1 . Cloverfield (2008)
Initial reaction: The very first thing they teach you on the very first day of Trailer Craft 101 is ‘make it obvious that your teaser is for an actual movie.’
Evidently, nobody in the JJ Abrams camp bothered turning up that day, as we distinctly recall walking out of whatever lumbering Christmas turkey we’d been sitting through in late 2007, and thinking, “Er, what was that... thing that played before?
"Was it definitely a trailer, and not some overblown marketing joke? Did I fail to spot the latest Nokia one of them was waving about? Whatever it was, I want some!! Um...I think.”
Key oddity: The complete lack of voiceover, gravelly or otherwise.
Not unprecedented by any means, but when combined with the shaky hand-held camerawork, it really made this trailer stand out. Even if you weren’t quite sure what you were looking at.
2. The Room (2003)
Initial reaction: Hahaha, what?! HAHAHAHAHA!! (In other words, pretty much exactly the same reaction as the entire internet has been having for the last couple of years.
YouTube search ‘The Room – “hi Mark”’.
Do it now. You won’t be disappointed. Sick, maybe...but not disappointed.
Come ON now, this cannot be serious. Can it?
Key oddity: A quick-fire clips montage featuring some the most arse-bendingly atrocious acting ever committed to celluloid. Way to sell it to us, guys...
Its a genuine wonder that director (and hirsute “You’re tearing me apaaaart, Lisa!” bloke) Tommy Wiseau managed to fish a big enough fistful of cuttings out of his own backside to make a trailer at all, never mind a whole feature.[page-break]
3. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Initial reaction: Who filmed this, a drunk midget with a 1972 reel-to-reel? It's unwatchable! Surely they’re not proposing to shoot an entire film in some wobbly first-person perspective while the camera-holder gallops shrieking through an
What, they are ? Oh god, I feel nauseous. Mind you, I'm also quite scared...
Key oddity: Like Cloverfield, no voiceover...
But it takes one step further... Not only is there nothing no listen to, there’s technically very little to watch...
'Umm, come see our film! Please! It might make you feel sick but please come, anyway!"
And - well - we obeyed, didn't we?
4. The Fat Black Pussycat (1963)
Initial reaction: "Is there any reason on Earth why you can’t see The Fat Black Pussycat?"
Er...well, how about the fact that, despite having just this minute sat through your wonderful advertisement, I still have NO CHUFFING IDEA WHAT IN GOD’S NAME IT IS!?
Is it porn? I’m worried it might be porn...
Key oddity: Here we find the quirk that gave Cloverfield and Blair Witch such enticing teasers flipped precisely on its head – rather than no voiceover, that’s pretty much all you get here. Two voiceovers, in fact.
Although one of them sounds like a slow reader trying to record her part at 3am, by torchlight at the bottom of her duvet, without her mum finding out.[page-break]
5. The Perfect Storm (2000)
Initial reaction: Ooh, that looks alright, actually – decent cast, some high-octane-looking action sequences, and the promise of witnessing "an event...that had never occurred in recorded history."
So not just a patch of really bad weather, then? Oh...
Well, I think I’ll see it anyway. If they’re willing to show us that giant wave in the trailer, imagine what eye-saucering horrors of nature have been held back for the film itself!
Key oddity: Nothing is held back for the film itself. Not one drop of rainwater. Not one puff of sea-breeze. Nada. Zero. Zilch.
This has to rank as one of the most unfair, infuriating and downright manipulative teasers of all time.
The big wave we see eating the boat in the trailer is the very thing we spend TWO HOURS building to in the feature.
6. Zardoz (1974)
Initial reaction: Double-yew. Tee. EFF? Ok, where’s the camera secretly filming my reaction to this twaddle?
Ahahahah, good one. Seriously now though, turn it off. It’s making me feel funny. Seriously. Guys? GUYS!?
Key oddity: Every single image and sound in it.[page-break]
7. Eraserhead (1977)
Initial reaction: Okay, so it was never going to be particularly middle-of-the-road. But in the choice of snippets used to advertise his debut masterpiece, David Lynch displays some bona fide weapons-grade mentalism, even by his own high standards.
Imagine if you’d accidentally dozed off during the other trailers, when suddenly that spooky ambient echo kicked in and you snapped awake to this. You’d (quite reasonably) assume you’d fallen through a hole in your own brain. Screaming would happen.
Key oddity: The fact that the trailer goes out of its way to put the Lady In The Radiator centre stage is not only a) bonkers, but b) actually pretty misleading.
Important though the scene is to the feature, it’s pretty brief in the grand scheme of things.
This trailer, for reasons best known to Mr Lynch, gives the impression that half the film unfolds down the back of 'hero' Henry’s central heating.
8. Troll 2 (1990)
Initial reaction: Okay, so the film itself has achieved borderline legendary status for being singularly woeful. But, almost impressively, this teaser also manages to act as a textbook case study in truly ham-fisted trailer trash.
First and foremost, it’s messier than an airstrike on a blancmange factory: all those choppy jump cuts are utterly bewildering, and leave us with absolutely no clue as to whether or not there’s an actual plot linking those risible ‘monster’ scenes, or merely some spliced-together stock footage of, like, people walking around and saying things. (Clue: it’s closer to the latter.)
Key oddity: When a film clip becomes a global phenomenon by dint of its unmitigated awfulness – as Troll 2’s “They’re eating her! And then
they’re going to eat me!” epic lowlight has done – you almost feel sorry for the director (Drake Floyd, FYI) who clearly didn’t have the
time, money or actors to make a re-shoot feasible.
On the other hand, when the self-same clip gets used in the trailer , it’s physically impossible to muster a scrap of sympathy for anyone involved.[page-break]
9. The Godfather (1972)
Initial reaction: Sweet Jesus - it should be technically impossible to make such a brilliant film look boring. And yet...and yet ...
Somehow, against all known laws of cinema, probability, space-time and magic, the marketing genius behind this excruciatingly lengthy ‘teaser’ has managed to made The Godfather – The Godfather! – look more epically, spirit-sappingly, skull-crushingly tedious than a nine-hour Open University special on medieval rake handles.
Key oddities: Why is it almost entirely composed of uninteresting stills? Why does it steal an entire minute of our precious, dwindling lives before even hinting that we’re in for anything more than a tortuous family slideshow?
WHY IS IT NEARLY A WEEK LONG!?!
10. Godmonster Of Indian Flats (1973)
Initial reaction: Is that the worst monster in the history of cinema? Yes. Yes it is.
Tell you what, why not try to give the impression of the film being at least a bit scary by keeping the monster OUT of the trail-...oh. You want it onscreen pretty much constantly. I see...
Key oddity: Maybe that’s why the kid on the left during the initial picnic scene – yep, the girl facing directly towards that lumbering sack of crap the entire time – flatly refuses to notice the monster for a full 20 seconds.
It’s just too lame; she can’t physically see it. Like the rubbish-monster equivalent of a dog whistle, or something.
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