3600 VHS Video Covers
April 18, 2009 10:38 PM   Subscribe

3600 VHS Video Covers Not sure what it all means. Pretty awesome, though. (I Netflix'd this one, though, and it's not nearly as good as it should be. One eye good, two eyes bad!)
posted by incomple (65 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's quite a bit of cognitive dissonance. Also, many of those probably originally retailed for obscene amounts of money, even adjusted for inflation.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:42 PM on April 18, 2009


Pre-emptive coral cache link. That site's going die the death of 3,600 30kb cuts.
posted by Decimask at 10:47 PM on April 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I guess I dig this because these covers remind me of my childhood, and all the time spent in rundown mom-and-pop video stores, perusing shelf after shelf of tapes of really not-that-old movies that were already forgotten by the early 90s. Windows lined with Christmas lights, a room of adult titles separated from the rest by saloon-style swinging doors. I'm sure it was the same in every town...

I remember my local store having a selection that contained a huge amount of shitty horror films and ninja movies; this site certainly seems to bear those memories out, what with its four rows of movies with titles that start with "Ninja."

And I was thinking the same thing, Decimask, especially once I went to the homepage and saw that it was just a quiet personal website. I've given Mr. James an unnecessary headache, and I feel bad about that.
posted by incomple at 10:53 PM on April 18, 2009 [9 favorites]


F*ck, this is brilliant. It's sole purpose is to illicit hardcore nostalgia, and I, at least, am one for whom films are the tightest time markers. So it works for me! Thanks!
posted by njbradburn at 11:14 PM on April 18, 2009


Wow. And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, the most depressing video store of all time.
posted by porn in the woods at 11:23 PM on April 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


Oh hell yes. It's like I'm nine years old and wandering through Square 1 Video on Hawthorne again, looking at the horror flicks while my dad tries to pick out something the entire family can sit through.
posted by cortex at 11:27 PM on April 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


As WC Fields used to say, godfrey daniel! That's a lotta of boxes there.

And they're... alphabetized!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:29 PM on April 18, 2009


I love that it has Beyond the Door, Beyond the Door 2, and Beyond The Doors.
posted by yellowbinder at 11:31 PM on April 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Speaks to the fallacy that "everything has been released on DVD."
posted by autodidact at 11:38 PM on April 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can anyone explain the prominence of hand-drawn VHS covers? I mean, photography did exist in the 70s and 80s, right?
posted by themadjuggler at 11:39 PM on April 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


This reminded me of a place I used to go as a kid, I think it was called the "video store"?
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 11:43 PM on April 18, 2009


So many kings and queens of cheese? That's good stuff. Michael Dudikoff, Jim Kelly, Jan Michael Vincent, Elvira. I wish I could live in that page.
posted by Flex1970 at 11:52 PM on April 18, 2009


aaaand.. it's down.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 11:52 PM on April 18, 2009


There's apparently a movie called Bambi Meets Godzilla.

I cannot overstate this.... I MUST SEE THIS MOVIE BEFORE I DIE.
posted by Effigy2000 at 11:54 PM on April 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is a great find. Thanks for sharing.
Bad Ronald and Bad Taste!
Billy Blanks and Roddy Piper!
Anything with Cindy Rothrock!

This is a great collection. It's like a visual card catalog of Friday nights when I was eight.
posted by now i'm piste at 11:58 PM on April 18, 2009


Effigy: It wont take long.
posted by now i'm piste at 12:00 AM on April 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can anyone explain the prominence of hand-drawn VHS covers? I mean, photography did exist in the 70s and 80s, right?

Well, "hand-drawn" images (although most of them are actually paintings) often look better than photographs, and/or enable the design to combine elements that might not be possible (or look so great) as photographs. The use of artist's renditions (paintings and occasionally drawings, I guess) for video packaging continues a long and venerable tradition of using such media for movie posters. I find it curious that you would assume photographs would necessarily make for better package design.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:09 AM on April 19, 2009


Best phallic symbol: Naked Sun.
posted by pracowity at 12:18 AM on April 19, 2009


"Effigy: It wont take long."
posted by now i'm piste at 6:00 PM on April 19

Bwahahaha! Excellent. Now my life is complete.
posted by Effigy2000 at 1:16 AM on April 19, 2009


