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The Lost Art of the Horror Movie Poster - An In-Depth Look at the Rise and Fall!

Anyone happen to have a spare $700,000 lying around? Quite a big amount of cash to just have kicking around your house but that's what it's going to cost you to get your hands on an original Bride of Frankenstein movie poster. Kind of makes you wonder what amount you could get for those old posters you had taped to your wall as a kid. It just goes to show the kind of love an old movie poster can really get from certain collectors. It's well deserved though. With gorgeously painted pictures and vivid descriptions of 'the terror' or 'the horror' contained in the latest horror film, the movie poster used to be the best way to promote your movie. Even as late as the 1980's we were still getting some great pieces of horror art. Anyone remember the poster for Maniac? All of those great pieces have been replaced by the quick cut and paste technique of the computer now. There's always going to be exceptions to the rule but the movie poster just isn't the same piece of adverting that it used to be.

Collectability probably has more to do with personal taste than it does for artistic work but an appreciation for horror posters of days gone by seems to be ring. Just look at the recent book of Hammer horror posters, The Art of Hammer, and you'll get a great example of the kind of power the horror poster had. I find it odd that as collecting becomes a bigger part of the poster landscape the artwork continues to slide downhill. I couldn't imagine dishing out hundreds of dollars for a poster from the recent Friday the 13th remake but I may think twice if it was a poster from the original film. Again, it has more to do with personal taste than anything else. Before we were able to be flooded with adverting, the movie poster was one of the most important ways of getting your name out there. It had to capture the viewers attention and lure them into the theater. Horror movies have the upper hand when it comes to striking images. There's always some monster lurking in the shadows, sewer or forests and it's hard not to pay attention when the latest advertisement is covered in the blood of teens in the woods. There had to be something to offer the viewer with the poster for a film but now we get the teaser trailer, the theatrical trailer, the TV trailer and every manner of advertisement over the internet including stills from the films. It seems that the thing to do now is to only hint at 'the terror' inde the theater because we've all seen 3 different trailers and still shots of the monster or slasher in the movie.

Instead of being the first and last place someone looks to for information about the movie, the poster is now a little taste of what's to come. We get a hint of Freddy in the remakes poster or a mostly shadowed figure of Jason from that remakes poster. We're enticed and we begin our search for more and more to satisfy the wait. Every webte tears apart the new poster for hints at what's to come until we're finally given that first teaser trailer. It's all part of the game now and the lure of the movie poster is a much more drawn out process. With computers being such an important part of everyone's life it was only a matter of time before anybody could cut together a poster for the latest horror movie. Why bother paying someone a chunk of cash to paint or draw something when Tom down in marketing could knock it off in an hour with only a minimal amount of training. No offense Tom but I miss the days when quality was important. I couldn't begin to narrow down the artwork to a few examples and was originally overwhelmed when faced with the options of writing an article on movie posters. Opinions vary wildly on what one conders to be great artwork. I'm personally fond of the Universal monsters and some of the great posters from that age while others prefer the Hammer artwork from the 60's and 70's. You can't leave out some of the amazing work done in the 80's and the poster for Nightmare on Elm Street has always been one of my favorites. Even though the computer may have brought down the stunning painted movie poster, it's also opened up a new opportunity for poster lovers. With just a few keystrokes we can seek out some of those older posters and buy them up or look even further and you'll find artists worldwide offering up their own creations. There will always be people out there who keep the idea of horror posters as artwork alive and we'll be able to hang their creations in our halls, looking down on us as we turn off the lights to enjoy the latest scary movie.

Written by HorrorBid columnist: "Canadian Will"
Shakelford, J. Rusty Saturday 3/10/2012 at 12:07 AM | 91280
I agree that the art of the movie poster is an art that is slowly dying off thanks to the advent of Photoshop being readily available to everyone. There has been a steep decline in well done or well thought out movie posters over the last 20 years. I believe it has a lot to do with the way we find out about movies today. Back in the day, a movie at your local chain store had to have impresve box art to grab your attention, the same way old movie posters grabbed the imagination of people in the 50's and 60's at the theater. Now, with the road to digital downloads clearly the path being taken by distributers and celebrities being more important than substance, the days of awesome posters/box art is becoming a rare thing. It has become more fashionable to put a pic of your stars on the cover instead of some nice original artwork even when they are rereleang older titles. Take the recent release of NEAR DARK on Blu-Ray, instead of the cool mple letters and sunset look of the original box art, we are treated to a very Twilight-esque photoshop of the main actors faces. Everytime I look at it, I throw up a little in my mouth. This happens way to often anymore with dvd's and Blu's.

The sad part is that if used correctly, Photoshop is a great tool that artists can use to make extraordinary art. This almost never happens anymore due to rushed timelines and little to no caring about properly adverting a film to generate interest. Marketing today is all about dumb posts on Facebook, quick tweets on Twitter and previews of previews online. If they need a poster they just ask the bosses 12yr old nephew to whip something up in his spare time on his laptop in between Facebook posts. Sad,sad,sad...
Anonymous Tuesday 3/13/2012 at 01:50 PM | 91386