Predator / original artwork / Thailand

28.09.16

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Predator
AKA
O Predador (Brazil / Portugal)
Year of Film
1987
Director
John McTiernan
Starring
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Kevin Peter Hall, Shane Black, Sonny Landham, Richard Chaves
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Sci-Fi | Horror
Type of Poster
Original artwork
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Thailand
Year of Poster
2016
Designer
Tongdee Panumas
Artist
Tongdee Panumas
Size (inches)
28 5/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
--

Earlier this year I commissioned (through a mutual friend) the legendary Thai artist Tongdee to reimagine a poster for one of my favourite films, Predator (1987). The original film was released in Thailand at a time when the use of painted artwork was being phased out and the original Thai poster is a photographic design that was based on the US one sheet. I’m a huge fan of Thai film poster artwork because of the typically lurid use of colours and lack of censoring, which led to some incredible posters like Tongdee’s Apocalypse Now and the one for Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond.

Because the original photographic poster was comparatively disappointing, I was excited to see what Tongdee would create. I gave him free reign with the exception of a couple of things I was keen to see (the iconic thermal-vision being one) and after a few weeks was sent a sketch with his idea for the layout. After requesting a couple of very minor tweaks I gave the go ahead and Tongdee began working on the actual painting. Last week I received the finished article and I’m very happy with the result. I love the layout and the use of colours, including the incorporation of the thermal-vision Predator hand. I also love the artistic licence he took on a few elements (I’ll let you figure out what I’m talking about) which was typical of his paintings from the original period of him working on film posters.

The painting is just over American one sheet size and I plan to get it framed as soon as possible. I’ve tried to take as many pictures as possible so you can see the details, and you’ll be able to see the grain from the canvas onto which Tongdee painted. I’ve also included three pictures that I was sent showing the painting with Tongdee in his studio. There’s also one photo (fourth from last) which shows the painting as it was sent to me, having been removed from the wooden frame over which it was stretched for painting.

Tongdee Panumas (he signs his posters with just his first name) was incredibly prolific during the 70s, 80s and 90s and, although he no longer paints official film posters for Thai distributors he is still painting for other clients. I’ve been unable to find out much about him from a biographical point of view other than that he was born in 1947. My hope is to someday travel to Thailand to meet and interview him.

One of the best films of the 1980s and certainly one of the Austrian Oak‘s finest roles, Predator is a film I’ve seen more times than I care to remember. Directed by John McTiernan, who would go on to helm Die Hard the following year (arguably the greatest action movie ever made), the film is an excellent mix of gung-ho action and sci-fi horror with a truly iconic monster that has gone on to appear in several (not so great) sequels and spin-offs.

The story sees Schwarzenegger’s team of single-monikered, rough-neck commandos dropped into a dangerous South-American jungle ostensibly on a rescue mission. When they discover a series of butchered and skinned corpses it soon becomes clear that they’re dealing with more than just a bunch of gun-toting guerrillas and someone, or something, is following them through the jungle. The film features several memorable characters, including Native American Sonny Landham‘s Billy, a man-mountain with much-needed tracking skills and the first one to realise they’re not alone, and Bill Duke‘s Mac who memorably leads the charge with a mini-gun when one of his comrades is killed. Like many of Schwarzenegger’s films, Predator is eminently quotable and features countless memorable lines spoken by several of the characters – ‘If it bleeds, we can kill it!’

To see the other Thai posters I’ve collected click here.

 

Prometheus / screen print / regular / Martin Ansin / USA

16.09.16

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Prometheus
Year of Film
2012
Director
Ridley Scott
Starring
Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Logan Marshall-Green, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall, Emun Elliott, Benedict Wong, Kate Dickie
Origin of Film
USA | UK
Genre(s) of Film
Adventure | Mystery | Sci-Fi
Type of Poster
Screen print
Style of Poster
Regular
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
2014
Designer
Martin Ansin
Artist
Martin Ansin
Size (inches)
24" x 36"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
The search for our beginning could lead to our end

It’s fair to say that the film that would become Prometheus was long in gestation and expectations were set impossibly high before its release. Originally developed as the fifth entry in the Alien franchise, Ridley Scott and James Cameron (directors of the original film and its sequel) began developing a story after Scott expressed an interest in returning to the universe he brought to life. His intention was to make the film a prequel and focus on the so-called ‘space jockey’ creature that was seen briefly in the derelict space ship during the first part of the original film. Unfortunately the studio (Fox) decided to instead concentrate on the ill-fated Alien vs Predator (2004) and Cameron stepped away from the sequel project.

