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Timebomb / Thailand

18.05.16

Poster Poster

An action-packed and colourful montage by the artist Tongdee features on this Thai poster for the release of the 1991 sci-fi thriller Timebomb. Produced by Raffaella De Laurentiis, the daughter of the legendary Italian producer Dino, the film was helmed by Avi Nesher, an Israeli producer, screenwriter and director. American actor Michael Biehn was chosen for the lead role after the director saw his performance in James Cameron’s The Abyss (1989) and British actress Patsy Kensit (who’s now mostly retired from acting) also appears. The plot is described thusly on Wikipedia:

Mild-mannered watchmaker Eddy Kay (Biehn) runs into a burning building to save a trapped woman and is featured in the news as a result. Watching the news, Colonel Taylor (Richard Jordan) is shocked to see Eddy, whom he had assumed to be dead. A game of cat and mouse begins as Eddy, with the help of psychiatrist Dr. Anna Nolmar (Patsy Kensit), tries to discover his past and why they want him dead.Eddy and Dr. Nolmar discover that he was part of a secret government program to create assassins. Using various sensory deprivation and brainwashing techniques, the assassins could be sent to infiltrate other organisations and facilities undetected and carry out programmed missions. Eddy manages to capture and interrogate one of the female assassins (Tracy Scoggins), finding out the Colonel’s current assassination plan. He then plots to confront Colonel Taylor and put an end to the assassination program once and for all.

The excellent artwork on this Thai poster is by Tongdee Panumas (he signs his posters with just his first name) who was an incredibly prolific Thai 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.

Sex, Lies, and Videotape / quad / UK

09.06.15

Poster Poster
Title
Sex, Lies, and Videotape
AKA
--
Year of Film
1989
Director
Steven Soderbergh
Starring
James Spader, Andie MacDowell, Peter Gallagher, Laura San Giacomo, Ron Vawter, Steven Brill
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
James Spader, Andie MacDowell, Peter Gallagher, Laura San Giacomo, Ron Vawter, Steven Brill,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1989
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
30" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Sex, Lies, and Videotape (the oxford comma was a stylistic choice) is an important film for a number of reasons. It was the directorial debut of Steven Soderbergh, who apparently wrote the script in just eight days during a trip across the States, and the film would go on to win the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as launching Soderbergh’s impressive career (recently potentially ended for good). It was also a defining moment for the independent film movement, particularly since it was met by rave reviews and grossed multiple times its original budget (reported to be around $1.2m). A slew of successful indie pictures would follow during the 1990s and this film is often credited with kickstarting it all.

The film introduced Andie MacDowell and the next decade saw her becoming a hugely successful actress, particularly in the romantic comedy genre. It was also an important role for James Spader who had previously appeared in films like Wall Street and Pretty in Pink, but ‘Sex, Lies…’ gave a great boost to his career. MacDowell plays Ann Bishop Mullany who is living in Baton Rouge and is unhappily married to John (Peter Gallagher), a successful lawyer. Unbeknownst to Ann, her husband has been sleeping with her sister Cynthia (Laura San Giacomo) for some time, using Ann’s disinterest in sex as an excuse. Spader plays Graham, an old friend of John who returns to Baton Rouge after a nine year absence and stays with the Mullanys until he finds an apartment. Graham reveals that he records women talking about their sexual experiences and fantasies, and that its the only way he can receive sexual gratification. This revelation stirs up differing responses from the group and soon all of their lives will be changed for good.

I’m unsure who is responsible for the design on this British quad but it is unique to this particular poster. If anyone has any ideas please get in touch.

The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen / B1 / Japan

11.07.14

Poster Poster
Title
The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen
AKA
--
Year of Film
1988
Director
Terry Gilliam
Starring
John Neville, Sarah Polley, Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver Reed, Uma Thurman, Robin Williams, Peter Jeffrey
Origin of Film
UK | West Germany
Genre(s) of Film
John Neville, Sarah Polley, Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver Reed, Uma Thurman, Robin Williams, Peter Jeffrey,
Type of Poster
B1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1988
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
28 12/16" x 40.5
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is the scarce Japanese B1 for the release of the 1988 fantasy comedy The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, which was co-written and directed by Terry Gilliam. Based on the tall tales that the real-life 18th century German Baron Münchhausen allegedly told about his wartime dealings with the Ottoman Empire, the film is a riotous exploration of the power of storytelling and imagination. Gilliam plucked the veteran actor John Neville, in his early sixties at the time, from near obscurity to play the titular Baron who teams up with a young girl and a whole host of bizarre characters to save an unnamed European city from defeat by a besieging Turkish army. 

Actress (and recently director) Sarah Polley appears in her first screen role as Sally Salt, a member of a theatre troupe that has been touring the country showing farcical reconstructions of Munchausen’s supposed adventures. At one show the real Baron arrives into the theatre just as a Turkish army appears outside the city walls and begins to attack. What follows is a madcap mix of improbable, recollected tales and daring adventures as the Baron takes Sally on a journey to gather together his old gang of associates, including the fastest runner in the world (Eric Idle), a giant strongman and a dwarf able to expel powerful gusts of wind that can knock tens of people over. Their journey takes them to the moon where they encounter the eccentric King of the Moon (a memorable cameo from Robin Williams), into the crater of an active volcano where they meet the Roman God Vulcan (Oliver Reed) and his wife Venus (one of Uma Thurman‘s earliest film roles) and inside the belly of a giant sea monster, before they head back to the besieged city to rescue it from certain defeat.

Featuring a number of notable actors, often in dual roles that reflect the film’s clever play on the idea of fantasy and reality, the story is never anything less than entertaining and the action on screen completely belies the ridiculous behind the scenes travails that Gilliam went through to bring his vision to life. The film suffered a number of setbacks during its production, including a budget that more than doubled and a change of management at the studio that almost saw the film cancelled entirely (production was shut down for several weeks). The film was eventually practically dumped into cinemas in the States with a limited release that saw a corresponding lack of box office takings, and this was despite strong critical reception. It faired better in Europe but was unable to recoup its reported budget of over $45 million.

