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Inferno / B2 / Japan


Poster Poster

A unique montage on this Japanese poster for the second in Italian horror maestro Dario Argento’s ‘Three Mothers’ trilogy of films. The series began in 1977 with the brilliant Suspiria and would end 27 years after this film with the disappointing Mother of Tears. Set in New York and Rome, Inferno focuses on a brother and sister and their investigation into a mysterious coven of witches, with predictably deadly consequences.

Like many of Argento’s films the plot is often secondary to the incredible visuals and inventive death scenes, but it’s definitely up there as one of his best and now has a well-deserved cult following. The film was partly financed by 20th Century Fox, following the success they had distributing Suspiria, however they declined to give it as wide a release as the previous film and Inferno suffered as a result. I’ve been unable to find out much about the UK cinema release, although this is what the poster for it looked like.

I’m a fan of the original Italian poster, which can be seen here.

British distributor Arrow Films released a lavish 30th anniversary edition blu-ray here in the UK (in 2010) and the US home video label Blue Underground also released the film last year.

The spectacularly nuts original US trailer can be viewed on YouTube.

The House by the Cemetery / quad / UK


Poster Poster

Nicknamed The Godfather of Gore, the late Italian director Lucio Fulci is responsible for several memorable entries in the horror genre and The House by the Cemetery is one of what I consider to be the big four Fulci films (the others being Zombie Flesh Eaters, The Beyond and City of the Living Dead), which were all made within two years of each other. The director tried his hand at various genres, including westerns and comedies, but it was horror where he found the greatest success and for which he is best remembered.

The House by the Cemetery is the third film in the unofficial ‘Gates of Hell’ trilogy of Fulci films that began with 1980s City of the Living Dead and was followed by The Beyond. It stars British actress Catriona MacColl (credited on the poster as Katherine MacColl) who had collaborated with Fulci on the previous two entries. The story sees Dr Norman Boyle (Paolo Malco), a professor at a New York University, being sent on research trip to New Whitby, Boston, taking his wife (MacColl) and young son with him. Their base is a big old house situated, as the title suggests, in the grounds of an old graveyard. After moving in and meeting a few of the locals, it soon becomes clear to the family that they aren’t the only ones living in the house and slowly but surely the dark secret of the previous occupant is revealed.

As was typical with all of Fulci’s output during this period, the film features several scenes of brutal, graphic gore and there’s one death scene in particular that would fall foul of the BBFC, the folks responsible for passing the film for release in the UK. This page on IMDB details the various cuts the UK release of the film was given over the years; in 1984 the film was caught up in the infamous Video Nasties situation and the VHS was banned outright. When it was re-released on tape in 1988 there were almost five minutes cut from its running time and it wasn’t until 2009 that a fully uncut version was available.

This is the UK quad poster for the first release of the film in British cinemas in 1982. It features artwork that is based on the Italian poster that was painted by the great artist Enzo Sciotti who has painted countless fantastic horror, sci-fi and exploitation posters over the years. As anyone who has seen the film will know, the knife-wielding character that dominates the poster doesn’t actually feature in the film itself. It’s said that the decision was taken to depict a psychotic killer that resembled Jack Nicholson’s character in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining after that film had proven such an international success only a year previously.

It is my belief that this artwork has been adapted from Sciotti’s original by a British artist, quite possibly Ted Baldwin who is thought to be responsible for the art on the quad for Zombie Creeping Flesh. Note the clear differences between the Italian poster and the details seen on this quad, particularly the evil character, the orientation and size of the house, and the layout of the graveyard. Obviously the original poster is in a portrait format so the decision may well have been taken to redraw it to better fit the landscape format of the quad.

Enzo Sciotti‘s official site has galleries of his work, some of which is for sale. Wrong Side of the Art has a selection of some of his work, and also features several of his designs. The other posters I’ve collected by him can be seen here.

