There may be some of you out there who have never heard of a LaserDisc. You make us feel old, but you were also kind of missing out. Naturally technology has evolved beyond these giant optical discs, which were about the size of a vinyl record, but there was a time when LaserDiscs represented the best audio/video quality on the market, and although they never quite caught on in the United States they absolutely
dominated the Asian marketplace for decades.
That’s just one of the reasons why Japanese LaserDisc covers looked so much cooler than their American counterparts. Many American LaserDiscs just took the rectangular-shaped VHS box art and slapped it in the center of a square. But the best LaserDisc covers treated the box art with as much respect as the classic vinyl album covers of yore. They were meant to be displayed and appreciated, not just purchased and tucked away on a shelf.
Finding high quality LaserDisc art online can be a real chore. We would like to thank the many LaserDisc tribute sites and particularly the now-defunct “Urban Chou” for curating the art for many of these discs over the years. These 13 Kickass Japanese LaserDisc Covers are but a small token of our affection for a forgotten medium. Look more of these fabulous covers up online!
Michael Anderson’s dumb JAWS knockoff is often considered one of the worst movies ever made, but it had an awesome poster that promised an epic giant killer whale apocalypse that only Richard Harris could stop with a mid-air harpoon jab. For some reason that incredible poster art found its way onto the Japanese LaserDisc, but not on the American home video releases.
What a great design. A red monolith of gore pointing down to the pathetically tiny silhouettes along an unending icy tundra. This is a cover that’s as much about negative space as anything else, and prefer it to just about any other cover ever devised for John Carpenter’s 1982 masterpiece.
Renny Harlin’s ultraviolent but otherwise kinda confusing haunted prison movie came out on VHS with some kind of weird skull/jail hybrid image. But the Japanese LaserDisc doesn’t screw around, putting one of the most iconic and grotesque images from the film front and center. It’s kind if a spoiler, but it’s also the biggest selling point of PRISON, so we’ll let it slide.
Speaking of grotesque, and speaking of spoilers, Brian Yuzna’s cult classic SOCIETY ends in one of the most disgusting images ever captured on film. The Japanese LaserDisc isn’t afraid to give it away with this repulsive picture of someone’s face getting shunted, and shunted hard. What is “shunting,” you ask? You’ll have to see this fabulously perverse film to find out.
PROM NIGHT II
The slasher sequel PROM NIGHT II arrived on home video in America with a picture of a prom queen “buried” (apparently?) in a high school locker. Give us the Japanese LaserDisc any day. This haunting image of a prom date ablaze is classy in a way that, frankly, PROM NIGHT II is not.
TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE
The Japanese LaserDisc cover for the horror anthology series TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE may have got lost on its way to our list of The Scariest Heavy Metal Album Covers. But we’ll let that slide. This stylish and creepy imp makes TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE seem gothic and beautiful.
TALES FROM THE CRYPT
The Japanese LaserDisc of TALES FROM THE CRYPT went in the opposite direction of its horror anthology series competitor, but it makes sense. This classic HBO series always had a devilish sense of humor, so the cartoony rendition of its host, The Cryptkeeper, feels appropriate as hell.
PLAY MISTY FOR ME
While Americans were making do with a screeching Jessica Walter interrupting Clint Eastwood’s nap on VHS covers nationwide, the Japanese LaserDisc was literally bursting with creativity. That’s what those cracks are, right? LaserDiscs couldn’t get dry skin, could they?
KING KONG LIVES
Dude, whoever drew that ape is awesome.
DAWN OF THE DEAD
Can you be both shiny AND understated? This fantastic DAWN OF THE DEAD LaserDisc cover manages to pull it off. The bright silver color contrasts with the stark silhouette at its center. If Criterion ever released a DAWN OF THE DEAD Blu-ray, it might look a little something like this.
I BOUGHT A VAMPIRE MOTORCYCLE
Apparently this is a real movie. We must see it immediately, because A) that title and B) that dude’s face
IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS
One of the most thematically appropriate covers on our list, a black patch of negative space drawing your eye to the isolated figure of Sam Neill, completely insane after the events of John Carpenter’s homage to the works of H.P. Lovecraft. But once your eyes adjust, you notice that he’s trapped in the pages of one of the horrifying books that drive the story of IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, and drive its hero into the nuthouse. A truly great design.
Suitable for framing, from front to back. Just look at the detail on H.R. Giger’s iconic creation, and remember how large LaserDisc covers were. This is the epitome of why we wrote this article. Nowadays, home video companies only worry about presentation when they put all their PLANET OF THE APES discs in a giant Dr. Zaius head or something. In Japan, in particular, the art of the LaserDisc cover was meant to be enjoyed by all. We’ll always miss you, LaserDisc!