You Searched For: Thriller

Monsters / one sheet / teaser / USA

12.03.12

Poster Poster
Title
Monsters
AKA
--
Year of Film
2010
Director
Gareth Edwards
Starring
Scoot McNairy, Whitney Able, Mario Zuniga Benavides, Annalee Jefferies
Origin of Film
UK
Genre(s) of Film
Scoot McNairy, Whitney Able, Mario Zuniga Benavides, Annalee Jefferies,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Teaser
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
2010
Designer
Gravillis Inc.
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27" x 39 13/16"
SS or DS
DS
NSS #
--
Tagline
It's our turn to adapt

British director Gareth Edwards‘ excellent Monsters was one of the best films released in 2010 and transcended a micro-budget to become one of the freshest entries in the sci-fi genre for several years. The film is set slightly in the future and several years after a NASA probe crashed back to earth infected with alien life. Half of Mexico had to be quarantined off as the creatures grew and took over the area, and the US military patrols the borders. Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy) is a US photojournalist who is hired by his boss to escort his daughter Samantha Wynden (Whitney Able) from the safe part of Mexico back to the States. The pair are forced to head through the quarantined zone despite the threat of the creatures who are moving across the country on their yearly ‘migration’.

The film was shot entirely on location by a tiny crew, using prosumer cameras and, aside from the two leads, the majority of the characters were played by non-actors. The dialogue was improvised around a loose scene outline and the results were edited whilst the crew was on the road. Gareth Edwards had previously worked as a special effects editor and spent four months designing and creating all of the effects himself, once again using off the shelf equipment and software. It’s a superb achievement and well worth a watch, but don’t go in expecting some kind of fast-paced, gory creature-feature as some cinema-goers were, back in 2010.

This striking US one sheet teaser was designed by Gravillis Inc. and features Whitney Able in a gas mask with a reflection of one of the creatures in the visor. Because the poster is so dark it’s hard to photograph without losing some of the details so check out the original digital file here.

The original trailer is on YouTube.

Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan / screen print / regular / Tyler Stout / USA

29.04.13

Poster Poster

The Wrath of Khan was the follow up to 1979s Star Trek – The Motion Picture, which was the first feature film to hit cinemas following the ending of the original series 10 years previously. Even though the show was cancelled by the network (NBC) after only three seasons, it had garnered a significant cult following and had made a major impact on popular culture, helped greatly by broadcast syndication on channels across the US during the 1970s. Despite earning significant box-office takings, many critics and fans of the original series were disappointed with the first feature film and reviews tended to criticise it as overlong, bereft of any significant action and, worst of all, boring.

A sequel was inevitable, but Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the original series and executive producer of the first film, was removed from its production by Paramount after they claimed that Roddenberry had forced the first film over budget and had muddled the script with too many re-writes. His replacement was Harve Bennett, with Roddenberry given an ‘executive consultant’ role. Bennett studied the original series for inspiration having decided that the film should be more action-packed and regain some of the swashbuckling feel that had been lost in the first film. Deciding that the sequel needed a decent bad guy, Bennett settled on the character of Khan Noonien Singh, a genetically engineered super solider, who had featured in the first series episode Space Seed, which had long been a fan favourite. At the end of that episode Khan and some of his comrades had been banished to the inhospitable planet of Ceti Alpha V so his return in the film would not be against the series’ canon.

Mexican actor Ricardo Montalban agreed to reprise his role as Khan and the story sees him escaping exile and seeking revenge against Captain Kirk, whom he blames for the death of his wife. After commandeering the USS Reliant, Khan learns of the Genesis Device, a torpedo which is intended to reorganise matter to create a hospitable world but can also destroy planets if used in the wrong way. The crew of the Starship Enterprise sets out to stop Khan but their intervention will not be without sacrifice and the ending of the film sees Leonard Nimoy’s Spock seemingly dead after sacrificing himself to save his comrades. This story arc would continue for two more films, concluding with The Voyage Home in 1986. Among several memorable scenes is the moment when Khan taunts Kirk with a threat against his wife, leading to this infamous outburst. KHAAAAAAAAAN!

When Mondo, the incomparable limited-edition screen print outfit, announced they were opening a gallery in their hometown of Austin, anticipation quickly reached fever pitch, with fans desperate to see what artwork would be on the walls when the doors opened for the first time. The answer was kept secret until the evening of March the 10th, 2012 when the opening night was held and the theme of their first show was revealed to be that of classic sci-fi. Most of Mondo’s premier artists turned in some incredible pieces for the show, as can be seen on this recap blog post on their website and on this SlashFilm post.

One of the highlights of the show was fan-favourite artist Tyler Stout’s print for The Wrath of Khan. A brilliantly composed image featuring Ricardo Montalban‘s unforgettable, titular bad guy, the poster was printed in two flavours; a red and gold regular and a silver and gold variant. Whilst adding the regular version to the Film on Paper collection I wanted to interview the man himself about the creation of the poster and that article can be read here.

Lady In White / one sheet / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Lady In White
AKA
Scarlatti, il thriller [Scarlatti, the thriller] (Italy)
Year of Film
1988
Director
Frank LaLoggia
Starring
Lukas Haas, Len Cariou, Alex Rocco, Katherine Helmond, Jason Presson, Renata Vanni, Angelo Bertolini
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Lukas Haas, Len Cariou, Alex Rocco, Katherine Helmond, Jason Presson, Renata Vanni, Angelo Bertolini,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1988
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
The year is 1962. The place is Willowpoint Falls. Nobody talks about what happened in the school cloakroom 10 years ago. Now, in the dead of night, Frankie Scarlatti is going to find out why.

Mr Ricco / 30×40 / USA

03.01.14

Poster Poster
Title
Mr Ricco
AKA
--
Year of Film
1975
Director
Paul Bogart
Starring
Dean Martin, Eugene Roche, Thalmus Rasulala, Denise Nicholas, Cindy Williams, Geraldine Brooks, Philip Michael Thomas, George Tyne, Robert Sampson, Michael Gregory, Joseph Hacker, Frank Puglia
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Dean Martin, Eugene Roche, Thalmus Rasulala, Denise Nicholas, Cindy Williams, Geraldine Brooks, Philip Michael Thomas, George Tyne, Robert Sampson, Michael Gregory, Joseph Hacker, Frank Puglia,
Type of Poster
30x40
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1975
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Larry Salk
Size (inches)
30" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
75/27
Tagline
The one thing people hate more than a cop killer... is the lawyer who gets him off!

Mr Ricco, a little-seen 1970s crime thriller, marked the last starring role in film for ‘The King of Cool’ Dean Martin (unless you count his cameos in the two Cannonball Run films). The Italian-American entertainer, who had seen great success in several of his earlier roles including Rio Bravo and Ocean’s Eleven (with his fellow Rat Pack members), would continue to make popular TV appearances and music recordings but never headline a film again. After reading the reviews on IMDb it appears he was probably getting too old to convincingly pull-off the action scenes that roles like this one required.

