Favorite Horror VHS Covers – Issue One

Like most horror fans of my age (mid-30’s) I got my horror education from the shelves of a video store. In many cases, the movies I rented were based on the amazing cover art they contained. The 80’s horror films were notorious for having cover art that had very little to do with the actual movie, since a lot of the time peopled rented based solely on what they saw on the front and back of the box.
I thought it’d be fun to look back on some of my favorite VHS cover boxes. Some of these are movies I owned, some I rented, and some I wish I would have rented. They’ll be presented in no particular order and just randomly as they come to mind. I hope to make this a regular addition to the blog going forward.

So without further ado, here are my first five VHS covers.


The Dead Pit
This was a movie I still have yet to see, but the VHS box was burned into my skull at a young age. What made it so special is that the face of the character was three dimensional and came out of the box. If that wasn’t cool enough, you could press a certain part of the box and make the creatures eyes glow green thanks to two small light bulbs. (Displayed above is the non-3D version of the cover but you should be able to get the gist.)




Blockbuster Presents Halloween
So this is not a great release of Halloween. In fact, it’s a cheap transfer that looked horrific in comparison to the Anchor Bay letterbox edition I bought a few years later. But this was the way I first saw Halloween and for that reason alone, this cover art will always remain one of my favorite (although its arguably one of the lamest). Blockbuster bought the rights to Halloween between 1995-1997 before Anchor Bay stepped in and gave the movie the proper respect that it deserved.




Ants
I'm sure you'll be able to tell why Ants really stuck in my memory for so long. I was a pre-teen boy and this cover grabbed my attention like no other. It took me quite a few years to finally see Ants and ya know, it wasn't half bad.



Sleepaway Camp 2
Here is one of those covers that was misleading. I rented Sleepaway Camp 2 solely on this cover art and for whatever reason I assumed Freddy and Jason would be making an appearance (and possibly being killed by the woman on the cover.) Of course, that did not happen, but I did find a fun, campy, slasher that quickly became one of my favorites.




Ghost Town
This is another movie I've never seen. I think the artwork is just so perfect, with the cowboy skeleton scrolling through town. It's one of those films that I'm pretty sure the artwork is better than the actual film, and hopefully one day I'll get around to actually watching it.

The Invisible Man Review (2020)


My History With the Film: 
I’ll be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to The Invisible Man until it had a fantastic opening weekend at the box office. I’ve never been a huge fan of invisible man style movies, so this wasn’t exactly on my radar. But the hype and success of the film, quickly changed that and once it was released VOD I knew I needed to check it out.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):

A woman is terrorized by her abusive boyfriend who cannot be seen.

What I Liked About It:
-Elizabeth Moss (Cecila) is always amazing and this film is no exception. Her acting brings an extra layer to a character who easily could have just been an overreacting victim. Instead, we are forced to deal with her trauma as she faces it and the mental abuse that continues.


-The script does a masterful job of using emotional abuse as a catalyst for the story. You are consistently questioning whether this is all in Cecilia’s head and how much damage has the gaslighting done to her.


-The supporting cast is small, but very strong. No one performance stood out more than another, but everyone stepped up to the plate and you felt like Celica was surrounded by real people who were invested in her fight.

-The special effects were quite good and there were quite a few times I caught myself trying to figure out how a particular scene was done.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-The trailer ruined 75% of all the surprises. This is a problem with a lot of modern trailers and is one of the reasons why I try to avoid them if it’s a movie I’m very excited about.

-The movie plays out more like a psychological thriller than horror movie.

Additional Notes:
-One of the first films released to VOD while still in theaters due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was priced at $19.99 for a rental with a 48 hour watch period.

-Made 124 million dollars on a 7 million dollar budget.

-This was Jason Blum, from Blumhouse’s first attempt at re-making a Universal Monster movie. This film was originally planned to be part of a larger Dark Universe that would tie in all the Universal Monsters, but after 2017’s The Mummy’s failure, the Dark Universe was scrapped.

-The wall outside of the mental hospital has graffiti featuring Billy the Puppet from Saw. The director, Leigh Whannell, wrote and starred in the original Saw.

Notable Horror Connections:
  • Director Leigh Whannell (Directed: Upgrade, Insidious: Chapter 3) (Wrote: Saw, Saw II, Saw II, Dead Silence, Insidious)
  • Elizabeth Moss (Us, Shirley, Fear Itself)
  • Oliver Jackson-Cohen (The Haunting of Hill House)
Rating:
When the credits rolled on The Invisible Man, I couldn’t help but feel a little let down. I think between the success at the box office and the hype that followed with that, combined with most of the movie being ruined by the trailer, I just didn’t feel like I got the whole experience. What I did feel was The Invisible Man did a great job at discussing psychological trauma and took a very different approach to horror in the process. It highlighted the struggles that abuse victims are forced to deal with and then turned gave it a real enemy to fight in the process.

The Invisible Man is worth a watch, especially if you are in the mood for a psychological thriller with a supernatural edge. I’d rate it as a three out of five and say it’s a low priority rental.

Creepshow: Season One Review (2019)


My History With the Franchise: 

I’m not a huge Creepshow fan. I love anthologies and am a huge fan of Tales from the Crypt, but Creepshow just didn’t do it for me. Maybe I need to revisit it, but it’s always just one of those films that I didn’t seem to “get.” I think I felt that the movie dabble a bit too much in the comedic/black comedy range for me and it just didn’t work. I never sought out any of the sequels.

