“I’ve always considered myself a movie guy and a collector,” says Brian Chankin, owner and operator of Odd Obsession, in what may be the understatement of the year. Not only was Chankin able to open the out-there video rental store in Bucktown with his own DVD and VHS collection a dozen years ago, but this summer, with help from his sister Heidi Anne Chankin, he started up Deadly Prey Gallery (1433 W. Chicago) in West Town to showcase his massive stockpile of weirdo movie posters from Ghana.
In the 80s, Ghanaian mobile cinemas showed movies in villages that didn’t have electricity. This form of entertainment—typically a truck equipped with power generators, TVs, and a library of movies—was an instant success, spawning competing companies. One way to get villagers lining up at your truck was to advertise with outrageous, colorful, hand-painted posters.
Often absurdly over-the-top and supremely violent interpretations of U.S. films, the posters took on a life of their own. “Soon the movie posters became just as important as the actual movie being shown,” Chankin says. “Certain movies gained especially high notoriety for the outlandish nature of the posters, containing scenes and characters that may or may not be in the movie.”
Chankin’s been collecting these posters for about five years, and at this point owns more than 700. His favorite is for 1986’s Deadly Prey, the movie from which his gallery got its name. “The holy grail of the collection, and one of my favorite movies,” he says. The poster is emblazoned with a neon-orange, heavily muscled mercenary decked out with daggers and bullet belts. “Just remarkable,” Chankin says.