First things first, I know launching a top 100 Mondo screenprints list right as the CEO of the Alamo Drafthouse is in the midst of an industry wide sexual harassment scandal, is problematic. I’ll point you in the direction of my piece about the problems with Tim League and Devin Faraci right here for further information.
With that in mind, let’s take this down a notch and get personal. Film posters are a huge part of my hobby – I’ve been a lover and admirer of film screenprints for years now. When we travelled to America for the first time in 2011, we made a journey down to Austin – in part to visit the Mondo store. My first proper screenprint was Phantom City Creative’s Werewolves on Wheels poster – a print that was released on a Tuesday evening after the screening.
As you’ll read throughout these ten lists, I’ve made friends through this hobby and travelled to places I didn’t think I would just to be with folks associated with this hobby. For a bit of background on the hobby and my experience with it, give my review of 24×36 A Movie About Movie Posters a read here.
I could go on and on, but let’s let the art talk for itself. Come back each day over the next two weeks to see what prints have made it into my top 100 – and at the end, let me know what you would have put into the list.
100. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is a pinnacle of horror cinema. In an era when slasher reigned the horror genre, The Shining cycled along through the long hallways that make up the maze that is horror and announced itself as a force to be reckoned with. For many, this is Kubrick’s best film. For me, it’s not high on my ‘Best of’ Kubrick list, but I can appreciate its fantastic intricacies.
Mondo has created multiple Shining related prints – in fact, even going so far as to create an Easter egg laden print for the ‘documentary’ Room 237 – and it’s Kliensmith’s effort that showcases the mania that runs through Jack Torrance’s mind the best. Another Shining print will feature on this list, but it’s Kliensmith’s early Mondo work that helped cement Mondo as being a company to keep an eye on. Jack standing trapped in the maze of his mind is as apt a representation of the torturous events within Kubrick’s horror classic.
99. Within the world of film screenprints, there may often be a desire to showcase an iconic scene. After all, our memories of the films we love are driven by iconic moments, so it’s only natural that we want to have those moments captured in print form to frame and look at daily. While Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World may not be the worlds most adored film about man eating dinosaurs, it does at least have some truly spectacular CGI mayhem on display.
Shan Jiang’s Jurassic World print portrays the outcome of the jaw dropping dino fight that makes up the climax of the film. The films ‘Chekovs gun’ (the aquatic mosasaurus) makes its presence known as the battle between the T-Rex and the Indominus Rex rages on. Leaping out of the water, it drags the Indominus Rex into the water, and we as the viewer are left to wonder what the heck is going on down below. Jiang’s print shows the brutal death of the Indominus Rex in superb orange and blue glory. This may not be for everybody, but for me, the way Jiang captures death of two gargantuan beasts and the downfall of the once operational Jurassic World is exactly what ten year old me dreamed I would see one day on film.
98. Mondo have become well known as creating some of the finest series of prints for different pop culture properties. Whether it’s the never ending Star Wars related material, or the deep dive into the Universal Monsters series, Mondo always delivers. An almost never ending well of material was tapped with the Batman license.
In one of the almost endless Phantom City Creative Batman prints, the fan favourite villain Harley Quinn is shown in pin-up fashion straddling a falling bomb. It’s Dr Strangelove by way of Batman – and it’s glorious. There’s a certain glee in Harley Quinn’s smile that says she knows fully well the destruction that’s on its way – and she cannot wait.
97. A fair amount of the early Mondo prints either had a very Xerox-esque feel to them or appeared to be simply a photo transferred on to paper. They all have a great, independent, off the record, on the QT, very hush-hush feel to them – the sort of poster you’d expect to find stuck up at the back of your local record shop. Honestly, if this list were another 100 entries long, you’d most likely have seen more than a fair few of those entries on that list.
However, this is only 100 entries long and because of that I’ve opted to go with the best Terminator print that Mondo has released. While regular artists Ken Taylor, Kilian Eng, Jason Edmiston and Tom Whalen have all created stunning Terminator prints, it’s Yann Legendre’s doom laden print that captures the mood and fear that seeps into the seams of James Cameron’s iconic sci-fi flick. We don’t see who is pointing a gun at this woman’s face – we just know that it’s not good. If you haven’t seen Terminator, then you could think this would be just a regular story of death; but when you have seen Terminator, you know that this could possibly be any of the Sarah Connor’s in the phone book, and you know what’s coming for them. And it aint good.
