The Worst Movie Posters of All Time? No Way!
Over the Christmas break we found a book we had not seen before. Written by Gregory J Edwards and Robin Cross, it’s title was more than a little intriguing to the movie poster lover. We had to pick up a copy.
Published in 1984, “Worst Movie Posters of All Time – A Treasury of Trash” promised to ‘sterilize me with fear’ and that within its pages ‘… shame exploiters compete with each other for the supreme accolade of WORST MOVIE POSTER OF ALL TIME…”
As we have seen in earlier blog posts, tastes and technologies have changed over the hundred plus years of the movie poster, but, one thing remains constant, the need for a poster to lure a potential cinemagoer in to the movie theatre.
So, if these are the worst of all time, surely they must have failed to do that… right?
Wouldn’t that be the definition of the WORST movie posters?
Well, apparently not. Within this mighty tome’s pages (which I should point out is definitely a humorous rather than an academic work) Edwards and Cross treat us to some of the BEST MOVIE POSTERS OF ALL TIME.
In a time when kitsch is cool, ‘B Movie’ posters are all the rage. Here are some of the highlights…
Forbidden Planet (Page 7)
Fred M. Wilcox’s 1956 “Forbidden Planet” is now considered one of the greatest science-fiction films of the fifties.
Innovatively ‘Robby the Robot’ (seen here as the star of the poster) was a fully formed character, more akin to C-3PO than the shuffling dullards that came before him.
Today, this poster is very highly sought after. An example in good condition is likely to set you back tens of thousands.
The Deadly Mantis (Page 9)
Nathan Juran’s 1957 sci-fi “The Deadly Mantis” was based on a story by William Alland. I have never thought of a mantis as being that terrifying, but, then again, I have never seen one that big.
The fantastic poster has artwork by Ken Sawyer. He was also accountable for another great poster, for 1957’s “The Land Unknown”. A good example of this poster would now cost you a four figure sum.
Invasion of the Saucer-Men (Page 9)
On the same page (and from the same year), Edwards and Cross give us the black and white comedy sci-fi horror “Invasion of the Saucer-Men” (also known as “Invasion of the Hell Creatures”).
Based on the 1955 short story “The Cosmic Frame” by Paul W. Fairman, the movie sees alcohol injecting aliens defeated by car highlights.
The poster is by movie poster legend Albert Kallis (Attack of the Crab Monster, Creature from the Black Lagoon etc.) and in fine condition would cost several thousand pounds.
Silent Fear (Page 16)
Whilst is might not be an iconic as the poster for Jaws, this beautiful poster for 1956’s “Silent Fear” is enough to keep me out of the water.
The Vampire and the Ballerina (Page 31)
The BBC and Netflix have returned the Vampire to centre-stage with their fantastic re-imaging of the story of Count Dracula.
Back in 1960 this Italian horror film was terrifying cinema-goers as a troupe of dancers are trapped in a lonely mountain village.
The film has been noted by film historians as “one of the first to blatantly mix sex and horror” (“Italian Horror Film Directors”, Louis Paul, 2010) and as such, probably had a strong influence on the better known Hammer horror films.
Lady Frankenstein (Page 39)
Sticking with Italian horror, this time from 1972, for Mel Welles and Aureliano Luppi's Italian horror "Lady Frankenstein", also released in Italy in 1971 as "La Figlia di Frankenstein".
When Doctor Frankenstein is killed by one of his reanimated monsters, who would have thought that his young daughter would take up his mantle and create her own demonic creatures?
This fantastic poster has amazing artwork by Joseph Smith. Smith was also responsible for the famous "Ben Hur" poster, the iconic one sheet poster for "The Day of the Triffids" and the beautiful painting of Audrey Hepburn on the "Green Mansions" poster.
The Headless Ghost (Page 44)
From 1959 for the English teen fantasy horror film "The Headless Ghost". Starring Richard Lyon, Liliane Sottane, David Rose, Clive Revill, and Jack Allen.
"Three teenagers encounter a ghost who is in limbo until he retrieves his lost head. They do their bit to help him find it." (IMDB) - A little bit Enid Blyton meets Hammer Horror?
This is a stunning poster with amazing artwork by the legendary Reynold Brown (Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof etc.).
The Day of the Triffids (Page 46)
John Wyndham’s “The Day of the Triffids” was made in to a 1981 BBC TV series that still gives me the shivers. This amazing UK quad poster is from the 1962 film.
Whilst the US one sheet was by Joseph Smith, we are not sure who illustrated this quad. Quite possibly Smith again, we can’t be sure. Whoever produced it, it is a highly desirable beauty.
So, having persuaded you that this book is NOT full of the WORST MOVIE POSTERS OF ALL TIME, we are going to have to concede on one front…
Garden of Eden (Page 42)
Quite what is going on here, from 1954, we have no idea…
Firstly, as you have read, I argue that the book is no longer ‘as described’. Far from it, it is full of wonderful movie posters.
Secondly, I can only wonder what the reviewer’s ‘needs’ were…
We’ll close with the poster for 1955's Indestructible Man and the fabulous image borrowed for the book’s cover…
We are off to read some more.
Adam and the Art of the Movies team.