8/30/11

The Lost Art of the Movie Poster

I received an email this week from Cameron McCasland the director of an indie horror film titled "The Lashman". I've been thinking a lot about indies lately after having the privilege of chatting with director Larry Longstreth last week. I've always said my heart beats "genre" and "blockbuster". But lately, it seems to be making a little more space for smaller stories.

Coincidentally, I've also been talking a lot about movie posters with my sister Heather. (One of the contributing raving fangirls here at BFG.) She has recently discovered the art of Drew Struzan. Drew Struzan is THE movie poster guy. He's done just about every iconic film poster you can imagine from "Back to the Future" to "Raiders of the Lost Ark" to "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and beyond.

Struzan has this way of capturing the magical feel of any film. As an artist, he has mastered the concept of finding the "feel" of a film and appealing to an audience through the gut reaction that "feel" might inspire. Heather and I talked on the phone about what a shame it was that someone on the marketing team of "Hellboy" didn't go with Struzan's posters for the film and as usual with nerds like us, the conversation spiraled into a nostalgic wish for the cool movie posters of the good old days.



Movie posters are a lost art. I know people say that just about everything is a lost art, and maybe it's because I'm turning 29 today...I don't know. But posters today lack imagination, are often exercises in terrible photoshop and they almost never make me want to see the movie. But maybe that's where the problem originates. Now we want to see movies because of previews we see on the internet. But I can remember standing in the lobby of a mall movie theater with my Mom in Indianapolis on a shopping trip in 1989 and deciding to see "Fletch Lives" solely because of the fact that the poster art was an homage to "Gone with the Wind".

The posters for "The Lashman" were designed by Dennis Vincent of Denver, Colorado. Someone who clearly loves film and gets the idea that a poster should made you feel something and really want to see the movie.

Case in point?

I usually hate horror movies. I mean, I love monster movies, ghost stories, the classic Universal monsters, etc. But gore and slasher movies I almost always avoid. I'll just put it this way, I once passed out during the climactic finale of "The Strangers". Granted, there was also alcohol and Halloween candy involved. Maybe it was the perfect storm, I don't know. But even yesterday I tried to watch the retro throwback film "The House of the Devil" on Netflix and it scared the bejeebus out of me so much that I had to watch the entire thing on fast forward. (By the way, incredible movie. Very suspenseful and well crafted with love to pay tribute to horror films of the seventies. If you aren't a big baby like me, you'll probably enjoy it.)

But these posters make me want to see "The Lashman". It makes the film look like it's going to feel like a comic book western that might evoke "The Evil Dead" and that's a movie I can get on board with.

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