There are many requirements to becoming a movie poster designer, like knowing how to design stuff, or not being a complete maniac who can only draw what the voices in his head tell him to, or having at least a passing familiarity with the movies you're supposed to be promoting. Well, some countries play fast and loose with these rules, especially the last one, as these insanely misleading foreign movie posters continue to prove.
Take a step back for a moment and pretend you've never heard of these movies. Would you, based solely on the poster, pay money to see ...
#14. Short Circuit (Czech Republic)
Remember Short Circuit, the light-hearted comedy about the Wall-E-like robot who comes to life and learns about friendship? Well, in the Czech Republic this was seen as a bleak parable about the inevitable death of the proletariat at the hands of the automated industrial complex, so they replaced Johnny Five with GLaDOS on the poster and put a skeleton hand in there to symbolize how everything is fucked. Also, maybe cash-in on The Terminator just a little bit.
It's not coincidence that Short Circuit 2 came out just before the fall of the Czech communist regime; both Johnny Five and Ally Sheedy are still hailed as national heroes over there. At least someone remembers them.
#13. Star Wars: A New Hope (Japan)
Jabba the Hutt is played by Jackie Chan.
The Japanese artist behind this poster saw five minutes of Star Wars before deciding he already knew where this was going: Clearly, these two robots wandering through the desert would meet many deadly opponents, causing the golden one to unleash some kung-fu fury upon them. Meanwhile, the shorter robot feels so shamed and dishonored by having been defeated that it becomes frozen in the middle of the desert, leading to much hilarity. Eventually the two mechanical friends combine to form a larger robot, The Star Warrior, and save the universe from the evil bun-headed witch in the first scene.
It's sad how predictable American movies have become, really.
#12. Aliens (Poland)
First let's clear something up: It doesn't say "ORGY" up there, it says "OBCY" (the Polish name for the Alien franchise), so you can stop searching for a working torrent of this movie. And now that that's out of the way -- what the bleeding fuck are we looking at, here? The first Alien movie had been out in Poland for several years at this point (we know this because we've seen the equally insane poster for it), so it's not like the poster-makers had an excuse for having no idea what the Xenomorphs look like. Apparently their memory had been slightly impaired by the triple dosage of LSD they had for breakfast that morning, leading to a conversation like this:
"Hey, just double-checking: How many eyes do the aliens have, again?"
"All of them. All of the eyes."
"Yeah, that's what I thought."
#11. The Birds (Czech Republic)
Right, Czech Republic, because Alfred Hitchcock's classic premise of "all the birds suddenly decide they hate us and want us dead" wasn't terrifying enough for you. No, you had to add some drug-induced vision of a ... a ... we don't even know what we're looking at, here. Yeah, we can identify the naked lady with the giant butterfly wing growing out of the side of her head, obviously, but the other thing defies description. At least in this language.
At some point the poster's artist was called in to his supervisor's office and told they needed to put some type of bird on this poster, or there would be lawsuits. Eventually they negotiated it down to a stork holding a broken spear, just so everyone could go home.
#10. Slither (Guyana)
The dog is Nathan Fillion.
Admittedly there are a lot of weird things going on in the 2006 worm apocalypse movie Slither, but a grinning dog isn't one of them. We also can't seem to remember the scene where a young child shrugs and sticks out her tongue while a giant worm horrifically comes out of her forehead. And finally, Michael Rooker (Merle from The Walking Dead) looks like a more pleasant and civilized worm monster in the Guyanese version. When reached for comment, the artist behind this poster said "You mean this is a horror movie?!"
Then again, Slither's director, James Gunn, himself claims this poster "captures exactly what I was trying to say with this film," so what the hell do we know? Besides that we now fear James Gunn, that is.
#9. The Pink Panther Strikes Again (Czech Republic)
The Pink Panther Strikes Again is about Inspector Clouseau doing the exact same thing he'd been doing for the past four Pink Panther movies, which is being silly and defaming the French every time he opens his mouth. At no point does he visit Hell and/or take some mescaline and crawl into a trash can, although that sounds like an interesting unexplored avenue for the franchise (maybe there's still hope that the Steve Martin version will do that one day).
In any case, any Czech moviegoers who paid a ticket expecting to see some type of psychedelic war drama and instead saw Clouseau bumping into things for two hours must have left the theater hating the French even more than we assume everyone in their country already does.
#8. An American Werewolf in London (Japan)
Movie Poster DB
This looks unusually appropriate for Japan.
The '80s horror-comedy An American Werewolf in Paris is actually more horror than comedy (that transformation scene is closer to The Thing than to Animal House) and was marketed as such in most places ... except in Japan, where it was apparently seen as a wacky romp for the whole family, judging by this poster. OK, maybe not the whole family, since they put the wolf giving oral sex to a nurse in there, although Japanese kids probably see worse in their Saturday morning animes. This part may have also given birth to the whole furry porn genre.
Naturally, the only real part of the movie that caught the attention of the Japanese marketers was the one where the protagonist steals a boy's balloons in the zoo to cover his genitals -- which is understandable, considering they have a word for "naked zoo balloon thief" in Japan.
