Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Great (Sort of) VHS Cover Art Swindle!

Not unlike a dog and squirrels or "challenged" people and shiny things, I am easily aroused entertained by VHS cover art.  In this new fangled, better version of photo-shop, digital world we live, it has truly become a lost medium.  From literal depictions of film titles to guys with guns in front of explosions to half naked women falling victim to something (come on, you should have known being thin with boobs was a poor adult decision), these masterpieces were the selling point of every straight to video turd.  If the stars weren't notable, the hackey video art was the only way to draw in a viewer.  Unfortunately, this leads to several instances of false advertising.  Picking movies by art alone is sort of a video store Russian roulette, except rather than shooting yourself in the face, you free up an hour and a half of your evening.  Both are equally awkward.  Viewer beware, here are some prime examples of the times I've been straight up bullshitted by VHS cover art.

Dream Maniac (1986)

I'm not sure why I was pulled in by this one...actually, I know.  There is a bald lady getting all stabby with a giant knife on the front!  Also, a warning of "too gory for the silver screen"!  Also, naked people! According to the back cover, the plot involves a heavy metal musician who sells his soul to a devil lady, I'm sorry, a "succubus" in exchange for getting girls.   Sounds awesome, right?  Book of lies!  In real life, the movie is about a boring dude who likes heavy metal that invites some friends over to his house for a party or something.  Oh wait, before they come over his boring guy boner brings forth a devil woman that he dreams about having sex with.  Then said average looking succubus in tight clothes goes around the party and starts killing people off.  Despite a blow job turning into a dick eating scene (which I saw coming, PUN!), the kills aren't that great.  Another missing plot point, the main character guy has a girlfriend so there goes the whole hooking up with chicks thing.  Also, you just can't wait for all these assholes at the party to be killed.  There is blood and there are boobs, but it's hardly worth it.  Dead giveaways this was to be avoided, the shitty tag line, the Elm Street rip-off tie-in and most obvious, note regarding "made-for-video feature film."  Like I said, the knife looked shiny!           

Mutant Hunt (1987)

In the future, man creates replicants mutants, mutants are inputted with microchips by one smart and or super mutant and turned into killers.  This is no bueno, so man must start an elite force of cops known as Blade Runners Mutant Hunters to retire murder all the free-thinking, advanced mutants.  Sounds vaguely familiar, plus, giant robot arm!  Let's rent it!  Though this movie starts out well enough...the special mutant hunter cop is at home with a lady and a bunch of cock blocking mutants drop in to kill him.  He shoots them and kicks them all dead (the action isn't as cool as I just made it sound) and then his lady gets shot.  Turns out, she was just a mutant prostitute so he doesn't really care.  This is followed by more wooden acting, bad shooting skills, long pauses and dark, un-futuristic sets all filmed in different corners of the same parking garage.  No robot arm and no real gore.  I turned it off after forty minutes though, so maybe it picks up near the middle.  If you notice any similarities to Dream Maniac, it's because they were produced by the same people.  These guys know how to bullshit a simple mind.  I mean look at the robot arm, it's SO big!  Pass this one if for some reason you come across it. 

Spookies (1986)

A young boy runs away from home because he thinks his family forgot his birthday.  He ends up at a creepy, seemingly abandoned old house surrounded by a graveyard that makes rustling noises more than it should.  A group of thirty year-olds teenagers are on a road trip and take a wrong turn.  They end up at a creepy, seemingly abandoned old house surrounded by a graveyard that makes rustling noises more than it should.  Are they all there to spend a night and win a bet?  No.  Is their host murdered and they suspect each other as they all drop one by one until the mystery is solved?  No.  Are Vincent Price or Tim Curry involved at all?  Possibly.  This movie was apparently an excuse to do a lot of puppet work and make-up jobs.  All that trouble and it turns out okay, I guess.  The blond on the cover does not show until the end and she is fully covered and some one's wife.  The movie itself is a lot of, what the fuck is going on?  According to the Internet, this film was originally shot as two separate films and then expertly edited together.  Some things explode, quips are made, girls get scared and ashy hands come out of the ground.  Meh.  Sitting through the "teenage" couple dialogue and the supposed plot as a filler every ten minutes between each possessed granny/cat creature starts to wear on your nerves, even if booze are involved. 

