The common wisdom says that when marketing a horror movie, you've got to hard sell the film's exploitation elements - the monsters, the violence, the terror. In step with that, horror movie trailers have typically gone for lurid, attention-grabbing come-ons ("To Avoid Fainting, Keep Repeating: 'It's Only A Movie, Only A Movie, Only A Movie...'") and challenges to the audience (how many horror trailers have dared viewers to test their bravery or issued 'warnings' about a film's content?). Director/producer William Castle (The House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler) built an entire career out of turning his movies into the equivalent of carnival attractions and a campaign like the one that's recently made Paranormal Activity into a box office sensation shows that the game plan for marketing horror movies hasn't moved too far from Castle's shadow.
But the original teaser for Stanley Kubrick's 1980 adaptation of Stephen King's novel The Shining took a daringly different approach. It abandons all conventional logic in that it's comprised of a single, unedited shot in which the camera never moves and there's no dialogue - not even voice-over narration. It has none of the things that horror trailers have always relied on to make an impression (not even darkness) and yet it's chilling in a way that few entire films are.
While today The Shining is such a part of the cultural lexicon that everyone is familiar with the image of the elevator doors cracking open to release a tidal wave of blood, in 1980 it was a startling sight. To this day, it remains the most unique horror trailer ever.
Probably my favorite trailer of all time. I saw it in the theater when I was 8, maybe 9 years old. My mom crapped a brick. I know we weren't at the theater to see a scary movie, so the trailer playing was out of left field. My mom took the tack of saying "THAT LOOKS SO FAKE! LOOK AT ALL THAT KOOL-AID COMING OUT OF THAT ELEVATOR! HOW STUUUUPID!" but of course that didn't work. Awesomely creepy, and the backwards running credits and that music only compound the creepiness. It's no mistake that the 2012 trailer with the Tibetan monk used the same music.
whoops, guess those credits don't really roll "backwards". still mighty eerie.
Alright, it's not Leatherface, but certainly a great pick for number 1!
I have never seen that teaser before and I am surprised it ran at all with that wicked amount of blood. That one little static shot made me want to watch the movie again real soon. Awesome pick for numero uno!
Have a great Halloween, Jeff!
I first saw this teaser on the opening night of Star Trek - The Movie in Dec. '79. The Grand Theater in Wausau - one of the largest opera houses in the Midwest - packed to the rafters. When the words "The Shining" came up, the crowd went nuts, then got very quiet, intent on the screen. Some idiot piped up "Do something!" and everyone laughed. Just then the elevator doors opened. It took a moment for people to process what they were looking at...and then, boy, did they ever get quiet again...
Heh heh heh.
Happy Halloween, Jeff!
On a somewhat related topic, did you ever see the teaser for Lifeforce? The one with the "blink?" Man, I'd love to catch that again, and I can't find it anywhere...
Blue, I was watching the 2012 teaser a few months ago and thinking I knew that music when by the end it clicked. A pretty cool act of recycling, I thought.
Matt, I'm surprised you never saw this before - glad I posted it!
Senksi, I don't remember that teaser for Lifeforce - although there were a couple of trailers I did look for in assembling my picks that sadly I couldn't find. Oh, well - luckily most of my choices were available.
Thanks for the comments, everyone - have a Happy Halloween!
I'd never seen that trailer either... thanks for posting that.
Only wish the actual movie had been that effective (the casting kind of deflates it for me).
Hope you had a great Halloween...
Thanks, Knob - I had a blast! Hope you did, too!
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