SUB (PAR) TITLES
Taglines That Make You Go, “Uh….?”
Article by Matteo Molinari
I was wasting some time on my couch, recovering from my dryer incident (see my non-award-winning article “Titles That Make You Go, ‘Uh?’” — thanks!!), when I realized two things: first, there are more movies which, after their title, have a tagline that supposedly should attract our interest; and second, I don’t think it’s possible for me to lick one of my earlobes.
I even tried to climb on top of a stool, but nothing — I still couldn’t lick one of my earlobes.
So I gave up and I decided to concentrate on the movie taglines.
And I found out a few very interesting ones, which I’ve decided to share with you, in random order — just to hopefully share a laugh while also splitting an infinitive.
Suspiria — I shall start with Italian Horror Maestro Dario Argento (who seems to have lost a little bit of his bite in the last — uh — thirty years) and his definitive masterpiece. The tagline reads, “The only thing more terrifying than the last 12 minutes of this film are the first 92.”
Okay, two problems here: first of all, the tagline implies the movie length is 104 minutes. It’s not. Its complete, uncut version lasts only 98.
And second, who wants to see a movie that is awesomely scary for the first (alleged) 92 minutes, and then it dwindles to an “Eh…” ending for the last twelve minutes? And do those last twelve minutes include the closing credits or not? Because sometimes grips and focus pullers can be very scary.
The Matrix Revolutions — Speaking of movies with an “Eh…” kind of ending, the last chapter of the adventures of Neo features a tagline straight from the DD (the “Duh!!” Department): “Everything that has a beginning has an end.”
Wow, if they went with this one, I wonder which ones didn’t make the cut. Maybe something like, “In a Trilogy, after the first two movies, there is always a third one.” Or, “This movie lasts 129 minutes — which is more than 128.” Or even, “You’re lucky this is not ‘Speed Racer’” — just my speculation, of course.
The Prophecy — This eco-thriller from the late ’70s offers us not one but two taglines. And one stupider than the other, to boot.
The first one warns us, “She lives. Don’t move. Don’t breathe. There’s nowhere to run. She will find you.” If she will find us, we can move and breathe pretty freely, I’d assume. I mean, what’s the point of spending the last minutes of our existence immobilized and turning purple if she will find us nonetheless? Stupid advice!
The second one specifies, “The monster movie.” Oh, thank you — after seeing that heartwarming poster, I thought this was a documentary about supermodels. The DD strikes again!
Circle — This little-known thriller about a psychopath features a tagline that is as paradoxical as it is inept: “Death is just around the corner.” Think about it. The movie is called Circle. How many corners can you find in a circle?
Life is Hot in Cracktown — Similarly, the tagline for this crime drama seems slightly detached from the title of the movie, because it reads, “Be cool. Life is cool. You’re so cool in Cracktown.” So… I’m confused. Can anybody tell me what’s the exact temperature of life, in Cracktown? Maybe someone was using Fahrenheit and someone else Celsius? Not sure.
The Flesh Eaters — This horror movie from the ’60s is very entertaining to watch, but not if you’re looking for a good scare. Anyway, its tagline is pure genius: “The only people who will not be STERILIZED with FEAR are those among you who are already DEAD!”
What they meant — I think — is that, if you were in a theatre surrounded by corpses, you’d be the only one who would not be able to conceive a child in the future. Well, actually the corpses won’t be able, either. So never mind. But if it works, this could be a good way to replace vasectomy.
(the movie has another tagline that reads, “[…] of mans relationship with nature […]” Well, it seems they have forgotten an apostrophe — but that’s another story. I mean, if I were sterilized with fear, I wouldn’t worry about apostrophes, either. Maybe semi-colons. Maybe)
So… did the system give him a Raw Deal or not? Because nobody gives him a Raw Deal, so how could it be possible for the system to give him a Raw Deal if nobody can give him a Raw Deal in a movie called Raw Deal?
I have a headache now.
Silent Rage — This sci-fi/action flick is superb in its tagline, because it doesn’t break the fourth wall. It tears down the whole building, goes to town with it and sends us a postcard. “Science created him. Now Chuck Norris must destroy him.”
Note that this came way before the whole Chuck Norris-mania of these days, so it really was out of left field… Needless to say, the character Chuck Norris portrays is named Sheriff Dan Stevens.
That’s probably the reason of its explicit tagline: “Not to be confused with KING KONG.”
The Creature Walks Among Us — This third installment of the “Creature from the Black Lagoon” saga was pretty moronic since it took the titular character, removed it from the lagoon and made it no longer an amphibian but an air-breathing creature. Pretty much like shifting the action of the next Jaws movie in Nebraska. And giving the shark a pair of legs. Whatever.
Anyway, this film specifies in its title that this time the monster will “walk among us.” So why does the tagline say, “All new underwater thrills!”? I’m just asking. Does it take place in Venice, Italy?
Scary Movie — The tagline reads, “No mercy. No shame. No sequel.”
Good. I won’t tell the producers of “Scary Movie 2”, “Scary Movie 3”, “Scary Movie 4” and the upcoming “Scary Movie 5”. It’ll be our little secret.
