First Blood / large / Thailand

08.12.16

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
First Blood
AKA
Rambo (multiple countries)
Year of Film
1982
Director
Ted Kotcheff
Starring
Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennehy, Richard Crenna, Bill McKinney, Jack Starrett, Michael Talbott, Chris Mulkey
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Thriller
Type of Poster
Thai one sheet
Style of Poster
Large style
Origin of Poster
Thailand
Year of Poster
1982
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Tongdee Panumas | Drew Struzan (original Rambo figure holding gun, repainted by Tongdee)
Size (inches)
27.5" x 39 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is the scarce, large-size poster for the Thai release of the first film in what would become known as the Rambo series, First Blood. Helmed by the Canadian director Ted Kotcheff, the film was co-written by the film’s star Sylvester Stallone. Stallone would eventually become best known for two series that between them saw 11 films released over a 40 year period; the Rocky boxing saga and Rambo. The first Rocky film had been met with critical and commercial success when it was released in 1976. A sequel followed three years later and Stallone had Rocky III in cinemas at the same time as First Blood (1982). The latter cemented the actor as a box-office behemoth and he became one of the 1980’s action megastars, alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis.

First Blood started life as a 1972 novel by author David Morrell which had its rights optioned by Columbia Pictures almost immediately. The project then spent the next decade bouncing between studios, producers and directors. Eventually Stallone was offered the lead role and Ted Kotcheff agreed to direct for the legendary producers Mario Kassar and Andrew G. Vajna of Carolco Pictures.

John J. Rambo (Stallone) is a former US Special Forces soldier who has returned from Vietnam still haunted and disoriented by his experiences there. He decides to pay a visit to an ex-forces friend by hitchhiking across the country. When he arrives he discovers that his pal died soon after returning from the war due to exposure to Agent Orange. Rambo continues his journey on foot and eventually arrives in the small town of Hope, Washington. There he is confronted and abused by the local sheriff known as Teasle (Brian Dennehy) who drives Rambo out of town and tells him not to return.

Deciding to defy the orders, Rambo is soon arrested by Teasle for a series of bogus charges. Whilst in detention and being sadistically attacked by the other corrupt sheriffs, Rambo has flashbacks to being a Prisoner of War in Vietnam. Fearing for his life, he fights his way out of the jail. There then follows a cat and mouse chase as he flees into the nearby forest, pursued by Teasle and a gang of his men. He manages to evade and outwit the sheriffs and eventually his former commanding officer Trautman (an excellent Richard Crenna) arrives in Hope to help with the situation. Trautman warns the lawmen that Rambo will not come quietly and urges them not to corner him. When they fail to heed his warning, a series of violent encounters ends with Rambo pitched against Teasle in a night-time confrontation.

The film was a huge box-office success on its release, although film critics were less than impressed at the time. It would later be given a critical reappraisal and quickly gained cult status once it was released on home video. Two sequels were released in the 1980s but these were much more gung-ho and violent than the original. It’s often forgotten how relatively tame the first Rambo film is compared to the three sequels, particularly the later revival film, Rambo (2008).

This is one of three Thai posters that exist for First Blood. At least one of them is for a later re-release but I believe this poster, which is the size of a US one-sheet, was printed for the original cinema release in Thailand. The main figure of Rambo with the giant machine gun is based on the artwork by Drew Struzan that was used on the American one sheet and British quad. It has been repainted by Tongdee and the rest of the poster is of the artist’s own creation.

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.

Amityville 3-D / one sheet / USA

05.12.16

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Amityville 3-D
AKA
Amityville: The Demon
Year of Film
1983
Director
Richard Fleischer
Starring
Tony Roberts, Tess Harper, Robert Joy, Candy Clark, John Beal, Leora Dana, John Harkins, Lori Loughlin, Meg Ryan, Neill Barry
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Horror
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1983
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
27 4/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
830163
Tagline
WARNING: in this movie you are the victim.

This is the one sheet for the release of the third film in the Amityville series of horror films, known as Amityville 3-D (or Amityville: The Demon). In an unusual step, the producers of the film were forced to add a line of text to the bottom of the poster asserting that it’s not a sequel to the Amityville and Amityville II. This was because legendary Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis was in the middle of a lawsuit with the Lutz family that were part of the original hauntings that inspired the first films. In the film the original story is referenced, as is the murdered family at the centre of the story, the DeFeos.

