“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

AGAINST THE DARK taking over the world

tn_atdghanaIt has been brought to my attention that a hand-painted AGAINST THE DARK poster from Ghana is for sale on the ebay for $250.75. That may seem like alot, but please keep in mind that it’s 15% off of the regular price. And it’s not like it’s $251. It’s a quarter cheaper than that. Not bad.

Nah, I’m just fuckin with you, actually it is a reasonable price for an artifact like this. If you’re not familiar with the Ghana approach to movie posters, they are literally one-of-a-kind original paintings, usually done on cut open flour sacks, that hang outside of the little shacks where the movies (I believe on DVD now) are shown on a TV screen. I have a really good book about it called Extreme Canvas: Movie Poster Paintings from Ghana, but I think that one’s hard to find now. There’s another one that’s supposed to be good called Ghanavision. I enjoy these posters because of their crude look and occasional extreme disregard for movie accuracy. Also I like when they obviously didn’t have much reference material, so they’ll put Arnold Schwarzenegger in his RAW DEAL undershirt for T2 or something.

I know from reading the movie websights that the young artists and designers now like to do their own designs for posters of cult movies or movies from their youth or whatever. Some of them follow the Mondo Tees model of printing up limited editions, or some just post them online, but almost all of them use similar clean, retro styles, usually inspired by the old Saul Bass movie titles, trying to find some very simple image that’s supposed to boldly represent the content of the movie. I knew if I went to /film I could find an example and sure enough their top item includes a pretty nice looking one for DRAG ME TO HELL.

But I say okay guys, it was cute, but we’re done with that game now. Throw the clean silhouettes in the dungeon with zombie movies and ironic musicals where it’s called ____: THE MUSICAL and it’s supposed to be funny because the word in the blank is supposed to be wildly appropriate for a musical, ha ha ha. I’m not impressed anymore. You wanna impress me, I challenge you young artists to rip open a burlap sack and hand paint your own design for a poster to BEST OF THE BEST 2, STONE COLD or BLACKJACK.

I think AGAINST THE DARK is my current choice for Seagal’s worst movie. He’s made ones that were more technically crude, but with his part being so small and the rest of the movie being so generic and dull it’s probly the very worst use of his talents ever, even though he gets to use a sword. So it kind of makes me sad that it’s made it out there to Ghana. If he had known that would be its fate then maybe he would’ve tried harder.

On the other hand I’m glad it’s not a poster for a more awesome movie available on ebay. If it was BELLY OF THE BEAST or something I might find myself going without food for a while.

To see many great examples of Ghana movie posters, or to find me the best Christmas present ever, check out ghanamovieposters.com.

thanks to Zack C. for tipping me off on this one

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 25th, 2011 at 12:32 am and is filed under Blog Post (short for weblog), Seagal. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

33 Responses to “AGAINST THE DARK taking over the world”

  1. Hey, I’m not the only one who appreciates the (few) good points of this movie! Awesome!

  2. one guy from andromeda

    February 25th, 2011 at 3:00 am

    I agree on those terrible simplistic fan art posters you can see on /film all the time. That shit is so terribly tacky. It’s like a wave of uncreativity rolling over you. I don’t understand why these people waste their time on shit like that.

  3. one guy from andromeda, as a life-long Space Quest fan I just wanted to say that you have the best nickname in history of mankind. Seriously.

  4. They got the same kind of phenomenon in certain places in Angola, Namibia, and the outskirts of Kinshasa and probably other places too. Based on my experience, the “posters,” often ink on cardboard or just laminated paper, are just meager advertisements so neighbors can know a [relatively rare] movie is available, sorta like having balloons on a mailbox to indicate a birthday party going on.

    Never realized the monetary boon these things could be, but then these Ghanaian burlap joints seem to be higher quality than what I saw.

