FILM / Rushes

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The Independent Culture
Good trailers are an integral part of the cinema-going experience. Bad trailers are a living hell. Below, critics muse upon the celluloid tease and choose their all-time worst snippets.

'I liked what I call the Cecil B. De Mille trailer. Sensationalist: see a cast of thousands] Lots of banner headlines and exclamation marks. The new style suffers from flash editing, out-of-context clips - none lasting longer than a few seconds - and no coherent order. Depending on the type of film, this can work. Action movies don't suffer. The message of Cliffhanger is simple - man climbs mountain. For more complex films, longer sequences are needed to establish the story, 15 seconds or more. And they don't do it. The trailer for Three of Hearts is infinitely worse than the film. They're pushing the film, not explaining the theme.' David Quinlan, TV Times

'The trailer I really hated was for Crossing Delancey. In the trailer everyone kept saying 'pickles' because the leading man was playing a pickle salesman. Whoever made the trailer obviously thought the word pickle was a riot. Pickle, pickle, pickle. Hysterical, isn't it?' Anne Billson, The Sunday Telegraph

The trailer for Joseph Strick's Ulysses. It promised the film would be radical, sexually challenging and that it would transfer a work of art with great daring to the screen. The film wasn't art and didn't have any sex in it. In fact, it was exceedingly poor. I learnt never to trust trailers. The disappointment stays with me to this day.' Philip Dodd, Sight and Sound

'The worst thing is would-be Hollywood trailers for small, low-budget films, swamped with music, cheesy close-ups of the characters, trying to seem mainstream, like The Living End, about two gay men on the run but which promotes itself on the back of Thelma and Louise. Foreign and arthouse films have recently begun doing the same thing, as if there was a huge audience out there that had to have the product sold to them. Then there's the trailer that appeals to your cultural credentials instead of letting you know the film is good. Julie Dash's Daughters of the Dusk is about an African-American family at the turn of the century and it's exquisite. But the trailer has a respectable woman's voice telling you it's 'the greatest story ever told' in the manner of American public service television.' Lizzie Francke, Sight and Sound

'In retrospect the trailers I loathe most are the ones for comedies, particularly spoofs. You know, when you see National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon I and realise that the movie's only three jokes were in the trailer. It's a cheat - and the trailer-makers know they're doing it. Then there's the impossible trailer for The Quince Tree Sun. A painter making a frame for a couple of minutes. No exploding helicopters or nuns in wet T-shirts. Alas.' Trevor Johnston, Time Out

Readers contributions welcome: The Independent, Worst Trailer, Arts, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB. Closing date: Friday 20 Aug.

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