One of the great things about growing up in the late 80’s/early 90’s was that the majority of the well known horror franchises were all at their absolute peak in popularity, which meant that sequels to some of the most famous movie maniacs were always in production and always inevitable. Part of the fun of these flicks getting churned out at such an alarmingly fast rate was that in order to start promoting the next entry of a series in a timely fashion, studios would create teaser trailers with footage never intended for the actual movie. Just something quick and cool to whet the insatiable appetite of horror fanatics. So what follows are 10 of our all time favorite horror franchise teaser trailers. Do you remember any of the following?
A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) – At this point, Freddy Krueger was on the cusp of becoming a phenomenon. And while the 4th entry in the series 'The Dream Master' would prove to be the most financially successful of the bunch, Part 3 to this day is the most beloved of the sequels, both among fans and critics alike. It introduced us to the 'Dream Warriors', the last of the Elm Street kids whose parents were responsible for Freddy’s death and all of their unique and creative abilities within the dream world. But for the teaser, we don’t get a glimpse of any of the dream warriors, nor the crazy elaborate elements the pic held in store for us. Instead, we get one of the infamous jump rope girls sitting on a bed with a toy model of Nancy’s house from the original film and then Freddy’s trademark claw comes popping out of the house at the end stating aloud, “Freddy’s back again!” Awesome!
Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) – Of all the teaser trailers on this list, hell as far as teaser trailers in general go, this has to be by far my favorite of all time. Can you have imagined seeing this in a theater? We hear the first few notes of Frank Sinatra’s "New York, New York" with a figure (a tourist, perhaps?) overlooking and admiring the beautifully lit New York City skyline. Who is it? What could this be? As we push in closer and just as an unsuspecting woman walks by, the figure flips around and it’s Jason freakin’ Voorhees, machete in hand ready to strike. We get a montage of terrified faces spanning from the subways to the alleyways to the NYC streets as we continue pushing into Jason’s infamous hockey mask and finally the title… Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. And that tagline… "New York has a new problem." I loved this teaser trailer so much. Sadly, the movie does not deliver on the potential this teaser hints at. But I’ll continue dreaming of an awesome version of "Jason Takes Manhattan" in an alternate universe and continue to enjoy this teaser trailer.
Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990) – Here’s another teaser that was in theaters before the actual movie even began production! A skewed version of the Lady in the Lake legend, but with Leatherface! As this was made prior to director Jeff Burr’s involvement in the sequel, I’ve always been curious as to who played Leatherface for this teaser, as well as who designed this version of the mask. Easily one of the coolest teasers ever made. The Saw Is Family.
Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982) – I’ve actually never seen this teaser until my friend Jared Rivet shared it with me on Facebook… and it’s a pretty bad-ass little tease! Granted, at the time no one knew what to expect from the sequel. Everyone just assumed it’d be yet another slasher movie with Michael Myers. This ominous trailer definitely hints at that. But if you are familiar with the movie now in retrospect, I love the bug crawling out of the mouth of the mask. I’m so, so thrilled this odd little Halloween movie has garnered such a cult following over the years. It’s much deserved and only makes me appreciate this neat little promotional spot all the more.
Psycho III (1986) – Now, this particular trailer is a bit different from the others in that it doesn’t really have new footage, but it does have footage not in the movie that was specifically shot for this trailer, and that’d be the shots of Norman walking up the stairs to Mother’s room over the narration and then turning to give us a smile. Psycho III has always been vastly underrated to me, so I dig this teaser, especially the tag line, "Norman Bates is back to normal, but mother’s off her rocker again."
Child’s Play 2 (1990) – While this also boasts a bit of footage from the actual movie, I always loved the "jack in the box" footage specifically shot for this teaser. Hell, it’s the only thing that makes the tag-line make any sense. "Sorry, Jack. Chucky’s back!" There’s no Jack character anywhere in movie? Nor a jack in the box so what the hell does this have to do with Child's Play? Are we to assume every kid has a jack in the box and Chucky’s essentially saying he’s taking over? Who knows? But the presence of "Jack" both in this teaser trailer and the theatrical poster is one of those fun inexplicable sequel tid-bits.
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998) – I remember catching an early screening of I Know What You Did Last Summer at NYU and having an absolute blast with the audience at that particular screening. This was hot off the horror resurgence that Scream had kicked off, and as a die-hard horror enthusiast, I took note that the screenwriter on this movie was in fact the same one that penned Scream, Kevin Williamson. So when this teaser played in theaters, I was pretty excited for another outing with the fisherman! The final movie unfortunately wasn’t all that good, but the filmmakers did craft this long 2 minute (!) teaser trailer of a therapy scene that’s not even in the final movie! As far as teases go, once you saw Jennifer Love Hewitt, you pretty much knew what this was teaser for, but it was still nice to get the fisherman bursting through the mirror and have that ridiculous long (and awesome) title come up.
It Lives Again (1978) – Here's another one I wasn’t familiar with before doing a little research for this article, but man is it cool! Who would’ve thought 'It’s Alive' would spawn a sequel? And what better way to announce a follow-up than with a birthday party set-up and that monotone voice-over "there’s a new kid in the neighborhood, but don’t invite him to your party. The 'It’s Alive' baby is back. Only now there are 3 of them." It Lives Again!
Day Of The Dead (1985) – Day Of The Dead is by far my favorite of George Romero’s zombie movies. I’ve always loved it. It’s got some of the most impressive FX work of Tom Savini’s career, but even as a young kid, this movie meant way more to me than just the gore. I was really invested in this tight knit group of characters and their opposing beliefs as to what they should be doing in this post-apocalypse world. The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman always said that his intention for the comic was "what if a George Romero movie never ended and we kept following these characters?" So, I think now, if you’re a Walking Dead fan, you should check out this character drama, that happens to have bitchin’ zombies in it. Beyond that, while I prefer the official theatrical trailer of this movie (the third in Romero’s quadrilogy), I’m including this version here because of the movie theater footage with the zombie audience member that was exclusive to this teaser. Pretty cool way to promote the flick!
Aliens (1986) – Last but certainly not least, the teaser trailer for Aliens doesn’t even have a single line of dialogue, but it teases you at a sequel like you’ve never seen before. And even though this one does have all footage from the final movie, it was just too cool not to include here. Imagine only having Ridley Scott’s first 'Alien' as reference, and then catching this teaser trailer in theaters and knowing that it’s from the guy that just made 'The Terminator'? I would’ve been in no matter what! And as time has told, it’s still one of the best horror/sci-fi sequels ever made.
Well, there ya have it! Again, we were trying to focus primarily on teaser trailers for franchise films, and ones that implemented new or exclusive footage specifically for their teasers. Did we miss any? Be on the lookout next week as we’ll be looking at some of our favorite non-franchise teasers trailers too!