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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.

The Spy Who Loved Me / quad / 2008 re-release / UK

12.11.14

Poster Poster
Title
The Spy Who Loved Me
AKA
--
Year of Film
1977
Director
Lewis Gilbert
Starring
Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Curt Jürgens, Richard Kiel, Caroline Munro, Walter Gotell, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell, Geoffrey Keen, George Baker, Edward de Souza
Origin of Film
UK
Genre(s) of Film
Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Curt Jürgens, Richard Kiel, Caroline Munro, Walter Gotell, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell, Geoffrey Keen, George Baker, Edward de Souza,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
Re-release
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
2008
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Bob Peak
Size (inches)
30" x 39 14/16"
SS or DS
DS
Tagline
Digitally restored and remastered. It's Bond. And Beyond.

This is the UK quad for a 2008 digital re-release of The Spy Who Loved Me, which was the tenth James Bond adventure and the third to star Sir Roger Moore as the legendary spy. Felt by many to be the best Moore era film, it shares only the title with Ian Fleming’s original novel (at the author’s request) and the screenplay was written by Christopher Wood and Bond regular Richard Maibaum. When Russian and British submarines mysteriously disappear whilst on patrol, each country sends their top spies to discover who is responsible. The trail leads Bond to Egypt where he discovers that the plans for a submarine tracking device are on sale to the highest bidder.

Whilst in Egypt, Bond encounters his Russian rival, the KGB Agent Triple X (!) Major Anya Amasova (played by the beautiful Barbara Bach) and after a few initial hostile encounters the pair agree to team up to track down the plans and deal with the mute but deadly assassin Jaws (the late Richard Kiel‘s first appearance as the fan-favourite baddy). The pair identify shipping tycoon and scientist Karl Stromberg (Curd Jürgens) as the man behind the device and travel to Sardinia on his trail. There they visit Stromberg’s underwater base, Atlantis, posing as husband and wife scientists but their cover is soon blown and Bond’s infamous Lotus Esprit-cum-submarine makes an appearance. Eventually Bond and Anya are onboard a submarine captured by Stromberg’s submarine-swallowing supertanker and a final showdown takes place.

The Spy Who Loved Me opens with arguably the best pre-credits sequence of any Bond film that apparently even had Prince Charles on his feet applauding at the Royal Premiere back in 1977. The locations, sets and special effects work (particularly the models) are all first rate and you really feel that the budget was well spent. The ridiculous camp humour of later Moore outings is thankfully restrained too. The film was very well received by both critics and audiences and raked in healthy worldwide box-office takings.

The UK distributor Park Circus was responsible for organising the digital re-release and this quad was printed in very limited numbers. It’s near enough identical to the original quad and features American artist Bob Peak‘s brilliant artwork that featured on posters around the world, including the US one sheet. The original quad was printed on paper with a silver metallic sheen and this quad is glossy and printed double-sided (see the last picture and note that the credits text is missing on the back).

Bob Peak was born in 1927 in Denver, Colorado and grew up in Wichita, Kansas before heading off to serve in the military during the Korean War. Upon his return Peak enrolled in the Los Angeles-based Art Center College of Design where he began to hone his craft as an artist, moving to New York after graduation where he began his career as a commercial illustrator, first working on a campaign for Old Hickory Whiskey. For the next few years the artist worked on a string of successful advertising campaigns, magazine editorials and more, but it was when United Artists hired Peak to work on their campaign for the release of West Side Story in 1961 that he began what would prove to be a fruitful and almost unrivalled career in film poster creation.

Peak’s immediately recognisable style was soon much in demand and his painting appeared on posters for films such as My Fair Lady (1964) and Camelot (1967), but it was his work in the area of sci-fi and fantasy for which Peak is perhaps best known, with the iconic design for the first Superman film (1978), the classic image he created for Rollerball (1975) and the colourful poster for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), amongst several classics of the genre he was responsible for. His paintings for Apocalypse Now, however, arguably saw the artist working at the top of his game and in the recently published must-own bookThe Art of Bob Peak (put together by one of his sons), he is quoted as saying, “Of all my movie work, it is my work on Apocalypse Now that I am most proud of.”

To see the other posters in the Film on Paper collection that were painted by Bob Peak click here.

Outland / one sheet / UK

27.06.14

Poster Poster
Title
Outland
AKA
Atmosfera zero (Italy) | Outland - Comando Titânio (Brazil) | Rumstation Jupiter (Denmark) | Operation Outland (Sweden)
Year of Film
1981
Director
Peter Hyams
Starring
Sean Connery, Peter Boyle, Frances Sternhagen, James Sikking, Kika Markham, Clarke Peters, Steven Berkoff
Origin of Film
UK
Genre(s) of Film
Sean Connery, Peter Boyle, Frances Sternhagen, James Sikking, Kika Markham, Clarke Peters, Steven Berkoff,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1981
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27" x 39 11/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
On Jupiter's moon, something deadly is happening

One of my favourite non-James Bond roles for Sean Connery, the 1981 sci-fi thriller Outland still stands up 30 years after its release. It’s essentially a wild-west story set in space with Connery playing a space marshal based onboard a remote mining colony orbiting Jupiter’s moon Io. When he uncovers a smuggling operation of a dangerous drug on the station, he attempts to uncover who is responsible, only to find that the conspiracy reaches to the top of the mining operation. He soon finds his life under threat from a group of assassins called to the station and must use his ingenuity and knowledge of the station to stay alive.

The film was an acknowledged influence on Duncan Jones‘ superb 2009 film Moon, which I can heartily recommend. It also has one of the best posters of the past few years. I was lucky enough to see a double-bill of the two films together presented by Jones (at the Prince Charles Cinema in London) where he talked about his love for Outland and the influence it had on his directorial debut. Without spoiling things, the design of a particular space craft in Moon is a great homage to one in Outland.

This one sheet differs greatly from the UK quad but retains the tagline. It also features the same font used on the Mad Max UK one sheet.

Here’s the trailer for the film.

An American Werewolf in London / quad / UK

01.03.13

Poster Poster
Title
An American Werewolf in London
AKA
--
Year of Film
1981
Director
John Landis
Starring
David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne, John Woodvine, Brian Glover, David Schofield
Origin of Film
USA | UK
Genre(s) of Film
David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne, John Woodvine, Brian Glover, David Schofield,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1981
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
30" x 39 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
From the director of Animal House - a different kind of animal | A masterpiece of terror

Director John Landis‘ horror classic An American Werewolf in London was, unusually for the time, released simultaneously in North American and British cinemas. The film was shot in the UK with a largely local cast and crew thanks to the Eady Levy, which provided funding for British productions based on taxed box-office receipts. The levy attracted a number of foreign producers and directors including Stanley KubrickSidney Lumet and John Huston. The levy lasted for almost thirty years before being wound-up in 1985.

It was this incentive that saw Landis and his producing partners (including frequent collaborator George Folsey Jr.) move over here for the duration of filming, and although the two lead actors (David Naughton and Griffin Dunne) are American, the majority of the rest of the cast are British, including the gorgeous Jenny Agutter. The film makes excellent use of several London locations, with a memorable sequence on the Underground, plus the climactic scenes shot in and around Piccadilly Circus. There is an excellent article on the Guardian website that was written by Landis in 2009 in which he recalls his memories of shooting the film.

Although AWIL was released on the same day in each country, the American and British posters couldn’t be any more different. The USA one sheet features an enigmatic shot of the two lead actors glancing over their shoulders with a look of concern whist a full moon shines above them. There’s not even a glimpse of the titular creature, whereas this UK quad has no qualms about featuring a large shot taken from the famous transformation scene. It also features the bizarre inclusion of a black and white image of a nude Naughton confronting an old lady after waking up in London Zoo.

Fans of the film would be wise to pick up the 2009 blu-ray release as it features a must-watch documentary on the film called Beware the Moon: Remembering ‘An American Werewolf in London’ that was conceived and filmed by life-long AWIL devotee Paul Davis. It features the majority of the surviving cast and crew and has clearly been put together by someone who cares about the film deeply.

