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50 Greatest Trailers: The Experts Speak

50 Greatest Trailers: The Experts Speak (photo)

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When we humbly submitted our list of the 50 Greatest Movie Trailers the other week, we knew it would be controversial. There was internal debate about old versus new, blockbusters versus low-budget films, comedies versus dramas, teasers versus full-length trailers… and at the end of the day, we agree with Dan Asma, who defined a great trailer as one that leaves an audience saying to themselves, “whoa, I’ve got to see this movie.”

Asma is a partner at Buddha Jones, a leading movie trailer production house in Los Angeles, and one of the many professionals we polled about what makes a trailer more than a mere advertisement and their own personal favorites. Besides having produced many of the modern trailers that appeared on our list, this group of trailer makers have won numerous Golden Trailer Awards, the trailer cutting world’s equivalent of an Oscar (which is why we’ve linked to their memorable credits). Along with their picks, we also consulted with our own experts — our readers, who have suggested many overlooked gems in the past few days. So while we still may not be able to wholly understand that elusive magic that goes into making a great two-minute spot, we are better able to appreciate it. First, here are the experts we spoke to:

Mark Woollen
Mark Woollen and Associates
Credits include:
The trailers for “Schindler’s List,” “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Garden State,” “Milk”

Across the board, I’m just a huge Kubrick fan, so I think his work has been incredibly influential in trailers, beyond movies and everything. I was glad to see on your list that a number of his pieces were there. [At the behest of the many readers who asked for it, we’ll present the trailer for “Clockwork Orange” here.]

[As for my own trailers], I started in the early ’90s and they’ve gotten a little more complex, but what I’m trying to do is bring out those elements that just give you an impression of the movie, hopefully not going into too much story, not revealing too much, but just kind of picking out what’s special about a movie and trying to convey that. I still go back to the trailer I did for “Schindler’s List,” which is still one of my favorites, in terms of the emotional quality. It was simple with just a piece of music and really conveyed the feeling I was talking about in terms of giving you a sense of what it’s going to be like to watch the movie.

John Long, Lee Harry, and Dan Asma
Partners at Buddha Jones
Credits include:
The trailers for “No Country for Old Men,” “The Hangover,” “Tropic Thunder,” “The Strangers,” “Jackass II,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “Superman Returns”

Dan Asma: The most effective trailers or the most successful trailers are ones that had their own kind of artistry to them, meaning that the first job in a good trailer is obviously to sell a movie, but trailers to me that are really successful have their own kind of mission itself, which is to yes, build this heat, but also to have a certain process or way of telling a story that in and of itself is very evocative. And I think “Little Children” is a perfect example of that, where there’s a real artistry in the trailer as well as creating an anticipation like wow, not only is that cool in and of itself, but I’d be curious to see what the movie’s like based on how cool this trailer is.

John Long: There’s something about the shorthand of trailers that allows you to create a message in a unique way very quickly. I’m going back now, all the way back to the teaser for “Jaws” — it was basically this POV of the shark in the water, but it created anticipation, it created dread, it created this unbelievable sense of unease in a very short order because it was so masterfully put together.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.