The other day, I stumbled upon this German poster for The Pacifier ("DER BABYNATOR"), which inspired me to create a slideshow about weird, awesome, and awesomely weird foreign movie posters. In researching, I quickly realized that by far all of the best movie posters come from Poland. Sounds strange, but it's true. All this time, my fierce adherence to xenophobic stereotypes had led me to imagine Poland as a grey land of soot-covered dullards, when in reality, it's a grey land of soot-covered dullards with super awesome movie posters (stapled to the walls of crumbling factories and taped to the screen doors of submarines, I imagine). Sorry, still working on the xenophobia thing.
I'm not naive enough to pretend I'm the first person to discover this phenomenon (jeez, I'm not Polish), and in fact, SomethingAwful did an awesome fake Polish movie poster Photoshop contest a while back which is also worth your time. Anyway, I'm through apologizing. I thought these were cool and wanted to share. The following pages contain some more recent examples of Polish movie poster awesomeness, plus some of my favorites from years past. That one up there on the right? That's Witches of Eastwick, in case you couldn't tell (like, duh). I don't know what the hell it has to do with the movie, but it does do a great job of illustrating the way getting an erection is like your wiener's way of saying "thumb's up" to the universe. BOOM, NOW PUT ON YOUR SLIDESHOW PANTS, HOMIE.
American posters just show two planes tied in a knot, or the plane pulling Santa. The Polish version shows the plane trying to lick its own butt. "Human centipeding itself", as I like to say. Was this a sly comment on the self-devouring nature of comedy sequels? Uh... sure?
Benji: The Hunted
Here, Benji looks less like a dog stranded in the wilderness who has to protect some orphaned cougar cubs from poachers than he does a Communist dictator of a Balkans country. "Trust for Benji, he love you."
That's right, Alien. I mean come on, couldn't you tell? Sure, on the surface it's a film about alien infestation, but at it's heart, it's really a story about the endocrine system. They say the endocrine system never sleeps, you know.
The Big Lebowski
This is the rare Polish movie poster that actually overexplains. Although it seems to focus pretty heavily on just one scene. Maybe it's because Walter Sobchak is Polish? Or perhaps they thought a European audience could really identify with what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps.
Alice in Wonderland
"Johnny Depp, Schmonny Schmepp, you know what's gonna sell this movie? A big f*cking cat."
The Changeling (1980)
Until I saw the tiny "George C. Scott" in the bottom right corner, I assumed this was for the 2008 Changeling directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Angelina Jolie and John Malkovich. That's the cool thing about Polish movie posters, they could just re-use this one and no one would notice.
This one recreates the iconic scene of the film in a sort of awesomely child-like way. There's not much you can say about this one other than that it's a brilliant poster. Though I do enjoy how weaselly and tiny and French they make the Roman Polanski character look, even with just a fifth of his face showing. He might as well be holding a baguette.
Eyes Wide Shut
Gotta love a country that doesn't feel the need to advertise Tom Cruise being in a movie. The most surprising thing about this one is that it wasn't designed by Ralph Steadman.
Yo, just because you draw Brad Pitt black, suddenly he's gotta hold his gun sideways? DASS RACIST!
I'm trying to remember a scene in the movie where Brad Pitt holds a gun. This would be way better if he had a dishwashing glove on one hand.
So... uh... you've got, like, this present, and it's from, uh... Steven Spielberg. And, uh... it's a gremlin... who wants... to turn you into Santa Claus? I dunno, dude. I want the drugs this guy was having.
Harry and the Hendersons
Okay, Harry and the Hendersons. Hmmm, so this is a film about a friendly Sasquatch who's adopted by a middle-class family? Clearly, what this needs is an homage to the WWI anti-war classic, Johnny Got His Gun. War is hell.
The Neverending Story
So I get the luckdragon, but why does Bastien look like the love child of Howdy Doody and Don Quixote? And why does he have dragon feet?
Planet of the Apes
This one gives me nightmares. I'd like to think that in gorilla prison, every turd you hit a person with is worth one Statue of Liberty teardrop tattoo. Whoa, I just blew my own mind.
Now that's just a badass poster, pure and simple. I would wear that on a t-shirt. A blogger wearing a movie t-shirt, can you imagine?
Raiders of the Lost Ark
This makes it look like it's a movie about a bus accident. Though I do like the lines radiating outward from all the subjects. EVERYTHING IS MOVING FAST!, they seem to say.
Romancing the Stone
Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas are in this movie? Well meet Kathlichael Touglas. She's a beautiful, pissed-off tranny with huge hands. I admit, that sounds like a way better movie.
I'm not surprised that a movie about devil spawn would bring out the best in the Polish movie poster design industry.
Short Circuit 2
Holy sh*t, are they screening this at a Quinciñera? Do they have those in Poland? Los Locos keeck your ass! Los Locos keeck your face! Los Locos celebrate Dia De Los Muertos with colorful garlands!
Some Like It Hot
Some like it hot, others like getting straddle-f*cked by hirsute trannies. These hirsute trannies will cram it right in your Klasyka Kina.
I'd never heard of this movie, but suddenly I want to see the f*ck out of it. Hear no evil, speak no evil, OH DEAR GOD MY EYES WHAT HAVE I DONE.
Sweet and Lowdown
I like how they made the guitar look like a sexy lady. Haha, "Sean Pean." That's a burn.
Leave it to a Polish movie poster designer to realize that the most attractive part of The Fly is Jeff Goldblum puking on his food before he eats it.
Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy can't open a flick in Poland, but a chameleon with a dollar sign on its back, that puts butts in seats. (Chameleon must've gotten the flag idea from Larry Flynt).
Weekend at Bernies
That's right, Weekend at Bernies. Look at that poster again. That is a poster for Weekend at Bernies, a comedy about two friends who pretend their dead boss is still alive so they can party at his beach house. If this is what makes people there want to see comedy films, Poland must be the most depressing place on Earth. This poster makes me want to shoot heroin and discuss Nietzsche.
Witches of Eastwick
Okay, I remember the part about voodoo dolls, which would explain the pins, but why does he have a thumb boner and a penis growing out of his head? Oh well, when in doubt, phallic symbol, I guess.
SOURCES, ADDITIONAL READING, ETC.
Thank you for suffering through my obnoxious slideshow (look, man, it's either clicking or scrolling, pick your poison). Here are some of my sources:
PolishPoster (tons of Polish movie posters from a place that sells them, with links to the artists, etc.)
WellMedicated (50 incredible film posters from Poland)
AGraySpace (more, older posters)
UtneReader (a couple more posters)
Empire Magazine (fun Polish movie poster quiz, including a few that I didn't feature here)
Here's an article about the phenomenon from TheBeliever, if you're into, like, context and junk like that.. It'll either annoy you or make you smarter, one of the two.