By Keith, a contributor to The Stub.
Tag lines, to the hopelessly ignorant, are the catch phrases and slogans on movie posters that are meant to peak our interest and lure us into taking a risk on a unknown quantity. They can range from the sublime to the ridiculous. I’m sure many an unsuspecting movie patron has been lured in on the pretense of some frankly genius and blatantly misleading movie tag lines. For instance the tag line for ‘Orgy of the Dead'(1965) is “The film that will satisfy every sexagesimal adult!” and the alternate tag line for the film is “In gorgeous astravision and sexicolour!” I have never seen this film but to be honest, I want to. Whoever wrote that must have been smoking paint or shooting up turps. Words failed them so they made up their own. I’m going to try to use sexagesimal in a sentence. I guess thats how new words get out there…I don’t know if it will take off.
They’re not all as good…(or bad, depending on your frame of mind), as that, but others come close on the cheese factor. For ‘Gun Crazy'(1950), (probably a romantic comedy), the tag is “THRILL CRAZY …KILL CRAZY…” Personally, I think you’d be crazy not to want to see this film. It has thrills, kills and, I assume from the title, guns. I’m hooked.
There seem to be four main categories that tag lines fall into. The first category is ‘mysterious’ or ‘epic’ where they attempt to build interest in the film by selling it as exceptional or unbelievable, such as ‘For all the Presidents Men'(1976): “The most devastating detective story of this century”; they obviously haven’t seen Scooby Doo or they wouldn’t be making such outlandish claims . Or in ‘The Big Sleep'(1946): “the picture they were born for”…that’s right, the studios have some kind of selective breeding program somewhere on the back lot where, right now, they’re working on the next Johnny Depp or Catherine Zeta Jones and hopefully aborting the next Tom Cruise. In ‘Lolita’, the tag is “How did they make a film like Lolita?” I assume they started with a script and went from there.
The second (category) is a favorite the world over: sex. Sex sells; just look at the jolly green giant. Titillation is a powerful form of marketing: In ‘My Darling Clementine'(1946), the tag is “she was everything the west was-young, fiery, exciting!” Disease ridden, I assume, and prone to outbursts of extreme violence. If she’s everything the west was, it would make sense. In the ‘classic’, ‘Showgirls'(1995) the tag is “Leave your inhibitions at the door”…they must be referring to my inhibitions about what constitutes a good film. In ‘Gilda'(1944) they let your imagination do the leg work. “There never was a woman like Gilda!” Does she have six nipples or three assholes…what’s the deal?!
The third category is humor. Having us laugh all the way to the cinema . For ‘Redneck zombies'(1987), a film about the decimation of farmers in the last century (just kidding, it’s probably about zombies who are rednecks), the tag is “they’re tobacco chewin’ gut chompin’ cannibal kinfolk from hell!” Yee haw sounds like they could be relatives of mine. Another comedic gem is the tag for ‘Gremlins 2: The New Batch'(1990): it is “Here they grow again” See what they did there? It’s a play on words! Oscar Wilde must be turning in his grave. And lastly, a not too unlikely addition to the humor section: Later on in the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ series, Freddy Kruger became a regular comedian and who better to match him than the ultimate straight man mute/retarded serial killer Jason. For their match up in “Freddy vs Jason”(2003) the tag is “Winner kills all”, another clever play on words; The Monthy Python team couldn’t do better in their hay day.
The fourth category is the Horror tag line trying to convince you that you’ll need a new pair of pants after the film because the pair your wearing will be ruined. For Hitchcock’s classic ‘The Birds'(1963) there are two: “suspense and shock beyond anything you have seen or imagined” and “…and remember the next scream you hear could be your own”. I don’t know about the first one; I’ve seen some really weird shit thanks to the internet. And in ‘Homicidal'(1961) “there will be a special fright break during the showing of ‘Homicidal’, can your heart stand the challenge when the clock starts the count down”. Nowadays we’d call that a fag break. Sounds like it should have a health warning: the film that killed more people than cancer And a film that divided more than most, ‘The Blair Witch Project'(1999)….It’s apt tag is “Everything you’ve heard is true”. I heard this film is shit. If everything I’ve heard is true, does that mean Santa is real and that man in the park had a puppy in his pants. And here for your reading pleasure are a random selection of tags.I hope this has given you a new appreciation for tag lines and set you on the road away from drugs and addiction.
1. ‘High Noon'(1952) “The story of a man too proud to run”.
2. ‘Snuff'(1976) “A film that could only be made in South America where life is cheap!”
3. ‘The Flesh Eaters'(1964) “The only people who will not be sterilized with fear are those
among you who are already dead!”
4 ‘Scarface'(1983) “He loved the American dream..with a vengeance.”
5 ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show'(1975) “A different set of jaws.”
6. ‘Deliverance’ (1972) “This is the weekend they didn’t play golf”
7. ‘Full Metal Jacket'(1987) “In Vietnam the wind doesn’t blow, it sucks.”
8. ‘The Maltese Falcon'(1941) “A story as explosive as his blazing automatics!”
9. ‘Dirty Harry'(1971) “You don’t assign him to murder cases. You just turn him loose.”
10.’The Third Man'(1949) “Hunted by men…sought by woman”
11. ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly'(1966) “For three men the civil war wasn’t hell. It was
12. ‘I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang'(1932) “Six sticks of dynamite
that blasted his way to freedom…and awoke America’s conscience!”
13 ‘The day the earth stood still'(1951) “From outer space… a warning and an ultimatum”
14. ’12 angry men'(1957): “Life is in their hands-death is on their minds!”
15. ‘Attack of the Killer Tomatoes'(1978) “A New Musical-Comedy-Horror Show”
16. ‘Airplane!'(1980) “Thank God it’s only a Motion Picture!”
17. ‘Spinal Tap'(1984) “Does for rock and roll what “The Sound of Music” did for hills.”
18. ‘Aliens'(1986) “This time it’s war.”
19. ‘Fargo'(1996) “A lot can happen in the middle of nowhere.”
20. ‘Robocop (1987) “Part man, Part machine, All cop. The future of law enforcement”