One of the best aspects of a VHS tape is that it was (and still is!) a complete experience. From the adventure to the video store, to the spectacular array of box art awaiting you, to the moment you got home and fed that slab to your VCR, it made your senses tingle with eager excitement to ingest whatever the heck it was you just rented. But before that flick entered your eyeballs, there lived one of the most essential and retrospectively beloved components of the VHS home video: the releasing label bumper! This brief yet crucial span of seconds still has the power to transport you back to that time when rental stores were as common as coffee shops and rewinding was a way of life. So come on now! Let’s groove on back to the 80s and re-live a few of the most indispensable label bumpers that ever existed on analog…
In my humble home vide-opinion, this is the quintessential VHS video bumper. Vestron was an innovator and undeniable giant in the home video market, and their bumper simply had to set them apart from the rest. It did just that with its horizontal connecting lines, flashes of light, rolling synthesizers and laser zaps, all intersecting to form that instantly recognizable Vestron V. When it came to tape intros, this one is tops.
MEDIA HOME ENTERTAINMENT
Charles Band’s Media Home Entertainment was an absolute juggernaut when it came to independent home video distribution and supplied viewers iconic titles such as HALLOWEEN, THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE and the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET films. Their bumper was no less impressive with its outer-space atmosphere (a theme that many a video company would ape in their bumpers in the years to come) with shooting beams of light and doubled-up graphics culminating to create a shining steel Media logo as if to indicate the utter strength of their label.
PRISM ENTERTAINMENT HOME VIDEO
Probably my personal favorite of the major video label intros, Prism Entertainment contains elements from both the Vestron and Media bumpers, but somehow makes it all their own. A laser-lined VHS tape blasts onto the screen, spinning overtop a grid-traced earth and then out of sight only to introduce us to… you guessed it: shots of light led by laser sounds carving out the Prism triangle. But it’s that last dash of fragmented light across the triangle and the fade-in logo text that really puts the cherry on top, marking it as one of the most enjoyable and superior bumpers to ever grace a VHS tape.
Anyone who was plucking cult horror flicks from the shelves of their local video store was undoubtedly apt to encounter the Wizard. There were a few incarnations of this intro (as there were for a number of video bumpers), but the apogee of this trailer was undoubtedly the full-color sound version that featured The Wizard glowing blue, pulled to center-screen with the flash appearance of the moon and Wizard Video logo, rolling synth and an endless sea of shooting stars as a backdrop. When you saw this intro flash across your TV screen, you knew you were in store for a heaping helping of horror, gore and more.
MAGNETIC VIDEO CORPORATION
The undeniable progenitors of the home video market, Magnetic Video’s bumper was varied in sound, but never in appearance. It was always the Magnetic Video logo covered by a repeating scroll of the company name, which reflected within the logo, similarly to that infinity effect you get when reflect two mirrors. The only thing that changed was the voiceover, letting you know which company they worked with to proudly present this special video presentation. It’s not as fancy as the others listed here, but for being the first of its kind, it’s utterly essential. And that muzak is quite rewind relaxing, man!