No art form has associated itself more with the notion of entertainment than film. Tragic, isn’t it? But let’s not worry about the restrictions or consequences of that for the moment. In fact, don’t worry about the possibility of this being a personal rant masquerading as an article either. For the sake of your own […]

No art form has associated itself more with the notion of entertainment than film. Tragic, isn’t it? But let’s not worry about the restrictions or consequences of that for the moment. In fact, don’t worry about the possibility of this being a personal rant masquerading as an article either.

For the sake of your own entertainment, let’s even buy into the whole ‘film as product’ business. If films are products that require ever more inventive marketing strategies to guarantee consumption and profit, taglines are the equivalent of ‘what it says on the tin’. As such, they can often be misleading, hilarious or spot-on in their concise description of what a film offers.

Taglines have been around for many decades. They have predominantly been favoured by big Hollywood Studios as opposed to the European approach which, as a rule, tends to rely more on the name of a director or a particular actor to draw the crowds in. However, their influence is by now widespread and a lot of countries that aspire to the Hollywood industry standard use them profusely.

For the sake of economy, I’m choosing to split this appreciation of the art of labelling your product correctly into three main categories: those that resonate as true to every one of us, the (un)intentionally hilarious kind and the absolutely obscure. You will find that the boundaries of such categories will, on occasion, blur slightly. Still, we’re all individuals, with our own associations and preferences. What is cheesy for me may be remarkably poignant for you or plain tedious for somebody else. This is where contradiction becomes most apparent: how the perception of such a commercial device – conceived to ‘feed the masses’ equally – remains ultimately subjective.

So here we go, in chronological order yet informed with all my bias, obsession and personal taste…

THE RESONANT:

“The strangest story ever conceived by man.” – King Kong (1933)

“Still the fairest of them all!” – Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937)

“He had to find her…he had to find her.” – The Searchers (1956)

“Check in. Relax. Take a shower.” – Psycho (1960)

“How did they ever make a movie of Lolita?” – Lolita (1962)

“Sister, sister, oh so fair, why is there blood all over your hair?” – What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

“…and remember, the next scream you hear may be your own!” – The Birds (1963)

“From the book that couldn’t be written comes the motion picture that couldn’t be made!” – Myra Breckenridge (1970)

“To avoid fainting, keep repeating ‘It’s only a movie…It’s only a movie… ‘” – Last House on the Left (1972)

“On every street in every city, there’s a nobody who dreams of being a somebody.” – Taxi Driver (1976)

“The Only Thing More Terrifying Than The Last 12 Minutes Of This Film Are The First 92.” – Suspiria (1977)

“In space no one can hear you scream.” – Alien (1979)

“Exterminate all rational thought.” – Naked Lunch (1991)

“We Dare You to Say His Name Five Times.” – Candyman (1992)

“The future is history.” – Twelve Monkeys (1995)

“Everyone has one special thing.” – Boogie Nights (1997)

“Believe Everything Except Your Eyes.” – Snake Eyes (1998)

“Be All That Someone Else Can Be.” – Being John Malkovich (1999)

“Things fall down. People look up. And when it rains, it pours.” – Magnolia (1999)

“Family isn’t a word. It’s a sentence.” – The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

THE HILARIOUS:

“From the Moment they met it was Murder!” – Double Indemnity (1944)

“The greatest adventure a man ever lived…with a woman!” – The African Queen (1951)

“The story of a blonde who wanted to go places, and a brute who got her there – the hard way!” – The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)

“I changed my sex!” – Glen or Glenda? (1953)

“You don’t assign him to murder cases. You just turn him loose.” – Dirty Harry (1971)

“How far does a girl have to go to untangle her tingle?” – Deep Throat (1972)

“He’s got a plan to stick it to the Man!” – Super Fly (1972)

“A film that could only be made in South America, where life is CHEAP !” – Snuff (1976)

“You like to watch, don’t you?” – Sliver (1993)

“Movies were his passion. Women were his inspiration. Angora sweaters were his weakness.” – Ed Wood (1994)

“From the brother of the director of Ghost.” – Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994)

“Evil comes with strings attached.” – Pinocchio’s Revenge (1996)

“The coast is toast.” – Volcano (1997)

“Earth. It was fun while it lasted.” – Armageddon (1998)

“Her life was in their hands. Now her toe is in the mail.” – The Big Lebowski (1998)

“Part mystery. Part thriller. Parts missing.” – Lake Placid (1999)

“You Won’t Believe Your Eye.” – Monsters, Inc (2001)

THE OBSCURE:

“A Psycho-Sexadelic Horror Freakout!” – Vampiros Lesbos (1971)

“Changed By God and Man… Into a Priestess of Violence!” – Flavia, The Heretic (1974)

“Very unnatural women…” – Vampyres (1975)

“The windows look out onto hell…a view that will take your breath away…permanently!” – Don’t Ride On Late Night Trains (1975)

“An apocalyptic Alice in Wonderland!” – Black Moon (1975)

“When the wine flows, the terror begins…” – The Grapes of Death (1978)

“Who’s seducing? Who’s being seduced? Who’s the one driving? Who’s sitting in the dead man’s seat?” – Dead Man’s Seat (1984)

“When one journey ends… And another begins…” – Stolen Waters & Other Absences (2007)

JOÃO PAULO SIMÕES.