When the made-for-TV live-action My Pet Monster movie was released on VHS, the cover showed the actual toy that the movie was named after (and loosely based on), but the monster in the actual movie looks nothing like that.
The cover Blue Valentine features the two leads along with the words "A love story". Oh honey. This is NOT a love story. Far from it.
The poster and tagline of Robert De Niro's A Bronx Tale completely lies about the plot, making the movie seem like an outright war between De Niro's and Chazz Palminteri's characters (an ordinary father and a local crime boss, respectively) over the life of the former's son, who is apparently getting caught up in the latter's evil crime syndicate. Their rivalry is barely noticeable, and they spent a mere two scenes together. The crime boss isn't a bad guy either: the movie is actually a Coming of Age Story, and he functions as the son's mentor, repeatedly advising him not to follow him in his criminal lifestyle and making sure he doesn't get himself into trouble. Also, at no point in the movie does the son have to run away from a huge explosion.
This dvd cover for the boxing film Black Cloud. Although Cloud is the main character, of the four characters displayed he is pushed all the way to the back. Tim McGraw and Ricky Schroder occupy more of the cover than the protagonists.
From Dusk Till Dawn: The 2011 Echo Bridge release of the film on Blu-ray mistakenly included a picture of Rebecca Gayheart on the back cover even though she doesn't actually appear in the film. The picture was taken from the prequel "Hangman's Daughter".
A lesser example: American Psycho's uncut edition has a blurb on the back cover that states that Patrick Bateman rapes his female victims too. Yet not once is it shown or implied in the film that he actually rapes anybody. His was probably done as a ploy to get fans who hadn't seen the uncut edition to buy the DVD.
The reprint of the 1972 Last House on the Left makes the cover look so modern that it is easily mistaken for the 2009 remake of the film◊; it also doesn't appear to use the original actress on the cover. Only in tiny-text does it say on the bottom of the box that it is the 1972 version of the film. Arguably it says that it is written and directed by Wes Craven on the front, which the remake was not.
The Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs is a subtle thriller with four male leads, but all the female leads are as window dressing. Unfortunately for the international poster, a random chick with a gun who never appears in the movie was added for titillation. The poster looks a campy Bond knockoff instead of a cop movie.
The poster for Sky High chose some... interesting positions to place the actors in relative to their characters' roles in the film. In particular, Layla is crammed into the back-right corner, and Warren is posed to look as menacing as possible.
The back of the DVD cover for Tootsie features an image of Dustin Hoffman's character, Michael, kissing his coworker Julie while in full Dorothy Michaels regalia, even though the two never kiss at any time while he is dressed as a woman.
The Wishmaster DVD cover suggests the villain is a vampire; he's actually a genie.
Klay World: Off the Table. The DVD cover makes it look like one of those cheap, direct-to-video family movies. Although it IS cheap and direct-to-video, the language and violent (albeit cartoony) on-screen deaths proves that this ain't a kids flick. The writer/director lampshades this in one of the DVD commentaries.
The American Hogfather DVD case goes out of its way to obscure the central concept of the movie (that Death is replacing the Discworld's Santa Claus for a night... for instance, his servant Albert appears on the cover, but not Death himself), and prominently features the young actors who play Bilious and Violet (who aren't really involved in the action). The whole effect is to make the whole thing seem much less dark.
A second edition DVD released in the States is only a marginal improvement; the new cover art focuses on Susan Sto Helit, who is more central to the plotline than Albert, with the two kids. But there's no images of Death on either the front or back of the cover.
The cover of a live-action adaptation of Animal Farm made the movie seem like any other nice, kid-friendly movie about talking animals. The plot summary on the back even used words like "delightful" and "charming" in its description...
The girl standing with Nicolas Cage in the movie poster for Valley Girl is not actually the titular character played by Deborah Foreman. Word of God says that the model in the poster is the actress who actually plays the ex-girlfriend of Cage's character. A budget DVD release of Valley Girl with The Sure Thing (as the Totally Awesome 80s Double Feature: The Sure Thing / Valley Girl) has Foreman's head obviously Photoshopped onto the other actress' body on the front cover.
