Trailers. Teasers. Coming Attractions. Whatever you call them, they’re impossible to avoid if you spend any time at the local multiplex–especially now that the studios are paying to have their trailers run. These days it’s not unusual to sit through as many as ten trailers in a single screening, and far from being an enticement, the whole experience feels more like an endurance test.
There is a strange inverse logic to trailers. A bad trailer is often an indication of a good film that can’t easily be reduced to a few eye-grabbing scenes. A good trailer, on the other hand, can be the sign of a film that needs to give everything away in the hopes of luring in an audience. While these trailers appear to promise more, they have already ransacked the films they’re promoting for every laugh line and action set-piece in them. Trailers can also act as a kind of shell game, slanting the expectations of a film that’s tested poorly. A trailer can draw you in with the promise of one kind of movie, only to have it turn out to be something completely different when you actually pay to see it.
Trailers cajole, lie, and entice, but for all their snake oil and cinematic ballyhoo, they’re often more entertaining than the movies they promote. Sometimes they’re frivolous, sometimes they’re serious. At times, trailers serve as a dire warning of what the future holds.
The Cinema Misfits take a nostalgic look back at some of the trailers they’ve found to be unforgettable.
Citizen Kane. Dorthy Comingore. I’ll say that name again, Dorthy Comingore. You’ve probably never heard it before, and you’re not likely to hear it again– unless you watch the Citizen Kane trailer.
The Blue Lagoon. Some movies are so bad they’re good. The same goes for trailers.
Demon Seed. Unintentionally, some trailers can act as a warning. When Lou saw the trailer for The Demon Seed, all he could think was, “Run for the hills!”
Xanadu. Movie theaters should be equipped with a “silly” alarm that goes off whenever something totally unexpected and absurd is about to hit the screen. If such a device had existed when Xanadu came out, it would have been impossible to turn off.
A trailer can make or break a film. Here’s one that made the film.