In 2009 the idea of a reboot of the Alien series was mooted and this quickly morphed into the previously conceived prequel to the first film. Screenwriter Jon Spaihts delivered a first version of the script and after several stop-starts the project was eventually green-lit. Before filming commenced, however, Damon Lindelof was hired to retool the script to suit Fox’s intention to make it less of a sci-fi horror and more something that would appeal to a wider audience. Once filming began there began a strange period where Scott and others played down all links to the original film and made efforts to sell it as the start of a ‘new, grand mythology’. Unfortunately this tactic wasn’t entirely successful and many audience members went into the cinema expecting to watch something close to Scott’s original film.

The film is set in the late 21st Century and follows a group of scientists on a mission to a distant moon after following clues discovered around Earth. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) believe that they have been invited to meet humanity’s forerunners and their mission is funded by Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), the billionaire CEO of the Weyland Corporation. The titular ship sets off to LV-223 with the crew in stasis whilst an Android named David (Michael Fassbender) tends to the ship. When they eventually reach the moon, the expedition team, led by Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) sets off to investigate a mysterious structure on the surface. Things don’t exactly go to plan from here on in and members of the crew are killed by a snake-like creature that spits acid and a black fluid that infects its host and causes them to behave aggressively. After some of the team discover a chamber with a number of the deceased space-jockey figures from Alien, it soon becomes clear that David is working under different orders than the rest of the crew. Things get increasingly ridiculous following this point and the film ends with one of the more preposterous sci-fi scenes of the last few years.

Prometheus made over $400m at the worldwide box-office and received mostly favourable reviews from professional critics, but its reputation amongst general audiences wasn’t exactly stellar. I recall reading many disappointed comments from people who’d expected something more from a film set in the Alien universe, especially one so long in gestation. One of the biggest criticisms was aimed at the plot holes that the film has, along with several moments of laughable dialogue and clunky character choices that don’t make much sense. It’s fair to say that the rewrites and stop-start nature of the project had a profound impact on the final film and undoubtedly created a lot of the issues it has. I personally don’t mind the film too much and feel it has several things going for it, including superb production design, almost flawless special effects and a great score. A sequel is on the way in 2017 and it’ll be interesting to see if Scott has listened to the critics of this film. Already, from reading early reports and viewing on-set photos, it’s clear that he intends to bring the story towards the feel of the first film.

 

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. The print was one of several created by Martin Ansin for a joint show with fellow artist Kevin Tong held at the Mondo Austin gallery during March 2014. Ansin also worked on a print for the original 1979 Alien and other films covered by the pair included James Cameron’s sequel Aliens and Flash Gordon. Badass Digest went to the show and interviewed Ansin and Tong, which can be read here and Collider.com ran an article featuring loads of images from the show. There was a variant of this print available that was printed with a gold colour scheme, also with metallic inks.

Where the Green Ants Dream / quad / UK

12.09.16

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Where the Green Ants Dream
AKA
Wo die grünen Ameisen träumen (Germany - original title)
Year of Film
1984
Director
Werner Herzog
Starring
Bruce Spence, Wandjuk Marika, Roy Marika, Ray Barrett, Norman Kaye, Ralph Cotterill, Nick Lathouris, Basil Clarke, Ray Marshall
Origin of Film
West Germany | Australia
Genre(s) of Film
Drama
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1984
Designer
Paul Derrick
Artist
--
Size (inches)
30" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

A striking image by the British designer Paul Derrick features on this UK quad for the release of maverick director Werner Herzog‘s 1984 drama Where the Green Ants Dream. The film was the directorial follow up to what many consider to be Herzog’s masterpiece, Fitzcarraldo, and is set in the Australian outback. Co-written with the Australian screenwriter Bob Ellis, the film deals with the contentious issue of aboriginal land rights that has existed ever since the British established a settlement there in the 18th Century. A mix of facts and fiction, the film features a number of aboriginal activists who had been involved in a real-life court case

