Tuesday, June 10, 2008

100 Greatest Movie Posters: #1 - Halloween

Halloween (1978)
Directed by John Carpenter
Poster Designed by BD Fox Independent, Artwork by Bob Gleason
Film Nationality - USA
Poster Nationality - USA

[click to enlarge]

And so we come to the end of this countdown of the greatest posters ever made (according to me) with this rather quite simple poster for John Carpenter's classic 1978 horror flick Halloween. As I have routinely bandied about throughout this countdown, horror flicks generally need better marketing work than other more "respectable" genres, so I find it fitting to end the countdown with one of the most iconic horror films around.

It really is so simple even a single brain cell-ed monkey could have come up with it, but that in turn makes it even better. It's not trying too hard to come up with some radical way of selling the film, and it's also not being predictably boring and showing it's star Jamie Lee Curtis looking towards the left-hand corner of the poster with a frightened look on her face (it amazes me how common that aesthetic is utilised, really). It doesn't cram every last character onto the design, nor does it beg me to ask "where's the rest of it?" which so many posters do with their barren designs. It has a thematically relevant design, a bit of spicing up and a clean professional look. That's all I really ask for. You don't need to reinvent the key art wheel, but just do something interesting with it!

With this Gleason/BD Fox artwork you know instantly what kind of movie it is, don't you. It's a scary slasher flick involving that most American on traditions - Halloween. Much like the poster for Rosemary's Baby (#2 on the countdown) it takes a regular everyday object with it's jack-o-lantern pumpkin and turns it into a frightening warning. But the reason the poster is #1 is because of the stroke of simplistic genius merging of the film's two key selling points. The night of Halloween, represented by said pumpkin, and the mayhem, represented by that big motha of a knife. And then connecting it all togetherwith the (there's no better way to describe it) pointy tippy parts. Hell, even the knuckles on the hand holding the knife match with the exterior of the jack-o-lantern!

Of course, they also gussied it up a lil bit. They gave the movie a now famous font design and has a great use of colour. That bold orange that runs from top to bottom against that pitch black background. And then there is that tag line. As you've become accustomed to, I am a fan of horror movie taglines perhaps even more so than the posters themselves and this one is a doozy to go alongside The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (#9) and Alien (#64).

The night HE came home

Doesn't that just bring up so many possibilities? Along with the whole knifey knifey Halloween action they don't tell you anything. They don't show the killer or anything relating to his mayhem. They simply provide one clue: "He".

Just brilliant. Just the best. Not the most imaginative, or the most innovative or what have you, but I have not questioned it from the moment I chose it as my number one, which was roughly five seconds after I decided to do the countdown. It encapsulates everything that I think a good piece of poster art should be. And that's why it is number one. Absolutely frightening!


MRS said...

Wow! That was a great series. You're knowledge of film posters is brilliant. Obsessive but brililant. You should get a book deal for this list. It's begging to be a nice, glossy, coffee table book. Sad to see that my favorite poster, "The Exorcist", didn't make the list, especially given your fondness for the genre. A great, great series of posts nonetheless.

Matt Riviera said...

Thanks, that was an awesome series of posts to follow. I was really looking forward to each one, I'm a bit of a movie poster obsessive myself. Well done!

Adam said...

Congrats on completing that! I have to say I'm totally enamored with the horror posters as well, and they adorn some walls around me, so I can't argue with those choices. Beautiful stuff, and I'm sure you have plenty more for a follow-up list.

Anonymous said...

how isn't showgirls on your top 100??

Glenn said...

mrs, One thing you'll notice in the countdown is that there are barely any most posters that are merely images from the film (Eraserhead being the highest placed of that kind) so, as much as I like the Exorcist poster, it didn't quite make it.

Matt/Adam, thanks!

Anon, I actually think that poster is a bit tame for Showgirls! I love it, nonetheless (how could I not).