Here are two recent additions to my Wizard Video collection that really hit home concerning lost VHS artwork.
The Best of Sex and Violence (1981) is a compilation of titles that were available from Wizard Video and possibly other video companies. I say that because to my knowledge Wizard Video didn’t release Ebony Ivory and Jade, Tanya’s Island, Truck Stop Women or Alice in Wonderland (which I assume is some sleazy version of the classic Lewis Carroll book?). Nor did they release Night of the Living Dead, Tourist Trap or several other titles listed on the box. Wizard owner and founder, Charles Band, did own other video companies that did release some of those titles so I guess Chuck was just taking the time to throw the entire kitchen into this compilation of blood and boobies.
So if I was perusing the video shelves at my local mom n pop video store would this box have stopped me in my tracks? You’re ding dang right it would have! The title alone is worth a rental but the cover takes the cake! You got a bikini clad chic being accosted by some post apocalyptic backwoods man beast complete with machete, bullet belts, rifle and a seriously dangerous looking beard. At first glance he looks like a mutant ewok, maybe a cast off from Lucas’ set?
The list of titles are also key to this release. Where else are you going to be able to take a sneak peek at movies like Zombie (Lucio Fucli’s undead masterpiece), I Spit On Your Grave, The Boogey Man, Sweet Sugar, Devil’s Wedding Night or Emanuelle Around The World? I also really like the way they listed the movies on the front cover. They are color coded to the words “sex” and “violence” in the main title. This way there is no mistaking what you are going to get with each title.
The “big box” version of this release doesn’t include the titles on the front cover but does give us a larger canvas to assault our eyes with skin.
Driller Killer (1979) has probably some of the most gruesome cover art in the Wizard Video cannon. There are no bones about this one. There is an electric drill in some guys cranium and blood flowing freely! There is just no way I could say “nah I think I’ll pass on this one” while coming across it on the shelf. This cover slaps you in the face as you walk by it, demanding your attention and your night’s rental fee.
The only bad thing about this cover is the fact Wizard Video chose to show you the most gruesome scene in the entire movie! It’s a great ploy to get the customer to rent or buy but it’s a major let down once you get it home and pop it in the VCR. I remember being left feeling rather deflated afterwards. I was really hoping for a dose of gritty gore but ended up with a case of the yawns. It’s still a classic piece of exploitation but it’s a prime example of how video companies sucked you in quick with some great artwork because they knew the actual movie would be coming across a little half assed. Wizard was infamous for doing the same thing with their back of the box synopses. They would talk the movie up as if it was going to tear your heart out but in reality the plot was almost nonexistent. Not Wizard’s fault entirely, they were just trying to make the best of what sleazy exploitation they could get the rights to. Good on em though for getting my attention back in the day!