This psychedelic design is unique to this Japanese B1 and is markedly different to the equally trippy B2 poster.

 

Hellraiser / B2 / Montage style / Japan

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Hellraiser
AKA
Clive Barker's Hellraiser (UK - complete title)
Year of Film
1987
Director
Clive Barker
Starring
Andrew Robinson, Doug Bradley, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Sean Chapman, Oliver Smith
Origin of Film
UK
Genre(s) of Film
Andrew Robinson, Doug Bradley, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Sean Chapman, Oliver Smith,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Montage
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1987
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Unquestionably one of the truly great British horror films, Clive Barker‘s Hellraiser launched an enduring franchise and established the character of Pinhead (or ‘Priest’, as Barker prefers him to be known) as one of horror’s most beloved villains. Based on the 1986 novella The Hellbound Heart, Barker made the decision to both write the screenplay and direct the film after being disappointed with how two of his earlier scripts had been treated by other directors. The story begins as seedy hedonist Frank Cotton () purchases a golden puzzle box from an antiques dealer in Morocco believing it holds the key to the ‘ultimate sensual experience’. On returning to his London home, Frank opens the puzzle box and is promptly torn apart by massive hooks controlled by a group of horribly scarred and mutilated humanoids known as the Cenobites. The lead Cenobite (Pinhead, played by Doug Bradley) twists the box back to its original shape and they pass back into their realm with Frank’s remains with the room returning to normal.

Sometime later, Frank’s brother Larry () and his second wife Julia () move into the same house assuming that Frank is in jail in some exotic location. Larry’s daughter Kirsty () declines the offer to move in with her stepmother and chooses to find her own place. When Larry accidentally cuts his hand and drips blood onto the attic floor it somehow reaches Frank in his prison in the other realm and starts to resurrect his body (in a stunning special effects sequence). Later that day Julia finds Frank in the attic and the pair rekindle an affair they had started some years before. Julia agrees to help Frank to fully resurrect himself, which can only happen through blood sacrifices so she begins to seduce and bring back random men to the house before bludgeoning them to death for Frank to consume. Kirsty begins to suspect something is afoot and soon she is having her own encounter with the Cenobites who are displeased to learn that one of their prisoners has escaped and is on a murder spree.

What makes the film stand out is the excellent script by Barker which prevents the characters from being the usual one-dimensional death fodder usually seen in horror films, particularly those being released towards the end of the 1980s. The production, costume and makeup design are all excellent, with all of the Cenobite designs being particularly memorable. There’s only one stop-motion animation sequence at the end of the film that belies the productions low budget and the film stands up extremely well today. Although the series is up to its ninth film instalment, Barker never directed another and was only producer on the first two sequels. After the fourth film (1996′s Bloodline) the series became a straight-to-video enterprise and quality dropped significantly from then onwards.

This is the ‘style B’ Japanese B2 and features a montage of scenes and characters from the film. There’s also a style A B2 for the film that features the same image of Pinhead that’s on the American one sheet for the film.

The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen / one sheet / international

25.04.14

Poster Poster
Title
The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen
AKA
--
Year of Film
1988
Director
Terry Gilliam
Starring
John Neville, Sarah Polley, Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver Reed, Uma Thurman, Robin Williams, Peter Jeffrey
Origin of Film
UK | West Germany
Genre(s) of Film
John Neville, Sarah Polley, Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver Reed, Uma Thurman, Robin Williams, Peter Jeffrey,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
International
Year of Poster
1988
Designer
Vic Fair
Artist
Renato Casaro | Vic Fair (main figure)
Size (inches)
27 1/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
Remarkable. Unbelievable. Impossible. And true.

This is the international one sheet for the release of the 1988 fantasy comedy The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, which was co-written and directed by Terry Gilliam. Based on the tall tales that the real-life 18th century German Baron Münchhausen allegedly told about his wartime dealings with the Ottoman Empire, the film is a riotous exploration of the power of storytelling and imagination. Gilliam plucked the veteran actor John Neville, in his early sixties at the time, from near obscurity to play the titular Baron who teams up with a young girl and a whole host of bizarre characters to save an unnamed European city from defeat by a besieging Turkish army. 

Actress (and recently director) Sarah Polley appears in her first screen role as Sally Salt, a member of a theatre troupe that has been touring the country showing farcical reconstructions of Munchausen’s supposed adventures. At one show the real Baron arrives into the theatre just as a Turkish army appears outside the city walls and begins to attack. What follows is a madcap mix of improbable, recollected tales and daring adventures as the Baron takes Sally on a journey to gather together his old gang of associates, including the fastest runner in the world (Eric Idle), a giant strongman and a dwarf able to expel powerful gusts of wind that can knock tens of people over. Their journey takes them to the moon where they encounter the eccentric King of the Moon (a memorable cameo from Robin Williams), into the crater of an active volcano where they meet the Roman God Vulcan (Oliver Reed) and his wife Venus (one of Uma Thurman‘s earliest film roles) and inside the belly of a giant sea monster, before they head back to the besieged city to rescue it from certain defeat.

Featuring a number of notable actors, often in dual roles that reflect the film’s clever play on the idea of fantasy and reality, the story is never anything less than entertaining and the action on screen completely belies the ridiculous behind the scenes travails that Gilliam went through to bring his vision to life. The film suffered a number of setbacks during its production, including a budget that more than doubled and a change of management at the studio that almost saw the film cancelled entirely (production was shut down for several weeks). The film was eventually practically dumped into cinemas in the States with a limited release that saw a corresponding lack of box office takings, and this was despite strong critical reception. It faired better in Europe but was unable to recoup its reported budget of over $45 million.

