Red Scorpion / one sheet / USA

15.07.15

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Red Scorpion
AKA
--
Year of Film
1988
Director
Joseph Zito
Starring
Dolph Lundgren, M. Emmet Walsh, Al White, T.P. McKenna, Carmen Argenziano, Alex Colon, Brion James, Ruben Nthodi
Origin of Film
South Africa | USA | Namibia
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Adventure
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1988
Designer
Kaiser Creative
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
27 1/16" x 40 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
They think they control him. Think again.

Directed by Joseph Zito, a man with only 9 films under his belt, including a couple of Chuck Norris titles and the notorious slasher The Prowler, Red Scorpion was the second film to be headlined by the Swedish action star Dolph Lundgren. After earning degrees in chemical engineering, Lundgren won a couple of European championships in the martial art of Karate and eventually landed a job as a bodyguard for the singer and actress Grace Jones. The pair soon began a relationship and when he accompanied Jones during the filming of A View to a Kill she suggested he try out for a minor role in the film. This appearance helped him land the memorable role of the Russian boxer Ivan Drago in Rocky IV and then in 1987 he played He-Man in the ill-advised live-action film Masters of the Universe. Since then he has featured in over 60 films, mostly in the action genre.

Red Scorpion was produced by the disgraced former American lobbyist Jack Abramoff who was sentenced to jail in 2006 for mail fraud, conspiracy to bribe public officials, and tax evasion, all related to his involvement in lobbying for American Indian tribes and casinos. Before his career as a lobbyist, Abramoff spent 10 years in Hollywood as a producer and developed the screenplay for Red Scorpion along with his brother Robert, a more prolific producer who is still working in the industry today. Red Scorpion was filmed in Swaziland and the production became embroiled in the South African apartheid situation at the time, allegedly receiving some funding from the government as part of efforts to undermine the movement. The film suffered multiple delays and ultimately ended up about 8 million dollars over budget.

Dolph appears as Nikolai Petrovitch Radchenko, a Soviet Spetsnaz agent who is sent to a fictional African country to assassinate the leader of a large anti-communist rebel group. In order to get near to his target he gets involved in a bar brawl and is arrested and placed in a cell with a rebel commander. After gaining the man’s trust, the pair escape and end up at the rebel’s main hideout. He is met with distrust by most of the group and his attempt to assassinate the leader during the night results in his capture. After he ends up back in Soviet hands he is tortured and disgraced by his commanders, but manages to escape from an interrogation chamber and ends up in the desert where he is rescued by native bushmen. He learns about their customs and way of life, discovering that the peaceful tribe continues to be attacked by the Soviet forces. Radchenko is later given a ceremonial brand in the shape of a scorpion. Eventually he joins the rebel forces for an attack on the base where the corrupt Soviet commanders are based.

This poster was designed by the Los Angeles-based Kaiser Creative who have worked on a number of film posters over the years. IMPAwards has a gallery of many of their posters. I’ve been unable to determine who is responsible for the artwork so if anyone has any ideas please get in touch.

Cannonball / B2 / Japan

13.07.15

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Cannonball
AKA
Carquake (UK) | Cannonball! (alt. title)
Year of Film
1976
Director
Paul Bartel
Starring
David Carradine, Bill McKinney, Veronica Hamel, Gerrit Graham, Robert Carradine, Belinda Balaski, Judy Canova, Archie Hahn, Carl Gottlieb, Dick Miller
Origin of Film
USA | Hong Kong
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Comedy | Crime | Drama | Thriller
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1977
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 4/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Paul Bartel, the late actor/director who was at the helm of the cult b-movie Death Race 2000 (released a year earlier), stuck with the cross-country car chase theme with this 1976 flick Cannonball, though he removed most of the gore that gave the former film its notoriety. The film and title are based on the exploits of Erwin G. “Cannon Ball” Baker, a legendary bike and car racer who made over 140 cross-country speed runs during his career and put his name to the Sea to Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, an illegal cross-country race that was run five times during the 1970s. This was the first in a series of films that was based on the idea of illegal long-distance races, with The Gumball Rally seeing release the same year, and the more successful Cannonball Run and its sequel being released at the start of the 1980s.

