Occasionally, I’ll revive one of my old “special” columns from my early days. Formerly titled In Praise of Teasers, I’ve rebranded my look at coming attractions The Art of the Tease(rs) and brought it back for a short run over the next few weeks.
Starting in 2013, I used these peeks at past previews to highlight the fun (and short!) creatively mounted campaigns that generated buzz from audiences who caught them in front of movies back in the day. Some of these I remember seeing myself, and some I never had the pleasure of watching. More than anything, it makes me long for studios and advertising agencies to go back to showing less in modern trailers because the amount of spoiler-heavy material shared now is ghastly. Today, where all aspects of a movie are pretty well known before an inch of footage is seen, the subtlety of a well-crafted “teaser” trailer is gone.
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 works uniquely to grab the attention of movie-goers.
Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
Even the worst movies sometimes get good teaser trailers, and 1977’s Exorcist II: The Heretic is a prime example. This stinkeroo sequel to the 1973 classic was beset with problems during filming after struggling through preproduction. Originally conceived as a low-budget follow-up that would reuse discarded material from the original, Warner Brothers instead went big and paid dearly for their efforts. Despite a knockout cast of heavy hitters (including recent Best Actress winner Louise Fletcher, beating out the likes of Ann Margret and Jane Fonda for her role), this is rightfully considered one of the all-time worst sequels. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, and I feel like a rewatch is coming soon. While I brace for impact, I can at least enjoy the kooky fun drummed up by the marketing department at Warner Brothers.
I’m going to include two trailers here. The first is a straight-up teaser trailer that I’m sure goosed a few audiences that fled theaters four years prior because they were so scared of the original. This is strangely graphic-heavy, but I kind of dig it, showcasing the variety of mixed media we don’t see in this era of moviemaking. The second preview is labeled the full trailer but would still classify as a lengthy teaser in my book. Little of the structured plot is shown, not that you’d be able to remember it with that grating song blaring over your speakers. Even son, it’s effectively creepy, very ‘70s, and as hokey-pokey as the movie turned out to be.
For more teasers, check out my posts on Flashdance, Mortal Kombat, Strange Days, Fire in the Sky, The Fifth Element, The Addams Family, Alien, Misery, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Showgirls, Jurassic Park, Jaws 3D/Jaws: The Revenge, Total Recall, Halloween II: Season of the Witch, Psycho (1998), The Game, In the Line of Fire