My Top Ten Drew Struzan Movie Art Pieces

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Yesterday I reviewed Drew: The Man Behind The Poster, which is a documentary about legendary movie poster artist Drew Struzan. Struzan has created some of the most well-known & iconic film posters and I love his work. I decided to do a separate post highlighting some of my favorite Struzan pieces of movie art.

At first I was going to focus just on his art that officially got used (whether originally or for anniversary editions). But in looking at his official website (HERE), I discovered a lot of art I like that I’d never seen before. So I figured I’d include all movie-related work (so, I’m excluding things like his super cool Black Sabbath album cover). I already KNOW I’ll be missing something & I’ll later kick myself for it. He’s done so much that it’s hard to narrow it down and, while there’s a long list on his site, I have no idea if it’s complete plus not all the images are shown.

So, after spending probably an hour looking up Struzan’s art, I’ve decided that these are my favorite. Probably. For now. I’m so indecisive! 😉 I’ll fully admit that I have a very hard time not letting how much I like the movie influence my opinion and, indeed, I like all of these movies. Remember I’m not an art expert in the slightest – I just really like the look of these. Especially number one. 

Now here are My Top Ten Drew Struzan Movie Art Pieces:

Honorable Mentions

Indiana Jones Quadrilogy, Squirm (I don’t know this movie but the poster makes it look awesome despite the 4.4 IMDB rating!), Star Wars Original Trilogy, Back To The Future 

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10. TIE: The Goonies & Adventures In Babysitting

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9. Big Trouble In Little China

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8. Ladyhawke

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7. The Dark Tower as seen in The Mist

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6. The Muppet Movie

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5. Revenge Of The Jedi

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4. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

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3. Back To The Future Trilogy

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2. Pan’s Labyrinth

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1. The Thing

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Drew: The Man Behind The Poster (2013) Review

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Drew: The Man Behind The Poster (2013)

Directed by Erik Sharkey

Starring: Drew Struzan, Dylan Struzan, Harrison Ford, Guillermo del Toro, George Lucas, Michael J. Fox, Thomas Jane

Running time: 97 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Drew: The Man Behind The Poster is a 2013 documentary film directed by Erik Sharkey about the career of American film poster artist Drew Struzan.

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My Opinion:

I watched this documentary last year and kept meaning to review it. I don’t know how to review documentaries (or books! man I’m behind on book reviews). As a documentary, I suppose it was pretty good. I don’t watch too many of them unless I’m really really interested in the subject, though, and this one was right up my alley. I love movies (obviously) & movie poster art and Drew Struzan has designed some of the greatest & most well known movie posters. So I’ll warn you right now that I may end up talking more about his art than about the actual documentary.

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Personal Life:

What I liked about this documentary, as with any documentary, was finding out more about Struzan’s personal life as well as his work. They talked to him and to his wife a lot and they seemed to have a lovely, very close relationship (I love a good husband & wife team). I’d say Struzan came across as a bit bitter and angry over certain things (he got very screwed over by someone in his career so I can understand that anger). He was the very definition of a “starving artist” in his early days and his wife was always by his side. I think this documentary got the balance right in talking about his personal life as well as his art. I can’t find any photos of his wife (Dylan) in the documentary, which is odd as she’s a very important part of it. But I found the above photo here, on the website of an artist who met Drew. It’s an interesting article if you want to have a look at the link & get an actual artist’s perspective on things (I can’t draw anything other than stick figures. I can’t even paint a wall properly!).

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It’s interesting how artistic types can sometimes be difficult but I liked how Struzan seems to have said “screw it” and lives for his wife & his art now. I’m difficult too but I have zero artistic talent of any sort so I don’t know what my excuse is… 😉 I’m not saying he came across as unlikeable – just that he does what he wants to do now & too bad if others don’t like it. I think more people should be like that, actually. He was far less grumpy than Paul Williams was in the Paul Williams Still Alive documentary that I watched at the same time. I suppose I should do a mini-review of that sometime too… Here’s my review: Paul Williams is a grumpy fart! Lol. Seriously, though, Struzan came across as a private person who’s very passionate about the things he loves and I have a lot of respect for people who are like that.

