Super 8 (2011)
The Poster: A wonderfully retro teaser poster for Spielberg and Abrams’ upcoming mystery movie. Marvellous stuff.
Why So Great? It harks back to other classic Spielberg posters, notably those created by legendary artist Drew Struzan (more on him later). Managing to pack all the excitement and spookiness of the trailer into a series of overlapping images, it’s a masterclass in appetite whetting!
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: We’d have the Cloverfield monster clumsily superimposed against a ‘50s backdrop.
School Spirit (1985)
The Poster: A gloriously trashy one sheet for shonky ‘80s comedy School Spirit . If the idea of a lascivious ghost has you in stitches, this is the film for you!
Why So Great? Obviously, this isn’t in here on artistic merit (the poodle-haired lady is frankly terrifying) but rather for its brazen awfulness. When a film outlines its hero as a leering sex-pest, then slaps him on the poster doing the dirty, you know you’re in for something special.
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: It might actually look like a real movie, rather than a sketch from Saturday Night Live . Or even 30 Rock …
Lesbian Vampire Killers (2009)
The Poster: A surprisingly excellent poster for an unsurprisingly awful film, you’d have more fun staring at this for ninety minutes then you would watching the movie.
Why So Great? Springing from the twisted imagination of legendary horror artist Graham Humphreys, the kinetic artwork suggests a cross between From Dusk ‘Til Dawn and True Blood . When in reality, we were presented with a mash-up of Carry On Screaming and On The Buses .
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: They might have been able to edit out a couple of James Corden’s chins.
Away We Go (2009)
The Poster: An ever-so-indie design to match Sam Mendes’ ever-so-indie romance.
Why So Great? Okay, so it might be a little self-conscious, and sails dangerously close to being “kooky”, but nevertheless, we love the cartoon-like aesthetic on display here.
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: It might have got a release at a multiplex, rather than sloping round a collection of achingly hip arthouse screens.
The Poster: Kevin Smith’s much-maligned slacker movie gets an ace comic-book-style poster from legendary artist Drew Struzan.
Why So Great? It fits nicely with the film’s cartoonish sensibilities, and even features an illustrated version of Stan Lee. We also like the R certificate stating the film is only suitable for “mature or troubled audiences”.
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: It might have done better at the box-office. Or at least that’s what Kevin Smith would have you believe, having suggested the culty artwork was one of the main reasons the film flopped!
The Poster: John Alvin’s minimalist teaser for Disney’s Aladdin , just one of many iconic images the illustrator would provide for the Mouse House.
Why So Great? It sums up the innate sense of wonder of the film’s premise, working in tandem with the irresistible tagline to build anticipation for the finished article. In this case, less is very much more.
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: It would be a low-point in studio stupidity. Why would you ever photoshop an animated film?
The Blob (1958)
The Poster: A seminal piece of B-Movie bluster, as an unseen Steve McQueen prepares to do battle with a giant, man-eating jelly. As you do.
Why So Great? It’s wonderfully simple, showing the titular mass of amorphous goo devouring a diner whole. It tells you everything you need to know about the film with marvellous economy!
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: There’s a risk it might have looked a bit silly. As it is, it remains pleasingly kitsch.
The Poster: One of a series of individual character posters trailing Zack Snyder’s superhero epic, this time featuring the psychotic Rorschach.
Why So Great? It’s a bang-on rendition of the character, building confidence in the beholder that the film will at least have the comic-book’s design ethic down pat. And whether or not you liked the film, you have to concede it looked good…
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: We would have seen the same degree of outrage that met the recent X-Men: First Class posters. Although those really were dreadful…
Fright Night (1985)
The Poster: The ‘80s vampire flick gets some suitably OTT poster art.
Why So Great? It’s unmistakeably ‘80s, but despite the slightly schlocky design, there’s something very creepy about the isolated house, the hideous grin and the lone figure at the window.
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: You’d have the 2011 version, which isn’t nearly as effective.
The Poster: A distinctly eerie promo for the eight-legged horror flick.
Why So Great? John Alvin manages to wring an abundance of dread out of one tiny spider, illuminating it in the light of a vast moon, with the sleepy township providing a distinctly vulnerable looking backdrop.
