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History of the Mondo Mystery Movie (MMM)


MondoCon 3 takes place this weekend, Saturday 10/22 and Sunday 10/23 and with it comes the revival of the MMM. Since the last Mondo Mystery Movie was nearly 3 years ago and a lot of new collectors have joined the fray since then, I thought it’d be fun (and possibly educational) to cruise down memory lane…

In 2011, the limited-edition screenprinted movie poster scene exploded. Mondo, the collectable boutique art division of the Alamo Drafthouse had just wrapped up their series of officially licensed Star Wars prints (original trilogy) with amazing sets from Tyler Stout and Olly Moss. On March 27th 2011, on Quentin Tarantino’s birthday, Mondo popped up at the New Bev theater in L.A. for a screening of Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair with a poster by Tyler Stout to commemorate the event.

The posters were sold at the screening and later in an online sale that had collectors frantically refreshing the Mondo site hoping to score a poster. The regular edition had a run of 600 posters and there was a variant with subtle differences that was limited to 225. It wasn’t enough; everybody and their sensei wanted a Stout Kill Bill. The hobby was booming. Shortly after that, Mondo sent out an email to its subscribers:

Tickets will go ON SALE for the very first MONDO MYSTERY MOVIE at noon CST today. What is MMM? Let me tell you.
The MMM will be a new screening series at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in which we at Mondo pick out a beloved movie and make a poster for it. You might be thinking, “Don’t they already do that?” The answer is, “Yes, Kinda.” You see, we always announce what we’re doing ahead of time, but for these screenings, it will be top secret. Nobody knows what’s going on except for Mondo and the artist and nothing will be revealed until everyone in the theater is seated. We showed up at the New Bev in LA to sell posters unannounced last weekend and it caused a stir. We’re hoping to recapture that kind of excitement and electricity with the Mystery screenings.
There will be a lot of questions so I’ll answer some of them now. Could it be a vintage movie? Yeah. Could it be a new movie? Definitely. Could it be a marathon? Sure. Will there be special guests in attendance? That’s definitely a possibility. Bottom line is…we have the power to show ANYTHING we want. Anything. It will never be the same and that is what’s so much fun about this event. We’ll be showing you movies we LOVE and also doing posters for said movies in an ultra limited run that will ONLY be available at the screening.

Tickets were tough to score and I totally struck out on the drop, but I was able to make a deal with a guy in Baltimore; he gives me 2 tickets, I send him a set of prints (a regular and variant). On the day of the screening we showed up at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar in Austin and the energy was electric. The anticipation and the mystery made the event. Attendees had their guesses as to what the movie would be and their wishlists of potential artists. As we waited in the lobby, a tall, friendly-looking man with red hair, wearing a blue hoodie, walked by and a few collectors smiled and shared knowing glances. Tyler Stout was in the building.

Salty Winters, Tyler Stout, Claudia Gonzalez (photo by Mitch Putnam)

Young Salty, Tyler Stout, and Claudia ‘3 Posters’ Gonzalez (photo by Mitch Putnam)

They didn’t announce the movie. The lights dimmed and The Mask with Jim Carrey came on and it played for a solid 4 or 5 minutes, long enough for people to really think that it was the mystery movie. Then all of a sudden it cut off and the crowd was informed that Tyler Stout was in the house, that it was his birthday, and since he had never been to Austin, Mondo brought him down and let him pick the movie. He chose the 1988 Japanese animated Sci-fi classic Akira, everybody got cupcakes, the movie kicked ass on the big screen, and we all had a memorable time. There was a regular edition poster with bright, bold colors, and a variant with classy metallic inks. Since the poster was only available at the event and it was highly sought after, it is highly collectable and the prices on the aftermarket reflect the exclusivity.

stout-akira-reg-and-variant

Tyler Stout Akira  Top: Regular, Bottom: Variant

MMMs became a thing, and collectors who had previously only socialized with each other through forums such as Expresso Beans and GigPosters stepped out from behind their screen names and avatars and became a real community of people (a nerd herd). The usual suspects showed up to MMM after MMM and the events were always lively and entertaining. They were good times.

MMMs To Date:

MMM1- Akira poster by Tyler Stout- Austin 4/14/11
MMM2- Jurassic Park by Aaron Horkey- Austin 8/31/11
MMM2- Bonus screening- The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
MMM3- 28 Days Later by Charlie Adlard- LA 10/7/11
MMM4- Hellraiser by Florian Bertmer- LA 10/7/11
MMM5- The Iron Giant by Kevin Tong- LA 10/8/11
MMM6- Assault on Precinct 13 by Tyler Stout- LA 10/8/11
MMM7- The City of Lost Children by Ken Taylor- LA 10/9/11
MMM8- The Mist by Daniel Danger– LA 10/9/11
MMM9- Dawn of the Dead by Jeff Proctor- Austin 10/29/11
MMMX- Return of the King by Aaron Horkey- Austin 7/5/12
MMMXI- Die Hard by Laurent Durieux- LA 12/14/13

Not listed are the numerous special guests such as director and visual effects guru Phil Tippett (his refreshingly honest Q&A was an all-timer and is posted below for your enjoyment), movie critic/historian Leonard Maltin (I’ll save the story of him spoiling the mystery of MMM5 for another time) and director George A. Romero (who shot a zombie in the face at close range).

As you can see, it’s been nearly 3 years since the last MMM. When it was announced that the Mondo Mystery Movie would be resurrected at MondoCon 3 a jolt of energy shot through the print community. Of course, tickets sold out in mere seconds. There are folks without tickets who are scrambling to trade for them (people are offering up good stuff too) but nobody wants to give up the hottest ticket in town. The mystery is back!

My wife and I attended all of the MMMs except for XI and we have crazy stories from each one. We made the trip to the New Beverly theater (only time I’ve been to California) for MMM3 – MMM8 and survived the zombie apocalypse at MMM9. We’ve met a lot of friends at these events and I look forward to catching up with them at MondoCon and MMMXII. It’s going down!

Tickets for MondoCon are available here.

Read more about MondoCon 2016.

Check out some pics and videos from previous MMMs:

Buttons from MMMs (Akira is not official and City of Lost Children is upside down)

Buttons from MMMs (Akira is not official and City of Lost Children is upside down)

MMM1

MMM1

MMM2

MMM2

MMM3-MMM8 New Beverly Cinema

MMM3 – MMM8 New Beverly Cinema

MMMLA

MMM5 Kevin Tong Iron Giant Variant

MMM5 Kevin Tong Iron Giant Variant

Adam Smasher and Rotten Atom at MMM8

Adam Smasher and Rotten Atom at MMM8

MMM8 Daniel Danger The Mist

MMM8 Daniel Danger The Mist

George A. Romero and Justin Ishmael at MMMIX (Photo by Jack Plunkett/Mondo)

George A. Romero and Justin Ishmael at MMMIX (Photo by Jack Plunkett/Mondo)

MMMIX(Photo by Jack Plunkett/Mondo)

MMMIX (Photo by Jack Plunkett/Mondo)

MMMIX

MMMIX

MMMX

MMMX

MMMX Aaron Horkey The Return of the King Variant

MMMX Aaron Horkey The Return of the King Variant

MMMXI

MMMXI

MMMXI

MMMXI

Follow me on twitter: @saltywinters

Check out the Critics Circle on Radio Brave, the Houston Film Critics Society’s weekly program.


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Salty Winters once said, "Everything I learned I learned from the movies." He was quoting Audrey Hepburn.

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