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.
Child’s Play 2 (1990)
Ask around about this teaser trailer for Child’s Play 2, and you’ll hear several horror fans easily able to tell you where they were when they first saw it (in theaters before Problem Child?). It’s short, sweet, and memorable. I’d also wager a bet and say that for many, like me, this was the first of the Chucky films longtime franchise fans saw, not the snazzy 1988 original. Not knocking the dependable 1988 Tom Holland-directed introduction to the cute doll possessed by the soul of a serial killer that launched a successful inventory of films plus a recent TV series, but John Lafia’s follow-up is often highlighted as a more colorful and fun outing. They’re just two different apples off the same twisted tree. I like the taste of both, but sometimes I prefer the sour tang of Child’s Play 2 more than the crispness of the one that started it all. Plus…can you deny how fantastic the ending of this one is?
Universal Studios (which bought the rights to the franchise from United Artists in 1990) did good with this nifty teaser, developing not one but two taglines. “It’s Playtime…Again.” and the infamous “Sorry Jack, Chucky’s Back” are indeed for the industry history books. A full trailer would follow later, but it’s not nearly as effective as this brief warning to anyone resting easy, thinking they were safe from another recess with our favorite Good Guy.
For more teasers, check out my posts on Batman, The Golden Child, 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