As a kid, I wasn’t allowed to watch horror movies. The only time I got to watch Jason or Freddy or Michael do their thing was on birthdays, usually a friend’s. But my mom loved movies and renting movies was a frequent occurrence on weekends. My mom would take my younger sister and I to the local video store (remember those?) and we’d look through the video tapes, eventually choosing something family-friendly.
But I would always spend half the time in the horror section, staring at those ghoulish covers and wondering what hid behind them. What stories could possibly go along with this image of a man, his face burned and fingers tipped with blades? What plot would justify that image of a hatchet-wielding Santa climbing into (or out of) a chimney?
Certain of these VHS covers, though, got my imagination revving especially hard. I remember standing before these particular images just dying to know what myths they helped build, what scares they hid, what stories they illustrated.
Evil Dead 2
It was those freakin’ eyeballs. It’s a skull, sure, nothing too shocking for a horror movie cover, but it’s still got goddamn eyeballs! And it’s staring right at me!
That skull is still alive. How is that possible? How is it still alive and staring at me?
Now, having seen Evil Dead 2 on multiple occasions, I know that there is no skull with eyes. So my youthful queries remain forever unanswered. But, hell, it’s a great movie and it remains a great cover.
Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives
I knew, even as a child, that Friday the 13th was a franchise, with a killer that came back for movie after movie. I may have even known his name was Jason, but I certainly knew he wore an old-fashioned goalie mask.
Out of all the Friday films, though, this is the one that grabbed and held my attention. There was something about those rays of light streaking from within the mask, something about that tombstone design. What I wanted to know, more than anything, was exactly who was Jason and how he came to be the unkillable killer he’d become. For some reason, I felt this image, this title, would offer answers to my questions.
Little did I know that Jason Lives is easily one of the worst entries in the series and answers no such questions. For that, I would have to wait for the execrable Jason Goes to Hell and its ridiculous mom-was-a-witch-and-Jason-was-possessed-or-some-bullshit explanation.
Overall, I’d say my favorite Friday is part 2, but it’s cover is kinda lame.
Slumber Party Massacre 2
Oh. Man. This one has it all. You’re a ten year old boy looking up at this thing, sitting there on a shelf, and you have got to be wondering how such an image could possibly exist, and how a story could be tied to it. I certainly did.
I mean, damn. Women in sexually provocative poses? Check. Mysterious killer in black leather and a greasy pompadour? Check. Drillitar? CHECK.
As a kid I figured his movie had to be all sorts of wrong. It had to be the last thing my parents would ever let me watch. God, I wanted to see it so bad . . .
Oddly enough, by the time I was old enough to decide what I would and wouldn’t watch, I’d completely forgotten the image and the movie behind it. I didn’t actually watch SPM 2 until, like, three years ago.
Was it worth the wait? Oh. Yes.
The best part about that image up there? The movie behind it is a dozen times weirder, wilder and crazier than you could ever expect or hope. The movie actually delivers on every single promise made by that batshit insane cover. Women in provocative poses? Check. Mysterious killer in black leather and a greasy pompadour? Check. Drillitar . . . ?
Awright. Spill it. If you’re old enough to have wandered the aisles of a video store and wondered at the covers crowding the horror section, which of those covers got your youthful imagination going?