Last week, I embarked on a fun little assignment to pull together a batch of teaser trailers for horror sequels; the one criteria being that they all had to feature exclusive footage specifically shot and used just for that trailer. One of the greatest aspects of putting together articles like this is that after I finish them, I like to open up the discussion amongst my Facebook friends and see if we agree or if they have other suggestions I could’ve possibly gone with. While I already had my horror sequels picked out, I got a handful of terrific recommendations for teaser trailers featuring original footage for non-sequel horror movies. So, low and behold, I thought these awesome teasers warranted a separate article and man, some of these are cool as all hell! Special thanks to Jared Rivet, Jeff Nelson & Sean Keller for pointing out quite a few of these to me, some of which I’d never seen before. Let’s have a look and see if you guys are familiar with any of these teasers? I broke it up into 3 sub-categories just for the fun of it!
PART ONE: Fun With Skulls!
Suspiria – 'Suspiria' is arguably Dario Argento’s greatest film, both artistically and stylistically and is considered a favorite amongst horror fans. But have you ever seen this bizarre trailer to the movie? It opens with Goblin’s now infamous Suspria theme while a female character recites the "roses are red" poem. But alas, when the girl turns around, she’s nothing more than a skeleton! And "skulls" will be the theme of this first batch of trailers. There’s also that great tagline, "The only thing more terrifying than the last 12 minutes of Suspiria are the first 92." My first reaction to that is, "wait… the movie’s over a 100 minutes long?" Second reaction is… "cool!"
Return To Horror High – 'Return To Horror High' is not a very good movie. Let’s just get that out of the way right off the bat. But it did have a pretty rad theatrical one sheet poster which featured the skeleton of a cheerleader in mid-cheer. The teaser tries to recreate this character from the poster into the trailer itself by opening with a cheerleader doing her thing while the narrator tells us about the "series of brutal and savage murders" that occurred at this school back in 1982. And when the cheerleader whips around, she’s wearing a skull mask! It’s disturbing on several levels and freaky to see the poster come to life, but has nothing to really do with the actual film itself. 'Return To Horror High' does feature a young George Clooney in a practically thankless role both early in the film & in his career, but if you want classic vintage Clooney, I strongly recommend 'Return Of The Killer Tomatoes'. Now that movie is at least fun!
Visiting Hours – This is a really, really cool teaser that evokes yet again the poster design for the theatrical one-sheet. (And is also very similar to the recently released anthology flick V/H/S!) It kicks off with the unsettling loud blaring of an ambulance signal while the narrator recites the tagline "In this hospital, you next visit may be your last." Slowly but surely and in between snippets of footage from the movie, the lights of the hospital all form together to make a human skull!
PART TWO: Audience Participation!
Scanners – Ah, then there’s the audience participation promos; a series of trailers that slice footage from the film with footage of unsuspecting audience members reacting to the horrors on the silver screen. An effective way of getting us to wonder what it is they’re so terrified by. We want to see the horrors too! And the trailer for David Cronenberg’s 'Scanners' does plenty of teasing! It’s just actors from the movie convulsing, audience members shrieking and the promise that "their thoughts will kill!"
When A Stranger Calls – 'When A Stranger Calls' is a rare breed of horror movie. Often heralded as a "classic", I saw it way after the fact and while the opening and ending are genuinely creepy, (the entire middle section following the reformed killer is weird as hell!) it’s no more really than a knock-off of one of the best moments from Bob Clark’s Black Christmas, a horror film I hold in my top 5 of all time and consider a true classic. However, most people remember the "killer is in the house" phone gag from this movie (which is not only revealed in every advertisement for the film, but also a scene very early in the film) and this cool teaser showing the audience reaction is pretty great. On a side note, did you know actress Carol Kane and writer/director Fred Walton returned for a made-for-TV sequel in 1993 called ‘When A Stranger Calls Back’? The original movie was also remade in 2006.
PART THREE: Addressing The Audience!
Magic - Have a puppet, a doll, or a ventriloquist dummy in anything and I’ll immediately be freaked out. Have a dummy talking directly to me and I’m ready to turn it off and run into the other room! The teaser for 'Magic', a feature starring a very young Anthony Hopkins is a quirky & unsettled trailer that also promises "a terrifying love story." If you’ve never seen it, it’s definitely worth seeking out, but be warned it may not be what you expect. In other words, it’s not a killer doll movie per se; it’s more about the psychological break-down of an artist obsessed with a woman he once loved and continues to pine for. It’s a really cool movie.
Martin – As a big fan of George Romero, I love ‘Martin’. It stands apart not only as one of the most unique movies in his filmography, but also one of his best and is considered a huge fan favorite. And much like Larry Fessenden’s great ‘Habit’ (another one of my personal favorites), you’re never quite sure how legitimate the lead character’s claims of being a vampire really are. That said, I’d never seen this teaser before where Martin is addressing the audience and breaking down the myths of vampirism and nonchalantly talking about himself and his thirst for blood. Kudos to actor John Amplas not only for his performance in the actual movie but for timelessly capturing Martin in this unique promotional trailer as well. If you’ve never seen it, seek it out asap. The ending will stay with you long after the credits roll.
Poltergeist – Here’s a really neat trailer I’d never seen before. Rather than show any actual footage from the film, this 'Poltergeist' teaser features a group of real life paranormal investigators explaining the phenomenon of hauntings. It’s interesting that the modern batch of "found footage" ghost movies haven’t attempted to use this tactic, but then again that’s what makes this particular trailer all the more special and unique. This basic set-up paired with the promise of a movie from "producer Steven Speilberg" (which Tobe Hooper directed), it’s an easy sell!
The Blood Spattered Bride/I Dismember Mama Double-Feature - Whoa. I've definitely never seen this promotional trailer until FEARnet's editor-in-cheif Lawrence Raffel emailed it over. And quite frankly, it needs to be seen to be believed! Can a double feature of 'The Blood Spattered Bride' paired up with 'I Dismember Mama' truly drive an audience member "berzerk?" According to this news report, it can and has! Just don't forget your "Up Chuck Cup"!
Notable Mention: The Funhouse (Book) – Did you know that legendary horror author Dean Koontz did a novelization of Tobe Hooper’s ‘The Funhouse’?! And that a trailer was produced for the book release? Neither did I! But here it is!