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The art you see throughout this web site has a particular significance that you may never have realized. It's quite possibly the first example of imagery created for the point-of-purchase and mass-marketing of home cinema. Unlike larger, semi-professional film gauges (like 16mm), the relative affordability and popularity of 8mm movies allowed for them be marketed in department stores and camera shops, and, as was already the case with music and books, packaging played a large component in consumer appeal.
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CASTLE FILMS GENERIC
BOX FOR SCI-FI FILMS
CASTLE FILMS, ONE
OF THEIR BEST COVERS
REPUBLIC PICTURES
COVER FROM 60”S
Most retail “packaged movies” started out having simple, generic company identity art adorning their paperboard envelopes, or maybe went as far as somehow signifying the genre (cartoons, comedy, sports etc) with the specific titles rubber-stamped on the spines. However, by the late 50's, companies like Castle Films and Columbia had begun to lavish colorful illustrations specific to the films within each box, and, needing to compete, other film companies soon followed suit.
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KEN FILMS COVER - 60”S
AMERICON COVER - 60”S
COLUMBIA COVER - 60”S
The quality of the artwork itself varied greatly from company to company, with Castle Films again going that extra distance to create original, well-rendered illustrations, rivaled only by some of the equally impressive packaging from Republic Pictures. Companies like Ken Films usually relied on renderings “inspired” by (but more crudely rendered than) the original poster art, whereas Columbia Home Movies more often than not utilized a given film's original B/W newspaper ad slicks, reformatted with the addition of color tints. Probably the worst custom covers came from British companies Mountain Films and Heritage, some of which are laughably crude, but nonetheless, they still have a certain charm, quite possibly because of their crudeness.
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ORIGINAL CASTLE COVERS WITH THE LATER “ANDY WARHOL” VERSIONS
FROM UNIVERSAL 8 BELOW THEM.
By the 70's, styles of graphic art had begun to change from painted and drawn illustrations to more photography-based imagery, and the film boxes reflected this trend. Castle Films (soon to become Universal 8) began what are often unfavorably referred to as their “Andy Warhol” covers, using garishly-tinted and posterized stills from the films in a generic, formatted layout. Currently not as popular with collectors, they will probably gain in value as time goes on.

Horror titles are amongst the most popular to present-day collectors, with packaging often carrying as much (if not more) value than the films inside. Many scour eBay auctions for choice boxes to round out their horror memorabilia collections, even if they have no projector with which to show them. This isn't really surprising when you consider that with the future of VHS looking bleak, early “Big Box” VHS covers are gaining popularity as the next venue for collectors of horror film-related graphic art.
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