For those who are not aware, I’ve been on a reading journey for 2023. It started in 2022 but we’re full throttle now. And something came to mind in the middle of the night to come up with this idea. When I go thrifting or book hunting in general, it’s always about the cover. Granted covers nowadays all kind of look the same but when you look at horror book covers from the 70s, 80s and 90s, there’s something about them that tells me everything I need to know before reading the back.
I was thinking of Stephen King novels and my goodness, the huge changes of covers is unbelievable. I’ve seen older covers of Misery, The Dead Zone, or IT and I see the covers now, and it’s more simplest and kind of predictable which defeats the purpose. I would rather pick up an older cover of IT than a new one, just cos of the creativity and weird abstract-ness about it. But I think this goes for all books on the shelves lately and their new book jackets.
I used a random generator on Goggle, max number was 149 (I’m so bummed I don’t have 150 vhs tapes total in horror) and here are the numbers Google spat at me: 107, 98, 10, 58, 93, 31, 89, 8, 144, 148, 57, 140, 92, 47, 11, 5, 122, 15, 27 and 33. All of these numbers total up to 20 randomly chosen numbers associated with a tape (I divided said tapes into 10s) and the results were interesting.
I was quite surprised at the results!
This is also heavily inspired by a memory of me going to Blockbuster and I saw Night of the Demons, Night of the Demons 2 and Night of the Demons 3 and the covers were so in your face and creepy cos of Angela being in the forefront and the the makeup and I believe, the second or third one had a cover that was holographic and that stuck with me! So thinking with my mindset of what I was into back in the day, would these 20 randomly chosen vhs tapes be picked up by me and the answers are mostly a NO.
107 is The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) – No, even though I would have been curious.
98 is The Guardian (1990) – A BIG NO. I wouldn’t have picked this up or stopped to look. A definitely walk by.
10 is Goosebumps “One Day at Horrorland” (1997) – YES, YES, YES. I mean, I was a kid in the 90s, reading Goosebumps and watching the show, HECK YES.
58 is Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) – No. I wasn’t into the Halloween franchise as a kid, I liked more ANOES.
93 is Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995) – Another no. The title would have caught my attention but I would have picked something else.
37 is The Haunting (1960) – I wouldn’t have known about this movie so that’s a no.
89 is Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992) – A yes for sure, I liked Hellraiser so I would have picked this up (or Hellbound: Hellraiser II).
8 is Tales from the Darkside Vol 6 (1993) – Yes. Out of pure curiosity if it was anything like Tales from the Crypt (I was really into that too).
144 is Jacob’s Ladder (1990) – Nope. Not eye catching enough! Also too young to understand.
148 is The Blair Witch Project (1999) – YES YES YES.
57 is Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) – Based on the cover, a soft yes. So yes! A better yes than Curse based on the cover.
140 is The Thing (1982) – Nope. I would walk on by too.
92 is Jeepers Creepers (2001) – I’d pick it up, I’d look at it and I’d put it back so no.
47 is I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998) – I saw this in theaters, I would have picked this up at Blockbuster (or whichever grocery store video section)!
11 is Goosebumps: A Night in Terror Tower (1996) – Like One Day in Horrorland, I would have picked this up too!
5 is Are You Afraid of the Dark?: The Tale of Cutter’s Treasure (1995) – The orange tape = YES. I was obsessed with AYAOTD as well!
122 is Rosemary’s Baby (1968) – Curious about the cover, I mean, it’s a baby stroller/carriage
15 is The Simpsons Trick or Treehouse (Springfield Murder Mysteries) (2000) – Another YES for sure.
27 is A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) – HELL YEAH, obsessed with ANOES then, and the covers did creep me out.
33 is The Night of the Hunter (1995) – More of a thriller, I don’t remember going to that section much but again, with the cover, nah. Sorry Robert Mitchum!
Now here are some insights:
How many yes? 10
How many no’s? 10
Lack of Knowledge as a kid = I wasn’t all about horror as a bigger genre than just the more flashy, in your face horror that I saw on tv and HBO like Freaked, many ANOES, Blair Witch or “understandable” horror. I think that’s the big takeaway here. As a kid, horror was just a fun outlet or hobby to watch and consume. A big shift was watching the special 100 Scariest Movie Moments on Bravo and my entire world of horror EXPLODED. Now here were clips and talks about movies I had recognized and then learning about them on a bigger scale like franchises, how and when they were created, new directors and films that I had never heard of like Suspiria, Creepshow, Alice Sweet Alice and so many more. Now as someone who has been a horror fan for decades and watched many documentaries and read books to understand that horror is very, very vast.
What movies did you gravitate to when you were going to video stores? What was a constant go-to? For me it was either some ANOES movie OR it was Star Wars (like I got ESB and RoTJ constantly!