When your Unkle Lancifer was a wee critter, he had many a mad obsession. One was that he collected horror movie ads from newspapers and put them into giant photo albums. The truth is, I could not be stopped and wherever I went, I was always sniffing around for old newspapers to ravage. I remember coming across some old lady whose house had piles of newspapers on her back porch, ringing her doorbell and telling her I was doing a project on “current affairs” for school and asking her if I could go through her papers. (I got the ALIEN ad that day!)Every Friday I stole the newspaper from the house in front of my school bus stop. I was on a mission, causalities were to be expected. Theoretically these photo albums still exist in my parent’s attic, but if they do not, I would rather not know about it. I’m telling you kids, this stuff was cool; I even had a full-page ad of THE BEYOND, when it was called SEVEN DOORS OF DEATH! Anywhoozles, the other day I was over at the Myspace and I noticed that someone left a nice note to Kindertrauma with a lovely ad for THE PROPHECY right next to it. This person was really speaking my language, so I went to her my space page and frankly, it was like walking into Unk’s idea of heaven on earth. It was all full of horror newspaper ads with promises of more to come. HERE’S WHERE IT GET’S WEIRD… happily I spy an ad for SCREAMS OF A WINTER NIGHT, a PG-rated movie that I went to see with my cousins that really freaked me out (I was a soft touch, you know!) I glance down and one of the theaters listed where it’s playing at, is the actual one I saw it in…BUDCO GATEWAY 3!!! In fact, all the ads are from around my neck of the woods. This isn’t just the history of horror; this is the history of cinema in my home town!!! Some of these are the very ads from my books! Well, I had to contact this person immediately, for as far as I was concerned, this was the find of the century! The Myspace page is appropriately called STARTS TODAY! and the mastermind behind its wondrous existence is named Lana. Lana was kind enough to field some hard hitting questions from cub reporter yours truly and here are the results:
UNK: First of all can we get a traumafession out of you? What was the first film that really scared you as a kid and why?
LANA: There were many films that traumatized me as a child but the first one I can vividly remember is 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY which my mom took me to see in the theater when I was three. And it wasn’t just one part of the movie that traumatized me, it was the whole thing. The apes, the monolith, Hal, the giant fetus floating around in space…all of it! I remember crying when it was over because I was so freaked out. I don’t know how that film got away with a G rating. It may not have any gore but it definitely contains some disturbing imagery.
UNK: Can you tell us a little bit about your history collecting these ads how did you start?
LANA: I use to love looking at horror movie newspaper ads when I was a kid. Especially the gruesome stuff like MOTHER’S DAY and SCANNERS. Advertising was much different back then so if a film featured taboos such as cannibalism and rape, it was promoted as a must see event. And truth be told, the more demented the ad was the more you wanted to see the movie. So one day about six years ago I had a conversation with my father about my love of movie ads from the 70’s and 80’s. After that I started to wonder if there was any way to track the old ads down. I was fortunate enough to find a library with an amazing microfilm collection dating back to the 30’s. I felt as though I had hit the jackpot because not only could I find the ads I grew up with but also the ones that came out before my time. I’ve spent the past six years collecting them and I probably have about 1,000 of them by now. Maybe more.
UNK: (after picking jaw off the floor) Are there any ads that you don’t have in your collection that you wish that you did?
LANA: There are several ads that I’m still looking for but the ones I am most interested in finding right now are SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS, MATANGO (aka ‘Attack Of The Mushroom People’)’ and a 3-D film called ROTTWEILER: DOGS OF HELL.
UNK: Which one is your all time favorite?
LANA: I’m a huge fan of gimmick movies so any ads that involve 3-D, barf bags, surgical masks, Sensurround, and William Castle would have to top my list of favorites. I also love teaser ads. The AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979) is a great example. Several weeks prior to the film’s release there would be these little ads that featured a picture of the house with messages like “The Flies” or “The Unnatural Cold” and that’s all it would say. But you knew damn well what movie it was for and those kind of ads would really get you pumped up to see it.
UNK: Do you still collect horror ads? How do you think contemporary print ads stack up to these classics?
LANA: I am still collecting but not just for horror. I also have several ads for sci-fi, action and porn films.
As for the contemporary ads…
The quality and creativity of print ads started to decline during the late 80’s. By then grindhouses and drive in theaters were dying out so that pretty much made exploitation and double feature ads obsolete. A lot of horror films were being made exclusively for home video so you saw fewer and fewer ads for them in the newspaper. Then we had the horror drought of the early 90’s and there were no ads which really sucked. Horror films became popular again in the late 90’s but the ads for those weren’t very imaginative. They usually featured some lame actors from the WB lined up “smallest to tallest”. And so far I haven’t seen anything this decade that has impressed me.
UNK: Hallelujah to that ! Thanks Lana, not only for the interview but for diligently collecting and sharing these awesome artifacts. You’ve really got me missing those old ads and it’s great to know there’s a place that I can go to find them in the future. If my parents did throw out my albums, it’s good to know you’ve got my back!! Keep up the good work and expect to find me stopping by STARTS TODAY! on a regular basis!