Each year, Turner Classic Movies crafts a tribute to actors,
Whether it is the fault of a creatively-challenged studio executive or a jaded screenwriter, plenty of movies are released with really bad names. As bad as they are, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, eXistenZ, and Thir13en Ghosts don’t trump the awful titles on this list, but at least someone had the brains to fix the titles on this list.
or Blazing Saddles
Mel Brooks’s classic comedy-satire Blazing Saddles deserves to be recognized for the great film it is. It is a buddy film, a western spoof, and a racial satire that pushes the limits of satire and has plenty to say about how America and Hollywood treated race in the 1970s. Screenwriter Andrew Bergman wanted to make the racial themes of the film even more apparent with the original title, Tex X, with a nod to Muslim leader Malcolm X. Rumor has it that Mel Brooks, hating the title, came up with Blazing Saddles taking a cold shower.
Eight Arms to Hold You
The Beatles are a force of nature in the music world, but their contributions to film (with Richard Lester) led to the classics A Hard Day’s Night and Help!. Fans have their favorite, but Lester found himself in a predicament with the title of the later. Another film had registered the title “Help,” The Beatles song that was supposed to serve as the film’s title. Lester eventually changed the title to Eight Arms to Hold You, a noticeable creepier title, but all was well when Lester decided to add an “!” to the end to avoid any confusion. Sometimes simplicity is best.
Spaceman from Pluto
or Back to the Future
Robert Zemeckis’s Back to the Future trilogy are classic films that bridge blockbuster filmmaking with critical and financial success. Following Steven Spielberg’s template for high-concept blockbusters with heart, Zemeckis was determined to make Spaceman from Pluto a reality. Wait, what? Sid Sheinberg had a problem with movies with the word “future” in the title. His research showed that no movie with “future” in the title ever succeeded. Spielberg earned his money with a small memo that thanked Sheinberg for his hilarious memo, and the production continued as Back to the Future. Spielberg is a powerful man.
A Long Night at Camp Blood
or Friday the 13th
Perhaps Sean Cunningham was writing a Goosebumps book, or maybe he just wanted to make the worst b-movie horror title ever. Whatever the case, A Long Night at Camp Blood is bad. I mean the title is just too long and generic. A Long Night at Camp Blood 2. A Long Night at Camp Blood in Hell. A Long Night at Camp Blood X. In all fairness, Cunningham didn’t know how iconic his film would become, but Friday the 13th has a better ring to it to say the least.
or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Head Cheese would go on to change the horror genre and become a classic of American film. Tobe Hooper’s Head Cheese is a special film that raised the volume on graphic realism and created an atmosphere so tense that filmmakers have been trying to match it ever since. How did Tobe Hooper go from Head Cheese to one of the best horror titles in film with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Apparently Hooper’s short film that preceded TCM was called Head Cheese, and he liked the title. So, duh.
Dan O’Bannon is one of the most under-appreciated creative minds in American film. A friend of John Carpenter’s in film school, O’Bannon worked with Carpenter on his directorial debut Dark Star, launching Carpenter’s career. He then did special effects work on Star Wars. He wrote Total Recall. He wrote two segments of Heavy Metal. He designed much of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s failed attempt at Dune. He wrote Lifeforce. He wrote and directed Return of the Living Dead. It is safe to say that O’Bannon was a creative force that launched more success for others than he ever experienced. His big break should have been Star Beast. He loved B-movies, and he had an idea for a science fiction horror movie that would draw off of his experiences on Jodorowsky’s Dune. The studio scratched most of his awesome-in-its-own-right Star Beast screenplay for the Ridley Scott-helmed Alien. O’Bannon lost again.