It happens all too frequently. You go to a movie building, pay your eleventeen-hundred dollars for tickets and concessions, and you sit through a movie bearing a title comprised of a single cryptic noun. Scourge, or Continuum, or Memorandum. These inherently enticing titles were the reason you ponied up the admission price in the first place, but you leave feeling disappointed that the movie doesn’t live up to the nebulous expectations such an indeterminate title engendered. Frankly, we’ve been both flimmed and flammed by these deceptive marketing smokescreens for too long.
What we need are more movies that adhere to stricter standards of transparency. Movies are consumable products after all, so misleading people with obfuscating titles constitutes an affront to truth in advertising. We need more movies like Robocop, Snakes on a Plane and Surf Ninjas. These are pretense-free film titles that allow you to make a more informed choice in your b-movie viewing. Really, we need more movies like Robocop, Snakes on Plane and Surf Ninjas just for the sake of general planetary betterment, but more specifically because they are upfront and honest with what they are selling. At this year’s SXSW, a listing can be found among the Midnighter slate for Big Ass Spider. The movie is about… that thing that it says its about. No matter how you may feel about the quality of this film, you can never fault the filmmakers for not delivering on their promises.
In an effort to encourage all future filmmakers to be more forthcoming, we’ve selected some past and present b-cinema entries and given their titles the more truthful direct approach.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Stabby-Glove Dream Pervert
In the end, is that not who Freddy Kruger is? He is a child-murdering creep-bag in your grandma’s sweater who makes lewd advances toward his female victims before killing them in their dreams. And apart from a woeful skin condition that makes Edward James Olmos look like Justin Bieber — soak in that terrifying image for a moment — the most memorable thing about Freddy is his glove outfitted with appropriated garden shears. I mean, have you ever actually known anyone who lives on an Elm Street? Their greatest nightmares usually involve a 20-percent hike in HOA dues.
Weepy, The Crying Super Baby
I would never say this to Liam Neeson’s face, mostly because he would then speak to my face in fistese, but Darkman is a super pussy. Every minor setback, every seemingly impossible challenge, causes him to fly into a whiny rage of tears and, well, rage, I guess. There is nothing particularly dark about him, apart from the mascara circles under his constantly-sobbing lady eyes. We therefore believe that “Weepy The Crying Super Baby” would be the more appropriate title, though in all honesty it would be hard to fit all that across the emblem on his chest — an emblem shaped like a Dashboard Confessional album.
Geriatric Murder Party
Sure, the muggers and other ne’er-do-wells of New York City were unburdened with concern about the consequences of their actions, but did they really have a death wish? We’re referring of course to the movie, What We Just Said. Charles Bronson plays a senile old man who mixes up his dosage and goes on a massively bloody, highly confused killing spree against “those damn kids who keep skating their boards through my yard.” In all honesty, that synopsis is not entirely accurate, but then neither is Death Wish’s title. “Geriatric Murder Party” not only gives audiences a clear idea of what to expect from the movie but something to think about when broaching the subject of moving their elderly parents to a nursing home. Piss them off and face a full schedule of activities, including Bullet Bingo, Shotgun Shuffleboard, and Hurts and Crafts.
The Adventures of–HOLY SHIT LOOK OUT IT’S A COMMUNIST!
At certain times, from certain elevations, all dawns are some shade of red, so the existing title of John Milius’s Tiger-Beat-cover-model-laden action film is underwhelming in the specificity department. In fact, calling it a movie is not entirely correct. No, indeed the term “moving propaganda poster” would be more accurate. The film has but one purpose: to further the paranoia that our communist enemies Russia and Cuba were eventually going to band together to form The People’s Legion of Doom and unleash their diabolical plan to conquer the United States one tiny Colorado farm community at a time. If Red Dawn were any more fear-mongering it would have been written by the people at your local news station. “Are communists living in your walls right now? Find out at eleven!”
Deep Blue Sea
How I Learned To Stop Monologueing And Get Eaten By a Shark
Deepest, bluest, and hat-like-shark-fin-iest though it may be, Renny Harlin’s 1999 ode to man-eating superfish is still a bit pretentiously dubbed. There is in fact nothing deep about it. This all-you-can-stomach buffet of dead-in-the-water characters, capsizing dialogue, and watered-down CG is to Jaws as actually cutting off one’s own arm is to 127 Hours. The one life preserver of the whole chummy affair is the scene in which Samuel L. Jackson delivers a passionate monologue about survival only to be eaten by a giant computerized shark that bursts into the room out of nowhere. I’ll give you a moment to ponder that. We were all assured of the invincibility of Samuel L. Jackson, the Deep Blue Sea equivalent of Janet Leigh, which turns out to be a wonderful red herring, and the shark gobbles him down like he were an actual red herring.
The Dorm that Dripped Blood
The Dorm That Doesn’t Actually Drip Blood and Where Nothing Happens At All Ever
The Dorm That Dripped Blood is a title full of promise, but sadly, much like a great deal of its drive-in fodder brethren, those promises go unfulfilled by movie’s end. This 1982 schlock slasher is so dull that even though not a drop of blood oozes through the paneling of the titular dorm, actually watching blood dry on a wall becomes a much more desirable prospect. The Dorm That “Dripped Blood” is actually a misnomer in more ways than one. It’s alternate title was Pranks. The brevity of the alternate title may give the illusion of concise relevance, but keep in mind that there are no actual pranks pulled on anyone or by anyone in the movie. At one point we do see a rubber spider in frame, but even if the mere existence of that rubber spider somehow constitutes a prank in the screenwriter’s backwards brain (his niarb?), that would still amount to one prank and not a multitude that would justify pluralizing the word in the title.
Step Up Revolution
Pretty Dancing People Who Don’t Know What Revolution Means
Revolutions can come in many forms, and it is true that in order for a revolution to begin, the oppressed people must first step up. However, that does not mean that any coordinated group activity can be grandiosely dubbed a revolution. The well-shaped limb holders of Step Up Revolution seem to think that they can stop the over-development of their neighborhood — this little town called Miami — by orchestrating surprise dance demonstrations all over the place; Fidel by way of flash mob. The increasingly elaborate nature of these dance-ins are matched only by their elevating ineffectiveness. By the end, somehow, the artistry of their dancing succeeds… in landing the revolutionaries a contract with Nike? Viva La Contradición.
This Movie Has No Trolls
Probably the most famous misleading title in recent memory is the 1990 “sequel” to Troll. Though it is called Troll 2, the word troll is not mentioned once in the entire movie. Instead, the papier-mache boogeymen of Troll 2 are referred to as goblins. You could just as well call them angry turd balls and it still wouldn’t change the fact that the movie is an inexplicable minefield of crazy. If Disney had released it, and it seems (nothing) like the sort of thing they would enjoy, you can bet the title would have been changed to Pasty Whites and the Angry Vegetarians.