Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Universal Monsters: A Trip To Mars

"The Most Fantastic Trip Two Worlds Have Ever Seen!"

Today's entry for Boris Karloff Week is this, the newest of my Universal Monsters poster series. This particular one is my greatest flight of fancy, since A Trip To Mars does not exist.

For those of you unfamiliar with it, A Trip to Mars was announced as James Whale's next film after the triumph of Frankenstein. Not much information about it is known (dozens of movies--some little more than one-sentence ideas--were announced by studios, never to get any further than a press release), but I did read in author John Soister's Of Gods and Monsters book that it was to feature Boris Karloff as a martian, leading some sort of mass revolution on the red planet.

The movie was abandoned, probably mostly because of the enormous cost involved in such a venture. Soon after, Whale and Karloff moved on to The Old Dark House.

So I imagined, what might a Trip to Mars poster look like? Who else might have starred in it, what would the plot have been?

I decided that the film would feature actors that Whale had worked with before (Dwight Frye) and two that we would work with in films soon (Ernest Thesiger and Claude Rains). Rains would be the guy who wants to explore Mars, Thesiger the evil guy who wants to plunder the planet's riches, and Frye would be the weird guy who stows away on the rocket to Mars and basically mucks everything up.

As for Karloff, of course, there are no pics of him in Martian make-up, because the film never got that far. So I had to make up my own...make up, which means I'd have to come up with something as good as Jack Pierce, which of course wasn't going to happen.

So I found a pic of Boris from the 1939 film Tower of London, and went to town on it, adding a goofy Martian third eye, adding and subtracting some facial features, and putting him in a giant, ostentatious, Ming The Merciless-ish outfit.

I decided to add a 1930s-ish rocket, breaking with my normal tradition of not having any other graphics on these posters, because I thought it was too neat not to have on there--plus, since we're talking about a movie that doesn't exist, I thought the poster needed some more iconography to make it as effective as possible.

To learn more about the Boris Karloff Blogathon, click the graphic below to see how other blogs are celebrating the man!


Arbogast said...

Out of this world!

Wings said...

Great piece, Rob! Really nice!!!

Steve said...

Coolness squared.

Chris Regan said...

I really wish that movie existed - it would've been awesome!

George said...

Truly well crafted, and a really original contribution to the Boris Blog-a-Thon. Your Classic Monsters series is fun, too!

Gareth Walters said...

Outstanding - first time on your site, thanks to the Karloff Blogathon - I'll be returning.

Pierre Fournier said...

I understand that Una O'connor played the sexy Queen of Mars!

Paul said...

Nice poster! Can I use the image to plug your artwork on my blog, Marooned: Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror books on Mars?

rob! said...


i'd appreciate the plug! that's a cool blog!

Paul said...

Thanks, Rob! Here's the link to my post:


Like your Lou Rawls piece!