The Day of the Dolphin — “Unwittingly, he trained a dolphin to kill the President of the United States.”
You have to figure this one out by yourself.
Unstoppable — This was one of those disaster movies which maintained what it promised: its numbers at the box office were a disaster. Anyway, the tagline of this runaway train flick says, “1 million tons of steel. 100,000 lives at stake. 100 minutes to impact.” I buy the 100 minutes and the 100,000 lives thing. But 1 million tons?! How long is that train?! The average train weights something between 10,000 and 15,000 tons (15,400 if Roseanne is on board, but we won’t go there now). Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say that this was a special train and its weight was 20,000 tons. We’re still quite far from one million, aren’t we?
(NOTE: The French poster of the movie indicates that the train in question weights 10,000 tons. Maybe something got lost with the exchange between Euros and Dollars, but it seems much more accurate)
Volcano — “The coast is toast.” Uh — no. This is a tagline that blatantly lies to us. In this movie, the coast is not toast at all. It’s not charred, scorched, blackened, singed or seared. A small portion of it gets hit by lava. I understand that a tagline like, “The lava makes a small portion of the coast hotter than a cup of java” would have taken too much space on the poster, but why the lie?!
Venomous — Speaking of lies, here comes a movie with killer snakes that rampage across a small town (annoying problem, I know, but mildly interesting plot for a movie). The tagline promises, “There is no antidote.”
Well, guess what the good doctor in the movie does? She creates an antidote. And saves the day.
Snakes on a Train — And speaking of snakes, let’s venture quickly into the magic world of Digital Versatile Discs, or DVDs… The Asylum, responsible for some of the most blatant rip-offs ever, came out three days before “Snakes on a Plane” with this… thing. We are told on the DVD case that we’re about to see, “100 trapped passengers… 3,000 venomous vipers!”
Well, not quite.
The movie lists 27 actors (term used loosely, of course), and that is pretty much it. Unless the remaining 73 passengers were cleverly hiding under the seats or behind the camera.
Also, throughout the movie there is not one single venomous viper. Some pythons, I think a boa, a bunch of non-venomous serpents — but definitely not 3,000. Not even 2,000. And not 1,000!! (wow, I feel like Ron Popeil when he slashes the prices of his Rotis-o-matic-thingy) At best there are some fifty extremely dreary snakes and nothing much.
Oh, as a bonus, there is an amazing quote on the back of the case that says (in quotes), “Grotesque, creepy. Don’t plan on sleeping for days!”
Okay, usually when you put a line in quotes, it might help to add who said it. Just a thought. Not to mention that the movie is so tedious and dull that you cannot plan on sleeping for days — because you’ll be sleeping for weeks. Better than any sleeping pills on the market. Almost as dreary as…
SuperCroc — Another gift from The Asylum, a movie that manages to being boring even before the opening credits are over. The plot is incomprehensible, mostly because the sound of the movie has been taped using a vacuum cleaner connected to a Gillette razor — but that’s beyond the point. The tagline of this alleged monster movie is, “It’s 50 feet long… It’s 25 feet tall… and in 14 hours, it will be here!”
Okay, I’ve never seen a crocodile that’s as tall as half of its length — it would be just ridiculous. And beside — and this is the thing that drives me insane: how do they know where it’ll be 14 hours from now? Does the crocodile have a wristwatch? Does it follow an agenda? Will it be the surprise guest on “The View”?
And again, the DVD cover gives us another anonymous quote, even more ludicrous than the “Snakes” one: “The heart pounding suspense of ALIEN and PREDATOR, the epic adventure of GODZILLA and KING KONG!”
Uh… Wasn’t it already explained by the title? Or did they want to reinforce the whole concept?
Hercules in New York — Speaking of British DVD covers, here we have Schwarzenegger’s first flick, “Hercules in New York”, retooled as if it were another “Commando” meets “Collateral Damage” — and with another amazing job from the DD: “It’s an adventure in the Big Apple…”
I thought they set the movie in the New York they have in Tibet.
Oh, and of course, I’d like to point out they wrote “its” instead of the correct “it’s” — but with a cover like that, this is the latest of its (correct) problems.
Ocean’s Twelve — And since I love to nitpick grammar and stuff like that, a big thank you to Warner Bros. for confusing even more our already-cellphone-brain-dead next generation by telling them that “Twelve is the new eleven.” Get ready at the grocery store next time you’ll ask for a dozen eggs and see how many you’ll actually get.
The Devil’s Rain — But the award for the most incomprehensible and grammar-killing tagline goes to this quasi-horror film that guarantees “absolutely the most incredible ending of any motion picture ever!” (at least they are humble).
The tagline reads, “Heaven help us all when The Devil’s Rain!”
Is that even remotely close to a sentence with some sort of sense?
Who came up with that?!
And how much did they pay for it?! (if it’s over five cents, it’s been too much)
Oh, well… So far (only so far, beware) I’ve exhausted the first round of stupid taglines — but fear not, more shall come soon!
Not before I succeed in licking my earlobe.