Bruce Spence, who is best known as the Gyro Captain from Mad Max 2, plays Lance Hackett, a geologist working for a mining company that is carrying out a series of tests on some land that they intend to mine for Uranium. The title refers to the insects that the aborigines believe to be sacred and they fear will be disturbed by the blasting and drilling. One of the tribal elders, as featured on this poster, explains that this disturbance could bring about the end of the world. Lance is instructed to spend time with the activists and try and work out a deal with them so that the mining company can carry on their testing. When that eventually fails, even after they are given a large army plane as part of an attempted deal, the case goes to the courts. 

Paul Derrick’s official website can be viewed here and, according to the short biography on the site, he has been working for many years on publishing and visual identity projects for a wide range of clients, including arts and educational organisations as well as government clients. He also says that he is ‘experienced in undertaking, and art directing, documentary photography to create visual narratives and storytelling.’ There are a few examples of posters he worked on and the British distribution company Artificial Eye is listed in the projects section.

Deathrow Gameshow / one sheet / USA

05.09.16

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Deathrow Gameshow
Year of Film
1987
Director
Mark Pirro
Starring
John McCafferty, Robyn Blythe, Beano, Darwyn Carson, Mark Lasky, Bill Whitehead, Kent Butler, Debra Lamb, Paul Farbman
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Comedy
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1987
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
27 3/16" x 40 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
Chuck Toedan Wants You ... To Die Laughing!

Deathrow Gameshow is, as you can probably guess, an ultra-low budget b-movie from producer-writer-director Mark Pirro. Not to be confused with the Texan musician, Pirro had made headlines two years earlier with the release of his first film, A Polish Vampire in Burbank, which was produced on a budget of $2500 but went on to gross over $1 million in home video and cable distribution deals. Under the cheekily-monikered Pirromount Pictures, Pirro has written and directed ten features. He continues to work to this day and has a new film due out next year.

As far as I can ascertain, Deathrow Gameshow was given a cinema release in the US but was straight-to-video in most other markets, including the UK. The plot is described thusly on IMDb:

Chuck Toedan is the host of a game show featuring death row convicts competing in life-or-death contests in hopes of cheating the executioner or, at the very least, winning some nice prizes for their next of kin. Not surprisingly, Chuck has made more than a few enemies, from outraged viewers trying to ban his show, to families of losing contestants looking for revenge. A hitman hired by one such family has shown up at Chuck’s office, and he’ll need to enlist the help of his most outspoken critic to keep from ending up like most of his contestants.

Although not a hit whilst in cinemas, I believe that Deathrow Gameshow has gained something of a cult following thanks to its ubiquity on TV networks around the world towards the end of the 1980s. Reviews on IMDB are mixed, to say the least.

I’ve struggled to find out who painted the artwork on this one sheet poster so please get in touch if you have any ideas.

The original trailer can be seen here.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master / Thailand

01.09.16

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
AKA
--
Year of Film
1988
Director
Renny Harlin
Starring
Robert Englund, Lisa Wilcox, Danny Hassel, Andras Jones, Tuesday Knight, Ken Sagoes, Brooke Bundy, Nicholas Mele, Toy Newkirk, Brooke Theiss, Rodney Eastman
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Horror
Type of Poster
Thai
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Thailands
Year of Poster
1988
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Tongdee Panumas (based on Matthew Peak original)
Size (inches)
23 15/16" x 34 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
--

This is the original Thai poster for the release of the fourth entry in the ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ franchise (subtitled The Dream Master). The film marked a big break for Finnish director Renny Harlin who admitted to heavily petitioning the film’s producer, and founder of New Line Cinema, Robert (Bob) Shaye for the job. Harlin had previously helmed a couple of low-budget flicks (Born American and Prison) but the box-office success of this film led to him being given the job of directing the Die Hard sequel in 1990. Sadly, his career stalled towards the end of that decade following a series of box-office bombs that included Cliffhanger and Cutthroat Island.