Robot Ninja (1989)

I probably don't have to explain this one.  Robot?  Check.  Ninja?  Check.  Comic book artist is given the powers of his creation by a scientist who wants to help him robot ninja kill a gang of local rapists?  Fucking check.  Anything like it promises to be whatsoever?  Uncheck!  Uncheck!  A shitty struggling comic artist witnesses a couple being killed and the girl half of them getting brutally molested in the parking lot of a bowling alley or video store or something.  He feels bad about this.  Possibly because he thinks rape and murder are gross.  Possibly because he did absolutely nothing at all to help.  Either way, a friend of his builds a Shredder/VR Trooper suit for him so he can get the jerks back with some sharp robot ninja revenge.  Turns out, though he inadvertently through a series of chain events gets at least one of them killed, he mostly gets his ass beaten, becomes addicted to pills and gets his scientist friend killed eventually.  Robot Ninja FAIL

Thunder Warrior (1983)

A young Italian Native American man returns home to his reservation to find the asshole white locals are building a mall on an ancient native burial ground.  Though the land is theirs (all of it) and the tribe has a treaty to prove it, the townsfolk are not letting up.  Our hero attempts to peacefully negotiate with a one man sit-in at the police station and instead is met with beatings and racial slurs.  The point of the movie is he exacts revenge on these deserving racist hillbillies.  The problem is, this revenge takes an hour to start happening.  I understand it was the same in First Blood (aka Rambo), but our Italian Stallion Thunder Warrior barely says a word throughout the whole fucking movie.  The story is mostly told through the eyes of the somewhat less racist white sheriff who is in fact, not Brian Dennehy!  Though some damage is eventually committed with a bow and arrow (obviously), it just takes WAY too painfully long to get there with no actual back story of the main character like, I don't know, a tour in Nam or something?  Somehow this movie managed to spawn several sequels with different Italian leads and different sweet covers.  Maybe I'll skip to the third one next time. 

Voyage of the Rock Aliens (1985)

This ambitious 80's sci-fi musical (yes, I said sci-fi) starred some actual familiar faces.  Craig Sheffer (Nightbreed) and that spunky petite pixie Pia Zadora (stuff).  Robot alien things land on Earth in search of "the rock and roll" and instead, find these assholes and their friends dancing on the beach.  This movie promises camp and instead delivers awkward boring dance sequences and some of the most painful fake alien dialogue you will ever sit through.  I'm not lying.  It hurts SO bad.  Also, Pia looks like she could be her boyfriend's mom.  If she was, at least they would actually have something to sing about.  Oh yeah and did I mention Jermaine Jackson as in Michael's older brother is in it?  When Jermaine Jackson saves your shitberg of a film, you've got some serious problems.  But Jesus, isn't Pia Zadora totally adorable?!?

Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (1983)

Originally released in 3-D, this sci-fi western epic doesn't translate as watchable in two dimensions.  I'm not even sure if it was cool when shit flying at the screen actually had a point.  After three separate attempts to sit through it, I've never gotten past the first twenty minutes.  I hear Bull from Night Court is in it, so it's got that going for it.  Understandably, booze are always involved when this thing goes in the ol' VCR/DVD combo, but even the black and white High Noon could keep my drunken attention.  Perhaps I'll revisit this review once I actually watch it. 

KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978)

This one got me less on cover art and more based on the story line.  KISS plays a concert at a theme park that unbeknownst to KISS is run by a diabolical mad man that plans on killing everyone with his faulty rides or possibly lasers!  KISS must stop this!  If fans die, who will pay for their Herpes medication?  They've got bills man!  What really happens is a couple of average teens hang out with friends and we follow them around, watching part of the KISS concert and stumbling upon the mad park owner's mad park laboratory.  It's like a dog-less, weed-less, jankies-less Scooby-Doo episode.  The part the KISS participates in, which involves the kicking of the mad park manager with their high heels is amusing, but the hour and a half before that happens is SO goddamn boring!  If you must rent this on camp factor or if, God help you, you're a KISS fan, then fast forward to the end.  You won't miss anything.

Dead Dudes in the House (1991)

Ah, the best for last.  This film was the most egregious of all offenders.  Why?  Because ABSOLUTELY NOTHING on the cover is in the movie.  Except maybe a house.  There is one of those.  So, if you think, as I did, that you're renting a campy flick about Color Me Badd going on a haunted, wacky vacation then you would be so wrong.  This piece of shit was brought to us by none other than hit and miss Troma Films. Not a single one of the "dudes" on the cover is in the movie.  It is actually a co-ed group of average twenty somethings who are definitely NOT in a band. Pretty much Troma picked up the distribution rights to a boring slasher/haunted house cliche and tried to re-roll the turd in a more agreeable turd cover in order to make money on it.  Well, I suppose it worked on some level because I, in fact, did waste my money on this simply due to the ironic 90's packaging.  I was so pissed when I watched this thing that I thought about writing some passive aggressive e-mail complaint to Troma about false advertising and how I wanted my five dollars (okay, more like three) back.  After I had a nap and ate some pudding though, I felt much better. 

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