Martin appears in the title role as Joe Ricco, a San Francisco lawyer who successfully defends Frankie Steele (Thalmus Rasulala) a member of a black militant group charged with murdering a woman. Shortly afterwards two cops are gunned down and Steele is implicated in the crime after witnesses describe seeing him fleeing the scene. The detective in charge of the case, George Cronyn (Eugene Roche), is angered that Steele appears to have got away with it again and decides to kill one of the members of the Black Serpents (Steele’s group) and implicate another in the cops’ murder. Ricco agrees to defend the wrongly-accused man but soon after is targeted by a lone sniper who almost kills him. Once again, Steele is implicated in the attempted murder so Ricco sets out to discover why his former client is trying to kill him.

This US 30×40 features artwork by an American artist called Larry Salk about whom I’ve been able to discover very little. A now defunct gallery site described him as a freelance illustrator who worked on around 165 film posters, as well as painting for advertisements, video game covers, record sleeves and more. IMPAwards features a few of his posters (I have his one sheet for the 3D re-release of House of Wax and the advance for Superman III) and he was the artist who painted the famous portrait of Cosmo Kramer from Seinfeld. He apparently passed away in 2004.

Brainstorm / quad / UK

22.09.14

Poster Poster
Title
Brainstorm
AKA
--
Year of Film
1983
Director
Douglas Trumbull
Starring
Christopher Walken, Natalie Wood, Louise Fletcher, Cliff Robertson, Jordan Christopher, Donald Hotton, Alan Fudge, Joe Dorsey, Bill Morey, Jason Lively
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Christopher Walken, Natalie Wood, Louise Fletcher, Cliff Robertson, Jordan Christopher, Donald Hotton, Alan Fudge, Joe Dorsey, Bill Morey, Jason Lively,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1983
Designer
Marcus Silversides
Artist
Brian Bysouth
Size (inches)
30" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
Imagine a machine that records feelings, emotions, even your dreams. And imagine that it can transfer these experiences from one mind to another...

This is the UK quad for the release of the science-fiction film Brainstorm, which was the second and final directorial effort from Douglas Trumbull who is best known for his pioneering work in the field of special effects. Trumbull had worked with Stanley Kubrick on 2001: A Space Odyssey and created the iconic ‘Star Gate’ sequence at the end of the film. He would go on to create special effects sequences for films including Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Blade Runner. The first film he directed was the cult classic Silent Running (1974) which was a critical success but a box-office failure and it would be eight years before Trumbull would once again sit in the director’s chair.

The film stars Christopher Walken as Michael Brace, a scientist working as part of a pioneering research team that has discovered a method of recording the sensory and emotional feelings of a person onto tape, allowing them to be viewed by others. His estranged wife Karen (Natalie Wood) also works with him and Michael realises he can use the system to reconcile their feelings for each other and show her his true emotions. Unfortunately not all of the scientists use it for good with one recording a sexual encounter which he then shares with several of his colleagues, leading to his eventual dismissal. 

Lillian Reynolds (Louise Fletcher) one of the lead scientists is fiercely protective of the team’s work and is angry when the company forces the team to involve military advisors in their plans. When she suffers a heart attack in the lab and is unable to call for help, she records the experience of death into the system. The tape is viewed by another scientist and the sensory experience causes him to also have a heart attack so the company locks the tape away. Lillian’s fears about the nefarious plans of the military are borne out when Michael discovers they plan to use the system for torture and brainwashing but his protestations see him get fired from the program. He and Karen decide to shut down the system to prevent it being used for negative means but Michael is also determined to view Lillian’s ‘death’ tape, despite Karen’s protestations.

Trumbull used the production to work on a new effects process which he called Showscan that allowed for 70mm film to be projected at 60fps (standard film is 24fps) and create a hyperreal feeling to the footage. MGM backed out of plans to create prints in the new format but Trumbull did film the virtual reality sequences in the larger Super Panavision 70 format and the ‘normal’ sequences in the conventional 35mm format so that it changes throughout the film whenever the scientists use their machines. The film was shown at special 70mm cinemas during its initial run.

The film’s production was unfortunately overshadowed by the mysterious death of Natalie Wood who drowned whilst on a boat trip with Walken and her husband Robert Wagner. MGM shut down the production and were planning to write it off and claim insurance on the money already spent. Trumbull and others argued with the studio that Wood had already completed most of her key scenes and the insurers realised that the film was salvageable. They agreed to finance the completion of production for a cut of any profits but by then things were getting very acrimonious between the director and MGM.

Trumbull was allowed to finish the film by rewriting several scenes and using a body double for Wood in some scenes but the experience critically damaged his desire to work inside the Hollywood system again. In 1983 he stated, “I have no interest…in doing another Hollywood feature film…Absolutely none. The movie business is so totally screwed-up that I just don’t have the energy to invest three or four years in a feature film. Moviemaking is like waging war. It destroys your personal life, too.” Sadly Brainstorm under-performed in cinemas despite strong critical notices and failed to recoup most of its final budget.

This quad features unique artwork that was painted by the British artist Brian Bysouth, based on a design by fellow designer and artist Marcus Silversides. The figure is actually based on Silversides himself whose reference shot was provided to Bysouth as he painted the artwork. You can read my extensive interview with the artist by clicking here. The other posters I’ve collected by him can be seen by clicking here.

Best Seller / one sheet / USA

10.11.15

Poster Poster
Title
Best Seller
AKA
Bestseller (alt. spelling)
Year of Film
1987
Director
John Flynn
Starring
James Woods, Brian Dennehy, Victoria Tennant, Allison Balson, Paul Shenar, George Coe, Anne Pitoniak, Mary Carver, Sully Boyar
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
James Woods, Brian Dennehy, Victoria Tennant, Allison Balson, Paul Shenar, George Coe, Anne Pitoniak, Mary Carver, Sully Boyar,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1987
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27 1/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
870069
Tagline
If words could kill...

A great photograph of James Woods looking his devilish best alongside Brian Dennehy on this US one sheet for the 1987 crime film Best Seller. Directed by the late John Flynn (Rolling Thunder) and written by the prolific Larry Cohen, the film stars Dennehy as Dennis Meechum, a police officer who is wounded during an attempted robbery on an evidence locker in 1972. He writes a memoir of his experience which is published to great success. Years later he is shown to be struggling with writer’s block whilst raising his daughter alone after being made a widower.

During a research visit to a court room, one of the suspects escapes the court and Meechum chases after him along with a man called Cleve (Woods). The suspect nearly kills Meechum but Cleve intervenes, shooting the suspect before disappearing. Later Cleve meets with Meechum and trues to persuade him to write a new book about his work as a hitman for a shadowy company called Kappa International. The pair travel around the country gathering proof of the hits that Cleve carried out, but David Madlock (Paul Shenar), Kappa’s founder, understandably wants to keep this sordid history under wraps and the pair are soon in grave danger. Madlock even goes after Meechum’s daughter and the stage is set for a final showdown.

