Or – How to Eliminate Those Pesky Ticket Sales in One Easy Step
A movie’s “tag line” is an important marketing tool. It is a simple sound bite that gives the audience a handle on the movie that is being sold. In the course of promoting a film, the tag line will be spoken, broadcast, and displayed on posters and billboards countless times.
It would seem that writing a tag line should be a simple enough task, but it can actually prove quite challenging. It must be short. The line has to be simple yet memorable. It has to say something about the movie but leave questions in the audience’s mind. For a true writer, it is a worthy challenge. True writers love words and love to see how powerful they can make them.
The writers who penned the following five tag lines may or may not love words, but they certainly never bothered to call a word back the morning after. For one reason or another on this specially-themed horror list, these tag lines fail to do one simple thing – make the movie in question seem interesting.
“Welcome to Your Worst Nightmare.”
This tag line gets eliminated in the first round.
Unimaginative and boring, it could just as easily be tagged on almost every horror film ever produced.
It says nothing about the movie and provokes no questions. A line like this feels like a placeholder, as though the design department slapped a generic line into the space so that it would not look empty at their presentation, then neglected to fill in the real tag line later.
4. Dracula (1979)
“The story of the greatest lover who ever lived, died, and lived again.”
1979’s Dracula is largely forgotten – perhaps because it is so largely forgettable.
The tag line offers something the audience can sink its teeth into (no pun intended), but feels out of place on a horror movie.
The audience could just as well expect a romantic comedy of the same kind as 1985’s Once Bitten (“A one-night stand with eternal complications!”) or 1993’s Love Bites.
“You can’t scream if you can’t breathe.”
The tag line for Anaconda would seem to be perfect. It is short. It informs the audience about the movie. It is memorable.
Unfortunately, it is memorable because it happens to be laugh-out-loud goofy. The audience has no need to see the movie once they have encountered the tag.
Giant monster horror flicks are almost universally considered to be a joke, and in this case the tag delivers the punch line long before the opening credits roll.
2. Black Christmas (2006)
“This holiday season, the slay ride begins.”
Ha! See? It’s funny! It’s funny because they say “slay” when most people would obviously be thinking they meant – oh, forget it.
Corny puns rarely make for a good tag line, and corny puns that have already been used by low-budget modern-day nudie cutie producers (1996’s Santa Claws – “His slay bells are ringing!”) are strictly off-limits.
The 1974 original is standard grindhouse fare, and even it – out of its eight tag lines – never used the sleigh/slay pun. In fact, two of the tag lines are among the best grindhouse tags of all time and are sitting there, just waiting to be re-used.
An audience would have been much more impressed with either “If this movie doesn’t make your skin crawl… it’s on too tight!” or “He knows when you’re sleeping, He knows if you’re awake, HE KNOWS…”
“The only thing more terrifying than the last 12 minutes of this film are the first 92.”
This tag line spells “quality” with a capital “K.” It is overlong – difficult to repeat in conversation or to fit on a single line on the poster. It is hard to remember – it contains the length of the film in minutes, after all.
It tells you nothing about the film except that it is scary. Perhaps worst of all is the actual structure of the sentence.
“The only thing more terrifying than the last 12 minutes of this film are the first 92” seems like a clever way to say that it is a scary flick. Sadly, there is another way you can write this sentence.
“Our movie has an anticlimactic ending.”