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¡Películas muy locos, ay caramba! The awesomely lurid art of Mexican B-movie lobby cards

I don’t think I’m too far out on a limb in assuming that John Cozzoli probably has a completely amazing house. Cozzoli collects 20th Century monster movie ephemera, and he’s the best kind of collector—the kind who shares. He curates the online archive Zombos’ Closet, a vast trove of endearingly cheap thrills, including movie and book reviews, and scans of his collections of cinema pressbooks, goofy paper-cutout Halloween decorations, and his amazing collection of Mexican lobby cards from B-grade films. If you have time to descend into a serious rabbit-hole of marvelous trash-culture nostalgia, visit that site just as soon as you possibly can and revel in its contents. And if that’s not enough for you, Collectors Weekly ran a terrific in-depth interview with Cozzoli in 2012. But for now, enjoy some samples from his lobby card collection. This barely even scratches the surface of what he’s got to offer on his site. I went mostly for lurid horror, but he’s got TONS of luchador movie art, as well.

Cozzoli:There’s a mistaken belief that having a big budget guarantees a good movie: It doesn’t. Many movies with modest budgets have outdone movies with bigger pockets to draw from. I love seeing how creative a director and set designer can be when faced with limited resources to work from. Horror movies were originally A-listers, drawing notable actors and production teams. Over time they switched to B and C status as the studios realized they could still make a profit on a cheap movie. Even the bad movies sometimes show a sparkle of wit or style or dramatic directness that makes them enjoyable to watch.

While many Mexican lobby cards promote American movies, they also made cards for Spanish-language movies, often illustrated with vampires, witches, and mummies; Japanese movies, like those made by Toho Studios; and other non-Spanish-language movies. Really, just about any movie that could be shown in a local theater, foreign or domestic, had cards done for it. If the lobby cards were done for American or other non-Spanish-language movies, the compositions usually derive to some degree from the movie’s poster campaign, so these cards tend to be more, let’s say, sedate, and tone down the sex and mayhem. Spanish-language lobby cards are usually more vibrant and suggestive.

Monster kid and movie historian Professor Kinema (Jim Knusch) was the person who turned me on to these wonderful examples of movie promotion for theaters. It was while perusing his collection of lobby cards and pressbooks that I fell in love with both. One reason I focus on Mexican lobby cards is because at $5 to $10 a pop, they’re a lot cheaper than American cards, making them easier to collect. Additionally, Mexican cards for native Spanish movies are usually more colorful and dynamic, and the Mexican cards come in larger sizes, which make them more interesting and displayable.


Devil Bat’s Daughter, 1946

She Demons, 1958

The Phantom From 10,000 Leagues, 1955
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Astonishing matte paintings from ‘Ghostbusters’
09:37 am


matte paintings

Ghostbusters is one of the most iconic movies of all time—it was the most successful comedy of the 1980s, by far, and that’s an objectively true statement—it was the #6 grossing movie in that decade, behind (in order) E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Return of the Jedi, The Empire Strikes Back, Batman, and Raiders of the Lost Ark (box office figures from Box Office Mojo).

The question arises, Why was it so successful? Strictly considered as comedy, it doesn’t hold a candle to other movies of the era, such as Night Shift, Better Off Dead, Vacation, Airplane!, just to name a few. Aside from the obvious charm of its lead actors, Ghostbusters succeeds because of its scale, its status as a movie that’s both scary and funny (like Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein) in which all of Manhattan Island takes a righteous beating.

As it happens, Ghostbusters employed the talents of two of the nation’s leading matte artists, being Matthew Yuricich, a veteran of the trade who had worked on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Logan’s Run, Point Blank, Blade Runner, and North by Northwest, and Michelle Moen, called by Richard Edlund, the movie’s visual effects supervisor, “one of the best, if not the top, matte painters in the business.” A movie as successful as Ghostbusters benefits from key contributions from every corner, but if you wanted to argue that the movie’s matte artists were as responsible for its success as its actors, I wouldn’t argue.

Film is obviously a 2-D medium most of the time, which is what allows for the possibility for jaw-dropping visual trickery such as this. Taking in scenes like this, or scenes from Star Wars and Blade Runner, the mind knows that the images aren’t actually possible but it never occurs to the viewer that maybe somebody could paint a landscape that detailed and specific. But people can do that very thing—they’re visionaries who are responsible for some of the most indelible images of cinema history.

Many of these photos come from the indispensable blog Matte Shot.







