HERE are some particularly interesting examples of VHS box art in the action genre. And by “interesting” I mean “utterly insane”. These covers represent the perfect synergy of over-the-roof subject matter in the hands of unskilled mental patients. The words “quality control” and “subtlety” simply weren’t a part of the vocabulary of VHS cover artists…. And that’s why we love them so.
Raw Force (1982)
Aside from the three apostrophes that have no business being there, this VHS cover is about as good as it gets. You simply can’t top Kung Fu Zombie Cannibals….. okay, maybe if they had lightsabers
Kill Squad (1982)
I’m going to hazard a guess that this was the first time this artist handled a paint brush. I’m also going to hazard a guess that the artist was under the age of 12 and liked to work in dim lighting.
It’s got all the elements of a successful action flick: gunplay, car chase, kung fu, cleavage and Cameron Mitchell. Unfortunately, it’s implemented in the poorest way possible. Yet, its awfulness is its own best friend, because when something is this bad, it starts to become endearing.
The Black Gestapo (1975)
If the job of a VHS cover is to lure me to rent, this one had me at “hello”….. well, actually it had me at “whatup honkey?” Half nekkid ladies, black power takedowns, and, best of all, a bullwhip wielding badass – who could ask for more? I know, a movie is rarely as good as its VHS cover, but this one exhibits great promise.
The Microchip Killer (1989)
Apparently in the 80s you could cause worldwide destruction by holding down the Alt key.
By the way, nothing irks me more than a lazy font – would it have killed them to spice up the typeface? Crummy artwork can be forgiven by sprinkling a little pixie dust on the lettering. At least they didn’t use Comic Sans – or worse, Papyrus (I’m talkin’ to you, James Cameron).
Guerilla Strike Force (1970)
An old movie is given new life with sweaty, throbbing manliness on the VHS box. The key to creating this kind of awesomeness is by mixing your acrylic paint with purified bull testosterone and the blood of Chuck Norris – it’s simply the only way.
Mr. No Legs (1979)
What was it about the Seventies that so many films were paddling upstream on Crazy Creek? Incomprehensibly, a film about a wheelchair bound vigilante waging war on the mob somehow could blend in with the rest of the cinematic insanity during this time.
Macho Man (1985)
This German made flick contains lots of breakdancing and karate (sadly, not at the same time) on a budget that wouldn’t fill your tank up with gas. Yet, the cover declares itself awesome beyond human understanding. Best not to question, and just pay for the rental.
Double Target (1987)
For whatever reason, they chose to depict Miles O’Keeffe with feminine facial features. No matter. There are still plenty of firearms and mass casualties to compensate for any hints of femininity.
This gender confused Rambo will lay waste to a small town in Middle America, turning it into a blazing inferno of hot ash and dead truckers….. all while maintaining perfect hair.
Vengeance Squad (1987)
There’s an interesting story about how this film came to be. Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider took several kilograms of the wimpiest movies ever made (On Golden Pond, Yentl, Driving Mrs. Daisy, etc.) and converted them collectively into their anti-matter form. When the Swiss physicists opened the container, this VHS tape was inside. Science is amazing.
Equalizer 2000 (1987)
For this last entry, I prefer not to say anything. Instead, let’s just pause for a moment of silence, giving thanks for this wonderful cover.