The Matrix, Donnie Darko, And More Get Classy With Fake Criterion Covers

By David Wharton | Updated

CriterionIf you’re not a die-hard cinephile, you might know know what “the Criterion Collection” is. The high-end Blu-ray and DVD publisher releases “important classic and contemporary films.” A quick survey of their new and coming soon listings include titles like It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights, and Richard Linklater’s Slacker. Being a high-falutin’ line as they are, they don’t have nearly as many science fiction films represented as they should. Artist Peter Stults decided to remedy that.

Okay, so he can’t actually make Criterion give fancy-schmancy new releases to flicks like The Matrix and Starship Troopers…but he can ape the visual style of Criterion’s cover art to show what those hypothetical Blu-rays might look like. For instance, check out this classy image that could adorn a Donnie Darko Criterion version. Like many Criterion releases, it’s evocative and symbolic, latching on to important visual elements from the film, in this case the pages from Roberta Sparrow’s The Philosophy of Time Travel.


His Children of Men cover focuses on the core problem of the film: a global, unexplained infertility that has left mankind counting the hours until its extinction. It’s worth noting that Children of Men is actually the sort of smart, compelling film that Criterion might actually release, so if they do they could do a lot worst than giving Stults a call.


His Dark City cover goes a more traditional route, using an image of the alien “Strangers” who perform nightly experiments on the inhabitants of a city where it’s never day.


His Fahrenheit 451 cover also uses the actors from the XXX film. to somewhat disappointing results in my opinion. I think more metaphorical than lyrical would have worked better for this one, but what the hell, he’s the artist.


The Matrix is exactly what I’m talking about. The studio releases of the Wachowskis’ sci-fi classic rely on images of the cast in badass poses. This single image only makes sense if you’ve seen the movie, but once you have you realize that it’s a brilliant choice for the cover art.


His Island of Doctor Moreau cover is very cool as well, playing up the merging and man and beast. I actually think they should put out a version of H.G. Wells’ original story with this cover.


Stults’ Predator cover? Again, genius. The plastic army toys with the Predator’s distinctive laser site on them is a striking visual, and it also hints and the story of the movie itself: to the Predator, Dutch and his crew are just toys to be played with.


The retro-style art for Starship Troopers is one of my favorites, even though it’s not remotely representative of the style or tone of Paul Verhoeven’s movie. Hell, I’d rather see the movie that art is selling than the one we actually got.


Here are a few more from Stults’ collection, for Darren Aronofsky’s Pi, Verhoeven’s Total Recall, Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys, and Kevin Costner’s Waterworld.