Here we see how the shot is a combination of three different elements.


Here’s Yuricich working on the painting directly above.

via Tombolare

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Taco Bell’s weird-ass Orwell ripoff, complete with totalitarian clowns (yes, you read that right)

For their new ad campaign “Routine Republic,” Taco Bell has produced a mini-movie lasting three minutes that steals from ... well, you name it.  Just off the top of my head, it cribs from The Hunger Games, Insane Clown Posse, Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm, Divergent, Apple’s “1984” ad campaign, and any number of David Fincher movies.

You’d have to be a semiotics Ph.D. to uncover all the layers of mendacious allusion and outright theft going on here. If nothing else, it’s a contender for the “Protesting Too Much” Hall of Fame. See, the idea is that if you are eating yummy McGriddles from McDonald’s or delectable Croissan’wiches from Burger King for breakfast, you’re a brainwashed drone who needs to be liberated by ... an A.M. Crunchwrap from Taco Bell (which admittedly also sounds yummy). Yes, you read that right: a delicious Croissan’wich and you’re a soulless drone; a delicious A.M. Crunchwrap and you’re a hipsterish free spirit with the ability to cavort in the streets of Prague, perhaps and eventually open an artisanal and/or steampunk moustache wax boutique (I have nothing against hipsters, I’m just reading into the ad). Never mind that the most powerful electron microscope on earth wouldn’t be able to detect any ideological difference between a McGriddle and an A.M. Crunchwrap.

Sticking with the Orwell tip, the commercial repurposes the “four legs good, two legs bad” formulation of Animal Farm into the totalitarian regime’s “circle = good, hexagon = bad.” I could hardly write that with a straight face, it’s so stupid. So that’s right, fealty to a round shape is bad but the one with the six equal sides is good. The ad’s Winston Smith finds his Julia as they wait on line for their Victory Gin, er, a round breakfast sandwich, lock eyes, and escape together to the land of Borat-ish un-corporate-ness. Just to make sure you don’t miss the point, the Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” kicks in at the moment of maximum individualism. Because it takes an individual to appreciate the world’s most universally beloved punk band, right?

Oh yeah, the clowns, I almost forgot. All the authority figures in “Oceania” or whatever have clown makeup on. Because McDonald’s corporate logo is a guy in a clown suit and you know, fuck that guy.

One touch I did like is that the evil kingdom is surrounded by a moat that is actually a drab ball pit, which is mostly associated with McDonald’s Playland. Of course, trying to demonize a wonderful, fun ball pit for children has to rank down there with the worst things any advertiser has ever done, but you know, all’s fair in love and breakfast war.
The ad itself, after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘The Decline of Western Civilization’ trilogy FINALLY gets a DVD/Blu-ray release!

Penelope Spheeris’ brilliant Decline of Western Civilization is an infamous document of the early ‘80s LA punk scene featuring interviews and mind-blowing performance footage of The Germs, X, Fear, Circle Jerks, and Black Flag, among others. Her follow-up, Decline of Western Civilization Part II - The Metal Years, follows the mid-‘80s LA glam metal scene and features Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, Dave Mustaine and Paul Stanley along with some amusing lesser-known hair-bands. It also famously features one of the most depressing interviews ever caught on film - a brutally pathetic poolside chat with alcoholic WASP guitarist, Chris Holmes. The third film in Spheeris’ trilogy, The Decline of Western Civilization III, is lesser known, but a fascinating look at the crusty squatter-punk scene of the mid-‘90s featuring musical performances by Final Conflict, Litmus Green, Naked Aggression and The Resistance.

Spheeris’ Decline of Western Civilization trilogy has been at the top of countless fans most-wanted DVD lists forever. I’ve personally been trying to replace my well-worn VHS copy since the dawn of the DVD format. Over the years there have been many hints that the films would get a proper digital video release. As far back as the late 90’s there was a website promising an “upcoming” release of the trilogy. As these films, particularly the first installment, have been at the tip-top of my must-have-list, I’ve followed the progress with an eagle eye. Spheeris has dropped hints on her Facebook page for years—at times promising a deluxe set loaded with extras. There were rumors that Black Flag’s notoriously difficult Greg Ginn was holding up the process. Though those rumors are unconfirmed and were never actually put forward by the Spheeris camp, it’s well known that Ginn has prevented film maker Dave Markey from releasing the Black Flag documentary Reality 86’d, as well as forcing him to remove the Black Flag footage from Markey’s other film The Slog Movie—which is itself sort of a low-rent version of the first Decline movie.