96. Just like the Terminator series, there have been many prints made for Sylvester Stallone’s iconic Rocky series. There’s another entry into that series coming up later on this list, but for now, the best print released by Mondo that helps evoke the feelings of the Oscar winning film is Cesar Moreno’s Rocky print. Here, Stallone’s Rocky is a deity – an ethereal figure who lines a print that wouldn’t be out of place on the walls of a boxing arena. The filigree and colours evoke a very Italian feel that is the natural undercurrent of Stallone’s film.
Honestly, it’s hard to pick just one great Rocky print, and if he didn’t already appear a few times later on, Olly Moss’s great print could have been in this place. However, Moreno’s likeness of Stallone is spot on and one look at this print immediately tells you the drive that’s within Balboa and the iconic Rocky theme will start ringing in your mind.
95. As with Yann Lagendre’s Terminator print, Delicious Design’s Rashomon feels like it could just be a photo with some fancy stuff placed on it and put on paper. But good art design can often appear simple and make you say ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ (Anybody who has looked at a Olly Moss’s work will no doubt have said, damn, why didn’t I think of that?)
Delicious Design’s work on this great Rashomon print shows the multi-tiered levels within the story that Kurosawa weaves in one of his many masterpieces. Each ring on Takashi Shimura’s face shows different shades of the same story – with a red dot right in the middle that is the truth. These ‘alternative film prints’ were designed to honour the film they’re representing, and to entice people into seeking them out. Delicious Design’s work here does exactly that.
94. The nature of Mondo prints has the artists providing their own artistic spin on a film. Part of the drive of screenprints is to provide a genuine alternative to the often hum-drum and bland floating heads posters that litter cinemas around the world. Jock’s work since he joined the illustrious list of Mondo artists in 2011 has gone from strength to strength. Each new release is as great as the last one. Each release feels as if it is the official poster for the film it’s based on.
This is no more evident than his work for the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. Literally oozing with neon green colours, this print had me having my own ‘Sinbad was in Shazaam’ moment when I first saw it. I was convinced that it was the official poster – that’s how good it is. The nostalgia that Jock’s work evokes is undeniable. Pair that with the pure excitement that the leaping and fighting turtles conjures, and you’ve got a winning print.
93. James Rheem Davis’ work has often had a dirty, gritty feel to it. It feels like someone has photocopied a bunch of different pictures together, compiling them in to one torturous picture. His Nightmare on Elm Street provides a take on Freddy’s iconic glove that leaves a mark on your mind – seriously, take a look at that print, then close your eyes and tell me what you see.
Two white, terrified eyes. Those two eyes peering through the blades of Freddy’s glove stare directly into your soul as if they’re pleading for help. White faux-tears on the paper are paired with dark black and vibrant red colours. Close your eyes again and what do you see? Freddy’s iconic striped shirt. Davis’ work lingers in your mind like all great art should. A perfect pairing for a nearly perfect film.
92. Tom Whalen’s work regularly pairs two contrasting colours together to provide depth in the image he creates. I’m certain that there are many of you who will be asking ‘why isn’t Frozen on the list? Why isn’t Toy Story on the list?’ and I hear your cries. I apologise. While those works are good, there is none that tops Whalen’s great portrayal of High Noon.
Here, the town has literally become a ticking clock, with Gary Cooper’s Marshall standing in the middle. If you haven’t seen High Noon, then Whalen’s print provides with you a stunning sense of unease and impending doom. The clock almost consumes Cooper, and paired with the tagline ‘the story of a man who was too proud to run’, you’re already provided with the foundations of the dilemma that drives High Noon.
91. Jonathan Burton’s work has gotten grander and grander as he’s progressed. There is an ethereal quality to his work that makes his prints for Rosemary’s Baby and Vertigo feel truly otherworldly. With House on Haunted Hill, Burton has presented the mythic antics of William Castle in all its spooky glory.
Vincent Price sits sleekly smiling, draped in shadows. A skeleton grins in the window frame, holding up a hanging woman. Lightning cracks in the distance. All of these elements evoke the spine tingling feelings that no doubt would have occurred if you managed to see a William Castle film in its original gimmick driven format. A great poster will sell you on the film on what it promises, and Burton’s work does exactly that.
So that’s the first ten in this top 100 Mondo prints. Come back tomorrow to see what’s next on the list…