Halloween Special: 11 Memorable VHS Covers

Back in those early days of VHS fever at the beginning of the ’80s, my parents would occasionally invite friends round to watch a scary movie. I remember tip-toeing out of my bedroom very late at night, creeping along the corridor and trying to snatch a peek at ‘Halloween II’ or ‘Straw Dogs’.

No, I wasn’t allowed to watch those kind of movies, though later was granted a bit of license with regards to ‘The Fog’, ‘Creepshow’, ‘The Island’ and ‘American Werewolf In London’ (for some reason).

But I could dream. The Video Masheen shop on Sheen Lane was a treasure trove of interesting VHS covers, a weird showroom advertising movies I’d never get to see. What kind of deranged mind could conceive of these images? The mind boggled. Some surely qualify as genuinely surreal pieces of art, though the #MeToo movement would probably put pay to a few more these days.

Of course I’ve seen many of these films now, though a few I still haven’t. And don’t really want to. But here are some VHS covers of the era that stuck in the mind. Straight from the shelf of Video Masheen. Happy Halloween…

11. ‘An American Werewolf In London’ (1981)

10. ‘Halloween II’ (1981)

9. ‘Creepshow’ (1982)

8. ‘The Island’ (1980)

7. ‘The Howling’ (1980)

6. ‘The Fog’ (1980)

5. ‘Southern Comfort’ (1981)

4. ‘The Exterminator’ (1980)

3. ‘Scanners’ (1980)

2. ‘Christine’ (1983)

1. ‘The Thing’ (1982)

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11 Great 1980s Movie Taglines

Movie taglines: you know the drill (actually the tagline for a dental-themed slasher pic whose name escapes me…). One, two or three sentences that sum up a film’s flavour or sometimes entire plot. To cineastes of a certain generation, a tagline can be as memorable as the movie itself. Some even become part of the modern lexicon.

But what makes a good tag? Perhaps it’s common words uncommonly used. Horror and sci-fi films seem to lend themselves to memorable tags. Is it because of their promise of the perverse, the uncanny, the unexpected, the taboo?

Quotable taglines are scarce these days. Perhaps the proliferation of films as ‘lists’ on Netflix, YouTube and Lovefilm has snuffed them out. Walk into your local multiplex and you’ll see some extremely lame offerings. But the 1980s threw up a fair few humdingers, prompted by a need for eye-catching posters and proliferation of horror movies. Here are some of the best:

11. ‘The Shining’ (1980): The tide of terror that swept America is HERE.

A spine-tingler whose possible meaning is explored in excellent recent documentary ‘Room 237’.

10. ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ (1986): One man’s struggle to take it easy.

Does the job perfectly in just seven words.

9. ‘Scarecrows’ (1988): When it comes to terror, they’re in a field of their own.

8. ‘The Fog’ (1980): Bolt your doors. Lock your windows. There’s something in the fog!

Does what it says on the tin, but terrified me looking at the video cover in my local rental shop circa 1983.

7. ‘The Burning’ (1981): Don’t look, he’ll see you. Don’t breathe, he’ll hear you. Don’t move…you’re dead.

Only really comes into its own when heard in the original cinematic trailer.

6. ‘The Fly’ (1986): Be afraid. Be very afraid.

What does it have to do with the movie? Not a lot, but has entered the lexicon with ease.

5. ‘Jaws: The Revenge’ (1987) This time it’s personal.

See above.

4. ‘Poltergeist’ (1982): They’re here.

Simple. Chilling. Timeless.

3. ‘The Prey’ (1984) : It’s not human and it’s got an axe!

Silly, tasteless and great.

2. ‘Maniac Cop’ (1988): You have the right to remain silent…forever.

See above.

1. ‘The Thing’ (1982): Man is the warmest place to hide.

Brilliantly evokes the movie’s underlying theme: what makes us human?