I’m unsure who designed this one sheet so if you have any ideas please get in touch.

Ichi the Killer / B2 / style A / Japan

08.02.16

Poster Poster
Title
Ichi the Killer
AKA
Koroshiya 1 (Japan - English title - means 'Hitman')
Year of Film
2001
Director
Takashi Miike
Starring
Tadanobu Asano, Nao Ômori, Shin'ya Tsukamoto, Paulyn Sun, Susumu Terajima, Shun Sugata, Toru Tezuka, Yoshiki Arizono, Kiyohiko Shibukawa
Origin of Film
Japan
Genre(s) of Film
Tadanobu Asano, Nao Ômori, Shin'ya Tsukamoto, Paulyn Sun, Susumu Terajima, Shun Sugata, Toru Tezuka, Yoshiki Arizono, Kiyohiko Shibukawa,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Style A
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
2001
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is one of two styles of Japanese B2 posters printed for the release of director Takashi Miike‘s controversial 2001 film Ichi the Killer. A notably prolific director, Miike released 6 other films in the same year as Ichi alone, although it would be this one that would gain the most international notoriety. Based on the manga series of the same name by Hideo Yamamoto, the film focuses on the machinations of rival yakuza gangs within a crime syndicate and their interaction with Ichi (Nao Ômori), a shy and seemingly meek loner with a very dark side.

The film begins with the supposed disappearance of the gang boss Anjo, who vanishes from his apartment with millions of Yen, much to the confusion of his men. The audience sees the bloody aftermath of the fate that Anjo suffered at the hands of Ichi but a clean up crew led by Jijii (Shin’ya Tsukamoto) returns his apartment to a spotless state before his henchmen, led by the sadistic Kakihara (Tadanobu Asano) arrives.

The hunt for Anjo begins and Kakihara wastes no time in kidnapping a rival gang leader, Suzuki (Susumu Terajima) and hangs him from meat hooks to try and get him to confess. When it becomes clear he’s got the wrong culprit, Kakihara is forced to apologise and then cuts off his own tongue as a punishment. After being kicked out of the syndicate, the gang continues to hunt for Anjo. The audience learns that Jijii has been psychologically manipulating Ichi for years and has trained him in preparation to be used as a kind of weapon against whoever he decides to target. Suzuki has offered Jijii a large sum of money to take out Kakihara and his gang in revenge for their earlier attack and they must hunt for Ichi before he can get to them first.

It’s fair to say that, in true Miike style, the film doesn’t shy away from violence and sadistic torture and there are some truly brutal sequences. It’s not hard to see why it attracted controversy and was even banned outright in a few countries soon after its release. Despite some very ropey CGI there are several scenes that still shock today and Miike uses editing and sound design to great effect.

This poster, which I’ve named ‘Style A’ features the standout character of Kakihara (here with the number 1 seen on the back of Ichi’s killer’s outfit projected onto his face). The other style also features Kakihara but in a very different situation.

The Fuller Report / B2 / Japan

21.03.16

Poster Poster
Title
The Fuller Report
AKA
Rapporto Fuller, base Stoccolma (Italy - original title)
Year of Film
1968
Director
Sergio Grieco
Starring
Ken Clark, Beba Loncar, Lincoln Tate, Jess Hahn, Paolo Gozlino, Serge Marquand, Sarah Ross, Mirko Ellis, Claudio Biava, Gianni Brezza, Nicole Tessier
Origin of Film
Italy | France
Genre(s) of Film
Ken Clark, Beba Loncar, Lincoln Tate, Jess Hahn, Paolo Gozlino, Serge Marquand, Sarah Ross, Mirko Ellis, Claudio Biava, Gianni Brezza, Nicole Tessier,
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 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

A dynamic photographic montage features on this Japanese B2 for the obscure 1968 action thriller, The Fuller Report. One of a number of films in the Eurospy genre, which were European co-productions (this is Italian and French) of espionage thrillers intended to capitalise on the huge success of the Bond films that began with Dr No in 1962. It’s estimated that there were over 50 films in the genre, with productions from all over Europe, including the UK. Some of the more famous films include those starring Dean Martin as the spy Matt Helm (four films including ‘The Silencers’) and France’s OSS 117 (8 films plus two homage spoofs in 2006 and 2009).

This film stars the American actor Ken Clark (perhaps best known as the character Stewpot in South Pacific) as Dick Worth, a skilled race driver who gets involved in an espionage plot. It’s IMDb page describes the plot thusly:

Ken Clark is a race car driver and a good one. Somehow, he becomes entangled in espionage involving a Russian Ballerina and a secret document called the Fuller Report. Not being any kind of a secret agent, Dick Worth [Clark] has to rely on his quick thinking, catlike reflexes and most of all, his luck to see him through. After all, the powers involved play only one way … for keeps!

The film takes in Stockholm, Zurich and London. Given the paucity of reviews on IMDb it appears to have disappeared from public availability and there are no obvious DVD or blu-ray releases of the film. However, it does seem to be available to stream on the American Amazon Instant service, should you want to see it.

Duel / re-release / Thailand

01.02.16

Poster Poster
Title
Duel
AKA
--
Year of Film
1971
Director
Steven Spielberg
Starring
Dennis Weaver, Jacqueline Scott, Eddie Firestone, Lou Frizzell, Eugene Dynarski, Lucille Benson, Tim Herbert
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Dennis Weaver, Jacqueline Scott, Eddie Firestone, Lou Frizzell, Eugene Dynarski, Lucille Benson, Tim Herbert,
Type of Poster
Thai
Style of Poster
Re-release
Origin of Poster
Thailand
Year of Poster
198?
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
21 4/16" x 30 12/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Steven Spielberg‘s brilliant Duel was originally made for TV but was later expanded by 16 minutes and released in cinemas around the globe, making it technically the director’s second feature-length film. One of the best thrillers ever made, the story follows businessman David Mann (Dennis Weaver) who is traveling along a two-lane highway on the way to an important meeting. After getting stuck behind a series of slow moving vehicles he decides to overtake a rusty tanker truck and manages to enrage the driver, thus beginning an episode of road rage that escalates beyond Mann’s worst nightmares.

Cleverly, the psychotic truck driver is never fully shown, thus making it seem like it’s the truck itself that’s in deadly pursuit of Mann. The film was based on a short story by the legendary sci-fi author and screenwriter Richard Matheson who has penned countless classic novels, short stories and screenplays, including the original ‘I Am Legend’, and one of the best Twilight Zone episodes ever, ‘Nightmare at 20,000 Feet‘ (a similar kind of ‘single man versus relentless evil’ story).

One of the original trucks used in the film survives to this day and is pictured here along with a similar Plymouth Valiant to the one driven by Mann in the film.

