In the prime days of video rental stores, films could live or die by their cover box art. Particularly movies that were direct-to-video, with more limited means of promotion. Cue the eye-catching cover box to entice viewers. Sometimes this meant passing up great movies when perusing the rental shelves, because the cover box art wasn’t that impressive (I’m looking at you, weird monster poodle on the cover of The Boneyard). Other times, though, distributors went the extra mile to get attention. From 3D lenticular art, light up boxes, unique shaped boxes, and even covers that bled, it the gimmicks were guaranteed to pique curiosity. Often, though, the gimmicks were a trap and the film within would usually lead to disappointment. Here are 5 horror movies where the VHS cover box art turned out to be way cooler than the movie itself:
A really gnarly looking monster on the cover of a horror movie was a quick way to entice viewers. Throw in a raised 3D texture and you’ve set yourself apart from the rest. Such was the case with Breeders, a late ‘90s release that is nowhere as fun as the cover would lead you to believe. The movie does live up to its name; an alien lands on Earth with the aim of destroying humanity and procreating with college girls. It’s campy bad and not in a good way.
King Kong (Colorized Edition)
Let’s get one thing straight; 1933’s King Kong is a great movie and a classic for a reason. So, the 60th anniversary release in the ‘80s with a large VHS cover box that roared when you pressed King Kong’s chest sounds like a really cool collector’s item right? Except, it included the controversial colorized version of the film. It makes sense, you have to sell the colorized version that no one wants somehow, right?
Raise your hand if you ever rented this movie based on the cool 3D cover box that featured a light-up function on the character’s eyes and sound effects? If only the movie itself was as exciting as the packaging. Borrowing heavily from David Cronenberg’s The Fly, this George Eastman (Anthropophagus) film follows a geneticist working to stop aging and decides to test his serum on himself when his university threatens to pull funding. True to the film’s title, the serum sets off a transformation from human into monster. It just takes forever to get to the actual metamorphosis and is heavy on the dialogue.
The lenticular 3D art on this cover box features a demon smashing through a window. The actual film, however, is more low key and pretty much a rip off of The Evil Dead. It also never quite lives up to the monster promised on the cover. Following a group of friends that accompanies Cory to his family farm so he can investigate the death of his grandparents, they’re quickly inundated with possessed demons and not much in the way of plot of explanation. It’s cheesy fun, but the tagline “it’ll blow you away,” doesn’t quite live up to its promise.
This VHS cover art featured creatures from the film and a clear plastic sleeve that housed red fluid to emulate blood. It was a cool enough cover and gimmick, but it was even more unique in that Bleeders was a direct-to-video release in 1997, long after the VHS craze had died down and DVD was on the rise. The film itself couldn’t manage to live up to the cover, though, despite being based on H.P. Lovecraft’s The Lurking Fear. The plot even sounds entertaining, in which a man travels with his wife to a remote island in search of long lost relatives, only to discover a clan of incestuous flesh-eating creatures and his bizarre ancestral ties. It’s a strange enough plot to make any low budget film interesting, right? Sadly, no. Bleeders is far slower paced and more tedious than the plot implies.