GROTESQUE (1988) is a hilariously weird (and possibly terrible) movie that you should watch immediately because it stars four of the greatest people who ever lived: LINDA BLAIR, DONNA WILKES, TAB HUNTER and the late, great ROBERT Z’DAR. If you dig gawky, inexplicable exploitation, it’s a bountiful bargain because you get a gory monster movie and a dippy punk rock home invasion thriller at the same time. If you’re interested in eighties-era make up effects it’s a treasure trove and if you pay close attention, you may even catch a glimpse of your favorite HALLOWEEN 3 mask! But who cares about the movie? It’s VHSaturday and I’m here to sing the praises of the incredibly unique (and possibly terrible) cover art!
The first time I bumped into this off-putting illustration was when it appeared as a full-page ad on the back of (I believe) GORE ZONE magazine. I was taken aback by its heavy-handed high school stoner surrealism and its plucky reliance on a puke green background. I didn’t actually like it at the time but it successfully relayed in me a feeling of out of bounds, unsafe territory. At about the same time, I had a similar reaction to the cover of the VHS of 555 (1988). Both boxes actually fit rather well with the GORE ZONE esthetic, which often paired earthy, harsh horror elements with contrasting bright fluorescent fonts and borders. I love that! The end result is garish and even ugly but I think it works in instilling borderline nauseous dread. I didn’t want to see this movie and then of course, I simply had to. Where did I finally find this thing? It doesn’t look like a tired rental. The tape inside is pristine!
Plus, it’s from good ol’ MEDIA HOME ENTERTAINMENT and it must be pretty close to the end of their fine run (they were kaput by ‘93). I can’t tell you how much seeing the MEDIA logo informed my rental choices in the early days of home video. I mean HALLOWEEN, HELL NIGHT, BLOOD BEACH and TOURIST TRAP…so many! They had all the good stuff! I can’t say whether my brain consciously recognized it at the time but I do know that the silver MEDIA logo still lights a little fire of anticipation in my heart. And how about that tagline? You can’t beat “There is a fate worse than death…” for stoking apprehension. Later in life I would learn to be weary of VHS boxes with few actual images from the movie to share. I would eventually come to expect there was something to hide but in this case keeping the mystery alive really worked- at least it did for me. I know, it looks tacky, I know it looks cheap and I know it looks GROTESQUE! That, as it turned out, was just what I was looking for.