This is one of two Thai posters that I’m aware of for the release of the film there and I believe this to be for a later re-release (though I’m not certain of the year). I have the other style and will be adding it to the site in the future. There is a signature on the poster but I’m not sure which artist it belongs to. If anyone has an idea please get in touch.

The original trailer is on YouTube.

Vertigo / one sheet / 1996 re-release / USA

27.01.16

Poster Poster
Title
Vertigo
AKA
La donna che visse due volte [The woman who lived twice] (Italy)
Year of Film
1958
Director
Alfred Hitchcock
Starring
James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes, Tom Helmore, Henry Jones, Raymond Bailey, Ellen Corby
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes, Tom Helmore, Henry Jones, Raymond Bailey, Ellen Corby,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Re-release
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1996
Designer
Saul Bass
Artist
Saul Bass | Art Goodman (figures)
Size (inches)
27" x 40"
SS or DS
DS
NSS #
--
Tagline
--

This US one sheet was printed to mark the 1996 re-release of a restored print of director Alfred Hitchcock‘s classic thriller Vertigo. The film marked the first time Hitchcock worked with the celebrated American designer Saul Bass and the pair would collaborate on two further films together. Hitchcock had himself started his film career developing inter-title cards for silent movies and he commissioned Bass to create the title sequences for Vertigo, North by Northwest and Psycho. As detailed in the must-own book ‘Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design’ (designed by Bass’ daughter Jennifer), the director knew of Bass’ work well before the commission as he kept a close eye on movie graphics and was a subscriber to Graphis, a print journal that had featured Saul’s work.

As well as creating the influential title sequences for each film, Bass was also commissioned to design the advertising campaign for Vertigo. He created the central motif of two figures swirling in a vortex, which is detailed in ‘A Life in Film & Design’:

‘The main poster also captures the sensation of vertigo by having a couple sucked into a vortex. The slightly off-kilter, irregular capitals further hint at the vertiginous. The figures were drawn by Art Goodman, who recalled Saul specifying and sketching out a black silhouette for the man and a light outline, like an apparition, for the woman of his obsessions.’

Several different colours and variations were utilised for the various elements of the ad campaign (trade ads, large posters, brochures, etc) with the concept that the variation of colour and design around a central theme ‘was spinning the viewer in another direction’. Some of these alternatives can be seen in this excellent blog post.

Even if the film wasn’t a great box-office and critical triumph during its initial release, with a reappraisal and celebration not happening until several years later, the title sequence advertising campaign was declared an immediate success and was to win Bass several awards. This one sheet is practically identical to the original 1958 poster with the exception of an altered credits block at the bottom and slightly darker shade of orange (note that this poster is also double-sided, for use in lightboxes)

The film’s Wikipedia article details how the 1996 restoration proved quite controversial since the experts charged with the task were forced to alter the soundtrack (during the creation of a new 6 channel track) and restore the colour as best as they could since the original negatives had faded over the years.

This article on Mubi.com by Adrian Curry does a thorough job of detailing all the various posters printed for Vertigo around the world.

For more on Bass I thoroughly recommend picking up ‘Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design’ and also check out the extensive page about him on the brilliant Art of the Title

Nikita / Thailand

03.12.15

Poster Poster
Title
Nikita
AKA
La Femme Nikita (US / UK)
Year of Film
1990
Director
Luc Besson
Starring
Anne Parillaud, Laura Chéron, Tchéky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Jean Reno
Origin of Film
France | Italy
Genre(s) of Film
Anne Parillaud, Laura Chéron, Tchéky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Jean Reno,
Type of Poster
Thai
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Thailand
Year of Poster
1990
Designer
Tongdee Panumas
Artist
Tongdee Panumas
Size (inches)
23 15/16" x 34 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is the original Thai poster for the release of Luc Besson‘s international breakthrough hit, Nikita, featuring artwork by Tongdee Panumas. A French/Italian co-production, the film stars Anne Parillaud (Besson’s wife at the time) as the titular assassin who starts out as a drug-addicted teenager living a life of crime. When a robbery at a pharmacy goes awry and her friends are killed in a gunfight, Nikita shoots dead a policeman before being arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Soon after arriving in prison, Nikita is kidnapped and wakes up in a specialist facility where she learns that her death has been faked and she has been selected to become part of a secretive government agency simply known as the Centre. Nikita is given the choice of training as an assassin or to end up in the pauper’s grave earmarked for her. When she wisely chooses the former Nikita begins to learn the skills of a stealthy assassin under the guidance of Bob (Tchéky Karyo), her agency handler, and Amande (Jeanne Moreau).

After graduating and becoming a sleeper agent in Paris, Nikita meets and falls in love with Marco (Jean-Hugues Anglade), a man she meets in a supermarket, but before long Centre activates her for assassination missions and both her relationship and life are under threat, especially when a mission inside an embassy gets messy and Victor the Cleaner (Jean Reno) is called to help out. Despite mixed critical reaction the film was an international box-office hit and, for reasons I’ve never understood, was given the lengthier title of La Femme Nikita outside of France and Germany. Four years later Besson and Reno would reunite for the lauded and much-loved Leon: The Professional. In addition, two American TV series have since been made based on the original film.

This Thai poster features excellent artwork 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. Note that this is larger than the standard Thai poster size of around 21″ x 31″.

The artwork features elements of other posters for Nikita, including the original French one (overhead view of a street) and the UK quad (Nikita sat down holding a gun). The German poster by Renato Casaro is also referenced in the top right corner.

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

 

The Great Escape / A1 / 1975 re-release / Germany

30.11.15

Poster Poster

A striking design features on this German poster for the 1975 re-release of one of the greatest war films ever released, 1963’s The Great Escape. Director John Sturges (Magnificent Seven) helmed the film and it’s based on the 1950 non-fiction book of the same name, written by Paul Brickhill, which tells the story of a mass escape by allied prisoners from the high-security Stalag Luft III prison in Nazi Germany. Although partly fictionalised, many of the events depicted in the film did occur and the filmmakers only changed certain events and characters to add to the film’s commercial appeal.

An absolutely star-studded affair, the film features many of the finest male actors of the day, including Steve McQueenJames GarnerRichard Attenborough and Donald Pleasence. American actor Charles Bronson also appears as one of the prisoners and his popularity in Europe at the time of this 1975 re-release explains why he’s given equal billing on the poster alongside McQueen. Despite the roster of big names it will undoubtedly always be known as McQueen’s film since his turn as Virgil ‘The Cooler King’ Hilts, the cocky, determined Air Force captain, is really the centre of the film. It was McQueen’s image that was used to promote the film on various posters around the world. 

I’m unsure why the film was re-released in the then West Germany in 1975 and am also unsure who was responsible for the design and art on this A1 poster. If anyone has any ideas please get in touch.

