Growing up, I spent a lot of time walking the aisles of various video stores, enraptured by all the flashy and trashy VHS box art.
Last time I focused on the horror movie covers and how they affected the young me. But it wasn’t all “Slumber Part Massacre II” and “Ghoulies.” The pinewood shelves of that mom-and-pop video rental store also offered some amazing sci-fi visions. Like their horror counterparts, the sci-fi boxes tended to advertise far more than they delivered. I wouldn’t see most of them till years later, but the box art alone filled me with futuristic dreams.
So in this series, I’m running down the 10 films I remember the most, starting in 1980 and following the boxes up through 1992.
The Sell: Imagine the perfect movie for a 12-year-old-boy and it probably looks like this. It combines all the glory of pro-wrestling and kick-boxing movies with the grandeur of space monsters.
The Reality: It’s another Charles Band production, so you know you’re in for a cheesy, entertaining romp with decent monster FX. It’s your basic underdog fighting tournament flick just with space opera flavoring. So in other words it’s tremendous — at least if you want to see a man in his underwear box a giant space slug. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore.
And if you’re looking for a double feature, you can always follow up “Arena” with a good dose of “Robot Jox,” another Charles Band film — this time directed by Stuart Gordan (“Reanimator”) and written by Hugo Award-winning author Joe Haldeman. “Jox” is more sci-fi wrestling action, only with mechs. And I think it had a co-ed shower scene in it as well just to keep things classy. Haldeman, you dog! Still, the VHS box art didn’t hold a candle to “Arena.”
Anyway, let’s get to the trailer…