With the up and coming documentary about poster artist Drew Struzan coming to cinema screens soon, it seems that more and more people are interested in the movie poster as a valid and exciting part of the cinema going experience. Back in the 80s, poster art reigned supreme with some of the greatest examples becoming not only popular with fans, but iconic for film goers. Who can forget the posters for movies like Star Wars, The Goonies, Back to the Future, Big Trouble in Little China, and how these images bombarded our senses when we went to see a movie? It seems in the last few years that interest in the fine art of poster making has picked up again with some truly stunning pieces of art coming out for mainstream blockbusters. There has also been an interest in the 80s style of poster making. It has a very distinct quality with brass colors, fully loaded designs filling the screen with outlandish characters from the movie, or in some cases just posing down. Here are some eye catching examples, most of which are official alternative posters for mainstream films that have come out in the last few years.
So without further ado, let’s brace ourselves for neon lights and over the top action with ten of the best 80’s inspired posters…
10) Drive (2011)
Drive, with its thumping 80s soundtrack and gritty feel really caught the imagination of many cinema goers, and the original artwork for it is incredible. This early promotional piece gave us the cool factor that Ryan Gosling exuded in this film, but it also gives off a Miami Vice vibe with its bright, but not over powering, use of color and the sun back rising up from behind the cast.
9) Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)
The poster that really started the ball rolling with a return to the grindhouse style of artwork found in cinema houses and video shops back in the early 80s. Sure the Grindhouse movies by Tarantino and Rodriguez (which spawned this film) did a great job of bringing this particular style back to the masses, but it was this gritty poster art that really got a lot of viewers’ attention. This poster just makes you take notice, even with its muted color scheme, it still manages to elicit a response. Many 80s posters had guns shoved into the viewer’s face and this is following in that long tradition. Below is one of my favorite examples of this style from an actual 80s movie…
8 & 7) V/H/S and V/H/S/2
On first glance the poster for the great horror throwback V/H/S does not seem incredibly 80s, but when compared to the poster below for the 1982 William Shatner and Micheal Ironside horror thriller Visiting Hours, you can see they share a striking resemblance.
Now for V/H/S/2 they have gone over board with the poster art. There are tons of great promotional pieces out for this movie, but the key one was in the incredibly gory cover by ex-Walking Dead artist Tony Moore. It encapsulates the gory covers VHS stores used to use to grab viewers into to the store. It also bears a resemble to one of the most notorious horror covers of all time, the cult movie Cannibal Holocaust. Not an exact copy, but the style is very similar.
6) The Heat (2013)
Now the more popular and incredibly generic posters that have come out for this movie in cinemas recently has come under tons of controversy due to the abuse of Photoshop to enhance one of the co-stars features. This could have all been avoided if the advertising department had decided to go for the more action packed poster shown above. I had no interest in this movie up until I saw this poster that basically just told me that everything explodes in this film. Whether it does or not hardly matters because this is a great example of how to advertise a mainstream movie using poster art. Here is another great example of how the 80s action flick used to use this very same method of presentation.
5) Rewind This (2013)
We have mentioned Adjust Your Tracking on Grizzly Bomb before and also Plastic Movies Rewound, but we have never really looked at the other recent VHS related documentary Rewind This, and it gives me great pleasure to present it here. It covers a mix of those other two documentaries and will definitely be one to look out for VHS fans. The cover is amazing and it looks exactly how I remember the 80s movie art. Horror pictures especially always had a hand sticking out the front. Look at this one for example.
Another great retro poster though not based on any film is this one for Video Nasties which I just threw in here as a companion piece for Rewind This just because it look to good not to include it.
4) The Last Stand (2013)
The film may have been a bit of a damp squib in the action department, feeling like a cross between Knightrider and Jackass in places, it did give us this great late 70s-early 80s style action poster which seems to follow the motif we have seen for many action movies past and present, the bomb exploding! It’s a great way to grab an audience’s attention and certainly got me to watch the movie.
3) Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
Now it is easy to put a poster about video games into this article because of how many of the classic (and not so classic) 80s sprites popped up within this heart-warming tale, but what really caught my attention was this great poster actually showcasing Wreck It Ralph as a real life computer game coming soon to your local arcade. It’s the attention to detail which I found fantastic, and it reminded me of my childhood and seeing similar poster advertisements in issue of Crash magazine.
2) The Expendables 2 (2012)
The Expendables posters have always been full of testosterone, but this cover really gives off that macho 80s action movie vibe, with its collage of armored killers ready for action. This cover looks so much like a 80s action flick that someone decided to create a VHS cover and 80s style trailer for it!
Shame the film did not deliver on the action goods but it does not take any power away from the extreme cover which is an amalgamation of several different types of 80s poster. [Ed. Note – I disagree. Obviously.]
1) Manborg (2011)
By far the best cover on this list is for retro film Manborg, which takes the best elements of 80s cheese and rolls them up into a tiny package for a new audience. The cover reminded me of so many other covers from the dawn of the video shop era. Just look at some of the VHS sleeves for The Eliminators and Rotor and you can see where this cover got its inspiration. Absolutely stunning.
That was just a small taste of what’s around at the moment and websites like Mondo and The Alamo Draft House are making superb posters like this all the time. It has never been such a great time to be a fan of poster art. Here is hoping we get more and more examples of this type of art popping up in the near future.