Monday, January 27, 2014

Two of The Scariest Movie Commercials Ever Broadcast

This Halloween for some reason I thought about two commercials for horror films from way back that still manage to creep me out. I'm not a person who scares easily, but I remember these two with dread not because they weren't just scary, they were disturbing in a way commercials for other fright films like The Amityville Horror or The Omen or The Exorcist or The Shining were not.

One is from a (by most accounts) mediocre 1978 film starring Anthony Hopkins called Magic. It's about a ventriloquist's dummy that turns evil and murderous. Saw it's not, but the commercial for this movie, which my eight-year-old self saw one evening watching television and then spent the next year half-covering my eyes when I clicked on the set lest I was accidentally confronted with it again. Something about the slow-mo closeup, the contrast between something that's supposed to be fun (a doll!) and something that's not fun (murder!), even the announcer's deadpan delivery - it just freaked me out like nothing else...

I've heard that some communities had this commercial banned because too many kids were getting upset after watching it. I wouldn't be surprised.

This other commercial, for the classic 1978 movie Alien, didn't freak me out as much, but it's disturbing in it's own way and kept me away from seeing it for quite some time. Today, I really like how this commercial uses sound to generate tension, or rather, a lack of sound - the people who put this together understood that silence can be just as nerve-racking as sudden noises. The brilliant tag line at the end sums it up nicely, while reminding the viewer that this isn't a sci-fi film, it's a horror film in a sci-fi setting.

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