Sunday 31 October 2010

Halloween: The Posters

As it's Halloween tonight, we thought we would take a look back at the often iconic posters used throughout the long running Halloween film franchise.

First, John Carpenter's 1978 original slasher classic. It's worth noting that although it has an obvious horror and halloween theme (the knife, the pumpkin carving), it doesn't feature Michael Myers' iconic mask. What it does have is the suggestive tagline (The Night He Came Home!) delivered in that memorable font.

Next we have the poster for 1981's sequel, which picked up the story directly after the end of the first film. The colours and font are familiar from the first poster, as well as a play on the original tagline. It's worth noting that within the cast list at the bottom of the poster, Jamie Lee Curtis' name is placed higher than Donald Pleasance's. It's Pleasance who's named first, but Curtis has a higher priority, possibly reflecting the growth in Curtis' popularity and celebrity since the first film. It's a memorable poster, but I can't say that I like the 'ALL NEW' sting added to it.

When Halloween 3 was released in 1982, it was the first in the series to not feature the character of Michael Myers. So it's perhaps apt that the poster also differentiated itself from the theme that was adopted in the first posters, using a play on the original tagline to set itself apart. This poster features a lot of dead space within its black border, but it's not used effectively like the first films. This is also the first film in the franchise to feature an addition to the title, 'Season Of The Witch', although it's somewhat swamped underneath the rather metallic title. The main image isn't really the most informative either, telling us nothing about the story, instead showing us generic 'trick or treat'ers.

After a six year gap the series returned in 1988, bringing Michael Myers back to the story and onto the title of the film. After the departure of Jamie Lee Curtis, it's the character of Michael Myers who is now the undisputable star of the franchise. It's surprising that this was also the first film to realise the fantastic selling power of that adapted William Shatner mask, placing it unavoidably within the frame.

Appearing a year later in 1989, this is far from a classic poster. The image of Myers is the exact same one used for the previous film, which just seems lazy to me. The inclusion of Danielle Harris' character of Jamie is interesting, with the clown costume carrying over from the previous film and, of course, the original film. This is also the point in the series where the additions to the title start to become a bit indulgent and generic. Revenge? Right after you've used Return? Talk about trying to confuse fans of the series. Frustratingly, this title addition wasn't even used in the actual film, but still appeared on all the promotional material.

Arriving in 1995, the sixth film was the first to drop the numerical aspect in the title, but still retaining the addition of Michael Myers in the title. It's back to the easily sellable mask and knife combo, delivered in an icy blue colour scheme. The tagline 'Terror Never Rests In Peace' is nice enough, but it could be used for pretty much any horror film.

Hitting screens just in time for the series' 20th anniversary, Halloween H20 also saw the return of original star Jamie Lee Curtis. Myers' mask is present, but it's Curtis who takes the centre. This film also featured an inflated cast of youths, many of whom also grace the poster. H20 has a terrible tagline, making no sense for the series or the occasion. When you're advertising the 20th anniversary of a film based on Halloween, why release it in the summer? Surely the prospects for this would be stronger in October? It's not something I would draw attention to.

And finally the last of the original series, 2002's Halloween Resurrection. In many ways it's a more polished version of the H20 poster, placing the main characters in a similar position but with the added flourish of a knife edge. Michael Myers' mask is much more prominent this time, even featuring the film's tagline running across it. The poster gives a surprising appearance by Jamie Lee Curtis who, although in the film, isn't even it for long and has long flowing hair. The odd release date is also advertised, which perhaps says a lot about what happened to the series. I can handle a Friday the 13th film being released on a different day, but to not release a film called Halloween around October 31st? That's ridiculous. 

So, that's the end of my rundown of the original series' posters. Some good, some bad; at least one, truly iconic. Many thanks to the wonderful poster archive for the use of their posters. Check it out for all the newest posters, as well as some classics.

Happy Halloween.

1 comment: