Poster Picks: Gremlins

Time again for another Loba-approved poster design! This time, we’re skipping backward in time to 1984, to visit that gem of a movie, Gremlins. Written by a very pre-Harry Potter Chris Columbus and directed by Joe “The ‘burbs” Dante, this is one of my favorite childhood movies. It’s also one of my favorite “teaser” posters.

First thing that I love about this poster is the fact that it’s not a photo, but a photo-realistic drawing/painting. This was quite the popular medium at the time (the Star Wars movie posters all utilized this medium to wonderful effect while Indiana Jones still looks marvelous as a sketched hero). It adds a bit of whimsy to the poster while keeping it realistic enough that you know it’s not going to be all fun and games.

The way the lighting is utilized in this drawing provides a lovely and effective bit of chiaroscuro that draws your eyes immediately to the hands and the shoe box within them. And what are those in the box top? Breathing holes? And those cute, furry little Monchhichi paws…and two glimmering orbs watching you. But nothing more. What on earth could it be?

This poster also has something additional that my first poster pick didn’t have: a tagline. This one is delightful: “Cute. Clever. Mischievous. Intelligent. Dangerous.”

I love the delineation of words from sweet to sinister that lead your eyes once again down to the shoe box and those mysterious eyes watching you, with what? Curiosity? Anger? Malice?

Skip the Spielberg mention and you get your first glimpse of the font that has pretty much become synonymous to my generation as “Gremlins” font, kind of like someone immediately recognizing “Star Trek” or “Back to the Future” font.

I consider this poster to be an early “WIN” poster in my movie-going memory. I remember seeing it as a kid and wanting to know just what the hell was in that friggin’ shoe box. I also remember having a Gremlins coloring book, which I wish I still had…but that’s another time and another place. Now, here is the latest Poster Pick:


Poster Pick Bonus: Gremlins vs. Episode I

I’m not quite sure when this Gremlins poster was released. I don’t think it was for the movie release, but just for the special edition DVD release. This is the image that is on my DVD case, and it’s a design that I really enjoy. It’s also a design that we have seen elsewhere, to similarly spectacular first-blush effect. We saw it with the first teaser poster for George Lucas’s prequel abortion, Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

Aesthetically, I love this concept: good guy casting a bad guy shadow. It’s titillating, it’s taunting, it’s teasing, it’s tasty. With Gremlins, it’s also totally awesome. Gizmo the Mogwai was cute and cuddly and only mildly annoying. Stripe the Gremlin was a surly bastard with punk rock hair and a bad-ass attitude.

It’s a shame the same cannot be said of Episode I. I remember the joy that this teaser poster brought me. It was mysterious and stark, with the presence of a cherished evil. Ain’t no baddy quite like Darth Vader, right? Then I saw the movie, and I learned what true disappointment really feels like.

Anakin Skywalker sucked. I don’t think the blame rests solely on the shoulders of Jake Lloyd, but he didn’t help make the torture that was this movie any less painful. Someone really should have smacked George Lucas with a fully functional light saber at the first utterance of the nickname “Annie” for Darth Vader. Annie? One day he’s going to be the fucking dark overlord of the empire and you want to give him a nickname that evokes images of a frizzy-haired orphan with no pupils? Screw you, Lucas. Screw you with a Jar-Jar Binks action figure.

Here, however, are the two shadowplay posters together. One still makes me smile while the other saddens me to my marrow with the memory of a New Hope that was crushed by “Mesa called Jar-Jar Binks. Mesa your humble servant.”

Mesa gonna pukes now.

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