Ruthless, uncompromising, corrupt, and with the patience to pursue you to the ends of the earth – run and hide kids, The Monopoly man cometh! Justin Bryant, a graphic designer from Nashville, USA, has a hobby that’s seen his artwork go viral time and time again. He designs horror movie posters based on classic board games.
From Connect 4 to Guess Who, there are few classic board games that Photoshop artist Bryant hasn’t reimagined as a gory Hollywood thriller. It started way back in 2011, inspired by (of all things) the Battleship movie. He says “I was always a fan of twisting cute things into something dark and twisted, and came across the poster for Battleship and thought: wouldn’t it be funny if I turned Hungry Hungry Hippos into a horror film?”
Bryant says that first design helped him get an internship with a California entertainment design agency, but at the time it was just a one-off. It was not until the 2020 covid pandemic that designing board game horror movies would become his pastime.
“I was essentially out of work due to covid and just simply needed to create something for my mental health,” Bryant says. Stumbling across the Hungry Hungry Hippos poster on a harddrive, Bryant decided to make another version and see how his skills had improved. “I got done with that one and then all the sudden I had ideas for Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, and Mouse Trap.”
In July 2020, Bryant posted his first batch of board game horror movie posters on Instagram. The response was electric: “One morning I woke up to an insane number of notifications,” he says. “Overnight, they had been shared over 100K times. I remember hopping on a 2 hour flight and seeing they had been shared another 20K times in that timeframe.” Now he regularly sees his artwork on TikTok receiving tens of millions of views.
While it’s gained him followers, Bryant finds having his work shared again and again online isn’t always helpful. “I hardly ever get tagged, which is absolutely crucial for an artist like me,” he says. “Social media is a fast moving entity, most people aren’t going to take the time to research who I am and try to find my art pages. So if the tag isn’t there, it does absolutely nothing for me.” (Incidentally, you can find Bryant at @1126artstudio on Instagram, or his website.)
Fortunately, Bryant seems to have, on TikTok at least, a small group of fans who seek out uncredited use of his work. And when he does get tagged, it leads to a big influx of followers.
In the past, Bryant has sold prints of his posters at conventions. But even better, he’s also been commissioned off the back of them: “I met several people within the industry that have hired me for work. Subsoil Films being one that has hired me to design several movie posters for movies they are pitching to investors. I’ve learned that having great artwork in that stage really helps movies get financial backing.”
The graphic designer also made art for the horror movie 11th Hour Cleaning by Exit 44 Entertainment. He says: “Seeing my artwork sitting on a retail DVD rack was a dream come true.”
Perhaps it’s all the real horror movies he’s been commissioned to work on, but Bryant hasn’t made a new board game poster in quite a bit. The most most recent entry was Eels and Elevators from 2021 – the capstone of his imaginary horror trilogy: Chutes and Ladders, Snakes and Ladders, and Eels and Elevators
“I honestly got super burnt out on the concept and instead of just churning them out and seeing the quality go down – that’s how I view Connect 4. Something about Connect 4 just seems off to me – I wanted to take a break,” Bryant says.
However, he definitely wants to revisit the concept sooner rather than later. “I’ve had an idea for Twister that’s been sitting in my brain for two years, I just have to figure out how to execute it,” he says. He adds that he’d like to explore more sequels, like the Snakes and Ladders series.
While he’s played around with the notion of turning one of his ideas into something real, discussing the idea with his roommate, who’s a “video guy”, Bryant thinks that the chance of any real board game horror movies getting made are “slim to none”. If it happened though, he’d definitely be keen to help!
“I would absolutely love to be a part of any kind of team that would want to bring any of these ideas to life in full movie form. For real, hit me up, let’s do it!”
We at Wargamer think he’s in with a shot. If Battleship can get its own action movie, why not a Monopoly horror flick? Our experiences with the game have certainly been the stuff of nightmares.