THEY had one job. Just write a single sentence about a movie. It’s not quantum physics. After millions of dollars spent and many months of filming and editing, it comes down to the humble tagline writer to simply scrawl a few words together. Alas, this task is often too much to bear, and a movie poster is forever besmirched by a woefully inadequate blurb which undercuts all the hard work. Perhaps it’s not so easy to condense an entire film into a few words; whatever the case, here are a few examples where tag lines fail.
Loose Shoes (1980)
There won’t be a dry seat in the house.
The thought of a fully moistened seat doesn’t exactly lure me to the theater. In hindsight, guaranteeing damp seating maybe wasn’t the best idea.
Tunnel Vision (1976)
Laugh or get off the pot.
Another example of bad poster art meets bad tagline, resulting in a synergy of awfulness. Obviously an unfunny variation on the well-worn cliché, “start sh*tting or get off the pot” that should’ve been flushed like that television’s bowel movement.
Day of the Dolphin (1973)
Unwittingly he trained a dolphin to kill the President of the United States
I dare you to try to say this tag line without laughing. It can’t be done. Yet, here it is without any hint of humor. A marvel of silliness delivered with pure unadulterated gravity.
Best Friends (1975)
She became the ravaged victim of a century of revenge
For all appearances, this doesn’t seem the least bit problematic – typical exploitation film sensationalism. Yet it has become somewhat infamous for being a total lie. Nothing of the sort happens. No Native Americans do anything close to ravaging. In fact, they don’t figure into the film much at all, and behave rather politely when they are on camera. It’s the Caucasians doing all the ravaging, yet they are portrayed as victims of a sinister Native American grudge.
Six Pack Annie (1975)
Lookout… she’s legal now
Well, isn’t that precious. Truly an inspired tagline: Now, when you have sexual relations with Annie, it’s no longer considered statutory rape. Also take note of the additional text: “The smallest thing about her was the town she came from.” I assume they are referring to the largeness of her butt and/or boobs; although, one wonders.
Chrome and Hot Leather (1971)
Don’t muck around with a Green Beret’s mama!
He’ll take his chopper and ram it down your throat!
I’m torn on this one. This is either the worst tagline ever written or the best. I’ll leave it for you to decide.
Cannonball Run II (1984)
The popcorn’s in the lobby. The nuts are on the screen.
I know what they mean, but it still conjures up the notion that Sammy Davis, Jr. and Telly Savalas may have full frontal nude scenes…. a mental image that even my therapist can’t undo.
The Check is in the Mail (1986)
Plastic money… phony credit… enough is enough! There comes a time when the American family has had it!!!
Compare the tagline for The Forty Year Old Virgin (2005):”The longer you wait, the harder it gets.” That’s hilarious – a good indication that the film might be hilarious as well. In stark contrast, this long, convoluted mess sounds like a miserable infomercial – a good indication this film is balls-out terrible.
Blood Beach (1981)
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…. you can’t get to it.
It’s the Jaws 2 tagline, but this time it’s made beyond stupid by an addendum.
Stacy’s Knights (1983)
She’s got the plan.
They’ve got the nerve.
They’ll give everyone
Just what they deserve.
Ugh. This tag assures potential moviegoers this film is to be avoided like the Ebola virus. 1983 was evidently a big year for rhyming taglines, here’s another…
Valley Girl (1983)
She’s from the Valley.
A lot of adjectives spring to mind when describing Nicholas Cage; “hot” is not one of them. I do have to give praise where it is due: this tagline demonstrates an economy of words that would make Hemingway flush with pride.
A private dick.
A classy chick.
An old guy named Al.
As detectives they were second to everyone.
Jeez. At least in ’83 they tried to rhyme. Here they just lazily list it out in the most boring manner imaginable. The tagline writer was definitely phoning it in at this point. Let’s do a Melville variation to wrap this up….
A whaling ship.
An old guy named Ahab.
Kindred spirits in their thirst for vengeance.