The Thursday Trailer: Shock Corridor (1963)

Trailers. I love them. In all shapes and forms, they can be fascinating in the way that they try to distill down the essence of a movie to roughly two minutes of screen-time. Some trailers are memorable. Some trailers are better than the films themselves. Some trailers sell the film in such a bizarre way that you’re left bewildered that anybody ever thought that would be a good idea.

So, as a way of celebrating my love of trailers, I’m starting a weekly feature. From now on, each week, on every Thursday, there will be a trailer. Sometimes they will be old, sometimes they will be new. There’ll be a mix of classics and underappreciated gems, alongside the weird, the wonderful and the just-plain-confusing. There also be, when the mood takes me, ‘Honourable Mentions’ after the main trailer – links to new trailers that have premiered during the week and are worthy of attention (and occasional ‘Dishonourable Mentions’, covering the trailers which to be honest, are hypnotic in their badness but still demand to be seen).

And we’re starting off with the example that gave me the idea in the first place – the hilariously OTT trailer for the 1963 drama Shock Corridor, a film from writer/director Samuel Fuller, who regularly took on tricky subjects in a way that was, for the time, pretty edgy and adventurous (in this case, following a newspaper reporter who goes undercover as a patient at a mental asylum, but ends up losing his mind as a result). Of course, the trailer uses this as an excuse to crank the dial marked ‘Lurid’ up to eleven and then just keep on going, but it’s worth it just for the line: “And then, there was the day that Johnny was trapped in the ward of love-maddened women!”

Honourable Mention:

Just one this week – the gloriously Eighties-tastic full trailer for JJ Abrams’ Spielberg/Amblin Entertainment homage Super 8, which looks like it could be a genuine throwback to the era of E.T., Close Encounters and The Goonies. It’s now available in full HD at the Apple Trailers site, and is well worth a look.

Dishonourable Mention:

And then, on the other hand, there’s the teaser trailer for the not-very-promising-looking new screen version of Conan the Barbarian. A silly trailer-voice intro, lots of weak CGI smoke, and the line “I live! I love! I slay!” – in short, the kind of trailer that actually makes you want to avoid the movie in question.

Video: ‘E.T.:X’ (A fan trailer for an E.T. sequel)

Fan trailers. There’s a bewildering number of recut, manufactured or satirical trailers out there – from the original Internet sensation of The Shining recut to become a touching family drama about Jack Nicholson reconnecting with his new foster-son, to the determined Nathan Fillion fan who cut together a fictitious trailer casting the actor as the superhero Green Lantern (which, it has to be said, manages to be rather more exciting than the trailer for the genuine upcoming blockbuster). And now, via SlashFilm.com, I’ve found another – someone has created an extended (6-minute long) trailer for one sequel that’s thankfully never happened. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial has thankfully remained a standalone, but this entertainingly goofy video essentially imagines what would have happened if Steven Spielberg had handed the directorial duties over to Michael Bay. It’s a little rough around the edges, but it’s amazing how much of it works (especially the footage containing the grown-up Henry Thomas and Drew Barrymore) – it’s daft and funny (even just for spotting exactly where all the movie footage comes from), and for anyone who actually watched E.T. first time around, it’s got occasional moments where it’s weirdly effective. Nonetheless, I’m still very glad that I don’t live in the parallel universe where ‘E.T.: X’ actually got made…

Video: ‘Tis THOR That Commands! (A New ‘Thor’ Trailer)

You can almost sense Marvel Studio’s slight sense of nervousness about Thor. After all, while audiences flocked to Iron Man (and even to the less-than-ideal Iron Man 2), it’s a bit of a leap from Robert Downey Jr being a charmingly flawed hero in a mechanical suit to Norse Gods hurling hammers at each other and intoning cod-Shakespearean dialogue. At the least, they’ve enlisted Kenneth Brannagh as the director – a man who knows Shakespearean dialogue when he hears it – and the initial trailers have looked potentially fun, if not necessarily the guaranteed slam-dunk Marvel needs if the whole shared-universe build up to The Avengers in 2012 is actually going to work. Nevertheless, we’ve got a new trailer, this one giving more of the Natalie Portman end of the Thor story, and it certainly looks like this is going to be riding the line between entertaining and absurdly cheesy. I remain yet to be completely convinced by Chris Hemsworth – but it certainly looks lively, and still has me a lot more excited than other upcoming superhero films I could mention (Yes, I’m looking at you, Green Lantern)…

