Critic’s horror film posters could make a killing

Original horror film posters from collection of top film critic Alan Frank comes to auction at Ewbank’s in Surrey this month, with designs by two celebrated artist, including one lost for years, set to sell for thousands.

Frank, who died in 2023, was the doyen of celluloid terror, writing books like The Horror Film Handbook and Horror Movies, Monsters and Vampires. Now his original horror film poster artwork collection will head to an Entertainment & Memorabilia auction on May 30.

Poster artwork for Frankenstein. The Monster From Hell (1974) by Bill Wiggins
Poster artwork for ‘Frankenstein. The Monster From Hell’ (1974) by Bill Wiggins. Estimate £2,000-4,000

Serious collectors look set to be tempted by the artworks created by two of the most celebrated film poster artists of the 20th century: Tom Chantrell (1916-2001), who designed the iconic posters for Star Wars, and Bill Wiggins (1917-2012), known for his 007 James Bond designs, as well as Hammer Horror films among others.

Examples include Chantrell’s original artwork for the 1967 Hammer Horror Frankenstein Created Woman. Starring Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein. The mixed media on board is the original prototype artwork created for the British quad and double bill posters. The imagery is a close match to the British quad poster, the difference being that the artwork only shows one branched tree on the left slope and, importantly, the quad poster shows the girl clothed.

Poster artwork for the horror film 'Frankenstein. The Monster From Hell' (1974) by Tom Chantrell
Poster artwork for ‘Frankenstein. The Monster From Hell’ (1974) by Tom Chantrell. The poster did not make the final cut. It has an estimate of £2,000-4,000.

It had been thought that this original artwork had not survived. Offered with it will be the corresponding transparency. The estimate is £3,000-5,000.

Also on offer in this sale are two further pieces of poster artwork, one by Wiggins, the other almost certainly by Chantrell – both for Frankenstein. The Monster From Hell (1974). Wiggins’ design was eventually used for the film, which starred Peter Cushing, alongside Dave Prowse (later The Green Cross Code Man and Darth Vader), Patrick Troughton (the second Dr Who) and Bernard Lee (the original M from the James Bond films).

Each of the pieces of artwork is pitched at £2,000-4,000, and they are in mixed media on paper. Wiggins’ design, with the monster looming, hands outstretched, was eventually used for the film, while the other, was not.

Alan Frank, a friend of Peter Cushing, was the film critic of the Daily Star for 35 years, retiring in 2014 from what he called the best job in the world. He also acted as an extra on occasion, appearing in The Guns of Navarone (1959), among others.

Tom Chantrell’s artwork for the 1967 Hammer Horror 'Frankenstein Created Woman'
Tom Chantrell’s artwork for the 1967 Hammer Horror ‘Frankenstein Created Woman’. The estimate is £3,000-5,000

The auction includes a presentation copy of Cushing’s autobiography. A first edition hardback inscribed by the author, it is guided at £200-300. Other lots from the Frank collection include furniture, paintings, film memorabilia and clothing, such as T-shirts, crew jackets, signed scripts, and transparencies.

Alan Frank had first become hooked on cinema when growing up in Africa and aged 11, he encountered Clark Gable on the beach in Kenya and was then introduced to Ava Gardner, swiftly followed by Frank Sinatra. They were filming Mogambo, a John Ford adventure that was eventually released in 1953.

It was only when Frank to the University of Cape Town that he became immersed in the horror genre that was to make his name, having been gripped by a showing of The Creature From the Black Lagoon.

“Alan Frank’s The Horror Film Handbook remains the essential guide for any true fan of horror films,” said Ewbank’s Senior Partner, Andrew Ewbank. “We are delighted to be offering these unique pieces from his important collection.”