A lot of punk and metalhead DVD prayers got answered when, without fanfare or a press-release, a box set of the trilogy showed up for preorder on Amazon.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
‘Separate Cinema’: Unsettling and gorgeous posters from the age of segregated movies
11:16 am



Birthright, 1939. A black Harvard graduate confronts racism.
The images on this page come from a remarkable book that came out late last year, Separate Cinema: The First 100 Years of Black Poster Art, by John Duke Kisch; it’s an incredibly wide-ranging look at the posters of “black cinema” writ large, a category that includes not just the “race films” shown here but also Birth of a Nation, earnest Hollywood dramas, The Jazz Singer, Blaxploitation flicks, South African movies addressing apartheid, breakdancing movies from the 1980s, and much more. The book’s credibility couldn’t be greater, insofar as Henry Louis Gates Jr. supplies the foreword and Spike Lee the afterword.

The posters depicted here tell a tale of true segregation, a “separate but equal” industry, so to speak, that served up gripping melodramas to its chosen audience just as surely as Warner Bros. did for white audiences. The undisputed master of this period is Oscar Micheaux, who directed a couple of these movies. By Kisch’s lights “the most successful early black independent film producer and director,” Micheaux was the son of a Kentucky slave before working as a railway porter and homesteader; around World War I he started directing and producing movies, of which he directed more than 40 before he was done. Kisch describes his basic formula as follows:

Micheaux’s features were usually far superior to those made by other independent black studios, largely because he took a familiar Hollywood genre and gave it a distinctive African-American slant. Committed to “racial uplift,” he cast black characters in non-stereotypical roles, as farmers, oil men, explorers, professors, Broadway producers, or Secret Service agents.  … He brought to the screen diverse social issues that faced black America, and also portrayed an ideal world in which blacks were affluent, educated, and cultured. In the 1930s, his films represented a radical departure from Hollywood’s portrayal of African Americans as jesters and servants.

In our age, posters like this are simultaneously dazzling and upsetting, almost as taboo as the interracial drama The Exile (below) was in its day. Underlying so much of the rhetoric surrounding the racial situation in America is the understanding that all those bad things belonged to and are limited to the past; the horrors of Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland in 2014 showed everyone that no such assumptions are safe—even as Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (it’s included in the book too) both harks back to these unsettling movies and signals the potential for lasting change. 

Bosambo, 1935. British District Officer in Nigeria in the 1930’s rules his area strictly but justly, and struggles with gun-runners and slavers with the aid of a loyal native chief.

Black Gold, 1928. A town abandons its previous ways of life for the glamour and drama of the oil drilling trade.

The Flying Ace, 1926. A veteran World War I fighter pilot returns home a war hero and immediately regains his former job as a railroad company detective.
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Trippy Czechoslovakian movie posters of classic American films
12:28 pm



Hello Dolly, poster created 1970
Man, I really got lost in the massive archive of Czechoslovakian posters of American films on the Terry Posters website. I cherry-picked the ones I really dug, but there are a ton more that might strike your fancy. A lot of these are for sale too. If you see something you just gotta have, it just might be available for purchase.

As a side note: The poster for Ghostbusters below really has me scratching my head….

Ghostbusters, poster created 1988

Mary Poppins, poster created 1969

My Fair Lady, poster created 1967

Planet of the Apes, poster created 1970

Cinderella, poster created 1970

Rebel Without A Cause, poster created 1969
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Skateboard Kings’: Early Dogtown skate doc with Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta, Shogo Kubo and more
02:15 pm


Tony Alva


If you’re young, male and you live in the city, how do you prove yourself in the most materially comfortable country on earth?  How do you show courage, daring, skill, strength? How do you prove you’re a man? If you’re a Masai Tribesman in Africa you kill a lion. If you’re an Aborigine boy, you go on walkabout, if you live in Dogtown, Los Angeles you ride a skateboard.