That site is pure video godhead and should be approached with caution and respect. If I had continued scrolling down much longer, I would've been left a gibbering wide-eyed wreck on the floor -- like some villain who couldn't resist looking into the forbidden light at the end of the movie. That site is just dangerous, it's too much accumulated LSD crazyhead fuel.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:25 AM on April 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't Answer The Phone
Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark
Don't Drink The Water
Don't Go In The House
Don't Go In The Woods
Don't Go To Sleep
Don't Look Back
Don't Look In The Attic
Don't Look In The Basement
Don't Mess With My Sister!
Don't Open The Door
Don't Open 'Til Christmas
Don't Panic
posted by stinkycheese at 1:29 AM on April 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's sole purpose is to illicit hardcore nostalgia...


mmmm...illicit hardcore nostalgia *drooolll*



For a while, I made it part of my job to find weird messed up action and horror movies and rent them based mainly on their covers. I was living out a dream of my teen years; actually renting the movies with the most intriguingly trashy and lurid box art and copy, instead of just gazing, hypnotized with wonder at the sluglike creatures eating half the screaming woman's face.

Of course, I also made it part of my job to preview the movies before I unleashed them on the public, especially after getting bitched at for showing Nick Zedd's butt. Most of them SUCK. Not even in an entertaining way. They are BORING. I love drama, and value story and character development, but if I rent a movie and the painting on the box shows half naked mutant rabbits in clown masks carrying machine guns fighting an army of giant grasshoppers with laser beams shooting out of their eyes, I don't want to see an hour of some anonymous bimbo in high-waisted acid washed jeans looking worried as her beefy bemulleted beau scowls intensely.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:37 AM on April 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


Almost 2.5 years worth of movies, if it was your full time job to watch them back to back.
posted by Flex1970 at 1:42 AM on April 19, 2009


1984: WINTER OLYMPICS HIGHLIGHTS

"The horrible thing about watching the Winter Olympics was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in."

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a snow boot stamping on a human face -- forever."

"But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Curling."
posted by Rhaomi at 1:48 AM on April 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


There's apparently a movie called Bambi Meets Godzilla

I used to own that edition of weird cartoons. It was in a two dollar bin somewhere and my Mom bought it for me, because she is spectacular.

It also had Small Fry, and It's a Bird, Frogland, Betty Boop in Crazytown, and Cobweb Hotel.

IIRC, which I may not.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:00 AM on April 19, 2009



Almost 2.5 years worth of movies, if it was your full time job to watch them back to back.


It wasn't, thank God. It would have been like MST3K without any robot friends.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:03 AM on April 19, 2009


I used to run the local movie theater at my university in the early 80s and "Bambi vs godzilla" was in a one of the programs of short movies I rented. A friend had recommended it to me because it was awesome. If it was made today it would be just one of several millions of 1-joke animations lost in the Youtubular Ocean, but at the time something like this had some mysterious, quasi-legendary status, just like "In the realm of the senses", which I could never rent because there were very few prints and a long waiting list.
posted by elgilito at 3:00 AM on April 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bambi vs Godzilla was also the title of David Mamet's recent collection of essays about Art and Hollywood. (Guess which one was Bambi and which one was Godzilla...)
posted by Ian A.T. at 3:38 AM on April 19, 2009


I guess I dig this because these covers remind me of my childhood, and all the time spent in rundown mom-and-pop video stores, perusing shelf after shelf of tapes of really not-that-old movies that were already forgotten by the early 90s. Windows lined with Christmas lights, a room of adult titles separated from the rest by saloon-style swinging doors. I'm sure it was the same in every town...

Absolutely. Tiny fire-hazard video stores, lined wall to wall with endless treasure, the most sacred relics of schlock culture. Splatter, exploitation, Z-grade sci-fi, badly dubbed chop-socky, imported Italian giallo, Japanese anime (including anime porn, which wasn't in the porn section - Urotsukidoji right next to Urusei Yatsura) when that was still a niche thing, it was all there to sort through and take home one or two at a time, rented to you by the disinterested film school student who would let you rent tapes with a big "MUST BE 18" sticker even though you were 13. True, now I can just download all that kind of stuff and even more from the Internet, but it will never compare to the mom n' pop video store experience. If you weren't alive and a movie nerd between the mid 80s and the mid 90s, you will never understand, but this site will show you a tiny piece of the experience. This is awesome.

