The first Asylum film I ever saw was “100 Feet.” A decent ghost story, relatively well produced and cast, nothing remarkable but certainly not horrible. The last Asylum film I attempted to watch was “American Battleship.” A “mockbuster” or “tie in” to the at least equally horrible mega budget “Battleship.” The “mockbuster” has become Asylum's bread and butter much to the chagrin of certain megalomaniac movie producers. I jumped on the Asylum hate wagon at first. With shameless titles like “Transmorphers” or “Battle of Los Angeles” the studio's stock and trade seemed to be out and out plagiarism or whatever the fuck the film equivalent of that is. And Asylum was taken to task and court numerous times for their new found business practice. And I wrote them off, even when they started doing equally horrible but entertaining creature movies for Sci-Fi. I've never been able to get through one of these movies on my own but a couple years ago, at the behest of Tromeric I gave a shot at a drawing inspired by the Asylum creature flick “Two-Headed Shark Attack.” So I doodled my version of a two-headed shark and made a crappy little poster and sent it to Eric. I got the best response I'd ever gotten from anything I'd ever drawn, granted I'd only been drawing for about a year or so at that point, but it was still exciting. Then one afternoon Eric let me know that David Michael Latt had shared my drawing on the Asylum Facebook page and then Cleve Hall (Monster Man and creator of the Two-Headed shark) followed suit. At this point I was also very new to social media so I really had no idea how little all of this actually meant but fuck it, it was exciting and I learned a lot. I made a few shirts and tried to sell them, did posters and contests and on and on. And all the while Latt and Asylum were tweeting and sharing stuff about it. I liked that instead of having to worry about getting a cease and desist letter or something, the company that created the monster I was making weed money from was actually encouraging me and sharing it. So I got a little more curious about Asylum. I learned a bit more about their business model, history, and very quickly realized that they were certainly not the first to apply this model. It looks slightly different because of the social media component that inflates a lot of the entertainment industry and because of the kind of cultural dark ages they happen to be doing business in but Aylum is cut from the same cloth as a Corman, a Yuzna, or a Band. Here are the four reasons I stopped worrying and learned to love Asylum.
- The Crazies, The Ring, Evil Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Grudge, Fright Night, Repo-Men, Piranha, etc. etc. Those films are not original. They are remakes of movies. Most of which weren't original. Repo-Men was shameless and big budget, big star rip off. Piranha was one of the first “mockbusters” riding the Jaws wake of success and they remade it. Its fucking awesome too. But the point is we live in one of the least original times in American history. Everything, even beyond the genre films, is a remake or a tie in or just a plain rip off these days. And anything that attempts to be original is usually a heavy handed flop. This doesn't mean that there can't be good movies, good story telling, and good horror, its just not exactly appropriate for anyone to be making a fuss over the idea of “original material.” We will crawl our way out of this artistic wasteland eventually but at this point the consumer is calling the shots whether we want to or not. The movie industry is at a sycophantic peak. The internet has made it possible for companies to accommodate our taste in a very specific way and react fads and the opinions of fan boys on the fly. We are getting exactly the kind of movies we deserve. Asylum just does it cheap and always makes money and that makes a lot of people angry. I have no problem with people who don't like cheesy low budget genre movies. But diluting oneself into believing that these movies somehow leech from some kind of pure original Hollywood essence is fucking stupid.
- The film industry is an industry. Movies are not high art by default. There are definitely films that are more intentionally artful or pretentious or whatever but “John Carter” is not a piece of art. Movies exist to make money. And they make plenty of money. Hollywood exists because of American capitalism. They have always and will always been about making money. Anyone who tells you differently wants you to buy a ticket. That doesn't mean its not wonderful and magical and all that shit but if you honestly think that anyone, especially at this point, cares about artistic integrity in Hollywood you need to watch more movies. My second reason for giving Asylum a chance and taking time to do a few posters for some of my favorite Asylum titles is how blunt Michael Latt has been about how his company does business and their intentions. Its entertainment. And not in some like Gladiator “Are you entertained!?” kinda way. Its just fun and stupid. They make movies that people can get together get trashed and make fun of. And more and more they are making great cheesy creature movies.
- My third reason is more about me than about the movies. The posters. As an artist I am an amateur and a total outsider. I've done a few fan movie posters and they are lots of fun and good practice. But with main stream movies there is always a danger of copying an element of someone else's design by accident, so i've always tried to do more obscure movies. Asylum's movies are perfect because they have great titles like “Nazis at the Center of the Earth” or “Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus” and are rarely the subject of the hipster horror poster trend. They may not be ground breaking films or anything but they provide raw exciting horror and science fiction imagery that is easy to run with. And with computer technology and printing so cheap and easy these days, turning doodles into things that look more like movie posters is not that hard to do. In Corman's heyday the movie poster for the genre film was often better than the film itself. The images are what survives of these movies. A few frames, a distinctive lobby card or poster. That doesn't make them unimportant films but the art associated with films is just as important and interesting. With the Asylum films I look at it the same way. The movies might not be good or even watchable but if I can draw something kinda cool just by reading the title of a movie or watching a trailer why not. At base its fun and I think that is the whole point of what Asylum does, especially for Sci-Fi Channel. For people to have fun watching bad horror movies the way they have for decades. I may not sit through every Asylum movie but I always appreciate the absurd chimeras they churn out.
- Who fucking cares. At the end of the day, what does it matter if a few fledgling companies ride the waves of the horrible blockbuster spectacles. If you really saw the cover for and rented “Transmorphers” thinking that you were really getting the mega-budget “Transformers” then I have an important offer for you. I am Nephew of Royal Prince of house of Zimbabwe. I have inherited 3 million and will give %70 Euro and need small American investment to act as a third party in order to broker out of country.
The point of all this is I made some posters for some Asylum movies and encourage other artists to do the same. If not for Asylum then for movies that nobody cares about. Find a crap movie with a great title or great scene and do something with it. There are fantastic images hidden all over.The creatures Asylum is creating will resound in our culture consciousness for a long time. We'll get out of this remake wasteland eventually and back to solid well crafted horror stories but until we do there will be folks like the good people at the Asylum. Churning out movies as fast as we can demand them. Instead of looking at them as some kind of Lamprey eel, in the grand scheme of Hollywood nonsense they're really more like Pilot Fish. Remember Roger Corman eventually won an Oscar
- Jeremy Gaulkenstein
|11 x 17|
|13" x 19"|
|10.25" x 18|
To win your choice of one of the three posters you have seen just go here and like the APEP Facebook page. Then either leave a comment, or email firstname.lastname@example.org telling us what your favorite movie poster of all time is. Include which of the 3 you would like if you win, and a way to get a hold of you. It is that easy. On the 27th of September I will put all entries in and randomly draw a winner.
* Sharknado and Nazis At The Center Of The Earth will be matte prints, while the 2 Headed Shark will be on sketch paper.