Ah, those old days of browsing the video store looking for the latest and greatest '80s horror movies, most extreme '90s action movies, and funniest '80s comedies to rent. Back then, of course, we didn't have the internet, so all that we could go on were covers - and distributors obviously knew that. While we're told never to judge a book by its cover, the same should probably also go for movies, especially given some of the incredibly misleading VHS covers that used to hang out in the video rental aisles of our favorite Blockbuster stores.
Here are a few of our favorite misleading VHS covers that absolutely tricked us into thinking we were getting a very different movie...
The documentary about Troll 2 is called Best Worst Movie, which may tell you everything about Troll 2 that you need to know. Possibly the most misleadingly marketed movie of all time, Troll 2 is a sequel to the previous film in name only. For one thing, it doesn't involve any trolls. That troll doll that you see on the cover? Not in the movie. That big monster with the axe that you see prominently featured on the cover? Not in the movie. That focus on things coming for you in your dreams that's all over the cover? Not so much in the movie. You get the idea.
What is in the movie, among other things, is a guy that essentially drowns in popcorn. So there's that...
Actors: Jason F. Wright, Darren Ewing, Michael Stephenson, Connie Young, Jason Steadman, + more
Directed by: Claudio Fragasso
Norma Rae follows a young woman who attempts to unionize a textile mill, which results in her being fired and thrown behind bars. The film won Sally Field an Academy Award for Best Actress, but the cover makes it look like a light comedy. Its squiggly font and cheery image of Field with her arms in the air says "quirky fun" more than "workplace drama."
Actors: Sally Field, Beau Bridges, Pat Hingle, Ron Leibman, Barbara Baxley, + more
Directed by: Martin Ritt
Also known by the more prosaic (and probably also less deceptive) title Chicago Cab, the 1997 serio-comic movie Hellcab had a VHS cover so misleading that it was almost certainly shelved in more than one video store's horror section. Along with the film's horror-ready title, the cover featured a sinister green glow and even the ominous tagline, "Do you dare pay the fare?"
It almost seems like someone was playing a trick on viewers, or trying to sink the film by mislabeling it as a horror feature. Whatever the cause, there must have been more than a few people who picked up Hellcab in search of supernatural thrills only to be disappointed by the prosaic tale of a day in the life of a Chicago taxi driver - no matter how star-studded the film may have been.
Actors: Julianne Moore, Gillian Anderson, John Cusack, John C. Reilly, Laurie Metcalf, + more
Directed by: John Tintori, Mary Cybulski
The first character we meet in Scream is played by Drew Barrymore. She doesn't survive the film's cold opening, however, and is brutally taken out in the first few minutes. In spite of this fact, Barrymore's face is all over the film's advertising, including prominent placement (in front of most of the rest of the cast) on the VHS cover.
There was even an alternate cover that rendered only Barrymore's shocked face in blue-silver monochrome with bright red lipstick and irises.
Actors: Drew Barrymore, Rose McGowan, Courteney Cox, Liev Schreiber, Neve Campbell, + more
Directed by: Wes Craven