Erik the Viking / Thailand

17.07.17

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Erik the Viking
AKA
--
Year of Film
1989
Director
Terry Jones
Starring
Tim Robbins, Mickey Rooney, Eartha Kitt, Terry Jones, Imogen Stubbs, John Cleese, Tsutomu Sekine, Antony Sher
Origin of Film
UK | Sweden
Genre(s) of Film
Comedy | Adventure | Fantasy
Type of Poster
Thai
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Thailand
Year of Poster
1989
Designer
Tongdee Panumas
Artist
Tongdee Panumas (figures falling out of boat based on Renato Casaro artwork)
Size (inches)
24" x 34 12/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This Thai poster for Terry Jones’ 1989 fantasy film Erik the Viking features artwork by Tongdee Panumas. The prolific Jones (actor, director, author, screenwriter, poet, historian) is best known as a Monty Python member and director of the comedy group’s feature films. The film was inspired by Jones’ own 1983 children’s book The Saga of Erik the Viking but shares only character names; the plotline is completely different. Based largely on Norse mythology, Tim Robbins stars as the titular Viking who discovers in the opening scene that he has no taste for the usual Viking activities of raping and pillaging. He learns from a wise old woman that Fenrir the wolf has swallowed the sun and plunged the world into the chaotic age of Ragnarök. Erik resolves to gather a motley crew together to travel to Asgard and petition the gods to end Ragnarök and bring sunlight back to his people. First he must travel to Hy-Brasil and recover the ‘Horn Resounding’ and there he meets King Arnulf (Jones) and promptly falls in love with his daughter, Princess Aud (Imogen Stubbs).

The film was largely critically panned and didn’t fare too well at the box-office. Over the years Jones and his son Bill have made a few edits to the film, with a VHS release chopping 18 minutes from the runtime, before a 2006 “Director’s Son’s Cut” saw it reduced down to just 75 minutes (from the original theatrical running time of 107 minutes).

This Thai poster features a repainted take on the figures falling out of the viking boat, as seen on the German poster (and painted by Renato Casaro), but adds more colour and a montage of action scenes as was typical of the artist responsible. Tongdee Panumas was an incredibly prolific film poster artist during the 70s, 80s and 90s. I’ve been unable to find out much about him, other than that he was born in 1947, so if anyone has any more details please get in touch.

Note that this particular copy of the poster has been hand-signed by Tongdee and I bought it from someone who had visited Thailand, met the artist and had him sign a few posters. I’ve seen photographic evidence that it’s a genuine signature.

The Black Bird / one sheet / USA

11.07.17

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
The Black Bird
AKA
--
Year of Film
1975
Director
David Giler
Starring
George Segal, Stéphane Audran, Lionel Stander, Lee Patrick, Elisha Cook Jr., Felix Silla, Signe Hasso, John Abbott, Connie Kreski, Titus Napoleon, Harry Kenoi, Howard Jeffrey, Ken Swofford
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Comedy
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1975
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Drew Struzan
Size (inches)
27 3/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
75/159
Tagline
Why is everyone after George Segal's bird? Because he's Sam Spade Jr... and his falcons worth a fortune.

This one sheet for the largely forgotten (and ill-advised) quasi-sequel to the classic 1941 film The Maltese Falcon, The Black Bird, features one of the earliest film poster illustrations by the legendary artist Drew Struzan. The film is the sole directorial effort from David Giler, who is now best known as a producer on pretty much every Alien film in the franchise, up to and including Alien Covenant (2017). George Segal stars as the son of detective Sam Spade, who was played by Humphrey Bogart in the first film. The plot is described on IMDb:

The son of famous detective Sam Spade carries on the family tradition of getting involved with the Maltese Falcon – and with the people who will stop at nothing, including murder, to get it.

The Black Bird was trashed by critics at the time of release and audiences stayed away too. Unless I’m mistaken, the film has never been released digitally and is only available if you still have a VHS player.

Drew Struzan is an artist who barely needs an introduction given that he painted many of the most iconic film posters of all time, including several for Star Wars, Indiana Jones and a slew of other beloved classics like The Thing and The Goonies. The artist’s own site features 4 pages of his work for films and Drew also worked in other areas, including product marketing, book and magazine covers, editorial and multiple paintings as a fine artist. Drew declared that he’d retired in 2008 but has worked on a handful of special paintings since then, including one to announce the most recent Star Wars film in 2015.

To see a gallery of the other posters by Drew that I’ve collected click here.

 

Airplane! / B1 / Japan

05.07.17

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Airplane!
AKA
Flying High (Japan - English title | Australia | New Zealand)
Year of Film
1980
Director
Jim Abrahams | David Zucker | Jerry Zucker
Starring
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Julie Hagerty, Robert Hays, Leslie Nielsen, Lorna Patterson, Robert Stack, Stephen Stucker, Otto, Jim Abrahams, Frank Ashmore, Jonathan Banks
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Comedy
Type of Poster
B1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1980
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Robert Grossman
Size (inches)
28 12/16" x 40 7/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Featuring the same artwork from the US one sheet, this is the Japanese B1 poster for one of the funniest films of all time, Airplane! The film was the creation of the celebrated writers Jerry ZuckerJim Abrahams, and David Zucker (collectively known as ZAZ) who had garnered critical acclaim for their small theatre productions as the Kentucky Fried Theatre, which they formed in 1971. The idea for the film was arrived at after the trio saw the 1957 disaster movie Zero Hour! and realised it had the perfect structure to be adapted into a comedy film. A script was written and completed in 1975 but the trio had little experience in filmmaking so it was shelved for a while as they pulled together a script based on their theatre sketches. This was filmed and released as The Kentucky Fried Movie in 1978, directed by John Landis. Ultimately it gave them the necessary experience to feel confident enough to direct Airplane!

As well as riffing on Zero Hour!, the film is a send-up of disaster movies of the seventies such as Airplane (1975) and takes place on board a stricken passenger jet. Robert Hays stars as Ted Striker, an ex-Navy pilot who was traumatised during the War and has a pathological fear of flying. Desperate to win back his ex-girlfriend Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty) Striker follows her onto a Trans American flight from Los Angeles to Chicago on which she is working as a flight attendant. Determined to speak to Elaine, he makes several attempts to get her attention but nothing works until food poisoning strikes both passengers and crew. Attention falls on Striker as the aircrafts best hope for survival and he must overcome his psychological aversion to sitting behind the controls.

In Airplane! the jokes come thick and fast and are both spoken and visual (sight gags). Several actors were playing against type, notably Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack and Leslie Nielsen. The latter’s career was to skyrocket following this film with starring roles in the ZAZ TV show Police Squad! as well as the trilogy of films based on the series, Naked Gun. Airplane! was both a critical and commercial success and would go on to earn over $83m on a $3.5m budget. It cemented ZAZ’s reputation as reliable comedy writers and directors and, as well as Police Squad! and Naked Gun, the 1980s and early 1990s saw the release of Top Secret!, Ruthless People and Hot Shots! (1 & Deux). Airplane! was also both multi-award winning and hugely influential on budding comedy performers and directors.

The artwork of the twisted plane featured on posters for the film across the world and was painted by the celebrated artist, filmmaker and author Robert Grossman. Born in New York City in 1940, he received his earliest training from his father who was a display painter. He would go on to study at Yale University and graduated with a BA in Fine Arts in 1961. Two years later Grossman began a freelance career that would see him working for the next 50 years. His work has appeared over 500 times on the covers of various national publications such as Time, Newsweek, Rolling Stone and Esquire. In addition to magazine and newspapers, his illustrations have also graced children’s books and record sleeves for the likes of Columbia and Warner Bros. The Airplane! illustration is one of his most famous pieces of work. As far as I can tell Grossman only worked on a painting for two other film posters during his career, both of which can be seen here. His official website is here and a gallery of his work can be seen here.

