Strange Film Titles

Ah films. I do love them. Back in the 80’s I watched “Karate Kid” and was just a little disappointed.
“Wax on, wax off”. For me it was, “Eyes open, eyes off, mouth opens, mouth yawns..”
You could hardly blame me really, I had just recently watched, “Enter the Dragon”. Didn’t see any waxing there, just good old fashion action. So you can imagine my surprise and delight when I learned that there was going to be a remake starring Jackie Chan, that superstar who blew me away with his stunts, humour and martial arts with the film, “Police Story”. Must rank within my top ten martial arts films of all time. Anyway, I was looking forward to the new “Karate Kid” starring Jaden Smith. “Karate Kid”. Good. Except, it was really Kung Fu Kid. So I sat through the film waiting for the inevitable explanation as to why a kid in China (not Japan) with Jackie Chan – a known practitioner of Kung Fu – would be learning Karate. Surely there must be a reason; even a spurious one, like it was all a dream, as was the case with an entire series of Dallas. He thought he was in China, but woke up to discover he was in Japan, right? Or at least he was learning Karate, right? So it got me thinking about other strange, if not misleading, film titles. “Enter the Dragon”. Well, this works once you accept that Bruce Lee was born in the year of the Dragon (Chinese calendar). Obviously, it’s not a fantasy, and it most certainly isn’t about a real “fire-breathing” dragon. If I featured in the film, it would be, Enter the Taurean (Western Star sign), or sticking with the Chinese theme, Enter the Monkey. See how it works?
So let’s move on. Another film, “The Madness of King George” had to stay I guess, because, “The Madness of King George III” would have led some people to believe they had missed the prequels. How about “Bullet Proof Monk”? Well, yes, but in real life the Chinese used bullets and easily overran Tibet. Hmm…Let’s look at another. “The Great Escape”, a good film. But “The Great Escape” really should have been entitled, “The Great Escape attempt”. I mean, really, how many prisoners actually escaped to freedom? Oh, but it gets better with some of these film titles. Check this one out – “The Neverending Story”. Or loosely translated, the story that never ends. We don’t even need lawyers for that one. Had I viewed that in the cinema, I believe I would have been well within my rights to get a refund. Or a partial refund, at least. This was the neverending story after all! We’ve been had! We’ve been hoodwinked! How about “A Clockwork Orange”? Sounds like Terry’s Allsorts, but with an orangey chocolatey, clockwork centre – good for those who haven’t got much time for the chocolatey munchies. If you hadn’t seen the film, and were asked to comment on what you think it would be about, let’s just say that the rehabilitation of a serious offender would not have sprung to mind. I mean, honestly, the marketing department? What drugs were they taking? “And my next film will be about a jewellery heist. Gonna call that, A Needlework Raspberry”. Really? What about the self-explanatory, “Eraserhead” by David Lynch? And no, it’s not about a school kid having trouble with his rubber (or eraser, for our American cousins). Then there’s “Trainspotting”, Danny Boyle’s social film about a bunch of guys in anoraks, sitting by the railway tracks, binoculars in hand, looking to spot fast-moving and unusual trains, right? Sorry, I was going by the title, not the film. But what a great film. Of course, “Drug-heads” doesn’t smoothly roll off the tongue, and well…maybe not the best title in the world. But let’s move onto that wonderful canine film for all you animal lovers out there; the beautifully shot and emotionally satisfying “Reservoir Dogs”. I swear, I will never look at dogs the same way again. Now, moving on, “Apocalypse Now” must be about the future holocaust, after the nuclear war – until you watch it. But what about the films starring animals? You know, Animal Farm? Or that other “farm” film, “Silence of the Lambs”? Did we even see a single lamb in the film? Surely in some bizarre dream sequence, no? A character falls asleep and sees something weird, like in “Blade Runner”? Maybe he dreams of lamb chops with some chianti? As for Blackula, let’s not even go there…jeez what kind of imagination is required for that? If we have a black cop, do we call him, blop? And you wonder why it’s a flop? Dear oh dear oh dear. Brings tears to the eyes, which brings us neatly onto “The Crying game”. Except I didn’t cry. Nearly choked on my nuts though. My peanuts. Funny thing that, it did have something to do with….er, let’s move on. What’s that? Should’ve been called something else? It certainly was… As for “Full Metal Jacket”, why, I was at least expecting one bullet-proof vest. But there you go.
Of course we can dip into that reservoir of really dodgy names and pull out a whole net of remarkable titles; titles I suspect whose weirdness was matched only by the film’s premise, or marketing campaign. Examples include classics like “Phffft” (1954) starring Judy Holliday and Jack Lemon, “SSssss” (1973) and my favourite, “Santa Claus conquers the Martians (1964), and the real selling point? Check out the poster, “It’s in Blazing Color!” Yep.What the blazes…? Santa? Martians? How did the reindeers get up there? Does it snow much on Mars? But what can I say, except “Eegah”! (1962). So in conclusion, it’s all “Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar”.


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