Ah, the good old days of the clunky VHS tape. Despite their unreliability and bulkiness, video has a place in the hearts of horror fans – mainly for the distinctive style of it’s artwork. Horror is by far the most popular genre for retired media collectors, with enthusiast Dan Kinem explaining, “The horror genre is known for crazy, memorable box art, too, so a lot of people are attracted to the covers—the gory, painted artwork that people remember from video stores back in the day. They want to put them on their own shelves again and show them off.”
In honour of this unique piece of horror history, here’s our pick of the most disturbing, startling, or just plain weird VHS horror covers.
They Slime, They Ooze, They Kill – boasts the cover for 1988s Slugs. While we’re not quite sure how the ‘kill’ part of the tagline would work, the image of a slug having emerged from it’s victims nose/mouth, leaving a gory mess behind is pretty unpleasant.
9. Driller Killer
This gruesome cover was blamed for causing a lot of nightmares among children walking through video stores, and was the subject of much controversy. While we can see why the image of a man having his skull drilled open might be shocking, the cover has become an iconic symbol of the ‘video nasty’ era in the UK.
8. Invasion of the Blood Farmers
This incredibly low budget horror really didn’t have much going for it – terrible continuity, acting and effects, all of which to expect when director Ed Adlum paid the actors in beer. But the painted cover showing a stereotypical farmer mutilating his victims with a fork is pretty amusing.
We weren’t exactly expecting class with a film called ‘Frankenhooker’, but I have no idea what to make of the hooker/bride/monster herself. Apparently the film is about a medical student who attempts to resurrect his lost love using the corpses of prostitutes, but…just take a look at the face.
6. The Corpse Grinders
I have to admit, I’m not a cat person. It doesn’t seem that far-fetched to me that they could be plotting against us. The Corpse Grinders implies that when cats take over, their weapon of choice will be a meat grinder.
5. The Nest
The awkwardly erotic image, combined with the concept of flesh easting cockroaches make The Nest’s cover art particularly disturbing.
This 80s horror about travellers who find themselves in the home of a couple of creepy dollmakers where (gasp!), the dolls are not what they seem, also caused nightmares among children of the 80s. It’s simple, effective and striking – and very creepy.
3. Happy Birthday to Me
There’s a range of Christmas and even Easter themed horror, but very few based around birthdays. Happy Birthday to Me is the exception, with the striking cover art featuring a young man being impaled on a kebab.
2. Monkey Shines
Wow, there’s so much to take in here. The crazy eyes, the jagged teeth, the bloody weapon, the awkward attempt at poetry, and just how terrifying that toy monkey actually is. Before you get too creeped out, it’s worth remembering the plot to this film reads “What starts as an innocent attempt to have a specially trained monkey help a paralyzed man get a new lease on his life turns into a hell of unleashed rage. Monkey Shines, is a chilling look at how one man’s inner fury is telepathically channeled through his beloved monkey which carries out his most devious thoughts.”
1. Colour Me Blood Red
The legendary Herschell Gordon Lewis was aptly bestowed the title of the Godfather of Gore, The cover art for his 1965 film Colour Me Blood Red is about an artist who uses human blood to paint his canvases. It’s probably not for the squeamish.
What are some of your favourite VHS horror covers? Did any of these freak you out as a kid?