It’s no secret to 40oz. fans that one of the coolest things about Scream Factory’s recent They Live rerelease was its artwork, and when Chad and James got a chance to talk to Shout! Factory reps Jeff Nelson and Cliff MacMillan on a chilly patio at Horrorhound, the artwork subject served as their jumping-off point.
As it turns out, Nelson and MacMillan are just as crazy about iconic horror posters and VHS covers as the fans waiting impatiently for their DVDs to show up in the mail.
Scream Factory, the horror subsidiary of Shout! Factory, came into existence when the company decided to buy the rights to a whole list of scary movies from Universal. They didn’t think it made sense to release them separately as one-offs, dotting their roster among blood-and-gore-free films and TV shows. And on the marketing side, Nelson pointed out, grouping these movies together and giving the collection a name made it possible to streamline the product and present it to the long-established horror community.
When the time came to package Scream Factory titles, Nelson, MacMillan and their coworkers wanted something special. “I said to Jeff, ‘It’d be great if we did original covers,’” MacMillan recalled. As inspiration, they looked to the beloved and highly in-demand Mondo posters and the classic covers of Arrow Films. Then they found a smattering of artists who could satisfy their vision.
“What really makes our covers come alive is we’ll get the new design, and we’ll tell them to do it in a retro, kind of VHS, old-school type,” Nelson said. “But we like to take the original title treatment that was on the original poster or the original VHS cover, and that goes up on top, with the original tagline at the bottom. And that sort of cements it.”
The resulting DVD becomes a must-have piece for horror fans — and if they’re lucky, Scream Factory will include a poster. “Even though they were movies we’d already seen, we were stoked to get them,” Chad agreed. “A big part of picking out a movie [at VHS rental stores] was the cover art. Half the time the cover art had nothing to do with the movie. When we started seeing the Scream Factory releases, were like, ‘This cover art is awesome.’ That’s something that’s just missing on titles these days, and it drives me nuts.”
While the rebooted artwork lands more mainstream titles like Halloween II in the necessity bin, the lesser-known films in the collection get elevated by association, Nelson pointed out. That way, Death Valley, Prison, The Island and other more obscure selections are introduced to new audiences.
For James and Chad, one of the most exciting perks of getting some face time with these rerelease heroes was finding out what’s on deck for 2013: John Carpenter’s The Fog, The Burning, The Howling, Lifeforce, Night of the Comet and Day of the Dead are all on the docket.