    Sorry about the lack of foresight anyway, Vern; coulda already had a badass gift for you. Near Luanda, there was a DOLEMITE poster thing made out of marker colors and cropped magazine photos scotch taped to cardboard. Inside was a surprisingly decent but ragged blaxploitation VHS collection. I never would have remembered all this if not for this post.

  5. I was getting a bit tired of the basics approach to posters, but I have to say there is a great one for Drive Angry. Can’t find it anywhere online. It was in an issue of Empire a couple of months back. Essentially, it’s a skull on a red background, but where the teeth should be there’s the shift pattern from a gearstick. Looks very cool.

  6. Sorry to get offtopic a touch, but this article, from a place I’ve never been, I think gives an idea of the contrast between 3rd world & our 1st world habitats, of how raw an experience it is to distribute and to attend the movies in certain shithole places.

    Sand floors, copies of copies of VHS, 10¢ a ticket, no home language subtitles, “Death to America,” etc..

  7. “I think AGAINST THE DARK is my current choice for Seagal’s worst movie.”

    At least he swings a scimitar around a little, and you can see it’s him. I think TICKER and THE FOREIGNER are much worse, and I’ve never seen ATTACK FORCE. The ones where Seagal is essentially trying not to be on screen even when he is on screen — just makes me cringe. SUBMERGED is in this category, too, although redeemed with the “I’m in full scale riot!” line.

    He at least seems to be enjoying being “Tau” when he does grace AGAINST with his presence.

    How about a proper post on “worst Seagal movies,” Vern?

  8. “On the other hand I’m glad it’s not a poster for a more awesome movie available on ebay. If it was BELLY OF THE BEAST or something I might find myself going without food for a while.”

    There’s one there for THEY LIVE.

  9. DocZ – Seagalogy has chapters on everything up to and including “Pistol Whipped”. But personally I agree with you on “Against the Dark” – I think “Submerged”, “Kill Switch” and “The Patriot” are far worse.

  10. I agree that all movies mentioned are among Seagal’s worst, but AGAINST THE DARK is the only one with the one-two-combo of him being barely in it and the rest of the movie being a generic Sci-Fi Channel type movie with nothing even remotely interesting ever taking place in it. ATTACK FORCE, KILL SWITCH and SUBMERGED at least have some personality in their weird touches, like the super drugs in ATTACK FORCE, the bizarre ending in KILL SWITCH and the exploding goats and what not in SUBMERGED. THE FOREIGNER is dull but somehow seemed better the second time I saw it. Not that I suggest seeing it again unless you’re writing a book.

  11. Yeah, AGAINST THE DARK took me four tries to get through; its his only film I honestly struggled to finish and totally killed my momentum towards watching the post-“Seagalogy” films. It has all the most dull cliches of SyFy original movie fare; disposable actors, dull, generic sets, lame rip-offs of better movies, poor film fundamentals (including but not limited to, blocking, lighting, acting, writing, editing) and just generally dismal, humorless and unimaginative content, front to back. You get to the end and you just can’t understand why anyone would want to tell the story they just told, or why you watched it.

  12. The minimalist posters are getting very old and are striking me as a lack of talent. This isn’t for a movie but some of you guys might like it. Maybe the coolest thing I bought last year, http://www.theskidshop.bigcartel.com/product/indeed

  13. Aight, Andy, that makes me wanna bust out my twin .45s and whistle, but Vern wouldn’t know anything about that.

  14. Wait, I don’t understand your ‘musical’ remark, vern.
    Are you trying to say you hate Cannibal: the musical? I mean, it came out in 1993.
    Or maybe I just misread that.
    Either way i’d buy that poster for you if I wasn’t already selling my organs to the street docs just to make ends meet.

  15. The specific one that comes to mind is EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL. It’s the same type of “ha ha, but it’s a musical” joke but at least they made the CANNIBAL one before it was such a cliche (although there already had been Sweeney Todd and probly other musicals about murder).

