It has been a while since I’ve indulged in anything horror related on this little blog of mine. And since it is Valentines Day I thought I would look at my first love. Having recently moved house it’s amazing at what junk you store or keep without knowing. But then you stumble on something that stirs the memories of childhood or the awkward adolescent period. In this instance it would be a load of my old VHS films, more specifically ones with some great artwork such as (my first reversible cover) Ghost Chase big box. Suddenly I forgot what I was doing and thought it wise to reminisce about my love for cult film. This was of cause all because of the first VHS rental shop I happened upon during my life.
The memory is mostly haze but from what is remembered it was called Tower Video and once you entered the front door (covered in the ever tasteful coloured strips of hanging plastic) the smell of old plastic and film would hit your nostrils. At least you hoped that’s what the smell was. Once you entered the video shop all around you was VHS’s stacked floor to celling, each spine of the individual VHS tapes tempting me to grasp it and take in the information it held. Like all good kids from the VHS era, this was where the love of the forbidden horror tape originated.
Like most of the VHS covers (for the more monster led) cult 80s horror films, their images were forever burned into my subconscious. Much like the classic covers for Puppet Master, Killer Klowns From Outerspace, Night of the Creeps, House, The Incredible Melting Man, The Ghoulies, Critters and to a certain extent Fritz The Cat (admittedly that was not really scary for a small pre-teen at the time, but it was hard to fathom for a young mind why a cat had breasts and was being felt up). Basically the image stayed with me (like all those loved pieces of artwork) but as with many horrors of that period Puppet Master never graced my vision until the teen years.
It seemed like the pinnacle point that while in secondary school, all those years of wanting to see what lay with the tape of all these VHS goodies, finally came to ahead. Like all good things back at school, if it was talked about then it needed to be seen to understand just what the fuss was about. I was never that popular at school (seems like such a cliché now) so my interests were always, surprise surprise, film or geek related (yes I was that kid that had to have Pokemon Blue so I could get Squirtel). There was one guy however that seemed to only watch films that I had never heard of, because up until that point I thought “I must still be too young to watch these types of film”.
One day I noticed a VHS cover protruding out of his bag. We got chatting and suddenly he reached into his bag pulling out a rectangular object, then handed me the bulky piece of filmic goodness. The VHS in question was the cult film goody Leprechaun. Holding the plastic case in my hand, I quickly scanned the case (while the teacher wrote something less interesting on the board). I was amazed just by the simple artwork on the cover, that and the fact I was holding (in my hand) a piece of forbidden fruit, a film I was not even old enough to view. I had to watch it there and then, but alas school came first. It wasn’t until we were leaving school that the aforementioned horror VHS guy in my class, handed me another tape for viewing. This time it was the camp and comical Army of Darkness. Instantly the hand painted cover grabbed me violently, almost screaming in my face of just how amazing it all was.
Once home I stayed up late that night and watched both films back to back (even now on different formats I do it with these two films) and suddenly a new world of cult horror opened up for me. For years my inquisitive little mind had turned over the ideas of what each film could have contained, purely from its VHS cover art. Now, finally I was able to see what all the self-created fuss was about. It was to be a slippery slope into the realm of cult horror for this young film fan.
To be continued…….