Friday, January 22, 2010

Ten Trashy Action-Adventure VHS Boxes

There is a streamlined and spare beauty to the Action-Adventure VHS box art of the late 1980s and early 1990s that just gets me

Is it the cheesy explosions in the background? The cheap backgrounds? The big hair? Lorenzo Lamas? I don't know. But this box art had an aesthetic that was all its own. Like the mainstream comic book cover operates to this very day, these images had to immediately grab the viewer in a very crowded playing field and promise adventure, thrills, and sometimes a bit of titillation as well. My only advice, should you actually choose to look some of these films up (and I would imagine a number of them aren't yet available on DVD), is to definitely check out "Tiger Claws" starring Bolo Yeung and 1990s female martial arts sensation Cynthia Rothrock. The Roddy Piper/Billy Blanks team-ups are also quite choice.

/worked at a video rental shop for a couple of years, so some of my affinity for this stuff is probably the result of Stockholm Syndrome.
//would love to write a comic book that featured this aesthetic. I mean, play it totally straight, not being ironically hip, or anything. Just the four-color equivalent of a Wings Hauser movie.
///the "Provoked" box is my personal favorite of this set, as it's the most low-budget & flat. Also, those guns are huge.

box art found here and here


  1. Also important to note is that there was a whole era of VHS boxes before the 1990s that featured cheesy painted art instead of cheesy photos. I guess the photos were cheaper to make. I mean: they look cheaper.

  2. I'd rather watch any of the movies depicted here than a lot of movies that show up in theatres now.

    Does it make me weird that I'd rather laugh, eat, and drink with a bunch of friends in my living room while watching American Ninja 2: The Confrontation than spend $8-$12 for a ticket to see Transformers 2 and be disappointed and angry at the waste of cash and time? The former is cheaper, more entertaining, funnier,less full of itself, and slightly less stupid.

  3. I agree: I'd rather watch any of the movies listed here rather than see Transformers 2 on the big screen.

  4. Provoked looks like it should be subtitled "When Accountants Attack"

  5. "Provoked looks like it should be subtitled "When Accountants Attack""

    yeah, that's what I totally thought when I saw that box. Like they shot the photo in an office cubicle.

  6. Pro tip: Netflix on-demand streaming & Hulu both have a wealth of cheesy films from this era; you just have to really dig to find them in their listings.

  7. Sam "Flash Gordon" Jones
    Linda Blair
    "Boom Boom" from Welcome Back Kotter.

    I wish some of these had turned up when I was going to the set up Blockbuster had near my work. Back when they would buy out Mom & Pop video stores or smaller chains, they would use one of those locations to act as a regional clearing house. All the inventory from the stores would get sent to this one storefront and they would go through the tapes. Whatever the company had plenty of or felt wasn't in ood enough shape to go on display at a Blockbuster (sunfaded boxes, oversized boxes chopped down to go in a plastic case, etc.) they would sell for .99 each. Grabbed a lot of old WWF tapes and z-level 80s teen comedies while it was open.

  8. I remember those Blockbuster VHS liquidation sales fondly. You could get a lot of obscure VHS for 1 or 2 dollars.

  9. And it's all really ironic, because in the beginning of VHS so many of the tapes offered were like 60-99 dollars to buy new. I remember working at the rental store and charging somebody 90 bucks for a lost tape; because that was the list price.

  10. stevapalooza6:45 PM

    The worst ones were the covers that depicted people or situations that weren't even in the damn movie.

    Misleading titles were a big annoyance too. I remember renting a horror movie called "Barn of the Naked Dead" and was very annoyed to discover that it was only 5% dead, 0% naked, and 95% barn.


    So their team-up is basically redundant?


    Did the majority of the movies in this genre (cheese?) end every sentence with an exclamation mark? (!!!)

    I love the some of the companies names:

    P.M. Entertainment group

    in accordance with
    Panache Productions



  12. It's amazing how the less sense the cover copy makes, the trashier the concept of the film is.

  13. Remember BB used to have a section called "Drive-in Movies" that was entirely cheese--including classic B-movie cheese, like Aztec Mummy vs. the Rock N Roll Wrestling Women. It was a genius marketing move. Take crap movies that wouldn't get traffic otherwise, call it out as crap and get people to rent it BECAUSE it's crap.

    This was, of course, during the hey day of MST3K, when everyone wanted to snark at bad movies.

  14. "The only thing she couldn't forget was how to remember."

    Also Back in Action. Back? When were they ever in action the first time?

    Silent Assassins. At the first line of dialogue from the stars, you can sue for false advertisement or breach of contract or something. Also, if that's not a movie where two people come home for Thanksgiving then go around farting noiselessly until family members die from the fumes, I don't want to see it.

    Actually, they should just release some gas, wait until someone smells it and complains, then turn to each other with big grins, high-five and shout, "SILENT ASSASSINS!"

  15. This is what I was looking for before. I used to see it every time I walked past it in the video store. The image is very cool and Geiger-ish.

    I would always pick up the box and then look at the stills from the movie, like thisone, and it would make me put it back down.

  16. Wow these take me back to my childhood. Didn't see most of them, but my kid brain made up some crazy imaginary plotlines.