Movie posters have always been underappreciated as pieces of art, dismissed by virtue of the fact that they’re advertising a “product” for consumption rather than made expressly to be looked over and discussed by discerning members of the artistic community. Luckily, a few savvy collectors early on managed to look past all the upturned noses and recognize some of these posters (also called “one-sheets”) as genuinely inspired creations in and of themselves. In fact, throughout cinematic history posters have often transcended their source material entirely, living on past the run of their respective films to become something lasting and worthy of aesthetic reconsideration. This is especially true of posters advertising horror films, a genre that through the decades has been the home of arguably the greatest amount of artistically stunted, cookie-cutter material ever to grace the silver screen but has also inspired a treasure-trove of memorable one-sheets. Some of these one-sheets are hand-drawn masterpieces; some are artful photographs; more recent ones are often marvels of digitally-enhanced innovation. All of them have the distinction of communicating something above and beyond what was required, be it through a deceptively simple central image or a richly detailed visual landscape. Following, then, are the Ten Best posters inspired by lackluster horror films. It’s beauty and the beast….
Note: I apologize in advance for my use of groan-inducing words such as “exquisite”, “dazzling”, and “sumptuous”.
Tagline: “Whoever wins…we lose.”
All the one-sheets for this (shitty) movie were cool, but this one is definitely the best – highlighting the striking forms of the respective monsters in all their seductive and elegant detail.
Tagline: “Some frequencies we were never meant to find.”
This ingenious poster, with its sea of reaching hands and eerie silver light, is like a bad dream come to life; the movie itself was just a nightmare to sit through.
Tagline: “They feast on your fear – and it’s dinner time.”
This written-directly-for-the-screen Stephen King effort is absolutely terrible – but the poster is a sumptuous marvel, with those slinking cats and ominous dusky backdrop.
Tagline: “Turn up the volume, turn out the lights, but don’t watch it alone!”
The one-sheet for heavy metal horror movie Black Roses is an exquisitely-rendered feast for the eyes; the film is just cheese.
Tagline: “And a child shall lead them…”
Those who consider Children of the Corn a classic of the genre probably haven’t seen it since they were, oh, twelve years old – but the theatrical one-sheet is iconic, and loads more suggestive and horrifying than the actual film.
Tagline: “Dismembered bodies…transplanted organs are used to create the Astro-Zombies.”
Obviously the creative inspiration for Astro-Zombies was all used up on the poster; the eye-popping color scheme and unique hand-drawn artwork is dazzling, but the movie isn’t, shall we say, up to the same artistic standard.
Tagline: “Check in. Relax. Take a Shower.”
The marketing campaign for Gus Van Sant’s shot-by-shot remake was ingeniously simple, with that brilliant tagline and its sensual central image of a woman behind a shower curtain; too bad the movie was a derivative bore.
Tagline: “The man of your dreams is back.”
While the theatrical poster for Part 2 is as beautifully-rendered as the rest of the Elm Street one-sheets, I chose this one in particular because it’s the one entry in the franchise that can genuinely be called a cinematic stinker.
Tagline: “Death was the only living thing…”
This movie about murdered chain-gang convicts who return from the dead in order to get high off of formaldehyde one last time (don’t ask) was blessed with this beautiful, morbidly atmospheric poster that makes you want to reach out and feel the texture of its gloomy world.
Tagline: “This was the night of the CRAWLING TERROR!”
Squirm the movie is a dreadful piece of garbage about killer earthworms (seriously) and has been long-forgotten for a reason, but the one-sheet is a genuine work of art that should be hanging in a museum; never has the chasm of quality between a film and its attendant poster art been wider.