I have just seen tonight that the new Godzilla film is to be released next month (31st May). Whilst it has been subtitled: ‘King of the Monsters’ after the 1956 original, on watching the trailer it seems like it’s a complete reboot of the 1968 movie ‘Destroy All Monsters’ featuring King Ghidora, Mothra, Rodan and chums with the same storyline. Well. what’s this got to do with Graphic Design then? and how come I know about 1950’s/60’s monster movies?..
I have already let slip before that I am a huge fan of Second World War propaganda posters, more as an art medium than a set of life principles. Just the sheer brilliance and depth of effect that was garnered by a generation of (in my opinion anyway) some of the most talented artists that ever lived that produced such hard hitting and memorable work; much of which was so hard hitting and memorable it still sticks in the collective cultural psyche of the world to this day.
These artists, that spent the war making ‘the enemy’ look sinister and terrifying (whichever enemy,- propaganda posters were created and used by all sides), found themselves and their skills immediately re-employed after the war in producing fear and doom for Hollywood and other studios. Creatures from the Black Lagoon, Werewolves, Aliens and even blobs of gelatinous goo became the new brutal, merciless soldiers and marauding invaders of just a few months before.
Monster movies after the war years were in their heyday all the way up to the early 70’s (when following the serial killer media ‘epidemic’ fear became more about slashers – Friday 13th, Texas Chainsaw, Halloween anyone?).. People needed to be scared and nobody was better qualified to do that job of drawing people from the streets into the cinemas with fearful posters than the same propaganda artists that had been doing it already using the same tactics. You just change the face of a German or Japanese soldier for that of an Alien from Mars. or, substitute An allied pilot for a dragon monster flying over and terrorising your city and job done.
In short: WW2 propaganda posters and post war horror posters were basically in style, message and effect,- the same thing.
Here’s my personal copy of ‘Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters’ poster! Now you know how I know who the new Godzilla ‘cast’ are 😉 I actually got this on Amazon for just £3, about 4 years ago .. we really should keep these things alive in our homes, not just to celebrate a great age of art but quite frankly because these old things look pretty cool.