At Toronto Film Scene this month we’re looking at Horror, Canadian Style, but this list isn’t about the films – it’s all about the posters. An art form unto themselves, movie posters do much to set the tone or whet our appetite for a film. A great trailer or poster will get me to a theatre faster than anything else. They’re like a bite-sized morsel of movieness before the featured full helping. An appetizer, if you will.
But horror posters are somehow more fun, more affecting than those of most other genres. Because horror films are meant to have a visceral impact on the spectator, likewise, a well-designed horror poster will have a visceral impact. Some posters I appreciate for their aura of creepiness or campy qualities. Some for their design. And in others, I simply love their overuse of explanatory text (which seems to occur so regularly with horror poster design). The list below isn’t a ranking – nor is it exhaustive – it’s just a list of my favourite Canadian horror movie posters.
1. Naturally, no foray into Canadian-made horror can be made without giving a nod to Toronto’s own David Cronenberg. And really, the posters from some of his early productions – Rabid (1977) and Scanners (1981) in particular – rank high in my personal list of.
2. The posters for Bruce Mcdonald’s Pontypool (both versions) are almost as good as the film itself. The one designed solely out of graphic blood splatter is awesome, but the one with the hands reaching up is the height of creepiness.
3. Black Christmas (which I’m ashamed to say I haven’t yet viewed) has a fairly straightforward poster, but I quite like it precisely for its simplicity. The black background with the bright green holiday wreath is just the right juxtaposition. And who can beat that tagline? No one, I tell you.
4. I’m very fond Fido which has a great poster that does a really great job of capturing the film, a sort of 1950s/Pleasantville vibe with zombies. Perfect. And then, after the film received more attention, they came out with a new one, with just Billy Connolly’s zombified face surrounded by snippets of reviews. That second one isn’t nearly as awesome.
5. For sheer campiness, nothing beats the Cannibal Girls poster, likely because it comes straight out of the 1970s (oh, those outfits…). Despite its fabulous dripping blood visual and awesome graphic lettering, it’s actually the goofy text that blows me away: “These girls do exactly what you think they do!” Truly fantastic.
6. Funeral Home also belongs to that list of movies I’ve not yet seen (see #3 above), but am totally intrigued by. I love, love, love the poster, a black and white hand rendered ink drawing of a glowing building surrounded by graves and the walking dead (naturally). It looks like it was drawn for a comic book or graphic novel. Awesome shadows.
7. And my final entry is a comparative illustration. A poster really needs to convey the idea of the movie, something to hook the viewer in. And in the three posters I’ve seen for The Corridor, Evan Kelly’s 2010 horror film, I don’t think I’ve seen posters so far apart. You can see below how vastly different they are. The first is the cool Saul Bass type of graphic design. The second, a black and white drawing on the blade of a knife, is almost more subtle, but conveys more foreboding. And then there’s #3, which I find the least effective. It’s glossy and professional, sure, but it looks to me like a poster for an action adventure film. Not enough horror. Even the shotgun being toted appears to me at first glance to be a ski pole. I’m not a fan of #3.
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