Obscure and Outrageous Cover Art From the Golden Age of VHS

There’s just something about VHS that evokes nostalgic adoration in film nerds. Tapeheads often reminisce about trips to their local video store, where aisles upon aisles of ghoulish box art imprinted itself upon their imaginations.

In our culture of On Demand, it can feel satisfying to grip your mitts on a hefty clamshell and own a piece of physical media. Like crate-diggers, video junkies enjoy the hunt. Then, there’s the aesthetic appeal of the grainy texture that VHS offers and the pride enthusiasts take in rescuing a trash masterpiece from total obscurity — similar to how hip-hop fans helped keep vinyl relevant.

Whether you worship at the altar of home video companies like Wizard and Cannon, or you get your VHS fix thrift-store style, buying up unmarked home movies, there’s something heartening about this shared love of movies.

Inspired by Brooklyn’s Found Footage Festival, which kicks off tomorrow with a showcase of garage-sale vids and other obscure cassette finds, we’re honoring the heyday of VHS with a look back at some of the most outrageous VHS cover art. In addition to the deranged illustrations, we chose these movies based on their obscurity (note: some are now available on DVD), with an emphasis on genre cinema — because mainstream studios wouldn’t make a movie about Phyllis Diller and a demonic poodle. Go forth and explore these homegrown horror tapes and (unofficial) video nasties. Thanks to folks like VHSCollector.com and Critcononline.com for making their scans available.