Friday the 13th Part 2 / Turkey

24.11.15

Poster Poster
Title
Friday the 13th Part 2
AKA
L'assassino ti siede accanto [You're sitting next to the killer] (Italy)
Year of Film
1981
Director
Steve Miner
Starring
Amy Steel, John Furey, Adrienne King, Kirsten Baker, Stuart Charno, Warrington Gillette, Walt Gorney, Marta Kober, Tom McBride, Bill Randolph, Lauren-Marie Taylor, Russell Todd
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Amy Steel, John Furey, Adrienne King, Kirsten Baker, Stuart Charno, Warrington Gillette, Walt Gorney, Marta Kober, Tom McBride, Bill Randolph, Lauren-Marie Taylor, Russell Todd,
Type of Poster
Turkish
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Turkey
Year of Poster
1981
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Ömer Muz
Size (inches)
27" x 39.5"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Following only a year after the release of the original film, Friday the 13th Part 2 stuck very close to the formula that had made the first film such a surprising box office hit. The film’s original director and producer Sean S. Cunningham decided not to return for the sequel after disagreements with studio Paramount over the direction it should take. Despite the fact that the film’s original killer had been decapitated at the end, the studio wanted to continue the same storyline, whereas Cunningham and others (including make-up maestro Tom Savini) had wanted to make the series more of an anthology with different unique storylines for each instalment. 

Steve Miner, an associate-producer on the original, was tapped to direct the sequel (he would also helm part 3) and the story was set in the same area as the first film with the action taking place at another camp on Crystal Lake along from where the original set of murders happened. The producers realised they could use the character of Jason Voorhees, the supposedly drowned son of the original killer Pamela Voorhees, as the antagonist and it’s revealed that his body was never found.

As a new set of teenagers arrive at the summer camp ahead of the influx of kids, a killer stalks and murders them one by one, in much the same fashion as the original film. The film has a similar jump-scare ending to the first but it’s fudged slightly as it’s not clear whether it was another dream or not. The character of Jason was nevertheless established as the main bad guy and the series would continue successfully for the next 25-plus years. Part 2 was a victim of the original’s success in that the MPAA were a lot more strict in terms of the gore content this time around and several scenes were cut or truncated to appease the sensors.

This poster features the signature of Ömer Muz, a prolific artist who worked on many painted film posters their release. I’ve been unable to find out much about him so if anyone has any details please get in touch.

Innerspace / B1 / Poland

07.10.15

Poster Poster

This is the Polish B1 poster for the release (in 1989) of Joe Dante’s 1987 sci-fi comedy Innerspace, in which Dennis Quaid plays the brilliantly named Tuck Pendleton, a loudmouth test pilot who is shrunken to miniature size as part of an experiment and then accidentally injected into the body of hypochondriac Jack Putter (Martin Short) during a robbery at a science lab. Madcap high-jinks ensue and the films nods heavily in the direction of the classic sci-fi film Fantastic Voyage. The film is definitely one of the high points in the myriad of high-concept films of the 1980s and I rate it as one of Joe Dante’s best films.

This poster was designed and illustrated by Andrzej Pagowski, a prolific film poster artist who was born in Warsaw in 1953 and studied at the celebrated University of Fine Arts in Poznań, graduating in 1978 under the tutorship of the noted artist Waldemar Świerzy. In 1990 he started his own graphic design studio called Studio P, which he developed into an advertising agency by 1993. According to the biography on his official site, Pagowski has illustrated over 1000 posters during his career and has also done work for books, magazines and music covers. In addition, he is also a TV and theatre stage designer and a screen writer. Undoubtedly a man of many talents! His official site features an extensive gallery of his work, including several of the posters. Polishposter.com also features multiple pages worth of his movie posters and this culture.pl article is well worth a read too.

Breakout / one sheet / style A / USA

11.03.16

Poster Poster
Title
Breakout
AKA
Dieci secondi per fuggire [Ten seconds to escape] (Italy)
Year of Film
1975
Director
Tom Gries
Starring
Charles Bronson, Robert Duvall, Jill Ireland
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Charles Bronson, Robert Duvall, Jill Ireland,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Style A
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1975
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Weezer
Size (inches)
27" x 41 1/8"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
75/52
Tagline
Sentenced to 28 years in prison for a crime he never committed. Only two things can get him out - A lot of money and Charles Bronson!

This one sheet for the 1975 action film Breakout features one of those classic taglines that manages to sum up the plot of the film in a couple of sentences. Charles Bronson, flush from the international success of the 1974 thriller Death Wish, leads a star-studded cast, including Robert Duvall, Bronson’s then wife Jill Ireland and a young Randy Quaid. It was helmed by Tom Gries who had started out in television and eventually moved into features, including several westerns such as ‘100 Rifles’. Gries sadly passed away from a heart attack in 1977 but not before he’d worked with Bronson again for Breakheart Pass (also in 1975). The film is loosely based on a real even that’s detailed on the film’s Wikipedia page.

Duvall plays Jay Wagner who is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit that happened in Mexico, 2000 miles away from where he was at the time. Tried by a kangaroo court he is thrown in a grim Mexican jail after being sentenced to 28 years. When his wife Ann (Ireland) learns what’s happened she vows to break him out of the prison and decides to hire wily bush pilot Nick Colton (Bronson) and his improbably named partner Hawk Hawkins (Quaid). The pair make one attempt involving Quad dressing in drag that fails and decide to return with a helicopter. Unfortunately Ann has told Jay’s grandfather, the wealthy businessman Harris Wagner (legendary actor John Huston), their plans without realising that he’s behind Jay’s imprisonment due to an issue with some business deals. Nick and Hawk have to work hard to pull off the escape and avoid being busted by an agent called Cable who Harris sends after them.

Bronson plays his character with an atypical comedic edge, very unlike the roles that had made him a star. The film was a box-office hit, largely due to Columbia trying the then new method of saturation booking where 1300 cinemas across the US were sent prints of the film simultaneously, coupled with plenty of advertising. After it proved a success, Universal then used the method with Jaws the same year and, after the incredible blockbusting results of that release, film releasing tactics were changed forever.

This one sheet is the style A one sheet for the film and features the signature of an artist called Weezer, about whom I’ve been able to discover no information. If anyone has any details about them please get in touch. There’s also a style B one sheet for the film which has similar artwork by a different artist that can be seen here. It’s strange that both posters are so similar in layout and I’m not sure why the studio bothered.

