Welcome once again to my next installment of vintage horror video ads from Fangoria. I know what some of you readers might be thinking “It’s past Halloween! Shouldn’t you be doing a piece on video ads for Christmas movies and TV specials?” A great idea (I’ll leave that to someone else to tackle), but who says Halloween is the only time of the year to indulge in horror movies? With that said, let’s hop back to the 1980s and gaze at more classic horror VHS ads.
Larry Cohen’s 1985 satire of consumerism gone mad THE STUFF is an underrated delight that deftly mixes dry humor, satire, and outright horror with a typically eclectic cast (Michael Moriarty, Andrea Marcovicci, Garrett Morris, and Paul Sorvino headline) and a unique Blob-esque monster. Like many of their home video ads, New World opts here for a simple yet eye-catching design. Although no such scene occurs as depicted in this ad, the sight of a spoonful of the Stuff about to enter a human skull’s mouth is quite startling. Equally effective is the inset of the video art near the bottom, which kindly reminds us of the director’s and star’s best known credits (Another New World Video staple). Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to run down to the market to stock up on the Stuff.
Another example of a New World horror/comedy hybrid, VAMP is sold here with an arresting image of the eponymous vampire and a pair of hands clutching the video box. I’ve unfortunately not yet had the pleasure of seeing VAMP, but this ad does its job of selling the horror angle well. The accompanying plot synopsis downplays the comedic aspects of the film (besides the plot point of the lead frat boys picking a vampire by accident) with special attention to the movie’s sex appeal. Jack-of-all-trades Grace Jones was on a movie roll around this time with roles in CONAN THE DESTROYER and A VIEW TO KILL.
Clive Barker’s adaptation of his own novella the Hellbound Heart turned the horror movie world on its head in 1987 with its visceral FX and nightmarish Cenobites. This ad prominently features the memorable image of Pinhead holding the Lament Configuration with Stephen King’s oft-quoted praise of Barker (“I have seen the future of horror and his name is Clive Barker!”). I can only imagine how frightened young horror fans must have been to see this ad, whether in Fango or other mags.