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Artwork:

First of all, I’ll say they did a good job getting some famous people to talk about Struzan and the work that he did for/with them (I especially loved Michael J. Fox’s enthusiasm for Struzan’s work – you could tell just how much he loved being a part of the Back To The Future posters). Speaking of grumpy famous people, they even got Harrison Ford to talk about Struzan! How cool is that? He must be the actor Struzan has painted more than any other… We also heard from Guillermo del Toro, George Lucas, and Thomas Jane.

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I’m really glad they spoke to Thomas Jane about his part as a movie poster artist in Frank Darabont’s The Mist. For anyone not familiar with the movie, Struzan’s artwork was used in the beginning and Jane’s character is shown painting Struzan’s art for Stephen King’s The Dark Tower (which Struzan painted specifically to be used in The Mist). Three things I love all together: Stephen King, Drew Struzan & Frank Darabont! Wait… Four! Thomas Jane is a hottie. Anyway, Struzan showed Jane how to make it look like he was really an artist doing a painting then, being the perfectionist that he is, later told Jane that he did it completely wrong in the movie. I loved Jane’s re-telling of the story – he had a great sense of humor about it.

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Frank Darabont is clearly a big fan of Struzan’s as he’s had him do art for a lot of his work (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Walking Dead, and of course artwork for & in The Mist). George Lucas is also a huge fan and Struzan has done loads of Star Wars art for books, anniversary editions, etc. There are so many different Struzan Star Wars pieces that it’s hard to choose a favorite. I think it’s between Revenge Of The Jedi & this one, which was a collaboration with artist Charles White III:

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Struzan did the poster art for Hellboy but he also did an amazing piece for Pan’s Labyrinth, which the studio rejected (much to Guillermo del Toro’s anger). But del Toro is very proud to have this hanging in his home – I’d love to have this!:

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I hate how studios so often feel the need to have horrible, boring movie posters just featuring photos of the film’s stars these days. I understand that seeing the stars so prominently displayed convinces some people to watch a movie (I guess?) but it doesn’t work on me. I’m more interested in a film if it has a really interesting, artistic poster (I’m the same way with books. I’m drawn to books with good covers). Struzan paints the film’s stars anyway so I don’t know why anyone would ever choose some crappy photoshopped photo over a painting for a movie poster. I’d much rather see something like this:

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Summary:

I’ve decided to stop here for a couple of reasons. First of all, I sometimes feel ridiculous “reviewing” movies when I know as little about filmmaking as I do about writing. When it comes to art, I have even less experience or knowledge. I just know what I LIKE and I have a passion for film, music, books, and art & love discussing it with all of you in the same way that someone like Struzan has a passion for actually creating that art. Believe me, I’d far rather be creating it but I just don’t have that ability.

Second of all, if I continue I know I’ll just ramble on & on about all my favorite Struzan pieces. So, in the middle of this, I decided to do a separate list of My Top Ten Drew Struzan Movie Art Pieces, which I’ll post tomorrow. I’ve actually not even mentioned a lot of my favorites, including the one that is my favorite Struzan poster, hands down. I’ll just mention this as I decided that my list tomorrow should focus on only his movie art: When watching this documentary, I had NO idea that Struzan had done album covers and that he did one of my all-time favorites for Black Sabbath. How on Earth had I not known that?! The Alice Cooper one is amazing as well:

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Love those! Like I said, I know what I like and I know that seeing Drew Struzan movie art makes me happy. As for this documentary, I really enjoyed it as I find the subject matter fascinating and it was great getting to know a little bit about this private and talented artist.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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IMDB Top 250 Horror Recap

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I’d like to thank everyone who has done a guest review for my IMDB Top 250 Challenge. I should have planned ahead & saved the horror reviews for October. I’ve kept a few of my favorite Top 250 horrors for myself to review someday so will post one of those the last week of this month and have another review of a modern horror classic from Guest Reviewer Eric posting next week.