I was excited to hear about the Tales from the Crypt reboot a few years back (which has been cancelled) and was equally as interested in Creepshow when it was announced by Shudder with Greg Nicotero showrunning. I signed up for a free month of Shudder during the COVID-19 pandemic and really enjoyed what the show offered.

What The Series Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A horror anthology series hosted by a ghoul based on a series of fictional comic books inspired by the EC Comics of the 1950s.

What I Liked About It:
-I love that the show kept the same hokey horror feeling that is ever so present in anthologies like Tales from the Crypt and the original Creepshow.


-I understand why they didn't have The Ghoul speak, but I would have loved to have a wise cracking host narrate the tales. Then again, it would have brought way too many comparisons to Tales from the Crypt (as well as additional budgetary costs) so I get it. It's still nice to see The Ghoul between tales.


-The use of comic book imagery and animation works really well most of the time. I love how it helps progress the stories and sometimes even the special effects (Bad Wolf Down). 

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-I didn't care for the use of comic book backgrounds while showing shocked/scared faces. It really pulled me out of the show for a minute and I think it stood out just a little too much. They used this same graphic in the original film, so I understand why its there, but I just wish it wasn't.


-Like all anthologies, the quality varies between episodes, stories, directors, and casts. This isn't something I'd knock points off for, but its worth noting that this anthology has it's ups and downs like all others.

Additional Notes:
-Adrienne Barbeau starred in the original Creepshow movie in the segment The Crate.

-The Indian used in The House of Head is an exact replica of the Indian used in Creepshow 2's Old Chief Wood'nhead. 

-Was filmed in Atlanta, Georgia

Ratings:
Episode One:
Gray Matter - Two Stars Out of Five
I had read this short story in Stephen King's Night Shift a couple years back and didn't love it then and I wasn't a huge fan of it made live action. I will say it fits well with the original Creepshow vibe and I think for a lot of horror fans this will be one of their favorite episodes, but for me personally it just didn't do much.

The House of the Head - Five Stars Out of Five
I'm so glad this episode followed up Gray Matter. The House of the Head showed the more serious side of Creepshow that was less grindhouse and more traditional horror. I loved it and it was one of my favorite episodes of the series. The pacing was fantastic and the dollhouse was amazing. This is one of my favorite horror anthology entries ever.

Episode Two:
Bad Wolf Down - Three Stars Out of Five
This segment featured soldiers from World War II encountering a werewolf. It was interesting and I give the filmmakers props for pulling this story off with an very limited budget. The comic book transitions saved them some money and it was done in a very entertaining way. Still, the story was forgettable as well as the costumes.

The Finger - Four Stars Out of Five
I loved this segment. It stars DJ Qualls (Road Trip, Hustle and Flow) and it blew away all of my expectations. It's schlocky but fantasy fulfilling as our protagonist adopts a creature that kills anyone who irritates him. I couldn't help but think about how nice it would be to have a little demon pet that took care of all your problems and rarely does horror open me up to ethical questions.

Episode Three:
All Hallows Eve - Three Stars Out of Five
This felt like an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark, with a slightly more mature twist. A group of kids terrorize a town every Halloween, but something is not right about these kids.

The Man in the Suitcase - Three Stars Out of Five
This quirky episode finds a young stoner who ends up with a man in a suitcase who spits out gold coins every time pain is inflicted upon him. Its one of those episodes that brings up some moral questions like The Finger and felt like what should have been an episode of the new Twilight Zone, had it not been so terrible.

Episode Four:
The Companion - Three Stars Out of Five
A young boy attempts to escape his bullying brother and ends up in an abandoned farm house being stalked by something a little more deadly. I loved the creature effects in this episode and they were one of my favorites.

Lydia Layne's Better Half - Three Stars Out of Five
A powerful woman accidently kills her lover and ends up trapped with her dead body in an elevator. This episode had a very good premise that didn't use much in the special effects department but still managed to get across the psychological horror.

Episode Five:
Night of the Paw - Three Stars Out of Five
This is a classic monkey paw story that worked well! I was dreading this episode, because let's be honest, how many times can we hear the same story? Apparently, once more. When a widower saves a young woman, he tells her the story of how the monkey paw came into his life.

Times is Tough in Musky Holler - One Star out of Five
Wow, this was terrible. This felt like a bad idea spitballed for an episode of The Walking Dead that was rejected and some reason revived for this. A town's leadership is overthrown once a zombie apocalypse begins, and the overthrowers now face the consequences.

Episode Six:
By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain - Four Stars Out of Five
This was a very sweet story that reminded me of something seen on Amazing Stories back in the 80's. A young girl's father died searching for Champy and she never gave up hope on Champy being alive.

Skincrawlers - Four Stars Out of Five
A man is brought in for an experimental weight loss procedure that ends up being not what it seems. This reminded me of the Hair segment from Body Bags, but done much better.



Overall Creepshow was an enjoyable watch. Only the last episode really stood out at being great, but the second half of the first episode, The House of the Head is one of the best anthology entries I've ever seen and is a must see.

I think Creepshow has something to offer for all horror fans, and I believe the run times are about perfect for this type of show. I would rate Creepshow a four out of five and say its worth bingeing.