This poster’s creation saw the pairing of two not inconsiderable talents in the shape of the British designer and artist Vic Fair and the prolific designer/artist Renato Casaro. More details of each of them can be found in the two exclusive interviews I carried out with each for the website: Vic Fair interview and Renato Casaro interview.

In his interview Vic talks about working with Gilliam (and the interview also features a concept illustration by the artist):

———————–

What was it like working with Terry Gilliam?
‘It could be quite frustrating sometimes as he’d get me to do loads of work and then at the very last minute he’d change his mind and ask someone else to do it. He had this team of artists and designers always on call and often they’d end up taking over, so it often felt like a waste of time.

He was really good at making you feel like you’d solved all his marketing problems though. He used to say things like ‘That’s it! You’ve done it! It’s perfect!’ and he’d kick the bloke off the chair sitting next to him and usher you to take his place at the table. You’d have all these other chaps on his team looking enviously at you, but you knew that it wasn’t over and that there’d be more designs to come. A couple of days later you’d discover that he’d changed his mind and wanted to see some more ideas for the design.’

———————–

In his interview, Renato recalls working with Vic on this poster:

————————

‘One other thing that’s important to say is that I was generally not beholden to an art director and usually I was the designer and the artist on every film poster I worked on. One exception was a pleasant collaboration that I had with the British designer Vic Fair for a poster for The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He had designed a one sheet intended for international use and I worked on the painting for it. I would always make sure to watch the film first, or if that wasn’t possible receive stills from the production, or in some cases even visit the set whilst they were filming, as I mentioned. But I was never working to someone else’s design direction – at Studio Casaro I always made sure I had complete creative control on movie jobs.’

———————–

Beauty / quad / advance / UK

20.07.15

Poster Poster
Title
Beauty
AKA
Skoonheid (South Africa)
Year of Film
2011
Director
Oliver Hermanus
Starring
Deon Lotz, Charlie Keegan, Michelle Scott, Albert Maritz, Sue Diepeveen, Roeline Daneel, Drikus Volschenk
Origin of Film
South Africa | France | Germany
Genre(s) of Film
Deon Lotz, Charlie Keegan, Michelle Scott, Albert Maritz, Sue Diepeveen, Roeline Daneel, Drikus Volschenk,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
Advance
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
2012
Designer
Sam Ashby
Artist
Sam Ashby
Size (inches)
30" x 39 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
Love - Envy - Obsession

This is the advance quad poster for the UK release of the first Afrikaans-language film to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival, 2011’s Beauty, which was directed by Oliver Hermanus. Set in Bloemfontein and Cape Town, the film is a drama that is intended to highlight the bigoted attitudes towards homosexuality in South Africa, which forces men like François van Heerden (Deon Lotz) to lead a closeted life. François has become bored with his marriage to wife Elena Michelle Scott, is frustrated with his daughter’s behaviour, and is bored of his job at a local sawmill. He is shown to be regularly meeting a group of gay men at a remote farm where they engage in sexual activities and then return to their families.

After meeting Christian Roodt (Charlie Keegan), the handsome son of an old friend, at a wedding he becomes obsessed with him and begins to fake reasons to travel to Cape Town where Christian lives with his family. When he sees his daughter relaxing on the beach with Christian, François starts to descend even deeper into his dangerous obsession. After spending a drunken evening out in Cape Town, he calls Christian asking him to pick him up and when the pair drive back to François’ hotel an incident occurs that neither are prepared for. The ending is fairly ambiguous but we’re led to believe that life will be no happier for the married man.

This fantastic UK quad was created by Sam Ashby, a London-based graphic designer who has worked on a number of film posters, including quads for films like Weekend (2011). According to this interview, Sam used to work at the poster design firm AllCity as Head of Design before leaving to set up his own studio in 2010. His website hasn’t been updated in a number of months so I’m not sure if he’s still active as a film poster designer.

It’s worth noting that I bought this poster directly from the UK distributor Pecadillo Pictures and it’s printed on thicker paper than standard quads. The printing quality is not as high as would usually be expected.

Platoon / one sheet / USA

13.08.14

Poster Poster
Title
Platoon
AKA
--
Year of Film
1987
Director
Oliver Stone
Starring
Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, Richard Edson, Keith David, Forest Whitaker, Kevin Dillon, Johnny Depp
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, Richard Edson, Keith David, Forest Whitaker, Kevin Dillon, Johnny Depp,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Final
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1986
Designer
Bill Gold
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
27 2/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
860115
Tagline
The first casualty of war is innocence

An iconic image on this one sheet for the release of Oliver Stone‘s Academy Award-winning Vietnam war classic, Platoon, one of a three films that the director made on the subject (the others being Born on the Fourth of July and Heaven & Earth). The script, which was written by Stone, is based on his own experiences as an infantryman who served in tours of duty during the Vietnam war. He had signed up in 1967 after dropping out of Yale University and specifically requested to see combat in the war that had seen the first ground troops sent to the country two years earlier. Stone served in two different divisions for over a year and was wounded twice,  receiving several medals, including a Purple Heart.

The film follows Charlie Sheen‘s army grunt Chris Taylor (a proxy for Stone) who is serving as part of Bravo Company, 25th Infantry Division near the Cambodian Border. Taylor is fresh into the field and is treated with disdain by the more experienced soldiers (an incredible ensemble of acting talent, including Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, Keith David and Forest Whitaker) who have all been in country for months, and he is quickly made aware that his presence is inconsequential. After a few skirmishes in which some members of the division are killed, Taylor is eventually accepted into the group and discovers the grinding boredom and rampant drug use amongst his fellow soldiers. Tensions between two sergeants, the ill-tempered, battle-scarred Barnes (Berenger) and the pleasant, more reasonable Elias (Dafoe) reach breaking point following an incident involving innocent villagers. Upon returning to base, the issue of a court-martial for illegal killing is raised and when the division is sent out on their next patrol, things reach boiling point, leaving Taylor fighting to survive against the enemy as well as members of his own team.

