Friday, July 10, 2015

Booknote: VHS Video Cover Art

Thomas Hodge, VHS Video Cover Art. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2015. ISBN: 9780764348679.

Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Entertainment, Art and Photography, Vintage, Film and Movies
Format: e-book galley.
Source:  Provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

This book is a trip down memory lane for those who lived through the 1980s and 1990s and rented and/or watched a lot of rental movies in the VHS format. One of my early memories was our father bringing home VHS tapes for us to watch over weekends. I watched a lot of the old Disney movie classics that way. Later when I was older, I could go to the video store on my own, and I could discover all sorts of new and different things. And as the book points out, you often decided on impulse to watch something based on the cover on the VHS tape. The decade of the 80s had quite the variety and weirdness when it came to the movies that came out on VHS. For the many that made the movie theater, many more went straight to VHS. Some of those were good. Others were good in a cheesy way. Others were schlock, so on. Odds are good you could find something you would  like. Then there was the art. I did not realize it at the time, but much of the art was done by some very well known artists, including one or two done by Boris Vallejo. However, even more of the art was done what that great artist-- Mr. or Ms. Unknown. At any rate, the art was great, at times ridiculous, but I would say always amusing.

This book collects a pretty wide selection of VHS cover images from the decade in a broad range of genres. I did find interesting that some of the movies that fall under children videos are not fare many would consider for kids. Thing is I remember watching them as a kid, so go figure. The book is arranged as follows:

  • A foreword and an introduction that provide some nice background. For folks who may be too young for the VHS era, this is a good introduction that describes the appeal and fun of these tapes. Yes, there was a time when you had to go out of the home to rent a movie to watch. Also, they note that VHS in a way is having a renaissance, much like vinyl is for records, so collecting these rare movies is becoming a big deal. You may want to buy yourself  cheap old VHS and check out those bargain bins and garage sales for old VHS. 
  • The rest of the book is divided by these categories of film: action, horror, sci-fi, comedy, kids, and thriller. 
 You do need to keep in mind that the images in the book are scans of covers from tapes. The quality of the images may vary, and much of it depends on the condition of the film cover. That means you will see some stickers, some covers may be a bit more faded than others, and other aesthetic issues.  This does add to the nostalgia factor a bit as many of us do recall those stickers in the often worn covers of movie rentals. However, for some, it may detract from the reading experience since after all, a I said, they are cover scans. I read this as an e-galley, so I hope the quality of photos would translate better in print.

This is a nice, fun book to leaf through and browse. Once you get past the introductory material, it is basically a matter of looking at the covers. As I read, there were a few films I could think of that did not make it. There were others I was pleased to see that took me back to younger days. I get the impression this book may be a conversation piece as folks talk about films they feel may have been missed or that could have been excluded.

For public libraries, this may be a good selection, especially for older readers who remember these days. Sure, libraries are getting rid of their VHS left and right, but this book may be a nice reminder of the days gone by. Plus, who knows, for some readers, it may inspire them to seek out some of the films featured.

In the end, I really liked this one, so I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

This book qualifies for the following 2015 Reading Challenges:

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