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Movie Trailers

Movies | By A.J. for The Top 13 on December 8, 2009

When going to the movies, you might be inclined to arrive right at showtime and skip the previews. But here at The Top 13, we hate missing the trailers - they're sometimes the best part of the theater experience. We easily could have filled this list just with trailers for Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock films, but that would have been a mistake. In fact, this past year alone has provided a few great trailers, two of which have made this list of The Top 13 Movie Trailers of all time. The trailers that made it are unique because they break from the tired "this is what happens" formula, contain footage shot exclusively for the trailer, or simply don't ruin the entire story of the film.

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A Clockwork Orange

1

A Clockwork Orange

1971

For A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick's finest trailer, he used only individual frames from the film and poster, creating an incredibly fast-paced whirlwind of violent images. Juxtaposed against a synthesized version of the "William Tell Overture," it tells you exactly what you're going to get: A brilliant, exciting, witty, thrilling, bizarre, sardonic, and politically satiric film, complete with ultra-violence and Beethoven.

Alien

2

Alien

1979

We get sucked into the vacuum of space. We find a planet. A title slowly forms. Ominous music. The word "Alien" is completed just as we find the planet is really an egg. It breaks open and light escapes. Creepy music gets louder. A siren goes off. Sigourney Weaver runs through a dark tunnel. A cat's face. Ian Holm shaking violently. Sudden loud noises. All hell breaks loose. Silence. "In space no one can hear you scream." This might be the scariest trailer you'll ever see.

The Shining

3

The Shining

1980

It saddens The Top 13 that Kubrick had to give up both his Napoleon biopic and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, which he handed over to Steven Spielberg. Imagine the trailers they would have made! But after spending years researching Napoleon and making the fantastic Barry Lyndon instead, Kubrick adapted Stephen King's The Shining and made one of our favorite horror films of all time. The trailer consists of one eerie shot that, as you'll see, totally ruined the set. Luckily, they got the take.

Citizen Kane

4

Citizen Kane

1941

This film broke all the rules, so why wouldn't the trailer do the same? Instead of showing a single shot from the film, Orson Welles simply introduces the audience to the actors, who then, in character, talk about the mysterious Charles Foster Kane over the phone. With opposing lines like "I'm going to skin him alive" and "Well, of course I love him, he's the richest man in America," who wouldn't want to know more about him?

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

5

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

1974

As one of the scariest films of all time, all its trailer really had to do was use any of the terrifying images from this film. But The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's trailer goes even farther with a creepy repetition of camera flashes just as someone is about to die, along with that awesomely creepy grindhouse-esque narrator who has been noticeably absent from trailers for years. The preview for Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, however, may be the worst of all time.

Little Children

6

Little Children

2006

There is an ominous, dreadful lack of music in this trailer. Instead of music or a conventional voiceover, the unsettling sound of an unseen train rumbles, telling us there is clearly something wrong, even though there is very little on the screen to suggest it. And now the audience must see the movie to find out what, in fact, is wrong. Or at least Google it.

The Birds

7

The Birds

1963

Alfred Hitchcock would like to lecture you about birds. The master of suspense was infamous for both making cameos in his films and appearing in his trailers simply to talk about his upcoming film as if the story was true. Though the trailer for Psycho is probably his most famous, this preview of the film that followed took our attention by adding an extra layer of meaning to the actual film. In a way, it acts as a comical explanation of why the birds want to kill Tippi Hedren.

A Serious Man

8

A Serious Man

2009

What began as a request to take one scene from A Serious Man and turn it into a trailer turned into a mashup of sounds taken from various scenes in the film. Noted trailer editor Mark Woollen took the shot of Larry Gopnik's head getting bashed into a chalkboard and looped it; then he threw in some coughing, wheezing, some ironic dialogue and a car crash; creating a tense song of sorts that perfectly captures the mindset of the character. Cue Jefferson Airplane.

The Bishop's Wife

9

The Bishop's Wife

1947

Cary Grant was the bee's knees in 1947, so watching him act as himself in this trailer must have been a real treat. And getting teased over what part he was going to play was enough to get millions to flock to see it. In an effort to give even less away, Grant suggests they not make a trailer for the film at all. "Why take all the wonderful surprises out of it before people see it?" Grant's onto something and that's one of the reasons we love this trailer.

Where the Wild Things Are

10

Where the Wild Things Are

2009

It would have been difficult to avoid the hype surrounding Spike Jonze's adaptation of this classic children's tale by Maurice Sendak. And much of that hype came directly from its trailer. Due partly to the use of a grand, emotional ballad by Arcade Fire, Where the Wild Things Are became the movie to see this year, if not the uplifting movie the preview suggested. What makes the trailer especially great, though, is an impressive series of match cuts (the sequencing of two or more similar shots) of Max running or sliding through various locations in the film.

Corruption

11

Corruption

1968

This trailer is hard to watch. It makes the audience uncomfortable and probably didn’t convince anyone to go see the film. And the actual film looks terrible. So why is the trailer any good? Because uncomfortable is exactly what it was going for, and it nails it. It’s unsettling to the highest degree.

The Minus Man

12

The Minus Man

1999

The trailer for The Minus Man hardly seems like a trailer at all, but rather a short film that happens to be promoting the movie. Though the premise of the trailer isn't all that plausible, we don't want to ruin the ending, so we'll stop talking about it. We will tell you that the film's tagline goes hand-in-hand with the trailer: "Don't see it alone. Unless you like talking to yourself."

Monsters, Inc.

13

Monsters, Inc.

2001

Perhaps the only company that consistently releases good trailers (or good movies, for that matter), Pixar more than deserves a spot on this list. Part of the joy of seeing a new Pixar film in the theater, in addition to the short film that opens each one, is seeing the trailer for whatever Pixar masterpiece is coming next. However, the trailer for Monsters, Inc., the best of them all, didn't air before its Pixar predecessor, Toy Story 2, but instead before the first Harry Potter film. This trailer is unique in the way that Pixar targeted the Harry Potter audience by working that film into the trailer.

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Comments Leave a comment

stillathreat ★★

I would have chosen Psycho over The Birds. Also, does Monsters, Inc. really belong on this list? I get why you included it, but it doesn't seem all that special to me.

10:50 AM   Dec 08, 2009

oshoney 

dooood the Watchmen trailer w/ the Pumpkins song is so bad ass. better than the actual movie. that's probably my favorite trailer. 300's was pretty cool too.

11:17 AM   Dec 08, 2009

zircona1 

One of my favorites is Monty Python and The Holy Grail, I'd put that near the top of my list.

Good calls on the Top 3, though. The Shining was the first one I thought of.

12:14 PM   Dec 08, 2009

ajay ★★

I just watched the Monty Python trailer. Good call, definitely an oversight.

2:46 PM   Dec 08, 2009

PulpAffliction ★★

I love the A Serious Man trailer, especially because it perfectly captures the tone of the film, while being completely different and giving next to nothing away.

Also: The top three on here are perfect.

9:50 PM   Dec 08, 2009

PulpAffliction ★★

Also: Barry Lyndon is soooooooo under-appreciated.

9:54 PM   Dec 08, 2009

tloveisready ★★

GD Kubrick is such an effing Mastermind

2:32 PM   Dec 09, 2009

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