This one sheet was designed by the great Bill Gold who is best known for his working relationship with Clint Eastwood that has lasted over four decades. He worked on the iconic one sheet for Dirty Harry and went on to design the American poster for every Eastwood film since, which includes the brilliant one for Clint’s last Western,Unforgiven (1992). Gold has also designed posters for some of Hollywood’s greatest directors, including the likes of Stanley Kubrick (A Clockwork Orange, with artwork by Philip Castle) and Alfred Hitchcock (Dial M For Murder).

Born in New York City in 1921, Gold studied illustration and design at the Pratt Institute before starting his professional design career in 1941 in the publicity department for Warner Brothers. One of his earliest designs was for the classic Humphrey Bogart filmCasablanca and within a few years he went on to become the head of the studio’s poster department. In 1962 he started Bill Gold Advertising in New York and then spent the next four decades creating hundreds of memorable poster designs and collaborating with some of the best illustrators in the business, including the brilliant Bob Peak.

Gold started to design less posters towards the end of the 1990s, with only a handful of posters for Eastwood films being credited to him. His last poster was for the 2011 film J. Edgar (directed by Eastwood), which Gold agreed to work on after an unsuccessful period of retirement following the poster he worked on for Mystic River in 2003. He continues to live in Upstate New York and in 2011 a book was released to coincide with his 90th birthday called Bill Gold Posterworks, which features 450 pages worth of his incredible designs and details his creative process. Unfortunately, it has an eye-watering price tag that has prevented me picking a copy up but I hope that one day a more affordable version will be released.

Cocoon / one sheet / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Cocoon
AKA
--
Year of Film
1985
Director
Ron Howard
Starring
Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Maureen Stapleton, Gwen Verdon, Steve Guttenberg, Brian Dennehy, Jack Gilford, Herta Ware, Barret Oliver, Tahnee Welch
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Maureen Stapleton, Gwen Verdon, Steve Guttenberg, Brian Dennehy, Jack Gilford, Herta Ware, Barret Oliver, Tahnee Welch,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1985
Designer
Intralink Film Graphic Design
Artist
John Alvin
Size (inches)
27 1/8" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
850054
Tagline
It is everything you've dreamed of. It is nothing you expect.

Nightbreed / quad / UK

22.02.17

Poster Poster
Title
Nightbreed
AKA
Cabal (France, Italy)
Year of Film
1990
Director
Clive Barker
Starring
Craig Sheffer, Anne Bobby, David Cronenberg, Charles Haid, Hugh Quarshie, Hugh Ross, Doug Bradley, Catherine Chevalier, Malcolm Smith, Bob Sessions, Oliver Parker
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Craig Sheffer, Anne Bobby, David Cronenberg, Charles Haid, Hugh Quarshie, Hugh Ross, Doug Bradley, Catherine Chevalier, Malcolm Smith, Bob Sessions, Oliver Parker,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1990
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
30 3/16" x 40 1/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
The masters of the macabre join forces... with the Nightbreed

This is the UK quad for the original release of ace British writer/director Clive Barker‘s 1990 film Nightbreed. Based on Barker’s own 1988 novel Cabal, which was the sixth and final entry in his celebrated series ‘Books of Blood‘, the film was notoriously a flop upon its original release. The director has been candid in the years following its release and maintains that studio interference and a lack of understanding of how to market the film ultimately hampered its release. Having scored a hit with Hellraiser (1986) on a budget of just under $1m, 20th Century Fox gave Barker over 10 times that for Nightbreed, but with it they took away the freedom he had on the previous film. Ultimately the studio made extensive cuts to the film just before release without Barker’s input and marketed it as a slasher film, which was far from accurate.

The story focuses on a man named Aaron Boone (Craig Sheffer) who has been having vivid dreams about a city called Midian where monsters are accepted and live peacefully with each other. We learn that his girlfriend Lori (Anne Bobby) has encouraged him to see a psychologist named Dr. Phillip Decker (the cult Canadian director David Cronenberg). Decker tells Boone that he’s been suffering from a type of psychosis, is responsible for multiple murders and that he should turn himself into the police. In reality, it’s Decker who is a serial killer and he’s attempting to use Boone as a shill to cover his crimes. After being hit by a truck on his way home, Boone wakes in hospital where he meets a man named Narcisse who talks about accessing Midian before mutilating himself with a pair of blades. 

Boone follows Narcisse’s instructions and makes his way to an old cemetery in the middle of nowhere (the film is set in Canada). Once there he is confronted by a pair of monsters, Peloquin (Oliver Parker) and Kinski (Nicholas Vince), who block his request to enter Midian. Peloquin attempts to eat Boone, biting his shoulder before the latter breaks free and escapes the cemetery. Outside he is confronted by Decker and a squad of police officers and when Decker falsely shouts that Boone has a gun, he is gunned down by the squad. After Lori visits the morgue to identify Boone’s body, the bite given by Peloquin causes him to reanimate. He returns to Midian where he meets a whole host of monsters who call the city home. This time he is accepted into the city after being touched by the blood of their deity Baphomet. Meanwhile, Lori wants to understand why Boone traveled to Midian. She is eventually allowed into the city and discovers that it is a refuge for monsters after centuries of them being hunted to near extinction by humans. Unfortunately Decker has tracked her down and he plans to destroy the city and the monsters within.

One of the things that the studio struggled with is that the monsters are ultimately depicted as being the ‘good guys’ and this was obviously something of a departure from standard horror film tropes. The film has incredible production design and make-up effects, particularly the look of the various monsters in Midian. Despite critical and commercial failure in 1990, Nightbreed quickly garnered a cult following and for many years fans had been calling for the release of the longer cut that Barker had promised existed. An unofficial ‘Cabal cut’ was compiled using VHS-quality material a few years ago but in 2015 the original film elements were found and a special director’s cut released by the American video label Scream Factory, much to the delight of horror fans around the world.

