The Marketing Strategy Behind Horror VHS Covers’ Grotesque Art

By  · Published on November 6th, 2017

Remember when picking the movie was often more fun than watching it?

Searching your local video store used to be one of the highest pleasures a young cinephile could have, even if it was just a Blockbuster. The grabbing imagery of each VHS cover led to more regrettable viewing experiences than gems, but the imagined movies they inspired in our minds were worth the cost.

Adam Tinius undertakes the task of figuring out why the art was so badass and uses advertising philosophy as his instrument of measure. The 1980s saw a saturation of the video market, which meant that standing out was even more important than usual. Horror movies were uniquely equipped to do just that.

Focusing on image, clarity, and exploitational shock value was an easy way to lure eyes and prospective renters during one of the most overstocked times in cinema history. This is one of the more fascinating videos I’ve seen lately, and its choice of topic is just near enough to my heart to warrant an intensive deep dive. I hope you feel the same way.

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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).