Since it's SHARK WEEK, I'll look at the two kinds of shark movie posters.
Let's compare a classic with a new one:
The gold-standard is the above artwork for the 1975 film JAWS. We all know this iconic image: Lady swims naked, blissfully unaware that she is about the be chomped by the giant shark.
But in SHARK NIGHT's image, the woman realizes the life-and-death situation, her face expresses panic and terror as the leviathan lunges towards her.
So which works better for you?
The blissfully unaware victim OR fully-aware damsel in distress?
The JAWS poster reminds me of something from Hitchcock, there's a ticking time bomb underneath a table where two women are having tea -- they don't know it's there, but we do. It's suspenseful.
In Gary Larson's 10th anniversary exhibit The Pre-History of the Far Side he includes some early rough-sketches of his single-panel cartoons. One of the comics features a lobster being held just above a pot of boiling water. A group of chefs look on, as the cook throws a baseball towards the target. It's just inches away from making contact and sinking the doomed lobster.
Larson scrapped this version, claiming that it took away the dramatic tension. So he drew it again, this time showing the cook holding the baseball, rather than throwing it. The same dread that's used in the comic is seen in some of these movie posters. (Of course in both versions, the lobster is aware of it's unpleasant fate, but you get my point, right?)
|Heather, aware and scared. So scared.|
My wife observes that in the JAWS-style image, we relate to the woman as prey -- because that could be any of us. But in the SHARK NIGHT poster, the viewer is encouraged to identify with the predator; we feel the thrill of making the woman scream.
I kind of think it's the other way around -- if the character is oblivious to the peril, we DON'T relate to her. (Isn't that why some people yell at the movie screen?)
What do YOU think? Which approach do you prefer?
Before you answer, look at a few examples from the past few decades: (note -- occasionally the shark is replaced with another sea creature.)
Chesty British Scientist is totally UNAWARE of that shark.
80's lady on a raft is surprisingly UNAWARE.
She seems WELL-AWARE of the giant, killer octopus.
Italian wind-surfer has NO IDEA about the iceberg-like shark (or the lawsuit that will keep this movie from being seen in the U.S.)
JAWS 2 water-skiier is UNAWARE of the toothy leviathan.
But the JAWS 2 scuba-diver is HIP TO SHARK DANGER.
This theatrical poster shows a CLUELESS swimmer.
But the PIRANHA VHS art features a swimmer who is FRIGHTFULLY AWARE of the fish.
But does she know she's the same woman in this next poster?
Roger Corman got his money's worth out of this poster-model.
International DVD artwork shows an OBLIVIOUS blonde.
In this TURKISH poster, the swimmer CAN'T HELP BUT NOTICE the shark (and the Oscar)
|Spidey-sense DOES NOT WORK in the water.|
|Is the shark aware that it's about to get skewered by Mrs. Brody? |
And does Lorraine Gary know that this will end her career?
In conclusion: Women on inflatable rafts are more likely to be unaware of the rapidly approaching death-chomp.
Extensive recap of Kevin and Matt GEEK OUT ABOUT SHARKS
Horror Movie Characters: A-Z