Video: Zombie Surprise (The jaw-dropping ‘Dead Island’ computer game trailer)

A computer game featuring Zombies is hardly news, nor is the fact that it’s obviously going to be insanely violent. The trailer for the upcoming Zombie game Dead Island, however, is something different. Computer game trailers like this have been getting more impressive over the last few years (Hell, the recent ones for upcoming MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic have arguably been the best and most exciting Star Wars material since the original trilogy), and the Dead Island trailer is a seriously impressive three minutes of storytelling that delivers a hell of a lot more emotional impact than you’d expect from this kind of thing. It is, of course, extremely violent, very gory and decidedly NSFW, so if you have any problems with full-on Zombie violence don’t watch it – but if that kind of thing is your bag, prepare to be surprised and impressed…

Video/Audio: Movie Tech-A-Go-Go (Sound and Vision – TRON: Legacy, The Social Network and Inception)

It’s time to indulge my love of finding out the fine details of how certain movies are made, and here’s a couple of videos I tracked down that give in-depth looks at aspects of two of the more attention-grabbing films of the last few months (admittedly, they’re attention grabbing for very different reasons). First up, here’s a one hour in-depth panel discussion with the sound and editing team from TRON: Legacy, giving a detailed look at the development and creation of the movie’s soundscapes from the initial teaser right through to the finished film:

“TRON LEGACY” – Sound Panel from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.

And secondly, here’s another panel discussion, but this one dealing with music and sound design on a very different kind of movie – David Fincher’s brilliant portrait of the birth of Facebook, The Social Network. In this 45-minute discussion, there’s lots of attention paid both to the sound design and the music itself, and composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have a lot to say about the thoughts that went into creating a brilliant piece of electronica and one of 2010’s finest film soundtracks:

The Sound and Music of “The Social Network” Panel from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.

Finally, here, via BDKreviews.com, is a 45 minute audio interview with Wally Pfister, the cinematographer who’s worked on every single Christopher Nolan film since Memento, and here gives plenty of info on Nolan’s working methods and the technical know-how behind the mind-bending SF thriller Inception, as well as giving out some vague but extremely interesting tidbits concerning Nolan’s upcoming third Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises…

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Video: Star Wars Begins

You can’t throw a brick on the internet without hitting a Star Wars-related image/cartoon/video somewhere. One of the most heavily watched in recent years is, of course, the Red Letter Media series of epic video reviews of the Prequels, most notably the one dealing with The Phantom Menace (which would be a dazzling piece of film criticism, if it wasn’t for the tiresome and rather mean-spirited ‘Serial Killer reviews a movie’ gag that’s been eventually run into the ground), and much of what’s out there deals heavily with the truly gigantic level of disillusionment Star Wars fandom went through as a result of the prequels. Certainly, it’d take something astonishing to actually get me truly excited about any Star Wars-related project now (the fact that we’ve now got 3-D conversions of all the films coming up had me basically thinking “So What?”) and I know there are plenty who feel the same.

However – there are people out there who’ve kept the faith, and one of them (Youtube user jambedavdar) has made a fan documentary that, frankly, will take some beating. Star Wars Begins is a fourteen part, two-and-a-half-hour documentary that takes you through the whole movie and shows you alternate takes, storyboards, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes footage and concept work, as well as giving you a gigantic selection of audio interviews with a massive number of both the cast and crew. There’s a lot of minute detail here (including things like minor differences in dialogue between versions), but there’s also some big surprises, and a gigantic amount of trivia in what adds up to the greatest unofficial Star Wars DVD extra ever. A long watch but one that’s well worth it, Star Wars Begins is a fascinating exploration of the magic of old-school movie making, as well as a reminder that before the franchise, before the prequels, and before the disappointment, Star Wars was just a movie – and a rather bloody good one, too…

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Movie News: The Unstoppable Craziness of Bollywood Sci-Fi Action Film “Enthiran”

There are some things in life that need to be seen to be believed – and quite obviously, upcoming Bollywood SF action blockbuster Enthiran is one of them. Found via www.slashfilm.com (and tweeted by @jessnevins), words simply cannot describe the level of WTF insanity on display here, in a ten-minute clip that appears to be from a Russian dub of the original Indian dialogue. But trust me – you really don’t need the dialogue to enjoy the hell out of this kind of overblown ludicrousness. Strap yourselves in, and prepare for your jaw to hit the floor in sheer amazement at the fact that this film actually exists…