The Fly / video / UK

14.08.17

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
The Fly
AKA
--
Year of Film
1986
Director
David Cronenberg
Starring
Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Horror | Sci-Fi
Type of Poster
Video
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1986
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Richard Mahon (pod artwork)
Size (inches)
23 7/16" x 33"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

A unique design features on this UK poster for the video release of David Cronenberg‘s sci-fi classic, The Fly. Loosely based on a 1957 short story of the same name by George Langelaan, which was first adapted for the big screen in 1958, the screenplay was written by Cronenberg himself and based on an initial draft by Charles Edward Pogue. The director rewrote most of the characters and dialogue and added themes of identity, sexuality and body horror with which he’d become synonymous.

Cronenberg cast Jeff Goldblum as the gifted but eccentric scientist Seth Brundle who has secretly been working on teleportation of objects from one place to another instantly. He works for Bartok Science Industries but has been working on a pair of ‘telepods’ at his home laboratory. When he’s introduced to the journalist Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) at a ‘meet the press’ event he decides to risk taking her to see his work, which he demonstrates by teleporting inanimate objects. Impressed, Veronica agrees to keep quiet in return for exclusive rights to the story.

Soon afterwards the pair start a romantic relationship as Brundle continues to work on the pods. He decides that he wants to have the pods teleport living tissue and eventually manages to do so successfully with a baboon he’s borrowed from his company. Flushed with success Brundle begins drinking and starts to get paranoid that Veronica has rekindled her relationship with her editor and former lover Stathis Borans John Getz. He decides to try teleporting himself but unbeknownst to him a housefly gets inside the pod with him.

He emerges in the other pod seemingly fine and initially feels he’s come out of the pod an ‘improved’ human with higher strength and stamina. However over the following weeks Brundle’s mood becomes highly erratic and he begins a bodily transformation that starts out with unwanted hairs and fingernails falling out but begins to progress into something much more destructive as he realises his pod had been contaminated. The transformation into ‘Brundlefly’ sees the scientist scrambling for a cure before it’s too late, desperately imploring a pregnant Veronica to help him.

Goldblum’s performance was rightly celebrated and it remains one of his most memorable roles to date. The special effects depicting Brundle’s deterioration were executed by Chris Walas‘ company and ended up rightfully winning an Academy Award. The film is as impressive as it was 30 years ago and is definitely one of Cronenberg’s best.

The close-up image of a fly’s eyes is, I believe, unique to this poster but note that it also features the illustrated telepod that appeared on the US one sheet, which was painted by Richard Mahon. The logo is also the same one seen on the American poster and British quad.

Here’s the film’s original trailer.

Frightmare / one sheet / USA

07.08.17

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Frightmare
AKA
Horror Star (working title / international English title)
Year of Film
1983
Director
Norman Thaddeus Vane
Starring
Ferdy Mayne, Luca Bercovici, Nita Talbot, Jeffrey Combs, Leon Askin, Jennifer Starrett, Barbara Pilavin, Alan Stock
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Comedy | Horror
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Skull style
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1983
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Terry Lamb (original artwork, adapted and tweaked)
Size (inches)
27 39 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
There is no escape, not even death...

This is the ‘skull style’ US one sheet for the release of the low-budget 1983 horror Frightmare (AKA Horror Star), directed by the late Norman Thaddeus Vane. The film is largely forgotten today and only really notable as featuring the first appearance of genre legend Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator). The film stars the late German-British actor Ferdy Mayne, a prolific actor who appeared in over 230 films and TV shows over a 60 year period. He is perhaps best known for his performance as Count von Krolock in Roman Polanski’s 1967 film, The Fearless Vampire Killers.

In Frightmare Mayne plays an aging horror film star called Conrad Razkoff, who is very much in the mould of the legendary British actor Christopher Lee – in fact, Lee appears on TV several times playing Dracula, which the audience are meant to infer is Razkoff in his prime. The actor has been reduced to appearing in adverts for dentures and is also suffering from poor health, fainting during a talk to drama students at a university. Soon afterwards Razkoff passes away, but not before he smothers his abusive agent. After his coffin is placed inside an improbably large crypt, which is lit by neon lights, a young group of fans of the star break into the cemetery and decide to steal his corpse.

After returning to the mansion in which they all live, the group sit him at the head of the table and later dance with his corpse before returning him to his coffin in the attic. Razkoff’s wife has discovered that her husband’s body is missing and uses a medium to try and contact him in the afterlife and find out where his body is. This has the unfortunate side-effect of reviving the actor as a murderous zombie who proceeds to work his way through the group of fans, killing each one using different methods. Eventually one of the survivors realises his body must be returned to his crypt. There’s barely anything in the way of character development and it’s hard to care for any of the victims when you have no clue who they are. Mayne’s performance is at least respectable and you do buy him as a fading horror star. It’s also pretty clear what producers like Charles Band saw in a young Jeffrey Combs.

This US one sheet is unusual in that it borrows some key artwork painted for a previous horror film, the 1974 Amicus anthology From Beyond the Grave, and tweaks it slightly in terms of colours and the removal of some elements. The original artwork was painted by the American illustrator Terry Lamb and can be seen here. You can see that the two living creatures were removed and various other elements were modified, but it’s unquestionably the same piece of art. If anyone has any more information as to why the recycling of art took place please get in touch.

