The 80s had a lot of great science fiction movies, but many of those movies were saddled with bad sci-fi trailers.
We all know that the 80’s weren’t known for their primo movie trailers, but some of the following really take the cringe-y cake. A bunch of really cool sci-fi films that would go on to become classics came out during this time period, but you wouldn’t know it by watching these sci-fi trailers!
However, the one thing these trailers are good for is a hearty laugh, and it’s not Friday so… screw it! Let’s check out the best of the worst trailers for classic sci-fi films (mostly, with a pair of ‘slightly’ less classic movies)! They’re ranked according to level of laughter-inducing cringe, from least cringe-y to actual physical cringing starting wiiiiiiiith….
12. Bad Sci-Fi Trailers – Back to the Future (1985)
This is probably the most stunningly boring teaser trailer I’ve ever seen! Until, of course, the awful joke and wink. Oh 1985, you’re almost too good to be true.
11. Bad Sci-Fi Trailers – Starman (1984)
Ah, Starman, the movie that let aliens know that IT’S A TRAP! We don’t want to be your friend, we want to hunt you down and probably torture you with some sort of sadistic autopsy procedure with no anesthetic. But, leave it to the 80’s to have the socially-awkward alien be banging hot and “tooling around the country in a hopped up ‘77 Mustang?!”
10. Bad Sci-Fi Trailers – Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)
This trailer feels like a million years long! As much as I enjoy Australian accents, I feel like we can all agree we’re in it for the explosions when it comes to Mad Max. The narration drags on, and though it describes nearly every major plot point and character arc, it’s still not super clear how Max fits in. Pick a side, Mad Max! Tell us everything, or tell us nothing.
9. Bad Sci-Fi Trailers – Ghostbusters (1984)
I feel like I just watched the entire movie! And people today say movie trailers don’t leave anything to the imagination. The narration is just out of control, and the trailer literally shows you the entire first ghost encounter. It’s just too much.
8. Bad Sci-Fi Trailers – Ghostbusters II (1989)
Truly, the only thing that can top the hilarious mess that was the Ghostbusters trailer, is the Ghostbusters II trailer. Thanks a ton for your contribution to my list of bad sci-fi trailers, Ghostbusters team!
7. Bad Sci-Fi Trailers – Dune (1984)
David Lynch, I will never forgive you for what you did to the pure and beautiful masterpiece that is Dune. But, personal opinions on the movie aside, that narration was also incredibly misleading. In fact, I listed out all of the flaws and my eye started twitching so… just watch the trailer. Additionally, this movie probably had a lot to do with all the ginger-bullying in the 90’s.
6. Bad Sci-Fi Trailers – Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Buried alive…. buried alive…
So, this trailer also suffers from the 80’s trend of telling, not showing. What’s with all the talking, man? The screen is essentially blank as the narrator tells the back story, and then it suddenly gets more exciting and ends with a very cringe-y tagline: “At the end of the universe, lies the beginning of vengeance.” Good lord.
5. Bad Sci-Fi Trailers – Terminator (1984)
The only thing cringier than Sarah’s floofy hair that looks like a carefully doted-upon Persian show cat is… the rest of the trailer. They literally tell us everything, and even show us the most important scenes! Come on guys! It would have been cool to be surprised by the badass android skeleton version of Terminator when $#*! really hits the fan in the actual movie, not at the very beginning of the trailer!
4. Bad Sci-Fi Trailers – RoboCop (1987)
Yet another bad sci-fi trailer that starts boring, gives away the entire plot, and ends with some really bad special effects. I mean, shooting the RoboCop logo at the screen with an explosion in the background? You really can’t get more 80’s action/sci-fi.
3. Bad Sci-Fi Trailers – Predator (1987)
Okay, that… that was. Hmm. Let me just say, Predator is an iconic 80s film for a reason, but this trailer goes above and beyond. It’s like they spliced every single iconic Schwarzenegger quote from Predator into the trailer, which then, follows the 80’s trend of handing us the entire plot! I do however appreciate that they don’t give us a clear look at the Predator, which left a little somthin-somethin to the imagination. Terminator, take notes!
2. Bad Sci-FI Trailers – Tron (1982)
“Trapped inside an electronic arena, where love and escape do not compute.”
Okay, so, if we were to assess cringe-iness based only on graphics, Tron would obviously be at the top of this list, but let’s look past that to the heart of it: the narration. Talky-talkity-talk boring computer sounds, then BAM Power Point slide transition to an arcade with no explanation. Then, switch to Jeff Bridges literally flipping out, and end with a summary of the entire film.
1. Bad Sci-Fi Trailers – ET: The Extraterrestrial (1982)
After a lengthy plug telling us how awesome Steven Spielberg is, you’ll hear an even longer list containing vague plot words preceded by “The.” The discovery, the alien, the friendship, the plot spoilers, the entire conclusion… you get the point. Though not as ridiculously bad as some of the other awful sci-fi trailers on this list, it’s definitely the most cringe-y.
Final Thoughts on Bad Sci-Fi Trailers
Well, E.T. being #1 on the cringe scale certainly surprised me, and I wrote the list! But, seriously, over two minutes of “The This, The That, The Other Thing, The Other Other Thing” actually made me physically spasm, so it has to win. Or is that losing?
Did we miss any trailers that deserve to be added to the list? Let us know!
Featured image from the 1982 film Tron, courtesy of Disney.