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The Last Starfighter / one sheet / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
The Last Starfighter
AKA
Giochi stellari [Star games] (Italy)
Year of Film
1984
Director
Nick Castle
Starring
Lance Guest, Dan O'Herlihy, Catherine Mary Stewart, Norman Snow, Robert Preston, Kay E. Kuter, Barbara Bosson, Chris Hebert, Dan Mason, Vernon Washington
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Lance Guest, Dan O'Herlihy, Catherine Mary Stewart, Norman Snow, Robert Preston, Kay E. Kuter, Barbara Bosson, Chris Hebert, Dan Mason, Vernon Washington,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1984
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
840068
Tagline
Alex Rogan is a small town teenager with big time dreams. Dreams of college... of success... of marrying his girlfriend, Maggie. He's just like everybody else, except Alex has a very special talent... that no one on Earth can appreciate. But, tonight, a mysterious stranger has called on Alex. He's come from a galaxy that's under attack from an alien force. And Alex's unique ability is their last hope.

The Last Starfighter / quad / UK

18.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
The Last Starfighter
AKA
Giochi stellari [Star games] (Italy)
Year of Film
1984
Director
Nick Castle
Starring
Lance Guest, Dan O'Herlihy, Catherine Mary Stewart, Norman Snow, Robert Preston, Kay E. Kuter, Barbara Bosson, Chris Hebert, Dan Mason, Vernon Washington
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Lance Guest, Dan O'Herlihy, Catherine Mary Stewart, Norman Snow, Robert Preston, Kay E. Kuter, Barbara Bosson, Chris Hebert, Dan Mason, Vernon Washington,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1984
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
29 7/8" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
The adventure of a lifetime is about to begin.

The Last Starfighter / B2 / grey title style / Japan

23.09.13

Poster Poster
Title
The Last Starfighter
AKA
Giochi stellari [Star games] (Italy)
Year of Film
1984
Director
Nick Castle
Starring
Lance Guest, Dan O'Herlihy, Catherine Mary Stewart, Norman Snow, Robert Preston, Kay E. Kuter, Barbara Bosson, Chris Hebert, Dan Mason, Vernon Washington
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Lance Guest, Dan O'Herlihy, Catherine Mary Stewart, Norman Snow, Robert Preston, Kay E. Kuter, Barbara Bosson, Chris Hebert, Dan Mason, Vernon Washington,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Grey title style
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1985
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 5/16" x 28 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

A minor sci-fi classic, The Last Starfighter is one of those perennial favourites that seemed to be on TV every month and, along with films like Flight of the Navigator and The Goonies, became a cult favourite for children of the 1980s. The film’s plot is fairly straightforward; Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) is a frustrated teenager who dreams of leaving his small American town to study at university, despite the protestations of his girlfriend Maggie (Catherine Mary Stewart). One day he beats the high score of an arcade game called Starfighter that is secretly a recruiting tool for the Star League, a team of space pilots who are battling against an overwhelming force threatening the entire galaxy. When an alien recruiter arrives and takes Alex to the headquarters of the defence force, the teenager is at first reluctant to join the war, but when a surprise attack from the enemy force destroys most of the command centre and the other starfighters, Alex decides to step up to the challenge.

Ably directed by Nick Castle, a friend and former classmate (at USC) of John Carpenter – Nick actually played the part of Michael Myers in Halloween – the film has a sweet story filled with memorable characters, such as the late, great character actor Robert Preston as the alien benefactor who recruits Alex and Dan O’Herlihy as Grig, his alien co-pilot (as seen to the right of Alex on this poster). The film is perhaps most notable for being a milestone of technical achievement for its pioneering use of CGI to depict most of the scenes involving space battles, or ‘digital scene simulation’ as it’s (unusually) credited as on the bottom of this poster.

A company called Digital Productions was hired to work on these sequences and, as detailed in the excellent making-of documentary found on the blu-ray of the film, the artists and technicians were pushing the boundaries of what was possible with the available hardware – a giant supercomputer called Cray – on a daily basis. It was the first time that CGI was used to depict scenes in a film that weren’t explicitly part of a computer simulation (like Tron, for example) and the team had to battle against time and a plentiful supply of naysayers who were trying to push Castle and the producers to use the more traditional model work seen in other films of the period. The director stood his ground and the results speak for themselves. Viewed now it’s clear how far the technology has come, but audiences must have been thrilled back in 1984 and some of the sequences still look pretty decent even today.

