Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Blogger Travels Around Japan

I will be in Tokyo next week (November 18-23), and even though it's mostly work I hope to check out one or two of the major poster haunts - good old Nakano Broadway in particular. I will also attend a concert at Shimokitazawa SHELTER with The Wimpy's, Faceful, Supersnazz and the mighty Stems from Australia! If you are in Tokyo and want to meet up for a meal at Watami, a beer in Golden Gai, or a trawl through DVD shops in Akihabara, get in touch.

When it comes to Japanese posters, I mostly collect gangster and girl-gang posters from the 60's and early 70's, but most of them are not properly photographed yet. Instead I'll show two of my favorite recent Japanese posters, for Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amelie from Montmartre and Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away - both bought during previous Tokyo trips!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

You! Killed! My! Teacher!!!

Martial artist Bruce Lee was one of the world's greatest action stars. Director Robert Clouse was an untalented hack. Exactly why they worked together on Enter The Dragon is a mystery, but thanks to Lee's total control of the action scenes it became a classic. When Lee died, Clouse scooped up the 12 minutes of finished Lee footage of the planned follow-up, and constructed the abysmal Game of Death, a Frankenstein's monster of a movie made from dead bodyparts and Lee look-alikes. 30 years later, Bruce is finally avenged by Justin Lin's mockumentary Finishing the Game, about the imagined casting sessions of Clouse's disasterpiece. Check out the pitch-perfect 70's vibes in this trailer...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mexican Mayhem

Yesterday I showed some examples of the linenbacking and restoration undertaken by Dario Casadeo at Vintage Movie Art. But some posters need treatment even if the haven't been sitting in a barn with only some chickens for company in the last three decades! In particular, Mexican posters from the 1960's and earlier were printed on paper that is so thin and low quality, they can be in bad shape even if the have never been unfolded since leaving the printing press. Due to the acid in the paper, as well as dirt in the environment (like cigarette smoke) these posters slowly but surely deteriorate until there is nothing left. The only way to stop this process is to wash out all the acid and dirt, and then mount the poster on paper or linen.

Here is an example. This amazing 1962 poster for El Baron del Terror (re-named The Brainiac in the US) had never been used, yet the paper was is such bad shape, it was literally falling apart in my hands when I unfolded it.

After Dario had soaked the poster in his special bath, it did fall apart! The fold lines were so fragile the poster separated almost completely, and the paper was like mush - a very gentle hand was required to get it all out of the bath in one piece and mount it on linen.

But he made it! Here is the Baron looking better than ever, and ready to suck brains for many years to come!

Here is an example of a more recent Mexican poster. It seems that between the early 1960s and 1969, when Las Vampiras came out, paper quality was radically improved, and this poster was not on nearly as bad paper as the older examples. However, it still had many other problems - stains, tears, wrinkles, etc.

But this is where linenbacking shines - the dirt was washed away, the paper loss filled in ,and wrinkles magically disappeared! Here are Las Vampiras cleaned up and looking better than ever!

Finally, two recent restoration works by Dario. El Santo Contras las Mujeres Vampiro (1962) is another example of a poster that was literally crumbling in my hands when I first unfolded it, and one that would not have survived for much longer without linenbacking. Like the Baron, it separated in the bath but came together nicely in the end.

Blue Demon Contra las Diabolicas is of later vintage - 1968 - but apparently did not benefit from the better paper of the later 60's, being almost as brittle as some of the older posters. But with linenbacking the Demon is ready to fight another day!

Not all posters benefit from linenbacking, and many collectors prefer an un-backed poster in very good condition as opposed to a linenbacked copy. But if you have a poster that is worse for the wear, or one where the paper is visibly falling apart by age, or even one that the dog ate, you should drop Dario a line...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

An Italian Master

Movie poster restoration artist Dario Casadei has an unusual background. Born in Sweden by Italian parents, he moved to Vancouver, Canada with his family and was set to continue his father's restaurant business. But a chance discovery of some movie posters his father had brought over from Sweden prompted a change of careers. He set out to learn all about movie posters and the process of linenbacking, where a poster is washed in a bath and mounted on linen fabric. Linenbacking makes a poster much more sturdy and visually appealing, stops deterioration from acid and other substances common in poster paper, and is usually combined with minor or major restoration. Dario now runs a successful linenbacking business, Vintage Movie Art. I have used his services several times and been very pleased with the results - here are some examples!

One of the first posters I ever bought was also one of the first I linenbacked: The Swedish one-sheet for the revenge-of-nature thriller Frogs. It is not a valuable poster, but has a lot of sentimental value for me. Over the years it has spent time tacked to the walls of my many flats, been roughly folded through many moves and stored away in various cupboards, but somehow it always turned up again. When Dario was through with it it looked like a new poster - all the wrinkles, folds and small tears were gone!

Another poster that had a rough time was the superb psychedelic Spanish poster for Sergio Martino's thriller All the Colors of the Dark. This poster was wrinkled and dirty from many years of mishandling, but Dario made the crazy colors pop out like it was printed yesterday!

Another poster that had a rough time was one of my favorite Swedish posters of all times, Hans Arnolds amazing image for Hammer's Horror of Dracula. I bought this poster in a lot with a dozen others which must have spent the last three decades on a floor in a barn somewhere. Fortunately, Dracula was one of the best preserved, and with a little restoration magic it looks fantastic!

But linenbacking is not only a way to restore mishandled posters to their former glory. For some, even posters that have been stored folded since they were printed never been used, it can also be the only way to preserve them for posterity. Some countries, like Mexico, have printed posters on paper that is so low quality it literally crumbles in the hand. Check back tomorrow for a few mind-blowing Mexican horror and wrestling posters on linen...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Manly Men!

I have received many complaints that I have been showing so many posters with good-looking women lately, and so few hunky he-men... well actually I haven't received any complaints at all, but there's nothing wrong with a little variety!

So here are a few handsome devils for your pleasure... We start of with John Philip law (flanked by Marissa Mell) in the rare, full-on psychedelic color variant of the French poster for Mario Bava's Danger Diabolik.

Then, one of my favorite posters of all time, the Japanese country-of-origin poster for Seijun Suzuki's off-beat yakuza classic Branded to Kill, where Jo Shishido portrays a professional killer who gets unusually excited by the smell of boiled rice.

And from noodles to spaghetti, here's Giuliano Gemma on a Swedish one-sheet "one of the toughest westerns ever made", Blood for a Silver Dollar.

And who wouldn't like to swap places with Ray Danton as Lucky the Inscrutable in Jess Franco's fun Eurospy parody, here seen on a Spanish one-sheet.

And finally, the manliest men of all time: Mexican wrestlers Blue Demon and El Santo, here seen in rare country-of-origin one-sheets for two of their most sensitive performances.