Thursday, January 20, 2011

Movie Sequels: Roman Numerals vs. Natural Numbers

Being a fan of the classic slashers, sequels are no stranger to this cinephile.  Today I thought I'd voice my opinion and a few items pertaining to sequels.  In particular, their titles.  Let's talk about the most important part first.  The number itself.  Personally, I prefer when a sequel utilizes Roman Numbers in their title. 
Let's take a look here....let's create a movie title.

Would you rather watch:

Harry The Homicidal Bag Boy 4


Harry The Homicidal Bag Boy IV

See what I mean?  The Roman Numeral just looks cooler!  It adds a touch of class, doesn't it?  Not only that, but I think that it makes it somehow seem more of a continuation of the source story than perhaps just a film that was slapped together to cash in on the original film.  I mean, seriously.  Harry the Homicidal Bag Boy 4.  Great.  It's gonna be the same thing dressed slightly differently.  Surely it's interchangeable with parts 2 and 3.  Even if that IS the case, it at least makes it look a bit more respectable with a Roman Numeral!  Which brings me to my next point.  The word "Part" should always be used in genre sequels, in my opinion.  Here again, it suggests more to the viewer that this film is a continuation of a story already in progress.....not a flick that has NOTHING to do with the prior film(s), which was then billed as a sequel to cash in.  Again....perhaps this IS the case....but at least the title looks classier.  Let's go back to our Movie Title:

Harry The Homicidal Bag Boy IV


Harry The Homicidal Bag Boy Part IV

See that?  See what just one little word does?  It changes the whole context of the film in the mind of a potential viewer.  Harry the Homicidal Bag Boy IV......a step above just HTHBB4......but still.  Now, we've got PART IV!  Well, this surely is a continuation from Part III!  Remember how in Part III, Jenny and Steve were trapped in the back of the grocery store and cornered by Harry?  Then Steve was able to run Harry over with the floor buffer and then toss him into the trash compactor....but when the police got there...there was no crushed Harry in the compactor.......whoa.....he must have gotten out somehow before getting crushed! 
If it were just Harry The Homicidal Bag Boy IV.....well.....gee whiz...they made another Harry movie.  Hoo boy.  Nothing we haven't seen before.  Just Harry slashing up nubile teens in a grocery store.  Joy.  Again, this may indeed be the case, but at least try to sell it as something more, people!

This brings me to my final bit of insight into the world of movie sequel titles.  The sub or secondary title.  I think that it helps to add a little flavor to your title.  Especially if you're planning on franchising out your film.  This will make it easier for folks to discuss a particular film in the series as opposed to just using the number.  So let's go back to our movie title in progress:

Harry The Homicidal Bag Boy Part IV


Harry The Homicidal Bag Boy Part IV: 
 Cashier Bloodbath

WHOA!  Not THAT is a friggin movie title!  Look at that beast!  Can you honestly tell me that you wouldn't get in line to see this sucker? *  I mean seriously!  We've done some pretty awesome stuff with the title here to ensure that as many people as possible will want to see this bad monkey.  Now when folks are discussing the series that coversation won't be AS confusing. 

* I'm assuming of course that if you are reading this blog, then this type of film would be up your alley!


Chris "Did you ever see  Harry The Homicidal Bag Boy Part IV?"

Tony "Is that the one where Harry gets frozen in the walk in freezer and then they smash him to tiny pieces and ship him to the arctic?"

Chris "No, that was Part VIII......Part IV is the one where he stalks the cashiers on thier weekend party trip"

Tony "I thought that was Part V"

Chris "No, Part V was the one that had the guy pretending to be Harry.....and it turns out to be the bread delivery guy"

NOW.....if Chris had said Harry The Homicidal Bag Boy Part IV: Cashier Bloodbath, Tony would have had a much better chance of of remembering the particular film to which Chris was referring.  He would have also remembered that  Part VIII:  Snowcone Slayer was the frosty installment in question and that Part V:  Deadly Delivery was the one invovling the imposter.

We've come a long way.....let's take a look at what we started with and what we've ended up with:

Harry The Homicidal Bag Boy 4


Harry The Homicidal Bag Bay Part IV:  
Cashier Bloodbath

With just a few words, we've transformed a generic slasher rip-off into an epic sounding gore-fest of boobs, blood and produce!  So there you have it....irrefutable proof that Roman Numerals, Secondary Titles and the word Part make movie sequel titles 1,476 times cooler!

Now, I would like to take a moment to bitch and moan about something that I absolutely HATE.
The use of Natrual Numbers to replace a letter in a movie's title.  For instance.   Se7en.  Great movie.  I HATE the way the title is written.  5ive Girls is another offender.  Ugh.  Please people, this isn't clever, it's not cool....and quite frankly, it's highly annoying.  There have been a few instances where I've found that it was actually okay to do this....and guess what?  The titles had ROMAN NUMERALS in them!
The best of these being the fourth Phantasm film......Phantasm Oblivion.   Now the clever thing in here is that they actually incorporated a Roman Numeral right into the title.  Check this out:

See that?  Now THAT'S clever!  I will even forgive the fact that the word Part was not used simply based on the fact that this is one of the greatest movie titles ever.  Seriously.  It accomplishes everything it should and manages to do it in two simple words.  It's like the Christopher Walken of movie titles.  It's short.  It's to the point.  You're not going to question it.  BOOM.  It's Phantasm IV.  OblIVion.  Period.  End of story.

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