House of Whipcord / quad / UK

12.12.14

Poster Poster
Title
House of Whipcord
AKA
Stag Model Slaughter (USA - reissue)
Year of Film
1974
Director
Pete Walker
Starring
Barbara Markham, Patrick Barr, Ray Brooks, Ann Michelle, Sheila Keith, Dorothy Gordon, Robert Tayman, Ivor Salter, Karan David, Celia Quicke
Origin of Film
UK
Genre(s) of Film
Barbara Markham, Patrick Barr, Ray Brooks, Ann Michelle, Sheila Keith, Dorothy Gordon, Robert Tayman, Ivor Salter, Karan David, Celia Quicke,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1974
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
30" x 39 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
... and no one escaped...

This is the original UK quad for the release of House of Whipcord from the British director, producer and writer Pete Walker, who specialised in exploitation pictures during the 1960s and 1970s. Walker started out making shoestring budget sexploitation pictures, including School for Sex that were often relative hits in the UK, which worked out well for him since his films were almost always self-financed and thus most of the profits were his to keep and plough into the next feature. In the early 1970s, Walker grew tired of feeding the ‘dirty mack brigade’ and turned his hand to horror.

Whipcord is certainly one of the directors most memorable films and had a plot that was all but guaranteed to rile certain sections of the British press at the time of release. The film begins in London and focuses on young French model Ann-Marie Di Verney (Penny Irving) who has moved to the capital and has started to pose in nude photoshoots. One evening she is seduced by a mysterious character named, rather ominously Mark E. Desade (played by Robert Tayman) and a relationship develops between the pair. Sometime later Mark invites Ann-Marie to ‘visit his parents’ who live out in the country and only when she arrives does she realise that it was all a ruse to get Ann-Marie into a secret illegal prison which is being ruled over by his unhinged mother Mrs Wakehurst (Barbara Markham) and three ‘guards’, including the sadistic Walker (a memorable performance from regular collaborator Sheila Keith – note the character name!)

Mrs Wakehurst is a former school mistress whose corrupt regime led one of her charges to commit suicide but, believing she did nothing wrong and that lax morals led to the corruption in the school, she seduced the judge who was trying her, Justice Bailey (Patrick Barr), and managed to escape sentence. She then persuaded him to set up what he believed would be a private correctional institute in which ‘girls with loose morals’ would be ‘reeducated’ properly and then let back into the world. As Ann Marie and other inmates discover, the truth is far more horrifying.

The film was critically mauled over here but did solid business in cinemas and was later released in US cinemas through AIP. I’m unsure who is responsible for the design and artwork on this poster so if you have any ideas please get in touch.

The original trailer can be viewed here.

Clockwork Orange / quad / 2000 re-release / UK

21.05.14

Poster Poster
Title
Clockwork Orange
AKA
Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (USA - poster title) | Arancia meccanica (Italy)
Year of Film
1971
Director
Stanley Kubrick
Starring
Malcolm McDowell, Warren Clarke, Michael Bates, James Marcus, Michael Tarn, Patrick Magee
Origin of Film
USA | UK
Genre(s) of Film
Malcolm McDowell, Warren Clarke, Michael Bates, James Marcus, Michael Tarn, Patrick Magee,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
Re-release | advance
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
2000
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Philip Castle
Size (inches)
30 1/16" x 39 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
Being the adventures of a young man whose principal interests are rape, ultra-violence and Beethoven.

Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1971 dystopian sci-fi, A Clockwork Orange, was met with controversy as soon as it was released in 1971, despite being a hit with UK and US audiences and earning box-office profits several times its original production budget. Unfortunately for UK audiences, the film was withdrawn from distribution in 1973 at the insistence of Kubrick himself following a number of death threats that were apparently received by the director and his family. These threats had been the result of the film being implicated, or at least referenced, in several high-profile criminal cases, including one in which an elderly vagrant had been kicked to death, mirroring an infamous scene in Kubrick’s film.

Despite being freely available across the rest of Europe and in the US, the film remained out of UK cinemas and, during the 1980s, off British video rental shop shelves. When the legendary London cinema the Scala Film Club decided to show the film in 1993 they were sued by Warner Bros at Kubrick’s insistence. The studio won the court case and the cinema club was effectively bankrupt, with plans for expansion quickly shelved. The club produced its last ‘what’s on’ calendar in May 1993 and the Scala converted to a music venue towards the end of the 1990s.

When Kubrick died in 1999 the ban was relaxed and the film was finally made available on VHS and DVD. A limited cinema run also took place and this quad was produced at the time. It uses part of the original artwork that featured on posters for the film around the world, which was painted by the renowned British artist Philip Castle. The final one sheet for the film is one of the most iconic posters of all time, with the same painting being used to promote the film all over the world, and it continues to be used to promote the film to this day. The original UK quad features more of Castle’s artwork and a more muted colour scheme, but features the same tag-line.

Born in London in 1943, Philip Castle’s design career has seen him working on album covers for some of the biggest names in British music, including Wings, Mott the Hoople and Pulp. His skills were utilised for the famous cover for David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane, which saw him airbrushing over a photograph by Celia Philo. He also worked on the cover for the legendary computer game Elite. In 1987 Kubrick and Castle would collaborate once more on the poster for Full Metal Jacket, which again proved to be a seminal piece of work. There’s an interesting interview with Castle available to watch on YouTube in which he discusses his work with Kubrick.

This page features several examples of his brilliant work and there are multiple images tagged on Tumblr. The posters I’ve collected by him can be seen here.

The Hudsucker Proxy / quad / UK

03.01.17

Poster Poster

This is the UK quad for the release of the Coen Brothers’ 1994 film The Hudsucker Proxy. The script for the film was over a decade in gestation and Joel Coen began writing it with Sam Raimi during the editing of the latter’s Evil Dead (1981). The trio began sharing a house during the filming of Raimi’s Crimewave (1985) and the brothers’ Blood Simple so the script continued to evolve. It wasn’t until the completion of Barton Fink in 1991 that the brothers decided to fully focus on it.

They decided that they wanted to work on more of a more mainstream film and felt the script needed a decent budget behind it. Legendary Hollywood producer Joel Silver, who was a fan of the brothers’ previous films, agreed to help them and pitched it to Warner Bros. Further financial backing came from the now defunct PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, a British-American production company responsible for some of the biggest box-office hits of the 1980s and 1990s, including Batman (1989) and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). Note their logo in a prominent position on the left side of the credit block.

The film marked the first time the Coens had worked with big name stars, with most of their previous casts made up of relative unknowns (many of whom would go on to find fame afterwards). Set in 1958 in the world of big business, the story sees idealistic business school graduate Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) arrive in New York City looking for a job. Without the necessary experience he ends up working as a mailroom clerk in a manufacturing company called Hudsucker Industries. When the founder and president Waring Hudsucker commits suicide during a business meeting (a classic scene involving an open window) the nefarious chairman of the board, Sidney J. Mussburger (Paul Newman) realises that all of Hudsucker’s shares are to be sold to the public. 

Mussburger hatches a plan to buy the stock at what will be a knockdown price by installing what he sees as an incompetent in the top role, the titular proxy, hoping to depress the share price. Whilst delivering mail one day, Norville makes a pitch to Mussburger that involves a simple drawing of a ring (“Y’know for kids!”) and the latter thinks he has found the perfect person. Things don’t go exactly to plan when the board agree to produce Norville’s idea, which turns out to be the phenomenally successful hula hoop (invented for real in 1958). Meanwhile, an undercover reporter called Amy Archer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) has joined the firm as Norville’s secretary hoping to write a juicy article on the man who replaced Hudsucker. She soon discovers the details of the plot but has a hard time convincing her superiors. Norville allows success to go to his head and begins acting like any other uncaring tycoon. However, Mussburger discovers Amy’s real identity and uses this against him. The finale takes place at the top of the firm’s tower, as depicted on this poster, and sees the Coens at their most surreal.