This Japanese poster features a montage of images from the film, including some of Alex’s fellow starfighters, although fans of the film will notice that the designer of the poster has taken some liberties by placing a starfighter helmet on the head of one of the main bad guys (the brown-faced alien with the eye glass). I’m assuming it had something to do with making the design more symmetrical, unless there’s a deleted scene that I’m unaware of!

 

White Line Fever / one sheet / style B / USA

07.07.12

Poster Poster
Title
White Line Fever
AKA
--
Year of Film
1975
Director
Jonathan Kaplan
Starring
Jan-Michael Vincent, Kay Lenz, Slim Pickens, L.Q. Jones, Sam Laws, Don Porter, R.G. Armstrong, Leigh French, Johnny Ray McGhee, Dick Miller, Martin Kove, Jamie Anderson
Origin of Film
Canada | USA
Genre(s) of Film
Jan-Michael Vincent, Kay Lenz, Slim Pickens, L.Q. Jones, Sam Laws, Don Porter, R.G. Armstrong, Leigh French, Johnny Ray McGhee, Dick Miller, Martin Kove, Jamie Anderson,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Style B
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1975
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
27 2/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
75/158
Tagline
Carol Jo Hummer - A working man who's had enough!

White Line Fever was made during the heyday of trucking in American popular culture and tells the story of Vietnam veteran Carol Jo-Hummer (played by Jan-Michael Vincent) who returns from the war and takes over his father’s trucking business, only to run up against the corrupt shipping firm Red River who are a front for an organised crime gang. Kay Lenz stars as Carol’s sweetheart Jerri who awaited his return from Vietnam and eventually helps him take a stand against the gang.

It would later be followed by other trucking-based action films such as the Burt Reynolds mega hit Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and Sam Peckinpah’s Convoy (1978). Director Jonathan Kaplan would go on to direct Jodie Foster to an Oscar win in 1988’s The Accused.

This style B US one sheet depicts a moment from one of the climactic scenes in the film and I’m unsure who is responsible for the artwork so please get in touch if you have any ideas.

The original trailer is on YouTube.

Saigon / quad / UK

28.03.12

Poster Poster
Title
Saigon
AKA
Off Limits (original title)
Year of Film
1988
Director
Christopher Crowe
Starring
Willem Dafoe, Gregory Hines, Fred Ward, Amanda Pays, Kay Tong Lim, Scott Glenn, David Alan Grier, Keith David, Raymond O'Connor, Richard Brooks
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Willem Dafoe, Gregory Hines, Fred Ward, Amanda Pays, Kay Tong Lim, Scott Glenn, David Alan Grier, Keith David, Raymond O'Connor, Richard Brooks,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1988
Designer
Brian Bysouth
Artist
Brian Bysouth
Size (inches)
30 1/16" x 39 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
They're the only law and order on the streets.

Artwork by Brian Bysouth on this quad for the UK release of Saigon, which is also known as Off Limits in the USA. As the international title suggests, the film is set during the Vietnam war and sees two military policemen played by Willem Dafoe and Gregory Hines investigating the deaths of several prostitutes in Saigon’s red light district. It soon becomes clear that the prime suspect is a high-ranking US Army officer and that the two cops are in for more than they bargained for.

Despite a strong supporting cast, including Scott GlennKeith David and Fred Ward, the film appears to have failed to make much of a box-office or critical impact. It certainly saw none of the success of Dafoe’s previous Vietnam-based film, the oscar-winning Platoon. The film features some brilliantly odd character names, such as Buck McGriff (Dafoe) and Albaby Perkins (Hines).

Bysouth’s artwork has similar star portraits to the ones seen on the US one sheet, but the street scene and other characters are unique to the quad. In 2012 I met and interviewed the artist and the resulting article can be read here.

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

The trailer for the film can be seen on YouTube.

