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.
The Golden Child (1986)
Looking for a movie to watch one night recently, I suggested The Golden Child because it had been some time since I had seen this 1986 Eddie Murphy action comedy. I remembered it being a minor speed bump in Murphy’s hot streak between the first two Beverly Hills Cop films but forgot how abysmal a slog it was. While not an outright bomb because of its Christmas release and audience devotion to what Murphy was selling back then, its reputation as a disaster has followed it like a curse, and very rightfully so. For an action movie, its pace is deadly, and as a comedy, it only comes alive when Murphy is let loose to work his magic. That the comedy frequently has little to do with the plot only shows you how disinterested everyone involved was with the finished product, something that makes sense when you hear how the film was massively changed during post-production. Originally intended as a more serious new direction for Murphy, poor test screenings scared studio execs into reshoots that scrapped a supposedly intelligent plot in favor of the incoherent mess it winds up as. It’s also got one of the worst scores ever, quickly composed dreck that replaced a more classical theme from John Barry.
On the flip side, the teaser trailer for The Golden Child, a rare find on YouTube, is exceptional. Filmed exclusively for this coming attraction, it uses a voiceover to lay out the plot and tacks on Murphy at the end to goose the audience with laughs. It’s no wonder they turned out in droves to see it. How disappointing that The Golden Child would be so leaden.
For more teasers, check out my posts on Exorcist II: The Heretic, 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