This UK quad features a design that has clearly borrowed from the US one sheet (see here) with an enterprising British designer reusing the image of Tim Robbins holding the hula hoop and replacing the hoop with wads of dollar bills. The same images of Paul Newman and Jennifer Jason Leigh are reused and the cogs seen on the one sheet are also present. If anyone has any ideas who designed it please get in touch.

Life of Brian / quad / 1988 re-release / UK

11.04.14

Poster Poster

Probably my favourite of the five cinematic outings by the Monty Python crew, Life of Brian is one of the funniest films ever made and the brilliant satirical humour hasn’t diminished at all in the thirty plus years since its release. Infamously causing an uproar with various religious groups, it also saw EMI, the original financial backers, pulling out during production claiming the script was blasphemous. Luckily, George Harrison stepped in with the finance, apparently after realising it may have been the last chance to see another Python film in cinemas. His company HandMade Films was formed as a result of this deal.

The film’s religion-baiting story sees a man called Brian (Graham Chapman) born at the same time as Jesus Christ and initially mistaken for the Messiah, who ends up living an unremarkable life under the Roman occupation of Judea. Things take a fateful turn when his infatuation with a young rebel called Judith (Sue Jones-Davies) leads him to join the People’s Front of Judea, a bickering group who have decided to take a stand against the emperor.

The film raised the ire of several religious groups who were outraged at the concept, despite most of them having never even seen the film, and it was only given a general release once several cuts had been made. Despite the edits, several local UK councils banned the film from being shown at cinemas within their boroughs. Apparently some of these bans lasted until very recently, with the Welsh town of Aberystwyth finally lifting its one in 2009, which then saw a screening of the film attended by Jones, Michael Palin and Sue Jones-Davies, who was the then mayor of the town.

One of the more infamous bans was carried out by the Norwegians who refused to allow the film to be screened at all, which lead some of the international marketing material for the film to be emblazoned with the proclamation ‘So funny it was banned in Norway!’

This is a scarce, alternate style UK quad which differs from the other somewhat confusing design, which is simply the logo doubled up. A reader of the site got in touch to confirm that this quad was designed in house at HandMade films. To quote their informative email:

HandMade and the Pythons decided to re-submit the film to Irish Film Board to have the original ban overturned. The submission was successful and with the censor certification under our belt plans to release the film moved ahead and the Life of Brian was finally released in Ireland  I recall in the summer of 1988 as I recall eight years after original release. One of the unsung heroes of HandMade was freelance artist/designer George Rowbottom.

George was closely involved in many HMF posters over the years along with Ray Cooper and it was George who re-worked Life of Brian poster and came up with the “tablet” design for the quad used for the Irish release and also the superior amended 1-sheet. In both cases these were printed by National Screen who printed all our posters for domestic and international.

The original American trailer can be seen on YouTube.

Frightmare / quad / UK

10.04.17

Poster Poster
Title
Frightmare
AKA
Cover Up (USA)
Year of Film
1974
Director
Pete Walker
Starring
Rupert Davies, Sheila Keith, Deborah Fairfax, Paul Greenwood, Kim Butcher, Fiona Curzon, John Yule, Trisha Mortimer
Origin of Film
UK
Genre(s) of Film
Rupert Davies, Sheila Keith, Deborah Fairfax, Paul Greenwood, Kim Butcher, Fiona Curzon, John Yule, Trisha Mortimer,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1974
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
30" x 39 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
What terrifying craving made her kill... and kill... and kill...?

This is the original UK quad for the release of Frightmare, a 1974 film by the British director, producer and writer Pete Walker, who specialised in exploitation pictures during the 1960s and 1970s. Walker started out making shoestring budget sexploitation pictures, including School for Sex that were often relative hits in the UK. This worked out well for him since his films were almost always self-financed and thus most of the profits were his to keep and plough into the next feature. In the early 1970s, Walker grew tired of feeding the ‘dirty mack brigade’ and turned his hand to horror.

Frightmare, released in the US as Cover Up, was one of two horror films that Walker directed in 1974, with the other being the private-prison set House of Whipcord. Both films saw Walker reuniting with his regular screenwriting partner David McGillivray, and both feature memorable appearances by Sheila Keith, who would become another regular. In this film she plays Dorothy Yates, a cannibalistic killer who at the start of the film is sentenced to 15 years in prison. She is sent down along with her husband Edmund (Rupert Davies) who chose to take the punishment with her, even though he had nothing to do with the killings. The film picks up after their release and we find that their adopted daughter Jackie (Deborah Fairfax) is living in London and struggling to care for their biological daughter Debbie (Kim Butcher) a wayward 15-year-old who doesn’t realise her parents are still alive.

We follow Jackie as she leaves London to visit her parents, now living in a remote farmhouse. There she delivers a mysterious package to her mother who appears frail and innocent. Edmund fears that his wife is up to her old tricks but Jackie isn’t convinced and returns back to London. Soon we discover that Dorothy has put an advert in a magazine offering Tarot Card readings and willing customers are visiting the farmhouse. When she begins by checking that they have no close family or friends, or indeed anyone that would miss them, it’s fair to say that things aren’t looking up for her clueless customers. At the same time, Jackie struggles to control Debbie who is beginning to show signs that she has inherited her mother’s habits.

Arguably the best of Walker’s feature films, Frightmare is a masterclass in building tension and working towards a shocking final act. The film makes great use of various locations, including several in a London which looks barely recognisable today. Sheila Keith’s performance, in particular, is hugely memorable and her ability to portray frail innocence in one scene followed by genuinely disturbing menace in another has to be seen. In this Guardian article about Walker and his films, he describes his working relationship with Keith and how her on screen presence definitely didn’t match her off screen one; “Sheila Keith was a lady who lived a quiet life with her dogs and her cats and came into work to do, brilliantly, whatever was asked of her,” says Walker. “She was like your nice old aunt who would serve you cucumber sandwiches before ripping into a dismembered limb – without complaining.”

This British quad, which features crude artwork of a menacing Sheila Keith, was clearly designed by the team responsible for the quad for House of Whipcord (see here) and I feel fairly certain that the same artist or artists were involved too. If anyone knows who was responsible please get in touch.

High Spirits / quad / UK

06.06.17

Poster Poster
Title
High Spirits
AKA
--
Year of Film
1988
Director
Neil Jordan
Starring
Peter O'Toole, Liz Smith, Steve Guttenberg, Beverly D'Angelo, Jennifer Tilly, Peter Gallagher, Martin Ferrero, Connie Booth, Daryl Hannah, Liam Neeson
Origin of Film
Ireland | UK | USA
Genre(s) of Film
Peter O'Toole, Liz Smith, Steve Guttenberg, Beverly D'Angelo, Jennifer Tilly, Peter Gallagher, Martin Ferrero, Connie Booth, Daryl Hannah, Liam Neeson,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1988
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
30" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
Jack's American, married and looking for romance. Mary's beautiful, Irish and 200 years old... Does their love stand a ghost of a chance? | A supernatural comedy

This is the UK quad for the release of Irish director Neil Jordan‘s (The Crying Game) 1988 comedy High Spirits. Filmed on location and in a studio in Ireland, the story was written by Jordan and focuses on an old, run-down castle/hotel that is home to the Plunkett family, which only consists of Peter (Peter O’Toole) and his mother (Liz Smith) and a motley group of staff. Peter owes money to an American financier and is struggling to work out how to stop the castle defaulting into his hands. After half-heartedly attempting to hang himself, he hits on the idea of selling the hotel as the most haunted in Ireland after his mother reminds him about all the ghosts that supposedly haunt the place. Following a montage of the staff setting up various haunting gags around the castle, the first group of all-American guests arrive at the castle.

Jack Crawford (Steve Guttenberg) is joined by his wife Sharon (Beverly D’Angelo, best known for National Lampoon’s Vacation films) and it’s clear that their marriage is under some strain. Also there is a sceptical paranormal investigator and his family, plus a wannabe priest on a ‘final hurrah’ and a kooky dancer (Jennifer Tilly). The staff soon stage several attempts at convincing the guests that they are surrounded by ghosts but all fall flat. Jack, despondent with how unimpressed his wife is, stumbles into an old area of the castle whilst drunk and witnesses the apparition of two real ghosts, Mary Plunkett Brogan (Daryl Hannah) and Martin Brogan (Liam Neeson). The husband and wife have been stuck in a loop, enacting the moment that Martin fatally stabbed Mary in a fit of jealous rage. Somehow Jack interrupts the ghostly murder and Mary is able to see him.

