The Ugly Truth Behind the UK’s Hateful Spate of Horror Artwork


Back in 2013, one of the biggest supermarket chains in the UK issued a public apology for stocking the family-unfriendly The Hospital (Dir. Tommy Golden and Daniel Emery Taylor) before it was swiftly pulled from shelves.

The film in question had been brought to the management’s attention when an unhappy shopper complained of false marketing as there had been no warning on the cover alerting to its ‘extreme violence and pornography.’ In spite of being an avid horror fan himself, the customer went on to suggest that The Hospital was perfectly acceptable for an online audience but was not the kind of product someone should expect to encounter on a weekly shop with the kids.

He certainly puts forward a fair point and it makes sense that actions needed to be (and were) taken to ensure horror could still be sold in supermarkets but what is happening in the UK right now is anything but reasonable.

To a certain extent, the recent news of Walmart tampering with releases like Deathgasm (AKA Heavy Metal Apocalypse) to protect their loyal customers does make sense, but when it comes to supermarkets having the final say on artwork, not only available at their own establishments, but on sale at every other physical and online outlet up and down the UK, there’s something clearly amiss.

Essentially, filmmakers are being told that no one in the UK buys DVDs anymore and that supermarkets, having so many outlets across the land, are the biggest bricks-and-mortar sellers when it comes to that niche of the market. Accordingly, you can do the math and figure out exactly who gets the final word and why.

The biggest problem therein is that the most important quality in a supermarket’s eyes isn’t whether a film is good or not but rather whether or not they’ll be able to sell it to their habitual customers. Add to this the fact that the average supermarket frequenter has a very nasty habit of picking up DVD boxes that look like the bastard son of Insidious and Saw (no offence intended for those films), or whatever is popular at the time, and the powers-that-be mash together a bunch of stock images, even if they have nothing to do with the film they are trying to sell.

This might work in terms of sales, but whichever way you look at it, it’s not doing the film the justice it really deserves by marketing it in such a deceitful manner: It’s downright discriminatory to filmmakers as they aren’t allowed at least some say and also to audiences, who end up buying something based on an image that represents anything but what’s inside the box.

Filmmakers and supermarkets are both on the same mission: to sell as many copies as possible, so there should maybe be at least be a little more trust or collaboration on the part of the sellers. So many good horror films are coming out now and, unfortunately, all look like cheap knock-offs. It’s such a shame.

And this is without even mentioning having to cough up those dreaded co-op fees to get films stocked in the supermarkets, after already having sold the film at a significant discount.

But back to the case in point; if you haven’t seen some of the amazingly misleading home release artwork distributors/supermarkets have opted for, then the list below is a guaranteed eye-opener. Have a gander at the sterling examples below (US version on the left, UK alter ego on the right), and we’d love to hear your opinions and suggestions in the comments below…

Housebound Final

Couldn’t have put it better myself. Horror just reinvented itself!

Starry Eyes

Was there a scene involving levitation? If there was, it flew right over my head…

Harbinger Down

It’s a sorry state of affairs when Starship Troopers and Alien vs. Predator are given preference over a mention of Terminator and Aliens.

We Are Still Here

Kind of on the fence about this one. The UK version was some original sales art, but why the decision to go backwards when the new design used for the US version was perfectly perfect?

The Diabolical

Scared little girl? Check. Creepy broken mirror? Check. Shattered glass and a knife on the floor? Check. Anything actually related to the film? The title is the same I suppose…

The Sacrament

Don’t even get me started with this one!!! We can all pray for salvation if anything like this is ever churned out again in the UK…



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