Up the garden path – Brilliantly misleading DVD covers

They say you should never judge a book by its cover, and it’s quite a good piece of advice. It emphasises a need to be open-minded and not to dismiss anything without experiencing it first, advice that anyone who writes a blog should do well to heed. By extension, the same phrase can be used for the covers of DVDs and Blu-rays, and while most will give you a pretty good idea of what you are in for (unless you are someone who takes things painfully literally), others seem to have misunderstood their source material or worse, never even seen it.

So fantastic is the misrepresentation when it occurs that it simply must be flagged up. Allow me to guide you through two fine examples as I lambaste the errors and dispel the mixed messages…and also appreciate how brilliantly far off the mark these covers really are.

First up we have…

Valhalla Rising DVD

Valhalla Rising

What’s wrong with this cover can be elegantly summed up by the reaction of my friend Matt, who practically read my mind (without prior knowledge) when he asked, “Is it supposed to be 300 but with Vikings?”. Nope. No. Not at all. Yes there is violence and yes it is set in the past, but that’s where the similarities end. Valhalla Rising is the story of a mute warrior, held captive, who breaks free and attaches himself to a band (not army!) of Vikings travelling to Jerusalem. It’s presented more as a bleak hallucinogenic nightmare rather than a limb-lopping action blockbuster, and that certainly isn’t conveyed here with block capitals on a generous blood splatter. It’s deception tactics on this cover, desperately trying to increase sales for a film that is not likely to please the average cinema goer. Personally I enjoyed Valhalla Rising, and more than likely because I’m no stranger to Winding Refn – forewarned is forearmed as they say – but it’s certainly not for everyone. Watch the trailer and don’t be fooled.

Next up is…

Upstream Colour DVD

Upstream Colour

The choice of image for this cover completely baffled me when I first saw it. Choosing to depict the one solitary scene in this non-horror film that comes close to horror is odd indeed. I’m not denying that something akin to this occurs in Shane Carruth’s second feature, but in no way does this adequately convey what is a beautiful and intriguing cinematic experience. Upstream Colour is a hard film to describe since it cannot be pigeon-holed into a genre and at times feels more like a visual poem, but it’s not a Cronenberg-ian body-horror, and to suggest such is to miss the point entirely. It’s a shame because a cover like this is likely to draw in horror fans, who will be disappointed, and deter others who might find something to appreciate in its many layers.

What DVD or Blu-ray covers have you found to be misleading? What covers do you think are the most accurate? Feel free to leave your comments below.

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