competitive as artistic fields tend to be, it never fails to boggle my
mind whenever I see new DVDs released with horribly shitty cover
artwork. And this is something I see all the time, as I'm sure you
have too. In fact, while I was doing my research for this piece, I ran
across several blogs with other people complaining about craptastic
DVD cover art, so I know I'm hardly the only one bothered by it.
Good movies, bad movies, none of them seem to be immune to producing
some of the most eye-shuddering, revoltingly horrible examples of
crappy photoshopping and just plain bad design I've ever seen. I'm no
artist, but I know what makes me want to stab my eyes out when I see
it. And as several of the blogs I saw pointed out, many of these
movies have fantastic looking theatrical release posters, but then
when it comes time to give you, the consumer, something to purchase
and own and bring into your very own home, it's as if someone asks
What can we do to make this cover as aesthetically offensive as
One possible explanation for the abundance of badly slopped together
covers I've seen mentioned on message boards is that marketing people
who know absolute fuckall about art try to get their fingers in the
pie and make decisions about what must be included in the artwork,
decisions that the artists then have to abide by. Having worked with
some "creative" marketing people in the past, this wouldn't surprise
me at all.
I'm sure I'm probably going to get emails telling me that I forgot
this or that cover, but the simple fact is that the internet is not
big enough to hold images of every bad cover that's out there. Ninety
percent of B movies or straight-to-DVD films have awful eyesore covers
anyway, and there's simply no way I could even begin to tackle a
fraction of what's out there. However, if there's a cover you
really think deserves to be torn apart, email it to me and I may
include it in a future edition of ugly DVD cover analysis. I'd also
like to thank the posters at eFilmCritic.com, who posted some of these
on their forums, which greatly helped me with my search for bad
I'll start out with the DVD cover that recently got me thinking about
this whole topic, The Fountain. Now this artsy movie may not
have been everybody's cup of tea, but I really enjoyed it and greatly
looked forward to its DVD release. That is, until I saw this
seen aborted fetuses that don't look as bad as this cover. As if I
wasn't already sick of the whole "close-up of main characters faces on
top, title in middle, and extremely muddled mess on the bottom"
design, this has to be one of the absolute worst examples of it I've
ever seen. Rachel Weisz appears dressed as a Mennonite woman at the
top, with Hugh Jackman no doubt whispering naughty things about how
he'd like to see her naked ankles, with a sickly green and
brown vomit-colored night sky behind them. Underneath them, a large
tree apparently goes supernova. And what the fuck is up with that
Circus of Pain down at the bottom?
Well, apparently enough people complained that Warner Brothers had the
good sense to change the cover artwork.
still far from perfect, with its annoying "which way is up?"
theme, but I'll take it over the botched abortion above any day.
As a Star Wars fan since childhood, it greatly annoyed me to see that
not only did the original trilogy not get the DVD treatment it
deserved, but the DVD covers got a backhanded slap from George Lucas
Photoshop droppings are hideous, and given that artist Drew Struzan
created some beautiful new poster art for the Special Edition
theatrical releases back in the late 90s, there's just no excuse for
this wretched shit. I mean, on the New Hope cover, an X-Wing is
zooming in from the side and firing lasers at Princess Leia's crotch!
Han Solo seems determined to shoot down the logo on the first two
covers, and Return of the Jedi casts off half of the main cast
in favor of Wicket the fucking Ewok!? Not to mention the fact that
Darth Vader looks like he's about to crush Han Solo's head like a
grape on the Empire Strikes Back cover. Who the hell came up
with this shit? This is the kind of crap some obsessed 13-year old kid
just learning Photoshop would put together and waste all his parents'
color ink printing out to wallpaper his bedroom with. Oh, and to top
it all off, the gold borders are ugly as hell too.
Another cover I've seen a lot of people complaining about is the one
for Children of Men:
is pretty crappy and uninspired, wasting about 70% of the space on a
concrete slab of wall, but when you compare that to this version that
was supposedly released in Europe, it suddenly doesn't look so bad:
maybe that's just some preliminary art that didn't make the final cut,
and I hope so, because that looks like something that was prophesied
in the Book of Revelations, and I wouldn't be too comfortable having
something that heralds the end of the world sitting on the shelf in my
local video rental store. At a quick glance, this colorful cover
conjures up thoughts of the Easter Bunny rather than the harsh
dystopian future the movie actually portrays. Also, it makes my eyes
Here's another fun pile of turds for you, in the Hitchhiker's Guide
to the Galaxy cover:
if someone just had a vague sort of idea what the movie was about
("Oh, it's about space? Okay, and dolphins are important, so we'll
just toss one of those in there. And the number 42 has some
significance, so there's a constellation with it in there, and uh,
it's about hitchhiking, so we've put the lead actor and the robot
walking along a "space highway" lined on either side by Christmas
lights!"), shlocked some ingredients together, and then stamped the
most horrible looking logo they could find on top.
of other people online have already slammed this one, so I'm not going
to spend too much time on it. Horrendous photoshopping aside, I will
just say that whoever decided to have Kevin Smith peeping down at his
cast like some kind of Pervo McBeardyhead was an artistic genius.
As if I
didn't already have absolutely zero interest in seeing this movie, it
decides to launch a full-scale assault on my senses with its cover.
You know, when a movie gives me a splitting headache before I even pop
open the clamshell case it lurks in, I'm probably going to think
better about actually watching it.
know, when the premise of the movie screams "uninspired shitfest" at
the top of its lungs, you might just want to take the
opportunity to put together a halfway decent cover image, to draw in
those few poor suckers who didn't know anything about the movie
beforehand. This washed out image of one Hollywood Has-Been (until
perhaps Indy 4 comes out) and one Never-Will-Be doesn't exactly fill
me with enthusiasm to check out the film, or to even bother flipping
the case over and see what it says on the back.
