John Carpenters’ They Live Blu-Ray cover art (UK), 2014
In the early 80’s it was rumored that the UK had the largest number of VHS players per household, than anywhere else in the world. This interesting and perhaps plausible factoid (since the first home video recorder, The Telcan hit the UK consumer market in 1963), comes straight from the mouth of UK born illustrator, film poster designer and VHS aficionado, Tom Hodge, aka “The Dude Designs.”
King of New York DVD/Blu-Ray cover art for Arrow, 2012
Like so many of us, Hodge’s obsession with cinema began thanks to easy access to VHS (Video Home System) tapes and frequent visits to his local “video van man.” Much like the movies themselves, the glorious cover art that continues to entice VHS collectors from all over the world, was quickly burned into his psyche. In 1995 Hodge began his formal education with graphic design and visual communication before launching his career as a professional designer in 2000. Since then, Hodge has designed dozens of DVD and Blu-Ray covers as well as salacious film posters for titles put out by Arrow Films, Scream Factory, and Magnet, among others. His art is seemingly possessed by the spirit of the seedy underbelly of vintage grindhouse, horror and exploitation cinema.
Brian De Palma’s Obsession DVD/Blu-Ray cover art, 2011
If you also love all things VHS with a passion as Mr. Hodge, Yale University’s film archive would make you weep. The Ivy League school boasts a collection of almost 5,000 titles; 2,700 of them on VHS. Of particular interest in Yale’s archival is the fact that it is primarily comprised of horror films, thanks due in part to the “direct to video” marketing tactic used by fringe filmmakers in order to circumvent the Hollywood machine. What is also significant about both Yale and Hodge’s cultural curation of VHS, is that there are an endless number of VHS titles that simply cannot be found (or never will be released) on DVD or Blu-Ray. In other words, the only way to see many of the films that reside in Hodge’s or Yale’s archives requires that you pull your VCR out of storage, and view it on old-school magnetic tapes.
Jason Eisner’s Hobo with a Shotgun. Movie poster for Magnet, 2011
Recently, Hodge put together an archival of his own that is chronicled in his book, VHS Video Cover Art: 1980’s to Early 1990’s. Nearly half of the VHS films featured in the book are straight from Hodge’s own collection. Although many of the titles in Hodge’s book may be more recognizable to a UK video junkie, any child of the 80’s will undoubtedly recall many of the hundreds of images of VHS tapes (front and back mind you, squeee!) within the books covers.
From Parts Unknown (Fight Like a Girl) film poster, 2014
Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla (Australia) film poster, 2013
More after the jump…