  16. Ah! Yea, it’s a tough thing to pull off. At least most of them don’t involve concussions, ala Spiderman.

  17. Vern, thank you for having the balls to TELL IT LIKE IT IS on those GODFORSAKEN minimalist posters. I’d like to go to certain movie websites for just one day without having an article hawking a new minimalist poster/tee that seems like it took someone about 45 minutes to Photoshop. I mean, seriously, the whole movement hit rock bottom with this –

    http://www.chud.com/28366/edgar-wright-gets-the-indie-minimalist-poster-treatment%E2%80%A6and-theyre-great/

    Oh, and Mr. Subtlety – that TCM poster is awesome, it actually shows a certain style and lunacy. Bonus points for not being a Saul Bass-esque silhouette of a chainsaw.

  18. Mouth, speaking of Black Hawk Down getting the media coverage it deserves…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VovRTt0hAPk

    ^ not recommended if you are American and have never had a cynical thought about your country or its film industry

  19. I like the Dirty Harry too. There are definitely some good ones. It’s just that it’s time to try new ideas now.

    The clean, minimalistic look was a natural reaction to the information overload all around us, but it just piled on so fast that now it’s time for the pendulum to swing the other way. I wanna see these kids sit around detailing the shit out of their posters. But I guess then they’d all just copy the other Mondo Tees guy who did the Hell Ride and Best Worst Movie posters.

  20. I’ll give credit to the ones where they put a bit of effort in, but when it’s a just a skull and it’s supposed to represent Evil Dead, that’s lame.

    If you want a head-scratcher, Polish movie posters are… different. Seems depending on the artist, the film will get an arty design that gives you chance to play ‘Guess The Film’ or something painted by a five year-old.

  21. Speaking of Polish posters and five year olds:
    http://www.polishposter.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=4769

    In fairness, though, I’ve seen some Polish posters that I like a lot, like this one:
    http://www.polishposter.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=0869

    They might have confused a Steven Seagal film for a Steve McQueen film. Also, Nico seems to be breakdancing.

  22. Thanks for the link, Stu. That was hilarious. The strength and sincerity of the song overcomes the familiarity of the joke.

    Also, the guy who sings Billy’s role sounds like Mr. Plinkett.

  23. I like Tyler Stout’s “Robocop” poster. But his approach is kind of the opposite of what Vern’s been talking about.
    But on the subject of Steve, I saw this ad on tv the other night, but didn’t mention it yet.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1b6qynvuDw
    Sorry if someone has already posted about it, there can be a lot of comments to read.

  24. Ouch, Subtlety and Vern have really ripped into this one. :(

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think “Against the Dark” is anything close to being as good as “Marked for Death” or “Exit Wounds” or even “Under Siege 2”. I just think it’s not quite as indefensible as you guys are making out. The thing that really does bug me is that in this one, “everyone loves Seagal” syndrome hurts the film as much as it did in “The Patriot” (which IMO is worse). Nobody questions Seagal so there’s no real tension between the characters. If it wasn’t for that, it would be a much better film.

    Also their vampire defense strategy sucks. (I’m not going to repeat here what I said in the AtD thread, but suffice to say that it’s probably not a good idea to wear an open-necked low-cut top if you happen to be in a building infested by vampires. Of course, if you don’t have cleavage you lose your key audience, so what do you do?)

  25. Hey, I just saw a minimalistic poster that is a pretty original take. And it’s for SCREAM 4!
    http://tinyurl.com/5s7dkbx

  26. I just received GHANAVISION. I’m a bit disappointed because a) it’s a small book and b) the text is only 2 pages long and not very interesting. But it does show a ton of great posters, so all in all I’d say it’s still €18 well spent.

  27. Hey Vern, if you’re still interested in movie posters from Ghana, there’s a new book that came out last month in France, CA S’AFFICHE MAL, and reviews say it’s really good: http://www.amazon.fr/Ca-saffiche-mal-meilleur-affiches/dp/2356871276/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1318685069&sr=1-1
    I’m not sure you can get a copy on Amazon.com though.

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