art we could just reach for on our own shelf whenever we wanted to relive those carefree days? Well thanks to Thomas Hodge from “The Dude Designs,” there is! Not wanting this unsung art form to be lost forever, Hodge collected many of its best examples in one great hardcover book “VHS Video Cover Art!”
Hodge makes his living as a movie poster artist whose work was inspired by these VHS tape covers he (we) grew up with. Two of his more notable works include Wolf Cop and Hobo with a Shotgun and you can clearly see the influence in both.
The book is elongated as it contains full page (front and back) images of ’80s/’90s VHS box covers and is divided up by genre. I received it as a Christmas gift last year from the other Dave and vowed I’d wait till the next holiday season to post something on this because it made such an awesome gift (even if it’s to yourself). I encourage everyone in their thirties and forties to put these covers back on a shelf where they belong! Your movies may be digital and clearer but their cover art will never get any better than this!