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Painted Box Spotlight #1

Princess Zandra!?!
There's this rumor going around that, as Man and Womankind journey onward in their Endless Stroll of Progress, DVDs will be replaced by some other futuristic technology like HD-DVDs or BLU-RAY discs or perhaps RoboSpaceDiscs or Hi-Def Versatile Pills.Well, if you've been to Scarecrow Video before then you know that around here formats die slower than in the rest of the world. Yeah, VHS is mortally wounded, but keep in mind that we're still holding on to laser discs of films that aren't yet available on other formats (we've cut it down to 479 as of this writing). The Conformist finally came out on DVD recently, but as long as Rolling Thunder and Let It Be and many, well... lesser films still aren't on disc, we figure VHS is still kicking. A little bit. Still, it can't be denied that DVDs and HD Brain Injections look a lot better than tapes, and as titles become available on the newer technology we must solemnly retire their VHS counterparts to make space. We won't miss the worn out tracking, the lack of rewinding or the crinkled-tape-guts we have to splice, but one thing we will miss is those glorious painted box covers - the re-creations of gorgeous '70s movie posters, the gloriously detailed exaggerations that the low budget movies inside could never live up to, even the amateurish, awkwardly proportioned crap that they must've figured would look better than a low grade movie still with a slapped on logo. Of course, there's no technological reason why the painted box art should die, at least not for those of us who actually go into a video store using our own bodies and browse actual, physical shelves. In fact, modern printing techniques should be able to reproduce this art even better. But tastes change, I guess, and nobody wants to see lurid colors and great craftsmanship anymore, they want to see a Photoshopped collage of the heads of the main stars. I guess. Well, not us. We like covers that somebody put some effort into. With that in mind, we bring you Scarecrow Video's PAINTED BOX SPOTLIGHT, an ongoing celebration of cool, beautiful or hilarious box art from our collection. (Click on any of the thumbnails for a better look - or come in and see them with your own eyes.) The Sisterhood First up is one of my personal favorite boxes, The Sisterhood. I haven't seen this movie but I'm guessing this is a perfect example of the movie that could never live up to the artwork. The first thing you notice is the beautifully rendered "Amazon warriors" zooming into action on horseback, but please note all the mayhem going on in the "world gone mad" below them. Not only is there a tank, not only are there cars with spikes on them... there are flipping cars with spikes on them. And post-apocalyptic guys with machine guns holding on for dear life. Look at that guy on the right, he's able to hang on to the door handle of a rolling car and fire his gun! That's action. This movie is located in our POST-APOCALYPSE section if you're interested. sakura KILLERS Next we go to the CHOPSOCKIE section. Sakura Killers stars Chuck Connors (Branded) whose character is apparently from Brooklyn, judging from his jacket, or at least from America, judging from the wedge of giant flags that envelopes him. I like how what presumably was the original movie poster art is slapped on top of a generic rainbow-stripe background for this Key Video release. Somehow the stars and stripes and rainbows make for a dynamic (if tacky) design. The World of Martial Arts As long as we're in the CHOPSOCKIE section we might as well take a moment to acknowledge Al Thomas in "The World of Martial Arts." This is a really nice painting and a cool logo that bring you back to the days when martial arts were an exciting new novelty to many Americans. This reminds me of those magazines Marvel Comics published in the '70s, like Deadly Hands of Kung Fu. Maybe that's because Al Thomas looks a little like Billy Jack, who was on the cover of one of those. Seven Deaths in the Cat's EyeShort Night of Glass Dolls These two giallo covers, suggested to me by Laird, prove that painted art can in fact be used to package DVDs. Hats off to Blue Underground and Anchor Bay, respectively, for understanding the appeal of this stuff. I think Short Night of Glass Dolls has kind of a creepy awkwardness to it. It's very well rendered, but something seems a little off... maybe it's the logo (which doesn't look like part of the original artwork) and of course our pasted on 18 or over label doesn't help. (Sorry.) The appeal of Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye is less subtle. This one jumps right out at you (like a cat, I guess). A truly artful painted collage of traditional horror imagery. Warriors of the Wind Finally, I don't think we can truly have a PAINTED BOX SPOTLIGHT without showing off Warriors of the Wind, one of the most hilariously misleading boxes we know of. If you don't recognize it, this is the 1980's American incarnation of Miyazaki's classic Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds. (Sorry about the misspelling on the label there.) This release is a notorious butchering of the original, and it's telling that even in the poster art they didn't seem to know what the movie was. Is there really a pegasus in Nausicaa? And who is that, Doctor Doom? At least I recognize Nausicaa and her sled, even if she's blonde and renamed Princess Zanda. (For a detail of "Princess Zanda," scroll back up to the very top of this post.) Please feel free to deconstruct these boxes, or the topic of painted boxes, in the comments. And expect more Painted Box Spotlights to come in the near future.

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