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: Swarms of CGI spiders wouldn’t be half as menacing. Probably…
Gone With The Wind (1939)
The Poster: The iconic image of Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh as painted by renowned artist Symeon Shimin.
Why So Great? From the intensity of Gable’s stare, to the flaming skies behind him, everything about this poster is highly dramatic. Highbrow stuff.
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: Gable’s shirt would be opened further to reveal a digitally-enhanced six-pack. That’ll put bums on seats, right girls?
The Muppet Movie (1979)
The Poster: The Muppets spoof Gone With The Wind to rib-tickling effect.
Why So Great? Proof, if proof were needed, that the great Drew Struzan can make absolutely anything look epic. If this doesn’t put you in the mood for the upcoming return of the Muppets, nothing will.
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: We would have had Kermit and Miss Piggy’s heads crudely grafted onto the bodies of Clark and Vivien. Which would at least have been eyecatching…
The Poster: A low-key one-sheet for Joe Dante’s cuddly critters.
Why So Great? Minimalism is the order of the day here, with John Alvin’s murky artwork hinting at the Gremlins’ less cuddly characteristics. Nice vein detailing on the hands, too. Loves those hands, does Alvin!
If It Had Been Badly Photshopped: An angry gremlin would be gnawing its way through one of those pinkies! It would have looked crap.
The Poster: A suitably grisly image to accompany the ‘80s slasher flick. The moralising tagline is an added bonus!
Why So Great? Everything about this is brilliant, from the bulging veins to the bloodstained jeans. We also love that the unseen killer hasn’t bothered to do up the bottom two buttons on his shirt. That’s the sign of a real maniac…
If It Been Badly Photoshopped: It would only be tolerable if the disembodied head were revealed to belong to Tom Savini!
Sand Pirates Of The Sahara (2001)
The Poster: Don’t recognise the title? That’s because the film doesn’t exist… at least not in real life. This film within a film features in Frank Darabont’s The Majestic , and even boasts its own poster, as designed by John Alvin.
Why So Great? It features a moustachioed Bruce Campbell. What more could you possibly ask for?
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: So long as the moustache remained untouched, we wouldn’t really mind!
The Poster: Light discs ahoy! The TRON poster hails a brave new world of special-effects filmmaking.
Why So Great? It looks truly epic, with the halo-like light disc lending an almost biblical feel to proceedings. If the visual effects would prove to be somewhat iffy, you wouldn’t know it from this poster…
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: Sticking any in-film footage on the poster would have utterly shattered the illusion. “Enter its world now…” reads the tagline. But only after you’ve bought a ticket…
The Goonies (1985)
The Poster: One of the many collaborations between Drew Struzan and Steven Spielberg, this time for kiddy caper The Goonies .
Why So Great? In one image, Struzan manages to perfectly capture the film’s sense of adventure and excitement. The treasure map detailing in the background is a nice touch.
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: A badly photoshopped image of Sloth would have had children running screaming from multiplexes…
The Evil Dead (1981)
The Poster: Graham Humphreys turns his hand to Sam Raimi’s low-budget horror classic in this colourful Evil Dead promo. A riff on his original poster, this was the artwork designed to coincide with the film’s post-ban release in the UK.
Why So Great? As awesome as the graveside poster is, we feel this lurid, technicolour nightmare better sums up the deranged mania of Raimi’s video nasty.
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: We’d have Bruce Campbell grafted into the background. Which would probably still look cool…
Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom (1984)
The Poster: Having originally commissioned another artist for Temple Of Doom , George Lucas wasn’t happy with the end product, and contacted Drew Struzan for an alternative image. He became the Indy artist of choice from thereon in.
Why So Great? There’s just so much going on! Harrison Ford looks particularly badass in this one, whilst the inclusion of the heart-clutching Mola Ram brings a welcome degree of menace to the table.
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: It would have ended up looking like the menu from our local Chinese.
Nosferatu The Vampyre (1979)
The Poster: A distinctly gothic affair to promote Werner Herzog’s toothy chiller.
Why So Great? The monochrome colour scheme of the main image works a treat, with the crimson belt throwing an ominous splash of red into the mix. The twin badges, one of a hammer and stake and the other of a bat, provide the final flourish.