Amityville 3-D was one of three big horror releases of 1983 that were presented in 3D (the others being Jaws 3 and Friday the 13th part 3). It’s fair to say that the results were hardly spectacular and audiences and critics alike complained about the blurriness of the 3D content, particularly in this film. Notably, this is the only film released by the now defunct Orion Pictures to be given the 3D treatment.

The plot focuses on the journalist John Baxter (Tony Roberts) who, along with his partner Melanie (Candy Clark), has recently exposed a pair of conmen that were living in the infamous house on 112 Ocean Avenue. He is persuaded to buy the house by a local estate agent and after he agrees to do so a series of events occur that all point to a supernatural presence in the home. John is unconvinced and ignores the pleas of Melanie who is convinced that something lurks inside the house. After his daughter Susan (Lori Loughlin) dies in the lake near the house he is finally convinced to allow his friend, the paranormal investigator Doctor Elliot West (Robert Joy) to check out the house. 

This one sheet features artwork of a demonic claw bursting out of the famous house, presumably giving potential ticket buyers an idea of what they’d be in for with the 3D. I’m unsure who designed or painted it (I believe the hand to be an illustration but may be wrong) so if anyone has an idea, please get in touch.

Bergman Festival / 2008 / Czechoslovakia

02.12.16

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Bergman Festival
AKA
--
Year of Film
Various
Director
Ingmar Bergman
Starring
--
Origin of Film
Various
Genre(s) of Film
Various
Type of Poster
A1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Czechoslovakia
Year of Poster
2008
Designer
Vladimir 518
Artist
Vladimir 518
Size (inches)
23 6/16" x 33"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is a poster for a Czechoslovakian film festival focused on 43 films by the legendary Swedish director, Ingmar Bergman. The festival took place in 2008, one year after Bergman’s death, and the films were shown in three Czech cities, including Prague. The colourful poster was created by the designer known as Vladimir 518. According to a translation of this Wikipedia article, he’s also a famous Czech rapper and he was born in 1978. The article mentions that he also creates illustrations and designs for comics, books and a music label, BiggBoss. His Instagram feed is here.

The Stone Killer / quad / UK

29.11.16

PosterPosterPoster
Title
The Stone Killer
AKA
Le cercle noir [The black circle] (France) | América violenta [Violent America] (Spain)
Year of Film
1973
Director
Michael Winner
Starring
Charles Bronson, Martin Balsam, Jack Colvin, Paul Koslo, Norman Fell, David Sheiner, Stuart Margolin, Ralph Waite, Alfred Ryder, Walter Burke, Kelley Miles
Origin of Film
Italy | USA
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Crime | Drama
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1973
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
30" x 39 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
This cop plays dirty! | Take away his badge and he'd top the Ten Most Wanted list!

This is the British quad poster for the release of the 1973 crime drama The Stone Killer. The film was one of a number that starred action legend Charles Bronson and was directed by Michael Winner. Their most successful collaboration (in box-office terms), Death Wish, was released a year later. The film features a cop who bends the rules to crack a case and was made in the wake of the hugely successful Clint Eastwood film, Dirty Harry (1971). That film also focused on a detective willing to play dirty, as this poster’s tagline shouts.

Bronson plays detective Lou Torrey who has recently been transferred to a Los Angeles beat. After the murder of a former hitman, he uncovers a plot involving the local mafia. The don, Al Vescari (Martin Balsam) has instigated a number of murders in revenge for killings that took place in 1931. This spree saw Sicilian capos executed across the US (a real-life crime dubbed the Night of the Sicilian Vespers). Vescari has decided to use Vietnam vets to carry out the killings and Torrey must race against time to stop the hitmen before the revenge plot is complete.

The stark imagery on this quad also featured on the US one sheet (see here) and the title block and main tagline have also been recycled by the British designer.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 / B2 / style A / Japan

23.11.16

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
AKA
--
Year of Film
1986
Director
Tobe Hooper
Starring
Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Jim Siedow, Bill Moseley, Bill Johnson, Ken Evert, Harlan Jordan, Kirk Sisco
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Comedy | Horror
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Style A
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1986
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is the Japanese B2 poster (style A) for the release of Tobe Hooper’s sequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Set and released 13 years after the groundbreaking original film, the story was written by Hooper and the film was this time produced by the notorious schlock-peddlers Cannon Films. The film is set in another part of Texas and sees a radio disc-jockey, Vanita ‘Stretch’ Brock (Caroline Williams), become the target of the psychotic ‘family’ seen in the first film. At the start of the film a pair of jocks are killed by Leatherface (Bill Johnson) after they play chicken with the car that he and Chop-Top (Bill Moseley) are in.