The rest of the the film sees the pair fall in love, whilst Sharon also falls for Martin. Meanwhile, the other real ghosts stage paranormal events after getting fed up of Peter’s half-hearted efforts to scare. The film is energetic for sure but fairly nonsensical in places and the acting varies wildly across the cast. Apparently Jordan claims the film was taken out of his hands during the editing stage and the version released in cinemas doesn’t match his vision for the film. It’s clear that several scenes have been cut and truncated and it barely hangs together towards the end. On a positive note, the location work is excellent and the production design is solid. O’Toole works well as the eccentric Peter and D’Angelo and Tilly are fun to watch.

I’m not sure who is responsible for the artwork which is unique to this UK quad and there’s no obvious signature on it. If anyone has any ideas please get in touch.

The Company Of Wolves / one sheet / UK

16.09.13

Poster Poster

A joint collaboration between two British production companies, Palace Pictures and Lew Grade’s ITC Entertainment, The Company of Wolves was helmed by the Irish director Neil Jordan and based on a short story by the late English author Angela Carter, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Jordan. The film begins in the modern day with the  lead character Rosaleen (played by first-time actress Sarah Patterson) having moved with her parents to a large house in a forest. At night Rosaleen falls asleep and has a vivid dream in which she is a medieval peasant girl who lives with her grandma (played by Murder, She Wrote’s Angela Lansbury) in a woodland village. Sitting by the fire one evening her grandma begins to tell her a story and what follows is a series of surreal, fantasy tales, with multiple narratives and narrators, most of which feature wolves or werewolves, and all of which are ripe with hidden meanings and deeper significances (check out this page on IMDb to give you an idea).

Featuring elements of the classic Little Red Riding Hood fairytale (and indeed the film features a blood red shawl worn by a young girl) the film is a parable of the loss of innocence and the beginning of adolescence and sexual awakening – as the Grandma says at one point ‘Never stray from the path, never eat a windfall apple and never trust a man whose eyebrows meet in the middle.’ Overcoming a slight budget The Company of Wolves has a dream-like, eerie atmosphere helped in no-small part by excellent production and costume design. There is also a werewolf transformation scene that challenges the famous one seen in American Werewolf in London. Palace Pictures would re-team several more times with Neil Jordan, including for Mona Lisa (1986) and Oscar-winning The Crying Game (1992)

This one sheet was printed for use in the UK alongside the quad, which is markedly different in its design and can be viewed here. The artwork was painted by the celebrated British artist George Underwood, who is perhaps best known for his work on album covers for the likes of David Bowie (Hunky Dory, Space Oddity and more), T.Rex and The Fixx. Born in Bromley, Kent in 1947, Underwood went on to study at the nearby Beckenham Art School and then afterwards at Ravensbourne College of Art. After a brief flirtation with the music industry (Bowie being a lifelong friend of his), he decided to concentrate on his design and illustration, beginning his career by working on LP covers and book covers.

Later on, Underwood would start work as a freelance illustrator, which is when he would have painted this poster for Palace Pictures. In the 1970s he began painting in oils, creating wonderful surrealist portraits and his official website features galleries of these and his other work, including album covers. I’m unsure whether he worked on any other film posters but I intend to contact the artist to find out.

The Hunger / quad / UK

01.06.12

Poster Poster

Director Tony Scott‘s feature film debut was this stylish vampire tale starring pop legend David Bowie, Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon. Miriam Blaylock (Deneuve) is a centuries old Egyptian vampire who feeds upon the blood of her young lovers, both male and female, and as a result the victims don’t age; that is until she has had enough of them. John (Bowie) is one such unlucky soul who seeks the help of the scientist Dr. Sarah Roberts (Sarandon) who, after investigating John’s claims, is also caught in the vampire’s trap.

The film displays many of the characteristics that mark out a Tony Scott film, including several brilliantly shot and very stylish sequences, multiple inventive camera tricks and excellent use of classical music, although this it’s notably more subdued in tone than some of his later films. Despite the strong cast, the film failed to win over many critics on its release and was not much of a box office draw, although it has since garnered something of a cult following, particularly from the goth community.

This artwork was used on the American one sheet and I believe it has simply been cut down to fit this UK quad. Attempts to discover the identity of the artist have so far proved fruitless so please get in touch if you have an idea.

The original trailer is on YouTube.

 

Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell / quad / UK

03.06.13

Poster Poster

Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell (1973) marked the end of an era for British film in more ways than one. It was the last gothic horror to be produced by the original incarnation of the British Hammer Films studio and followed on from a series of six feature films based around the character of Baron Frankenstein portrayed by the late, great British actor Peter Cushing (the less said about 1970s Horror of Frankenstein, with Ralph Bates in the lead role, the better). Director Terence Fisher had worked on many of Hammer’s best-loved horrors, including their first gothic feature, 1957s The Curse of Frankenstein (starring Cushing and Christopher Lee as the monster) as well as the original Dracula (1958), The Mummy (1959) and two other Frankenstein features for the studio. He was to effectively retire from film-making at the end of production on FATMFH, and he wasn’t the only one of the Hammer alumni to do so. This was also the last Hammer feature film that screenwriter Tony Hinds, who had worked on many of the studio’s most successful horrors, would supply a script for. Other crew members who had been instrumental in the production of dozens of Hammer horrors also called it a day once this film was released.

Originally produced and shot in 1972, it eventually limped into cinemas in 1974 well after the appeal of British gothic horror films had dissipated. Cinema-goers were keen to experience the visceral thrills of the new wave of films coming out of Hollywood, including William Friedkin’s 1973 masterpiece The Exorcist, which made British efforts like FATMFH seem positively antiquated. Because of the fall in demand from distribution companies who were previously happy to bankroll Hammer’s productions, the budget for this film was a tiny fraction of many of their previous horrors. It would be a lie to say that the lack of money doesn’t show on screen – most of the film takes place on what is clearly a single soundstage – but the skilled craftsmen at Hammer were still able to create a wonderful sense of atmosphere with the modest amount of funds at their disposal. The film is in many ways the perfect swan-song for Cushing’s Baron Frankenstein and his performance absolutely steals the show, from his brilliant crash-zoom entrance to the quiet madness of the denouement.

On the 29th of May, 2013 I was lucky enough to see the film at London’s British Film Institute in a special showing to both celebrate the centenary of Cushing’s birth and also preview a newly restored print of FATMFH. The reformed version of Hammer films have undertaken a series of restoration projects on many of the studio’s classic films, including the original Dracula and the original Curse of Frankenstein. I believe that the new print of FATMFH will see release on blu-ray at some point this year, as well as a new restoration of The Mummy. It was a real treat to see the film on the big screen and be able to revel in a classic Peter Cushing performance.

This British quad was created at the London-based Downtons Advertising agency by one of the principal designers, Eddie Paul, and painted by an artist named Bill Wiggins. Both men are featured in Sim Branaghan’s must-own book British Film Posters: An Illustrated History and are each responsible for several iconic British posters. The designer Eddie Paul was born in Hackney in 1920 and attended Southend School of Art, later beginning his career at Temple Art Studios before moving on to Star Illustrations on Shoe Lane, where he gained a good reputation as a scrapboard artist. After serving in the RAF during the war, Paul joined Pulford Publicity in 1946 and started designing film posters using crayons and coloured pencils. He worked on several successful poster campaigns during the 1960s, including El Cid (1961), The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) and the famous quad for From Russia with Love (painted by Renato Fratini). He later joined four ex-Downton colleagues and formed the successful agency FEREF in 1968. As Sim notes in his book, ‘He was well liked and respected within the business as a gentleman’. Eddie Paul passed away from a heart attack whilst on his way to work in 1984, just shy of his retirement from FEREF.