Tenebrae / quad / UK


Poster Poster
Tenebre (alternate spelling) | Shadow (Japan - English title) | Unsane (USA)
Year of Film
Dario Argento
Anthony Franciosa, Christian Borromeo, Mirella D'Angelo, Veronica Lario, Ania Pieroni, Eva Robins, Carola Stagnaro, John Steiner, Lara Wendel, John Saxon, Daria Nicolodi, Giuliano Gemma
Origin of Film
Genre(s) of Film
Anthony Franciosa, Christian Borromeo, Mirella D'Angelo, Veronica Lario, Ania Pieroni, Eva Robins, Carola Stagnaro, John Steiner, Lara Wendel, John Saxon, Daria Nicolodi, Giuliano Gemma,
Type of Poster
Style of Poster
Origin of Poster
Year of Poster
Graffiti Productions Limited
Renato Casaro (original art) | An unknown British artist added the bow
Size (inches)
29 15/16" x 39 14/16"
SS or DS
From the undisputed master of the macabre... | Terror beyond belief

This is the incredibly scarce British quad for the release of Dario Argento‘s Tenebrae (AKA Tenebre), which marked the Italian horror maestro’s return to the giallo genre with which he made his name, following two excursions into supernatural horror with Suspiria (1977) and Inferno (1980). Argento often credits himself with starting the trend for Italian giallo films with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), despite the fact that directors including Mario Bava and Umberto Lenzi had been working on films that met all the criteria of the sub-genre since 1963. After a bruising experience whilst making Inferno in conjunction with Hollywood (in the form of 20th Century Fox) and the film meeting a lukewarm reception upon release, Argento returned with fresh enthusiasm to create what is arguably one of the best giallos of all.

Italian-American actor Anthony Franciosa stars as the American author Peter Neal, famous for having written a series of violent horror novels, who travels to Rome to promote his latest novel ‘Tenebrae’. Soon after arriving Neal is confronted by two police detectives (played by Giuliano Gemma and Carola Stagnaro) who inform him that a murder has been committed by a killer obsessed with his novels, and a letter sent to his hotel room confirms this. Soon after, a journalist who had accused Neal of creating ‘misogynist filth’ and her lesbian lover are brutally murdered by the same razor blade-wielding killer. Another letter arrives at Neal’s hotel room and the author decides to try and discover who is behind the murders as the threat to him and his entourage escalates. This being a giallo, and an Argento one at that, there are plenty of twists to keep the viewer discombobulated right to the end.

Argento claims that the inspiration for the story came from an experience he had at the hands of an obsessive fan whilst working on an unfinished project in Hollywood towards the end of the 1970s. What started as a friendly series of phone calls from someone claiming to love his work escalated into something darker and more threatening, and the director eventually fled back to Rome when it became clear that the person was seriously unhinged. It’s also something of a riposte to the criticisms Argento had received from some critics and commentators who claimed his films were overly violent towards women and that his casual misogyny could encourage real-world violence from his films’ fans. There’s a reason Peter Neal remarks to a pushy journalist ‘Let me ask you something? If someone is killed with a Smith & Wesson revolver… Do you go and interview the president of Smith & Wesson?’

Tenebrae was released into UK cinemas in 1982 with 4 seconds of cuts imposed by the BBFC, but soon after its release on video in 1983 the film fell foul of the infamous video nasty debacle which saw 72 films deemed to be in violation of the obscene publications act. 39 films on the Director of Public Prosecutions‘ list were successfully prosecuted and banned from rental or sale in the UK, despite the fact that many, including Tenebrae, had already seen cinema releases with BBFC approval. It took years before relaxation in censorship saw many of the films being re-released on video and DVD, and it wasn’t until 2003 that Tenebrae was finally available in a completely uncut form.

The image of the murdered woman on this quad was originally painted by the Italian artist Renato Casaro for the Italian poster but the bloody cut in the throat seen on the original was clearly seen as too much for the British market and a red bow was painted in its place. The quad’s design was handled by the London-based studio Graffiti Productions, which was started in 1969 by two friends Paul Brown-Constable and Nimal Jayasekera. The pair worked on marketing for an eclectic range of films, including several international releases, plus homegrown titles like Scum and a few Hollywood productions. As well as posters the firm was one of the first to take on work for  home video distributors at the start of the boom in the early 1980s. Most of their posters are easy to identify because they either feature a stylised company logo or a line of text, as on this poster.