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Amsel's Lost Art: KRULL!!!

My most recent posts highlight some of Richard Amsel's unused and rarely seen works. While Amsel's talents were in high demand, he often was in competition with other illustrators for movie poster work -- Drew Struzan, Bob Peak, and John Alvin among them. And, of course, he was in competition with the increasing popularity of photographic art.

By the early 1980's, traditional movie poster illustration was on the decline. Even those genres where illustrated movie posters used to flourish -- namely, science fiction and fantasy -- were increasingly relying on airbrushed-modified photographic comps, early precursors to the digital age of Photoshop.

Such was the case of KRULL, Columbia Pictures' elaborate, sword-and-sorcery fantasy epic, intended to be their answer to STAR WARS. Released in 1983, and budgeted at (a then staggering) $43 million, the film was a financial disaster and critical dud. But it did eventually find an audience, thanks to subsequent TV airings and an ever-growing cult following.

As a kid I truly enjoyed it. Looking at it today, I still marvel at its stunning production design, James Horner's rapturous musical score, and -- yes! -- it's featured weapon of choice/lightsaber counterpart, THE GLAIVE!

Richard Amsel did a number of sketches proposed for KRULL's poster, but in the end, a photographic comp was used instead. But if you compare the final poster's design to Amsel's sketch, you'll see that they used the same idea: the two protagonists standing in the clawed hand of "The Beast", with our hero, Colwyn, brandishing the glaive. If only every guilty pleasure was THIS pleasurable...

Two of Amsel's sketches:

The final poster:


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