Friday, November 29, 2013

Alternative Movie Posters by Matthew Chojnacki

As author Matthew Chojnacki notes in his introduction, "film posters aren't quite what they used to be." Traditionally, they were the primary source of advanced promotion for movies, and these one-sheets often became highly desirable as collector items.

By the 1990s, however, movie posters started getting less attention from studio marketing teams, possibly because, with the advent of the Internet, there were many more avenues of promotion available. The "art" of movie poster design slowly faded away, resulting in mass-market, soulless presentations that primarily featured the actors starring in the film--and not much else. As Chojnacki rightly notes, these one-sheets no longer conveyed the spirit of the story.

Today, it's most likely that studios relegate movie poster design to advertising agencies, who are solely focused on selling films based on the actors who appear in them (I imagine they employ kids who are adept at using Photoshop, but not really artists in the truest sense of the word). Which is why, when I first became aware of this book, I thought it was a brilliant idea to take a look at what today's artists are doing with film poster design--which started out as sporadic fan art, but quickly developed into a cohesive, underground movement. Online art houses, such as Mondo, have championed the modern one-sheet, and posters offered through these galleries often sell out in minutes.

But after further consideration, I decided that such a collection would really just make for an interesting website--and not so much a printed book. To be honest, I thought, "Who would buy it?" It was only after I began leafing through a copy that I really started to appreciate what this book offers. It's a beautiful showcase of modern artwork and popular culture, that brings the focus back to the art of the one-sheet. And although most of these designs are available to view online, they can truly only be appreciated when presented in printed form.

There is much to like in the pages of Alternative Movie Posters. Chojnacki spent over a year scouring through more than ten thousand images, to curate the collection he's gathered here. Some of the one-sheets were designed specifically for this book, while others were previously commissioned for theatres and film festivals, or created for art galleries and periodicals. The author provides contact information for each artist, which is a bonus for those who want to check out more of their work.

As with most art, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In my opinion, the majority of the posters are excellent designs, which really evoke the spirit of the story. But there are some that are just average, while a handful miss the mark completely. A select few were created for movies that already have what I consider to be iconic one-sheets; although the designs are still good, it's hard to compare them to the originals, which have already left an indelible mark on popular culture.

Malleus Rock Art Lab
Some of my favourite designs include Malleus Rock Art Lab's take on Dario Arento's film L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage), which to me is reminiscent of posters for European genre films from that time (the 1970s). Malleus is a group of three artists based in Italy, and all of their designs are truly modern works of art. View their gallery at

Justin Osbourn
Another one that really stood out is the poster for the 2006 film Hatchet, created by Justin Osbourn for Fright Rags, a horror T-shirt company. Hatchet is an homage to the slasher films of the 1970s & 1980s, and Osbourn's work beautifully (and horrifically) personifies these types of movies (and would have made a perfect VHS cover, were it made back in the day). If you're a fan of this kind of horror, you should really check out his other work at

Vincent Gabriele
Often, simplicity is key, so I wanted to close this review with a look at Zombieland by Vincent Gabriele, a graphic artist from the United States. If you've seen the movie, you already know the significant role that Hostess Twinkies play in the story; if you haven't, this design alone should spark your interest enough to want to watch it. That's what a great one-sheet does!

But again, everyone will have their own interpretation of the work presented here. That's why Alternative Movie Posters is a great coffee-table book for film buffs, and will surely generate much discussion about design, movies, and the lost art of the one-sheet. Horror fans in particular will appreciate the posters for such films as Black Christmas, The Evil Dead, BlaculaThe FlyThe Lost Boys, and many others!

***** out of *****

Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. (October 28, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0764345664
ISBN-13: 978-0764345661

Purchase Alternative Movie Posters: Film Art from the Underground from


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