Our city produces some really excellent films. Much of it horror, sure, but that's indie filmmaking for you. It's always easy to start with horror.
Once you've got your film, though, you've got to market that sucker. Nothing does that like a really eye-catching poster. It's still one of my favorite parts of going to the movies, walking up and down the halls to look at the various posters for upcoming features.
This week we look at some of the best that our underground film scene has managed to make. You know you're a hardcore Houstonian film nut when you've got these on your wall.
10. Dead of Knight Joe Grisaffi's tale of a cursed crusader forced to go on a cruel quest seeking the inverse of virtue took a long time to come out. Despite hearing about it four years ago it was just released on DVD. Still, I remember the first time I saw his eye-catching poster at Comicpalooza, and it's just as great as it ever was. It reminds me of those great old Full Moon posters that used to convince me to hand over my money back when video stores were a thing.
9. Honky Tonk Blood Hank Schyma's bizarre, bloody noir love letter is a must see for any fan of Houston music. All the greats are represented, from Schyma himself to Craig Kinsey to Jo Bird as a science fiction porn star. It had a hell of poster, as well, with Johnny Falstaff capturing his character's perfect mix of menace and charm.
8. Sorrow Millie Loredo's revenge slasher has a really boring official poster. No offense meant because it's a great film, but the regular poster just doesn't stand out in a crowd. This simple promo one, though? It's minimalist and terrifying and screams of the brutal grindhouse productions of old. Less is often more, and there's no denying that this more understated poster was the real winner.
7. The Pick-Axe Murders III: The Final Chapter Of the Houston horror flicks that I am avidly waiting on, the only one that tops Doll Factory on my must-watch list is Jeremy Sumrall's Pick-Axe Murders III (No, there wasn't part I or II). Judging from what I've seen Sumrall is making both a brilliant throwback to the glory days of slashers and also approaching the genre from an almost Whedon-esque direction of female empowerment. He also knows how to make a classic poster. This is like bloody time travel.
6. Spavine The winner of the Post Most Likely to Give You Nightmares Award goes to Tiffany Heath's Spavine. The movie itself is a twisted mess of psychological trauma, body horror, and dead horses. So not only is the poster horrifying, it's unfortunately accurate. Heath's art scares the beejesus out of me.
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5. Hardball: All Balls Don't Bounce Ah Jerry Ochoa... no one ever knows if he's serious or not. He can put one of the most ridiculous titles ever on a film and still make it work. Sure, the poster has our hero in a pink jacket and an improbable hat, but look at the bullet halo and bask in the religious subtext. That poster is a thing of beauty. Silly, silly beauty.
4. Death 7 Ibis Fernandez doesn't make nearly enough noise as he should. Created for the 48 Hour Film Fest, Death 7 is a wonderful short with real vision (Plus, you can watch it for free!) The haunting poster is also a winner, representing some of the better indie horror art styles of the past decade with a slight Plague Town vibe.
3. Spirit Camp Kerry Beyer is responsible for one of the best-known horror films from Houston, and he's got the poster to back it up (Not that we didn't enjoy the character posters used as the header on the front page). Inspired by some of the classic posters for films like The Stepfather and April Fool's Day, you get a nice cocktail of sex appeal and imminent mayhem. Seriously, if you haven't seen this film, you need to.
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2. Kids vs. Zombies On a more lighthearted note is Courtney Sandifer's upcoming kids horror flick. Going with green instead of gore, it's like one of those old, cheesy Nickelodeon Halloween flicks, and frankly there just isn't enough of that sort of thing in the world any more. Since zombies have gone thoroughly mainstream, it's nice to see a local filmmaker relegating them to cheap bogeymen to be fought off by preteens. Man, I can't wait for this film.
1. Jacob I'm not sure I've ever seen a poster I like more than Larry W. Carrell's Jacob. It's just beautiful. The hulking, mentally unsound Jacob holding the body of his poor sister, pursuing his grisly vengeance in tears as an angelic light follows him and bones rot in the foreground. It's an image that haunts you until to go see the film, and I believe it to be Houston's movie poster masterpiece.