A blog exploring the sexy, shocking, surreal, and silly side of horror films.

March 9, 2010

Chopping Mall: An Awakening to Horror

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Sadly, the glorious era of the VHS horror box art is truly dead and gone. Young horror fans today are growing up in the age of DVD horror art: a bland, cold, digitally filtered and homogenized age in which the call of the marketing teams and designers is primarily, "More of the same! More of the same!". I am truly sad for the lost art of the VHS box cover. It was precisely my love for VHS box covers that made me the horror fan I am today.

VHS horror in the 1980s and 1990s, like the horror comics of the 1940s and 1950s before them, needed art that was sexy, shocking, surreal, and sometimes even silly in order to stand out in the ever expanding new market of home video. I grew up in the 1980s and 1990s with parents who were careful not to let me watch a lot of adult horror movies. Therefore, much of what I learned about horror I learned from VHS box art. Every trip to the video store, I would disappear to the back of the store, passing the beaded curtain of the porno section whose mystery would appeal to me a few years later -- but not then. No, I got all the titillation I needed from the horror and horror / sci-fi section of the local Video Network.

If I can point to one image that made me a horror fan, it's definitely the VHS box art for Chopping Mall (1986). The perverted use of everyday items, the shocking grotesqueness of severed body parts, the tongue-in-cheek pun -- all of these things would become my favorite elements of the horror genre. I loved to spend my time in the horror section browsing the box art even though I wasn't allowed to rent anything. I had to imagine the kinds of thrilling horrors, dark taboos, depraved maniacs, and lurid nudity that were waiting to be discovered behind the greasy box covers and entombed in the mysterious spools of black tape. My fertile imagination was compelled to nightmares and all kinds of new and exciting dirty thoughts by the mystery of such films as Monster (1979), Maniac (1980), Evil Spawn (1987), The Rejuvenator (1988), Phoenix the Warrior (1988), Cinderella 2000 (1977) and Love Me Deadly (1973).

What I imagined films like Chopping Mall to be invariably turned out more disturbing and exciting than the actual films. In fact, most of the time the box art was completely irrelevant to the film's actual plot. Yet, VHS horror box art still holds a place in my heart.

Since I never had the opportunity to watch the majority of the VHS films whose box art captivated me as a youth, I've started up this new blog: Monster Chiller Horror Theatre. Monster Chiller Horror Theatre is an attempt to seek out and write about these films. As well as modern horror, I will cover and review the sexiest, silliest, most shocking, most surreal horror films of the VHS age -- that lost age that ushered me into horror.


  1. Sounds like quite a few of us are in the same frame of mind, that is, searching out the horror movies whose boxes frightened us so much during our childhood, ones which have sadly disappeared from the video store shelves.

    Great post!

  2. I just ran across a site that has a database of old grindhouse VHS covers. Each time you reload the page a different cover shows up.


    Need a Nick Name Scott



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