Ichi the Killer / B2 / style A / Japan

08.02.16

PosterPosterPoster
Title
Ichi the Killer
AKA
Koroshiya 1 (Japan - English title - means 'Hitman')
Year of Film
2001
Director
Takashi Miike
Starring
Tadanobu Asano, Nao Ômori, Shin'ya Tsukamoto, Paulyn Sun, Susumu Terajima, Shun Sugata, Toru Tezuka, Yoshiki Arizono, Kiyohiko Shibukawa
Origin of Film
Japan
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Comedy | Crime | Drama | Horror | Thriller
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Style A
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
2001
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is one of two styles of Japanese B2 posters printed for the release of director Takashi Miike‘s controversial 2001 film Ichi the Killer. A notably prolific director, Miike released 6 other films in the same year as Ichi alone, although it would be this one that would gain the most international notoriety. Based on the manga series of the same name by Hideo Yamamoto, the film focuses on the machinations of rival yakuza gangs within a crime syndicate and their interaction with Ichi (Nao Ômori), a shy and seemingly meek loner with a very dark side.

The film begins with the supposed disappearance of the gang boss Anjo, who vanishes from his apartment with millions of Yen, much to the confusion of his men. The audience sees the bloody aftermath of the fate that Anjo suffered at the hands of Ichi but a clean up crew led by Jijii (Shin’ya Tsukamoto) returns his apartment to a spotless state before his henchmen, led by the sadistic Kakihara (Tadanobu Asano) arrives.

The hunt for Anjo begins and Kakihara wastes no time in kidnapping a rival gang leader, Suzuki (Susumu Terajima) and hangs him from meat hooks to try and get him to confess. When it becomes clear he’s got the wrong culprit, Kakihara is forced to apologise and then cuts off his own tongue as a punishment. After being kicked out of the syndicate, the gang continues to hunt for Anjo. The audience learns that Jijii has been psychologically manipulating Ichi for years and has trained him in preparation to be used as a kind of weapon against whoever he decides to target. Suzuki has offered Jijii a large sum of money to take out Kakihara and his gang in revenge for their earlier attack and they must hunt for Ichi before he can get to them first.

It’s fair to say that, in true Miike style, the film doesn’t shy away from violence and sadistic torture and there are some truly brutal sequences. It’s not hard to see why it attracted controversy and was even banned outright in a few countries soon after its release. Despite some very ropey CGI there are several scenes that still shock today and Miike uses editing and sound design to great effect.

This poster, which I’ve named ‘Style A’ features the standout character of Kakihara (here with the number 1 seen on the back of Ichi’s killer’s outfit projected onto his face). The other style also features Kakihara but in a very different situation.

Alien / screen print / regular / Martin Ansin / USA

05.02.16

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Alien
AKA
Star Beast (USA - working title) | Alien - Den 8. passager (Denmark)
Year of Film
1979
Director
Ridley Scott
Starring
Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto
Origin of Film
USA | UK
Genre(s) of Film
Sci-Fi | Horror
Type of Poster
Screen print
Style of Poster
Regular
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
2014
Designer
Martin Ansin
Artist
Martin Ansin
Size (inches)
24" x 35 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Ridley Scott’s seminal sci-fi horror Alien may be over 35 years old but its impact on cinema and pop culture is still being felt today. The film featured a breakout performance by Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, a member of a deep space mining crew who respond to a distress signal on an unexplored planet and end up fighting for their lives when a malevolent alien creature is brought back onto their ship The Nostromo. Despite countless imitators over the years no one has yet managed to better the original and Scott himself even tried (and fell short IMO) with 2012’s prequel Prometheus.

An excellent but markedly different sequel would follow with 1986s Aliens and I have a hard time choosing between the two when it comes to my personal favourite. Two other significantly less well-received sequels followed in the next 11 years but they did nothing to dampen enthusiasm for the original. British games developers The Creative Assembly were given full access to the 20th Century Fox archives for the film whilst they were creating Alien Isolation, a critically acclaimed first-person survival horror set 15 years after events in the original film and released in 2014.

This screen print by the Uruguayan artist Martin Ansin was released by the incomparable Mondo, the Austin-based purveyors of limited edition posters and film merchandise. The print was one of several created by Martin Ansin for a joint show with fellow artist Kevin Tong held at the Mondo Austin gallery during March 2014. Ansin also worked on a print for Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel Prometheus and other films covered by the pair included James Cameron’s sequel Aliens and Flash Gordon. Badass Digest went to the show and interviewed Ansin and Tong, which can be read here and Collider.com ran an article featuring loads of images from the show. There was a variant of this print available that was printed with a gold colour scheme, also with metallic inks.