I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle / quad / UK

31.07.17

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle
AKA
Iron Thunder (Germany)
Year of Film
1990
Director
Dirk Campbell
Starring
Neil Morrissey, Amanda Noar, Michael Elphick, Anthony Daniels, Andrew Powell, George Rossi, Daniel Peacock, Midge Taylor, David Daker, Burt Kwouk, Brendan Donnison
Origin of Film
UK
Genre(s) of Film
Comedy | Horror
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1990
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
30 1/16" x 39 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
Most motorcycles run on petrol, this one runs on blood!

Colourful artwork features on this UK quad for the release of the 1990 ultra l0w budget horror-comedy, I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle. The film remains the sole feature film credit for the director Dirk Campbell who appears to have spent most of his career in television. The majority of the cast are also from TV backgrounds, including lead Neil Morrissey (‘Men Behaving Badly’, ‘Line of Duty’) and the late Michael Elphick. The latter is perhaps best known for playing the titular lead in Boon, which ran for 93 episodes and also starred Morrissey. The production of the film apparently utilised the sets of Boon without the TV company being aware and several other members of the cast and crew were involved.

Set in and around Birmingham, the film opens with a demonic ritual being performed by a biker gang at night. Just as the ceremony is about to be completed they are attacked and murdered by a rival gang led by Roach (Andrew Powell). During the mayhem, the demon is shown to have been summoned and it quickly enters the body of the lead occultist. After Roach’s gang have fled the scene, the demonic presence reanimates the dead body and then drips its blood into the petrol tank of the occultist’s motorbike.

The next day, motorcycle courier Noddy (Morrissey) meets with a mechanic who has taken ownership of the demonic bike and is selling it without realising what is inside. Although everything seems normal to begin with, Noddy and his partner Kim (Amanda Noar) gradually realise that the bike is no ordinary machine, especially when their mechanic is brutally murdered at home, with blood and tire treads found all over the walls. Inspector Cleaver (Elphick) becomes involved in the case, bodies begin piling up, and soon Noddy is turning to a biker/priest (Anthony Daniels) to help exorcise the killer demon.

Despite its low-budget origins, the film is a fun watch and the script has some genuinely hilarious lines in it. There are also some inventive action scenes and the killer machine itself is well handled. There’s also one of the most surreal/gross scenes involving a dream sequence and the contents of a toilet bowl ever committed to celluloid. The film is surprisingly gory and doesn’t skimp on violence – most of the special effects are well done. I’m not saying it’s a classic, far from it, but it’s certainly worth a watch!

Frustratingly, I’ve struggled to find out who was responsible for the artwork on this country of origin poster. I am certain that it’s not the work of Graham Humphreys as I had this confirmed to me in an email from the man himself. If anyone has any ideas please get in touch. Note the rather brilliant quote from Sam Raimi (Evil Dead)!

Last Days / one sheet / USA

24.07.17

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Last Days
AKA
--
Year of Film
2005
Director
Gus Van Sant
Starring
Michael Pitt, Lukas Haas, Asia Argento, Scott Patrick Green, Nicole Vicius, Ricky Jay, Ryan Orion, Harmony Korine, Rodrigo Lopresti, Kim Gordon
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Biography | Drama | Music
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
2005
Designer
Shoolery Design
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27 1/16" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

A striking photographic image features on this one sheet for the release of Gus Van Sant‘s 2005 drama, Last Days. The film is a fictionalized account of the last few days in the life of a musician who is reminiscent of Kurt Cobain, lead singer of Nirvana. Van Sant had been planning the project for over a decade and at one point had wanted to make a biography of the singer. After befriending Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, the director realised that doing so would cause too much pain for Love and the deceased singer’s family, so he decided to fictionalise the story.

Michael Pitt plays the main character Blake and Van Sant had cast him in the part seven years before filming commenced. The rest of the cast includes Lukas HaasAsia Argento and Nicole Vicius, with notorious director Harmony Korine appearing as a character in one scene set in a nightclub. The plot is thin and Van Sant uses a technique he’s employed in a few of his films where the same scene is shown from different view points but at different times throughout the film, with the audience not given clear indication that this has happened. Most of the scenes follow Blake and take place in and around a large house surrounded by trees. Several interactions between him and his housemates, as well as visitors to the house take place, all leading up to a fatal moment with Blake and a shotgun at the end of the film.

The film received mixed critical notices and failed to make much of a dent at the box-office in the US. It received limited releases in several territories, including the UK.

This American one sheet was designed by Shoolery Design which now appears to be defunct as a company but was responsible for a large number of film posters from the mid-1990s up to 2007. A gallery of these designs can be seen on IMPAwards. The man who started the company, Mark Shoolery, seems to still be active and he has a website on which a lot of his work, including film posters, can be seen. It looks like he continues to work as an independent art director and artist and his Instagram feed features logo design work. According to his resume Shoolery has worked on projects for the film industry, the music industry, packaging for various products including toys, and marketing strategy for several companies. The LinkedIn entry for Shoolery design notes the following:

Conceived, developed and executed creative advertising campaigns for major studios, network and cable television, home entertainment, music and live events. Oversaw all in and out of-home advertising, collateral and promotional materials. Directed staff of 80-90 employees producing high-end advertising campaigns. Consulted with studio marketing executives as well as producers and directors of major motion pictures. Supervised celebrity photo shoots worldwide.

The other posters I have that were created by Shoolery Design can be seen here.

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.