Ever get the urge to re-paper your walls with vintage horror and monster movie posters, boils and ghouls? If so, keep your hand in your pockets and read the following advice from an expert on...

Horror Poster Collecting

It starts out simply. You collect a few horror videos, then a few more, you branch out to laserdisks, perchance, and start reading and collecting horror and monster film magazines—you might even degenerate into surfing to those awful horror film webzines. (Shudder!) Then you decide to take the next step—collecting horror and monster movie memorabilia. What better creepy collectable is there than horror movie posters? Well, the fact is while videos and even laserdisks are relatively inexpensive and usually give you value for money, posters are a whole different kettle of kelp. You can expend hundreds, even thousands, of dollars and end up with a fake or badly abused sample that breaks your budget and your heart as well. What to do? Well, advice from a person who has successfully collected vintage posters would be a good starting point.

Recently, HORROR-WOOD interviewed Dennis, the creator of the great Harry Thomas Web Page and a protean collector of movie memorabilia in his own right, about this very subject. His words should be heeded by any novice poster collector…or even by an experienced one. Accordingly, we present the interview:

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HORROR-WOOD: Original movie posters seems pretty high-priced now. Must they be such a major investment?

DENNIS: Yes, collecting horror and science fiction posters can get real expensive. Recent auctions are really hurting the hobby. The average collector can't afford the prices that they are selling for. If I remember right, a Dracula one sheet sold for $88,000, Frankenstein for $198,000 and a Mummy poster set the record at $475,000. I understand the law of supply and demand.... there are only a handful of these posters in existence these days. But these prices are crazy. If I win the lottery tomorrow, I still would never buy a poster that costs more than my house (laugh). Auctions aren't a good example to judge a poster's worth. Most of the time two bidders get carried away and drive prices higher than they would normally sell for. When other poster sellers see these outrageous prices from the auction house, they raise their prices too. Movie poster sellers see these inflated prices from the auctions and think "Wow, movie posters are a gold mine. I better raise the prices of my posters too." I see the same sellers advertising the same posters at the same high prices month after month.

"Revenge Of The Creature" poster
Revenge Of The Creature (U.S.) The Thing (Mexico)

HW: It sounds like a major financial undertaking. Do you think they're a good investment?

DENNIS: I hate the thought of people investing in movie memorabilia. It really takes the fun out of collecting movie posters if you have to plan on making a profit. If you want to invest in something, try the stock market (laugh). Leave the movie posters for the true collector who enjoyed the movie, and will admire the artwork of a movie poster hanging on his wall.

HW: How about "reissues" of original movie poster? Are they worth collecting?

DENNIS: Reissued (Re-released) posters are sometimes a good way for collectors, who don't have a lot of money, to own a poster from a favorite movie. Sometimes the reissue posters are less colorful, but many times they are just as colorful and have better artwork than the original posters. Always ask a detailed description of the poster and maybe a photo if you are buying an expensive poster through the mail. Be careful of reprinted posters. These are posters that were printed for fans and collectors of movie art, and not actually displayed at movie theaters.

"The Invisible Man" Poster "The Mummy" poster
The Invisible Man (Belgium) The Mummy (Argentina)

HW: When I lived in Europe, I saw many posters for films shown in foreign countries, in the language of that country. How do you feel about "foreign source" posters?

DENNIS: If you want to collect beautiful posters for a fraction of the price, foreign release posters for US movies are really the best value. The artwork is usually different, and sometimes better than the US poster. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the release or reissue date on a foreign poster. Many times the film was released overseas a few years after its US release. I highly recommend Belgium posters--they are usually colorful, small, and easy to frame. Be careful of the many reprint Belgium posters. Mexican lobby cards are also fun to collect because they are 75% artwork.

HW: I have picked up some horror and monster film lobby cards. Are lobby cards worth collecting?

DENNIS: Lobby cards are also fun to collect. In a set of eight cards, the monster is usually shown on one or two cards. Scenes without the monster can usually be bought for a few dollars (depending on the title of course). For the horror and science fiction collector, I recommend collecting the scene showing the monster. These cards are usually full color and are fun ways to collect scenes of your favorite monster.

HW: Overall, how should a poster collector get started. Can you help?

DENNIS: The best advice I can offer is collect what you like and can afford. And always ask for a photo of the poster you are buying, or at least a good description over the phone. Remember to ask about condition and how bright the colors are, because color can fade over time. Happy collecting. If anyone has questions about collecting movie posters or other movie memorabilia, e mail me at scifiman@n-link.com I'd be happy to appraise (free of charge) items you bought or are thinking about buying

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Thanks a lot, Dennis for this primer for poster-collecting neophytes. Dennis can and will help you with your poster-collecting questions. He’s a real fan of the genre, evidenced by his substantial efforts to keep the memory of horror-film makeup artist Harry Thomas alive (see "Monsters, Makeup, and Memories") and by the fact that he has quite a nifty collection of posters himself. You can check out both his memories of Harry Thomas and some samples of his collection at The Harry Thomas Web Page. (The posters on this page come from his collection.) He even has a free e-mail catalog for your perusal…just contact him.

We’ll delve more into horror poster collecting in future issues of HORROR-WOOD. In the meantime, as Dennis says, happy collecting!

Posters on this page from the private collection of Dennis.

 

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