The exhibition showcases pieces from the collection of Prof. Wes Davis, Senior Lecturer in English and film at UNH. The exhibit is arranged by category: Masters of Terror, “Universal” Monsters,Hammer Horror, Horror Meisters, Teenage Monsters, Horror-Comedy, and Modern Horror The pieces range from movie stills, 11 x 14 lobby cards originally issued by movie studios in sets of eight, through half sheets, inserts, Belgian, Mexican, German, French, Japanese posters, and 1-sheets 27x41 and larger. Horror, Science Fiction, and Fantasy are the most valuable and sought after by collectors due to their eye- catching visuals. These “horrific” images were used to sell the films to the public and were sometimes better remembered than the movies they promoted, especially those films aimed at teenagers.
Prof. Davis, who has been collecting posters from various movie genres for over twenty-five years, says the attraction for him is that each poster or lobby card is “like owning a piece of movie history, a souvenir from a favorite film.” He has been an avid movie lover since childhood and still keeps a “movie log” of each film he sees. “Usually I see over a hundred films a year,” he says. “I distinguish between films I’m seeing for the first time and those I’ve seen before. Then I make a list of favorite films I saw for the first time that year, plus a couple of stinkers I should have avoided!” Davis is a historian of popular culture--literature, film, popular music--and teaches courses in all three areas at UNH. He won’t state how many years he’s been teaching film. “Let’s just say when I first started teaching film, Hitchcock was still making movies.” Davis says a number of the films represented in the exhibition he saw at the Rivoli Theater in downtown West Haven (it’s now a bank across from the Post Office). The exhibit includes key images and iconic characters from such horror classics as Phantom of the Opera (the original from 1925), the costarring films of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff (the original Dracula and Frankenstein monster), the output of Hammer Films, the small British studio that remade most of the early classics in color with explicit gore and turned journeyman actors Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee into the Lugosi and Karloff of the modern era. Examples of the hybrid genre of “horror-comedy” as well as “teenage horror” films aimed at that new demographic with disposable income, and a nod to the modern horror film. And don’t forget to join us Halloween night. Friday Oct. 31, starting at 5:00 p.m. for the exhibit Closing Party. Again, the UNH community and their families and friends are all invited. Spend Halloween in the gallery with the classic monsters. You can even arrive dressed as your favorite monster. You’re sure to have a howling good time!