Book Review: Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box

5 Oct

Last week I was reminiscing about the way in which Horror films were marketed in the 1980’s and what a fine job they did convincing the 8 year old me that seeing Fright Night Part 2, despite probably being a piece of shit, was something like the goyim equivilant of a bah mitzvah

The point is that even though the films themselves were awful, the skill involved in the posters, marketing and concept itself were pure genius. There was a rumor that Nightmare on Elm street 2 was so scary that teenagers in the US had killed themselves after seeing it. Who cared if neither Wes Craven or Johnny Depp were involved? Who cared if it was any good? A video so scary that you could die if you watched it? Good had nothing to do with it.

The concepts didn’t have to be complicated. Hellraiser might have been about the occult, sadomasochism and morality under duress and fear but when you’re 8, none of those words mean anything. All that mattered is that you wanted to see the film about the guy with freaking pins in his face.

Obviously I’m not the only one who feels this way because Fantagraphics books have just put out a book celebrating the art of VHS covers. Keeping in mind that VCRs were not widely adopted until the 1980’s, going into any mainstream suburban video store was a wonderland of possibilities. The book comes packaged in it’s own VHS sleeve and lots of covers you probably never remember seeing. Hmmmmm received nostalgia!


6 Responses to “Book Review: Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box”

  1. r-bong October 5, 2010 at 9:38 pm #

    I am all too familiar with the covers of many of the films on this list:

  2. r-bong October 5, 2010 at 9:41 pm #

    Though i’ve never seen ‘Rabid Grannies’:
    “A family has gathered for the birthday party of two warm, lovable grandmas. They open a gift from a devil-worshipping relative, the contents of which turn the docile matriarchs into monstrous, flesh-eating creatures! A bloody gore-fest ensues, as the voracious “grandmonsters” begin devouring relatives — giving new meaning to the term “family dinner”!”

  3. r-bong October 5, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

    champagne Hugh Grant in ‘The Lair of the White Worm’:

  4. grammorris October 6, 2010 at 10:19 am #

    are you really? I think the sad thing about the DVD revolution is that video stores have thrown out the bad videos that arent considered worthy of a dvd release. some of these old vhs movies might one day be worth something, perhaps vhs is just laying dormant like vinyl once did.

  5. Ronan Macewan October 7, 2010 at 7:20 pm #

    yes i am really gram.

    I used to browse the video store every weekend

  6. Joe Redford December 5, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    Didn’t really got entertained with this movie imho

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