The Beyond / A1 / Germany

05.12.14

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
The Beyond
AKA
Die Geisterstadt der Zombies (Germany) | L'aldilà (Italy) | 7 Doors of Death (USA)
Year of Film
1981
Director
Lucio Fulci
Starring
Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale, Antoine Saint-John, Veronica Lazar, Anthony Flees, Giovanni De Nava, Al Cliver, Michele Mirabella, Gianpaolo Saccarola
Origin of Film
Italy
Genre(s) of Film
Horror
Type of Poster
A1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Germany
Year of Poster
1981
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Lutz Peltzer
Size (inches)
23.5" x 33 9/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Unique artwork features on this German A1 poster for the release of Lucio Fulci‘s classic horror The Beyond (1981). Nicknamed The Godfather of Gore, the late Italian director is responsible for several memorable entries in the horror genre and The Beyond is one of what are often considered to be the big four Fulci films (the others being Zombie Flesh Eaters, The House By the Cemetery and City of the Living Dead), which were all made within two years of each other. The director tried his hand at various genres, including westerns and comedies, but it was horror where he found the greatest success and for which he is best remembered.

The Beyond is the second film in the unofficial ‘Gates of Hell’ trilogy of Fulci films that began with 1980s City of the Living Dead and ended with The House By the Cemetery. British actress Catriona MacColl, star of the other two films, plays New Yorker Liza Merril who has inherited a run-down Louisiana hotel and decides to spend her savings on renovating the place. What she doesn’t realise is that it was built over one of ‘Seven Doors of Death’, which are direct pathways to hell, and when people involved in helping her repair the hotel begin to die horribly she is helped by a local doctor (David Warbeck) and a mysterious local blind woman called Emily (Cinzia Monreale). It soon becomes clear that the pathway is letting supernatural evil out and creating bloodthirsty zombies of the dead and Liza must fight for her very survival.

As with many of Fulci’s films, the story plays second fiddle to the striking visuals and gory set-pieces as the body count ramps up. It’s never less than memorable and is often cited by Fulci fans as their favourite of his films. The Beyond also features a great score by regular Fulci collaborator Fabio Frizzi. The film was butchered heavily for its original US release (as ‘7 Doors of Death’) and was missing most of the gore scenes and a different soundtrack. The UK release was originally heavily cut, despite being granted an ‘X’ certificate. It was finally passed fully uncut in 2001.

A reader of the site got in touch to confirm that the poster was painted by Lutz Peltzer, a prolific German artist who worked on over 800 posters during his career. The German site Archiv für Filmposter features a biography and plenty of images of his work. It details that he was born in 1925 in Mannheim and passed away in 2003.

Critters / B1 / Poland

03.12.14

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Critters
AKA
--
Year of Film
1986
Director
Stephen Herek
Starring
Scott Grimes, Dee Wallace-Stone, M. Emmet Walsh, Don Keith Opper, Billy Green Bush, Terrence Mann, Ethan Phillips, Billy Zane
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Horror | Sci-Fi
Type of Poster
B1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Poland
Year of Poster
1987
Designer
Mieczysław Wasilewski
Artist
Mieczysław Wasilewski
Size (inches)
26 6/16" x 37 6/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

A striking design for this Polish B1 poster for the release of the cult sci-fi horror Critters (1986) in which a sleepy farming town is attacked by a group of small, furry aliens with oversized teeth. Often thought to have been made as a response to the runaway success of Joe Dante’s Gremlins, the director Stephen Herek has since argued that the script for Critters existed before Dante’s film was released and that effort was made to differentiate Critters’ script as much as possible. The film begins on a prison located on an asteroid from which the malevolent ‘Krites’ manage to escape by killing some guards and commandeering a space craft.

Two shape-shifting bounty hunters are sent after the ship which ends up crash-landing near the farm of the Brown family in rural Kansas. As the Krites begin to attack livestock and then people, the son of the family Brad (Scott Grimes) sets out to try and stop them with the help of the town drunk Charlie (Don Keith Opper) and the two bounty hunters. The film is never less than entertaining and was enough of a hit to see the release of three sequels of decreasing quality.

The person responsible for the design of this poster is Mieczysław Wasilewski who was born in 1942 in Warsaw and went on to study at the city’s Academy of Fine Arts from 1960 to 1966. Whilst working on book covers and film posters he would also take a up a position at the Academy in 1971, eventually being appointed as a professor in 1990. Wasilewski worked on posters for both Polish and international productions, including Back to the Future, Big Trouble in Little China and The Bridge on the River Kwai.

Three pages of his posters can be seen on Polishposter.com. The short entry about the artist on Wikipedia notes that he has won four awards for poster design at different stages in his career. More of his posters can be viewed on Poster.pl.