Whilst perhaps not as star-studded as the later films, Cannonball still has a large ensemble cast with several cameos that are both credited and un-credited, including Martin Scorsese, Sylvester Stallone, Don Simpson and Roger Corman. David Carradine appears as Coy ‘Cannonball’ Buckman, a race driver who has recently been released from jail where he was sent for killing someone whilst driving drunk. He decides to enter the Trans-America Grand Prix, an illegal road race that travels between Los Angeles and New York City. The racing team Modern Motors has promised a contract to either Coy or his arch-rival Cade Redman (Bill McKinney) so he is determined to win.

Because the race crosses state lines Coy will be in violation of his parole conditions, his parole officer (Veronica Hamel) attempts to stop him and ends up being forced to come along for the ride. Two people who have offered to pay his race expenses are also passengers in his Dodge Charger and there are several other racers in the competition, including a surfer dude played by David’s brother Robert and his girlfriend (played by Belinda Balaski). The race soon descends into a violent destruction derby with many of the competitors meeting grizzly ends. Coy will be challenged in more ways than one and the first to cross the finish line isn’t who you might think. Later films in the genre would tone down the violence and deaths considerably.

This Japanese B2 poster features a unique montage design and was printed for the film’s first release in the country in 1977. Note the miss-spelling of the title as ‘Canonnball’.

 

Platoon / one sheet / international

10.07.15

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Platoon
AKA
--
Year of Film
1987
Director
Oliver Stone
Starring
Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, Richard Edson, Keith David, Forest Whitaker, Kevin Dillon, Johnny Depp
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Drama | War
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
International
Year of Poster
1986
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Mike Bryan
Size (inches)
27 2/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
--

An iconic image on this one sheet for the release of Oliver Stone‘s Academy Award-winning Vietnam war classic, Platoon, one of a three films that the director made on the subject (the others being Born on the Fourth of July and Heaven & Earth). The script, which was written by Stone, is based on his own experiences as an infantryman who served in tours of duty during the Vietnam war. He had signed up in 1967 after dropping out of Yale University and specifically requested to see combat in the war that had seen the first ground troops sent to the country two years earlier. Stone served in two different divisions for over a year and was wounded twice,  receiving several medals, including a Purple Heart.

The film follows Charlie Sheen‘s army grunt Chris Taylor (a proxy for Stone) who is serving as part of Bravo Company, 25th Infantry Division near the Cambodian Border. Taylor is fresh into the field and is treated with disdain by the more experienced soldiers (an incredible ensemble of acting talent, including Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, Keith David and Forest Whitaker) who have all been in country for months, and he is quickly made aware that his presence is inconsequential. After a few skirmishes in which some members of the division are killed, Taylor is eventually accepted into the group and discovers the grinding boredom and rampant drug use amongst his fellow soldiers. Tensions between two sergeants, the ill-tempered, battle-scarred Barnes (Berenger) and the pleasant, more reasonable Elias (Dafoe) reach breaking point following an incident involving innocent villagers. Upon returning to base, the issue of a court-martial for illegal killing is raised and when the division is sent out on their next patrol, things reach boiling point, leaving Taylor fighting to survive against the enemy as well as members of his own team.

This one sheet features a shot from a pivotal scene in the film where Elias is left behind during an evacuation to escape from advancing Vietcong troops. The shot was used on most posters for the film’s release across the board, but not on the US one sheet. This poster is in fact a one sheet printed for use in English-speaking international countries (note the lack of MPAA rating). It most commonly appears without the white border and measuring 25″ x 39″ but this is the full-size 27″ x 41″ bordered version.

I had always assumed the image was a photograph but I only recently discovered it’s the work of the American artist Mike Bryan who also painted the fantastic and iconic Robocop one sheet. Heritage auction house sold the original paintings for both posters in March 2014 and included with each was a note from Bryan himself. The platoon one can be read here.