Dotknieci / B1 / cup on head style / Poland

03.02.16

PosterPosterPoster
Title
Dotknieci
AKA
Stricken (English language title)
Year of Film
1989
Director
Wieslaw Saniewski
Starring
Ewa Blaszczyk, Piotr Fronczewski, Olgierd Lukaszewicz, Robert Rogalski, Katarzyna Skolimowska, Tadeusz Szymków, Joanna Trzepiecinska, Agnieszka Wagner
Origin of Film
Poland
Genre(s) of Film
Drama
Type of Poster
B1
Style of Poster
Cup on head style
Origin of Poster
Poland
Year of Poster
1989
Designer
Stasys Eidrigevičius
Artist
Stasys Eidrigevičius
Size (inches)
26 11/16" x 38 7/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

A striking illustration by Stasys Eidrigevičius features on this B1 poster for the little-seen Polish drama Dotknieci. It’s also known as Stricken so I’m assuming it was given a release outside of Poland but I can find no evidence of a UK or US cinema run. I’ve struggled to find out much about the film other than it was directed by Wieslaw Saniewski who made his name internationally with the release of Nadzór (Custody) in 1984. He’s hardly a prolific director and only has 9 features to his name.

Stasys Eidrigevičius was born in Lithuania in 1949 and would go on to study at the College of Fine Arts and Crafts in Kaunas, which is the country’s second largest city. In 1973 he moved to Vilnius where he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts and graduated from there with a diploma. Then in 1980 he moved to Poland and lived in Warsaw from where he pursued a career in design and illustration. As well as his award-winning work on film posters, Stasys is also a celebrated illustrator for book covers as well as a photographer. His own website has plenty of galleries of his work to view and an extensive biography.

Galleries of Stasys’ work can be seen on polishposter.com, and poster.pl. The Polish poster gallery site has six pages dedicated to his work. Check out Stasys’ personal website and you can find him on Facebook here.

Duel / re-release / Thailand

01.02.16

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Duel
AKA
--
Year of Film
1971
Director
Steven Spielberg
Starring
Dennis Weaver, Jacqueline Scott, Eddie Firestone, Lou Frizzell, Eugene Dynarski, Lucille Benson, Tim Herbert
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Drama | Thriller | Horror
Type of Poster
Thai
Style of Poster
Re-release
Origin of Poster
Thailand
Year of Poster
198?
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
21 4/16" x 30 12/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Steven Spielberg‘s brilliant Duel was originally made for TV but was later expanded by 16 minutes and released in cinemas around the globe, making it technically the director’s second feature-length film. One of the best thrillers ever made, the story follows businessman David Mann (Dennis Weaver) who is traveling along a two-lane highway on the way to an important meeting. After getting stuck behind a series of slow moving vehicles he decides to overtake a rusty tanker truck and manages to enrage the driver, thus beginning an episode of road rage that escalates beyond Mann’s worst nightmares.

Cleverly, the psychotic truck driver is never fully shown, thus making it seem like it’s the truck itself that’s in deadly pursuit of Mann. The film was based on a short story by the legendary sci-fi author and screenwriter Richard Matheson who has penned countless classic novels, short stories and screenplays, including the original ‘I Am Legend’, and one of the best Twilight Zone episodes ever, ‘Nightmare at 20,000 Feet‘ (a similar kind of ‘single man versus relentless evil’ story).

One of the original trucks used in the film survives to this day and is pictured here along with a similar Plymouth Valiant to the one driven by Mann in the film.

This is one of two Thai posters that I’m aware of for the release of the film there and I believe this to be for a later re-release (though I’m not certain of the year). I have the other style and will be adding it to the site in the future. There is a signature on the poster but I’m not sure which artist it belongs to. If anyone has an idea please get in touch.

The original trailer is on YouTube.

Vertigo / one sheet / 1996 re-release / USA

27.01.16

PosterPosterPoster
Title
Vertigo
AKA
La donna che visse due volte [The woman who lived twice] (Italy)
Year of Film
1958
Director
Alfred Hitchcock
Starring
James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes, Tom Helmore, Henry Jones, Raymond Bailey, Ellen Corby
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Mystery | Romance | Thriller
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Re-release
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1996
Designer
Saul Bass
Artist
Saul Bass | Art Goodman (figures)
Size (inches)
27" x 40"
SS or DS
DS
NSS #
--
Tagline
--

This US one sheet was printed to mark the 1996 re-release of a restored print of director Alfred Hitchcock‘s classic thriller Vertigo. The film marked the first time Hitchcock worked with the celebrated American designer Saul Bass and the pair would collaborate on two further films together. Hitchcock had himself started his film career developing inter-title cards for silent movies and he commissioned Bass to create the title sequences for Vertigo, North by Northwest and Psycho. As detailed in the must-own book ‘Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design’ (designed by Bass’ daughter Jennifer), the director knew of Bass’ work well before the commission as he kept a close eye on movie graphics and was a subscriber to Graphis, a print journal that had featured Saul’s work.

