Archive for category Gives Me Chills

As promised, the witless and the indefensible

…although not as much of either as I anticipated, I’m sad to say:


Lust for Vengeance (2001), in which a bunch of skeezy Brooklynites occasionally take time out from their busy schedules of snorting, screwing, and toking to get killed by a black-gloved psycho in a motorcycle helmet…

Repligator (1997), in which there supposedly is a reason why an experimental teleportation machine turns everyone who uses it into a sex-crazed female were-alligator, but it wouldn’t be worth your time or mine for me to try explaining it…

Sexsquatch: The Legend of Blood Stool Creek (2012), in which you have no one to blame but yourself if you watch a movie called that…


Stripperland (2011), which amazingly diverges early and often from its stated business of being Zombieland with boobies, and turns out not to be nearly as witless or indefensible as I was expecting.


El Santo rules the wasteland-- and also 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting.

You remember when DVDs with especially dreadful cover art used to give Nathan chills?


Well, I decided it was long past time one of us reviewed something from that series.  See if you can spot it:


Along with Ghosts (1969), in which a haunted swamp is the worst imaginable place to carry out a mob hit…

The Big Doll House (1971), in which the Philippines are the worst imaginable place to go to prison…

Galaxy of Terror (1981), in which of course you’ll have a bad impression of Organthus if you only focus on the doppelgangers and the rapeworms…

House of the Damned (1996), in which human sacrifice makes a lousy birthday present…

Interstellar (2014), in which the Earth is screwed, but that’s no reason why humanity has to be…

Interzone (1987), in which the Earth is also screwed, and humanity frankly has it coming…

The Iron Rose (1973), in which a picnic in the cemetery is a bad idea for a first date…

Night Tide (1961), in which Dennis Hopper’s girlfriend may or may not be a killer mermaid…

Schoolgirl Hitchhikers (1973), in which we see the importance of not getting too friendly with jewel thieves…


The Student Nurses (1970), or as I’ve come to think of it, I Am Curious (Red Cross).


El Santo rules the wasteland-- and also 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting.

Gives Me Chills, Pt. XXI.

And by “it,” I think they mean “the English language.”

Gives Me Chills, Pt. XX.

It’s fitting that this, the twentieth installment of “Gives Me Chills,” should feature a DVD cover which exemplifies so many design errors all at once.

(You may need to click through to the larger version to fully appreciate it.)

  • Poor photo with on-camera flash? Check.
  • Distorted aspect ratio of said photo? Check.
  • Photo of too small a resolution blown up and used anyway? Check.
  • Clashing background? Check.
  • Sloppy/skill-free PhotoShopping to integrate the main image with the background? Check.
  • Title in all-caps in a font that should never be used all-caps? Check.
  • Almost unreadable text all over the cover? Check.
  • Labeled “Special Edition” even though the only thing “special” about this DVD is that someone finally decided to rescue this movie from VHS obscurity? Check.
  • Lens flare just cuz? Check.

In case you’re wondering if the cover accurate represents the contents, here’s the description from Amazon:

Shawn, a skeleton freak philosopher and his drug induced zombie henchmen rule the bowels of the sphinx guarded “”Unknown Cemetery””. As an outcast cult leader Shawn is always on the lookout for students to educate into the arts of mental expansion. Four naive college kids find their way into the domain of the graveyard weirdos and their playground of occult teaching methods including forced opium smoking, sexual deviancy, hypnotic anti-religious dialog and Tarot. Dark Night of the Soul delivers in originality with heavy occult overtones, eerie atmosphere, drug usage and nudity.

Pretty accurate, I’d say.

Gives Me Chills, Pt. XIX: Halloweenapalooza!

Don’t blame me, blame the people who think that a shoddily-packaged horror DVD is more likely to score a few more sales to shoppers with low standards at Halloween than at any other time.

First up is Lust For Vengeance, which trumpets itself as the “Tenth Anniversary Explicit Version.” None of that decade-long period was spent brushing up on PhotoShop skills. (Comic Sans AND Papyrus? Bold move, sir!)

The next up is Hidden, which answers the pressing question, “What do you do when the only production photos anyone thought to grab and unimpressive, and the wrong dimensions to boot?” Answer: SSTTRREETTCCHH.

For the designer of the “10th Anniversary Special Edition” DVD of The Resurrection Game, the normal trick of compositing multiple headshots with different light sources simply wasn’t enough of a challenge. No, the hurdle he set himself was this: How many different saturations and hues can those photos be in? Extra points for including both monochrome and hand-tinted!

Because House of the Damned comes to us from the same self-distributing auteur as Lust For Vengeance, it is therefore no surprise to us that he thought Comic Sanes was entirely appropriate for cover copy meant to be taken seriously.

In case you’re not being given enough chills…

I know that you — all of you! — love my occasional entries in the “Gives Me Chills” post series, and wish they could be more frequent. Hey, I’m with you, but there are only so many DVD covers produced without the benefit of design competence.

There’s not such a scarcity in books, though. With the groundswell in self-publishing via Kindle and CreateSpace, there are scads and oodles of authors who think that just because they’re competent to string words together in a sentence (itself often a self-assessed competency), they can design their own book covers. Or hire their friend to do it — a friend who promptly subcontracts the task to his teenage daughter because she’s really better at that there PhotoShop thing.

It is thus with mingled horror and glee that I announce Horrendous Book Covers, a tumblog slapdashedly thrown together by little ol’ me to showcase the underwhelming excesses of DIY cover designers. So far I’ve mostly restrained myself from snide commentary — the covers speak for themselves, really — but my self-control on that front could easily slip in the days ahead.

I leave you with one final thought:

There. Consider yourself warned.

Gives Me Chills, Pt. XVII.

You may not know this, but when I troll through the new releases at Amazon, I wishlist all the DVDs which look like they have genre content, but don’t have any product image — just that curving arrow that looks like a smile. This DVD, Kill With the Dance, has been sitting coverless on my wishlist since April 5 of this year.

I just found the cover on Suddenly I know why Amazon thought it had a better shot at sales without it.

Camera phones have many great uses. Taking the shots for the front of your DVD cover is not one of them.

Gives Me Chills, Pt. XVI.

Because on-camera flashes are scary.

Really. Scaaaary.

Gives Me Chills, Pt. XV.

What follows are not the worst examples of the recent spate of silent film releases from Grapevine Video — I am trying to keep this series within genre boundaries, after all — but they’re indicative of the median quality for the whole series.  The quality and design sense on these indicates someone whose last design job was for bootleg VHS tapes in the mid-’80s:

You know, if you’re going to plaster a publicity shot of Will Rogers all over the cover instead of anything spectral or fantastic or in any other way headless-horsemanish, wouldn’t it behoove you to label him “Will Rogers” somewhere in the cover, instead of assuming that his seven-decades-dead likeness is instantly recognizable to kids these days?

Well, at least the star power of Henry B. Walthall is trumpeted loudly on this one.  Doesn’t the spookiness just chill your bones?

Gives Me Chills, Pt. XIV.

Designed by a guy who was kicked off the K-Mart flyer design team for being “too garish.”