This British quad differs greatly from the disappointing American one sheet and includes several photographs of the Nightbreed and is dominated by an image of David Cronenberg. The minor spoiler (for those that were yet to view the film) that he is the masked killer obviously didn’t bother the distributors! The tagline also makes a deal of the fact that Cronenberg and Barker were working together, perhaps understandably.

Platoon / one sheet / international

10.07.15

Poster Poster
Title
Platoon
AKA
--
Year of Film
1987
Director
Oliver Stone
Starring
Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, Richard Edson, Keith David, Forest Whitaker, Kevin Dillon, Johnny Depp
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, Richard Edson, Keith David, Forest Whitaker, Kevin Dillon, Johnny Depp,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
International
Year of Poster
1986
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Mike Bryan
Size (inches)
27 2/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
--

An iconic image on this one sheet for the release of Oliver Stone‘s Academy Award-winning Vietnam war classic, Platoon, one of a three films that the director made on the subject (the others being Born on the Fourth of July and Heaven & Earth). The script, which was written by Stone, is based on his own experiences as an infantryman who served in tours of duty during the Vietnam war. He had signed up in 1967 after dropping out of Yale University and specifically requested to see combat in the war that had seen the first ground troops sent to the country two years earlier. Stone served in two different divisions for over a year and was wounded twice,  receiving several medals, including a Purple Heart.

The film follows Charlie Sheen‘s army grunt Chris Taylor (a proxy for Stone) who is serving as part of Bravo Company, 25th Infantry Division near the Cambodian Border. Taylor is fresh into the field and is treated with disdain by the more experienced soldiers (an incredible ensemble of acting talent, including Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, Keith David and Forest Whitaker) who have all been in country for months, and he is quickly made aware that his presence is inconsequential. After a few skirmishes in which some members of the division are killed, Taylor is eventually accepted into the group and discovers the grinding boredom and rampant drug use amongst his fellow soldiers. Tensions between two sergeants, the ill-tempered, battle-scarred Barnes (Berenger) and the pleasant, more reasonable Elias (Dafoe) reach breaking point following an incident involving innocent villagers. Upon returning to base, the issue of a court-martial for illegal killing is raised and when the division is sent out on their next patrol, things reach boiling point, leaving Taylor fighting to survive against the enemy as well as members of his own team.

This one sheet features a shot from a pivotal scene in the film where Elias is left behind during an evacuation to escape from advancing Vietcong troops. The shot was used on most posters for the film’s release across the board, but not on the US one sheet. This poster is in fact a one sheet printed for use in English-speaking international countries (note the lack of MPAA rating). It most commonly appears without the white border and measuring 25″ x 39″ but this is the full-size 27″ x 41″ bordered version.

I had always assumed the image was a photograph but I only recently discovered it’s the work of the American artist Mike Bryan who also painted the fantastic and iconic Robocop one sheet. Heritage auction house sold the original paintings for both posters in March 2014 and included with each was a note from Bryan himself. The platoon one can be read here.

Platoon / Thailand

20.04.15

Poster Poster
Title
Platoon
AKA
--
Year of Film
1987
Director
Oliver Stone
Starring
Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, Richard Edson, Keith David, Forest Whitaker, Kevin Dillon, Johnny Depp
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, Richard Edson, Keith David, Forest Whitaker, Kevin Dillon, Johnny Depp,
Type of Poster
Thai
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Thailand
Year of Poster
1986
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Kwow
Size (inches)
21 7/16" x 30 12/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is the original Thai poster for the release of Oliver Stone‘s Academy Award-winning Vietnam war classic, Platoon, one of a three films that the director made on the subject (the others being Born on the Fourth of July and Heaven & Earth). The script, which was written by Stone, is based on his own experiences as an infantryman who served in tours of duty during the Vietnam war. He had signed up in 1967 after dropping out of Yale University and specifically requested to see combat in the war that had seen the first ground troops sent to the country two years earlier. Stone served in two different divisions for over a year and was wounded twice,  receiving several medals, including a Purple Heart.

The film follows Charlie Sheen‘s army grunt Chris Taylor (a proxy for Stone) who is serving as part of Bravo Company, 25th Infantry Division near the Cambodian Border. Taylor is fresh into the field and is treated with disdain by the more experienced soldiers (an incredible ensemble of acting talent, including Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, Keith David and Forest Whitaker) who have all been in country for months, and he is quickly made aware that his presence is inconsequential. After a few skirmishes in which some members of the division are killed, Taylor is eventually accepted into the group and discovers the grinding boredom and rampant drug use amongst his fellow soldiers. Tensions between two sergeants, the ill-tempered, battle-scarred Barnes (Berenger) and the pleasant, more reasonable Elias (Dafoe) reach breaking point following an incident involving innocent villagers. Upon returning to base, the issue of a court-martial for illegal killing is raised and when the division is sent out on their next patrol, things reach boiling point, leaving Taylor fighting to survive against the enemy as well as members of his own team.

The artwork on this Thai poster is by the artist who signs his work Kwow, about whom I’ve been able to discover little beyond other titles he worked on. The figure kneeling with his arms up references one of the most iconic scenes of the movie, which also appeared on several international posters for the film and was painted by Mike Ryan (the original artwork was sold at auction in 2014).

D.A.R.Y.L. / one sheet / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
D.A.R.Y.L.
AKA
DARYL
Year of Film
1985
Director
Simon Wincer
Starring
Barret Oliver, Mary Beth Hurt, Michael McKean, Danny Corkill
Origin of Film
UK | USA
Genre(s) of Film
Barret Oliver, Mary Beth Hurt, Michael McKean, Danny Corkill,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1985
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
850066
Tagline
He can fly a jet, race a car and outsmart a computer. The government created him and now they want him destroyed.

