Exploitation Poster Art

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Live Fast, Die Young (1958)
US 41 x 27 in. (104 x 69 cm)


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This site is dedicated to the art of Exploitation film posters. It accompanies the release of Exploitation Poster Art in October 2005 by Tony Nourmand and Graham Marsh (Aurum Press).

Sex, drugs, delinquency, Black power, alternative culture and, of course, rock and roll: these are just some of the themes which have attracted the attention of the cinema’s bottom-feeders over the past eighty years. A few of the resulting films have become cult classics, but most were simply tacky – few would probably now want to sit through two hours of High School Hellcats or Prison Girls . The posters produced to promote them, on the other hand, are wonderful period pieces that vividly evoke the social fears, temptations and taboos of bygone eras.

Up until the introduction of the Hays Code in 1934 Hollywood had few inhibitions; the title of Cock Of The Air was deliberately suggestive and provocative. Later in the decade, it became necessary to adopt the old tabloid trick of pretending that titillating content had a redeeming social message – thus the producers of The Devil’s Weed were obliged to present it as a warning about the dangers of drug addiction.

In the 1950s, it was the Beats and juvenile delinquents who put a chill into middle-class hearts – and, of course, attracted middle-class kids to the drive-in screens. Then, in the 60s and 70s, came ‘Blaxploitation’ movies like Shaft , Russ Meyer’s mammary-obsessed epics like Eve And The Handyman and even an animated sexploitation story, Fritz The Cat .

The posters for these films, from McClelland Barclay’s artwork for Hotel For Women to Alan Aldridge’s photomontage for Warhol’s Chelsea Girls , are masterpieces of visual innuendo, offering, in most cases, far more that the movies actually delivered.

Exploitation Poster Art is the third in a series of genre-based books (following Science Fiction Poster Art in 2003 and Horror Poster Art in 2004).

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