At the Earth’s Core / quad / style 2 / UK

08.07.15

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
At the Earth's Core
AKA
--
Year of Film
1976
Director
Kevin Connor
Starring
Doug McClure, Peter Cushing, Caroline Munro, Cy Grant, Godfrey James, Sean Lynch, Keith Barron, Helen Gill, Anthony Verner
Origin of Film
UK | USA
Genre(s) of Film
Sci-Fi | Adventure | Fantasy
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
Style 2
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1976
Designer
Tom Chantrell
Artist
Tom Chantrell
Size (inches)
30" x 38 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
From the creator of 'The Land That Time Forgot'

At the Earth’s Core was the first entry in a series of British sci-fi/fantasy b-movies that were directed by Kevin Connor and starred the prolific American actor Doug McClure, known for his hammy leading man performances (McClure was one of the inspirations for The Simpsons’Troy ‘You may remember me from…’ McClure). The series began with The Land That Time Forgot (1975), was followed by The People That Time Forgot (1977) and ended with Warlords of Atlantis (1978). The initial three were shepherded through production by Max Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky’s Amicus Productions, which was based at Shepperton studios and is perhaps best remembered for its series of portmanteau horror films. By the time Warlords of Atlantis was released the company was almost defunct and so EMI Films stepped in and produced it, utilising many of the same cast and crew as the previous films.

Like the first three films in the series, At the Earth’s Core is based on a novel by the American author Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan and prolific creator of adventure and sci-fi tales. First published in 1914, the story introduced the author’s creation of Pellucidar, which is the idea that Earth is a hollow shell with another land 500 miles beneath the crust. Pellucidar featured in a number of other Burroughs stories and Tarzan even visited it in a 1929 story.

Set in Victorian Britain, the film features McClure playing David Innes, an American financier working with scientist Dr. Abner Perry (Peter Cushing) who has built a giant drilling machine nicknamed the Iron Mole. The idea of the machine is to make the creation of tunnels much easier and the pair have decided to first test it on a Welsh mountain. After launch, the Mole takes an unexpected turn and they find themselves in a strange land with a pink sky and giant unidentified fauna. Suddenly they are attacked by a giant dinosaur-like creature with a beak-like face, but are eventually rescued by an aggressive group of pig-faced cavemen who add them to a gang of primitive humans they have enslaved, including Dia (the stunning Caroline Munro). Soon they are taken to a city ruled over by the evil, pterodactyl-like creatures called The Mahar who, they are horrified to discover, eat human sacrifices. It’s up to David to find a way of escaping from their enslavement and put an end to the Mahar’s reign of terror.

The film has aged pretty badly, not least in the area of the special effects with the creatures looking particularly hokey. The production team decided not to use the stop-motion style of the previous film and instead went for stuntmen in suits for most of the creatures. It’s safe to say that, whilst it may have wowed audiences of the time, it now looks extremely hokey. The production design is otherwise excellent, with some superb sets and lots of effort put into props like the Iron Mole. McClure is his usual ebullient self and Cushing gives it plenty of gusto, although the strange high-pitched voice he affects gets very grating after a while. The score by Michael Vickers is notably decent.

The brilliant artwork on this quad, featuring a similarly chunky title treatment as seen on the quad for the first film in the series, is by Tom Chantrell, the celebrated British artist whose dynamic and colourful work featured on hundreds of posters over a forty year period. His official website features a great biography written by Sim Branaghan, author of the must-own British Film Posters. Chantrell illustrated many classic poster designs, including several Hammer posters such as the brilliant quad for ‘One Million Years B.C.’, and was also responsible for the iconic Star Wars quad, the artwork of which ended up being used around the globe. I have a number of other designs by him on this site.

Note that there are two styles of the UK quad and I’ve called this one style 2. The more common style 1 (see this picture) is fairly similar but features a bit more artwork at the bottom of the poster. Note the extra vegetation on style 1 and the alternate placement of the credits block, with style 2’s covering over part of the fire-breathing frog. I’m not sure why there are two versions of the poster and the answer is sadly likely to be lost to time, with Chantrell having passed away in 2001. This poster is also undersized widthways but I don’t believe it has been trimmed.

Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion / B1 / Japan

06.07.15

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion
AKA
Gamera 2: Region shurai (Japan - original English title)
Year of Film
1996
Director
Shûsuke Kaneko
Starring
Toshiyuki Nagashima, Miki Mizuno, Tamotsu Ishibashi, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Ayako Fujitani, Hiroyuki Okita, Yûsuke Kawazu, Yukijirô Hotaru, Hatsunori Hasegawa
Origin of Film
Japan
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Drama | Fantasy | Horror | Sci-Fi | Thriller
Type of Poster
B1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1996
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
28 12/16" x 40 7/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion is actually the 10th film to star the turtle-esque daikaiju (giant monster). The first film in the Showa period, entitled simply Gamera, was filmed in black and white in 1965 and released a year later in the US as ‘Gammera the Invincible’. Subsequent films during the Showa period were all ‘Gamera vs…’ a different kaiju and ended with Gamera: Super Monster. Fifteen years later the series was rebooted during the current Heisei period with Gamera: Guardian of the Universe.  Attack of the Legion is set a year after the events of the last film and begins with a meteor crashing into a mountainside that is carrying swarms of an insect-like extraterrestrial.

