GRAVEN IMAGES is exactly what it claims to be, 235 pages of the best fantasy and science fiction film art you could possibly imagine and-- beyond! It features beautifully reproduced photos of everything from the common one sheet all the way up to six sheets (that were literally plastered on the sides of buildings to be viewed from car or train) and everything in between including half-sheets, inserts, and lobby cards. It also includes a glossary to define these terms for you in case you are unfamiliar with them. Best of all the items represented aren't simply the American publicity materials, oh no, collector Ron Borst who compiled the book has also chosen to add foreign material chiefly British, French, and Belgian though other countries are represented as well, and some of these posters are absoutely breathtaking.
The book starts with a 15 page forward by Borst (everything is always illustrated) aptly called "The Genesis of a Collector". Among other things Borst's hobby lead to establishing one of the best known memorabilia shops in Los Angeles. His forward is followed by the handy-dandy one page glossary, and then by a five page introduction by the ubiquitous Stephen King that sets the tone for the book which of course is how publicity material, specifically theatrical posters sets up the audiences expectations for the film. It also contains 2 lists, one which is King's list of favorite horror movies as of 1992 and the other his list of favorite horror movie posters as of the same date. Looking at the list I'm assuming that he's referring only to American one sheets.
MOVIES (alphabetically) Alien Burnt Offerings The Changling Curse of the Demon Dawn of the Dead Dementia 13 Evil Dead Pet Semetary Psycho Texas Chain saw Massacre
ONE SHEETS Child's Play 2 Curse of the Demon Earth vs the Flying Saucers I Was a Teenage Frankenstein I Was a Teenage Werewolf Night of the Living Dead Paper House Rabid The She Creature Them!
The remainder of the book is divided into eras and each era is introduced by a different science fiction writer; The teens and twenties are handled by the late Robert Block author of PSYCHO, the thirties by Ray Bradybury, the forties by Harlan Ellison, the fifties by Peter Straub, and the sixties by Clive Barker with an afterward entitled "Imagi-Movie Memories 1922--1968" being contributed by the late Forry Ackerman who died of congestive heart failure December 2008. Their anecdotes are all well and good, but the real reason to buy this book is the art, and art it truly is! Many of these images are so beautiful that it hurts to look at them.
The teens and twenties were the high point for this type of poster art in films but all too soon it would end, a victim of mass production. Within a few years circus posters, cigar box labels and all the other forms of beautiful lithography of which these early posters were but a part would be gone forever, and by the 1980's almost all theatrical posters would be photographic in nature. Once you've seen the posters reproduced in this book you'll realise just how big a loss that really was. If you get a chance to take a look at this gorgeous book--grab it! What you find within its pages will open your eyes, especially the work for the silent films that were coming out of Germany such THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI and METROPOLIS for the art chosen to sell these films was every bit as exciting an innovative as the films were themselves.
My only criticism of the book is that I would have liked to have seen mention by name of all the artists who had produced these ephemeral masterpieces. I suspect though that the artists, like their work, were disposable. How very asd.