Downfall / B2 / Japan

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Downfall
AKA
Der Untergang (Germany - original title) | Hitorâ saigo no juuninichikan (Japan)
Year of Film
2004
Director
Oliver Hirschbiegel
Starring
Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Corinna Harfouch, Ulrich Matthes, Juliane Köhler
Origin of Film
Germany | Italy | Austria
Genre(s) of Film
Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Corinna Harfouch, Ulrich Matthes, Juliane Köhler,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
2005
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Gladiator / one sheet / advance / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Gladiator
AKA
--
Year of Film
2000
Director
Ridley Scott
Starring
Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou, Richard Harris
Origin of Film
UK | USA
Genre(s) of Film
Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou, Richard Harris,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Advance
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
2000
Designer
The Cimarron Group
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27" x 40"
SS or DS
DS
NSS #
--
Tagline
A Hero Will Rise.

Hellraiser / B2 / Pinhead style / Japan

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Hellraiser
AKA
Clive Barker's Hellraiser (UK - complete title)
Year of Film
1987
Director
Clive Barker
Starring
Andrew Robinson, Doug Bradley, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Sean Chapman, Oliver Smith
Origin of Film
UK
Genre(s) of Film
Andrew Robinson, Doug Bradley, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Sean Chapman, Oliver Smith,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Style A - Pinhead
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1987
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Unquestionably one of the truly great British horror films, Clive Barker‘s Hellraiser launched an enduring franchise and established the character of Pinhead (or ‘Priest’, as Barker prefers him to be known) as one of horror’s most beloved villains. Based on the 1986 novella The Hellbound Heart, Barker made the decision to both write the screenplay and direct the film after being disappointed with how two of his earlier scripts had been treated by other directors. The story begins as seedy hedonist Frank Cotton () purchases a golden puzzle box from an antiques dealer in Morocco believing it holds the key to the ‘ultimate sensual experience’. On returning to his London home, Frank opens the puzzle box and is promptly torn apart by massive hooks controlled by a group of horribly scarred and mutilated humanoids known as the Cenobites. The lead Cenobite (Pinhead, played by Doug Bradley) twists the box back to its original shape and they pass back into their realm with Frank’s remains with the room returning to normal.

Sometime later, Frank’s brother Larry () and his second wife Julia () move into the same house assuming that Frank is in jail in some exotic location. Larry’s daughter Kirsty () declines the offer to move in with her stepmother and chooses to find her own place. When Larry accidentally cuts his hand and drips blood onto the attic floor it somehow reaches Frank in his prison in the other realm and starts to resurrect his body (in a stunning special effects sequence). Later that day Julia finds Frank in the attic and the pair rekindle an affair they had started some years before. Julia agrees to help Frank to fully resurrect himself, which can only happen through blood sacrifices so she begins to seduce and bring back random men to the house before bludgeoning them to death for Frank to consume. Kirsty begins to suspect something is afoot and soon she is having her own encounter with the Cenobites who are displeased to learn that one of their prisoners has escaped and is on a murder spree.

What makes the film stand out is the excellent script by Barker which prevents the characters from being the usual one-dimensional death fodder usually seen in horror films, particularly those being released towards the end of the 1980s. The production, costume and makeup design are all excellent, with all of the Cenobite designs being particularly memorable. There’s only one stop-motion animation sequence at the end of the film that belies the productions low budget and the film stands up extremely well today. Although the series is up to its ninth film instalment, Barker never directed another and was only producer on the first two sequels. After the fourth film (1996′s Bloodline) the series became a straight-to-video enterprise and quality dropped significantly from then onwards.

This is the ‘style A’ Japanese B2 and features the same image of Pinhead that’s on the American one sheet for the film. There’s also a style B B2 for the film that features a montage of other scenes and characters.

The Wicked Lady / one sheet / USA

29.08.17

Poster Poster
Title
The Wicked Lady
AKA
--
Year of Film
1983
Director
Michael Winner
Starring
Faye Dunaway, Alan Bates, John Gielgud, Denholm Elliott, Prunella Scales, Oliver Tobias, Glynis Barber, Joan Hickson, Helena McCarthy
Origin of Film
UK
Genre(s) of Film
Faye Dunaway, Alan Bates, John Gielgud, Denholm Elliott, Prunella Scales, Oliver Tobias, Glynis Barber, Joan Hickson, Helena McCarthy,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1983
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
27 2/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
830033
Tagline
She's wild. She's wicked. And she really knows how to whip up a good time.

The Wicked Lady is a period drama that was directed by the late Michael Winner and was based on the 1945 film of the same name. Faye Dunaway stars as Barbara whose sister Caroline (Glynis Barber) is due to marry wealthy landowner, Sir Ralph Skelton (Denholm Elliott). Seemingly devoid of any scruples, Barbara seduces Ralph and takes her sister’s place at the wedding. She soon grows bored of just being the wife of a wealthy man and decides to take up highway robbery, depriving wealthy coach travelers of their jewels and other trinkets. Eventually she meets and falls in with a real highway robber, Jerry Jackson (the late Alan Bates), and the pair step up their game by robbing gold bullion-filled stage coaches. Eventually their sloppiness catches up with them and people around Barbara begin to suspect she has some involvement in the robberies. 

The film was a critical and commercial failure and was compared unfavourably with the original film. Dunaway’s character is totally unlikeable and her performance is nothing short of bizarre. Perhaps the worst aspect of the film is the pointless nudity, including one really cringeworthy sex scene by a fire, with a stockings removal setup that’s tortuously long. You can practically hear the sleazy Winner rubbing his knees at the back of the set. Despite a strong cast on paper this is a squandered opportunity.

I’m unsure who is responsible for the art on this American one sheet so if you have an idea please get in touch. It’s not to be confused with the artwork that was used elsewhere around the globe, including the British quad, that was painted by Brian Bysouth.

