AI image generators have exploded in popularity in recent months leading to a dizzying array of head scratching, data-crunching artworks from astronauts riding horses in space and illustrated raccoons playing tennis to more terrifying Seinfeld-inspired art concoctions. With spooky season in full swing, we wanted to see DALL-E 2, OpenAI’s most advanced publicly viable tool to do its thing when given all-time classic horror movie posters. The results are simultaneously fascinating and hilariously stupid, a contradictory combination that says a lot about the evolving state of AI tech in general.
AI generators, and DALL-E in particular, occasionally reveal a darker side. Earlier this year, for example, AI illustrator @Supercomposite described an eerie situation where the image of an inflamed, bloodied woman appeared in his AI search results over and over again. Though the image is strange enough on its own, the illustrator says the woman, who came to be called Loab, continued to follow him across image prompts. The AI generator, for some unknown reason, came to associate Loab with extreme gore, so much so that when it was added alongside other subjects in prompts the AI consistently spit out horrific, nightmarish images.
AI generators clearly have some unresolved trauma most likely caused by the endless stream of unsavory things us humans ask them to churn out. The real question is, will all that pent-up algorithmic darkness lead to convincing movie posters?
2 / 12
It’s difficult to imagine a much more iconic image in horror than Jack Nicholson’s full teethed, snarling smile glaring above red “Shining” letters.
DALL-E’s reimagined version clearly seems to “understand” some of the key elements of the original work but it nonetheless still manages to create something entirely unique. Unlike many of the AI-generated posters featured here, DALL-E’s take on The Shining actually manages to stay in the general ballpark of the original in terms of theme and emotion and, to some extent, even recreates the main character, unsettling smile and all. The lettering on the other hand, well we’ll leave you to figure that one out.
3 / 12
DALL-E’s version of the the bloody 1974 Tobe Hooper classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, might not exactly mimc the original poster to a tee but at least it remembers to keep the most important element: the chainsaw. And by the looks of it, DALL-E’s version implements not one, but two of the blades, dual-wielded by a cowboy hat wearing figure. The poster also uses the title “TAXTAIS” in large, bloody red font. Who knows what that’s supposed to mean, but it does seem like the type of title that might come attached to some newer independent horror film.
4 / 12
Let’s not beat around the bush. DALL-E’s Halloween poster sucks. While the AI was able to vaguely pull together coherent elements from the original poster into some of its own renderings, DALL-E’s Halloween looks more like a new indie platformer video game than a late 70's horror flick. On the other hand, this version was the only rendering on this slideshow where DALL-E used the correct spelling, which counts for something.
5 / 12
With The Exorcist poster recreation, DALL-E moves away from the original film poster’s subtlety and mystery and instead replaces it with a large, pale blue eyes goblin-esque figure peering down on a static-covered white figure looking off into the distance.
6 / 12
Throughout this brief experiment, it quickly became clear the subtleties and nuances necessary to properly “speak” DALL-E’s algorithmic language. Sure, typing in phrases like you would in a text to friends can occasionally spit out something interesting, but more often than not it’s necessary to set the tool up for success with the right placement of nouns and verbs.
This was clearly evident when asking DALL-E to create a poster representative of Ridley Scott’s 1979 space horror classic Alien. When we first simply instructed DALL-E to make an “aliens poster” it produced several kitschy, cartoony images with great green monsters reminiscent of Kang and Kodos from The Simpsons. When we refined the input to include the date of the film, however, and clarified that we were talking about a movie, DALL-E produced this interesting image. On the surface it’s nothing at all like the original poster and the word ‘alien’ is spelled wrong. Still though, it manages to capture the cold and dark blue aesthetics associated with the film. The image feels, above all else. Unquestionably “sci-fi.”
7 / 12
DALL-E’s recreation of The Thing stands apart as one of the goofier entries on this list. The original poster focuses on a startling figure standing in some icy tundra with a bright beam of light emitting from their face. DALL-E’s version, by contrast, shows a hairy sasquatch-like creature roaming above a mountain range. If you look closely, you can also see what looks like an Alien-inspired creature extending out of the main figure’s arm.
8 / 12
In several of the images depicted here, DALL-E clearly struggled to accurately identify the main themes of the original films in question. That certainly was not the case when we asked it to develop a Jaws poster. DALL-E’s creation features a mammoth great white shark angrily breaching up from the ocean almost as if it’s trying to consume you, the viewer, whole. DALL-E also somehow managed to create a title worthy of a Jaws reboot: HAWARS!!!!!
9 / 12
DALL-E’s recreation of Jonathan Demme’s 1991 horror film The Silence of the Lambs appears to take the woman from the poster’s original image and re-orienting her to the top of the image. DALL-E’s version does away with the strange orange bug covering the woman’s mouth in the original poster and exchanges its mostly blue background with a dark black coating.
10 / 12
When Poltergeist was released in 1982, viewers worldwide developed a new unease and nervousness around staticky television and creepy children. Posters for films capture this and often show a little girl with her hands outstretched before a classic tube television. When asked to recreate this poster, DALL-E came quite close but differed in some noteworthy ways. The girl with her outstretched arms still is featured prominently, however, in DALL-E’s version she appears standing rather than sitting and is much larger. The TV no longer appears, though the entire image is covered in blue electricity seemingly emblematic of the static from some larger television out of frame somewhere.
11 / 12
DALL-E’s recreation of Jordan Peele’s modern classic Get Out is the most interesting, and also potentially most troubling, recreation on this list. On the positive side, the image DALL-E creates is unique, unlike the original, and properly terrifying. The subtle muted colors and the look of fear on the main character’s face would likely pass for a completely original work adorning the halls of some AMC theater. On the concerning side, this poster, recreating an image from one of the few Black-led films on this list, clearly re-creates and emphasizes stereotypes with racist undertones.
12 / 12