Bill Wiggins was born in 1915 and worked installing large cinema displays (on the front of the buildings) during the 1930s and was a special constable during the second world war. He arrived at Downton’s Advertising agency at the same time as another principal designer, Fred Atkins (later a partner in FEREF), in 1951. Wiggins worked in the film department of the studio for 25 years, painting dozens of posters alongside the likes of Vic Fair and Brian Bysouth. Wiggins is mentioned several times during my interview with the latter. He worked on several of the early Hammer films, including Dracula (1958), The Mummy (1959), Curse of the Werewolf, as well as the sci-fi films The Lost World (1960) and Day of the Triffids (1962). He initially retired in 1975 ‘but rapidly found himself so bored that he returned within a couple of months and continued full time for another three years, eventually leaving to paint commissioned oil portraits for an art/photographic business in Bromley’. He passed away, aged 73, in 1988. Sim believes that this poster for FATMFH is likely to be one of, if not the, final cinema poster that Wiggins worked on.

In addition to this single feature quad, there is also a double-bill quad for when the film was released in a pairing with the long-forgotten kung-fu film The Fists of Vengeance. The artwork for FATMFH is actually coloured on the double-bill poster and is therefore arguably superior to this quad. Sim confirmed to me that there was a policy around this time that the single feature quad would usually be monochrome whilst the double-bill was typically printed in full colour.

Finally, this particular copy is rolled and in great condition, which is somewhat unusual for a poster from this era. I recall reading that it may have been one poster that Hammer printed in greater numbers to give away to fans who wrote in to the studio, as was the case with the quads for ‘Dracula Has Risen from the Grave’ and the ‘She/One Million Years BC’ quads (see the bottom of this page for more detail). I’m not certain that this is case though and I’d appreciate more details about it if anyone has them.

Prisoners of the Lost Universe / one sheet / UK

05.08.13

Poster Poster

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

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

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

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

 

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.

Black Joy / quad / UK

28.04.16

Poster Poster
Title
Black Joy
AKA
--
Year of Film
1977
Director
Anthony Simmons
Starring
Norman Beaton, Trevor Thomas, Floella Benjamin, Dawn Hope, Oscar James, Paul J. Medford, Shango Baku
Origin of Film
UK
Genre(s) of Film
Norman Beaton, Trevor Thomas, Floella Benjamin, Dawn Hope, Oscar James, Paul J. Medford, Shango Baku,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1977
Designer
FEREF
Artist
Arnaldo Putzu
Size (inches)
30" x 39 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
Life is for living...

Excellent artwork by the Italian artist Arnaldo Putzu features on this quad poster for the release of the 1977 British film Black Joy. Based on a stage play called ‘Dark Days and Light Nights’ by Jamal Ali (who also wrote the screenplay) it was directed by the late Anthony Simmons. The film, something of a time capsule of a period in London’s history, is a culture-clash comedy about a Guyanese country boy called Ben Jones (Trevor Thomaswho arrives in the borough of Brixton. Ben had assumed life will be easier in the UK but after meeting several streetwise characters, including a wannabe hustler called Dave King (Norman Beaton), he soon learns that not everyone is out for his best interests.

The film notably stars Floella Benjamin a Trinidadian actress who is famous for her work as a presenter on children’s TV programmes in the 1970s and 80s, including Play School, and more recently for her extensive charity work and as the chancellor of the University of Exeter. In 2010 she was made a Baroness as a Liberal Democrat Life Peer and is a member of the House of Lords.

 

Arnaldo Putzu was born in Rome in 1927 and began painting from a very early age. In 1948 he began his relationship with the world of film publicity under the guidance of the famous artist Enrico De Seta. Eventually Putzu would gain enough confidence in his abilities to set up his own agency and it was this move that saw him getting involved in work for the British studio Rank. Eric Pulford was so impressed with his work that he brought him over to London to work at Downtons in 1967.

The artist worked on many quads whilst over here and also gained notoriety for lending his talents to the popular children’s magazine Look-in, for which he painted almost every cover during its publication lifetime. His best-known quad is undoubtedly the one he painted for the Michael Caine gangster classic Get Carter in 1971. My friend, and author of the must-own British Film Posters, Sim Branaghan met Putzu during the making of his book and describes it as a very memorable experience in the interview I published in 2012. Putzu sadly passed away the same year, aged 85, and Sim wrote an excellent obituary for The Guardian newspaper, which can be read here.

The Emerald Forest / quad / UK

09.11.12

Poster Poster
Title
The Emerald Forest
Year of Film
1985
Director
John Boorman
Starring
Powers Boothe, Meg Foster, Yara Vaneau, William Rodriguez, Estee Chandler, Charley Boorman, Dira Paes, Eduardo Conde, Ariel Coelho
Origin of Film
UK
Genre(s) of Film
Powers Boothe, Meg Foster, Yara Vaneau, William Rodriguez, Estee Chandler, Charley Boorman, Dira Paes, Eduardo Conde, Ariel Coelho,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1985
Designer
Vic Fair
Artist
Brian Bysouth
Size (inches)
30 1/16" x 39 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
The Adventure Movie of the Year

A striking design on this British quad for the release of John Boorman‘s adventure film The Emerald Forest. Bill Markham (Powers Boothe) is an engineer working on the construction of a dam in the jungles of Brazil who has brought his wife and young children with him to live there. One day his son Tommy disappears and the family discover that he has been kidnapped by an indigenous tribe called the Invisible People. Markham spends years searching for his son and it’s not until a decade later that he finally locates him, only to discover that he’s now fully assimilated into the tribe. The dam is nearing completion and Markham decides to help his son’s adopted tribe before their way of life is totally destroyed. Tommy/Tomme is played by Charley Boorman, the director’s own son.

This poster was one of several collaborations between two immensely talented British designer-illustrators, Vic Fair and Brian Bysouth. Like the withdrawn A View to a Kill UK one sheet, Vic was on design duties and is responsible for this brilliantly clever composition that juxtaposes the face of Powers Boothe with that of a tribesman, using the device of the multi-stranded leaf. Brian executed the final illustration in his typically detailed style with the use of careful brush strokes and airbrush techniques to give the whole thing a nice texture.

Vic and Brian were unquestionably two of the greatest talents ever to work on British film posters, which make collaborations like this even more special. For more information on the pair I highly recommend picking up a copy of ‘British Film Posters‘ as it features sections on both men. Here are the posters I’ve collected so far by Brian Bysouth and those by Vic Fair (with more to add over the coming months).

In December 2012 I met and interviewed Brian Bysouth and this poster was discussed:

Another one you both worked on that I love is the poster for The Emerald Forest, which has a great device of the leaves dividing the two faces
That’s another superb design from Vic. The textured effects were created by using an old toothbrush to splatter the paint on quickly, and then I’d use an airbrush to finish it off. I really enjoyed painting the two figures running through the water. Being asked to do the finished illustration for such an outstanding design remains a deeply satisfying experience.

Years later, I asked Mike Wheeler, the advertising director at Rank, if he could return the artwork to me and I was astonished when it arrived by messenger the very next day. I always got on well with Mike but that kind act secured an enduring friendship.

The Crying Game / quad / UK

14.03.16

Poster Poster

This UK quad poster for the release of Neil Jordan‘s 1992 drama The Crying Game is notable for marking the end of an era of British film posters featuring painted artwork. As Sim Branaghan writes in his must-own book British Film Posters: An Illustrated History, ‘By the time this [quad] appeared in 1992, illustration on British posters was effectively dead.’ After this time it was a rare exception that a film wasn’t advertised using a photographic montage, often with the same image being used around the globe to promote a film.

The production company behind the film, Palace Pictures, had worked with Jordan on other features, including Mona Lisa and The Company of Wolves and had regularly worked with artists and illustrators when it came to the posters for the films they released. Celebrated artist Graham Humphreys received his big break into working as an illustrator for film posters when he was asked to paint the artwork to be used on the quad for The Evil Dead, which Palace were distributing in the UK. For more details see the Film on Paper interview with Humphreys which can be read here.