As well as creating the influential title sequences for each film, Bass was also commissioned to design the advertising campaign for Vertigo. He created the central motif of two figures swirling in a vortex, which is detailed in ‘A Life in Film & Design’:

‘The main poster also captures the sensation of vertigo by having a couple sucked into a vortex. The slightly off-kilter, irregular capitals further hint at the vertiginous. The figures were drawn by Art Goodman, who recalled Saul specifying and sketching out a black silhouette for the man and a light outline, like an apparition, for the woman of his obsessions.’

Several different colours and variations were utilised for the various elements of the ad campaign (trade ads, large posters, brochures, etc) with the concept that the variation of colour and design around a central theme ‘was spinning the viewer in another direction’. Some of these alternatives can be seen in this excellent blog post.

Even if the film wasn’t a great box-office and critical triumph during its initial release, with a reappraisal and celebration not happening until several years later, the title sequence advertising campaign was declared an immediate success and was to win Bass several awards. This one sheet is practically identical to the original 1958 poster with the exception of an altered credits block at the bottom and slightly darker shade of orange (note that this poster is also double-sided, for use in lightboxes)

The film’s Wikipedia article details how the 1996 restoration proved quite controversial since the experts charged with the task were forced to alter the soundtrack (during the creation of a new 6 channel track) and restore the colour as best as they could since the original negatives had faded over the years.

This article on Mubi.com by Adrian Curry does a thorough job of detailing all the various posters printed for Vertigo around the world.

For more on Bass I thoroughly recommend picking up ‘Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design’ and also check out the extensive page about him on the brilliant Art of the Title

Cotton Club / A1 / Czechoslovakia

25.01.16

PosterPosterPoster
Title
The Cotton Club
AKA
--
Year of Film
1984
Director
Francis Ford Coppola
Starring
Richard Gere, Gregory Hines, Diane Lane, Lonette McKee, Bob Hoskins, James Remar, Nicolas Cage, Laurence Fishburne, Tom Waits
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Crime | Drama | Music
Type of Poster
A1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Czechoslovakia
Year of Poster
1986
Designer
Jan Weber
Artist
Jan Weber
Size (inches)
22 12/16" x 32.5"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is the poster for the Czech release of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1984 crime-drama/musical The Cotton Club. Legendary producer Robert Evans had originally planned to direct the film and the initial story and screenplay had been written by Mario ‘The Godfather’ Puzo, but Evans had a last-minute change of heart and asked Coppola to step in. Puzo’s script was apparently re-written by the author William Kennedy who ended up writing multiple drafts and ended up with a shared screenplay credit along with Coppola. Production was apparently beset with problems, including a spiralling budget that was provided by various parties including Las Vegas casino owners, an Arab arms dealer and a vaudeville performer. In typical fashion, Evans was determined to make the film as extravagant as possible and constructed ‘no expense spared’ sets, hiring some of the best technicians in the business at eye-watering figures.

Another likely reason that filming costs ballooned is the impressive ensemble cast that Evans and the studio were able to hire, which included the likes of Richard GereDiane LaneBob Hoskins and Gregory Hines. Loosely based on the real club of the same name that was located in New York’s Harlem neighbourhood, the story follows the machinations of various characters involved with the club in the 1930s, including Gere’s musician Dixie Dwyer whose dealings with the mobster owner of the club Owney Madden (Hoskins) sees him advance his career as an actor whilst having an affair with the girlfriend of the local kingpin, Dutch Schultz (James Remar). The film also follows Sandman Williams (Hines) a local dancer who falls for the club’s star performer Lila Rose Dwyer (Lonette McKee). Nicolas Cage appears as Dixie’s violent, racist brother Vincent who joins Schultz’s gang.

The film features several musical sequences and is soundtracked by several of the most popular jazz tunes of the era. Sadly, Coppola and Evans clashed regularly during the production and at a certain point the director apparently barred the producer from visiting the set. The Cotton Club was declared a flop when it opened in fourth place at the box-office and would eventually go on to recoup less than half of its reported budget of just under $60 million. Despite tepid critical reception the film was nevertheless nominated for several awards (only winning for Best Costumes at the BAFTAs). The film has something of a cult following today, with many fans speaking highly of the film’s production values and well-staged musical numbers. Rumours of a director’s cut release were ignited last year when Coppola declared that a restoration was in the works, reinstating several musical sequences that were apparently cut for its initial release.

This Czech poster was designed by Jan Weber about whom I’ve been able to discover very little, other than that he was active from the 1970s to the 1990s and mainly specialised in posters for Hollywood films being released in Czechoslovakia. The site Terry Posters has a gallery of many of his posters.