Natural Born Killers / one sheet / TV style / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Natural Born Killers
AKA
--
Year of Film
1994
Director
Oliver Stone
Starring
Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Rodney Dangerfield, Edie McClurg, Russell Means, Evan Handler, Robert Downey, Jr., Balthazar Getty, Tommy Lee Jones
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Rodney Dangerfield, Edie McClurg, Russell Means, Evan Handler, Robert Downey, Jr., Balthazar Getty, Tommy Lee Jones,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
TV
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1994
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27" x 40 2/8"
SS or DS
DS
NSS #
--
Tagline
In the media circus of life, they were the main attraction.

The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen / B2 / Japan

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen
AKA
--
Year of Film
1988
Director
Terry Gilliam
Starring
John Neville, Sarah Polley, Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver Reed, Uma Thurman, Robin Williams, Peter Jeffrey
Origin of Film
UK | West Germany
Genre(s) of Film
John Neville, Sarah Polley, Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver Reed, Uma Thurman, Robin Williams, Peter Jeffrey,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1989
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Natural Born Killers / one sheet / style B / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster

Castaway / 1986 / quad / UK

18.11.13

Poster Poster

An excellent use of a classic optical illusion graces this British quad for the release of Castaway, a film based on the true story of a British man called Gerald Kingsland who decided to try living as a modern day Robinson Crusoe on a remote island near Australia in 1980. Kinglsand put an advertisement in London’s Timeout magazine looking for a woman to share a year with him on the island and, surprisingly, a woman named Lucy Irvine, who was less than half his age, agreed to join him. The pair lived on Tuin Island for close to a year and almost perished from malnutrition before being rescued by natives from another island. The pair returned to the UK and both wrote a book about their experiences. Lucy Irvine’s Castaway was published in 1983 and was the basis for this film.

British director Nic Roeg (Don’t Look Now, The Man Who Fell to Earth) took on the project and a hirsute, portly Oliver Reed was cast as Kingsland, whilst a then relatively unknown Amanda Donohoe was hired to play Irvine. Filming took place in the Seychelles and Roeg changed several elements of the original book but most of the major events were kept in place. Donohoe certainly puts in a brave performance (read: she’s naked for a vast majority of the running time) and Reed was arguably perfect casting as Kingsland.

This quad was created by the British designer and artist Vic Fair who had worked with Roeg on a number of his posters, including the iconic one he designed and illustrated for The Man Who Fell to Earth. Originally the artist Brian Bysouth, a frequent collaborator with Vic, was asked to paint a ‘final’ version of the artwork based on Fair’s rough, but Roeg apparently liked the original version so much that they decided to print it instead. The use of optical illusions and juxtaposition of elements was a common theme with Vic Fair’s work.

Hellraiser / quad / UK

14.02.14

Poster Poster
Title
Hellraiser
AKA
Clive Barker's Hellraiser (UK - complete title)
Year of Film
1987
Director
Clive Barker
Starring
Andrew Robinson, Doug Bradley, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Sean Chapman, Oliver Smith
Origin of Film
UK
Genre(s) of Film
Andrew Robinson, Doug Bradley, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Sean Chapman, Oliver Smith,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1987
Designer
Marcus Silversides
Artist
--
Size (inches)
30 1/16" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
It will tear your soul apart.

Unquestionably one of the truly great British horror films, Clive Barker‘s Hellraiser launched an enduring franchise and established the character of Pinhead (or ‘Priest’, as Barker prefers him to be known) as one of horror’s most beloved villains. Based on the 1986 novella The Hellbound Heart, Barker made the decision to both write the screenplay and direct the film after being disappointed with how two of his earlier scripts had been treated by other directors. The story begins as seedy hedonist Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) purchases a golden puzzle box from an antiques dealer in Morocco believing it holds the key to the ‘ultimate sensual experience’. On returning to his London home, Frank opens the puzzle box and is promptly torn apart by massive hooks controlled by a group of horribly scarred and mutilated humanoids known as the Cenobites. The lead Cenobite (Pinhead, played by Doug Bradley) twists the box back to its original shape and they pass back into their realm with Frank’s remains with the room returning to normal.

Sometime later, Frank’s brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) and his second wife Julia (Clare Higgins) move into the same house assuming that Frank is in jail in some exotic location. Larry’s daughter Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) declines the offer to move in with her stepmother and chooses to find her own place. When Larry accidentally cuts his hand and drips blood onto the attic floor it somehow reaches Frank in his prison in the other realm and starts to resurrect his body (in a stunning special effects sequence). Later that day Julia finds Frank in the attic and the pair rekindle an affair they had started some years before. Julia agrees to help Frank to fully resurrect himself, which can only happen through blood sacrifices so she begins to seduce and bring back random men to the house before bludgeoning them to death for Frank to consume. Kirsty begins to suspect something is afoot and soon she is having her own encounter with the Cenobites who are displeased to learn that one of their prisoners has escaped and is on a murder spree.

What makes the film stand out is the excellent script by Barker which prevents the characters from being the usual one-dimensional death fodder usually seen in horror films, particularly those being released towards the end of the 1980s. The production, costume and makeup design are all excellent, with all of the Cenobite designs being particularly memorable. There’s only one stop-motion animation sequence at the end of the film that belies the productions low budget and the film stands up extremely well today. Although the series is up to its ninth film instalment, Barker never directed another and was only producer on the first two sequels. After the fourth film (1996’s Bloodline) the series became a straight-to-video enterprise and quality dropped significantly from then onwards.

This UK quad features an image of Pinhead that differs from the American one sheet and the tagline (in red text) is slightly modified as well. The poster was designed by Marcus Silversides a freelance British designer and illustrator. The lead Cenobite would be front and centre on posters for the film used around the world, as well as all theatrically-released sequels.

