November 17, 2014


Movie posters are a dying art. Today, most are little more than quickly slapped-together Photoshopped montages. But back in the days before the internet, posters really had to sell movies, which meant hiring artists and photographers with enough creativity to (sometimes deviously) get butts planted in theater seats. In the tradition of P.T. Barnum, sometimes the best posters were used to entice moviegoers into seeing the worst movies...

Schlockmeister Roger Corman's return to the director's chair after a decades-long absence was heralded by this gorgeously-disturbing piece of movie art. Sure, the film was his usual B-movie junk, albeit B-movie junk featuring such A-list stars as Raul Julia, Bridget Fonda & John Hurt. As for the poster...couldn't this image have been better-utilized as a heavy metal album cover?

Corman-wannabe Bert I. Gordon threw together this amusingly awful bastardization of an H.G. Wells story, complete with special effects which would have been laughable in the 1950s. So what does a hack mini-mogul do to get people to check it out? The promise of a giant chicken, of course, widely-considered the most terrifying beast ever to stalk the screen.

This poster may actually be the ultimate example of truth in advertising. Stallone shoots guns. Stallone kills people. Stallone wears sunglasses in the dark. Stallone shows no remorse. Stallone chews a toothpick. Stallone has awesome hair. Stallone emotes even less than he did as Rambo. 

Personally speaking, this poster (along with the equally-terrifying TV spot) scared the living shit out of me as a kid. Not only that, it starred Juliet Mills, best-known to us young'uns as the star of the whimsical 70's series, Nanny and the Professor. Little did I know the film was such a blatant rip-off of The Exorcist that Warner Brothers threatened to sue the Italian studio which originally released it.

Today, this godawful, 3-hour, sex-loaded soap opera is best-remembered for its dubious connection to Star Wars. At the time, 20th Century Fox was convinced that, not only would this film be a hit, but feared Star Wars would totally bomb, so they only granted permission for theater chains to book Midnight under the proviso that they'd show Star Wars as well. Midnight tanked, of course, but you have to admit the poster painting is absolutely beautiful. I'd frame and mount it on my living room wall right now if I could find a good print.

Back in 1979, this was Disney's misguided attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Star Wars. Despite the dark and ominous story promised by this poster (featuring one of the greatest title-logos of all time), the movie itself is slow, boring, terribly-acted and often unintentionally funny, with lapses in scientific plausibility even a kindergartner could see through. The presence of "funny" robots further render this ambitious failure worthy of MST3K ridicule, but at least we can find comfort knowing all good robots go the Heaven.

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