The posters and most promotional material for Air America depict it as a light-hearted buddy romp. The poster is Mel Gibson and Robert Downey, Jr. smiling at the audience. However, this is a film set during The Vietnam War, about opium trading and corrupt generals, and it's also based on a non-fiction book.
The movie about Norwegian War Hero Max Manus, a muted, tense story about the Norwegian Resistance during World War II and the eponymous character, had a fairly indicative poster and cover in the original release. The international cover has this picture◊ instead, from a very brief backstory action scene. Not quite lying as much as stretching the truth a lot, though.
Judging by the poster for She Gods Of Shark Reef you'd think the movie was all kinds of awesome. In reality it's an hour long slog, badly shot and horribly dubbed, with nothing happening.
The cover for Mazes and Monsters makes it appear to be a dark fantasy story, with a picture of a labyrinth, a dark tower, and a night sky filled with bats. Turns out it's just an Anvilicious story based on the D&D scare of the early '80s. Also, the picture of Tom Hanks on the cover was taken years after the movie was made.
The cover◊ of the film Slaughter in the Ring declares the star of the film to be a muscular fellow named Lee Van Dorn....except no one named Lee Van Dorn is in the movie. The cover also features a blonde woman holding a shotgun who doesn't appear in the movie, and the back cover has a picture of a funeral scene that is nowhere to be found in the film.
Just take a look at this hilariously misleading cover art◊ for Troll 2. Three guesses as to whether the big beastie on the cover actually appears in the film or not and the first two don't count. The plot synopsis on the back of the VHS cover◊ is also misleading. It's like a mix between that movie's plot and the plot of the original Troll.
Feast your eyes on this DVD cover for Future War◊. No one resembling the African American man on the left appears at any time in the film.
The film poster and DVD cover for 2007's Atonement show Keira Knightley and James McAvoy, making it seem as if the film is about star-crossed lovers. The main character, however, is not featured on the cover.
All of the marketing for Scary Movie 3 makes it look like Denise Richards has a prominent role in the film as a love interest to Charlie Sheen (they were married at the time) or playing a role similar to Carmen Electra's. She has a grand total of one scene in the movie (in a flashback parodying a scene from Signs) and adds no importance to the film.
The video cover to the B-movie Street Asylum features G. Gordon Liddy as a cyborg, when he actually turns out to be an S&M obsessed, facist human politician.
The DVD covers issued for the Korean horror movies The Wig and Voice are given bad direct to video horror covers, with a disturbing picture of a bloody hand reaching out from a stitched-up shaved head, and a bloody hand coming out of some woman's mouth, respectably. Both are advertised as unrated, even though both movies could probably just as easily get an R-rating as most. The cover to Voice is perhaps the most unreliable one ever seen, as it's unrelated to the movie's plot; the movie is a weird ghost/killer movie with some blood and gore, but no hands coming out of people's mouths. Likewise, there is also no hand coming out of anybody's stitched-up head in Wig, just a killer hair piece.
The cover of the 1985 movie The Journey of Natty Gann might make the viewer think that John Cusack was one half of an established pairing, or at least in most of the movie. The viewer would be wrong on both counts. Not only does his presence not contribute all that much to the story, but said presence is all of twenty minutes.
The American release of the Australian film Cosi depicts it as being a Muriel's Wedding-type comedy with Toni Collette as the star. The film is actually a bit darker than that (it's set in a mental institution and Collette plays a recovering drug addict mistakenly placed in one) and Collette is the third-billed actor in the film (Ben Mendelsohn and Barry Otto are the stars, a writer and director who are staging a talent show that becomes "Cosi Fan Tutte").
After Casino Royale came out, Daniel Craig's earlier film Layer Cake was given a new DVD release. Instead of the original cover, which showed a group photo of some of the film's ensemble cast, the new cover shows Craig in a very James Bond-style pose holding a Luger pistol. He does carry that pistol in the film...for exactly one scene. And he does pose like that...as a gag (and, again, only in that one scene). The cover also features an example of Billing Displacement: Sienna Miller is the only other cast member now deemed worthy to appear alongside Craig. In the film, she has a very minor role (which was reflected in the credits: she was listed third from the last in the opening titles). But she had become more famous since the film's original release due to her role in the remake of Alfie, so there she is.
The only actor depicted on the DVD cover of Camp Hell is Jesse Eisenberg, in gigantic floating head form. He's also the only one whose name appears on the cover. In reality, he has a cameo that lasts for only a few minutes, and the real leads are Andrew McCarthy and Dana Delany. Eisenberg is actually suing Lionsgate and Grindstone Entertainment for the misleading marketing.
The poster of Gremlins 2: The New Batch makes it look a lot darker than it is; in reality it's a much more slapsticky movie than the first one. The DVD cover is more straightforward about this.
The cover for The Help looks like some kind of awkward romantic comedy. It certainly does not suggest a serious period drama about a young woman secretly discovering what life is like for black maids in the 1960's and trying to expose the truth whilst avoiding persecution by her racist peers.
Posters for The Cave give the impression that the caving team is attacked at one point by a massive waterdwelling fish monster. While there are in fact monsters that do travel through water as well (they can, among others things, even fly), they're all human-sized.
The DVD cover to Stand and Deliver showed what many people thought that Lou Diamond Phillips was the main character, but in reality it was Edward James Olmos.
The cover of the American release of Cotton Mary shows a scantily-clad young woman kissing a man, suggesting an incipient sex scene. In reality, the film is about a much older woman who goes crazy in a horrible and very unsexy way, and who actually interrupts the one brief sex scene before it gets very far.
The cover of Brassed Off makes you think you're about to watch a romantic comedy starring Ewan McGregor and... some woman history has forgotten. They both are in the film, but their love story is one of five equally important plots, which deal with poverty, violence, destruction and death.
Not as major as most of these, but early promotional images for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World implied Lucas Lee was the leader of the League of Evil Exes, as he is depicted in the center of the group and looming directly over Scott. Later promos used the proper character for the position, Gideon Graves.
True Grit was re-released on DVD around the time of the Coen Brothers remake, with a monochrome gray tone and typography similar to the latter. The original was more of a comedy compared to the recent one.
Look at any poster for Escape from New York and one of the big things they often show is a decapitated Statue of Liberty. In actuality, the statue only appears very briefly in the opening scene (the only moment in the film actually shot in New York), during which it is perfectly intact. More minor details, such as the location of Snake's tattoo and the weapon he carries are different too.
Drinking Buddies: The cover art shows both Luke and Chris as clean-shaven. They have a full beard and permastubble respectively. Presumably, this was done so people would recognize Jake Johnson from his role in New Girl.
The posters and DVD cover for Soul Survivors had Eliza Dushku in the centre placed in front of three other cast members, and a demonic evil eyed face above them, implying that the film was a Final Destination-ish supernatural 'slasher' film with Eliza Dusku as the Final Girl. In the film itself, Eliza Dushku doesn't play the main character. The main character is played by Melissa Sagemiller, who is in the background on the cover. The events in the film are a bit random and confusing, but the plot, such as it is, isn't so much a supernatural 'slasher' film as a ghost story set around a car accident.
The box art for The Devil Inside features a very scary-looking blind nun. She does appear in the film. For a few seconds as a background character.
This VHS cover◊ of Julius Caesar starring Charlton Heston. The problem: the cover art proclaims that Heston plays Caesar; he actually plays Marc Antony. Just because he has top billing doesn't generally mean he played the title character.
The Raid UK DVD cover◊ modified the original cover/poster adding helicopters and multiple explosions on the outside of the building. First of all, only one explosion happens in the movie and two: no helicopters appear in the film at all. This is really odd because when the movie was first released in theaters internationally, they all used the same original poster◊.
The cover for the Silent Night, Deadly Night box set of films III, IV and V shows a killer Santa, which is ironic, as they're the only films in the series without a killer Santa.
Cop Dog, just Cop Dog. THIS◊ is the cover, which makes it look like every other silly kids' movie about dogs ever. The summary of the movie describes it as " a heartfelt tale about a boy and his dog who set out to solve the death of the young boy's father." Also, what the summary, the cover, and the movie's title fail to tell us is that the dog is dead for most of the movie. That's right, not even a quarter through the movie, and the dog is run over by a car. The whole movie is about helping the dog fulfill his final desire, as in solving his master's murder, so he can cross over.
