Top five: Alternative film posters

If ever there was a need for a perfectly executed piece of visual thinking, the movie poster was it. And yet, Hollywood's marketing departments have perfected the art of producing the same poster time and again. Whether constrained by celebrity contracts, design-by-committee, or convention, the results often scream of an opportunity missed.

But Hollywood's generic poster efforts have succeeded in one thing: giving rise to the genre of alternative poster art, with the likes of Olly Moss showing them how it should be done.

Here, Jess Milton, Scriberian illustrator and film-obsessive, shares her top five alternative film posters. 


“American Psycho” by Chris Thornley

Startling and spare, Thornley's brutal subversion of the Star Spangled Banner provides the perfect echo of the film itself. His bleeding flag is such a powerfully simple, cartoonish vision of violence, that is comic. And, of course - like the film itself - it binds those themes to national identity and patriotism. You can find more of Chris Thornley's work at raid71.com


“Metropolis” Josef Bottlik

This poster was made in 1927 for the Hungarian release of Fritz Lang's cult classic. Though the poster with which we are probably more familiar - the one featuring Brigitte Helm as the robot - is iconic, this one gets right to the heart of the deeper themes of the movie at a glance: Industrialisation, oppression and social hierarchy. A hardworking picture if ever there was one - executed with such clarity that it provokes instant recognition of complex ideas. 


“Mad Max: Fury Road” by Andy Fairhurst 

Scriberia Alternative Film Posters Fairhurst Fury Road

It's a brave call to take such a huge step away from the action, but Fairhurst's decision to take a distant perspective does a fantastic job of depicting drama on a vast stage. It's a huge departure from the film's official artwork but loses nothing in creating a sense of real tension and drama. I doubt any Hollywood execs would comfortably sign off a poster that allowed the film's title to be obscured by clouds of dirt, but the typography is original and packed with energy. 


“Mulholland Drive” by Kevin Tong

This beautiful alternative poster for David Lynch's 2001 Mulholland Drive by Kevin Tong, captures the strange dreamlike quality of the film. As critic, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote: 'The movie is hypnotic; we're drawn along as if one thing leads to another but nothing leads anywhere, and that's even before the characters start to fracture and recombine like flesh caught in a kaleidoscope.” The ribbons that make up Rita and Betty’s faces are in a never ending loop, conveying this surreal description perfectly. 


“The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring” by Olly Moss

It’s hard to pick just one of Olly Moss’ alternative movie posters, as he has made so many beautiful variants, but his Fellowship of The Ring poster really stands out to me. There’s so much to discover; each layer reveals a different part of the story, and the contrasts in scale convey the sprawling landscape the heroes must navigate.