Aliens / B1 / creature style / Poland

14.09.15

Poster Poster
Title
Aliens
AKA
Aliens - Scontro finale [Final encounter] (Italy), Aliens - Le retour [The return] (France)
Year of Film
1986
Director
James Cameron
Starring
Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, William Hope, Paul Reiser
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, William Hope, Paul Reiser,
Type of Poster
B1
Style of Poster
Creature
Origin of Poster
Poland
Year of Poster
1987
Designer
Andrzej Pagowski
Artist
Andrzej Pagowski
Size (inches)
26 9/16" x 37"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Very wild artwork features on this Polish poster for the release (in 1987) of James Cameron‘s sci-fi masterpiece Aliens. I find it hard to choose between this and Ridley Scott’s original Alien (1979) that saw a small crew on the salvage ship Nostromo get hunted down by a single Xenomorph, which burst from the chest of one of their colleagues following a planetary expedition. The original film is much more of a claustrophobic horror whereas Cameron decided to up the ante and make the sequel an action-packed thrill-ride. Sigourney Weaver reprised her role as Ripley, the only surviving crew member from the Nostromo and the film opens with her escape pod being discovered after 57 years floating through space. After waking her from cryo-sleep, a representative from Weyland Yutani (the company she was working for her) brief her that the planet on which her crew encountered the alien eggs is being terraformed and contact has been lost from the outpost there. After much cajoling they manage to persuade her to return to the planet with a bunch of hardened marines, but she agrees to go only if the purpose of the trip is “Not to study. Not to bring back. But to wipe them out.” Unfortunately for Ripley and the Marines, Weyland Yutani has nefarious plans for the aliens and things soon go awry, but the company didn’t count on Ripley’s tenacity and will to survive.

This poster was designed and illustrated by Andrzej Pagowski, a prolific film poster artist who was born in Warsaw in 1953 and studied at the celebrated University of Fine Arts in Poznań, graduating in 1978 under the tutorship of the noted artist Waldemar Świerzy. In 1990 he started his own graphic design studio called Studio P, which he developed into an advertising agency by 1993. According to the biography on his official site, Pagowski has illustrated over 1000 posters during his career and has also done work for books, magazines and music covers. In addition, he is also a TV and theatre stage designer and a screen writer. Undoubtedly a man of many talents! His official site features an extensive gallery of his work, including several of the posters. Polishposter.com also features multiple pages worth of his movie posters and this culture.pl article is well worth a read too.

There is another poster for the Polish release of the film, which I have nicknamed the ‘bubbles’ style and this will be added to the site at a later date.

The Day Of The Jackal / B2 / target style / Japan

09.09.15

Poster Poster

A striking design on this Japanese B2 for the release of the 1974 thriller The Day of the Jackal, which was based on the 1971 novel of the same name by the English author Frederick Forsyth. The story is set in 1962 and focuses on a fictional assassination attempt on France’s then president Charles de Gaulle who had angered many in his own country by deciding to grant independence to the French colony of Algeria. An underground resistance group called the OAS had formed to fight this decision and both the novel and the film start with a real incident in which de Gaulle’s car had been sprayed with machine gun fire, but he had miraculously survived unscathed. In the film the OAS decide to cut their losses and hire a professional assassin. They settle on an Englishman (played by Edward Foxwho decides on the call sign ‘Jackal’.

The film follows The Jackal as he prepares for the assassination by traveling all over Europe to procure identity documents, a special weapon, and other items necessary for the task. The French authorities become aware that someone has been hired for the job and appoint ‘France’s best detective, Lebel (Michael Lonsdale, best known for his role as the villain in Moonraker), to lead the hunt for him. Lebel calls in favours from all over Europe in the hunt and eventually they strike it lucky with enquiries by Scotland Yard in the UK. The film ratchets up the tension as the French authorities close in on The Jackal, but he manages to evade them long enough to line de Gaulle up in his sights. 

The film is almost two and a half hours long but maintains a brisk pace and is certainly thrilling throughout. It makes brilliant use of real locations and the Wikipedia page for the film points out some of the places the production visited. The film was very well critically acclaimed but failed to perform as spectacularly at the box-office as some had hoped, something later blamed on the fact that the lead was the then unknown Fox.

This is one of two styles of Japanese posters for the film and I also have the ‘face’ style, which can be seen here.

The Klansman / B2 / style A / Japan

28.08.15

Poster Poster

This is one of two Japanese B2 posters for the release of the 1974 drama The Klansman that marks a low point in the careers of the main participants involved and, in my opinion, deserves to be consigned to the dustbin of film history. British director Terence Young (best known for his work on the first two James Bond films and Thunderball) helms this tale of racial tension in a small Southern town that has a large Ku Klux Klan contingent. Lee Marvin plays the lone Sheriff of the town who has to deal with the fallout when a white woman is raped, apparently by a black man. Tensions are escalated when a lone gunman (played by O.J. Simpson) decides to stir things up with the Klan by shooting white townsfolk with a sniper rifle. Richard Burton plays a local landowner who has long opposed the views of the Klan and harboured black people on his land but he gets drawn into the conflict with deadly consequences.

There are many issues with the film, including a confusing script that was clearly trying to imbue the film with something of a social justice message but bungles it badly. All scenes involving the Klan are cringeworthy and obviously massively politically incorrect. The performances from the two leads are also pretty terrible with Lee Marvin mumbling and drawling through all of his scenes looking like a man who wishes he was elsewhere. Richard Burton also phones his performance in, with an accent that attempts Southern American but ends up sounding altogether wrong, and he also affects a limp in some scenes that disappears in others. Legend has it that the two men were both drunk during the entire shoot and that might explain things. It also doesn’t help that the only version of the film available on home video has been badly cut to remove a lot of the violence and a pivotal rape scene.

This is the style A Japanese B2 poster but I also have the style B that features artwork unique to the Japanese campaign by Seito.

Cannonball / B2 / Japan

13.07.15

Poster Poster
Title
Cannonball
AKA
Carquake (UK) | Cannonball! (alt. title)
Year of Film
1976
Director
Paul Bartel
Starring
David Carradine, Bill McKinney, Veronica Hamel, Gerrit Graham, Robert Carradine, Belinda Balaski, Judy Canova, Archie Hahn, Carl Gottlieb, Dick Miller
Origin of Film
USA | Hong Kong
Genre(s) of Film
David Carradine, Bill McKinney, Veronica Hamel, Gerrit Graham, Robert Carradine, Belinda Balaski, Judy Canova, Archie Hahn, Carl Gottlieb, Dick Miller,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1977
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 4/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Paul Bartel, the late actor/director who was at the helm of the cult b-movie Death Race 2000 (released a year earlier), stuck with the cross-country car chase theme with this 1976 flick Cannonball, though he removed most of the gore that gave the former film its notoriety. The film and title are based on the exploits of Erwin G. “Cannon Ball” Baker, a legendary bike and car racer who made over 140 cross-country speed runs during his career and put his name to the Sea to Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, an illegal cross-country race that was run five times during the 1970s. This was the first in a series of films that was based on the idea of illegal long-distance races, with The Gumball Rally seeing release the same year, and the more successful Cannonball Run and its sequel being released at the start of the 1980s.

Whilst perhaps not as star-studded as the later films, Cannonball still has a large ensemble cast with several cameos that are both credited and un-credited, including Martin Scorsese, Sylvester Stallone, Don Simpson and Roger Corman. David Carradine appears as Coy ‘Cannonball’ Buckman, a race driver who has recently been released from jail where he was sent for killing someone whilst driving drunk. He decides to enter the Trans-America Grand Prix, an illegal road race that travels between Los Angeles and New York City. The racing team Modern Motors has promised a contract to either Coy or his arch-rival Cade Redman (Bill McKinney) so he is determined to win.