By coincidence, the pair were on a call to Stretch’s radio station and the attack is recorded by her. After she replays the tape live on air the patriarch of the family, The Cook (Jim Siedow), hears it and sends Leatherface and Chop-Top after her. When Leatherface decides to spare Stretch, she follows the pair back to their hideout in an old amusement park and soon ends up in their clutches again. Luckily, a former Texas Ranger called Lieutentant ‘Lefty’ Enright (Dennis Hopper in a role he later said was his worst) has been on the trail of the murderous family and sets out to rescue Stretch and put an end to their reign of terror.

The film was a success at the US box-office and an even bigger hit on home video. It was never actually released at the cinema in the UK as the BBFC demanded cuts totalling over 20 minutes, so Cannon decided not to bother with a release. The film is apparently still banned in Germany and Singapore and heavily edited in other countries. It’s fairly different in tone than the original film and falls short of the raw, brutal quality of the original. Hooper decided to inject more black humour into the script and it’s fair to say that, although not short on gore, the film strikes something of a lighter tone than the original.

This Japanese B2 features bold, striking text and Leatherface surrounded by scenes from the film. It’s montage style that is seen on several Japanese posters from the 1980s.

Runaway Train / video / UK

21.11.16

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Runaway Train
AKA
A 30 secondi dalla fine [30 seconds from the end] (Italy)
Year of Film
1985
Director
Andrei Konchalovsky
Starring
Jon Voight, Eric Roberts, Rebecca De Mornay, Kyle T. Heffner, John P. Ryan, T. K. Carter, Kenneth McMillan, Stacey Pickren, Walter Wyatt, Edward Bunker
Origin of Film
USA | Israel
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Thriller
Type of Poster
Video
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1986
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
23 13/16" x 33 1/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is the UK video poster for the release of the excellent 1985 action-drama Runaway Train. The film was produced by the notorious schlock-peddlers Cannon Films, which at the time was run by two Israeli cousins, the director Menahem Golan and producer Yoram Globus. It’s often cited as one of the best films that Cannon Films ever produced, which makes sense when you look at their filmography (Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo anyone?).

Rather improbably, the first version of the script was written by celebrated Japanese director Akira Kurosawa and he was planning to direct it himself. When the financial backing fell through the script was shelved. It was later picked up and underwent re-writes to prepare it for the Russian director Andrey Konchalovskiy who was a contemporary of Andrei Tarkovsky (and co-wrote Andrei Rublev with him). Konchalovskiy later went on to helm films such as Tango & Cash for US producers.

The film is set in remote Alaska and begins in a high-security prison. Oscar ‘Manny’ Manheim (a memorable turn from Jon Voight) is a notorious bank robber who hatches an escape plan that involves the help of the skittish Buck McGeehy (Eric Roberts). After smuggling Manny into the laundry room, the pair escape through the sewers and eventually find their way to a railroad. There they jump onboard a slowly moving locomotive and hide in one of the cars. Unbeknownst to them, the train driver suffers a heart attack whilst trying to stop the train and falls off it. The automatic train stop is not engaged and the runaway train begins its journey down the tracks. Also onboard is another railway worker called Sara (Rebecca De Mornay) who realises quickly that they’re in a bad predicament. The rest of the film sees the trio attempting to bring the speeding train to a stop whilst being pursued by the sadistic prison warden Ranken (John P. Ryan) and his men.

Runaway Train was a critical and commercial success in the US and abroad. It was also nominated for several awards – an unusual occurrence for a Cannon film (Jon Voight would win a Golden Globe for Best Actor). This video poster was for the 1986 release on MGM home video in the UK and features a unique design that is, I believe, exclusive to the poster. It’s a mixture of artwork and photograph. The trees, train and elements of the background are painted and Jon Voight’s image has also had some painting applied to it as well, strangely.