The House of Seven Corpses / one sheet / USA

03.07.17

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
The House of Seven Corpses
AKA
--
Year of Film
1974
Director
Paul Harrison
Starring
John Ireland, Faith Domergue, John Carradine, Carole Wells, Charles Macaulay, Jerry Strickler, Ron Foreman, Dennis Record, Marty Hornstein
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Horror
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1974
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27 4/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
74/20
Tagline
Eight graves! Seven bodies! One killer... and he's already dead.

This is the US one sheet for the release of the largely forgotten 1974 horror, The House of Seven Corpses. The film was the sole feature film directing credit for Paul Harrison who seems to have spent more time as a screenwriter. It stars the prolific character actor John Ireland who is known for his many appearances in Westerns (and the 1960 classic Spartacus) and Faith Domergue, star of some 1950s sci-fi flicks such as This Island Earth. John Carradine, the ridiculously prolific actor (351 appearances!) and father of several actors, including David, also appears.

Ireland plays Eric Hartman, a film director who has decided to shoot his next picture in the titular mansion where seven members of the same family met their untimely ends in various ways. Hoping that the location will provide a suitable ambience to the picture, Hartman only has to put up with the cantankerous caretaker Edgar Price (Carradine) and a difficult star in Gayle Dorian (Domergue) who it’s hinted Hartman had a relationship with in the past. The director’s assistant David discovers the Tibetan Book of the Dead in the house (as you do) and decides to suggest some of the text is used in the witchcraft scenes in the film. Unfortunately, this then triggers the reanimation of a zombie from the graveyard outside the mansion and it proceeds to work it’s murderous way through the cast and crew.

Sadly, the film is almost entirely lacking in any sense of tension or horror and it’s over an hour (of a 90 minute film) before the zombie rises up. None of the characters are particularly appealing so it’s a fairly dull watch for most of the time. There’s a twist that’s incredibly badly handled, so much so that I had no idea it had taken place until I read a plot synopsis afterwards!

This one sheet is at least fairly interesting, with a creepy graveyard image that has been made using a cut and paste photomontage technique. The film’s logo is also very 1970s.

Prime Cut / one sheet / style A / USA

27.06.17

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Prime Cut
AKA
Carnage (France)
Year of Film
1972
Director
Michael Ritchie
Starring
Lee Marvin, Gene Hackman, Angel Tompkins, Gregory Walcott, Sissy Spacek, Janit Baldwin, William Morey, Clint Ellison, Howard Platt, Les Lannom
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Crime | Drama
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Style B
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1972
Designer
Tom Jung
Artist
Tom Jung
Size (inches)
27 3/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
72/57
Tagline
Together They're Murder In...

A painting by the American artist Tom Jung, who is best known for his work on the style A poster for the release of the first Star Wars film, features on this one sheet for the 1972 crime-drama, Prime Cut. The film was directed by the late Michael Ritchie (Fletch, Downhill Racer) and stars two heavyweight actors of the time in Lee Marvin and Gene Hackman. The former had a string of box-office hits playing tough guys in films such as Point Blank and The Dirty Dozen, and the latter had just starred in the unforgettable The French Connection and was to appear in The Poseidon Adventure in the same year as Prime Cut. It also marked the acting debut of Sissy Spacek who would appear in her most famous role four years later in Brian De Palma’s Carrie.

The plot sees Nick Devlin (Marvin), a Chicago mob enforcer, sent with a crew of men to Kansas City to track down Mary Ann (Hackman) and recover a $500,000 debt. Previous men sent by the mob have disappeared and we witness one being ‘processed’ through Mary Ann’s meat factory, ending up as the filling in a string of sausages that are then sent to the mob boss as a taunt. After driving to Kansas, Devlin first attacks Mary Ann’s brother and warns him that the group are there to collect the debt. The following day they find Mary Ann in a barn where he is the ringleader of a white-slave auction in which young girls are being auctioned off to older men. The women are kept naked in pens like livestock and drugged up so they don’t try to escape. Devlin threatens Mary Ann and rescues one of the women called Poppy (Spacek) “on account”. The rest of the film sees him attempting to secure the missing money and avoiding Mary Ann’s gang of denim-wearing, shotgun-toting farm boys.

