As Spooky Isles celebrates 10 years online, RICHARD PHILLIPS-JONES looks at some of the artwork that promoted Hammer’s movies in foreign territories.
The world of film posters is a fascinating one, especially where the past is concerned.
These days, major studio releases tend to have a global marketing campaign in place for each release, with common poster images which may have slight variations from country to country, but are by and large pretty much the same wherever you go. However, things used to be very different.
Every major film distributor would have its own marketing divisions based in all the main territories, creating their own advertising campaigns and posters for that particular market. This led to many unique movie posters being produced, never being used outside of the land they were intended for.
Naturally, with the global reach they achieved in their heyday, Hammer’s films generated a fantastic variety of artwork across the globe. From this vast array of material, I’ve selected ten which give just a small insight into the wealth of weird and wonderful design delights out there, often with an interesting title change to accompany them…
The Quatermass Xperiment 1955 – USA
The Quatermass name which already had an audience in the UK (thanks to the BBC’s productions) meant nothing in the American market, so all three of Hammer’s films in the series underwent title changes for their US release. For this opening entry, United Artists came up with The Creeping Unknown, with artwork which was very much in the milieu of home-grown sci-fi monster movies of the period. Read The Quatermass Xperiment 1955 review.
Curse Of The Werewolf 1961 – France
A garish, day-glo interpretation of Hammer’s werewolf opus for its French release which gives its subject the appearance of a nightmarish panel from a horror comic book. One can imagine this catching the attention of walkers on the streets of Paris. The French title translates as “Night Of The Werewolf”. Read Curse of the Werewolf 1961 Review.
The Damned 1963 – Poland
I’m a bit of a fan of Polish movie posters, which seem to exist in their own realm of logic and take a very cryptic approach to their subject matter – the artists seem to have had a free hand to interpret the material whichever way they saw fit. This poster for The Damned 1963 takes minimalism to its extreme. The Polish title translates to English as “Factory Of The Immortals”.
Kiss Of The Vampire 1963 – Germany
Pastel colours come to the fore in this German offering for Kiss Of The Vampire 1964, a very germanic take on Hammer’s stylings, with the classic iconography of bats, a sinister castle and a femme vampire all showcased. Read Kiss of the Vampire 1964 review.
Plague Of The Zombies 1966 – France
This French poster of Plague Of The Zombies 1966 has proven so enduring that it provided the basis for the UK blu-ray sleeve many years later. So few colours needed to produce so striking an image, and way before shades of goo-ish green became so closely identified with zombies. Direct translation of the French title: “Invasion Of The Living Dead”. Read Plague of the Zombies 1966 review.
The Reptile 1966 – Poland
Another left-field example from Poland, this piece for The Reptile 1966 is enough to induce nightmares in itself. The literal Polish title is “The Snake Woman”. Read The Reptile 1966 review.
Frankenstein Created Woman 1967 – Belgium
Belgian posters tended to be dual language, hence the separate French and Flemish titles on this one for Frankenstein Created Woman 1967 with its sinister depiction of Peter Cushing glaring outwards. Read Frankenstein Created Woman 1967 review.
The Vampire Lovers 1970 – Italy
This Italian image for The Vampire Lovers 1970 manages to hint at the permissiveness of the new decade and yet stylistically harkens back to Hammer Horror’s past, not to mention an artistic style which would fade away as the 70’s progressed. Read The Vampire Lovers 1970 Review.
Twins Of Evil 1971 – France
A personal favourite of mine, this French poster for Twins Of Evil 1971 puts a very early-70’s spin on the Art Nouveaux stylings of the early 20th century. Directly translated to English, the French title is “The Services Of Dracula”. The primary use of blues with just a dash of red make for an eye-catching confection. Read Twins of Evil 1971 Review.
Dracula A.D. 1972 – 1972 – Japan
Japan was a healthy market for Hammer, and this interesting artwork spin manages to integrate all the elements from the western posters for Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972), but replaces the usual menacing presentation of Christopher Lee’s Dracula with a Count who has clearly been on the receiving end of a stake – the end result is distinctly Japanese. Read Dracula A.D. 1972 Review.
Which is your favourite Hammer Poster from around the world? Tell us in the comments below!