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: Klaus Kinski would look even more terrifying. But not in a good way.
Blade Runner (1982)
The Poster: John Alvin’s renowned artwork for Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic.
Why So Great? Drew Struzan’s update was great, but this has to be the most iconic piece of Blade Runner imagery going. Managing to combine the sensibilities of science fiction and film noir is no easy feat, but Alvin pulls it off with aplomb!
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: We’ll be sure to find out when the upcoming reboot arrives. Urgh…
Escape From New York (1981)
The Poster: The iconic severed-head artwork to accompany Kurt Russell’s action spectacular.
Why So Great? The ruined Statue Of Liberty is such an arresting image, it’s impossible not to be intrigued by the film. See Cloverfield for further details.
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: It would end up looking like the sort of poorly-constructed, anti-American collage you might see on a right-on teenager’s bedroom wall. Instead, it just looks badass.
The Poster: Da-da. Da-da, da-da. Ah, you know the drill.
Why So Great? Not only is this one of the most recognisable images in cinema history, it remains bloody terrifying to this day. The scale of the shark in relation to the swimmer is the key here…
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: The illustrated shark is a far more convincing proposition than the real thing. Hand drawn is definitely the way to go here.
Back To The Future Part II (1989)
The Poster: Drew Struzan adapts his original artwork for the time-travelling sequel.
Why So Great? The original Back To The Future poster is unquestionably the most iconic, but we love the way Struzan tinkers with it second time around. Placing the Doc behind Marty as a visual cue is a great idea, and works equally well for part three. That instalment loses marks however for the inclusion of the teeth-gratingly irritating Mary Steenburgen.
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: Photoshopping the Doc into a regular image never disappoints. See here for details.
The Thing (1982)
The Poster: Another Struzan submission, this time for one of the most recognisable horror posters of the ‘80s.
Why So Great? A departure from Struzan’s signature style, this disconcerting image captures the essence of the film’s body-shock horror. Sinister stuff.
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: The spider head might look spectacular on film, but crudely daubed on a movie poster? Not so much.
The Little Mermaid (1989)
The Poster: Another Disney classic from John Alvin, this time of flame-haired mermaid Ariel.
Why So Great? It’s just beautiful, isn’t it? From the dreamy blue of the ocean, to the enticing glow of the world above, it’s a truly magical image. Plus Ariel is a bit of a looker, isn’t she?
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped? We can imagine a nightmarish rush-job in which Daryl Hannah from Splash is ported over and given a red rinse.
Star Wars (1977)
The Poster: Drew Struzan spruces up the Star Wars artwork for the film’s 1997 re-release.
Why So Great? Struzan’s signature style epitomises the trilogy’s blend of frantic action and well drawn (excuse the pun) characterisation. All three of his re-release posters are great, but we like the one for A New Hope the best, if only for the prominence of Harrison Ford. Nobody draws him better!
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: Jar-Jar might inexplicably have found his way in there. And nobody would have wanted that.
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
The Poster: John Alvin’s famous representation of inter-special bonding!
Why So Great? Sensibly keeping E.T. himself under wraps, the finger to finger embrace is a masterstroke, cleverly riffing on Michelangelo’s The Creation Of Adam. How many movie posters reference the Renaissance?
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: We would have been treated to something a little closer to Mac And Me .
The Poster: German artist Heinz Schulz-Neudamm supplies Fritz Lang’s Metropolis with a poster that is arguably more famous than the film itself.
Why So Great? The angular, geometric design is impossibly cool whilst the sepia-toning is just lovely. Less a poster and more a work of art!
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: There is no room for screenshots in this one. Trying to crowbar some real footage in would shatter the illusion somewhat…
Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)
The Poster: Richard Amsel's celebrated poster, designed to tie-in with the film’s re-release in 1982.
Why So Great? It’s the archetypal adventure poster, with Indy at his swashbuckling best, and all of the film’s key players squeezed in on the margins. Even the luckless swordsman makes an appearance!
If It Had Been Badly Photoshopped: We would have liked to have seen an alternative print, complete with melting Nazi faces. It still wouldn’t have been a patch on this one though. A truly brilliant poster.