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A Huge Pile of Gorgeous Old Thai Movie Posters

It was the Singapore Agent who told me about the poster guy on Rambuttri. “Rambuttri like Rambutan,” he said. “But with a tree at the end. Look for the restaurant with the good pad thai, next to the massage place. That’s where you’ll find the poster guy.”

The pad thai restaurant next to a massage parlor? In Bangkok, this means nothing at all — on the restaurant-and-massage-filled Thanon Rambutri, doubly-so. But it made for a treasure hunt. And, as you know, I LOVE treasure hunts.

[If I had taken a photo of the guy selling posters, I would have put it here. But my breath was wrenched away when I saw him. I forgot my camera. I forgot this blog. I only saw amazeballs.]

His folding table on the sidewalk, nestled between a jewelry stall and a t-shirt vendor, was piled high with old Thai posters for 80s American action movies, Chinese porn, and Japanese yakuza deliciousness. They were ripped, frayed, stained with water or coffee or blood. They were just $10 a sheet. They were gorgeous.

“Michelle, can you get me a coffee and a pack of cigarettes?” I licked my leafing finger, and started sorting. Holy shit — is this Nikkatsu Noir?

thai-poster-drifters

I’ve only seen a couple of the Nikkatsu flicks: Tokyo Drifter and Branded to Kill. Dark 60s Japanese yakuza flicks that sit between American noir and parody, musicals and cool. This had to be. It was. The Drifters (Sasurai, さすらい). Released in Thailand in 1967, five years after it was made, it was a Hiroshi Noguchi flick. Check out those Chow Yun-Fat jacket/hat/scarf combos, and those sunglasses of awesome. Three words went through my mind endlessly, repeating themselves like a broken record: it’s so cool it’s so cool it’s so cool. So I bought it.

And the others, too, like International Secret Police: Key of Keys aka Kokusai himitsu keisatsu: Kagi no kagi (1965). I’ve never seen Senkichi Taniguchi’s Toho original, but this was What’s Up Tiger Lily! In Thailand, it was shown without Woody Allen’s overdub, and called James Bond 008 (Jom-Pi-Chid 008.) But it did star two Bond girls, from You Only Live Twice. So that’s cool.

thai-poster-key-of-keys

And speaking of Bond ripoffs, how about this 1967 poster for Jun Fukuda’s gorgeous Toho spy-musical, Ironfinger aka Hyappatsu Hyakuchu (1965), starring Takarada Akira?

thai-poster-ironfinger

Finally, among the piles of Toho and Nikkatsu sheets, I managed to find a Seijun Suzuki poster. Youth of the Beast (野獣の青春, Yajū no seishun, aka Wild Youth), a hallucinagenic Jô Shishido flick. From RT’s description: “Why is Jo’s partner more interested in guns than in women? Why does Hide, the notorious gay gangster, always slash the face of anyone who mentions his mother? What does this all have to do with the Takeshita School of Knitting?” I loved that the artist couldn’t settle on one still to use, and just used them all!

thai-poster-youth-of-the-beast

Not all the posters I bought were pulp Toho or Nikkatsu features. This Chinese flick caught my eye: Blue Falcon (1968, Hong Kong). The Josephine Siao movie is lost to time, they say, but based on the poster that makes me want to cry.

thai-poster-blue-falcon

Speaking of Hong Kong, here’s a cheeseball one for the Jackie Chan / Sammo Hung / Yuen Biao 1988’s Dragons Forever (飛龍猛將):

thai-poster-dragons-forever

And David Cronenberg’s Rabid:

thai-poster-rabid

And that absurdly bad Tim Curry flick Times Square.

thai-poster-times-square

How can I stop buying this crap!? But it just tastes so damn good!

Michelle had long since bought me coffee and cigarettes. And a fresh mango juice. She’d wandered up and down the street, buying a couple of dresses from a few blocks away.

“Babe, you know we don’t have walls for all of these,” Michelle said.

“Can I have just a couple more minutes?” I was deep in the zone of terror. Terror that I’d miss something. Terror that I’d regret not buying one of these beautiful works of awesome.