Hilariously, this is how this vintage documentary from the golden age of skateboarding begins.  At the time of its release in 1978, the sport of skateboarding was still a developing endeavor that a lot of people outside of California might have looked at with simple fascination. While the sport was growing, with skate shops and parks popping up all over the country, it was by no means as prevalent and integrated into world culture as it is today. Skateboard Kings, produced by Horace Ové for the British Television series The World About Us,features early pioneers Tony Alva, Ray Flores, Shogo Kubo, Stacy Peralta, Billy Yeron, Paul Constantineau, Jerry Valdez and Kent Senatore among many others. It makes them out to be this sort of new kind of rebel on the fringes of a faddy phenomenon, with a “No really… kids are actually getting paid money to do this for a living” attitude. Interviews with parents in a skate shop are particularly chuckle-worthy as they try to rationalize letting their kids get involved in the sport despite its inherent dangers from overly crowded “skate courts” and whatnot. If parents really wanted something to worry about, imagine what they would think if they knew anything about the legendary Dogtown party world.

There’s very little of a taste of the party here, however, but it’s still cool nonetheless, and despite some of its stiffness, there’s great footage from early skate parks, pool skating (and draining), and Tony Alva narrating tricks and using still early terminology like “aerials” and “grinders.” Tiny boards, traffic cone slaloms, flat ground 360’s and rolling handstands were the cutting edge at the time. There’s also a skateboard safety clinic featured which is really funny and mike just leave modern day skaters shaking their heads. 

The last five minutes of the film are great, showing Tony Alva and others skating 21-foot high pipes soon to be installed in the desert.  The infamous “Arizona Pipes” should be legendary to anybody interested in the history of the development of skateboarding as a sport and as a creative endeavor.

Posted by Jason Schafer | Leave a comment
A treasure-trove of behind-the-scenes ‘Blade Runner’ model-shop production photos
08:12 am


Blade Runner

We can all thank Imgur user minicity for uploading 142 behind-the-scenes images  from the Blade Runner production’s model-shop.

These stunning photographs offer a glimpse into the talent and sweat that went into creating one of the most realistic sci-fi universes ever committed to celluloid. Blade Runner‘s 1982 state of the art special effects were painstakingly executed, in-camera, practical effects, rather than composited in post-production. This photo series gives a fascinating insight into the detail that went into creating that onscreen world.





More images after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Saul Bass: Great cinema title sequences from Otto Preminger to Martin Scorsese

Over five decades Saul Bass designed opening title sequences that were sometimes better than the movies they introduced. His ambition he once said was to “make beautiful things even if nobody cares.”

Bass started out as a graphic designer and was asked by film director Otto Preminger to put together a poster for his movie Carmen Jones. Preminger was so impressed by the result that he asked Bass to design the opening titles. So began his 40-year career in movies. Bass went on to work with Preminger again on The Man with the Golden Arm and Anatomy of a Murder, he also designed titles for Alfred Hitchcock (Vertigo, Psycho), and Martin Scorsese (Cape Fear, The Age of Innocence and Casino).

Additionally, Bass designed the logos for a whole range of corporations and products and even had time to direct the cult science fiction movie Phase IV. As a designer he set a standard for other to follow, which is evident from this hour-long selection of his title work from 1955-1995.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Angry, flatulent robots’ star in Jim Henson’s early movies for Bell telephone seminars, 1963
09:58 am


Jim Henson

In 1963 Jim Henson‘s resume consisted almost entirely of six years at a Washington, D.C., television show called Sam and Friends. In 1963 that experience paid off, as he roped in a pretty sweet deal for Bell System—or “Ma Bell,” as the nationwide telephone company was known before the Justice Dept. broke it up into regional companies in 1984. Bell commissioned two movies for use at a Bell Data Communications Seminar, which AT&T later described as “elite seminars.”

The first movie, “Robot,” clocks in at a tidy 3 minutes and 18 seconds and focuses exclusively on the eponymous and humorous automaton, which Tara McGinley, in one of my favorite DM headlines, called an “angry, flatulent robot.” Spot on.

Typical of the movie’s humor is this introductory statement made by the robot:

“The machine possesses supreme intelligence, a faultless memory, and a beautiful soul. Correction: the machine does not have a soul. It has no bothersome emotions. While mere mortals wallow in a sea of emotionalism, the machine is busy digesting vast oceans of information in a single, all-encompassing gulp.”

The second movie, “Charlie Magnetico,” is twice as long and, I daresay, twice as funny. “Charlie Magnetico” uses the same robot used in “Robot” (albeit in a less flatulent mode) while also branching out to include comic footage of a rocket ship exploding as well as entire family of employees called the Magneticos—the humor here residing mainly in the idea that an entire multi-continental supply chain could be administered from a single shack in the woods. Playing Charlie Magnetico as well as his mother was Henson’s first hire, Jerry Juhl, whom Henson later credited with “developing much of the humor and character of his Muppets.”

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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