Youth in Revolt / one sheet / advance / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Youth in Revolt
AKA
Be Bad! (France)
Year of Film
2010
Director
Miguel Arteta
Starring
Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Mary Kay Place, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Long, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Mary Kay Place, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Long, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Advance
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
2010
Designer
Gravillis Inc.
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
27" x 39 15/16"
SS or DS
DS
NSS #
--
Tagline
Every "Revolution" Needs A Leader

Being John Malkovich / one sheet / ripe vessel style / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Being John Malkovich
AKA
--
Year of Film
1999
Director
Spike Jonze
Starring
John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, Orson Bean, Mary Kay Place, John Malkovich
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, Orson Bean, Mary Kay Place, John Malkovich,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Ripe vessel
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1999
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
27" x 39 14/16"
SS or DS
DS
NSS #
--
Tagline
--

The Passage / quad / UK

06.06.16

Poster Poster

Colourful and typically dynamic artwork by Brian Bysouth features on this UK quad for the largely forgotten British war film The Passage (1979). Based on the novel Perilous Passage by Bruce Nicolaysen (who also wrote the screenplay), the film was directed by the British director J. Lee Thompson who was responsible for the classic war film The Guns of Navarone, as well as multiple films headlined by Charles Bronson.

Set during World War II, the story sees a Basque farmer (played by Anthony Quinn) escort a scientist (James Mason) and his family over the treacherous Pyrenees mountains to escape the sadistic clutches of a Nazi SS officer, Captain Von Berkow (Malcolm McDowell giving an impressively over the top performance). Christopher Lee appears as a character called The Gypsy who is sympathetic to the group’s plight. Apparently the film bombed spectacularly at the US box office and was critically drubbed on release.

This British quad was created at the London-based Downtons Advertising agency by one of the principal designers, Eddie Paul, and painted by Brian Bysouth who was working as a freelancer at the time. Both men are featured in Sim Branaghan’s must-own book British Film Posters: An Illustrated History and are each responsible for several iconic British posters. The designer Eddie Paul was born in Hackney in 1920 and attended Southend School of Art, later beginning his career at Temple Art Studios before moving on to Star Illustrations on Shoe Lane, where he gained a good reputation as a scrapboard artist.

After serving in the RAF during the war, Eddie joined Pulford Publicity in 1946 and started designing film posters using crayons and coloured pencils. He worked on several successful poster campaigns during the 1960s, including El Cid (1961), The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) and the famous quad for From Russia with Love (painted by Renato Fratini). He later joined four ex-Downton colleagues and formed the successful agency FEREF in 1968. As Sim notes in his book, ‘He was well liked and respected within the business as a gentleman’. Eddie Paul passed away from a heart attack whilst on his way to work in 1984, just shy of his retirement from FEREF.

The artwork was painted by Brian Bysouth who is one of my favourite poster artists and was responsible for many classic posters from the 1960s to the 1980s, including the final painted poster for a James Bond film, The Living Daylights (1987). In 2012 I was fortunate to meet and interview Brian for this site and the article can be read here. The other posters I’ve collected by Brian can be seen by clicking here.

Outback / one sheet / USA

03.06.15

Poster Poster
Title
Outback
AKA
Wake in Fright
Year of Film
1971
Director
Ted Kotcheff
Starring
Donald Pleasence, Gary Bond, Chips Rafferty, Sylvia Kay, Jack Thompson, Peter Whittle, Al Thomas, John Meillon, John Armstrong
Origin of Film
Australia | USA
Genre(s) of Film
Donald Pleasence, Gary Bond, Chips Rafferty, Sylvia Kay, Jack Thompson, Peter Whittle, Al Thomas, John Meillon, John Armstrong,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1971
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
27 2/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
71/278
Tagline
Have a drink, mate? Have a fight, mate? Have some dust and sweat, mate? There's nothing else out here.

Outback (AKA Wake in Fright) was originally released in 1971 to a strong critical reception and decent box-office figures in countries like the UK, but it was almost a lost film by turn of the century. Only released in a few markets during the early 1970s, the film was seemingly forgotten about by the end of the decade and when Anthony Buckley, the editor of the film began looking for the original materials in 1996 it would be six years before he finally tracked them down to a warehouse in Pittsburgh. He was just in time since they were due to be destroyed only a week later. A full restoration was instigated and the results were screened at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival to great acclaim. The film was given a worldwide release shortly after and was put out on the blu-ray format at the same time.

An Australian-American co-production, the film was based on Australian author Kenneth Cook‘s 1961 novel Wake in Fright, which was the title it would be released with in Australia (and re-christened for its recent release everywhere). The film’s rights were acquired soon after the book was released but it would be several years before producers from NLT and Group W got involved and invited the Canadian director Ted Kotcheff (First Blood) to helm the adaptation. Kotcheff had never been to Australia before then and now admits to having known little about the outback and the situations he would go on to portray, but he immersed himself in the culture whilst filming on location and the results are clear to see on screen.