Oh, and fuck Blockbuster. Just throwing that in, as any discussion of mom n' pop video stores is incomplete without it. You would never see these kinds of tapes in a Blockbuster, they only rented the $90 tapes of major releases from the big studios. The kind of tapes you see on this site were solely the province of the mom n' pop stores, because they cost more like $20 apiece.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:19 AM on April 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


stinkycheese, this is neither the time nor the place to be posting your dave matthews setlists.
posted by mannequito at 4:40 AM on April 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Actually, now that I think about it, in the early days of Blockbuster you actually could find some of this sort of stuff in the horror and sci-fi sections, but they quickly disappeared after its early years.

Also, another thing about VHS covers is they sometimes had gimmicks. The one that immediately jumps to mind is Frankenhooker, a grade-Z horror/comedy. The cover had a raised plastic relief of the titular hooker, with a little button you could press which would activate an electronic recording of her saying "WANNA DAAAAATE?". I can remember several times when me and my friends would press it over and over, filling the air with an endless super-compressed chorus of "WANNA DAAAAATE?" until we were sternly asked to cut it out. I don't remember if I ever even rented the movie, if I did it obviously wasn't that memorable.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:48 AM on April 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is like Web 0.0
posted by srboisvert at 5:04 AM on April 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


The memories come flooding back of what seemed like hours spent in the '3 for a £1' back room when all the copies of the latest Arnie or anything decent had a rubber band round them and were therefore rented, trying desperately to find anything that seemed even remotely watchable and you'd not seen before - Inseminoid, Xtro hmm not quite that desperate yet - for that last one of the three, to be told when you got to the counter that 'can't find that one'... so back you went to carry on the hunt.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:10 AM on April 19, 2009


This is like Web 0.0

Which is exactly what I (and by the looks of it, others here) find so endearing about it! It is to current web design what VHS is to DVD.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:23 AM on April 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


@Effigy2000: I think back in the 80s, HBO used to show "Bambi v. Godzilla" as filler between movies. Anyway, here it is. (Now you can rest in peace.)
posted by about_time at 6:12 AM on April 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Amazing. I feel like I'm walking in the Star Movies back home.
posted by deezil at 6:18 AM on April 19, 2009


Shangri La Video was where we'd go when we were kids in the mid 80's. The lady that worked there would only let us rent "Zombie 2" (with the eye gouging and the shark!) after calling my friend's mom to make sure we were allowed to watch it.
posted by orme at 6:19 AM on April 19, 2009


Ehsqueeze me?
posted by billysumday at 6:39 AM on April 19, 2009


billysumday, it's pretty straight-forward

IMDB's synopsis of Big Meat Eater:
"After killing the crooked mayor a homicidal janitor named Abdullah goes to work for a butcher who has invented a new language for the town's planned futuristic theme park. In the butcher shop is a septic tank where scraps of meat are dumped which has produced "balonium" a radioactive fuel source sought after by space aliens. The aliens revive the mayor, who's body is hanging in the meat locker of the butcher shop, in an attempt to gain access to the balonium."

See, straight-forward, right?
posted by mannequito at 6:55 AM on April 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Ditto on everyone's memories of seeing these at the video store.

Hell, I even saw some of these at the theater. There was a theater down at John R and 8 Mile that really didn't care how old you were.

Some guys I knew made this movie and my best friend was in it.
posted by marxchivist at 7:10 AM on April 19, 2009


My town had a great dollar theater/arcade/drive-in emporium that would show many of these horror movies before the straight-to-video practice became standard. We went there weekly - it was perfect for the 1980s teenager who had no money and just wanted the experience of going to the movies, never mind what was on the screen. As long as we had somewhere to go, some popcorn, maybe a smuggled bottle of cheap booze, and some disemboweling, we were able to be slightly less bored than we would be under normal circumstances. Eventually, we started hanging out in someone's basement and watching crap movies on VHS like normal people, but it was a poor substitute for the Fort in all its carnivalesque glory.

