Put a 'Grindhouse' in Your Pocket

If, like me, you're *cough* thirtysomething *cough*, then you probably discovered most of your favorite fright flicks on good old-fashioned VHS tape. In the light of today's high-def renaissance, the pan-and-scan, murky image quality, and (for many of us) mono sound with which we experienced those little plastic black monoliths don't exactly inspire nostalgia. Author/film historian Jacques Boyreau feels differently, having captured his love of the late medium (or at the least the art that adorned it) in Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box. The above art for Slashdance -- so '80s you can practically hear Irene Cara singing -- is just the beginning. Hit the jump for some of my other fave cover art from the book (which is so cool it made our recent holiday gift guide).

Though VHS cover box art wasn't as huge as that of the standard theatrical one-sheet, somehow walking down the aisles of the local video store and seeing row upon row of the little buggers conjured up a level of excitement that would have been otherwise denied the horror fan growing up in the '80s, too young to attend a horror convention. Of course the fact that many of the titles never got a proper theatrical release, or were made for video, meant there was no other way to learn of them. So the box art became a tantalizing portal into a dimension of forbidden thrills. Here are three classics from the book (pictured above), which itself is designed to resemble a VHS tape, housed in a box of its own (kudos to publisher Fantagraphics' art director/designer Jacob Covey)...

1.) Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity  I don't think this Brinke Stevens starrer warrants a plot synopsis, but nevertheless there's one on the back of the box; and it ends with this piece of so-WTF-it's-genius... "Sherlock Holmes Never Wore Outfits Like the SLAVE GIRLS FROM BEYOND INFINITY"

2.) Beaks  It may not outsquawk The Birds, but this nature-gone-amuck rip-off has a great VHS box cover. Its tag line is a little confused though. Shouldn't that read "You Don't Have a Wing OR a Prayer"?

3.) Alien Massacre  It features Lon Chaney! And John Carradine! And...another great cover image mucked up by the marketing department. No, blood does not flow like water. Because the viscosity of water is 1 degree centipoise at room temperature, while the viscosity of blood ranges from 6 to 8 degrees, depending on how long it's been outside the human body. I knew that bachelor's degree in chemical engineering would come in handy one day...