Book Review: Alternative Movie Posters: Film Art from the Underground

Alternative Movie Posters by Matthew Chojnacki

Alternative Movie Posters: Film Art from the Underground, edited by Mathew Chojnacki is a collection of two hundred movie posters done by artists who had nothing to do with the movie studios or marketing.

As a kid I loved the old monster movie posters. Nothing was cooler than The Creature from the Black Lagoon. I rarely went to the movies as a kid theaters were no where near walking or bicycle distance and my parents couldn’t afford to take the seven of us to the movies. I remember reading Jaws and The Omen, but what I remember more came from the newspapers – movie ads. Here the movie posters were scaled down and put in the newspaper. Jaws had the shark rising up underneath a swimmer; simple but it conveyed the meaning. The baby carriage in Rosemary’s Baby gave a sense of something dreadful, although, at the time, I was too young to what. Movie posters did what book cover art does today: sell books. There were many movies I really wanted to see based almost entirely on the movie poster. Today there are only a few movies I want to see. Maybe it’s because of the poster art.

You can easily get lost in this book. Making Pink Flamingosposter as offensive as the movie is quite a challenge, but nicely done. Simple and elegant Saw poster reminded me of the “New Barbarians” T-shirt from the 1970s. Dan Norris strikes monochrome simplicity for the movie Big and Caddy Shack. A 70s-esque Close Encounters poster captures the movie in its time. Some bring a chuckle like the Zombieland poster and the PacMac version of the movie Labyrinth. Some posters offer stark contrasts in colors, some comic bookish, others in neon. Some are difficult to figure out. The poster for the movieWarriors was so difficult I had to look at the legend, but once I realized the movie the poster made perfect sense and is one of my favorites. The Marine in me loved the Full Metal Jacketposter. There are so many posters covering many years of movies.

Each of the artists display two posters and included is a short description and biography of the artist. “Behind the Posters” gives a short description of what influenced the artist. Some artists also share their first films and favorite films along with their preferred art medium. This is an excellent collection of imaginative and clever art, and far exceeds the artwork movie studios put out today. An excellent book for the movie lover or the pop art lover.

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