The film is fairly brisk at just under 90 minutes and both leads are entertaining to watch throughout. Spacek is also excellent as Poppy and it’s not hard to see why her career took off quickly following her appearance in Prime Cut. There are several memorable scenes in the film, including one faintly ridiculous one where Devlin and Poppy are chased through a wheatfield by a combine harvester, which then goes onto chew up an entire car!

As well as the iconic one sheet for Star Wars, Tom Jung is also known for the style B one sheet for The Empire Strikes Back. He was a prolific designer and illustrator for film campaigns from the 1950s through to the 1980s. IMPAwards features a gallery of his work and his Wikipedia article has a selected list of the many posters he worked on. Rather unusually, at least in comparison to other film poster artists, Jung was also a designer of his posters as well as the artist. The other posters I’ve collected by him can be seen here.

Note that this is the Style A one sheet and style B is photographic. Rather unusually, the decision was taken to insert ‘A’ in next to the title at the bottom of the poster which makes it look like the title is ‘A Prime Cut’.

Naked Lunch / quad / UK

22.06.17

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Naked Lunch
AKA
Hadaka no lunch (Japan)
Year of Film
1991
Director
David Cronenberg
Starring
Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider, Monique Mercure, Nicholas Campbell, Michael Zelniker
Origin of Film
Canada | UK | Japan
Genre(s) of Film
Biography | Comedy | Drama
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1991
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
30 1/16" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
Exterminate all rational thought

Naked Lunch is cult Canadian director David Cronenberg‘s semi-adaptation of the celebrated American writer William S. Burroughsnovel of the same name. The book, which is a collection of vignettes with little in the way of connecting narrative, was written in 1959 and several attempts had been made over the years to try and adapt it for the screen. The structure of the book meant crafting a coherent plot was a tall order for any screenwriter, so Cronenberg decided to try a slightly different approach. The resultant film features scenes and characters from the vignettes but blends them with a semi-biographical look at the process Burroughs went through to write the original book, and includes incidents and characters (albeit renamed) from his experiences during the Beat Generation literary movement of the 1950s.

The resultant film, despite having more of a connecting narrative, is no less batshit crazy for it. Peter Weller plays Burroughs as William Lee (a sometime pen name of the author) who is working as a bug exterminator and whose wife Joan Lee (Judy Davis) has become addicted to the powder he uses to kill the critters. He is also a heroin addict and is arrested by the police for possession. Whilst in custody he begins to hallucinate and sees a giant bug who tells him he is being recruited as a secret agent and that his mission is to kill Joan who may or not be a shape-shifting agent working for a shady organisation. Disbelieving, he smashes the bug and escapes from custody, returning home to find Joan having sex with one of his friends. Soon afterwards he accidentally kills Joan by shooting her in the head after attempting to shoot a glass off her head, William Tell-style (this mirrors a real incident in which Burroughs killed his then partner Joan Vollmer in Mexico).

On the run from the police, he’s introduced to a bipedal alien called a Mugwump in a bar who gives him a travel ticket to get to Interzone (an area of a North African country) where he can lie low and carry out missions for his ‘handlers’. There he meets a whole host of odd characters, including Tom Frost (Ian Holm) and his wife Joan who bears a striking relation to his deceased wife. He continues to write reports for his imaginary handlers, with his typewriter soon morphing into another talking bug. Things continue to get progressively weirder as he is told to search out the mysterious Dr Benway, the source of a drug that is swamping the Interzone.

The above description makes the film sound vaguely conventional when it is anything but and there’s no doubt that it’s a marmite film for many who watch it. The film had a botched release in North America which saw it only recouping a small percentage of its original budget due to a limited number of screenings. Nevertheless it was largely lauded by critics and has since garnered something of a cult following.

This British quad features a unique design that includes a close-up photograph of Weller’s William Lee above a centipede. The film had a range of poster designs across the globe, with little repetition in the designs. The US one sheet is memorable but by far my favourite is the incredible Japanese ‘bug’-style poster that features a freaky illustration by H Sorayama.