Welcome back to Vicious Videocassette Boxes, an ongoing series of tributes to… vicious videocassette boxes.
There are many who collect old tapes out of sincere affinity for the format, but I’ll come out and admit that I treat videocassettes more as decorations. They’re like little three-dimensional posters, and I like to clap them like fragile chalkboard erasers.
Still, while most of these movies have been been re-released in more modern formats, there’s something to be said for watching them this way. Improved picture and sound do not always make for improved viewing experiences. All that fuzz and hissing often complement the intended ambiance!
Blockbuster Presents: Halloween! (1995)
I shouldn’t need to tell you that this wasn’t Halloween’s first VHS release. More incredible is that fact that it wasn’t even its last!
I already had the original release, but how could I turn down a version that preyed on my Michael Myers fanship and my nostalgia for Blockbuster Video?
The box design was exclusive to Blockbuster’s version, though I suppose it was no improvement over the original’s “stabbing pumpkin” logo. On the other hand, the original design never made me think of paper-thin carpets and Nestle Goobers.
The Making of A Nightmare! (1989)
…also known as The Making of A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, which is way too long for an official title. I guess the producers realized that, because The Making of A Nightmare isn’t colloquial — it’s the doc’s proper name.
Back when “making of” featurettes were still in serious style, Freddy Krueger had his own. If I’m remembering things right, the special actually premiered on MTV, with which Freddy had a weirdly robust partnership.
Even by that point in the series, Freddy had become more of a renegade pop icon than a mere “slasher,” and he was a perfect fit for MTV’s late ‘80s brand. The 50 minute special is all over YouTube and 100% worth your time, even if I readily admit that the more recent Never Sleep Again documentary became (and remains) the gold standard for BTS Krueger crud.
The video release is pretty rare, and I had to wait years for one to come around at the right price. I guess I didn’t need a hard copy of a documentary that’s so easily found online, but man, THAT BOX! I love those cherry reds and icy blues! Half of the NOES style guide is disgusting, but the other half makes me want snow cones so goddamned badly.
Wait, what? Have I really not covered Krull on Dino Drac before? Is that possible?
Back when I was a tiny Matt, our neighborhood got its first video store. It was small but well-stocked, and even had an adult section on a raised platform, accessible only through swinging doors. (As a kid, it killed me that I wasn’t allowed near those kickass saloon doors.)
Too young to rent horror movies but too curious to look away from the horror section, I grew up assuming that everything I saw on the boxes were precise summarizations of the films. The truth was that the art often (often and wildly) exaggerated the content of the films, but hey, that’s how they got ya.
It’s why I grew up believing that Ghoulies — which famously showed one of the titular monsters popping out of a toilet on the box — simply HAD to be among the scariest movies ever made. (It isn’t.)
If there was one movie that seemed even more frightening, it was Krull. I still don’t know who that bluish monster is, but as a kid, I assumed him to be a Godzilla-sized demon who almost definitely spent a full 90 minutes eating people.
It was a nightmarish thought, but Krull still fascinated me. Even as a kid, I noticed a peculiar Star Wars inspiration in its box art, with a Han/Luke hybrid, a Leia, and the Godzilla-sized people-eater acting as Darth Vader.
At this point, I’ve decided to never see Krull. I’m afraid that if I ever do, I’ll immediately forget the imaginary version that’s lived in my head for the last 30 years. I wanna keep that warty fucker.
Critters 2! (1988)
As a franchise, Critters is fascinating. I’ve long found something Spielbergian about the original — and I don’t mean in the Gremlins way. There was just that weird undercurrent of dreamy normalcy, where people lived in a world that looked like ours, but probably had better air and more stars at night. Make sense?
Of course, it was still Critters — a movie about man-eating lizard monkeys from outer space. Even by the time Critters 2 rolled around, they’d shifted to a tone that more naturally befit a film series about alien fuzzballs who loved to eat flesh.
Critters 2 is okay, but it’s one of those movies that’s arguably served just as well in a series of contextless GIFs. (Which may explain why some who’ve never seen the film recognize that “Krite ball” from the box art. If you’ve spent any length of time rummaging through horror movie GIFs, there’s a good chance you’ve seen that.)
Yes, the creatures really did form into a giant ball, in the film’s most famous scene. Recreating it for the box art was smart, because who could look at that monstrosity and not need to see the live action version?
Boogeymen: The Killer Compilation! (2001)
Strong feelings about this one! A friend of mine picked up the DVD version back when DVDs were still in their relative novelty phase, and we used to watch the shit out of it. I boozed to this playlist so many times.
I was still kind of a horror rookie by that point, and Boogeymen was the perfect crash course. The compilation collected around twenty scenes from various films, and its producers always went for the goriest stuff.
Every top dog was represented, from Freddy to Jason to Leatherface to Michael Myers. Even in the YouTube era, I’d still call Boogeymen one of the best horror compilations out there. If your Halloween season needs background noise and you want that background noise to be brutal, pick up the DVD. It’s crazy cheap and super good.
Thanks for reading about dusty videotapes. You’ve made me feel better about buying them. If you’d like to read about 25 more, here are the previous installments of Vicious Videocassette Boxes: