If there’s one area where movies are lacking more than any others these days, it’s the posters.
It shouldn’t be that way – now, more than ever, posters have been emasculated in their power as a selling point. Advance images, previews, trailers, they are all at people’s digital fingertips now – you no longer have to be tempted into the cinema by a poster hanging on the side, or reproduced in the newspaper. It’s time for movie posters to step up in their role as an advertisement for what’s so great about the movie they represent, take a few chances, get to the essence of the thing.
Gathered from commissioned posters for specialty screenings around the country, and fleshed out with some original submissions to the book itself, the collection reveals that the antiquated form of film poster is about more than flash and crass representation. It’s about what you’re going to see and the chance to give you one, saturated taste of what the complete film promises a hundred times over.
Some of the best work in the book pulls from the recent trend towards minimalism and design, spurred on by a resurgence of appreciation for Saul Bass. Mile 44’s “Psycho” offers a Lichtensteinesque shower head, with water drips and one skull, while Mark Weiser’s “Night of the Living Dead” directly references Bass’ “Vertigo” poster, with zombie arms sniping across the poster sheet.
Robert Armstrong’s “Deep Throat,” meanwhile, has a pink blob on a white background that you only slowly realize is a uvula – sick and hilarious – Andrea Gallo’s “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” is built entirely around a graphic design reproduction of Tura Santana’s bustline.
Others go for a retro feel, sometimes even resembling a paperback novelization version, like Garrett Ross’ threecolor work for “The Prestige” and James Chalker’s “Dr. No” with a stylized hand print, And some of the best tend toward cartoonish representations that bring out the fun, like James Gilleard’s downright cute poster for “Creature From The Black Lagoon,” Bobby O’Herlihy’s wacky and retro “Army of Darkness,” and the Little friends of Printmaking’s riotous John Waters festival poster with multiple scenes from movies like “Pink Flamingos,” “Polyester” and others.
Still others seem out of nowhere, like Derek Gabryszak’s “Mad Max,” which features a scratchy, bisected car dead center in a pitch black poster, Adam Maida’s “Eraserhead” using a thumbprint with a messy, lo-tech copy machine design around it, and Dan Norris’ “Caddyshack,” which features a stylized and mysterious image of the gopher tunnel forming the movie title, while Bill Murray’s character lurks aboveground.
This is an immensely fun book and filled with ideas that should inspire creators of all kinds to seize the real possibilities of the form. There’s no reason movie posters must continue being so drab, and this collection shows you how to be part of that change.