Taken to magnificent extremes during the 80's with VHS home video releases. Two excellent examples are this cover of◊ Frogs, a film not featuring giant man-eating frogs at all, and Survivors of the Last Race◊ which at no time features anything at all on the front cover and instead is a film about a small group of bad actors trapped in a fallout bunker.
The DVD cover of BASEketball depicts Jenny Mc Carthy in between Trey Parker and Matt Stone, seemingly implying that the film is a romantic comedy with sports elements. In actuality, McCarthy's character works for the villain and is never in a relationship with the two characters (Yasmine Bleeth played the love interest).
This cover◊ for the film Norma Rae, which features a cheerful Sally Field in jeans and a t-shirt and the film's title in pink cursive, implies "cheerful romantic comedy!" Norma Rae is actually a gritty and powerful drama about the title character's attempt to unionize textile workers, which won Sally Field an Academy Award for Best Actress and an enduring place in the pantheon of great American actresses.
The entire print campaign and video covers for Almost Famous depict it as starring Kate Hudson. The actual lead is Patrick Fugit (with Philip Seymour Hoffman's character having a lot of presence as Fugit's character's idol) with Hudson being a glorified supporting character. I guess the studio decided that selling it as a generic 1970's movie instead of the semi-biopic of the director was an easier sell (either way, the film was still an expensive flop despite critical acclaim).
The official promotional posters for the first Soviet release of Star Wars IV: A New Hope. 3 alien heads, a scrapyard-assembled cowboy, a panther with lightsaber mane and a rock head. By painters off their meds. The texts are technically correct: "Star Wars: a galactic Western" or "Star Wars: a space Western".
And there was also this◊ poster for the American release. Mark Hamil is more muscular than he actually was, and is holding a lightsaber in a fighting pose; in the movie, the character only used one in the training scene, and wouldn't fight with one until the next movie. Another version of the poster was even more deceptive showing Carrie Fischer in a sexier outfit, much unlike the modest one she actually wore in the movie.
This article collects various international posters, including the aforementioned Soviet Russian release. The Hungarian posters feature only aliens that never appear in the movie and a vaguely Darth Vader-esque figure who looks almost nothing like him. One of the Polish posters for the series looks like a the cover to a Sega Master System flight sim as opposed to anything related to Star Wars. Another Polish poster depicts only C3-PO, as if he is the star of the film and not merely a supporting cast member. Safe to say, the posters from former communist states tend to be the most bizarre.
The cover for the 2000 made for tv film Road Rageshows a truck tailgating a mustang, but unfortunately in the actual film the protagonists are in a Lincoln, not a Mustang.
The famous poster for Falling Down shows Michael Douglas' character in a white shirt and tie with a shotgun in one hand and a briefcase in the other. He is never actually seen with that combination in the movie.
The poster for the DTV movie The Adventures of Young Van Helsing features The Hero, his Love Interest and a tough looking black guy. This gives the impression that they are the three main characters of the film, when in fact the last guy is the drummer in the main character's band, appears in maybe two scenes, and neither have any impact on the film's plot.
A different release of the film, Quest for the Lost City, depicts none◊ of the actual actors in the film and appears to depict a Grecian ruin as the supposed city. In fact, the only thing on the cover that does appear in the film is the crude map that starts the plot in the first place.
Quest Of The Delta Knights has a poster that not only gets the title wrong◊, but aside from including publicity headshots of two actual characters, puts an armored knight on a horse front and center. This character does not appear in the movie and none of the knights look like this.
The DVD cover of the '80s heavy-metal horror film Trick or Treat has Gene Simmons' and Ozzy Osbourne's floating heads, and their names above the title. However, each one of them has a mere cameo in the film.
The poster for Oblivion (2013) shows a waterfall cascading down by the Empire State Building, but in the film is buried up to the observation deck all around. Another poster shows the George Washington Bridge free and at an angle, while in the movie it is half-buried and standing straight.
Yun-Fat Chow is featured on the DVD cover of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and is even given top billing along with the other four leads in the film, but his character hardly does a thing in the movie.
One of the posters for Kiss of the Spider Woman makes it look like, as Cracked put it, "a ghost-faced monster lady who catches people in a giant spider web and eats them to death, or a superheroine with powers comparable to Spider Woman breaking up cartel supply rings in the South American jungle". In reality, it's a film about two political prisoners sharing a cell in Brazil.
