The House That Dripped Blood
Christian McLaughlin, a Los Angeles-based TV writer/producer and the self-described “poster concierge” behind the online movie poster store WestgateGallery.com, is my new best friend. We’ve never actually met in person, but I do enjoy knowing that someone is out there who is impossible for ME to stump. Everything I mention to him over email, he already knows about. I suggested, for instance, that he watch the utterly batshit insane British soap opera Footballers Wives. Not only had he already seen all the episodes—and the spinoff series—he was pals with one of the cast members. Then he told me about a newer “women in prison” show from the same producers called Bad Girls that I’d never even heard of, and co-starring the main “evil bitch” actress from Footballers Wives as the same character she’d played in that earlier series who was now in prison!!! I sent him a link to an eBay listing for a poster for an Andy Warhol movie with Karl Lagerfeld and Patti D’Arbanville from 1973 that had somehow completley slipped by me and not only did he know all about it, he was selling the poster in his store.
He also had a perfectly plausible explanation for this. You see what I mean about him being hard to stump? And how many conversations have YOU had IRL recently about Barbara Bouchet, Tina Aumont or Andy Milligan?
I asked Christian to pen a guest post for DM about how he got started collecting movie posters and about why he’s now selling his incredible collection. This is what he sent me:
“OBSESSION” and “HOARDING” are such ugly words. So let’s pretend they don’t apply here. I was three years old when I scored my first movie poster (The House That Dripped Blood US 1 sheet), a freebie—but when you’re three, what isn’t? My favorite stop on the frequent walks with my grandfather in Fort Kent, ME, was the Century Theatre, where I’d stare at the two posters (Now Playing & Next Attraction) on display in glass cases outside the box office, lingering as long as possible whenever there was horror involved. I was so taken by the one-sheet cooked up by Cinerama Releasing Corp for a British anthology chiller starring Peter Cushing & Ingrid Pitt, I’m told I requested extra walks for a few bonus peeps at its lurid majesty, which features a long-haired beauty, the middle third of her face a toothy swath of bare skull, holding a man’s severed head on a tray. One fateful afternoon on what had to be one of the final days of the run, theatre-owner Gilberte spotted us and came out to greet her dear friend (my grandfather) and his unnervingly precocious towheaded, rambling companion (me). Apparently I then asked if I could have the poster when she was done with it. Charmed or shocked, or both, she said yes, and soon after delivered this treasure to my grandparents’ door, thoughtfully enclosed in a stiff cardboard envelope, wrapped in a thin blue plastic shopping bag.
Dissolve to Hollywood, California, 43 years later. I still owned that poster—and roughly 2999 others. My taste for horror was completely intact, but it had broadened to encompass all manner of salacious and macabre pieces of original movie art from a dozen countries, ranging from 13"x18” French petites to a ten by five foot 6-panel Italian billboard for the spectacularly sleazy 1975 Giallo trash epic Strip Nude For Your Killer (which I had foraged piece by piece from a mouse-infested pit of paper beneath a Roman antique shop in the shadow of the fun-hating cinephobic Vatican itself). Finally allowing myself to splurge on linen-backing and archival framing to display the billboard and nine other large-format Italian Giallo posters with the panache they deserved, I had a moment of clarity while narrowing my Top 50 down to the ten I could fit on my home and office walls: I could have five homes, two offices and an unlimited restoration and framing budget and I’d barely make a dent in this outrageously massive, meticulously archived collection. 3000 movie posters?! I was out of my fucking mind.
The only sins I believe in were the ones overheated copywriters brazenly trumpeted across hundreds of these very posters, but if I’d remained in Fort Kent long enough for the Catholic church to wash my brain to their strict local cleanliness standard, I’d have a new sin for the popular Mortal category—- allowing these amazing, beautiful pieces of Pop Art to languish in storage, when they all belong on walls, rolled-out or completely unfolded, to be enjoyed daily by like-minded connoisseurs of the salacious and the macabre. Like one of those no-kill pet shelters everyone with a heart should lavish with donations, I was determined to find good, loving homes for all of them. (And attempt to recoup a reasonable return on my what-I’m-too-terrified- to-actually-calculate-but-must-be-high-six-figures-minimum investment.) So, two years ago, with the brilliance of friends/design-photography mavens Paul Ahern, Barry Morse & Beth Hall, WestgateGallery.com was born. Named after my childhood porn theatre in Bangor, ME, whose painfully cropped ads in the local paper were my entree into the delectable poster paradise of the XXX Golden Age, this webstore answers Stevie Nicks’ question in a certain chart-topping Fleetwood Mac song:
“Do you have any dreams you’d like to sell?”
Yes, Stevie, I do. And through December 24, they’re all 40% off!
Christian McLaughlin, poster conceierge
Here’s a selection of the posters for sale at WestgateGallery. This gallery is sort of a “beloved cult films 101” overview. If you’re looking for Giallo or golden age of porn posters, there are separate posts for those genres.
Many more after the jump…