This is where I get to wear my old man hat and make the claim that back in the 80's and 90's, studios were way more exciting when it came to grabbing your eyeballs at the video store--particularly when it came to their horror offerings. For the most part, they simply reused the key art from the theatrical releases, but in some cases, since they could simply put all of the credits on the back of the box, that gave them a little more real estate to show off the original image or do something new.
I wonder if the the different dimensions of the DVD and Blu-ray case has anything to do with the often terrible art we get now for movies--even classics with fantastic covers and posters from their theatrical releases use these bland, Photoshopped messes to convince us that yes, this movie has floating heads and will also be dark. The team behind today's theatrical release V/H/S seemed to recognize that with a series of intriguing or downright excellent alternate posters for the multi-filmmaker found footage horror anthology.
With that in mind, here are some great picks from the last 20 years of home video.
10. House II: The Second Story (1987)
The cover for the horror comedy sequel is essentially a lift of the art from the original. I tend to like this one a wee bit more with the addition of the key versus the finger pressing the doorbell for the first film.
9. Anguish (1987)
Nothing especially fancy here and that's kind of why the image works so well--Poltergeist actress Zelda Rubenstein staring out at us balefully from the cover is this psychotronic movie with movies within the movie about killers inspiring other killers.
8. Ghoulies (1985)
Ghoulies was a shameless Gremlins lift (although less shameless than Munchies), but it still had an impressive, darkly funny cover besides.
7. The Curse (1987)
Young Wil Wheaton versus Lovecraftian horror! This adaptation of The Colour Out of Space isn't great, but the cover is.
6. Underworld (1985, aka Transumtations)
Early Clive Barker on film, while I have no specific memories of the movie, I always loved the image in the art which seemed to blend sci-fi feature with creature horror.
5. Howling II: Your Sister Is A Werewolf (1985)
That cover lightly hints at the werewolf horror/spoof that the sequel ultimately turned out to be (key sbits: a sexy werewolf orgy, Christopher Lee rocking shades, a new wave theme song).
4. The Deadly Spawn (1983)
Another knockoff that still had a cover that grabbed you, this low-budget Aliens on Earth riff probably has more teeth on its cover than a Julia Roberts romcom.
3. The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
One of my all-time favorite pieces of horror art, second only to the pop-out theater standee that had the zombie at the bottom as a separate piece with the tombstone. The recent Blu-ray release from Fox/MGM is a great disc that replaces this punk rock zombie image with gross 50's style titles and a mess of green fog.
2. The Nest (1988)
Ah! Get it off!
1. Creepers (1985, aka Phenomena)
Finally, one of Jennifer Connelly's early roles was in this Dario Argento supernatural thriller which featured, a girl who could control insects and a deformed killer stalking the Austrian countryside.
You can catch V/H/S/ in theaters or rent it via iTunes now.