The Crying Game was written by Jordan (he would later win an Academy Award for the screenplay) and stars Stephen Rea as a member of an IRA crew who kidnap a British soldier called Jody (Forest Whitaker) by luring him into a wood with the promise of sex from one of their squad, Jude (Miranda Richardson). The group demand the release of imprisoned IRA members and threaten to execute Jody if their requests are not met.

Fergus and the soldier strike up an uneasy friendship, despite their differences. When the hostage situation goes horribly wrong Fergus is forced into hiding and moves to London, assuming a new identity as ‘Jimmy’. There he looks up Jody’s girlfriend Dil (Jaye Davidson) whom Jody had spoken a lot about and eventually the pair form a tentative relationship. But there’s more to Dil than Fergus realises and the danger that his past life will be uncovered by her grows ever larger.

The film was met with critical praise and glowing reviews around the globe but failed to perform at the UK and Ireland box-office, something that is now felt to be due to its heavy political undertones and the public’s attitude towards the IRA. It was released in the US by Miramax and became a sleeper hit over the following weeks. As hinted at by one of the press quotes on the poster, it’s one of those films that has a plot twist so significant that it becomes the main reason people are aware of and discuss the film (see also ‘The Sixth Sense’).

 

The Thirty-Nine Steps / 1978 / one sheet / UK

03.11.17

Poster Poster

This is the UK one sheet (sometimes referred to as English one sheet) for the 1978 version of The Thirty-Nine Steps, based on the 1915 magazine serial-turned-book of the same name by the Scottish author John Buchan. The story has been turned into a film a number of times, including a 1935 version by Alfred Hitchcock that was later remade in 1959. This version, directed by the late Don Sharp (Psychomania, a couple of Hammer horror films), is considered to be the most faithful to Buchan’s original book. The film is set in the UK in 1914 and focuses on the character of Richard Hannay (whom Buchan would return to for five other novels) who becomes embroiled in a nefarious plot by German sleeper agents to start a war by assassinating a visiting foreign minister. Robert Powell plays Hannay and a host of notable British actors also feature, including John MillsDavid Warner and Eric Porter

The film makes great use of real locations all over the UK, including in Scotland where the bulk of the film takes place. It’s most known for a climactic sequence that occurs on the clock face of London’s Big Ben tower (in reality a large scale model on a set) that aped a sequence from Harold Lloyd’s 1923 film Safety Last. The film was a box-office success and would later spawn a TV series featuring the same character and starring Powell, called simply Hannay.

This poster was designed and illustrated by Vic Fair, who was one the most important designer/artists ever to work on British film marketing. He was responsible for several iconic posters, including The Man Who Fell To Earth, posters for Hammer horrors like Vampire Circus, and the withdrawn advance one sheet for A View to a Kill. I interviewed Vic for this site and that article can be viewed by clicking here. He sadly passed away in early 2017 but his great legacy lives on.

It shares some similarities with another poster Fair designed and illustrated for Rank (the production company and distributor), the 1977 horror anthology The Uncanny.

Note also that there’s another version of this one sheet which has a stylised title logo in the space on the right and can be seen here. I’m not sure why some have it and others don’t but I suspect the one without was a printing error, or a first printing.

To see the other posters I’ve collected that were designed and/or illustrated by Vic Fair click here.

The Watcher in the Woods / quad / UK

13.03.13

Poster Poster
Title
The Watcher in the Woods
AKA
Obserwator (Poland)
Year of Film
1980
Director
John Hough
Starring
Bette Davis, Lynn-Holly Johnson, Kyle Richards, Carroll Baker, David McCallum, Benedict Taylor, Frances Cuka, Richard Pasco, Ian Bannen
Origin of Film
USA | UK
Genre(s) of Film
Bette Davis, Lynn-Holly Johnson, Kyle Richards, Carroll Baker, David McCallum, Benedict Taylor, Frances Cuka, Richard Pasco, Ian Bannen,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1980
Designer
Brian Bysouth
Artist
Brian Bysouth
Size (inches)
30" x 39 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
it is not a fairy tale

Another of Disney’s forays into live-action filmmaking (this was actually the studio’s second PG-rated film after 1979’s The Black Hole), The Watcher in the Woods is an eerie mystery thriller that absolutely terrified me when I first watched it as a child in the 1980s. An Anglo-American co-production, the film was helmed by John Hough and English director who had proved his horror chops with the adults-only The Legend of Hell House (1973) and was chosen by the American producer Ron Miller to work on this film. Legendary Hollywood actress Bette Davis was lined up to star and the year of production coincided with her 50th in the business.

The story sees an Anglo-American family move to a manor house surrounded by thick woodland that is owned by Mrs. Aylwood (Davis). One of the daughters, Jan (played by Lynn-Holly Johnson, the real-life figure-skater who would appear in For Your Eyes Only soon after), is told she bears a striking resemblance to Mrs Aylwood’s daughter Karen who went missing 30 years earlier. Jan begins to see strange apparitions in the forest and suffers a series of unexplainable phenomena. After discovering an abandoned church in the middle of the woods, Jan finds that there’s more to Karen’s disappearance than she’s been told and it’s not long before the secret behind the ‘Watcher’ is revealed.

This British quad features an illustration of the scene that terrified me the most when I first saw the film, which is the moment that a ritual is carried out inside the church during a violent thunderstorm. It also features an image of the Watcher in the form seen in the final release, but as the Wikipedia article on the film details there had originally been an alternative ending to the film that showed it in a much different form. The first ending apparently went down disastrously with test audiences and critics because of the poor quality of the creature effects and the studio took the decision to reshoot a new one without the participation of John Hough. The original ending can be viewed on YouTube.

This poster was illustrated by one of my favourite British artists, Brian Bysouth, who worked on a number of posters for Disney during the 1970s and 1980s, including for several of their animated titles. You can read my extensive interview with the man himself by clicking here. The other posters I’ve collected by him can be seen by clicking here.

The original trailer is on YouTube.

 

The Harder They Come / quad / 1977 re-release / UK

30.03.13

Poster Poster

Jamaica’s first feature film They Harder They Come is often credited with introducing the rest of the world to reggae music, released as it was before Jamaican artists like Bob Marley had achieved much recognition outside of the country. The film was directed by Jamaican native Perry Henzell, who also produced and co-wrote the script, and is partially based on the true story of Ivanhoe ‘Rhyging‘ Martin. Often called the ‘original rude boy’, Martin was a Jamaican outlaw who escaped from prison and managed to evade the police for several years with the help of the Jamaican public, before a final showdown on Lime Cay in 1948. The soundtrack to the film is absolutely integral to its success and features tracks from some of Jamaica’s best reggae artists, including Desmond Dekker, Toots & the Maytals and singer Jimmy Cliff. Released on Jamaica’s own Island Records, the album went on to sell millions of copies and continues to be one of the label’s biggest sellers.

Jimmy Cliff stars as Ivan Martin and was chosen for the role after Perry Henzell saw photos of him on the packaging for one of his earlier albums. Ivan is a country boy who travels to Kingston with empty pockets and a dream of becoming a singer. After being taken in by a preacher he meets a ruthless music studio owner who eventually allows him to record a tune (the titular The Harder They Come), but is then persuaded to sign away the rights for a pittance. Realising that his dream may be over, Ivan accepts an offer from a friend to begin dealing marijuana and, although things go smoothly for a while, it’s not long before he is betrayed and set on a path of destruction after killing a policeman sent to arrest him. Ivan ends up as an outlaw on the run, helped by the people he lived amongst, but a failed attempt to escape by boat to Cuba sees him washed up on a sandy beach with the police hard on his tail.

The Harder They Come depicts the kind of life that many Jamaicans experienced in the sprawling migrant settlements of Kingston and it made no attempt to try and romanticise life on the island. In addition, little concession was made to those not used to hearing the unique Jamaican Patois spoken by the majority of the characters in the film and prints were often subtitled when projected in other countries. The film was phenomenally successful in Jamaica with the premiere at the old Carib theatre in Kingston attracting thousands of locals eager to get into the auditorium. Its popularity soon spread to other countries such as the UK and eventually to the USA. The distribution over there was eventually handled by Perry Henzell himself who personally sold the film to cinema managers in several big cities and it apparently ended up playing in one Boston cinema for eight years straight.