The late British actor Gary Bond plays John Grant, a teacher from Sydney who has agreed to the terms of a financial bond with the Australian government that guarantees him a tertiary eduction but means he has to take a teaching job in a remote outback township called Tiboonda. At the start of the Christmas holidays he sets off on a journey back to Sydney to see his girlfriend, which takes him via the mining town of Bundanyabba, known as The Yabba. He visits a bar where he meets a friendly but eccentric policeman (played by Chips Rafferty in his final role) who introduces him to the local gambling obsession of two-up. After winning a few rounds John gets carried away and decides to bet all his winnings to try and escape from the government bond. Unfortunately, luck is not on his side and he’s soon stuck in The Yabba, relying on the kindness of strangers to keep him afloat.

At another bar he meets a local called Tim Hynes (Al Thomas) who invites John back to his home. There he meets Tim’s daughter Jeanette and a bunch of his friends. Things take a dark turn from there as John is drawn into sordid events and descends into a drunken stupor with the aid of the gang of local men, led by alcoholic doctor Doc Tydon (played by a memorably wild-eyed Donald Pleasence). John eventually takes part in a horrific night-time kangaroo hunt that sees the men drunkenly shooting at the poor beasts before John is forced to stab an injured young kangaroo to death. Despite attempting to escape The Yabba via hitch-hiking, he soon finds himself back in the town carrying only a loaded rifle.

The film has a distinctly menacing atmosphere and you can’t help but put yourself in the shoes of John Grant, a man out of place, trapped in an oppressively hot and sticky environment. At some points you can practically taste the dust and sweat. The film attracted controversy for the kangaroo hunting scene, which featured graphic footage shot by Kotcheff and a camera crew after they’d joined a real kangaroo hunt during which the men with the rifles got progressively drunker whilst the night wore on. It’s still deeply unsettling to watch to this day, much like similar footage of animal cruelty in films like Cannibal Holocaust.

This artwork was used for the American marketing campaign and I think it was an adaptation of the Australian art (the two are very similar but there are a few notable differences). I’ve been unable to determine the name of the artist so if anyone has an idea please get in touch.

Prisoners of the Lost Universe / one sheet / UK

05.08.13

Poster Poster

A classic case of the poster being significantly more exciting than the film it was attempting to sell to the cinema-going public, this is the UK one sheet for the release of the low-budget sci-fi adventure Prisoners of the Lost Universe. Produced by Marcel/Robertson Productions Ltd, the short-lived company who were also responsible for Hawk the Slayer (1980), filming took place in South Africa with a largely American cast and, despite seeing a cinema release in several countries, the film was given its debut on cable TV in the States.

Scientist Dr. Hartmann (Kenneth Hendel) is testing out his revolutionary matter transporter when an earthquake strikes and accidentally beams him to an alternative universe, followed shortly after by Carrie (Kay Lenz), a TV reporter sent to meet him, and Dan, a handyman who also happens to be a kendo champion (Richard Hatch). The duo must cope with the hostile, prehistoric-seeming environment of the new universe, and as they search for the scientist they meet a host of strange characters, including a mute giant, a green-skinned warrior and a cheeky thief. Before long, Carrie has been kidnapped by a warlord named Kleel (played by genre stalwart John Saxon) who has strangely modern technology compared to the rest of the people he rules over, and Dan must battle to save her from his clutches.

Low-budget and with a clunker of a script, awful production design and unsurprisingly sloppy special effects, the film has very little going for it other than a series of unintentionally hilarious moments, which might explain why it has featured on several TV shows that make fun of bad films, including This Movie Sucks! and Mystery Science Theater 3000. The film is apparently in the public domain and has been released on DVD multiple times, usually as part of a compilation of other public domain clunkers, but it can also be watched on YouTube, if you want.

This one sheet was designed and illustrated by the late, great British artist Tom Chantrell whose dynamic and colourful work featured on hundreds of posters over a forty year period. His official website features a great biography written by Sim Branaghan, author of the must-own British Film Posters. Chantrell illustrated many classic poster designs, including several Hammer posters such as the brilliant quad for ‘One Million Years B.C.’, and was also responsible for the iconic Star Wars quad, the artwork of which ended up being used around the globe. I have a handful of other designs by him on this site.