D.A.R.Y.L. / quad / UK

22.08.12

Poster Poster
Title
D.A.R.Y.L.
AKA
DARYL (alt. spelling)
Year of Film
1985
Director
Simon Wincer
Starring
Barret Oliver, Mary Beth Hurt, Michael McKean, Danny Corkill
Origin of Film
UK | USA
Genre(s) of Film
Barret Oliver, Mary Beth Hurt, Michael McKean, Danny Corkill,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1985
Designer
Unknown
Artist
David Jarvis
Size (inches)
30 2/16 x 40"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
He's smart, nice, liked by all. Why is he targeted for destruction? | He can't be kept a secret any longer

One of the staple films of my 1980s childhood, D.A.R.Y.L. (Data-Analysing Robot Youth Lifeform) tells the story of a young boy (Barret Oliver) who is found wandering alone by an elderly couple and taken to an orphanage. After being adopted by foster parents Andy Richardson (Michael McKean) and Joyce (Mary Beth Hurt) it becomes clear that Daryl is no ordinary boy as he starts to display a series of uncanny skills, including a perfect talent for baseball and the ability to manipulate funds via ATMs.

It turns out that he’s actually a cyborg with the brain of a supercomputer having been implanted into the body of a 10-year-old boy. Daryl was able to escape from a top secret facility with the help of a scientist but the military are in hot pursuit having decided that the ‘project’ should be terminated. The film was directed by Australian Simon Wincer who would later achieve great success with the family film Free Willy.

This UK quad features artwork by the American artist David Jarvis, who is perhaps best known for his illustration on the US one sheet for Walter Hill’s The Warriors. Having completed a degree in illustration at the Los Angeles Art Center College of Design, Jarvis went on to work as a freelance illustrator producing over thirty designs for film posters, as well as record sleeves, magazine covers and more. He also worked as an artist for Disney studios on the films Mulan and Tarzan. The other posters I’ve collected by him can be seen here.

Note the hidden words in amongst the data display on the right hand side. The SR-71 Blackbird stealth plane in the bottom right of the poster plays a prominent role in an action sequence towards the end of the film.

The NeverEnding Story / one sheet / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
The NeverEnding Story
AKA
Die unendliche Geschichte (West Germany - original title)
Year of Film
1984
Director
Wolfgang Petersen
Starring
Barret Oliver, Noah Hathaway, Tami Stronach, Alan Oppenheimer, Thomas Hill, Deep Roy, Tilo Prückner, Moses Gunn, Sydney Bromley, Patricia Hayes, Gerald McRaney
Origin of Film
West Germany | USA
Genre(s) of Film
Barret Oliver, Noah Hathaway, Tami Stronach, Alan Oppenheimer, Thomas Hill, Deep Roy, Tilo Prückner, Moses Gunn, Sydney Bromley, Patricia Hayes, Gerald McRaney,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1984
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Ezra Tucker
Size (inches)
27" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
A boy who needs a friend finds a world that needs a hero. | Begin a journey into a limitless universe of entertainment. Experience the enchanted world of a young boy's imagination and behold the remarkable adventure that unfolds before your eyes.

Hellraiser / one sheet / USA

12.06.13

Poster Poster
Title
Hellraiser
AKA
Clive Barker's Hellraiser (UK - complete title)
Year of Film
1987
Director
Clive Barker
Starring
Andrew Robinson, Doug Bradley, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Sean Chapman, Oliver Smith
Origin of Film
UK
Genre(s) of Film
Andrew Robinson, Doug Bradley, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Sean Chapman, Oliver Smith,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1987
Designer
Pulse Advertising
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27 2/16" x 41 1/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
Demon to some. Angel to others. | He'll tear your soul apart

Unquestionably one of the truly great British horror films, Clive Barker‘s Hellraiser launched an enduring franchise and established the character of Pinhead (or ‘Priest’, as Barker prefers him to be known) as one of horror’s most beloved villains. Based on the 1986 novella The Hellbound Heart, Barker made the decision to both write the screenplay and direct the film after being disappointed with how two of his earlier scripts had been treated by other directors. The story begins as seedy hedonist Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) purchases a golden puzzle box from an antiques dealer in Morocco believing it holds the key to the ‘ultimate sensual experience’. On returning to his London home, Frank opens the puzzle box and is promptly torn apart by massive hooks controlled by a group of horribly scarred and mutilated humanoids known as the Cenobites. The lead Cenobite (Pinhead, played by Doug Bradley) twists the box back to its original shape and they pass back into their realm with Frank’s remains with the room returning to normal.

Sometime later, Frank’s brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) and his second wife Julia (Clare Higgins) move into the same house assuming that Frank is in jail in some exotic location. Larry’s daughter Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) declines the offer to move in with her stepmother and chooses to find her own place. When Larry accidentally cuts his hand and drips blood onto the attic floor it somehow reaches Frank in his prison in the other realm and starts to resurrect his body (in a stunning special effects sequence). Later that day Julia finds Frank in the attic and the pair rekindle an affair they had started some years before. Julia agrees to help Frank to fully resurrect himself, which can only happen through blood sacrifices so she begins to seduce and bring back random men to the house before bludgeoning them to death for Frank to consume. Kirsty begins to suspect something is afoot and soon she is having her own encounter with the Cenobites who are displeased to learn that one of their prisoners has escaped and is on a murder spree.

What makes the film stand out is the excellent script by Barker which prevents the characters from being the usual one-dimensional death fodder usually seen in horror films, particularly those being released towards the end of the 1980s. The production, costume and makeup design are all excellent, with all of the Cenobite designs being particularly memorable. There’s only one stop-motion animation sequence at the end of the film that belies the productions low budget and the film stands up extremely well today. Although the series is up to its ninth film instalment, Barker never directed another and was only producer on the first two sequels. After the fourth film (1996’s Bloodline) the series became a straight-to-video enterprise and quality dropped significantly from then onwards.

This US one sheet, designed by Pulse Advertising, features a great image of Pinhead holding the puzzlebox, alongside a very memorable tagline. The lead Cenobite would be front and centre on posters for the film used around the world, as well as all theatrically-released sequels. To see more posters designed by Pulse, check out this page on IMPAwards and the posters I’ve collected that were designed by them can be seen here.