Monday, October 4, 2010

Battle of the Bloody Arts #1

Morning, cretins!

Soon to be a weekly feature here on Samityville, 'Battle of the Bloody Arts' is my tribute to one of my favorite things on this planet: horror movie posters! Ever since childhood I've collected them religiously, everything from the old to the new and the awesome to the plain bizarre reside within postal tubes and sealed boxes in my cupboard as well as on the bedroom walls and everywhere else. As soon as a new poster emerges for an upcoming fright flick I'm the first to check it out and give my 2 cents on its worth of design, even if it's an awful poster for a great movie. Take no prisoners for horror, dammit.

The basic conceit of BOTBA is simply this: two randomly selected horror movie posters, one a GOOD example of horror marketing, the other a BAD example. I will then provide what I consider to be the pros and cons of each and attempt to surmise a conclusion of their effective/ineffectiveness as a piece of genre marketing.

So let's roll!

And now the Screaming Starts! (1973)

Dir: Roy Ward Baker
UK one-sheet


This vintage Amicus flick from one the studio's regular helmers is arguably not one of the UK's best efforts but the marketing campaign does embrace one of its more striking central images: a severed hand tearing down wallpaper. As a general rule of thumb movie posters either embody the entire raison detre of a film or are in no way representative of it at all; both approaches having their pros and cons in almost equal measure. In the case of And Now the Screaming Starts!, this morbid masterpiece of a poster gives the central threat of the film its own nasty close up and an impressive tag line to boot: 'The Dead Hand that Crawls, Kills and LIVES!' The blood red font is nicely complemented by the repeating axe blade striking downward, reflecting the terror in the eyes of a hapless damsel trapped within the steel. It's short. It's sweet. It's OLD SCHOOL.

13 Ghosts (1960)
Dir: William Castle
USA one-sheet


While a wonderfully cheesy movie in its own right, the American one-sheet design for William Castle's immortal 13 Ghosts is more than a little patchy. Aside from the terrific marketing gimmick of the 'ghost viewer' (aka 'Illusion-O', a gag that intensified the images of the ghosts on screen using superimposing techniques) the layout of the frame is rather cluttered and thrown together, much like a patch knit quilt but without the motherly love. The B&W spectre sketches are a little too childish for their own good (I only counted 11?) and the scribbled boarder really does look like chalk. It also doesn't help when a poster entices potential viewers to 'See the Ghosts in Ectoplasmic COLOR' when those featured on this print are clearly monochromatic. By no means an dreadful design but then again, it ain't Picasso either.


  1. Really like the first poster, I reckon the main aim of any poster is to catch peoples attention - alot of other content should be sacrificed for that purpose. The 'And Now The Screaming Starts' poster does that brilliantly.

  2. Couldn't agree more, Bob. Some of the most eye catching horror posters actually come out of the Lions Gate marketing department (eg, 'Saw', 'Hard Candy', 'The Descent', etc).