I am never late to a movie.
If there is even the tiniest smidgen of a possibility that I might miss the start time, I’ll skip the screening.
I’ve always told people I want to preserve the integrity of the film by witnessing every on-screen moment. But secretly it’s because my favorite part of the filmgoing experience is watching the trailers.
By the time I’ve made the choice to go see a feature, I pretty much know what I’m getting into — what genre it is, who directed it, who stars in it, the run time, etc. But I never quite know what to expect when it comes to these promotional shorts.
Just the thought of catching the latest trailer for “Watchmen” (easily the most anticipated comic book adaptation of the decade) has kept me heading to theaters all winter.
But my love of these highlight reels doesn’t just extend to the here and now, and the opportunity rarely presents itself to view trailers from yesteryear at the multiplex.
Thus, the joy of online.
Since most people have never seen the theatrical trailers for some of their favorite films — or at least haven’t since the flick’s release — a couple of quality sites have sprung up to address this. Both www.movie-list.com and www.tcm.com have devoted considerable space to high-resolution versions of pictures from bygone days.
Seeing these original products is often a jolting experience. Sometimes an iconic movie was marketed completely counter to how it is now perceived. Many incorporated unique footage shot solely for the trailer. Some terrible movies had terrific trailers. Often the case was reversed. (Just look at how those for “Rear Window” or “Alien” or even “Showgirls” toyed with contemporary expectations.)
One new site is bringing a fresh approach to trailer enjoyment. Trailers From Hell “showcases classic-era coming attractions punctuated with humorous commentary by iconic genre filmmakers.” Director Joe Dante (“Gremlins”) is one of the partners in the project, and he has great success recruiting his peers to weigh in with personal memories of what the films mean to them.
“Grindhouse gurus” such as Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead”) discusses the influence of the rock musical “Phantom of the Paradise.” Stuart Gordon (“Re-Animator”) attempts to make sense of the “hilarious” race-tinged shocker “The Thing With Two Heads.” John Landis (“Animal House”) deconstructs everything from “Bonnie and Clyde” to “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die.”
The Lawrence-shot classic “Carnival of Souls” is even included. While commentator Mary Lambert (“Pet Sematary”) sadly refers to it as being made in “Lawrenceville,” her presentation is dead on. And the trailer itself is really effective, delineating what she terms “the strange creepiness of rural America.”
The real question is which one of these experts will earn the right to some day tackle the “Watchmen” trailer?
— Entertainment editor Jon Niccum explores facets of pop culture that have established a unique niche on the Internet in Net Worth. He can be reached at 832-7178.