Background: Renaissance Pictures is the production company founded by film director, Sam Raimi (creator of the controversial Evil Dead series, Darkman,and the first three Spider-Man films). Although the company started up in 1982, Raimi didn't use an animated logo until 1993. Renaissance Pictures' offices have been housed on the Universal Studios backlot since 1987, and most of their productions beginning with Darkman, have been released by Universal. Raimi is also the co-founder of Ghost House Pictures.
1st logo (1993-1994)
Nicknames: "The Earth and the Sun", "WHOOOSH!", "1993: A Renaissance Odyssey"
Logo: In space, the words "RENAISSANCE PICTURES" (stacked on top of each other with "PICTURES" in spaced-out letters, in blue) are suspended above the Earth. The sun rises behind the name, as it rotates upwards to face the viewers (like the 1968 MGM film, 2001: A Space Odyssey).
FX/SFX: The sun rising.
Music/Sounds: A high WHOOSH sound.
Availability: Very rare. Originally seen on the pilot episode of the M.A.N.T.I.S. series.
Scare Factor: Low to medium. The whoosh and the sudden animation may get some. At least it's better than the successor logo…
Nicknames: "Thunder from Hell", "Bad Weather in the Louvre", "The Herc and Xena Logo", "The Evil Portrait of Death", "The Personification of all that is Evil", "Portrait of Doom", "The Tibetan Chanting Logo", "The Terrifying Portrait", "The one with the Mona Lisa and the Lightning"
Logo: We zoom-out on an engraving-like portrait (on what appears to be a piece of aging parchment at first glance) of a man in 16th century dress (though the head is about all that's seen, and it bears a striking resemblance to Da Vinci's Mona Lisa). A crack appears on the bottom right, and then the portrait then zooms in toward the viewer, ripping into two pieces in the process. As the ripped portrait's two pieces pull away, some lightning flashes are seen with crashing thunder. When the portrait's sections clear the screen, one more lightning flash occurs, this time revealing "Renaissance" in the Pepita script typeface, and "PICTURES" below it in spaced-out letters, in the Friz Quadrata typeface (best known for being used in the logos of the original six Fox stations and the Law & Order logo).
- There's an early version of the logo where the crack appears early as the portrait finishes zooming out before it rips into two pieces. This variant only appears on the first two TV movies of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.
- There exists a short version starting with the company name appearing, glowing, and then dimming. This version is only known to exist on one show, American Gothic. Only the sound of thunder is heard.
- There is another short version that begins with the portrait already still before the crack appears.
- There is an abridged version of the logo that appears on Legend of the Seeker. Also, it's enhanced.
- A still version of this logo exists. The text only appears in this variation.
FX/SFX: The zoom-out, the picture tearing, the striking thunderbolt.
Cheesy Factor: This one, above all 1990s-vintage logos, has something to unnerve nearly everyone: an extreme zoom-in, lightning, and unholy-sounding music! Also on the early variant, the crack moving over the picture is very cheesy.
Music/Sounds: A sound bite of a Tibetan chant (described by one of the logo nicknames), a loud ripping noise, and the thunder. Tibetan monks are known for singing in a very low vocal register, sometimes as much as 9 octaves below normal, which makes this logo very ominous.
Music/Sounds Variant: On M.A.N.T.I.S. and season 2 episodes of Cleopatra 2525, the last part of the show's ending theme is heard.
Availability: The long version appears on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (including the TV movies) and Xena: Warrior Princess (the former is currently seen on The Hub while the latter was last seen when the show reran on Oxygen) and also appeared on Darkman II: The Return of Durant, Darkman III: Die Darkman Die, and Hercules and Xena: The Battle for Mount Olympus. The short version with only the text appeared on American Gothic, and was last seen when Chiller reran it. The still version appeared on episodes of M.A.N.T.I.S. excluding the pilot episode, (which has the previous logo). The alternate short version has appeared on the short-lived series Jack of All Trades and Cleopatra 2525, as well as Young Hercules (which was last seen when Encore Wam reran it). Unfortunately for some, this logo lives again: the abridged enhanced version can be seen on Legend of the Seeker on DVD. However the VHS and DVD releases of said shows and movies have the logo intact.
Scare Factor: Depending on variant:
- Nightmare for the regular version; Due to the thunder, lightning, ripping/tearing animation FX, and the Tibetan monk chant soundbite, this logo is no doubt one of the scariest ever made. It's even more scarier for the warp speed version.
- Medium for the short version, due to lacking the lightning, chanting and ripping FX; however, the thunder sound can still catch you off guard.
- None for the still version.