Compare◊ the US cover of the Australian film The Sapphires (left) with the Australian cover (right). You could say it's a clear cut case of institutional racism or just a marketing team doing its job while bearing in mind the fact that a white story simply sells better than a black story, and that O'Dowd is the film's biggest drawcard in the US, unlike in Australia where Jessica Mauboy and Deborah Mailman are both better known. Either way there are Unfortunate Implications.
Several of the posters for X-Men: The Last Stand showed Angel clad in an X-Men uniform and acting as part of the team. Not only does Angel not wear a costume in the movie, he doesn't even officially join the X-Men either.
The international posters and US home video covers for Pain and Gain put the Sorina character with Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson, despite the fact that the character appears for less than 10 minutes and has little to do with the film's plot. The US poster sold the film much more accurately (and paired Anthony Mackie with the two leads).
The cover for the MGM/CBS Home Video release of the 1974 film of a Bolshoi Ballet production of Giselle actually shows a still from their production of Romeo and Juliet, which MGM/CBS would release on videocassette the next year.
Both the old VHS and the DVD covers of the Manga/Guyver live-action film adaptation show the Guyver armor mergin with Mark Hamill's face... but Mark Hamill does not portray the lead character who becomes the Guyver.
The DVD cover for the film version of 1776 features Richard Henry Lee twice, flanking Thomas and Martha Jefferson in an embrace and some Congressmen below. Nowhere appears John Adams, the actual protagonist. Now, John Adams did predict, and the line was used in the play, that he would be forgotten by history... but for a musical that specifically sought to give him credit for his role in American independence? Ouch.
A fan-made Photoshopped poster for Thor: The Dark World, with brothers Thor and Loki in a rather homoerotic embrace, accidentally wound up as legitimate advertising in Shanghai!
One the most widespread movie poster images for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan depicts a space battle between the Enterprise and the Regula I space station instead of the stolen starship Reliant. Regula I was an unarmed science research station.
The DVD covers for the B-Movie The Barber featuring Malcolm McDowell use a grunge style typically associated with gory slasher flicks. However, the film has no onscreen violence or blood. It is more of a psychological "cat and mouse" thriller with a generous helping of Black Comedy.
The very famous poster for Defcon4 is a reuse of 1976 artwork by Angus Mckie.
Every DVD cover for the 1951 film Hometown Story boasts Marilyn Monroe on the front cover with top billing, as if she's the star. In reality, she only had a small part as a secretary, on screen for maybe five minutes. The (otherwise forgettable) film has seen so many DVD releases because it has fallen into the Public Domain. There's even a box set of 100 public domain films with Monroe featured rather boldly on the front cover as the set's "big star." Hometown Story, and her very brief appearance in it, is actually all you get.
The US marketing campaign and poster art for Mothra vs. Godzilla renamed the film "Godzilla Vs The Thing" and depicted Mothra as an entirely different, tentacled monster that towers over Godzilla, a monster claimed to be so terrifying that the art of it had to be censored—quite the opposite of Mothra herself, who is a good monster who isn't remotely terrifying.
The American poster◊ for Godzilla vs. Megalon shows the two title characters attacking each other from atop the Twin Towers in New York. None of the film takes place in New York, let alone on top of the World Trade Center.
The poster◊ for Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla implies that Godzilla, Anguirus and King Caesar all get in a big brawl with Mechagodzilla, with Anguirus being fired upon with Mechagodzilla's vast arsenal of energy weapons. In the actual movie, Anguirus only fights Mechagodzilla briefly near the beginning before disappearing for the rest of the time to nurse his wounds, and Mechagodzilla was still in his Godzilla disguise at the time.
Operation: Dumbo Drop: The poster depicts an African elephant in camouflage depicted as going to war. The movie is about the delivery of an Asian elephant.
The cover for the DVD release of Return to Oz. There, we see Dorothy, Billina, Tik Tok and Jack Pumpkinhead flying over The Gump, but then you see the Tin Man among them... Why? The Tin Man appears about a total of a minute or so in the whole movie, he doesn't take any important part in the plot and doesn't even have lines. Someone in the Design Department for some reason photoshoped the Tin Man in there...