Exclusive: Graphic Designer Maria Der Discusses New Horror Mashup Posters

Graphic designer Maria Der has been busy creating a series of hilarious horror-themed posters based on classic comedy films. She regularly uploads to her Instagram account. You’ll love how she flawlessly transforms beloved comedy movies into horror works of art. She’s clearly a talented designer who knows how to entertain horror fans. Her posters entertained us, and we can’t wait to see what she creates next.

As well as her graphic design work, Der also frequently stars in humorous videos. They are regularly posted to her Facebook account, so she’s clearly a woman of many talents. We recently spoke to her about her horror posters mashups and her numerous other endeavours. You can read what she had to say below. And if you enjoy looking at her horror posters and want to see more, you can follow Der on Instagram at @missms_movie_salonto to stay up to date with all her horrific works of art.

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Dread Central: How did you get the idea to create horrific versions of posters for beloved non-horror films?

Maria Der: After another day doing nothing, I realized how mediocre I am as a designer. Not too bad, just boring. Obviously, I wanted to make something different of myself. I met this guy on Facebook with whom I became proper pen-pals, called Jeremy Mincer. He is a very experienced and highly professional film poster designer. He’s has worked for Argento, Fulci, Khalfoun, and many other fantastic directors. I looked through his portfolio and finally realized what I always wanted to do. What I always wanted to be. A film poster designer!

MD: Well, it has been a rough year, hasn’t it? When the lockdown started, I had been in a “live or die (of boredom)” situation. While being stuck at home with a few glasses of wine, watching stuff on the telly like “Notting Hill”, “Love Actually” and whatever they thought would cheer the nation, I wondered what would actually happen if Julia Roberts had a massive axe in her hands instead of a pitiful declaration of love to that weedy bookshop keeper. Or what if Bridget Jones actually counted the number of murders she’d committed and wrote about them meticulously in her diary, instead of counting the amount of the upper-middle class men she had shagged by coincidence. As a 00’s kid with VHS instead of my DNA, I have a vast knowledge of those “feel-good” films. So I can continue fantasizing about those alternative scenarios from dusk till dawn.

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But to get into that business I needed a new portfolio, and you know, despite being a natural born fantasist, I knew I couldn’t just give Dario Argento a call and go: “Dazza? You alright mate? Listen Dazza son, do you have any jobs on the go?”. Therefore, I had to start somewhere. The research continued and I entered the world of endless “alternative” film posters on the internet: hundreds and hundreds of variations of “The Shining” (Nicholson from the back, Nicholson from the side, Nicholson with an axe, without an axe, with the typing machine or without etc. etc.). Thousands and thousands of copies of “A Nightmare on the Elm Street” and millions of “Jaws”. Don’t get me wrong, most of them are great! But I felt, I’d lose the plot (literally and figuratively) after making another poster for any of those films.

 So that was the point where I realized I can be a maker of an alternative film reality of my own, which I talked about earlier, where “Ace Ventura” is a sequel to “Cannibal Holocaust”, “Breakfast Club” is a Japanese torture horror, “Jerry McGuire” is a proper bloodthirsty psychopath movie and “Sister Act” is a vampire slaying action film.

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DC: Can you talk about the design process you go through?

MD: Normally I’d go through the films that used to be popular when I was a kid, or ask friends and my Instagram followers about their childhood favourites. My main method is to take good old nostalgia films and then put a great and dubious twist onto them. It’s much more than taking those old golds and then making them gory and bloody. No, it’s nothing like that. It’s more about rethinking the original plot and message of the film, and then re-shaping/ re-thinking/re-imaging it into something different. I hardly ever change the main tagline either. Instead, I use the original line to my own purposes. It gives me even bigger creative challenge I’d say…

For example: “There’s something about your first piece “- American Pie (1999), or “They eat and they are eaten!” – Cannibal Holocaust (1980), which one sounds more sinister to you? To me, both sound rather questionable, to say the least, but mainly those lines give me an unlimited amount of inspiration! If you think about mainstream taglines outside the initial plot, it can take your imagination for a walk on the wild side. So, I take it from there and use it as I can, giving the common context a new life. So long story short: analyse the plot, rethink the plot and reshape it into something new.

If we are talking about the more technical aspects of this, it probably requires more of a cinematic knowledge. I believe my knowledge of the world’s cinema is slightly above average, so I can analyse popular mainstream films, and then find the reference in films of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s (whether we are talking about horror, thriller, sci-fi or even pornography).

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For example, a bride escaping a few mischievous grooms (“Runaway Bride” 1999) – definitely a slasher. Jack Nicholson tormenting a young woman for his own sake (“As Good As It Gets” 1997) – Giallo! Attractive young man testing his limits at the expense of young women (“Risky Business” 1983)? Sexploitation with a capital S! Definitely Russ Meyer and all the old school nastiness he had to offer.  So, what I’m trying to say is that every film requires a particular approach and, if you look at it that way, it could potentially give you an endless source of inspiration. It’s generally up to you how you’re going to interpret those opportunities, and the road has unlimited directions.

DC: What would you say are the key ingredients for a classic horror poster?

MD: It Depends! I strive to achieve the very authentic 70’s-80’s vibe in every poster I make, but hey ho, it’s very different.Take a film like, for example, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, and Google it, adding “Japanese/ American/ English/ Français/ Italiano/ Deutsche/ Czech + poster” in the search bar and believe me, the results are going to surprise you.

Each school of design is shaped and formed by the unique political and social life of the country and each style is incredibly special. We could probably have a chat about the difference between these design approaches next time we speak. But to my mind (and it’s my very humble personal opinion) I’d say, the key ingredients to any poster, whether or not you’re making a parody or making the real deal, is to understand the depths of the plot and be able to interpret it, keeping the audience intrigued at the same time.

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DC: Are you working on anything else which will appeal to horror fans?

MD: I spend most of my time working on posters and T-shirt prints, as this makes me a little bit of cash on the side during these troubling times. It also brings me comfort, as making these does really help to get over the excessive anxiety and other mental difficulties caused by the Great British Lockdown.  

I’m always working on something that may interest horror fans, as I try to produce a poster every couple of days, but really at the moment I am longing for opportunities to work with filmmakers across the world, bringing a fresh eye to the common understanding of a “film poster”. Obviously, it would be nice to actually be able to call Dario Argento and call him Dazza, but that’s miles away from here, so now I’m open for opportunities.

DC: You also create satirical videos which you upload to your Facebook page. Can you talk about the writing and production process of making these. And why it’s important for people to laugh during these hard times?

MD: Comedy and mockery are a part of my nature. I do have a page where I post satirical videos (@mariader696) and if I can bring a tiny smile to someone’s face it makes my life worth living. Whether it’s my videos or posters, and I know for sure that my posters do bring plenty of smiles to peoples’ faces as well. I haven’t made many comedy videos in the last few month, but I surely will come back soon when I feel slightly better spiritually. Probably when pubs reopen for God’s sake. My main message is “so what?” and I hope that will stay the same till the day I die. I mock things I think are funny or ugly and I prefer to laugh about things than to cry about them. That’s a life choice.



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