Friday, January 27, 2006

Top 10: Trailers

Movie trailers are a tricky business, an attempt to summarize the story and mood of a film in two minutes or so without giving too much away. Too often, trailers are edited to mislead an audience, fooling people into seeing films that weren't made for them. The trailers listed here give you a tantalizing glimpse of the world of the film without spoiling the fun.

1. The Shining - One sustained shot, with some scrolling credits and text, of the Overlook Hotel's iconic elevator. Simple, elusive, and haunting.
2. Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III - The trend of "prank" trailers that blindside an audience reaches its high point with this Arthurian teaser.
3. Kill Bill - Back when Tarantino's revenge opus was a single film, this teaser, set to "Battle Without Honor or Humanity," let us know what a kinetic, crazy ride we were in for.
4. Magnolia - Another trailer defined by its momentum, introducing us to the film's numerous characters and engaging us with brief, visually stunning moments (including a glimpse of the infamous frogs).
5. The Exorcist - This montage of demonic faces, set to Penderecki, is as spooky as any scene in the film.
6. Eyes Wide Shut - Another sustained shot from Kubrick, this one the famous "Baby Did A Bad Thing" scene, filled with equal parts eroticism, despair, and ambiguity.
7. Alien - A brief journey through space, ending at a barren-looking planet, where we see the egg featured on the poster. The juxtaposition of images and sounds has a wonderfully sparse, creepy effect.
8. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Set to ELO's "Mr. Blue Sky," this trailer manages to set up the basic memory-erasing premise quickly before turning loopy and intriguing.
9. The Phantom Menace - Remember how exciting this was? Yeah, the film was varying degrees of disappointment for most of us, largely because of what this trailer stirred in our inner children.
10. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Another trailer that is better than the film, which was fun but not as purely, dangerously trippy as is promised here.


Dr. Criddle said...

Leatherface: TCM III is a great pick. I've never seen the movie, but the trailer is genius.

Andrew Bemis said...

Yeah, the movie is pretty poor, but still worth seeing for an early, villainous Viggo Mortensen performance.

Paul C. said...

A longstanding favorite of mine is the trailer to Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It's a brilliant deconstruction of the trailer format, a full three decades before trailers such as Comedian and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy tried to do the same. It begins with a voiceover audition and ends with an ad for a Chinese restaurant. Enough said, really.

I also love the first teaser for The Big Lebowski, which kaleidoscopically split the screen into 9 parts and used "Just Dropped In (to See What Condition My Condition Was In)" as accompaniment. The final shot of the teaser is absolutely priceless.

And while I know you hate the movie, I feel obligated to mention the awesome still-frames trailer for Buffalo '66, set to "Heart of the Sunrise."