I guess that is my generation's version of the nickle Newsreel, Cartoon, Saturday morning serial combo that my grandparents reminisced about. Just with Boone's Farm and gratuitous nudity.
posted by bibliowench at 7:18 AM on April 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Aw, so I have to be the douche who points out that it's not really 3,600 because of all the doubles? Man, I hate when that happens. Anyhow, my mom worked in or managed a couple different video stores during my childhood, and I recognize a lot of these covers - too much sex and violence to have ever seen much of the movies, but the covers sure stand out. It's amazing how much crap there was - so much better than today. Between crappy video stores, Night Flight, and Up All Night, I saw more awesome before I finished college than I have in the 15 years since.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:37 AM on April 19, 2009


A PDF file of that page weights in at 338MB.
Daaaaaaaammmmmmmnnnnnnnn.
posted by porn in the woods at 7:57 AM on April 19, 2009


As another film lover who found his second childhood home at the local video store, endlessly perusing each aisle, doing his part to wear desire paths in the beat up, purple office carpet, comparing finds with his equally ecstatic sister, wondering what was up with those weird Japanese animated sex movies, peering over the adult section's dividing wall at the top of a poster—its laser background giving way to the big hair of some porn star—being left to imagine the rest before someone caught me looking, pissing off my mom because I couldn't just pick a movie already, wondering if I had to be initiated to rent something in the cult section; drawn in by the exploitative titles, reading the back of those alluring boxes, knowing mom wouldn't let me rent them, reading them again, getting upset when something was only available on Beta (ooooh, look, these tapes are different!), always checking out the staff picks and dreaming of working in that place and hanging out with those lovable losers—we'd talk about movies all day, every day—then damning child-labor laws, checking out the promotional posters they were giving away for free, always knowing that the good ones were always already gone, but mostly just being happy that the non-new-releases were at this short kid's eye level, I really appreciate this nostalgia factory in all of its hand-painted, kitschy, embarrassing glory.

Thank you.
posted by defenestration at 8:16 AM on April 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh man, this movie's cover dissuaded me from ever again browsing the VHS rentals at the Bumper-To-Bumper. Brrr.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:45 AM on April 19, 2009


I remember so many of these because I'd look at them every weekend and be pissed that all of the good movies were already out. I was hoping to stumble upon a video box that made me laugh every time I saw it (but still not enough to actually rent it) - it was a gold comedy whose name I have long forgotten that had the tagline "the Caddyshack of golf movies".
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:22 AM on April 19, 2009


actually, it was a "GOLF comedy"....
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:29 AM on April 19, 2009


There's apparently a movie called Bambi Meets Godzilla.

I cannot overstate this.... I MUST SEE THIS MOVIE BEFORE I DIE.


It's hilarious. You can find it on Video Google here.
posted by jonp72 at 10:33 AM on April 19, 2009


Ahh yes. Add these fine titles to your "video library" collection.
posted by pianomover at 10:34 AM on April 19, 2009


"the Caddyshack of golf movies"

That's 100% awesome right there.

Reminds me of the old joke:
What's the best golf movie ever? Caddyshack
What's the worst golf movie ever? Caddyshack II

posted by porn in the woods at 10:38 AM on April 19, 2009


This reminds me of grade 8 through high school. One of our friends had a VCR and a few times a week after school we'd go to rent a video. Early on their were only a couple of places that rented and the videos themselves were treated like bars of gold. You'd open up this big three ring binder with synopsis' of the movies and the front cover photo. We'd always go for the most garish or titillating covers. I no longer have the ability to sit through the horrible movies my 14 year old self could. The refinement was a pretty slow process because I couldn't even sit through many of the movies I enjoyed by the time I was in University (Rutger Hauer or Steven Segal were always a good choice then).

I remember the first time the boxes were actually put on the wall (empty of course). I don't think it was until the larger chains came in that the niceties of sorting by genre and alphabetical order happened. The mom and pops were chewed up and spit out by the local chains who had done to them by regional chains and finally BlockBuster finished everybody off except for a few stalwarts.

Of course BlockBuster is being killed off by NetFlix.
posted by substrate at 10:55 AM on April 19, 2009


I can't stop looking at these. So many classics.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 11:23 AM on April 19, 2009


Footage from Big Meat Eater. The director went to my school. It was made on the cheap, of course, and made a pretty penny selling to the Canadian pay channels when they were in their infancy.

I remember the trailer playing over and over again. It had a terrific voice over: BIG MEAT EATER! and then footage that made no sense and then BIG MEAT EATER! etc.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 11:50 AM on April 19, 2009


This is a goldmine. The nostalgia for me isn't just that there were piles of one-off, hack, low-budget productions out there, it's that my own needs were once minimal enough that I lived comfortably on the hourly wage I earned trying to rent them out, and that free access to them seemed like a bonus. It makes me appreciate how much on-demand access to just about everything has changed me.