#7. The Omen (Czech Republic)
Movie Poster DB
We choose to interpret this as Satan with Gregory Peck's face for a crotch.
The Omen is a distant prequel of The X-Men where Gregory Peck has a creepy son with the mutant power of being the Antichrist. This Czech poster solves one of the movie's most longstanding mysteries: How the heck did Satan (who never appears in the film, by the way) convince a human woman to have sex with him? The answer, of course, is that he's totally ripped. Check out those perfectly oiled (Gregory) pecs. Also, he has a light bulb growing out of his head. Damn. Who could resist that? Even Mr. Peck's interest seems piqued, and he's the 16th most heterosexual man in history. He had to turn away and bite his lip or he'd lose control.
Considering the tragic events surrounding this movie, we have to assume that the genius who painted this poster died after accidentally sitting on a lightning rod and becoming impaled. It was all worth it.
#6. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Poland)
Movie Poster DB
This poster alone has better pacing than Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
We're cheating with this one: This poster isn't misleading. It's the opposite of misleading. In fact, this poster is so not-misleading that it actually spoils the entire movie, if you can decipher what's going on in it.
Seriously, it's like the artist (who, judging by the drawing style, must have been in Poland's equivalent of elementary school) was told, "Alright, just take the coolest moment from Raiders of the Lost Ark and draw it," but he simply couldn't pick one scene, so he drew all of them. Literally all of them. There's the shirtless mechanic about to get sucked into the airplane propeller; there are the Nazis about to open the box and have their faces melted; there's Waldo, hiding behind the beach changing booth ... wait. Shit. We lost him.
#5. To Kill A Mockingbird (Croatia)
In To Kill a Mockingbird, a white lawyer in 1930s Alabama must defend an African-American man in court. The lawyer claims that his client couldn't possibly have committed the crime they're accusing him of, because he's actually a disembodied hand with a face. Or at least that's the impression Croatian audiences must have gotten from this poster, which looks like the result of the cast pictures getting misplaced and the artist scrambling to replicate them with shadow puppets. Luckily he gave up after one character.
Maybe in Croatia there's a whole genre of films about the hardships that disembodied, face-having hands must endure, and the marketing people thought that would be more relatable than good ol' Southern racism. That, or all Croatia knows about black Americans is that they love high-fives.
#4. Star Wars: A New Hope (Russia)
Why would a Russian poster for Star Wars feature a stoned lizard man staring up at a disco ball in outer space? Is this how they imagined Darth Vader would look like under the helmet? Well, there's actually an interesting story behind this. During the USSR, Star Wars posters like this one would hang in Soviet college dorm rooms everywhere, and KGB agents would hide behind them, watching the students through the holes in the creature's eyes and listening in for subversive anti-communist plots. That's right, in Mother Russia, movie posters watch y- argh, we've been shot by Han Solo.
That's all bullshit, of course. The real explanation for this poster is that Russia just doesn't give a fuck.
#3. Christine (Poland)
Movie Poster DB
Finally, something for the legions of automotive vagina dentata fetishists.
"OK, so this movie is based on a Stephen King book about an evil car that kills people, so we're thinking there should be a car on the poster, and ..."
"Right, so it's like Jaws. Gotcha."
"What? No, this is a 1958 Plymouth Fury car that magically repairs itself and possesses its owner, and ..."
"And it eats people on the beach. I got this, man."
"No, it's a car! Do you know what a car is?"
"Yeah, those huge animals with giant mouths."
"That's a shark."
"Oh. Well, I already finished the poster while we were talking, so ..."
"Fuck it, we'll use that."
#2. Peter Pan (Lithuania)
Lithuania likes to keep things simple. Peter Pan is the story of a kid who refuses to grow up, but before that it's the story of a kid, and before that it's the story of a person. A person, which is a thing that can be drawn on a poster with just a few simple lines, so that's exactly what they did. This was also their poster for The Godfather: Part II and Deep Throat.
But seriously, what better way to promote what was no doubt the year's most hotly anticipated children's movie than showing off some of that unmistakable Disney animation by not featuring any of it on the poster? This seems to say, "Uncle Walt is dead, kids, so better get fucking used to your movies looking like this from now on."
#1. Terms of Endearment (Poland)
Terms of Endearment is that movie where Jack Nicholson plays an alcoholic retired astronaut who hooks up with an older woman, because it had been a few years since anyone handed him any Academy Awards and he was starting to get itchy. Somehow, the real poster for the movie (which mostly concerns the love lives of a mother and her daughter) got mixed up with a surrealist ad for a Polish call girl service.
Alternatively, this gives the impression that the viewer is in for some Naked Lunch-level insanity, what with the humanoid phones and all, not a heartbreaking story about family and relationships. On the other hand, the poster does look more like something Jack Nicholson would star in.
R.H.T. Lawson writes novellas on dirty napkins and has a love of music, which he documents on his music blog
Related Reading: Want more ridiculous foreign versions of movie posters? We've got you covered, with a little help from Uganda. Keep the poorly translated ball rolling with these insanely manly foreign movie posters. Sultan Rahi's face alone is enough to make you spurt a quarter pound of chest hair. Next, cool your blood with Russia's outright terrifying poster for Return of the Jedi.