More shadowy marketing

posted in: 1 - Film and TV | 0

Here’s a vintage theater flyer sport an ad on the back for the 1980 Eichi Kudo strangeness Kage no gundan: Hattori Hanzo.

I’d have been more convinced to see this film by this flyer image than I would have been by the hideous movie poster with the tin-foil background seen here.

Lard Biscuit hates this film, and for good reason.

Paghat the Ratgirl is a little warmer, also for good reason.

The Film on Paper poster archive has a nice feature on this superior version of the marketing, for GREAT reasons, I mean, look at that sweetness!

And for NO good reason, I myself don’t have a whole lot to say about this flick. I’ve sat down to rewatch and review it probably a half dozen times in the past few years, and just can’t get it right in my head. There is BRILLIANCE here, and from a visionary director. The massive building destruction set at the film’s climax is amazing. The notorious “football scene” should be experienced just for the sheer weirdness, and the tar-soaked Koga assassin bit is pure arthouse beauty.

Thing is, the rest of the film is inconsistent with those other notable scenes. Slow, plodding, depressing, sulking and pouting in its own grimness for grimness’s sake. I don’t know what he’s trying to say with this film, and where it lands between outré art trash and ironic brilliance is really up to every individual viewer.

So I guess this non-review IS my review. I’m as conflicted as the movie itself, so I’ll just default to outright day job mode and look at the graphic design and marketing aspects. Ignore the weird tin foil shit, and bask in what I’ve said over and over again on this site:

The best way to market a ninja movie is to put a giant awesome ninja head on the poster!

And two doesn’t hurt, either…

Chiba as Hanzo by Marusan

Retro-styled like a kid’s vinyl toy from the 60’s, this 10″ figure of Sonny Chiba as Hattori Hanzo from Kage No Gundan (aka Shadow Warriors) is absolutely BOSS! I’m not a big fan of boutique vinyl and the high-end collector market, but when I saw this Marusan limited piece on eBay a couple years ago I had to jump.

I’m blown away by how the Marusan sculptors skirt the fence between fealty of portrait and the sensibilities of children’s toy design. The anatomy is cartoonish, but the accuracy to the property is dead on.

Japanese toy companies like Marusan, Marmit and Bulmark have produced these weird kiddie-styled figures of obscure or adult-oriented properties over the past decade. Guess the idea is to produce the toy you would have had as a toddler if the licensing mentality of today existed back then. No one in their right mind would have licensed Zombie Michael Jackson or Angry Red Planet or myriad R-rated action properties to a vinyl toy line back in the day, but now we can enjoy the ‘what-if’ figures that never were. Limited edition runs mean they can hone in on some beloved cult properties never viable for mass-produced merch, like Matango or the scuba-creature from Atragon, or, yes… Hanzo from the decidedly un-toddler-friendly Shadow Warriors.