by Adam Riske and Heath Holland
Adam: My first pick is the poster for Jaws: The Revenge, possibly the worst sequel ever made. I still adore this poster, though. It has a few cool hooks. Among them is the scale of the shark compared to the woman on the boat (who is holding a measly spear). The shark looks so massive that it only seems inevitable that it will eat her. It's too large of a threat. I also like how the water blends with the sky to create this big mass of blue, making it appear that the entire area is water as if to say "You're in my world now!" Plus, as a fan of things being personal, I like the tag line quite a bit. This poster captured my imagination when I saw it in movie theaters as a 5-year old back and it's still really damn cool in 2016.
My first pic is the poster for 1983's Deathstalker, a horny little low-budget fantasy movie with the production values of a middle school drama department. The poster itself is from the painter Boris Vallejo, who has done a bunch of cheap paperback covers and -- most notably -- the poster for National Lampoon's European Vacation. The poster for Deathstalker has ALWAYS been intriguing to me with its depiction of a ghoulish beast hoisting a spiked mace in one hand and clutching a bikini-clad damsel close to him with the other. Facing the beast is a oily dude in a loincloth, sword held high. This painted artwork adorned the VHS tape box back in the day and always both compelled and revolted me. This is the kind of thing that video stores were made for. Pretty awful movie, but an incredible poster.
My next pick is this poster for Superman Returns. I have wanted to like a Superman movie forever. I never have liked a Superman movie, though, despite liking things about them (e.g. Christopher Reeve, the plane rescue in Superman Returns, etc.) and yet I find myself excited whenever there's a prospect of a new Superman movie. Superman Returns had, from what I can recall, a really great marketing campaign but the movie is a slog to get through. An example of the promise of this movie is its theatrical poster, which is striking and seems to be promising something special. Supes' suit looks great here, too. Man, I wish I liked this movie.
Heath: That Superman Returns poster really captures the potential of Superman in a way I don't think any movie totally has. This isn't a word I bust out very often, but there's majesty to it. And it's totally appropriate.
Next I'm going to go with the poster for Every Which Way But Loose. I think some people would argue that this is not a bad movie, but it's not a good movie, either. Certainly the promise of the poster is nowhere near realized. We get Clint Eastwood looking tough as nails with Clyde the orangutan giving him a hug from behind. The elements of the film, like motorcycles, car chases and guns, are depicted in a circular pattern around Clint and promise a very exciting experience in the same vein as Dirty Harry (with added simian), not the country music comedy that the movie actually is. The poster seems to say "I'm going to punch that gun out of your hand and then knock your lights out while my orangutan eats your face off." The actual movie says "I'd rather be line dancing with my girlfriend Sondra Locke." Disappointing.
My next pick is Spawn. So simple yet so badass. This poster promises a much, much better movie than the CGI-diarrhea fest that is 1997's Spawn. The lead character looks great, like there's this awesome duality between good (the cape) and bad (his villainous face). The tag line is mysterious and interesting and I'm kind of geeking out a little over the font choice/effects used for the film's title.
I'm clearly going too obscure with my picks, so I'm gonna go big or go home. I'm throwing down with the teaser poster for The Phantom Menace. Look, I unapologetically love The Phantom Menace, but I also understand that I am by far in the minority and that most people think that it's a terrible movie. One thing I hope we can all agree on is that the teaser poster was incredible. It was a shot of Jake Lloyd as young Anakin Skywalker on the familiar desert planet of Tatooine. The shadow being cast by the planet's twin suns stretches out behind him in the shape of Darth Vader. Such a simple image, but so loaded with sadness and a story yet to be told, and -- arguably -- still waiting to be told. I had that poster hanging on my wall for years, and I still have it framed, though it's now in storage. I'm not sure any movie could live up to what that poster promised, but it still gives me chills.
On the opposite side of the star coin, I'm going to make my next pick Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. It's by Bob Peak, who is actually the same poster artist as the one for Every Which Way But Loose. I just think the Star Trek V poster is so classy and beautiful. Everything about it looks hand-done and not artificial. I remember the movie being a major bore, though. I once saw it on the back half of a double feature with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and fell asleep during most of Trek V. I like the tagline of this poster a lot. "....Adventure and Imagination will meet at the Final Frontier." So great. That's one thing the movies of the '80s had that the movies of the 2000s don't: imagination and a sense of wonder and awe. I miss that in blockbusters.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park. The posters for the first JP were so simple. They all featured the now-iconic T-Rex silhouette on a black background with taglines like "An Adventure 65 Million Years in the Making" or "The Park Is Open." So simple, yet so effective, but JP went on to change the way movies are made. So when we got a similar poster for the sequel The Lost World, the poster is similarly simple but possibly even more effective. This time we get a gray, stone-textured background with the same T-Rex skeleton, and the tag line says "Something Has Survived." Is that not the coolest ever?! This poster promises a return trip to the wonderful, scary place we barely survived the first time around and leaves us with what is essentially a threat. Unfortunately, I think The Lost World ended up being a mean-spirited movie that goes to weird, uninteresting places. I actually prefer Jurassic Park III to The Lost World these days, believe it or not. Joe Johnston 4 life.
Speaking of crazy, my final pick is the poster for the remake of Psycho (1998).
The tagline is great; both sinister and tongue in cheek plus the image of the shower filling up with blood is really provocative as if to say this remake is going to really go all out on the gore (which was not the case with the actual movie, which is intriguing in a "so bad it's good" kind of way despite there being no reason it should exist). I also thought there would be nudity based on the poster, which was important to a 1998 version of me.
I'm going to close us out with the poster for M. Night Shyamalan's 2004 film The Village. I think the poster was amazing and I think the movie is a piece of garbage. The poster is super creepy and mysterious with the lines "I. Let the bad color not be seen. It attracts them. II. Never enter the woods. That is where they wait. III. Heed the warning bell. For they are coming." I was so stoked to see this movie in spite of feeling burned by Shyamalan's previous movie Signs, but I actually left this movie furious. I felt like someone had promised me sex, taken me into a dark room, and then knocked me out and robbed me blind. Actually, that might be a better experience than sitting through The Village. The real crime isn't in how much it fails to live up to the promise of the poster, but how much it wastes a fantastic cast on two hours of nonsense. Someone should make a movie based on the poster. It would be probably be awesome.
Adam: That’s for your column: Holland’s Business.