As I don’t have a new review of a horror movie from the Top 250 today, I figured I’d post this horror recap with links to the guest reviews (and one I did myself) in case you missed them. Thanks again, everyone! I’ll continue posting the IMDB reviews every Tuesday for the rest of this year then will see how many I have for 2015 as the guest reviews have started drying up. Does anyone want to join in who hasn’t yet done one? Let me know. 🙂

Se7en 1995 (Guest Reviewer: The IPC)

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The Silence Of The Lambs 1991 (Guest Reviewer: Raging Fluff)

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Pan’s Labyrinth 2006 (Guest Reviewer: Cameron’s Pit Of Terror)

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The Sixth Sense 1999 (Guest Reviewer: Flick Chicks)

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The Exorcist 1973 (Guest Reviewer: Celluloid Junkie)

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Rosemary’s Baby 1968 (Guest Reviewer: Film Grimoire)

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Nosferatu 1922 (Reviewed By Me)

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Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Cameron of Cameron’s Pit Of Terror. Thanks for being a part of this IMDB project, Cameron! Now let’s see what he has to say about Pan’s Labyrinth, IMDB rank 106 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

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Pan’s Labyrinth is quite simply a fairytale for adults. Without being afraid to feature faeries and other mystical creatures, it provides a frank and often unpleasant insight into aspects of human nature; precisely what Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and so on originally intended their stories to be before the rose-tinted lens of Hollywood made them fluffy children’s stories. Set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, we follow young Ofelia through her traumatic experiences in both real and fantasy worlds. The episodes in these worlds alternate constantly throughout the film as the plot threads slowly become more intermingled with each other, images begin to repeat themselves between the worlds and common aims become more and more apparent, blurring the lines between fairytale and reality in Ofelia’s eyes (and our own) while the majority of the characters around her are set in dismissing her stories, much in the way they are stubbornly set in their beliefs in the wider world; a flaw that costs a number of them greatly.

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“Whoops, wrong one”

Vidal is a male transposition of the fantasy trope, the evil stepmother, who is shown to be a less-than-pleasant character from the offset through very subtle nuances rather than blatant exposition. The feeling that he’s “a bit of an arse”, are soon compounded to sheer hatred by the quick and effective introductions of various deplorable sides to his character. More than just being the ‘evil stepfather’ by being nasty to Ofeila, he is a brutal, dictator-esque military general whose disgraceful acts and traits are mirrored in many of the creatures Ofelia encounters. Despite this, slight weaknesses are shown in him preventing him from being two-dimensional but not going as far as to make him at all sympathetic. Every character is portrayed as three-dimensional, “human”, with weaknesses and strengths rather than a cookie-cutter frame-filler. This applies from the leads whose traits are explored in some depth, down to characters that feature only for a minute; their nature is exposed through the smallest actions such as hesitating briefly before killing a fallen enemy; stopping to compose themselves before a horrific medical procedure; the list goes on.

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“BOO! HISS!”

Visually the film is at least as stunning as has become the accepted standard for a Guillermo Del Toro film, probably in fact setting the precedent for this expectation. Colour palettes, shapes and presence of natural life separate the real and fantasy worlds, but it would be possible to pause the film at any point, set in either realm, and be presented with a beautifully imagined and composed image. Everything is shot with a calm steadiness; the incredible, unique creatures aren’t given sensational coverage, making them seem more real and paradoxically more sensational, while the occasional brutal violence is framed like any other scene, and shown in single, mundane takes, enhancing the horror and emotional impact of the actions rather than giving them any sense of spectacle or, conversely, detachment.

This is a film that doesn’t so much attempt to balance the fantasy with the horror and despair of the real-world setting; the beautiful, mystical imagery with the brutal, unpleasant window into human nature. It blends them together into one continuous fable and one utterly believable universe. While being almost consistently dark and moody, it is an enthralling film that even after multiple viewings I find myself returning to for the noxious, bittersweet charm that is still unlike that of any other film I have seen.