This quad is actually for the 1977 re-release of the film but I have never seen an original 1973 release quad of the film. It features the same artwork as seen on the soundtrack album, which is by a designer and artist called John Bryant about whom I’ve been unable to discover any details. The classic image of Jimmy Cliff with the two guns also features in a great sequence in the film when Ivan has his photo taken to send to newspapers in an attempt to cement his image as a bad boy outlaw. It appears that Bryant himself got in touch with the US auction house emovieposter.com to let them know a bit more about the poster and this information has been included in the auction details when this quad has been sold in the past:

‘Note that the person who originally designed this poster tells us that it was made for the late 1970s re-release of the film (the designer says likely between 1977 and 1979, and the BBFC states 1977) from the original British quad’s design, adding their company logo of “Lagoon” and the tagline at left, “Now-Original Uncut Version.’

The first release quad is unquestionably scarce but, as per the information above, must look almost identical to this poster.

Brazil / quad / UK

01.05.13

Poster Poster
Title
Brazil
AKA
--
Year of Film
1985
Director
Terry Gilliam
Starring
Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Bob Hoskins, Michael Palin, Ian Richardson, Peter Vaughan, Kim Greist, Jim Broadbent
Origin of Film
UK
Genre(s) of Film
Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Bob Hoskins, Michael Palin, Ian Richardson, Peter Vaughan, Kim Greist, Jim Broadbent,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
Withdrawn 'dream cabinets' version
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1985
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
30 1/16" x 39 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

One of my favourite British posters of all time, this is the supposedly withdrawn quad for Terry Gilliam‘s 1985 masterpiece Brazil. A film that is near impossible to categorise, the story  is a heady mix of dystopian sci-fi, surreal dark fantasy and anarchic satirical comedy set in an alternative universe in which an overbearing government has practically strangled society with its mixture of paranoia, crippling bureaucracy and unreliable technology. That one of the film’s working titles was ‘1984 and 1/2’ gives you some idea of the Orwellian overtones that Gilliam and his fellow screenwriters Tom Stoppard and Charles McKeown intended to evoke.

Jonathan Pryce stars as Sam Lowry, a low-level employee at the ‘Ministry of Information’ who is seemingly content with his role as a cog in the giant machine, but at night he escapes in dreams where he is a knight is shining armour with giant wings strapped to his back, often rescuing the same damsel in distress from malicious forces. When a clerical error caused by a dead beetle falling into a printer causes the wrong man to be rounded up, tortured and killed by government forces (“we didn’t know he had a weak heart!”), Sam is given the task of correcting the error. Whilst visiting the wife of the deceased man, Sam meets Jill Layton (Kim Greist) a neighbour who bears a striking resemblance to the girl in his dreams.

Naturally he is instantly smitten and sets in motion a series of events that ends up with Sam and Jill pitched against his employer and on the run. The film features several memorable appearances from the likes of Ian Holm as Sam’s bumbling, inefficient boss, Michael Palin as an ambitious and ultimately ruthless friend within the Ministry, and Robert De Niro in a cameo role as Harry Tuttle, a rogue heating engineer who was meant to be the original target for the government round-up.

The film is visually stunning with some of the most incredible production design ever committed to celluloid. Gilliam and his skilled crew of technicians stretched every penny of the modest budget and created countless memorable sets, brilliantly realised props and entirely believable environmental details that all add up to something unforgettable. The special effects are also top notch, with the dream sequences deserving special mention, particularly Sam’s battle with a giant Samurai warrior and the literal flights of fantasy in his winged suit.

Infamously, Gilliam would end up in a bitter wrangle with the American distributors Universal after they decided his final cut was overlong, confusing and the ending was too depressing. The then Universal president Sid Sheinberg ordered a small team of editors to cut the film down from its original length of 2 hours and 20 minutes to just over 90 minutes for a version unofficially dubbed ‘The Love Conquers All’ cut. Most of the dream sequences were excised, the opening scenes completely chopped around and many scenes were horribly truncated. Worst of all, the original darker ending was replaced with a bizarre ‘happy’ denouement that completely ruined the tone of Gilliam’s film.

Understandably furious, the director refused to have anything to do with the new cut and actually began a campaign to get his original version seen by as many American film fans and critics as possible, much to the chagrin of Universal’s management. Eventually this culminated in the Los Angeles Film Critics Association awarding the original cut their prize for Best Film and this led to Universal relenting and agreeing to release a near complete version to cinemas (minus around 10 minutes from the European cut). The bastardised ‘Love Conquers All’ version never saw the inside of a cinema.

The image on this poster is actually a combination of imagery from the flying sequences and a deleted scene that was only ever storyboarded by Gilliam in which a dreaming Sam finds himself at a vast wall of filing cabinets. The title treatment is taken directly from the opening title of the film itself, which is an actual neon signage that falls away from the camera to the accompaniment of Michael Kamen’s excellent score.

I have heard from at least three independent sources that this particular quad was withdrawn from cinemas by the distributor 20th Century Fox because it was felt the image wasn’t the right one to sell the film to UK audiences and was replaced by this bizarre ‘flying bed’ quad that is a world away from this striking design. If anyone knows for sure that this quad was withdrawn or any more details about it, please get in touch.

The Living Daylights / quad / UK

24.05.13

Poster Poster
Title
The Living Daylights
AKA
007 zona pericolo [Dangerous area] (Italy)
Year of Film
1987
Director
John Glen
Starring
Timothy Dalton, Maryam d'Abo, Joe Don Baker, Art Malik, John Rhys-Davies, Jeroen Krabbé
Origin of Film
UK | USA
Genre(s) of Film
Timothy Dalton, Maryam d'Abo, Joe Don Baker, Art Malik, John Rhys-Davies, Jeroen Krabbé,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1987
Designer
Brian Bysouth | Bernie Goddard | Mike Bell | Stephen Laws
Artist
Brian Bysouth
Size (inches)
30 1/16" x 39 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
The new James Bond... living on the edge.

The Living Daylights was the first of two films in the long-running James Bond franchise to feature actor Timothy Dalton as the legendary spy. Dalton had been offered the role following Roger Moore’s decision not to reprise it in the wake of the disappointing performance of 1985’s A View to a Kill. The film sees Bond caught up in an international conspiracy after the abduction from a London safe-house of a recently defected KGB officer, which sees the agent travel to Czechoslovakia, Morocco, Austria and eventually Afghanistan in search of the missing man. The spy uncovers an arms-dealing plot with global ramifications and he must work with the Russian girlfriend of the missing KGB officer to get to the truth and prevent the conspirators from fulfilling their plans.

This is the UK quad and it features artwork that was used across the globe to promote the film. It’s unquestionably the last truly great Bond poster and was also the last to be entirely hand painted. The man responsible is the British artist Brian Bysouth and the poster was discussed during my 2012 interview with him:

“The last painting I did was for The Living Daylights. There were a number of us involved with the initial design ideas for that poster, including Bernie Goddard, a freelance designer who often worked with FEREF. Mike Bell and Stephen Laws also produced some concept roughs. Using the original Bond spiral gun barrel idea was a concept that featured on some of the designs and Bernie submitted one using it. The final concept was an amalgamation of ideas and I was tasked with composing the montage that became the poster. I produced the final colour rough that was sent to the client and we were all very glad when it was approved and I was able to start the finished painting.

I came across the rough a little while ago and it’s in reasonable condition considering it’s age.

That design ended up being used around the world and, as Sim Branaghan disclosed in his book, you were paid the highest fee ever given to a British film poster artist for that.
[Laughs] I probably shouldn’t have told Sim that! I don’t know if it was the highest fee ever paid, as I have no idea what other artists in Britain were getting for their work. But later I read somewhere that Bob Peak was being paid up to $50,000 for one poster at the beginning of the 1980s, and other artists such as Drew Struzan were perceived as being extremely well rewarded. I used to charge a day rate and always felt there was a downward pressure on the fees I charged. I was aware that as a director of the company I felt obliged not to inflate my prices, always making allowance for the company mark-up.  With the wisdom of hindsight, maybe I was wrong and I should have charged more. Anyway, I remember being content at the time.