Because the race crosses state lines Coy will be in violation of his parole conditions, his parole officer (Veronica Hamel) attempts to stop him and ends up being forced to come along for the ride. Two people who have offered to pay his race expenses are also passengers in his Dodge Charger and there are several other racers in the competition, including a surfer dude played by David’s brother Robert and his girlfriend (played by Belinda Balaski). The race soon descends into a violent destruction derby with many of the competitors meeting grizzly ends. Coy will be challenged in more ways than one and the first to cross the finish line isn’t who you might think. Later films in the genre would tone down the violence and deaths considerably.

This Japanese B2 poster features a unique montage design and was printed for the film’s first release in the country in 1977. Note the miss-spelling of the title as ‘Canonnball’.

 

Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion / B1 / Japan

06.07.15

Poster Poster
Title
Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion
AKA
Gamera 2: Region shurai (Japan - original English title)
Year of Film
1996
Director
Shûsuke Kaneko
Starring
Toshiyuki Nagashima, Miki Mizuno, Tamotsu Ishibashi, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Ayako Fujitani, Hiroyuki Okita, Yûsuke Kawazu, Yukijirô Hotaru, Hatsunori Hasegawa
Origin of Film
Japan
Genre(s) of Film
Toshiyuki Nagashima, Miki Mizuno, Tamotsu Ishibashi, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Ayako Fujitani, Hiroyuki Okita, Yûsuke Kawazu, Yukijirô Hotaru, Hatsunori Hasegawa,
Type of Poster
B1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1996
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
28 12/16" x 40 7/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion is actually the 10th film to star the turtle-esque daikaiju (giant monster). The first film in the Showa period, entitled simply Gamera, was filmed in black and white in 1965 and released a year later in the US as ‘Gammera the Invincible’. Subsequent films during the Showa period were all ‘Gamera vs…’ a different kaiju and ended with Gamera: Super Monster. Fifteen years later the series was rebooted during the current Heisei period with Gamera: Guardian of the Universe.  Attack of the Legion is set a year after the events of the last film and begins with a meteor crashing into a mountainside that is carrying swarms of an insect-like extraterrestrial.

Soon after the city of Sapporo is covered with strange plants and it becomes clear that the creatures are nesting underneath the city and encouraging them to grow into a giant flower in order to form a kind of launchpad for another meteor-like spore to be blasted into space so they can colonise another world. Just before the creatures are able to trigger a launch explosion that would flatten the city, Gamera flies in and tears the flower out by its roots. Soon he is battling the smaller creatures, which a soldier nicknames Legion (after the Biblical demon army), as well as a gigantic queen which bursts out of the ground and flies off to try and create a nest in another city. Before long Tokyo is being threatened by the creatures and Gamera is all that stands in the way.

The film was a critical success in Japan and was followed in 1999 by a sequel called Gamera 3: Awakening of Irys.

I’m unsure who is responsible for this artwork but I’m confident that it’s not Noriyoshi Ohrai, who painted several fantastic Godzilla posters. If anyone has any ideas please get in touch.

 

21 Grams / B1 / Japan

01.07.15

Poster Poster
Title
21 Grams
AKA
--
Year of Film
2003
Director
Alejandro González Iñárritu
Starring
Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Benicio Del Toro, Danny Huston, Clea DuVall, Eddie Marsan, Melissa Leo
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Benicio Del Toro, Danny Huston, Clea DuVall, Eddie Marsan, Melissa Leo,
Type of Poster
B1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
2003
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
28 14/16" x 40.5"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 21 Grams is the second film in his so-called ‘Trilogy of Death’, following on from his breakout debut hit Amores Perros (2000), with Babel completing the trilogy in 2005. Like the first film, 21 Grams features three main characters and plot lines that interweave around a fatal car accident and its consequences. Sean Penn plays Paul Rivers, a mathematics professor who is close to death from heart failure after years of smoking and abusing his body, and his wife Mary (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is desperate to conceive a child before he dies. Benicio Del Toro plays Jack Jordan, a reformed criminal who has spent many years in jail and is now trying to go straight by helping out at church and counselling kids who are on a similar path that he took. Naomi Watts plays Cristina Peck, a former drug addict who has settled down into suburban life with husband Michael (Danny Hustonand two daughters.

One fateful day, Jack accidentally hits Michael and the kids with his car, putting Michael into a coma and killing the daughters instantly. A grief-stricken Cristina returns to her drug-taking past but not before agreeing to have her husband’s organs donated. Jack is given Michael’s heart and eventually decides to track down the donor with the aid of a private detective. The rest of the film deals with the encounters between the characters. The title refers to the early 20th-century research of an American doctor called Duncan MacDougall who attempted to prove the existence of the human soul by recording a small loss of weight immediately after death. His methods detected varying amounts but 21 grams, or three quarters of an ounce, was the first recorded instance. The original marketing campaign compared this weight to a ‘stack of nickels’, a chocolate bar and a hummingbird and this explains why the creature appears on this poster.

The film was very well critically received and was a success with worldwide audiences, although today it’s IMDb rating doesn’t quite match that of the first film in the trilogy. This poster design is unique to the Japanese marketing campaign.

Orca / B2 / style C / Japan

12.06.15

Poster Poster
Title
Orca
AKA
Orca: Killer Whale (alt. title) | The Killer Whale (alt. title)
Year of Film
1977
Director
Michael Anderson
Starring
Richard Harris, Charlotte Rampling, Will Sampson, Bo Derek, Keenan Wynn, Robert Carradine, Scott Walker, Peter Hooten, Wayne Heffley
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Richard Harris, Charlotte Rampling, Will Sampson, Bo Derek, Keenan Wynn, Robert Carradine, Scott Walker, Peter Hooten, Wayne Heffley,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Style C
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1977
Designer
Unknown
Artist
'Dino'
Size (inches)
20 3/16" x 28 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

A man versus giant killer fish film that was released two years after the original summer blockbuster Jaws, Orca was always going to be compared to Spielberg’s classic even if its lead actor, the late Richard Harris, was apparently angered by the links; ‘I get really offended when people make the comparison’, he is quoted as saying at the time of release. The late Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis was determined to one-up the spectacle of Jaws and tasked the screenwriter Luciano Vincenzoni to “find a fish tougher and more terrible than the great white”, which led them to the killer whale and production on ‘Orca’ began.

