In 2013 I was feeling pretty blue about the state of movie trailers. For a time, it was imperative for me to get to a theater in time for the previews or else some of the fun would be missing from the experience of going to the movies because, let’s face it, sometimes the coming attractions were more entertaining than the feature presentation. That started to change when the previews became less of a creative way to market the film and more of way for studios to put all their cards on the table with little artistry. Like I said back seven years ago, it seems like nearly every preview that’s released is about 2:30 minutes long and gives away almost every aspect of the movie, acting more like a Cliff Notes version of the movie being advertised rather than something to entice an audience into coming back and seeing the full product.
Sadly, in the years since I did my first run of the In Praise of Teasers series, not a lot has changed and it may have gotten worse. It’s gotten to the point where I almost avoid watching a trailer all together because so much of the plot is given away. This site used to feature a wealth of movie previews but I just can’t bring myself to post too many because they’re so spoiler-y. Only the rare well-done coming attraction or preview for an “event” film gets through…and even then I can’t think of anything recent that could go toe-to-toe with the brief bites I’m going to share with you over the coming weeks.
That’s why I’ve decided to revive In Praise of Teasers now. In this day and age where all aspects of a movie are fairly well known before an inch of footage is seen the subtlety of a well crafted “teaser” trailer is totally gone…and I miss it…I miss it a lot. Let’s revisit some of the teaser trailers I fondly remember and, in a way, reintroduce them. Whether the actual movie was good or bad is neither here nor there; but pay attention to how each of these teasers work in their own special way to grab the attention of movie-goers.
The Addams Family (1991)
Any dissection of the art of the teaser trailer simply must include a look at the one for The Addams Family. Notable for its length and also because it was produced solely for the teaser with no other footage from the final film used, it’s a real winner. Personally, I always get a kick out of these cinematic moments that break the fourth wall and acknowledge the audiences. Movie buffs that like to go over the finer details will notice actor Christopher Lloyd’s Uncle Fester’s make-up differs greatly from how he looked when the movie was released and there are some that speculate it isn’t even Lloyd you see here. Reading the recently released autobiography of the films director, “Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother: Memoirs of a Neurotic Filmmaker”, I found out how arduous it was to get the movie made but as you can see from the rarely seen short teaser below, the creative team assembled really got it right from the beginning, leading the movie to be a certified hit. I do remember seeing this a few times in theaters the summer of 1991 but once the full trailer was released it understandably vanished, but it’s nice to see it again after all these years. It also speaks to the audience recognition of the characters that there isn’t even a title listed at the end!
For a refresher on my previous series back in 2013, check out my posts on Alien, Misery, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Showgirls, Jurassic Park, Jaws 3D/Jaws: The Revenge, Total Recall, Halloween II: Season of the Witch