I picked up a used Blu-Ray copy of the original Nightmare On Elm Street today, and while I was happy to usher this flick into my hallowed Three Format Club (meaning I owned it on VHS, DVD, and now Blu-Ray), I was pretty disappointed with the cover artwork. It’s just Freddy Krueger’s distinct silhouette against a red backdrop. My irritation at this lazy cover dovetailed nicely with a conversation I had with my buddy James (aka Signalnoise Studios) just the other night about the painted movie posters for the original Elm Street film series. I did a bit of digging today, and was shocked to find that, not only are the first five posters done by the same artist (based on the style of them, I’d always suspected this, but never actually bothered to confirm it until now), but that they are done by a fellow named Matthew Joseph Peak, who just happens to be the son of one of the all-time greatest movie poster artists, Bob Peak! Great talent really does run in the family, I guess. But don’t take my word for it, check out the original five posters below. I left off Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare because it was created by another artist (and the movie stinks), and I also didn’t include Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and the 2010 Elm Street remake—neither of them belong to the original series, and neither of them have painted posters. Feast your eyes on these beauties, though…
It also turns out that the makers of the recent documentary Never Sleep Again, which focuses on the history of the original Elm Street series, contracted Peak to do a poster for their film--an immensely smart and classy move, I think, and the results speak for themselves:
I’m still reeling from the knowledge that the guy behind these incredible illustrations is the son of the artist who created some of the most exciting and influential movie posters ever (Apocalypse Now, Superman: The Movie, Excalibur…he even makes Every Which Way But Loose look epic!), but it makes perfect sense. Check out Matthew Joseph Peak’s website here, and check out the official Bob Peak website here. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the massive coffee table book of the elder Peak’s work being released this November—it’s available for pre-order on his site. I’ve already ordered mine, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
This is an old gripe of mine, but I miss painted movie posters like I would miss an amputated limb. Every trip to the movies is a little bit poorer without the work of guys like Struzan, Amsel, and Peak (junior and senior!) hanging on the walls of the theatre to excite your imagination. A painted poster used to be a key component in the marketing of a motion picture, and now it seems to be an afterthought that’s largely driven by a bunch of marketing guys trying to copy what worked for somebody else. Can you imagine anyone ever marketing Jaws without using John Berkey’s iconic artwork?