Author: Jacques Boyreau
Dimensions: 5.5″ x 9.25″
Let’s face it; most DVD cover art sucks. The movies put out today on digital format lack artistic merit of any kind and are usually just a picture of the actors in a ridiculous pose or some shitty Photoshop job with no soul at all. One saving grace of the DVD cover problem is the re-issuing of films on DVD of movies that originally were only on VHS tape. If you are lucky in that case, they will use the original video cassette art or in some cases, the poster art. Sometimes they are one and the same. In the past few years genre fans have begun appreciating the lost art of the video cover and a couple of books like SHOCK! HORROR! Astounding Artwork from the Video Nasty Era have come out collecting the VHS sleeves and boxes. Now Fantagraphics Books has released their very own home video art vault.
Item description from publisher:
Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box is a feast for exploitation cognoscenti, reprinting some of the most louche, decadent, minimo-pervo artwork to ever grace a VHS box, featuring such movies as From Beyond, Penitentiary II, Beast of the Yellow Night, Cop Killers, Bay of Blood, Escape from Death Row, and Cocaine Wars. Readers will be agog at the plethora of super-trash movie titles, and then move on to rediscover the anarchic box designs. Throughout, editor and cultural historian Jacques Boyreau succinctly narrates the household-piercing story of VHS: “On par with the jukebox, disco, and neon, VHS reformatted the world’s product-intake and boosted a libertarian aesthetic that conquered TV in the same way TV conquered comic books in the 1950s, and allowed us to hold movies in our hands. Posters in the lobby could advertise, even fetishize a movie; credit sequences could identify the participants, but somehow, VHS box-art ‘became’ the iconic equivalent of the movie.”
The first thing I noticed when I first read about this online is the striking dust cover/slip case. The packaging – as you can see from the pictures below – is of an old (and apparently bloody) VHS tape. This idea is brilliant and the actual product is no less magnificent. The quality that Fantagraphics put into the is top-notch. The card and paper stock could not be more perfect. The high resolution pictures and scans of each of the films are almost like you are holding the original. The only odd thing I found is some of the movies included made me scratch my head; Barbie and the Rockers: Out of This World? Bowhunting Whitetails Just For Fun? Greatest Sports Legends: Johnny Bench? Odd to see those and a few more in there but that doesn’t detract from the awesomeness of this book. This is a “must-have” for genre fans, collectors and art lovers alike. And don’t skip over the wonderful opening by Jacques himself.
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