So, I have always had interesting jobs, if nothing else, I can say that.
Now, these are, sadly, not always well paying jobs but, well, they are interesting.
One of the two jobs I have right now is at a collectibles store that deals mainly in records and books but has a lot of stuff in general. I had worked here about ten years ago and, lucky me, I am back there and I recently discovered a cache of old movie posters I had happened upon when I first worked there. Back ten years ago I got some of my most beloved and treasured posters – Evil Dead, Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, The Thing, The Car, Corpse Grinders and more, all theatrical posters – but no one has ever cataloged the damn things. Ah, cataloging old movie posters eh? What a wonderful job for me!
In going through these posters – several hundred of the things by now, all of them from the sixties, seventies, and eighties – I am struck by how sad it is that we’ve lost so much of the art of artistic persuasion with books and movies. I mention books merely because I have been so incensed of late to see the cover art for the newest Stephen King book After Sunset, which is so lazy and awful it’s a wonder that someone thought it was ok to release. Hell, I still think the cover of IT is one of the most effective and evocative book covers out there. Movie posters and book covers work on the same principle – lure them in. Lie, cheat, and steal but lure them in. This art is not always about what the film or book is trying to say or do but about getting the money. Discovering and re-discovering all these great old posers is so great, it’s hard to really convey it. I have always been a movie nerd and I have lived long enough to see how the art of the poster has changed. Posters used to literally lie, cheat, and steal to get you into the show – whether it be telling you a film was something it wasn’t, or stealing a tag line from another film, or just portraying a film as far more interesting than it ever could manage – to an era where the stars sell the films. Sure, star power has always been important but, say, in the ’70s, the big disaster epics were always about the disaster and the stars were secondary but now it’s all about the stars. Look at most movie posters and if it is anything with a ‘star’ then there is an image of their head, and the more stars, the more heads. It’s as if the story is just there now, something done as an after thought.
The most interesting posters are either the old T and A epics or the genre films. Here the whole film was the pitch – if it was a sex picture, or just had sexy girls in it then you had to sell the girls. Always hinting at debauchery but never quite showing it. You show girls in skirts, or tight shirts, or bikinis and then the male cast members leering at them. The images were fun but never really lewd. Now though, ah, there just is no subtlety anymore. It’s all, hey, look, tits. WOO! Yes, tits, woo. But dammit, the old images lured you in. It was like, sure, maybe I’ll get some boobs but hell, they actually try to sell you on a movie too. Not anymore, now it’s – look, BEWBS!
Horror titles are the same way. Now they show off some lame as hell digital image of a monster and you can immediately tell that it’s some lame as hell digital monster. Not so with older films, which made it all seem so big and blew the monsters and the scenarios up so large that you are compelled to see them. Sure, there was more artistic license used but, so what? It’s all in the showmanship. It’s that they tried to sell the movies so hard.
Hell, take Disney films, which had such fun, original poster work that it’s hard not to want them all. They are all colorful, all bright, and each one sells a lifestyle with the image.
Book covers, oy, that’s another bucket of fish to try to chum, but I will do that another day. God I miss the old poster styles. I miss the art of them. I miss the originality. I miss the fun. I miss the grandeur. I miss that movies were sold with the art, and with the style and not through loud voiceovers and star power.
If you ever have a chance, do yourself a favor and check out some of the old poster art out there. Truly, if you can get yourself some old posters, these are legitimate art, lost art, and need to be remembered and cherished. This art may be lost, but it doesn’t need to be forgotten.