I know there are some
teenage girls who paid to see Titanic seventeen times in the
theater who would probably argue that Leonardo DiCaprio is God, but I
think this is going a little too far. It totally looks like he's about
to eat the plane. His giant disembodied head is just floating in the clouds
— could this be the inspiration for the rumored "Galactus as a
cloud" bit in the upcoming Fantastic Four sequel?
you will about this movie (I enjoyed it), but this cover is awful.
It's so badly designed that they couldn't even line up the actors'
names right, because "Special Collectors Edition" up along the top
gets in the way. Seeing three tiny little pictures of the actors along
with an indistinguishable metal something-or-other tells nothing about
this film, and certainly isn't going to make anyone give two shits
about finding out more.
a great movie, with fantastic actors, and unfortunately for them, all
of that is overshadowed by this plague of a cover image. Viggo's
family cowers in the background from who knows what, and as for Viggo
himself, where the fuck is he? Is that a subway train rushing behind
him? Is he currently falling down a mineshaft? That appears to be a
gun he's holding, but it's so blurry and for some reason they left the
business end of it out of the picture, so for all I know he's holding
a stapler. This movie had some really striking images for its
theatrical posters, so it's a damn shame this image doesn't achieve
anything beyond striking out.
shit! Now I love me some Sledge Hammer!, but this cover is one
of the most insane things I've ever seen. I don't even have anything
else to say about this one. Just look at it. If anyone actually
gets a seizure from looking at this, email me, because I WANT to know!
enjoyed this movie. I bought the DVD. Why then must this cover defy
me? Yes, Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci are very pretty people, but
couldn't they have possibly come up with something a little more
iconic and interesting than this extreme close-up garbage? Or did they
just want everyone who looked at the cover to feel like they were
making out with the two leading actors?
one of the themes in this movie was "what the fuck is going on?", but
does that really need to carry over to the cover? What a terrible,
confusing mess. Not to mention that it's yellow. I don't like yellow.
Adrien Brody is even peering at us with a pleading look in his eyes,
as if he wants us to save him from the awful purgatory of that cover.
quite as sexy as a disembodied pair of legs (and from that
perspective, they could almost be yours!) and a pig riding in a
canoe. And riding towards what, I might ask? Well, from the looks of
it, it appears to be either Heath Ledger chest, or that woman's
cleavage. That woman who, as the cover would suggest, must be Jeremy
Irons. Wow. He's never looked so good.
Everything about this image is a carefully crafted warning, urging me
not to make the mistake of seeing this film. As if Tim Allen's
presence on the cover wasn't threatening enough, it says in the corner
that it's based on a novel, no doubt a children's novel, a
hallmark of quality if ever there was one. And that kid with the giant
fist just pisses me off. I realize that he's probably exhibiting some
super power rather than a woefully bad misunderstanding of
perspective, but his fist is bigger than anyone else's head, and that
makes me wish very much for a fist to connect with his head.
Also, why are they all dressed like mechanics?
this movie will make you never want to eat in a restaurant again.
Looking at this DVD cover, however, makes me never want to eat
again, hoping that I will waste away into Death's sweet embrace, so I
will never have to look upon that image again. And who the fuck is
Ryan Reynolds anyway, Mr. Fantastic? How else is his hand so big
there, compared to the rest of his body? He must have some long arms.
Also, he's got the creepiest, fakiest face ever on that cover.
have the principal actors' heads up at the top, the title in the
middle, and a blurry mess as the bottom, in a composition that tells
us absolutely nothing whatsoever about the film. But this time Keifer
and Reese seem to have their heads fused together into some kind of
horrible Brundlefly kind of scenario. It actually reminds me of the
cover to an old Transformers comic, where Ratchet and Megatron became
fused together in some horrible transporter accident, a la Star Trek:
finally, we have what may well be the biggest stinker of them all,
The Matrix Revolutions. This was clearly the weakest of the Matrix
films, but did they really need to reflect that in the cover? Besides,
they kind of had this theme going with the first two covers:
how we have on each of these covers the three main characters featured
front and center in a striking, iconic image? They don't exactly tell
us about the movie, but they're simple, attractive, eye-catching
images that do everything a cover image is supposed to do: represent
the movie in a faithful way, and perhaps pique our interest in
Then for some reason, they decided to beat the third one with the
entire ugly tree:
fuck is this Andy Warhol wannabe shit? Did they so quickly forget the
simple, effective theme they established for the first two movies? Are
the Wachowski brothers so offended by symmetry that they just couldn't
abide having the three movies look good next to each other? It looks
like they simply couldn't decide which of the four images to use, or
they backed out of a "collect them all" four separate covers idea at
the last minute and decided to give fans the whole package. What we
are left with is a combination of four equally uninspiring images. I
like how all four of the images feature falling rain, when to the best
of my recollection only Neo and Agent Smith were present for the rain
falling scene. I know for a fact the guy in the mech, who is a minor
character, was not fighting in the rain. What did he do to deserve a
position on the cover in the first place? Everything about this image
is pathetic, and like the movies themselves, only serves to prove that
you can only keep a good thing going for so long.
That sums up my look at horrible DVD covers. As I said, there are many
ugly covers out there, many of them a good deal uglier than ones I've
featured here, I'm sure, but these are ones that stuck out to me for
one reason or another. Email me any covers you find particularly
offensive, and if I have enough I want to use, I may to a follow-up
feature at some point.
Questions or Comments about this piece?
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piece, be sure to check out:
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