Face it, we’ve all judged a movie by its poster. Perhaps even before seeing its trailer, you may pass by an upcoming film’s poster while exiting a movie theater or reading buzz in your Twitter feed. It gets your hopes up with a promising tagline or visual evocation of genre conventions. And the effect is no accident – the industry spends big bucks on this sort of advertising knowing full-well that a good poster can trick audiences into screens.

For the following ten films, audiences are left wishing such memorable, admirable creativity evident in their posters would have been at least somewhat present in the equally paper-thin movies themselves. These films go to show that movies don’t simply get better over the years (with titles from recent years to decades ago making the list), nor simply from having a higher budget. Sometimes, bad films are just a pretty promotional display that should have never turned into multiple frames.

10. Showgirls (1995)

Showgirls' poster, like its titular subject, has viewers aching to see beyond its teasers. The fully-revealed movie is a disappointment, but it keeps cult viewers coming back nonetheless.

Showgirls’  provocative poster, like its titular subject, should have viewers aching to see beyond its teasers. However, considering the film’s 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and seven nominations for 1995 Golden Raspberry awards, viewers hardly have their dollar bills out to throw at this movie. The final movie is a disappointment, but it keeps cult viewers coming back nonetheless. Its supporters have commended the movie as admirably daring, and its poster certainly speaks to that quality. The screenplay quality is as skimpy as the poster’s showgirl, the onscreen romance as blank and flat as the black poster background.  Though the poster is a creative use of space and an enticing attention-grabber, Showgirls’ curtains are better left closed.


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This article was first posted on January 2, 2013