horror movie poster

Horror Movie Poster

horror movie poster
horror movie poster
Film critics may not take horror as seriously as other movie genres, but for collectors it has always had the greatest allure.

An original 1932 cinema poster for The Mummy starring Boris Karloff realised an incredible $453,000 (£252,000) at Sotheby's, New York, in 1997.

This remains the record figure paid for a movie poster, and other classics from the era are not far behind in the desirability stakes.

Gothic Legend

The first really successful horror movie was Dracula (1931), Universal Studios' adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic Gothic novel, starring Bela Lugosi.

The Hungarian star of the 1920s' Dracula stage version became a movie legend overnight. Surprisingly, Lugosi turned down the opportunity to star in Frankenstein (also 1931), allowing British-born Boris Karloff to make the role of Dr Frankenstein's monster his own. Karloff went on to become perhaps the best known horror actor of all time, his appearance in The Mummy (1932) being another iconic performance.
horror movie poster
horror movie poster

The star in the last of the 'Big Four' films was not human at all, but a giant,
animated gorilla. King Kong (1933) remains the ultimate monster movie. It also provided another movie icon in the shape of heroine Anne Darrow, played by Fay Wray, who died recently at the age of 96.

Poster perfect

Original movie posters for these films are incredibly rare. Auction houses have witnessed frantic bidding when such items do turn up; a Frankenstein poster sold for £110,000, Dracula for £49,000 and King Kong for £28,000.

Many associated items are more affordable than the original posters, however. Posters advertising film re-releases, often with new artwork, are more common and hence less valuable: a 1951 poster for Frankenstein would be worth around a tenth of a 1931 original.

horror movie poster
horror movie poster
Later Boris Karloff movies, like Grip of the Strangler (1958) and Black Sabbath (1963), can be picked up for hundreds, rather than thousands of pounds.

Autograph fans will also want the signatures of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Lugosi's is particularly rare, as he was notoriously reluctant to sign and apparently often got his wife to copy his signature.

As a result a genuine signature is worth around £1,000, while signed pictures can fetch £1,500 to £3,000. Karloff autographs are easier to come by: signatures sell for £400 to £500 and signed pictures go for £800 to £1,200.

Horror movie poster    New monsters

Karloff and Lugosi were joined by other anti-heroes in the 1940s.

horror movie poster
horror movie poster
The Wolf Man (1941), starring Lon Chaney Jr, provided the werewolf movie template, while in 1954 Japan's radioactive dinosaur Godzilla was adapted for Hollywood to create a new monster movie icon.

Collectors are also keen on the British take on horror, produced by Hammer studios in the 1950s-60s, which included colour remakes of Frankenstein, Dracula and The Mummy.

Original posters for these films, many of which starred Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, can sell for £200-£500.

Horror films have continued to delight and frighten in equal measures, but there is still a fascination with the classic monster movies, reflected in the astronomical prices which original artefacts can fetch at auction.


horror movie poster
horror movie poster

  • Cineart Gallery,
tel: 020 7384 0728, www.cineartgallery.com
Original cinema posters

  • Movie Market,
tel: 01935 811001, www.moviemarket.co.uk Original and reproduction posters

  • Quadbod
tel: 0121 778 1714, www.quadbod.co.uk Vintage film posters
  • The Reel Poster Gallery, 72 Westbourne Grove, London W2, tel: 020 7727 4488, www. reel -poster, com Original movie posters


  • Dear Boris: The Life of William Henry Pratt a.k.a. Boris Karloff by Cynthia Lindsay.

Published by Limelight Editions, £17.50, ISBN 0879101067

  • Hollywood Horror:

From Gothic To Cosmic by Mark A. Vieira.

horror movie poster
horror movie poster

Published by Harry N. Abrams, £29.95, ISBN 0810945355

  • Horror Poster Art

by Tony Nourmand and Graham Marsh. Published by Aurum Press, £18.99, ISBN 1-84513-010-3

    The Horror Film Reader

edited by Mark Jancovich. Published by Routledge, imprint of Taylor & Francis Books, £15.99, ISBN 0415235626
  • The Immortal Count:

The Life and Films of Bela Lugosi

by Arthur Lennig. Published by University Press of Kentucky, £28.50, ISBN 0813122732       

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