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Traumafessions :: Reader Craig J. on RCA Video Discs

May 4th, 2010 by unkle lancifer · 11 Comments

You guys have covered most of the bases when it comes to all those things of yesteryear that have stuck with us longer than we would have ever imagined possible. But there’s something you haven’t touched on yet, and I’d like to know if any others had the same experience with this that I did.

The RCA video disc. These flooded video stores in the early/mid ’80’s, and I’m pretty certain they began my love of horror movies. Some had the standard covers that appeared on their Beta and VHS brethren, but some had the most vile and twisted cover-displays imaginable. And if you could make it past the cover, lord only knew what awaited you on the backside of the disc.

A couple cases in point: FRIDAY THE 13TH had a standard cover, but I will never forget what happened when you flipped it over–every brutal death displayed like a comic book layout. I’m not sure what they did or how they manipulated it, but the killings seem way gorier than what happens in the film (I think it might have had to do with a more saturated red used in the printing, and the shot of the girl with the ax in her face traumatizers longer and harder in freeze-frame than it does for the couple of seconds in the movie). And PARASITE showed the goods on the cover as the title creature was seen chewing through a leg (I think). These things were like modern-day porno movie packaging that gives away all the money-shots on the cover/back and makes you wonder why you would want to rent the thing when you could just slip it under your coat and high-tail it home.

I have a few of these things framed in my rec-room, but haven’t been able to find more than 10 or so, and the great one’s remain illusive (does anyone remember that really odd video disc cover for THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD?). A friend of mine once found a CD-ROM done by someone who had lovingly photographed every cover and backside of every RCA disc ever released (so I know I’m not alone in loving these things) but it died in his computer and I never got to see it.

I’m sure you guys at Kindertrauma MUST have a fond memory or two to share about these things (along with some images to post…?) ’cause I can’t be alone with my memories of the RCA video disc. The strange scotch-tape scent of them mixed with that ’80s video store second-hand smoke smell…the gawd-awful quality and image skipping of the actual film…etc.

Tags: Traumafessions

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // May 4, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Craig, this past year I found a copy of Evil Speak on CED and like you, I hung it on my wall. The larger record album size really shows off the cover art. 

    I never had one of these players but I remember being a little mall rat as a teen and going into department and electronic stores where they would play them for you so that you could see them in action.

  • 2 aunt johnNo Gravatar // May 4, 2010 at 12:49 pm

  • 3 BurgenNo Gravatar // May 4, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    I remember renting these with my dad. I always thought that they were crazy looking and how the hell did they play?  Talk about a trip down memory lane…

  • 4 scarlettbeesNo Gravatar // May 4, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    I have very fond memories of my mother taking me to the local video store when I was a little girl and, after picking out my Charlie Brown videotape, going to the horror section and turning over box after box to look at the gory pictures as my mom paid the clerk. It’s comforting to know I wasn’t the only kid with such a morbid fascination with blood and carnage.

  • 5 BurgenNo Gravatar // May 4, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    I just found a site you might enjoy…

  • 6 BurgenNo Gravatar // May 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Here’s the “Thing from another world” LaserDisc..

  • 7 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // May 4, 2010 at 5:38 pm


    Thanks for that Link!!! I wish I had found that when I was scouring for pics for this post! They even have a horror section!

  • 8 BurgenNo Gravatar // May 4, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    No problem unkle lancifer. Just one Horror lover helpin’ out another Horror lover!  🙂

  • 9 senskiNo Gravatar // May 4, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Berserk! Paperhouse! The Awakening! Burn, Witch, Burn! The Ambulance! The Uninvited! House and Night of Dark Shadows!

  • 10 PJoseph73No Gravatar // May 4, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    I bought several discs at a second shop in Miami about a decade ago – Star Wars, Star Trek:The Movie, I Spit on Your Grave and Clockwork Orange
    I kept ISYG and CO and gave the others as gifts – the artwork is really cool.  I know a friend who had the unit and said turning the discs over was a pain.
    Although, Laserdisc had that and it never bothered me.
    Cool post!

  • 11 bluerosekillerNo Gravatar // May 8, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    Wow, seeing these sure brought back a lot of memories from the early ’80s.
    There  were a couple of video shops & electronics stores that I used to frequent back then that really tried to push the players.

    Although, weren’t the RCA Selectavision disc players a whole different system than the laserdisc players?
    Wasn’t the Selectavision actually a needle based system?

    I never could figure out why RCA pushed it so hard when their VCR business was doing so well. Hell, they made a $1000 off me on their Selectavision VHS player  when I was an early adopter back in ’81.
    But, I guess they wanted all areas of home video covered for their share of the market.

    I never had any interest in any of the disc players at all until I got my initial DVD player in ’98. Although, I did enjoy looking at those big, beautiful album sized covers…

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