Don’t judge a film by its poster

Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Call me stupid but since I generally refuse to watch film trailers or read detailed film reviews before seeing a film I still rely a lot on the poster of a film to decide whether I want to see it – a bit like buying a novel at the bookshop only because the cover’s nice and shiny. Instead of making my mouth water and urging me to run and spend my money on a particular movie, trailers have become so boring and thorough over the years they obliterate the excitement and the anticipation around a release instead of “teasing” me – regardless of the fact the film is a masterpiece or a pile of rubbish.
If you ask (the more snobbish) people if they base their decisions on posters or covers, they’re likely to laugh in your face and claim they “obviously” do their research prior to buying, so the package’s visual aspect doesn’t come into the equation. But I sincerely don’t think marketing agencies would carry on working so hard testing and creating multiple variants of a book cover or a film poster if they hadn’t measured some kind of uplift in sales whenever the material had been tailored to its audience. This might be purely finger in the air or based on unaccountable assumptions. So even if Kindle sales and Netflix streaming are soaring, whether it’s when checking the films showing at the cinema or browsing through the bookshop, the eye contact with a film poster or book cover remains pretty much unavoidable, so someone’s gotta do the job.
However engineered to match my tastes, I think a film poster remains a highly inspirational object, it’s a bucket-full of promises and a great trigger for imagination and dreams. So here’s a small selection of simple and beautiful film posters. And in this particular case, they’re all great films, so you can judge those films by their posters with complete peace of mind 🙂

Vertigo (1958)
Vertigo (1958) - Spirograph and wacky font
L'Eclisse (1962)
L'Eclisse (1962)
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Rosemary's Baby (1968) - Scares the s*** out of you
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Moon (2009)
Moon (2009) - A few circles can do the trick
Metropolis (1927)
Metropolis (1927)
Lost Highway (1997)
Lost Highway (1997) - Clever lighting effect
Jaws 2 (1978) - Polish poster
Jaws 2 (1978) - Hilarious Polish poster
Grindhouse (2007)
Grindhouse (2007) - Lo-fi at its best
Evil Dead (1981)
Evil Dead (1981) - Not the original poster but both pretty and spooky
Dracula (1931)
Dracula (1931)
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
The Dark Knight (2008)
The Dark Knight (2008) - Great pile-of-cards effect
Close Encounters with the Third Kind (1977)
Close Encounters with the Third Kind (1977)
Chinatown (1974)
Chinatown (1974)
Blowup (1966)
Blowup (1966) - Polish poster
Alien (1979)
Alien (1979) - Surrealistic Polish poster
Anatomy of a Murder (1959) - Polish poster
Anatomy of a Murder (1959) - Rothko-inspired Polish poster


  1. That sounds familiar, just like you I don’t watch film trailers and try to read as little as I can as I love going into a movie blind and being surprised by everything a movie has to offer. Some great posters there and I must admit that I quite often know based on the poster if a movie is going to be good or bad. I’m not always right, but I think it’s a skill I’ve perfected through the years 😉

    1. Hi Nostra, good to hear I’m not the only embargoing trailers. I can’t claim your clairvoyance on film quality based on its poster but as they say, if it looks like a turkey, swims like a turkey, and quacks like a turkey, then it probably is a turkey.

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