A lurid red picture depicting the world's most famous monster and designed by an unknown hand is likely become the most expensive film poster in history. On Friday, it is expected to sell for over $700,000 (£430,000).
The poster for the 1935 film The Bride of Frankenstein is the only one of its kind in existence. Its value reflects a burgeoning market in movie posters. The current record is held by a poster for Fritz Lang's 1927 silent film Metropolis, which sold in 2005 for $690,000.
The Bride of Frankenstein was directed by James Whale and starred Boris Karloff, one of the biggest movie stars of the era. Several different designs were made to advertise the film.
The one being sold by Heritage Auctions in Beverly Hills this week is a teaser poster – created before the film's release to stoke up interest.
Grey Smith, Heritage Auctions' director of movie poster sales, said: "It's the only known copy in that style – there were three different posters for that film and there is only one copy of each left. Only a few posters were signed and while there were great illustrators, such as Norman Rockwell, we don't know who did this one."
Rachel Reilly, vintage film poster specialist at Christie's – which has its own poster sale next month – said horror-film posters from the 1930s were the "blue chip" items of the market: "The Bride of Frankenstein is a very rare poster that has never been on the market before. Everybody wants the early Universal Studios horror posters such as Frankenstein and Dracula. These are cult films and the posters have great art work."
The Bride of Frankenstein
James Whales's 1935 follow-up to his masterful Frankenstein is one of the most famous horror films ever made. The Style E teaser poster is expected to break all records when it goes under the hammer this week. The Style D poster went for $334,600 in 2007.
Bela Lugosi reprised his Broadway role in this first official film version of the vampire tale in 1931, setting the template for the urbane bloodsucker for decades to come (1927's Nosferatu was considered a breach of copyright of Bram Stoker's novel). Sold in 2009 for $310,700.
Fritz Lang's 1927 science fiction classic is one of the most influential films of all time, and the most expensive silent movie ever made. The poster, which was designed by the graphic artist Heinz Schulz-Neudamm and is one of only four to survive, sold in 2005 for $690,000.
A landmark film from 1933, renowned for its special effects - which were stunning for the time - as well as the relationship between the monster and female lead, Fay Wray. A poster, showing in illustrated form one of the defining scenes in cinema history, was sold in 1999 for $244,500.
A Universal horror film from 1932 starring Boris Karloff. Sold at Sotheby's in 1997 for $535,000, making it the most expensive movie poster until beaten by Metropolis. It was designed by one of Universal's top artists, Karoly Grosz.
Flying Down to Rio
The 1933 musical is one of only two nonhorror movies in the top 10. An RKO vehicle for the Mexican star Dolores Del Rio - considered one of the most beautiful film actresses of all time - it is now better known for being the first on-screen pairing of dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The poster sold in 2008 for $239,000.
The Black Cat
Another Karloff classic, this time from 1934. The Black Cat has added kudos because it also starred Karloff's great horror rival, Bela Lugosi. The Style B poster sold last year for $334,600 while the Style D sold in 2007 for $288,800.
One of the greatest and most influential horror films ever. The director James Whale took the essence of Mary Shelley's novel, but it is his 1931 version of the monster that endures in the popular imagination. Sold in 1993 for $198,000.
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