Teaser trailers are always fun to encounter. Most of the time they’re the first glimpse of footage eager movie-goers get the chance to see on the movies they’re anticipating. Back in the 90s, before every trailer was uploaded instantly to the Internet, these trailers were a real treat for the fan who went in to the theaters. Trailers are the reason many people came early (it’s why I still have to show up early). Just like our best teaser trailers of the past decade, I’ve scoured the Internet to find the best teaser that came from the 90s.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
People fell in love with Terminator and many were eager to see Arnold step back onto the screen as the unstoppable killing machine. Back then it was easy for directors to keep knowledge of the film under wraps, and until walking into the movie theater, most people didn’t know Arnold would in fact be a good guy in the film. They assumed that he’d be back in his former protagonist position. This teaser leads people to believe that as all we really get is a shot of the assembly line making the T-800s. Fans instantly knew what they were watching and it only fueled the excitement. This was a great hype building trailer which the movie was actually able to live up to.
Jurassic Park (1993)
We all know how much impact this film had on the industry. It basically ensured that CGI effects would become a common staple in movies and it made us suddenly afraid to enter our own kitchens. When this teaser hit theaters people weren’t honestly sure what was going on. Unless you had read Michael Crichton’s original novel this could very well have looked like a trailer for some documentary. It’s a great example of what a teaser is supposed to do; get the audience interested in the film. It made them want to know more about the movie and specifically what it pertained to, especially since the narrator makes it plain as day that Spielberg is behind it.
Mortal Kombat (1995)
Video game fans had been waiting for this movie for a while, and this teaser was the first time many had even heard of the film (remember this is still early Internet, this wasn’t all readily available information). It’s simple and short, yet it does everything a good teaser is supposed to do. It told people just enough about the film to get them interested, they knew it was a fight movie, and importantly it highlighted all of the fan favorite characters from the game. This got the fanboys excited, but intrigued those who had never heard of the property. It was also one of the first video game movies out there, and this one actually looked decent (the only things gamers had before that was Super Mario Bros, Double Dragon, and Street Fighter….slim pickings there).
Independence Day (1996)
ID4 is mostly credited with starting the disaster movie craze. Before this there really wasn’t much else out there. So when the teaser trailer shows an entire city and the White House being destroyed by evil aliens it shocked a lot of audience members. No one had really seen it done like this before, and no filmmaker had taken the destruction so far. Just by watching the teaser you’ll instantly know what type of movie you’re in for. It’s definitely not your traditional alien sci-fi film. This one cranks it up a notch. Blowing up the White House in a teaser is a bold statement, because essentially the filmmakers are telling you that even something as big as that, is only the tip of the iceberg for the movie.
Say what you will about the movie (I actually kind of liked it), but before bashing this film became as popular as blow-jobs there was a significant amount of hype for this film. The masses really wanted to see this movie, and a big part of that was their marketing campaign. They produced a series of teaser trailers as well as hit the billboards all across the country, and it built up quite a following. This was the very first teaser they made and it was designed for one purpose: to clearly differentiate itself from movies like Jurassic Park. By having the big green guy tear across the museum and the skeletal T-Rex they were saying that Godzilla was in an entirely different league. It’s a great intro to the character and helps to build that excitement.
Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (1999)
Did you really think this wouldn’t end up on this list somewhere. People had been waiting to see footage from this film for nearly two decades. Theaters were packed with people who had bought a ticket, just to see this teaser trailer, and it didn’t disappoint. I remember sitting in the theater when this first came on the screen. I nearly wet myself, and I was surprised at how familiar it all felt. The scenes they pulled for the teaser emanated the classic Saga’s feel, and gave off the same vibe. Many have debated that the film itself ruined the Saga (but I’ve found those people tend to find anything to complain about), but the teaser hits the nail on the head perfectly. This hit all of the main characters, presented one of the Saga’s greatest lines from Yoda, and gave the first peek at Darth Maul. This had everyone drooling and clamoring for more.
Fight Club (1999)
I can imagine a great number of people going “what the hell?” after seeing this trailer. Really it doesn’t tell you much of what the film’s going to be about, but that really only helped it. Was it a fight movie? Was it an action movie? A bank heist movie? People just didn’t know, but it made them interested. It made them want to know more about the movie (especially considering the talent involved). Fans of the book already knew the craziness that would ensue, but the teaser went a long way towards telling them that the movie would be keeping in the same tone as the book. It settled many fears that the movie would ‘mainstream’ the story, and not fully capture the depth of the novel. It’s a well done teaser that accomplishes everything it should.
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
With everyone going cuckoo over the return of Star Wars, Mike Myers and his Austin Powers crew were quick to capitalize on the publicity. Using a very sci-fi set-up the teaser starts off looking like it could be Star Wars related. Many fans were on the edge of their seats as the camera slowly zooms in on the back of the chair. The clever trick sucked us all in and it was funny enough that no one could really be made at the dupe. All-in-all it’s a good trailer showcasing just enough of the film to get us interested but firmly establishing it’s comedic pedigree.
Sometimes the trailers end up being better than the movies they preview, but regardless of the final result, the trailers always get our hearts racing. There’s a reason movie trailers are some of the most watched videos on the internet. They’re just hard to pull away from.