Harris plays Nolan, the Irish captain of a fishing boat operating in the waters off the coast of northern Canada who hears of a lucrative contract being offered for the live capture of a killer whale and hopes the bounty will pay off the mortgage on his boat. After Nolan and his crew accidentally spear a pregnant female killer whale they drag it onto the ship where it miscarries, and almost dies, before the male (Orca) attacks the ship, killing one of the crew before the female is cut loose and falls into the water. The next morning the body of the female whale washes up on shore and before long it becomes clear that Orca is out for revenge, as he attacks the fishing village and destroys vital fuel lines. The villagers insist Nolan is responsible and task him with killing Orca so he sets off with the remainder of his crew, plus marine biologist Rachel Bedford (Charlotte Rampling) and a native American killer whale expert (Will Sampson). The whale leads the boat away from the village into frozen, iceberg covered waters and the stage is set for a final confrontation.

Unfortunately for De Laurentiis and all involved the film was critically derided and sank quickly at the box office, particularly since the juggernaut that was Star Wars was already smashing box office records around the world. The idea of a vengeful fish obviously didn’t go down too well with audiences, although the people behind 1987’s awful Jaws: The Revenge must have forgotten this by the time it was decided to make a third Jaws sequel. The practice of hunting and capturing killer whales to feed the demand from aquariums in the 1960s and 70s was sadly all too prevalent, as documented in the recent heartbreaking documentary Blackfish, which also points out that there are no documented cases of humans being killed by the whales in the wild.

The artwork on the American one sheet was painted by John Berkey who also worked on the poster for the De Laurentiis produced remake of King Kong a year earlier, and the Orca art was also used for the British quad. The Japanese marketing campaign, however, featured at least three B2-sized posters, including this one, that featured artwork apparently unique to the posters and only the B1 format used the Berkey painting. I’ve called this B2 style C and there’s also the style A and style B. There’s a signature that looks like ‘Dino’ at the bottom of the art (see picture 5) but if anyone knows which artist this belongs to please get in touch.

Check out the bonkers original trailer on YouTube.

Meteor / B2 / Japan

01.06.15

Poster Poster

Arriving at the tail-end of the 1970s, a decade that saw the release of a number of successful disaster movies like The Towering Inferno and Earthquake, Meteor ended up as an all-star clunker and is easily one of the worst entries in the genre. Helmed by the British filmmaker Ronald Neame, who had seen success with 1972’s The Poseidon Adventure, the film focuses on the outcome of the eponymous lump of rock barrelling towards earth after being knocked off course by a comet. Sean Connery plays Paul Bradley, a scientist who masterminded the creation of a space-based weapon named Hercules that was originally intended to protect earth from such a threat, but was instead taken over by the military and aimed at the Soviet Union due to escalating Cold War tensions.

The plot sees the US and Russia agreeing to work together after much (dull) handwringing and Paul Bradley works with his opposite number from the CCCP Alexei Dubov (Brian Keith) to ensure the Russian’s own weapons platform can combine forces with Hercules and fire both payloads at the rock. Meanwhile, fragments of the asteroid begin hitting earth in some unconvincing sequences featuring uniformly awful special effects. Eventually, and improbably, a large chunk hits Manhattan, which just happens to be where Paul Bradley and most of the other characters are located, leading to some sequences of mild peril that end up with Connery covered in mud and a few dead background characters. The special effects are truly, inexcusably awful and I can’t think of one well-executed sequence. The rock hitting New York is mostly done with what is clearly red-tinted stock footage of buildings being knocked down by controlled demolition.

The biggest problem with the film is that most of the actors look bored and, with the exception of a crazy-eyed Martin Landau, like they’d rather be somewhere else. It doesn’t help that the Cold War machinations, whilst maybe more relevant in 1979, are totally boring today and way too much of the film is spent focused on discussions to try and resolve differences between the two nations.

Whilst the film is a stinker, the same can’t be said for this moody artwork showing an obliterated Manhattan that was illustrated by Noriyoshi Ohrai, my favourite Japanese artist and certainly in my top five greatest film poster illustrators of all time. He’s responsible for a number of other posters in the Godzilla franchise, some of which can be seen here. He also worked on a number of Star Wars related posters, including this lovely 1982 B2 to celebrate the release of the Japanese dubbed version of the original film. In March 2014 a retrospective exhibition was held in Japan of Ohrai’s work and I made the trip over to Miyazaki to see the exhibition. I’m very glad I did as it featured most of his original artwork and a whole array of posters and book covers. A full report will follow soon.

The posters I’ve managed to collect by Noriyoshi Ohrai can be seen by clicking here.

Blow Out / one sheet / USA

18.05.15

Poster Poster
Title
Blow Out
AKA
--
Year of Film
1981
Director
Brian De Palma
Starring
John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, Dennis Franz, Peter Boyden, Curt May, John Aquino, John McMartin
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, Dennis Franz, Peter Boyden, Curt May, John Aquino, John McMartin,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1981
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27 1/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
810132
Tagline
Murder has a sound all of its own

Following the poor reception of 1980’s Dressed to Kill, director Brian De Palma decided to develop an idea he’d had during production that was based on Antonioni’s 1966 thriller Blow Up, swapping photography for sound recording. The resultant film, with a screenplay by De Palma, was named Blow Out and released almost exactly a year after Dressed to Kill. John Travolta stars as Jack Terry, a sound technician who is working on a low-budget exploitation film and is tasked by a producer to set out and record a better scream for a pivotal scene as well as some ambient noises. Jack travels to a local park at night to record but whilst there he witnesses a limousine crash off a road and into a lake.

After diving in to see if there are any survivors Jack discovers the driver dead and a young woman alive but trapped in the back of the car. After rescuing her and pulling her to safety, Jack discovers that the driver was a governor and presidential candidate and the woman is Sally (De Palma’s then wife Nancy Allen), an escort. The governor’s associates persuade Jack to cover up the fact that Sally was in the car and whilst listening to the recordings he made that night he begins to suspect that the crash wasn’t an accident as people are being led to believe. When he discovers that an amateur cameraman was also recording in the park that night he works with Sally to get a copy of the film, and when spliced together it becomes clear that a single gunshot was fired before the car smashes into the lake. It soon becomes clear that Jack has inadvertently involved himself in a deepening conspiracy and that he and Sally are in grave danger, with the gunman Burke (John Lithgow) still at large and keen to tie up loose ends.

As expected, the film is visually stylish and features several of De Palma’s trademark bravura sequences, with one towards the end of the film featuring a parade and a fireworks display that is particularly memorable. The leads all give excellent performances, with Travolta’s low-key depiction of an ordinary man in over his head is in stark contrast to his breakout role in 1977’s Saturday Night Fever. The score by regular De Palma collaborator Pino Donaggio is also superb and serves the film perfectly.

Although it received several rave reviews from the likes of Pauline Kael and Roger Ebert, the film failed to take off at the box-office and only found cult success years after its initial release. The home video label Criterion released the film on blu-ray in 2011 and during a making-of documentary Nancy Allen mentions the marketing for the film, and this poster, as not helping the film’s box-office performance. It’s a very simple image and perhaps didn’t say enough about the film to entice potential film-goers. It’s also thought that word of mouth about the notoriously downbeat ending probably didn’t help either.

If anyone has any ideas who designed this poster please get in touch.