April 3, 2010
CRITTERS -- Cover Criticism
In conjunction with my review of Critters (1986), let's compare its original North American VHS box art to its modern DVD art. Will they be classic, characterless, or criminal?
Critters had the perfect type of box art for the mid-1980's. Well-produced and eye-catching, it was ready to perfectly target its audience. The thin-line title text in front of a star field evokes associations with other sci-fi films of the era such as Blade Runner or Alien while the two meteors descending out of the atmosphere on a rural horizon establish the film's setting. Then, incongruously smack-dab in the middle of it all, is a big, fat, hairy grinning monster. Lovingly detailed and illustrated, the monster isn't scary but intriguing. Since the film was rated PG-13, this toothy alien is clearly meant to intrigue the kids browsing the movie store. Additionally, the cover's composition leads the eye in a very satisfying circle. Drawn by the creature, the eye is then drawn to the title. From there, the curving arcs of the meteors bring the eye to the barn and back to the the monster. True to the tone of the film while still exaggerating its qualities, the Critters box art is one of the classics.
Modern DVD COVER
Oh my God. What is this crispy turd? It looks like someone made this during an afternoon of learning Photoshop from a drop-in course at the local library. Where to start? How about the obvious? Someone went a little nuts with the clone-stamp tool. They couldn't get more than one stock photo of the Critters to paste all over the DVD? They didn't even appear to change the direction of their eyes, so everyone is looking to the left. This cover is also guilty of two counts of Bevel and Emboss Abuse as well as one count of Reckless Drop Shadow. I've bitched a lot about the lack of imagination in modern DVD art, and I point to the whole Critters series on DVD as proof. Worst of all, the composition is painfully static. The beam of light and row of cloned Critters keeps the eye focused on the centre title text (which is just painful to read anyways). This leaves a lot of dead space in the bottom third of the image. Bleck. Throw this one in the stockades. No chance for parole.