Damnation Alley / one sheet / teaser / USA

01.12.14

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Damnation Alley
AKA
Survival Run (International / Japan)
Year of Film
1977
Director
Jack Smight
Starring
Jan-Michael Vincent, George Peppard, Dominique Sanda, Paul Winfield, Jackie Earle Haley, Kip Niven, Robert Donner, Seamon Glass, Trent Dolan, Mark L. Taylor, Bob Hackman, Erik Cord
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Sci-Fi | Thriller
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Teaser - printer's proof
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1977
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Paul Lehr
Size (inches)
28 2/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
77/152
Tagline
You have seen great adventures. You are about to live one. | More than a movie. An adventure you'll never forget.

Damnation Alley, released internationally as Survival Run, is a dystopian sci-fi adventure (set after the nuclear destruction of World War 3) that pretty much disappeared at the box office, but later gained something of a cult status. It’s interesting to note that the studio, 20th Century Fox, were making two sci-fi films in 1977 and saw this as their big hope for a box-office blockbuster. The studio suits didn’t have much faith in the other project, a little film called Star Wars…

The film features a couple of infamous scenes with mutated creatures, including ‘giant’ scorpions (terribly composited using the blue screen process) and killer cockroaches. It also featured an interesting vehicle known as The Landmaster – check out this fan page.

In some cinemas the film was shown with something called Sound 360°. From IMDb:

20th Century-Fox developed a rival to Universal’s gimmicky ‘Sensurround’ sound process (popularized in the theatrical release of Earthquake (1974)) that was only used for the theatrical release of “Damnation Alley” called Sound 360°. This process was basically a variation of Magnetic-Optical Stereo sound. This technical advancement/gimmick in sound did not last past “Damnation Alley” although it was planned for Walter Hill‘s The Driver (1978) and Damien: Omen II (1978). If you look at the one sheet of “Damnation Alley” the “Sound 360°” declaration and logo are prominent at the bottom.

This teaser one sheet was painted by noted American sci-fi illustrator Paul Lehr who was born in 1930 and studied at the prestigious Pratt Institute before beginning a career that would last up until his death in 1998. He painted hundreds of celebrated book covers for authors including John Wyndham, HG Wells and Frank Herbert and also contributed to several notable specialist magazines including Omni and Weird Tales. In addition he worked on content for more mainstream publications such as Time, Fortune and Playboy. The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction has an entry on him which can be read here and a short obituary can be read here. Check out galleries of his work here and here.

There’s an international style one sheet that can be seen on IMPAwards and was apparently also painted by Lehr. The Japanese poster was a repaint of the one sheet by the artist Seito. Lehr also worked on the one sheet for Prophecy (1979).

Note the colour bars on the left of the poster which indicate that this is an untrimmed printers proof one sheet. Proofs were used by the printing house to check that the colours and other details were correct. The final ready one sheets would have been trimmed down to the correct size. A handful of printers proofs have survived for a few different one sheets.

The film was recently released on blu-ray (in the correct aspect ratio) and a trailer for that can be watched here.

 

Dead and Buried / B2 / style A / Japan

27.11.14

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Dead and Buried
AKA
Zongeria (Japan)
Year of Film
1981
Director
Gary Sherman
Starring
James Farentino, Melody Anderson, Jack Albertson, Dennis Redfield, Nancy Locke, Robert Englund
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Horror
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Style A
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1981
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
--

This is the style A B2 for the Japanese release of the American horror film Dead and Buried. The film was written by Ronald Shusett and Dan O’Bannon, the two screenwriters responsible for the 1979 sci-fi masterpiece Alien, and was directed by Gary Sherman whose previous film had been the creepy ‘cannibals on the London Underground’ horror Raw Meat (AKA Deathline) almost a decade earlier. The story is set in the seemingly normal New England seaside town of Potter’s Bluff and sees the local Sheriff Dan Gillis (James Farentino) investigating a series of mysterious disappearances of strangers visiting the area. The baffling thing for the sheriff is that the strangers are then reappearing some days later now seemingly a member of the community.

The viewer bears witness to a series of gruesome murders beginning with that of a photographer (Christopher Allport) who is seduced on the town beach before being attacked by several people from the town who beat him and burn him alive whilst taking photographs. It soon becomes clear that Potters Bluff’s eccentric mortician William G. Dobbs (Jack Albertson AKA Grandpa Joe from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) has been practicing some fairly unorthodox patient handling in his morgue and the sheriff sets out to put a stop to his plans.

Apparently, the film went through a number of edits at the request of one of the financiers and was moulded into more of a dark horror film than Gary Sherman had originally intended, with two additional killings inserted and filmed without the assistance of effects maestro Stan Winston (these are noticeably different in tone and quality of execution than the rest of the film). Despite this, Dead and Buried is a solid horror film with a creepy atmosphere, excellent production design and some memorable turns, particularly from Albertson and Melody Anderson as Dan Gillis’ wife who harbours a dark secret.

The film’s original trailer is on YouTube.

