Horror Posters from Around the World: The Classics, Revisited

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How do other countries see the homegrown horrors we create on celluloid? When “A Nightmare on Elm Street” debuted in Japan, did horror fans on the other side of the world get to see the art of painter Matthew Joseph Peak? Or when Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” finally made its way through the tangle of draconian censorship laws in the U.K., were audiences greeted with the original, jarring image of Leatherface going to work on one of his victims–or something stranger?

Throughout the month of October, we’ll be looking at the iconic cover art and posters for some of our favorite horror films–as they were seen around the world.


As Halloween climbs back into its coffin and this comes series to an end, I thought I’d try a grab bag approach to some of my favorite alternate posters from around the world. Many of the picks here are so fresh and exciting because they often represent a spin on that which is familiar.

"Return of the Living Dead" (USA)

"Return of the Living Dead" (France)

For instance, the French “Return of the Living Dead” poster now sits side-by-side with the theatrical art for the 1985 zombie classic, giving star Linnea Quigley some face time as living-dead-to-be punk, Trash. It’s also somehow simultaneously grimmer and funnier than the original image (which didn’t have room for a Civil War soldier hanging out in the corner, looking hangdog).

"Friday the 13th" (Australia)

In the case of the Australian “Friday the 13th” poster, it was less about the drastic difference between the original and localized image and instead a quick glimpse into how movies were distributed back then. This thin, vertical image is from a day poster for the film, which would have screened at a local theater for a single day.

"Night of the Living Dead" (Italy)

Italian distributor FIDA’s “Night of the Living Dead” poster is maybe one of the biggest surprises I came across for this piece. Over the years, I’ve grown so used to the photo posters and home release cover art for the more or less public domain movie, that it’s easy to forget that in some territories, a lot more work was put into promoting “Dead.”

"Halloween" (Sweden)

You would think Italy was responsible for this “Halloween” poster, given how much it looks to have co-opted the art from their homegrown gialli, but instead the image comes from Sweden (whose title is translated as “All Hell Breaks Loose,” I believe.

In the case of the “Exorcist” and “Suspiria” posters from Japan, it’s a matter of taking already memorable images and taking them a step forward. It’s actually strange seeing Argento’s film represented without star Jessica Harper, focusing instead on one of the movie’s first kills.

"The Excorcist" (Japan)

"Suspiria" (Japan)

Finally, even if it kind of spoils one of the final sequences of the movie, this German poster for Lucio Fulci’s surreal “The Beyond’ would definitely put butts in seats for this curiosity which (clearly) has no shortage of the dead to keep a curious viewer interested.

"The Beyond" (Germany)

Learn more about international horror posters.

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