There's honesty behind the presentation here, too - the presence of duplicate alternate covers suggests that Mr. James refrained from judging - he didn't cherrypick the best or the worst.

Oh, and mannequito: It's not as straightforward as IMDB led you to believe. Big Meat Eater is also a musical.
posted by Graygorey at 12:13 PM on April 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is awesome nostalgia.
posted by biscotti at 4:25 PM on April 19, 2009


If you see only one of these movies make it this one. Me and my friends (like most other '80s teens) rented so many bad horror movies that they tend to bur together but "BSF" is standout. I actually tracked this down on the intertubes years back and acquired a copy of my very own. From an Amazon review:

"...one of the all time greatest sexploitation shockers ever released. This movie has everything the connoisseur of fine filth could possibly ask for! There's plenty of naked girls, bloody gore, sadistic violence, over-the-top acting, cheesy dialogue, and even a midget."
posted by MikeMc at 8:24 PM on April 19, 2009


Blockbuster (well, some of them, at least) used to have a "Wild Action" section which included a lot of cheap, trashy tits-n-violence flicks. Not that this redeemed Blockbuster, mind you, but when they took that section out they also took out the only reason my friends and I would go there.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:41 PM on April 19, 2009


If you see only one of these movies make it this one.

Bloodsucking Freaks? Hell no.

I mean, look. I'm the guy that had waited and waited to FINALLY see Chopping Mall, only to discover to his horror that it was just a rerelease of Killbots (which I'd seen a zillion times). I'm the guy that goes back through Scanners to evaluate the head explosion frame by frame (it is beautiful and grand, especially the frame where the face has separated from the "skull" and blown up like a balloon but hasn't burst yet). Horror schlock from the late 70s and 80s is near and dear to my heart.

And Bloodsucking Freaks is just mean-spirited, creepy awfulness, the very antithesis of fun.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:15 PM on April 19, 2009


I was thrilled to see The Boneyard included in this list. A true classic (though my video store's copy featured different box art); I wish I'd been involved in the creation of that film.

Imagine being on the team turning Phyllis Diller and a poodle into animatronic zombies - it would've been instant qualification to work with Peter Jackson!
posted by Graygorey at 11:31 PM on April 19, 2009


Ahhh, Nine Deaths of the Ninja. This one will stay with me for ever. Although I was sure that it was called 'Nine Lives of the Ninja' when I saw it originally.

Notable for, among other things, a cameo by Indian Tennis star Vijay Armitraj and Blackie Dammet (father of Anthony Kiedis IIRC) as 'the baddie' - IIRC he was a gay, wheelchair-bound Nazi. I also believe there was a random sequence involving ninja midgets
posted by JustAsItSounds at 12:21 AM on April 20, 2009


OMG
posted by louche mustachio at 3:09 AM on April 20, 2009


^ wait, ignore that.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:11 AM on April 20, 2009


The cover had a raised plastic relief of the titular hooker, with a little button you could press which would activate an electronic recording of her saying "WANNA DAAAAATE?". I can remember several times when me and my friends would press it over and over, filling the air with an endless super-compressed chorus of "WANNA DAAAAATE?" until we were sternly asked to cut it out. I don't remember if I ever even rented the movie, if I did it obviously wasn't that memorable.

We used to do this in Woolworths with bouncing Tigger toys, but delaying it by a second so that there'd be a stereophonic effect.

I'm sure my friend has half these movies. He introduced me to Attack Of The Killer Shrew. It reminds me of the market stall where we had to go to buy videos in between Our Price closing and HMV opening. Now not even charity shops are taking videos. Sigh.
posted by mippy at 6:48 AM on April 20, 2009


Damn, now it doesn't load.
posted by mippy at 6:51 AM on April 20, 2009


The one that immediately jumps to mind is Frankenhooker, a grade-Z horror/comedy ... I don't remember if I ever even rented the movie, if I did it obviously wasn't that memorable.

Frankenhooker is AWESOME, from the same dudes that brought us Basket Case.

It has super-crack. Smoke it, and you asplode.

Also, Our Hero sticks drills into his head to give himself creative ideas.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:34 AM on April 20, 2009


« Older The Austrian school of economics try to explain wh...  |  The new monetary standard: Cop... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments