Friday, October 8, 2010

Works of Art - John Carpenter Film Posters

During my friend J.D.'s extraordinary John Carpenter Week @ RADIATOR HEAVEN, there have been remarkable contributions by a number of gifted writers and bloggers from all around for this event. Included among their outstanding words, opinions, and insights that have examined the work of this singular director, contributors have amassed some beautiful and often striking stills and screenshots that span Carpenter's filmography. Though studios and producers have a lot of say in selecting the artwork for distribution and publicity, John Carpenter's films have received some stunning graphics to help promote his work through the decades. Here, then, are some of my favorites among the various poster artwork developed (by talented graphic designers) for the man's films.

Dark Star

This pair is likely the most disparate among the posters presented here. Notice that in this early film, it's hard to find John Carpenter's name in the credits in either poster compared to later works.

Assault on Precinct 13


Over the years, I've grown to favor the less colorful, 'B' style on the right. To me, it says it all in a more elegant poster graphic.


Over the years, this now iconic film has had a plethora of poster (and DVD cover) versions. But, this is clearly my preferred set for The Night He Came Home!

The Fog

I go back and forth with this one. Style 'A' on the left is the less hectic graphic (a design I favor), but that damn hand jutting out of the door on the next poster makes me fondly recall Blake and his crew's impactful arrival at the church for the finale. Style 'B' it is.

Escape From New York

Style 'A' on the left is the classic poster for this film. I still love everything about it now, even decades later. Although, the graphic of the Statue of Liberty with the handcuff has become a worthy visual art sibling.

The Thing

Without question, the early poster for this seminal film represented on the left is my absolute top seed. It's clean, it's distinctive, and for sure... it's foreboding. The poster on the right is a solid hand drawn graphic that represents the film well (plus, it's not this one).


No real alternative style poster with this film. But, what a graphic! You don't need another one.


Yeah, I know these are very close in design of each other. But, version 1 on the left is the more bare representation that adds to the mystery of the film. Version 3 brings the hands into play which works well with the motif Carpenter deployed wonderfully in the film -- believe it or not, my least favorite is the one most people are aware of.

Big Trouble in Little China

The standard remains the first version on the left (though there is a very similar 'B' version that isn't bad). Though I don't like its drawn depiction of Jake Burton, the second graphic on the right I appreciate solely for showcasing the great James Hong as the villain David Lo Pan.

Prince of Darkness

I know there are other variants out there, but for me I still prefer the U.S. version on the left. Nevertheless, the French version offers an interesting contrast.

They Live

I think its safe to say that the one of the left will be the most recognized poster for this Carpenter film. The Spanish version does offer a diverting variance, though.

Memoirs of an Invisible Man

Is there another version of this poster... anywhere?

In The Mouth of Madness

As clean as the U.S. poster is on the left, I really love the look on Sam Neill's face with the French version. And so, I prefer it.

Village of the Damned

Just like Memoirs... I don't believe I've ever seen a different version of this poster. Nicely done, though.

Escape From L.A.

I lean toward the horizontal version of the original poster, but the later graphic on the right may be my favorite for Snake's sequel.


It's a decent poster for the film, but it sure is better than this one (IMO).

Ghost of Mars

The U.S. movie posters all seemed to be variations of the one on the left. Not bad, but not very stirring either. The French design on the right seems to me (again) the better graphic overall for this sci-fi western, however.

BTW, as of this posting there is no official poster for John Carpenter's new film, The Ward. But, like all of his fans, I'm dying to find out. With my thanks to J.D.

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  1. What a fantastic collection! You know, in a lot of those cases, I think I prefer the "B" version. Some really imaginative designs. Alto, I think that when it comes down to it, the A version of the one for THE FOG is superior. And you're right, the handcuff around the Statue of Liberty is a very visually arresting image for the EFNY poster!

    Excellent post and thanks again for yet another steller contribution, my friend.

  2. Really like that other Starman poster.

    What a terrific idea for the Radiator Heaven week.  It's nice to see someone, especially you, thought of this great idea.  I never tire of fim art.

  3. Thanks for these, Michael. Several of them were new on me, including the wonderful artwork for Halloween.

  4. Loved this post, I am a big poster aficiando. I had never seen the "b" poster for Halloween, where is that from? Is it one of the Alamo Drafthouse editions? And I always dug this Thing Poster:, mainly because I had it on my wall during my college days.

  5. Thanks for the kind words and for having the online event, J.D.

  6. The other Starman poster is not a bad one, certainly. I guess I'm drawn to a specific look that to me adds a bit of mystery. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and for the generous words, my friend.

  7. You're very welcome, Steve. However, I have to give thanks and credit to you especially since your recent post, POSTER MAGIC, was where I took inspiration. As always, it's great to have you stop by and leave a comment, my friend.

  8. It's great to hear you are a big post aficionado, Colonel. As one, it's not surprising you also display a sharp eye! Yes, the 'B' poster is by Methane Studios and Alamo Drafthouse and came out last year, I believe. It really is very striking.

    You know, I'm probably too hard on main publicity poster you had on your wall. Blogger friend Christian Divine believes the original poster [the ominous one he highlighted earlier this year] was short changed because it was deemed “insufficiently exploitive.” Still, any poster from this great film is to be appreciated.

    So good to have you share your thoughts, my friend. I'm grateful for your kind words.

  9. I love movie posters and had a great time looking over these!

    Also, I've never really delved much into Carpenter's work but this week has made me want to have a little marathon. So, my challenge: What four movies would you suggest for a marathon that is bent toward the inroductory rather than the homage-ory?

  10. Posters? Golly, I haven't even seen most of these films. Okay, I do shun horror pix. Not because I think they're poor films but because they really do scare the snot out of me.

  11. Oh my... That's a challenge! "Introductory rather than the homage-ory" Hmm... How about:
    - The Fog
    - Starman
    - Escape From New York
    - In The Mouth of Madness

    And if you enjoy those, then we'll think about moving to The Thing  ;) .

    Thanks, Rachel.

  12. That means you could watch Starman since it is a sci-fi love story...of sorts  :-D .

    Thanks, Naomi. 

  13. Nice. I'm not so sure about that last Halloween poster. Reminds me of that Rob Zombie abomination I will never watch.

    What is most telling about this collection of posters is how much the studios put into the marketing. Notice Memoirs of an Invisible Man and Village of the Damned, considered failures, had only one type of poster. . .thus less marketing and support.

    And about Memoirs. . .that IS the only poster. I remember that exact poster in my local Publix when I lived in Tampa.

  14. You're right about Memoirs of an Invisible Man and Village of the Damned getting little in support from the studios.

    I did see Zombie's version, and you're correct that it does remind one of Rob's take of things. And yes, as opposed to RZ's remake, I actually want to see John Carpenter's original, again. Thanks, Will.

  15. There's no doubt the early one is the superior poster and I think helped hurt its box office...

  16. <span>There's no doubt the early one is the superior poster and the lame parka-glow ad hurt its box office...</span>

  17. Good to hear from you on this, christian. Thanks.