Wednesday, February 24, 2010
There's a lot of commotion on the Interweb about the new red-band trailer for Kick-Ass, due in theaters April 16th, and the difficulty in keeping objectionable material away from underage eyes. I'm not gonna wade into that controversy today (although after a couple of drinks, I can get quite chatty on the subject), but, as I've been browsing other sites, there is a mistaken perception out there that red-band trailers are a recent development, as very few are citing any examples prior to the year 2000. Well, us Horror fans know that just ain't the case. Yes, they were infrequent, but they did exist. Your ability to see one in the pre-Interweb era was affected by four factors:
1) The film had to have one produced for it; some that did produced a red-band as an alternate version to an All-Audiences (green-band) trailer;
2) You had to be watching an R-rated film, as red-bands could only be attached to a Restricted feature;
3) The theater or its chain had to have a policy allowing for these trailers (for example, Regal Cinemas has allowed them only in the last three years);
4) The trailer had to be attached, either through the studio's insistence, or through the individual manager's decision. As a rule, trailers are matched to the themes and genre of the Main Feature - you shouldn't get a Horror preview before a Merchant-Ivory costume drama - not in theory, anyway.
So even though I have been a pretty rabid moviegoer since 1980, it took eight years before I ever saw a red-band trailer in a theater, and when the screen turned scarlet, it sure got my attention. I don't recall what film it preceded, but it would have been in the early months of 1988, and the movie being promoted was Bad Dreams. Unfortunately, the red-band is missing from this upload, but trust me - it was there. And by the time it finished playing, the audience knew why it was restricted...
But that turned out not to be the earliest red-band I ever saw in a theater. Thanks to some mental prompting from my former radio reviewing cohort, there was a very enjoyable occasion when he, as the manager of a movie theater, discovered a reel of trailers from the late 70s and early 80s squirreled away in a storage space behind one of the screens. And as we watched it late one night, there, in all it's red-banded glory, was this preview that would have run during 1980, before the film's January 1981 opening...
Here's a few more trailers from the 80s and 90s that also bore the notorious Red Band. I think you'll discover that, compared with the two above, they're a pretty tame lot. It seems as if intensity could get you that ruby red restriction. And if any of you Jarheads are aware of others from this time period, especially if they're earlier than Scanners, let me know, ok? Hours of trying to find "the first red-band trailer" on the Interweb are proving fruitless. I'll try to add your contributions to this posting.