Let’s face it. Ebay, and the internet in general changed the way we collectors acquire movie posters, and for the better too. One of the last pre-internet purchases I made was of the 1970’s French re-release of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. It cost me $250 plus tax and at the time, I couldn’t be happier. I bought it at a now-defunct shop on Yonge street in Toronto. Hollywood Renaissance was it’s name, and I never missed a chance to pop in when I had time to kill. But shortly after making this purchase, I discovered ebay, where that same poster would sell for $35 plus shipping from France, bringing the total to maybe $60, give or take.
You do the math.
The price has obviously risen in the last 15 or so years since, but hasn’t reached the amount I laid out. I still get a vast majority of my pieces from the internet, but when I travel, I make sure to visit an actual brick and mortar store to dig for goodies. And I do this because:
1) Real people. Maybe I’m out of touch, but I like speaking with actual humans. You can talk about movies, poster artists, or the damn weather if that suits you. In this digital world, it’s nice to connect
2) Real posters. It’s nice to physically behold and handle the pieces you’re about to buy. The web can be a gamble, despite several buyer assurance measures (like ratings from other customers, etc), but seeing the thing for yourself is still the best way to go.
So with that in mind, here’s the first in a series of posts I’m calling Brick and Mortar. I’m paying tribute to actual, physical retail outlets that sell posters.
On a recent trip to New York to film my documentary on why people love horror, I visited the fantastic Chisholm Larsson Gallery, located in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. I circled the destination on my desired places to visit while there and thought about it every day. I left it up to the film crew as to whether or not they would follow me in with cameras. They did, so look for it in the movie. I had been there once before, in 2003, and was thoroughly impressed with everything the store had to offer. But this past trip was, well, a trip in itself.
Having given them a heads up, Robert Chisholm and his warm and knowledgeable staff were ready for us. They put up some pieces of interest (some dazzling European posters for HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, THE TERROR, CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF).
Fortunately, Robert was game to appear on camera, and with that, a lengthy discussion/ogling session was launched. He pulled out a few vintage church posters from Spain circa 1920. These pieces were from a series of about 100 prints, presumably distributed the Catholic churches in and around Madrid. They depict various biblical scenes, but obviously, I was mostly interested in the ones showing hell and bodies emerging from graves and things of that nature.
The charmingly unrefined style, coupled with the unflinching subject matter are enough to make a curious horror fan’s mouth water. Just make sure not to do it near the posters themselves, as they were quite brittle and in need of some preservation. At this point, it should be made clear that Chisholm Larsson deals with posters of all varieties- advertising, sports, travel, cultural events; not just movie posters. But I was there for the movie stuff. You know how it is.
Up next, the staff presented an Italian 4 sheet for Antonio Margheriti’s THE LONG HAIR OF DEATH (1964). A simple design, but exquisite in its simplicity and colour palette. We found this randomly in their stock list, available for browsing on one of several PC’s inside the shop. This arrangement makes poster shopping so much easier. In fact, their website is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Too often it’s an “ask and I’ll see if we have it” kind of deal in most shops. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But a comprehensive stock list, complete with photos, and a variety of search fields makes the trip that much smoother.
After one the staff members voluntarily proclaimed her love for Dario Argento’s SUSPIRIA (1977), I decided to dive into their site to see what materials they had for the title. I found this oddball piece; a vinyl banner, complete with grommets for hanging. Robert and I speculated on the banners initial use. Was it for hanging above the concession stand? Was it used outdoors, for drive-ins? Who knows. Who cares? It’s a thing of beauty, and I’d never seen one before.
As much fun as I was having, it was time to get down to business. A particular poster I had been eyeballing for months was beckoning. It’s for a charmingly terrible film called ZOMBIE LAKE (1981). As far as I knew, it had only screened in France and Belgium, and both posters from those countries boasted the same Constantin Belinsky artwork, seen below.
The film had a relatively broad video release back in the day but used different artwork. In fact it was one of those covers that I stared at as a kid every time I went to Jumbo Video. A couple of years ago, I found a good condition slipcase of the Canadian release.
The art, along with several other Wizard Video releases (Wizard was the US distributor, and I suppose the release above was handled by a local partner) is credited to a C. or sometimes E. Casaro. Is this the same artist as Renato Casaro, hiding under an utterly lazy pseudonym? The style and technique certainly match up. Who knows?
In any event, finding this piece at the Chisholm Larsson Gallery was like finding a needle in a haystack- by accident. As a lover of all things zombie, I of course had to have it. Did anyone know ZOMBIE LAKE ran in Venezuela? I didn’t. Did anyone know that the US video art fronted a theatrical release? I didn’t. Here’s the poster:
They even wrote a very sweet note on the parcel, complete with bloody horror letters!
After the 4th hour of nerding out, it was time to go. Like I said, a lot of the visit was captured on tape and parts of it will make it into WHY HORROR (the name of the documentary).
So thanks Robert and the Chisholm Larsson Gallery staff for a truly excellent and inspiring time. And when in New York, go give them a visit and tell them Tal sent you!