Friday, April 2, 2010

The Battle Of The Bulge

Throughout the heyday of the drive-ins and grindhouse theaters, horror movie posters were forever attempting to out-sensationalize the competition with the most garish imagery permitted for public display. Exploitation films fought for attention in a crowded marketplace and posters had to convince prospective ticket buyers at a glance that they'd be getting the most bang for their buck. In the over-stuffed annals of notorious horror movie posters, though, I nominate 1980's slasher fave Maniac as being the sickest one-sheet ever.

Even for the early '80s, when there was a glut of lurid posters to be found, this was a repulsive piece of work. Try to imagine seeing this elegant art hanging in any theater lobby today. It just wouldn't happen because from top to bottom, everything about it is so wrong.

If I had to single out the most offensive aspect of this poster, though, it wouldn't be the bloody knife, or the woman's scalp held in the killer's hand, or even the glimpse of the killer's fat, hairy gut showing through the gaps in his unbuttoned shirt. No, I think the most appalling sight by a mile is the huge fucking bulge in the killer's jeans.

Apparently having the knife held directly over the killer's crotch wasn't an obvious enough phallic symbol. Hell, no - they had to get the actual dick in there, too, just so no one would not know that killing gives this guy a massive hard-on.

When Maniac was originally in theaters, offended women's groups painted over this poster and even though I don't support censorship, it's easy to understand the outrage. When it comes to horror movie posters, there's everything else and then there's Maniac. Whatever you say about it, you can't say that it was soft.

10 comments:

Will Errickson said...

When I was a teenager this image on the VHS box at my local videostore always kinda freaked me out... it just seemed so literally *obvious* and therefore, not interesting. Didn't see the movie until I was in my 30s. Decent exploitation--but I'd had no idea Caroline Munro was in it!

Jeff Allard said...

Seeing Munro romanced by Joe Spinell is just awesome. It kind of takes the edge off the movie, in a way, because it's such a ridiculous flight of fancy.

Arbogast said...

I rate this post three quarters erect!

Matt-suzaka said...

Way to show some love for an old-school, no-holds-barred slasher poster! The only thing more offensive is probably Spinell's sweating!

Jeff Allard said...

Arbo, I agree - this poster isn't quite a full boner in my eyes, either!

And Matt, thanks - maybe they should've made this a Scratch N' Sniff poster. That way you could really appreciate the manly ripeness of Joe Spinell - or that of his illustrated likeness, at least!

senski said...

You can even add an inference of oral sex - it looks as if he's about to force the scalp to perform fellatio at knife-point.

Like you say, Jeff - imagine this one in a contemporary cinema lobby. Makes all that uproar about the one-sheet for "Zack and Miri" seem, uh, overblown by comparison.

And Jeff - I sure am glad I read your idea about a scratch n sniff version after I ate...:-)

Jeff Allard said...

Senski, when writing this post I did consider discussing how the act of oral sex is suggested in the Maniac poster but I thought I'd just come off as overly skeevy after all the boner talk. So thanks for being a sport and pointing that out!

FilmFather said...

Based on your discussion of the guy's, uh, excited state in the poster...was that last line of your post just coincidence, or should I supply my own rim shot? LOL

I first saw this poster as an ad in the Philadelphia Inquirer as an innocent 11-year-old. I remember it shocking me, but I couldn't look away.

theverysmallarray said...

Appy-polly-woggies for the miss- spell of Lodge Kerrigan's name. Spookily enough, "Chuck Norris Ate My Baby" just showcased a film exactly like my fevered imaginings called "Tony." I doubt any torture-porn aficionados will pluck their eyes out over it, but it does look as if it might give a real feel for the torment a disturbed taker-of-lives might express as he goes about his terrible business.

Jeff Allard said...

FF, that last line is definitely ready for a rim shot! And theverysmallarray, thanks for the heads-up on 'Tony' - and a shout-out to Chuck Norris Ate My Baby is always welcome here, too!