England… The year is 1985… This is VHS

For fans of movie posters, the late 1970s and ’80s stand out as a golden-age in mainstream movie art. Films such as E.T., Back to the Future and the Star Trek series all benefited from the iconic imagery created by illustrators such as Drew Struzan, John Alvin and Bob Peak. In a new book from Thomas ‘The Dude Designs’ Hodge titled VHS Video Cover Art, he takes us on tour of the seedy, extreme underworld of home video packaging.

Aptly described by Hodge as a kind of wild west, the work ranges from bottom of the barrel shitty to the sublime in the turn of the page. Cougar Video are charged with repeat offences to my eyes – a company who’s sole marketing strategy appears to be one of convincing the soon to be disappointed viewer that their latest release is the new Stallone movie. These guys were obviously too busy to worry about intellectual property and copyright laws. Moving on to the good stuff and we have the world-class work from Enzo Sciotti (Neon Maniacs) and Renato Casaro (Savage Streets) – two artists whom i’d love to see featured in their own dedicated books. 

It’s 260 some-odd pages offer an entertaining ride, covering action, adventure, fantasy and those typically ‘80s sex comedies, representing a shopping list for some and trip down memory lane for others. I can only imagine what the download generation makes of this stuff! The Dude has delivered a thorough look at the UK VHS home video market, skipping some of the obvious horror titles while retaining some definitive art from Graham Humphrey’s (Return of the Living Dead, Evil Dead and The Nightmare on Elm St) and sticking to the coolest, baddest and most badass artwork. All the video covers are shown front and back, and taken from quality scans of the original box art – creases, stains, stickers and all. Text is kept to a minimum with only a short introduction from Hodge and a foreword from Mondo CEO, Justin Ishmael.

For those (like me) who remember fondly the Friday night trips to the local video shop, browsing the racks of big box tapes and strangely enjoying that old cigarette smell that they always had, this is book is a gem – one that saves us the trouble, time and money of having to build up collections all over again, or even having to watch some of these turkeys. Highly recommended.

VHS Video Cover Art by Thomas Hodge
Schiffer Publishing Ltd
Hardback 264 pages
23.1 x 30 x 2.5 cm