From the Inside: Crazy 4 Cult Book Won’t Leave You Poster Bored

Hello, my name is Robert and I’m addicted to movie posters.

Recognizing the problem is, they say, the first step. Well, as I sit buried between tubes of rolled up movie posters — unframed because there is no more room on my wall to hang them — it’s pretty damn obvious I have a problem. I hate to fathom a guess on how much, exactly, I spent on movie posters last year but I wouldn’t be surprised if the number rests somewhere comfortably in the triple digits.

For most film fans, there is an undeniable attraction to the movie poster. It is, after all, our first encounter with most films. Whether the poster resembles the bland, overly Photoshoped floating head monstrosities that have been churned out at a sickening rate in recent years or it is something slightly slicker, cobbled together with more finesse, a movie poster informs audiences of the film’s tone just as much as any trailer or TV spot. A good movie poster is responsible for creating iconic images that represent a film as much (if not more so, in some cases) than anything contained in the film itself.

As mentioned above, recent years have seen a marked decline in the quality of your average movie poster. While once a studio struck for the iconic or stylish when promoting their movie, all too often now audiences are presented with generic, easily interchangeable posters that sell the actors more than the film’s concept or theme. While an artist is undeniably behind every movie poster that is printed out on glossy 27 x 40 sheets of paper, it’s hard to make the claim that any real artistic thought went into the creation of the majority of modern film posters.

'Stapler' by Jude Buffum

Seemingly almost to combat the decay of studio released film posters, there has been a recent trend, spurred on by the Internet, of DIY custom film posters. Some licensed with studio support and others existing on the fringe of legal copyright laws, these movie posters and art prints have become a healthy anecdote for fans of film and art seeking something to hang on their walls.

Two of the largest supporters of this new movement are Mondo Tees, the creative merchandising arm of the Alamo Drafthouse theater chain, and Gallery 1988, a Los Angeles art gallery that, for the last several years, has been hosting an art show dedicated to cult movies.

While Mondo Tees specializes in limited run prints that are reasonably affordable (if you consider plopping down $75 for a movie poster a reasonable expense — a line of thinking that perhaps separates the men from the boys in the film fan world), Gallery 1988 is a art gallery in the traditional sense — housing one of a kind pieces of art that range from oil-based paintings to wood carvings to specially made plush toys. These pieces are often highly expensive and once a collector with the appropriate-sized wallet and that perfect empty spot above the mantle place that needs filling buys them, they are gone from the public eye forever. Well, that’s not necessarily true.

'28 Days, 6 Hours, 42 Minutes, 12 Seconds... We're Almost Home' by Ruel Pascual

Perhaps realizing the scarcity of the work they regularly display, Gallery 1988 has done a wonderful job cataloging and uploading to the Internet the work submitted to their regular Crazy 4 Cult art shows. These regular displays of artistic majesty that appear online are the equivalent of browsing through the Sharper Image catalog on long plane trips — a cursorily glance at the highly awesome and the highly unattainable.

Many a movie geek has cried out in frustration over the sad realization that they will never own that one special painting displayed in Gallery 1988 — whether it’s a N.C. Winters Edward Scissorhands painting done with acrylic on a wood panel or a miniature graphite rendering of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka done on the inside cover of a matchbook by Jason d’Aquino.

While Gallery 1988 has certainly released their fair share of prints — reproductions of some of the more memorable contributions to the Crazy 4 Cult art shows — that is not enough. Low and behold, Titan Books has teamed up with the fine folks at Gallery 1988 to release “Cult Movie Art,” a hardcover coffee table book that offers stunning reproductions of a wide assortment of the prints, paintings and assorted crafts that have found temporary home within the walks of Gallery 1988.

'Class Dismissed' by Julian Callos

At 175 pages, “Cult Movie Art” stuffs as much art as possible within its pages — without feeling overly crammed. Paintings are given room to breathe and exist in their own personal bubble of awesomeness and the book becomes a bible for the champion of the films that live on the fringes of fandom.

By releasing a book that collects so much artwork in one place, Gallery 1988 have thrown down the gauntlet and forced the evolution of the custom poster collector scene. As much as I love having the work of Kevin Tong or Alex Pardee hanging on my wall, I’m more than happy to pay the book’s suggested retail price of $34.95 and have that same work easily digestible in book format. I sincerely hope that “Cult Movie Art” inspires other producers of licensed movie posters and art prints to follow suit. I’d love to own a similar book by Mondo Tees or Phantom City Creative. Heck, I’d kill for a second volume of “Cult Movie Art.”

'Silence' by Ana Bagayan

These art prints and paintings are the finest of fan fiction. They are inspired by the work of filmmakers and artists and, in turn, exist to inspire in their own way. Looking through the pages of “Cult Movie Art” makes me want to pick up a paintbrush again or sit down in front of my keyboard and create something. Crazy 4 Cult is not the type of incestuous tail-eating fandom that threatens to consume the comic book scene — where fans dictate the creation and movement of art like some type of toddler-sized tyrant wearing a paper Burger King crown and crying for more of the same instead of letting the unexpected wash upon them like a gentle summer rain. “Cult Movie Art” is the celebration of ideas, imagination and shared communion. It’s kinsmanship of movie fans boiled down into vibrant colors, artistic spontaneity and creative ingenuity.

“Cult Movie Art” is a must own for fans of film. It’s as simple as that.

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