I never knew how much FEREF were charging the client and I never thought to enquire. I decided that I was going to charge £3000 for my work on The Living Daylights because I had been working on the campaign for weeks. The fee was agreed and that was fine. Looking back in retrospect at an illustration that was used around the world to market a James Bond film do you really think that was a lot of money? It’s peanuts! Especially in comparison to the enormous budget the studio would have allotted to the marketing in total. Finally, I hope I am right in believing the client thought well of FEREF because we didn’t ridiculously inflate the price of the work we did for them. We sincerely believed we were the best at what we did, and it was upmost in our minds that we had to be competitive with our charges.”

The article also features pictures of the original artwork and initial sketches for this poster.

A View To A Kill / one sheet / recalled / UK

25.11.11

Poster Poster

Sir Roger Moore‘s last outing as James Bond, A View to a Kill, was definitely not his finest hour, although it is memorable for a few reasons, including Christopher Walken‘s turn as the truly psychotic bad guy (Max Zorin), Duran Duran’s great title theme and the appearance of the incomparable Grace Jones as Mayday, Zorin’s accomplice. She may not be able to act very well but she’s never anything less than a striking presence and is definitely not a lady to mess with, as British chat show presenter Russell Harty infamously found out.

This poster is the UK one sheet that was designed by Vic Fair and illustrated by Brian Bysouth, a not insignificant pairing of two great English talents. Having been commissioned by the studio the poster was apparently then rejected and ultimately never used in cinemas to promote the film. Sim Branaghan, the man behind the must-own book ‘British Film Posters‘, interviewed Vic Fair who recalled that they were looking for a more conventional design, something that often frustrated the designer when working with clients:

‘Not very exciting are they, the Bond posters … always the same thing. So I had this idea of putting him in a white jacket, but they just threw their arms up in horror – “Ooh no, we can’t have that”. It was ridiculous really’

The poster is now known as the ‘recalled’ UK one sheet as, despite the poster having been printed, it was recalled by the studio and most copies were apparently pulped. Obviously, several did manage to escape destruction and made their way into the hands of poster dealers and collectors. I’d like to know a rough figure on how many did survive since it does show up at major auctions and on Ebay occasionally, so it’s certainly more than a tiny handful. If anyone has any more details on this please get in touch or leave a comment.

The artwork did end up being used for other countries, notably a Japanese B2 poster promoting the film.

For more information on Vic Fair and Brian Bysouth I highly recommend picking up a copy of ‘British Film Posters‘ as it features sections on both men. Here are the posters I’ve collected so far by Brian Bysouth and those by Vic Fair (with more to add over the coming months).

In 2012 I met and interviewed Brian Bysouth and this poster was discussed:

There are two specific collaborations you had with Vic Fair that I’d like to talk about. There was the UK one sheet for A View to a Kill, which you mentioned, and before I read Sim’s book I had no idea that it was one of yours. It’s quite different to others you’d worked on before then.
Ah yes, that poster was painted with a different technique than the one I’d typically work with. It has a very smooth look mostly done with an airbrush. The clients had started to require illustrations to have a less painted look and they were asking for much more photo-realistic illustrations. This requirement was because of falling sales in the video market.  The clients had concluded that the paying public had become more discerning and distrustful of what was portrayed on the video sleeves, and to some extent on film posters. The public had begun to realise that an exciting illustration could flatter what in reality would be a truly awful film.  So illustration had to take on a new, more highly-finished look, but this only worked for a short while before the use of photographs and the versatility of the computer took over completely.

Anyway, to continue, Vic asked me if I’d like to do the finished painting based on his rough; it was a really excellent and novel design, which required me to execute the painting in two stages. The first stage would be used as a teaser poster and this was just the image ofGrace Jones and Bond contained within a diamond motif. All I had to do was get the airbrush out and work up his design. I remember spending a while on the Grace Jones image, polishing and improving her look, as well as the pose of Bond. It went away to be printed but later we were disappointed to learn that it was going to be withdrawn because the clients were not happy with the legendary spy being portrayed in a white tuxedo; that being considered not very Bond-like!

For the second stage, Vic’s design included an exciting montage to fit either side of the central icon of the two characters. The preliminary painting was returned to me for completion and I continued by adding the montage of scenes from the film onto the artwork in a semi-drawn style, which I was experimenting with at the time. I was very pleased with the final results and Vic liked it too. That went off for approval but, for reasons unknown to me, the printing didn’t go ahead. I never saw the artwork again and pathetically, because it was not approved, I don’t even think a transparency was made. I entertain hopes that one day it will eventually re-appear and I will be able to establish my claim to ownership.

Here’s the film’s original trailer.

The Sea Wolves / one sheet / UK

01.03.16

Poster Poster
Title
The Sea Wolves
AKA
--
Year of Film
1980
Director
Andrew V. McLaglen
Starring
Gregory Peck, Roger Moore, David Niven, Trevor Howard, Barbara Kellerman, Patrick Macnee, Kenneth Griffith, Patrick Allen
Origin of Film
Switzerland | UK | USA
Genre(s) of Film
Gregory Peck, Roger Moore, David Niven, Trevor Howard, Barbara Kellerman, Patrick Macnee, Kenneth Griffith, Patrick Allen,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1980
Designer
Vic Fair
Artist
Arnaldo Putzu
Size (inches)
27" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
The last charge of the Calcutta Light Horse.

Featuring great art by Arnaldo Putzu, this is the UK one sheet for the 1980 action film The Sea Wolves, which is based on real events that occurred during the Second World War. As mentioned on the poster, the story is based on the exploits of ex-members of the Calcutta Light Horse, a cavalry regiment of the British Indian Army that was formed in 1872 and was disbanded a couple of years after the end of WWII. The plot sees British intelligence discovering that a Nazi radio ship is broadcasting the coordinates of allied ships from a harbour in Portuguese Goa, which was neutral during the war, so an all out assault cannot be launched by the Navy because of this.

British Intelligence officers Col. Lewis Pugh (Gregory Peck) and Capt. Gavin Stewart (Roger Moore) lead the operation and covertly enlist retired officer Col. Bill Grice (David Niven) of the Calcutta Light Horse & some of his former soldiers. The gang sneak into Goa and arrange a diversion on the evening of a planned raid, before making their way to the radio ship carrying enough explosives to sink it and put a stop any more transmissions. The film reunited much of the creative team behind an earlier OAPs on a mission film, 1978’s The Wild Geese, including director Andrew V. McLaglen, screenwriter Reginald Rose, producer Euan Lloyd and several of the stars.

Arnaldo Putzu was born in Rome in 1927 and began painting from a very early age and in 1948 he got involved with the world of film publicity under the guidance of the famous artist Enrico De Seta. Eventually Putzu would gain enough confidence in his abilities to set up his own agency and it was this move that saw him getting involved in work for the British studio Rank. Eric Pulford was so impressed with his work that he brought him over to London to work at Downtons in 1967.

The artist worked on many posters whilst living over here and also gained notoriety for lending his talents to the popular children’s magazine Look-in for which he painted almost every cover during its publication lifetime. His best known poster is undoubtedly the one he painted for the Michael Caine gangster classic Get Carter in 1971. My friend and author of the must-own British Film Posters book, Sim Branaghan, met Putzu during the making of his book and describes it as a very memorable experience in the interview I published in 2012. Putzu sadly passed away the same year, aged 85, and Sim wrote an excellent obituary for The Guardian newspaper, which can be read here.

The poster was designed by the British designer and artist Vic Fair who is one the most important people ever to work on British film marketing. He is responsible for several iconic posters, including The Man Who Fell To Earth, posters for Hammer horrors like Vampire Circus, and the withdrawn advance one sheet for A View to a Kill. I interviewed Vic for this site and that article can be viewed by clicking here.

I also have the quad poster for the film which can be seen here.