Star Wars / quad / UK

25.11.14

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Star Wars
AKA
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (full title) | La guerre des étoiles (Canada - French title / France)
Year of Film
1977
Director
George Lucas
Starring
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Sci-Fi | Adventure
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
First printing
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1977
Designer
Tom Chantrell
Artist
Tom Chantrell
Size (inches)
30" x 39 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
May the force be with you

Not only is this probably the best poster artwork for the film that started the biggest sci-fi franchise of all, it’s also considered by many to be the greatest work by the late, great British artist Tom Chantrell. Declaring it so is not an easy decision to make since Chantrell illustrated thousands of posters during his long career and there are many classic designs to choose from, including several Hammer posters and a brilliant design for ‘One Million Years B.C.’. I have a number of other posters by him on this site for you to peruse.

In 2013 I interviewed Chantrell’s widow Shirley about their life together and she recalled how Tom would often ask her to pose so he could capture the correct stance for female characters appearing on his posters. Shirley recalls how the project came about for Tom:

Tom was given an invite to the premier showing and we all went along as a family. As soon as he’d seen the film he had the synopsis, the 10” x 8” press stills and then he started to think about how he was going to tackle the project. From beginning to end it took one month, which is a lot of work for one poster. He’d never taken that long before and I don’t think he did again.

Shirley once again posed for Tom and this time she was his Princess Leia. She not only still has the reference photos taken that day but also still has the same dress she wore.

This poster perfectly captures the excitement and adventure of the seminal sci-fi blockbuster and, although originally intended just to be used for the UK market, the art was liked so much by Lucasfilm that the decision was made to use it for a style C one sheet as well as for other posters around the world. George Lucas himself would later purchase the original artwork for his archives and I like to imagine it’s hanging 0n a wall in Skywalker Ranch.

This particular style of the poster is the first printing of the poster for the initial 1977 release in cinemas and this can be distinguished from the later printing known as the ‘Oscars version’, so called because it was printed once the film had won a handful of Academy Awards a few months after the original UK release. The ongoing success and phenomenon of the film meant that many more copies of the second version were printed as it was shown around the UK. The Oscars version is also in the Film on Paper collection and can be viewed here.

During the time I spent with Shirley we browsed through several boxes of the plentiful material she has kept from the days that Tom was working on film posters. I was amazed to see that he had retained the original invoice that he had sent to 20th Century Fox (Star Wars’ UK distributors) and some letters from Fox relating to the invoice, which confirmed that he had been paid the sum of £1000 for his original work on the art. These can be viewed by accessing picture thumbnails 28 and 29.

Sadly, Tom Chantrell passed away in 2001 and my friend, and author of the must own British Film Posters: An Illustrated History, Sim Branaghan wrote his obituary for the Guardian. He may no longer be with us but Tom Chantrell’s classic artworks have stood the test of time and continue to impress decades later.

Battle Creek Brawl / B2 / style A / Japan

21.11.14

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Battle Creek Brawl
AKA
The Big Brawl (USA | International)
Year of Film
1980
Director
Robert Clouse
Starring
Jackie Chan, José Ferrer, Kristine DeBell, Mako, Ron Max, David Sheiner, Rosalind Chao, Lenny Montana, Pat E. Johnson, Mary Ellen O'Neill, H.B. Haggerty, Chao Li Chi, Joycelyne Lew
Origin of Film
USA | Hong Kong
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Comedy
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Style A
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1980
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 12/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Battle Creek Brawl (known in the US and elsewhere as The Big Brawl) was martial arts superstar Jackie Chan‘s first attempt at breaking into the American film industry. The film was directed by the late Robert Clouse who was behind Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon, the first martial arts film to be co-produced by a Hollywood studio (also sadly to be Lee’s last). Clouse went on to direct Jim Kelly’s Black Belt Jones (1974) and put together the posthumous Bruce Lee film The Game of Death (1978) so he was an obvious choice for Chan’s hopeful big break into the lucrative US market. The director chose to employ much of the crew from Enter the Dragon.

Set in 1930s Chicago, though filmed mostly in Texas, the film focuses on Chinese-American Jerry Kwan (Chan) whose father runs a restaurant. One day a gang of mobsters pays the restaurant a visit and tries to force Kwan’s father to pay part of his profits to them. When Jerry fights back the mob take notice of his martial arts skills and force him to take part in the illegal fighting tournament Battle Creek Brawl by kidnaping his brother’s fiancee.

Kwan must enlist the help of his martial arts master Herbert (played by Japanese-American actor Mako) in order to train to face his opponents, including the fearsome, brutal fighter Kiss (H.B. Haggerty), winner of the previous tournament whose nickname is due to the single kiss he gives his defeated opponents. Sadly for all involved the film was something of a flop and was nowhere near the Enter the Dragon success story that Chan was hoping for. After trying his hand at various supporting roles (including Cannonball Run) Chan eventually scored his first hit with the Hollywood production Rumble in the Bronx 15 years later.