The fourth film followed on from one of the best entries in the franchise, 1987’s Dream Warriors, which was a marked improvement over the first sequel. This was thanks in part to the involvement of the first film’s Wes Craven, who had been absent from Part 2.

The Dream Master picks up a few months after the events of the third film and features characters that had last been seen in a mental hospital, but are now living at home and seemingly back to normal. Kirsten, previously played by Patricia Arquette and here by Tuesday Knight, has the ability to bring others into her dreams. When she senses Freddy is trying to return after being banished to hell at the end of Part 3, she contacts Kincaid (Ken Sagoes) and Joey (Rodney Eastman) to warn them not to dream about Freddy in case it causes his return.

Unfortunately, Kincaid fails to heed Kirsten’s warning and he falls asleep, dreaming of the car junkyard where Freddy’s bones were previously consecrated with holy water. His dog urinates on Freddy’s bones and this, for some bizarre reason, causes his resurrection whereupon he swiftly kills Kincaid. Freddy begins to terrorize Kirsten and her group of school friends and she realises she needs to pass on her powers to Alice before she too is killed. Freddy’s plan was to use Kirsten to move onto a new set of kids after he’s killed the original group (all children of the parents who murdered him before the events of the first film) and together this new gang must try to put an end to his nefarious plans once and for all.

This Thai poster was painted by Tongdee Panumas (he signs his posters with just his first name) who 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 it’s based on the artwork from the US one sheet that was painted by Matthew Peak (son of Bob), which can be seen here. Tongdee repainted the entire thing and added several new figures to create more of a montage.

To see the other posters I’ve collected by Tongdee click here.

 

Cotton Comes to Harlem / B2 / Japan

30.08.16

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Cotton Comes to Harlem
AKA
--
Year of Film
1970
Director
Ossie Davis
Starring
Godfrey Cambridge, Raymond St. Jacques, Calvin Lockhart, Judy Pace, Redd Foxx, Emily Yancy, John Anderson, Lou Jacobi, Eugene Roche, J.D. Cannon, Mabel Robinson, Dick Sabol, Cleavon Little
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Comedy | Blaxploitation
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1970
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 4/16" x 28 12/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Cotton Comes to Harlem is often considered to be one of the first films in the so-called blaxploitation sub-genre of exploitation that was popular during the 1970s. The film was the second film to be directed by the late Ossie Davis, who was one of a handful of African-American actors to achieve commercial success in films without being stereotyped in films prior to 1970. Although best known as an actor, with roles in films like The Hill (1965) and The Scalphunters (1968), Davis tried his hand at directing, starting with the little-seen Kongi’s Harvest in 1970. The same year, ‘Cotton…’ proved to be a huge hit and saw him helm two other blaxploitation pictures, with Black Girl following in 1972 and then another hit with Gordon’s War a year later.

The film is based on the novel of the same name by Chester Himes and is set in the eponymous neighbourhood of Manhattan. Two detectives, Grave Digger Jones (Godfrey Cambridge, who died tragically aged 43) and Coffin Ed Johnson (Raymond St. Jacques) are assigned to investigate the apparent armed robbery of $87000 during a public rally. The gathering was being led by Reverend Deke O’Malley (Calvin Lockhart) who is fundraising for a Back-to-Africa movement ship to be called Black Beauty. A gang of thieves wearing masks appear at the event and steal the money from an armoured truck before making off. A chase ensues and the titular bale of cotton falls from the getaway van. The detectives soon realise that the stolen money was apparently stashed inside the bale and the hunt is on after it disappears from the street. O’Malley must fend off the angry mob of locals looking for their money, as well as a jealous girlfriend (Judy Pace) and the partner who he was in cahoots with to stage the robbery.

The film was a huge hit in cinemas, grossing over $5 million on a $1 million budget and triggering a rush to produce films in a similar vein. Arguably the sub-genre’s most famous film, Shaft, would follow a year later. ‘Cotton…’ was given a sequel called Come Back, Charleston Blue in 1972, but the second film wasn’t met with as much critical or audience adulation.

This Japanese B2 is a photo montage but at least part of it is inspired by the US theatrical poster, which had been painted by the artist Robert McGinnis and can be seen here.