Soon after the city of Sapporo is covered with strange plants and it becomes clear that the creatures are nesting underneath the city and encouraging them to grow into a giant flower in order to form a kind of launchpad for another meteor-like spore to be blasted into space so they can colonise another world. Just before the creatures are able to trigger a launch explosion that would flatten the city, Gamera flies in and tears the flower out by its roots. Soon he is battling the smaller creatures, which a soldier nicknames Legion (after the Biblical demon army), as well as a gigantic queen which bursts out of the ground and flies off to try and create a nest in another city. Before long Tokyo is being threatened by the creatures and Gamera is all that stands in the way.

The film was a critical success in Japan and was followed in 1999 by a sequel called Gamera 3: Awakening of Irys.

I’m unsure who is responsible for this artwork but I’m confident that it’s not Noriyoshi Ohrai, who painted several fantastic Godzilla posters. If anyone has any ideas please get in touch.

 

Man of Steel / screen print / Martin Ansin / USA

03.07.15

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Man of Steel
AKA
--
Year of Film
2013
Director
Zack Snyder
Starring
Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Antje Traue, Harry Lennix, Richard Schiff, Christopher Meloni, Kevin Costner, Ayelet Zurer, Laurence Fishburne
Origin of Film
USA | Canada | UK
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Adventure | Fantasy | Sci-Fi
Type of Poster
Screen print
Style of Poster
Regular
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
2013
Designer
Martin Ansin
Artist
Martin Ansin
Size (inches)
24" x 36"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

It’s fair to say that Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot Man of Steel divided both critics and audience upon its release in 2013. Following Bryan Singer’s failed attempt to rekindle the franchise with the disappointment that was 2006’s Superman Returns, expectations were high for this film, coming as it did with production backing from Christopher Nolan who’d struck gold with his Batman trilogy. British actor Henry Cavill stepped into the role of Clark Kent / Kal-El and was joined by a number of notable actors, including Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, his adoptive father, and Amy Adams as Lois Lane. The film is effectively an origin story and opens with the destruction of Superman’s home planet of Krypton, resulting in the death of his father Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and mother Faora-Ul (Antje Traue). The rest of the film deals with his arrival on earth and adoption by the Kent family, whose attempts to conceal their adopted son’s identity are threatened by the arrival of the evil Kryptonian General Zod (Michael Shannon) and his gang of miscreants.

The film is undoubtedly visually stunning with state of the art special effects but is lacking something in the storytelling department, certainly not helped by a fairly clunky script. A lot of the criticism about the film was levelled at the final quarter of the film that sees Superman face off against Zod in the middle of a Metropolis that is smashed to pieces by the two Kryptonians with seemingly no thought for the potential loss of life in the city. Additionally, the climactic scene is often cited as being very un-Superman. There were a number of attempts to explain what the film gets wrong but it’d be wrong to say that it’s not worth a watch. It also served as a prelude to 2016’s Batman vs Superman and the much anticipated Justice League film due the year after.

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. There is a variant that was printed onto a sheet of steel and only 130 of those were released. The regular edition was a timed-release and was available to purchase over a period of three days (standard Mondo releases are done at a random time on a first-come, first-served basis). This meant that the edition of the regular print ended up being 5585.

The pose of Superman was apparently inspired by a painting by the celebrated artist Alex Ross, which is itself a homage to the first issue of the Superman comic that was printed in 1939.

One of my favourite artists active today, Martin Ansin‘s work has graced many of the best posters released by Mondo, including several in the Universal Monsters series like this amazing Phantom of the Opera print and an excellent Dracula (1931) one. You only have to look at the gallery on his official site to see how talented an artist he is, with an eye for composition and detail unmatched by most of the artists in Mondo’s roster. To see the other posters I’ve collected so far that were designed by Ansin, click here.