In the 1970s the VHS was born, films could now be watched in the comfort of your own home. Of course along with this came the VHS cover, that simple yet effective sleeve that could persuade you to pick up that particular film as opposed to any other. Trailers weren’t readily available at the click of a button like they are now, so you had to rely on that cover and the blurb on the rear to determine whether it was worth a watch. Unfortunately some films didn’t have the creativity or skill in their advertising. These are ten of the worst VHS covers from the 70s, 80s and 90s.
Gator Bait (1974)
This one doesn’t give much away. The film is about a female alligator poacher, out for revenge on those that harmed her family, FYI. I can only think the man in charge didn’t have long to come up with something and so went with the simple image and title. The lack of a tagline is a shame as surely they could have had some fun with this one. Maybe they thought the mere image of a young attractive woman in a seductive pose would be enough to sell it.
A Boy and His Dog (1975)
There are so many things on this cover I can’t wrap my tiny brain around. Don Johnson topless looking off into the distance pensively seemed to be all they needed. However, the tagline ‘A super sexual sci-fi adventure!’ teamed up with the title puts disturbing thoughts into one’s head. Plus not only is it sexual, but ‘super sexual’? Believe it or not this film is set in a post-apocalyptic future, but that certainly does not come across on the cover, not even with the mushroom cloud in the background.
Black Rage (1972)
This feels like another masterpiece from the cover artist of Gator Bait. We’re back with the image and title, although this time we’re treated with the rather interesting tagline ‘When you’re a slave, you only have one weapon…Black Rage’ Not sure how appropriate that is, but hey it was the 70s, who cares? You can almost see the struggle in his face, attempting to look even the slightest bit…well, ragey.
The Legend of Gator Face (1996)
Back to the swamps and gators again, this time a Canadian comedy horror. One way to guarantee putting off your potential audience is to display your dodgy creature effects on the cover; then again at least they know what they’re in for. Nice to see the classic ‘actors starring off into the distance, mesmerised by something’…what I don’t know, but it certainly can’t be the paper mache alligator. We also have the tagline ‘he was only a myth…until one adventurous night…’ ooh makes you want to watch it right now, doesn’t it?
Angel 4: Undercover (1994)
This is one of my favourites. I’m not sure if it’s because of the cover or the plot its advertising. We have the classic double life represented by the split down the centre and each side of the personality facing away. Not sure what’s going on with the hair on the executive, but it doesn’t seem right. This time we’re spoilt with two taglines. The first ‘Executive by day, hooker by night.’ is beautifully built upon by ‘From the boardroom to the bedroom.’ I wouldn’t be surprised if they made the film purely to use those excellent taglines.
Alice Sweet Alice (1976)
Do I really need to say anything about this shocking attempt to persuade you to part with your cash? We have a knock-off Michael Myers in the background, albeit a more feminine version and what looks like an overweight Stone Cold Steve Austin fanning himself. I can understand the terrified look on Brooke Shields face; even she’s disturbed by what’s behind her.
Silent Rage (1982)
This list would not be complete without a Chuck Norris flick. Of course Chuck is going to feature on the cover, and there he is starring off into the distance, what is he looking at? He seems very calm as well, unless that rage is slowly building to one explosive climax…of silence. Not so much a tagline as a brief summary of the film ‘A small town is terrorized by a psychotic killer’ if that doesn’t draw you in, maybe the tense stare of the eyes in the background burning deep into your soul, “buy this film”
I’m not sure what caught my eye about this cover first. The fact that Jodie Foster is in it or that Gary Busey looks like the fifth member of Kiss. To be honest I can’t think of much more to say about this cover, because my eye is constantly drawn to Busey’s face. Is he a clown? Or is this just another case of Busey losing his head and choosing to draw on his face much to the director’s dismay. “Okay, Gary fine. You can keep the face paint on” I’m very tempted to watch it now, purely to find out.
We are in a boardroom meeting. Artists sit around a table. “We need to make it clear the old lady is sinister” one of them says. “Why don’t we put sunglasses on her?” one replies excitedly. The room erupts into a round of applause. The 90s strikes again. You can just imagine the scene “I think Grandma’s turned evil, she’s started wearing sunglasses!” Sound advice from the tagline, she may be a monster, but if you call her once a week, she’ll refrain from disemboweling you. Really?
Invisible Strangler (1976)
I didn’t believe this was real when I first saw it. Some dodgy artwork on display here, it almost reminds me of the sort of thing you’d find in an old school textbook. The layout is very confusing; we have the terrified woman clearly being throttled by the invisible strangler (can her mouth get any wider?). The blonde on the left, is she supposed to be in the pool as well? Or is she just a floating torso? Also, the more I look at her, the more I’m unnerved by that left eye. Not sure why Stephanie Powers’ head on the right is hovering either.