ARTISTS BEHIND THE IMAGE is intended to put a name (and sometimes face) to the talented men and women who created the most iconic images to adorn horror VHS boxes and posters from ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. Their art is vital; it’s the reason I (and many of you, certainly) fell in love with horror movies in the first place. This is not only intended as a tribute, but also a minor compendium, meant to collect their works in one single spot. Corrections, additions, or other info? Email me.
Whenever I talk about the 1991 low-budget shocker Popcorn, I’ll get the occasional “I don’t know if I’ve seen that one…” in response. That is, of course, until I show them the cover art: a skeleton clad in a rictus grin and baggy old suit, using the mask of a crying girl with long black hair on a stick to cover his own decaying and terrifying visage, all of it outlined in a creepy green haze. “Oh, THAT movie!”, comes the next response, “I love that cover!”
That sort of recognition proves the importance of the old video covers from the days of yore: you needn’t remember the title – or even have seen the actual movie, for that matter – because you’ll always remember the art. Strange and unsettling imagery indelibly branded upon our brains, forever.
Joann Daley was the artist behind several iconic pieces of ’80 and ’90s horror and exploitation, including The Video Dead, Scanners, Killer Party, and my personal favorite, Creepshow. Featuring another skeleton, this one more fully-realized and clad in a ratty canvas shawl – accompanied by a rat and a spider, naturally – the Creepshow cover sees our frightful host handing out movie tickets to the next shriek-show. It’s a beautiful and spooky image that makes perfect use of it’s limited sepia-toned color palette.
Ever the prolific artist, Daley didn’t just limit herself to movie posters – she also worked on trading cards, book covers (she illustrated the covers for several of Harriette Sheffer Abels’s books), album covers, and did I, uh, mention, uh, book covers?
Lastly, I was able to find a handful of eyebrow-raising illustrations she did of people doing strenuous activities, wherein she emphasized the not-so-subtle sexuality of these particular past times. Even though they’re not horror movie-related, I still wanted to include them because they’re spectacular and I haven’t been able to track many down. You can view them here. — (Update 08/01/16: the risqué images appear to have been part of a series of hip and artsy greeting cards from the ’80s, from the company Paper Moon Graphics.)
According to an associate of Joann who emailed me after I posted this piece, Joann passed away a handful of years ago. But thankfully, Joann’s amazing work will live on forever. Now, without further ado: (some of) the work of Joann Daley.