“You want sexy movies?” the poster guy asked. I glanced at Michelle’s back, then said no. Although this poster for the probably atrocious 1979 Supersonic Man — shown in Thailand 11 years after it was released — was pretty sexy in its own way.

thai-poster-supersonic-man

Just watch the trailer.

That’s how good it is.

But I couldn’t leave without a Thai poster for a Thai movie. At least one. Among all the piles of Japanese and Chinese and American posters, there were just about none. But then I found one. And it was perfect.

thai-poster-tears-of-the-black-tiger

Wisit Sasanatieng’s homospectacular Tears of the Black Tiger. A masterpiece of garish cowboy melodrama. Just like this poster stall. (The salesman was wearing a cowboy hat, you see.)

I can’t recommend any place in Bangkok more. If you want to go, here’s what to do: go to Rambuttri. Look for the restaurant with the good pad thai, next to the massage place. Good luck! ;P

Huge thanks Tina L and Brian T. for narrowing down the actual movies, many of which I didn’t know when I bought the posters. Thanks, guys — you’re rockstars!!!

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13 thoughts on “A Huge Pile of Gorgeous Old Thai Movie Posters

  1. http://Volker

    “…the probably atrocious 1979 Supersonic Man…”

    It’s as cheesy as the poster suggests. Imagine 1950s Superman, except he’s mentally retarded. Cameron Mitchell plays a whack-job supervillain in a 1960s Italian space outfit who apparently can’t afford to hire a lot of henchmen. The music is gawdawful bad. And there’s something about a dog, but I can’t remember, because frankly the whole thing makes very little sense.

    It’s out on a very nice widescreen DVD from Germany, looking better than it has any right to and is hugely entertaining, if you like that sort of thing (I do).

    I “found” your blog this month and am enjoying reading it backwards.

    1. http://Andy%20Deemer

      Brilliant!!! I loved the trailer, and just ordered a copy of the film based on your recommendation. As a longtime trash fiend, I can’t wait to see it!

  2. It would be great to have this collection of not only the internet. Maybe this collection also interest you? http://little-lilu.blogspot.com/2013/08/kolekcja-tajskich-posterow.html

    1. http://Andy%20Deemer

      Ola OH LA LA!!! Those are AMAZING!!! I love the Dolls one!!!! 😛 So good!!!! Do you actually have these?

      1. No, unfortunately they’re not mine, I found them searching interesting posters in internet…Posters from this collection are really great especially Dragons Forever and Supersonic Man 🙂

        1. http://Andy%20Deemer

          I know — Supersonic Man is one of my favorites!!! I can’t believe I found that one…

  3. http://Kristen

    Hi there.
    Are you interested in selling hi res versions of some of these?
    I’m collating images for my friend’s new Thai restaurant, and these would be great!
    Cheers,
    Kristen

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  7. http://Patrick%20Drnec

    I had a day in BKK and decided to track this place down. Not being a tool, I will tell you exactly where it is:
    http://tinyurl.com/z47vwa7
    That’s a google map.
    Was that so hard?
    I will also tell you that he is there after 6 or 7PM. The lady selling t-shirts across from his location told me that. If the cutesy author of this piece had said that in his ‘article’ I would have come the evening before instead of at 1PM on the day I was leaving (at 5).
    Oh well, next trip.
    Journalism. *SMFH*

  8. http://Richard

    It’s downright bright and I’m off to buy a Trilby.

    I have a lotmofmthese. The three at the beginning of your blog. The posters are too cool for skool.

    Also managed to get down and dusty with a Thai poster seller. Stacks of them. He was lost in a sea of them. I managed to pay £9 for the three. Will be driftin’ back there at some point, Bangkok is only down the back alley from where I’ve laid my hat for the moment.

    You got any idea of the value of these or of any collector’s sites to let others appreciate ’em?

    I can email you the three I have and some of the others if you’re interested. Not many of the Japanese ones left. They all seem to have been snapped up bynthe appreciative among us.

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