When filmmakers are trying to get a production off the ground, the first thing they'll often do is create a piece of key sales art to entice investors. This is usually a rudimentary collage of cast names and some visual inkling of plot that is only ever intended to be seen by people with large checks to write in conference rooms at venues like the American Film Market or even the Cannes International Film Festival. I understand that this is not final artwork, that these Photoshop jobs are often created before a single frame of the movie is even filmed (and sometimes before a single word of the script is written). But that doesn't explain why all sales art looks like something that fell off of a Blockbuster shelf in 1996.

Now I don't go around collecting these digital bits of marketing minutia, though they do always stick with me (and never because I'm so impressed with the font choice), but when I saw the sales art for The Ward, John Carpenter's first return to feature film making since Ghosts of Mars, I decided to go round up some examples. The first one that came to mind was a dreadful bit of imagery intended to sell Bai Ling as some kind of a menacing mermaid in Hydrophobia 3D, but then I also remembered the Cannes promo art for Rambo V: The Savage Hunt, which looks like Sylvester Stallone overlayed atop the poster for Anaconda.

A few Google searches later and I had a handful of images that reinforced my suspicion that all sales art falls out of a wormhole to the mid-90s. So please, lets do a little experiment. Imagine that you have a couple million to spend on a film. Now scroll down and tell me if you see anything that could make you want to break out the checkbook and scrawl out a long chain of zeros.