Is there a media logo out there that's so unspeakably horrifying it could send even the Unholy Trinity (The V of Doom, The S From Hell and The Closet Killer) scurrying back to the portals of Hades from whence they came in an ungodly, squealing panic? Absolutely there is, and I've made a special point of saving up the case study for this most nefarious of logos for October 31st, when I figured it would be most within its element. Meet the Genesis Home Video logo, otherwise known as "The Four Palm Trees of The Apocalypse", otherwise known as "Music To Make Flocks Stampede". This is my personal pick for Most Terrifying Logophobia-Inducer of All-Time.
Genesis Home Video was, as the moniker implies, a VHS distribution company, and was active throughout the late 1980s. Sadly, I've not been able to piece together a whole lot of background information on the company itself, but there are a couple of websites out there with comprehensive image galleries showcasing its catalogue of titles (check them out at VHSCollector and at critcononline). Schlocky, low budget B-movies very much appear to have been the name of their game, with obscurities such as Night of Horror (1981) and Cataclysm (1980) making up the bulk of their offerings, along with 1970s exploitation fare like Cain's Cutthroats (1971) and the occasional mainstream Hollywood production like Long John Silver (1954). It all sounds delectable as sin to me, and there's a lot in there I would happily devour if copies of their releases weren't so tricky to come across.
So what is it about this logo, precisely, that compels me to deem it the absolute worst of such an all-round horrifying list of contenders? Everything. It's a work of pure and utter ghastliness from top to bottom. Anyone who purchased a schlocky horror title from Genesis Home Video hoping for a vulgar thrill certainly got their money's worth just from this logo alone.
The GHV logo constitutes such an appalling mishmash of wierdly unearthly components that it's difficult to know where to begin in unpicking it, so let me start by trying to outline what I think was the intention here. We see the silhouettes of four palm trees against a blue backdrop with a pinkish glow toward the bottom, accompanied by some indistinct rumbling noises that I assume are meant to represent the sounds of distant thunder. A pink sphere appears in the sky and rises upwards, rendering the background paler and pinker as it goes. I think that the pink sphere is meant to be evocative of a rising sun, but the sheer shoddiness of the animation makes it difficult to say for certain. The background darkens and the words "Genesis Home Video LTD" gradually become visible. As the sphere rises, the rumbling noises are slowly drowned out by a heinous concoction of high-pitched ringing noises, which run on ad nauseam, before finally the whole thing dissolves into a lava lamp soup of green, purple and yellow splodges, and the words "The Next Wave In Entertainment" appear on screen. The intended symbolism is easy enough to decipher. Palm trees = chic, exoticism, glamour, thunder = powerful, awe-inspiring, and that cacophony of diabolical high-pitched, tinitus-inducing ringing noises = uh, well, you got me there. I don't know what that's in aid of.
Now let me tell you what I actually see when I watch this logo. I see the silhouettes of four palm trees against a blue backdrop with a pinkish glow toward the bottom (and something about ENTERTAINMENT written underneath it, although it's been very clumsily cropped), accompanied by some indistinct and highly ominous rumbling noises that sound, for all the world, like the beach is under an air raid attack. The shot pans upwards and I see a giant pink marble appear in the sky, accompanied by the most ear-piercingly diabolical ringing noises you're ever going to hear. It's these noises, I think, that enable the logo to transcend the would-be hilarity of its tacky aesthetics and enter into the realm of the apocalyptic nightmare, for they give off the eerie impression that something truly cataclysmic is being dropped from above (I have an A-Bomb in mind, myself). The ringing runs on for what seems like an eternity, as if purposely designed to make your blood run cold, and to transform any dogs you might happen to have there with you in your living room into savage, flesh-ripping monsters. The pitch then starts to lower and, just as you fear that the thing is gearing up to launch an all-out assault upon your bowels, judgement finally arrives from above and melts down everything in existence into a garish, radioactive ooze. The old world is gone, now The Next Wave In Entertainment slithers in to assume its place.
In the end, the Genesis Home Video logo is such a perfect blend of cheap graphics, garish colours and inexplicable background noises that the result is a glorious display of utter grotesqueness. Objectively speaking, absolutely nothing about this logo works - it's poorly animated and laughably executed, and the accompanying sounds are so hideous and strange that one can barely comprehend what effect its producers were even going for. And yet, each of these failed elements adds immeasurably to the overall aura of dread and unease, as this hopelessly unrefined sequence, through only a few crude visuals and a chaotic barrage of sickening noises, somehow manages to convey the horrifying sensation of the world blowing up all around us. It's a terrible logo in every sense of the word; needless to say, I'm completed enamored with it.