Augmented and Demented

The River Wild

When David E told me about New York theatre chains augmenting the titles of films entering their second run (“Hence Wild River became The Woman and the Wild River, and The Small World of Sammy Lee became The Small Violent World of Sammy Lee — Small-Time Hustler.”), I immediately wanted to try it myself. The practice isn’t unique to that time and place, of course: major studios would embiggen the titles of dry-sounding bio-pics in order to add a hint of the sinsational. PATTON: LUST FOR GLORY and FREUD: THE SECRET PASSION are examples of titles that have been through the PR mill and emerged with fresh appendages.

Given that the purpose of these appendages is to remove ambiguity and subtlety and make everything louder and more explicit, it’s surprising that modern films don’t have more sub-clauses and yelps appended. Sequels regularly do, but for some time studio films have been trying to sound as generic as possible, deploying well-known phrases, sayings and song titles and catchy one-word high-concept sound-bytes until every film starts to sound like every other film. Some of these movies could definitely stand some gussying up, titlewise. Homer Simpson’s preferred title for SPEED is about right: THE BUS THAT COULDN’T SLOW DOWN. How about –?

WORLD TRADE CENTRE: THE 9:11 PLANE CRASH TERROR

SWEET AND LOWDOWN: STORY OF A JAZZ GUITAR SWINE

GRINDHOUSE: TWO DUMB FILMS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE

POISONOUS SNAKES ON A BIG PASSENGER PLANE

THE TOP-SECRET X FILES OF THE FBI

TRAINSPOTTING — JUST ABOUT THE ONLY THING JUNKIES NEVER ACTUALLY DO

GET CARTER AND SHOOT HIM ON A DIRTY BEACH

PLANET OF THE APES (EARTH)

ELEPHANT: HIGH SCHOOL MASSACRE!

THE NUTTY AVIATOR

THE DESCENT INTO A SCARY MONSTER CAVE 

THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, OR, HOW THE JEWS KILLED JESUS

I wanted to do one for the new James Bond, QUANTUM OF SOLACE, but i really don’t know where to start with that one. 

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5 Responses to “Augmented and Demented”

  1. Make it a cologne: James Bond’s Quantam of Solace “Oh for the smell of it!”

  2. Licensed to smell.

  3. There’s a movie in theaters now called DECEPTION. It’s been out for a month, but every week I think it’s a new release because I’ve forgotten its extremely generic title, and I look it up only to discover that I did the same thing last week. IMDB says its working titles were THE LIST and THE TOURIST (both just as bad) and UNTITLED HUGH JACKMAN PROJECT (which I far prefer).

    But the plot summary begins “An accountant is introduced to a mysterious sex club,” so surely someone could’ve made up accountant-related pun, or just titled the film MYSTERIOUS SEX CLUB.

  4. Ewan MacGregor was already in a film called ROGUE TRADER, which might work here.

    I always read Hugh Jackman’s name as either Hugh Jacktor or Hugh Janus.

    I love the idea of an accountancy based thriller, perhaps called FINAL AUDIT.

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