The Art of Illustration: Vintage Horror Movie Posters

19 Oct

This Halloween season got me thinking of some of the brilliant horror movie poster designs of years past. I’ll admit I’m not a huge classical film fan but I love the fantastic illustrated posters that were at one time the staple of every horror and sci-fi film. They have so much detail and can communicate so much about a film and it’s a bit of a shame that this look went of out style.

Because of the incredible workmanship many vintage horror posters are not only collectible but also very valuable. The movie poster for “Dracula,” directed by Tod Browning in 1931, set the world’s record of the most expensive movie poster at the price of $310,700 in 2009.

I’ve included some of my favorite vintage horror posters for your design inspiration and entertainment. Even if you don’t want to see “Frogs” or “The Amazing the Colossal Man” you can definitely appreciate the design and the craftsmanship involved in creating these pieces of art. I’ve included posters from as early as 1922 with “Nosferatu” to “A Nightmare on Elm Street” in 1984. I’ll feature some more recent poster designs in my later posts leading up to Halloween.

I also wanted to discuss a few of the techniques I noticed were used repeatedly in a number of these poster designs.

The designs are “busy.” There is a lot going on in a small space in a lot of these posters. However, there are some very simple and effective designs like “Poltergeist” in this selection as well. The illustrated designs more specifically incorporate multiple elements. There’s headlines and taglines and mash-ups of multiple characters and creatures and action scenes. The compositions often overwhelm viewers which fits very nicely with the themes of the films.

High contrast designs. There are very bright colors in a lot of these retro designs and a strong contrast between the intense shadows and highlights. It makes the designs bold and eye-catching.

Stand out-typography. There’s a lot of slanted text in these vintage designs as well as outlines and shadows and combinations of different typefaces. There is also a lot of words on many of the older posters. During the time of these movies, the poster would be the primary source of advertising so it was important not only to catch the audience’s eye but to get them the information they needed to go see the movie.
1922 Nosferatu Horror Movie Poster 1931 Dracula Horror Movie Poster 1931 Frankenstein Horror Movie Poster 1932 The Mummy Horror Movie Poster 1954 Creature of the Black Lagoon Horror Movie Poster 1957 The Amazing Colossal Man Horror Movie Poster1958 Attack of the 50 Ft Woman Horror Movie Poster 1963 The Birds Horror Movie Poster 1968 Night of the Living Dead Horror Movie Poster 1972 Frogs Horror Movie Poster
1973 The Exorcist Horror Movie Poster 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre Horror Movie Poster 1975 Jaws Horror Movie Poster 1979 Alien Horror Movie Poster 1980 Friday the 13th Horror Movie Poster 1980 The Shining Horror Movie Poster 1982 Poltergeist Horror Movie Poster 1982 The Thing Horror Movie Poster 1984 Nightmare on Elm Street Horror Movie Poster

What are your plans for this Halloween? What are some of your favorite Halloween movies?


3 Responses to “The Art of Illustration: Vintage Horror Movie Posters”

  1. chicagochick510 October 24, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    I love all these old movie posters, but the frog one really creeps me out! haha I guess I just can’t picture a horror movie about frogs?

    • meggie3675 October 26, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

      haha yeah I haven’t seen that one! Weird…


  1. Modern Horror Movie Posters | All Things Movie Posters - October 26, 2013

    […] to the classic horror movies posters like those we looked at in my Vintage Horror Movie Posters  post, these designs are extremely graphic, sick, twisted, disgusting and terrifying. They include […]

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