A long time ago (not in a Galaxy far, far away) I wrote some articles (which can be seen here and here) on the increase of DVD art that is incorporating the styles of 80s movies and film advertising. Basically these artists are bringing back to the public eye, the use of painted and drawn front covers. This is something Hollywood had (for the most part) ditched due to it costing more than the easier (but god awful looking) Photoshop covers we see today. This time around I am looking at a random selection of DVDs, which although all from different companies and artists, all share this passion for art based covers.
The VHS community, since the introduction of the Internet has exploded and branched out from small groups into forums that can reach people all over the world. There are numerous websites and social networking sites (like the fantastic VHS Misfits and Horror VHS Collectors Unite pages which are the go to places for VHS fans) which have become a place for buyers of VHS to swap stories and tapes. The relationship between collector and tape has inspired certain filmmakers to create documentaries showing the world what it is like to collect VHS. Taking the inspiration from their collections, these DVD releases have covers any VHS collector would be proud of. Rewind This by Josh Johnson has the more neon, spray paint style cover design you would expect to see on a more expensive VHS release, while Adjust Your Tracking by Dan Kinem on the other hand has the style of a SOV (Shot on Video) movie. Both are fantastic. The Drafthouse releases of Trailer Wars and Miami Connection both share a similar and just as incredible cover design.
Keeping on the topic of VHS we move to two DVDs which cover a dark time for UK film viewers. The Video Nasties era. For anyone not in the loop here is a brief rundown of the events. During videos hey days in the 80s self-regulation was not really an issue, and as such anything could go on VHS without going through the BBFC (the UK film certification group), because the BBFC only applied to film, not home video. This did not last long and the newspapers as well as certain moral crusaders like Mary Whitehouse took it on themselves to clean up any video release they deemed to filthy for human consumption. There were a lot, people were jailed and videos banned for good. Now it is not so bad, but the films on that banned list are obviously a collector’s dream purchase. Two documentaries Video Nasties – The Definitive Guide Volume 1 and 2 (by Nucleus Films) have been released covering this very event and the in your face artwork shows us a little bit of what the artwork was like at the time. Film historians would be well advised to check these out.
The following DVDs below are a collection of some solo released movies which all have incredible 70s and 80s related covers. Though they all cover different topics they all have a great visual style to them that draws you to the movie straight away. Some releases come from established schlock creators like Troma (Fathers Day and Return to Nuke Em High) and Camp Pictures (The Basement), well established Indi companies like Sub Rosa (Feeder), while others are entirely self-funded SOV affairs like Johnny Dickies Slaughter Tales. They all share a sense of fun about them; there is something kind of cool and exciting about seeing this kind of cover art available to buy again and the fact people are just going out there and not taking the easy approach, and doing their own thing.
This is all just scratching the surface really. There are tons of DVD covers just like these all over the internet, and though a lt of them love to embrace violence and gore they are not all like that. Finally to finish things off on a lighter note there is this great retro 80s DVD cover by Vince Evans showing one of the cheesiest films out there Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Enjoy this and hopefully in the future you will be able to enjoy even more artwork on DVD sleeves. Once the big movie producers see that there is still a market for this kind of design, they will hopefully incorporate this style back into the mainstream.