Top List Thursday – 10 Most Misleading Movie Titles

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What’s in a name? As somebody who has spent his life hearing his name being massacred by strangers, I can confidently say a bloody lot actually. And this goes double when said name is actually the title of a movie. Movie titles are supposed to entice audiences with possibilities, either hinting at the story to come, or telling you absolutely nothing about the film’s story  (yes, John Wick, I’m looking at you), but at least introducing the lead character.

But then you get movies where the title looks enticing, and appears to actually tell you quite a bit about either the story or lead character. Except that what they’re telling you has nothing to do with what’s actually happening in the movie. Today we look at 10 such misleading titles.

  • Samurai Cop

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This movie’s misleading ways start off even before the movie has even started, because you see that badass, demonic looking, samurai sword swinging policemen on the movie’s poster? Yeah, he ain’t actually in the movie. Instead you got a pretty normal (and I mean normal by early 1990’s cheesy action hero standards) police officer in the form of a young lantern jawed Robert Z’Dar, who is joined by his co-star, his Fabulous Head of Hair. Besides for his spectacular follicles though, there’s nothing that sets Z’Dar’s cop – strangely named Yamashita, despite looking as Caucasian as you can get – apart from all the other bad Lorenzo Lamas knockoffs we saw in the 80’s/90’s. He definitely isn’t a samurai, that’s for damn sure.

Yes, close to the end of the movie he finally finds a katana and engages in a sword fight with a Yakuza boss, but I use the words “sword fight” very liberally here. Think of it more like a “sword kerfuffle” that will have any samurai who saw it committing seppuku on the spot.

  • Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus

Look, it’s not that there is neither a Mega Shark or a Giant Octopus here, there definitely is. The problem comes in when you look at just how much versus-ing they’re actually doing, which, frankly is the only reason anybody would ever buy a ticket to this freakshow. But instead of the all out, embarrassingly animated monster brawl that we signed up for, about 99% of the movie is instead focused on horribly written human characters engaging in grating storylines so annoying that they will make you want to punch your own brain. And then finally, after sitting through all this facepalming and head shaking, the monsters fight. For like a minute. I think. I honestly don’t know, because it’s all underwater and very dark.

  • The Constant Gardener

This sounds like a lovely English drama about a bitty old lady (maybe played by Helen Mirren) who just lives to tend her prize-winning chrysanthemums. What it is is a thriller-drama about a British diplomat in Kenya trying to solve his wife’s murder, while never setting food in or close to a garden of any kind.

  • The Squid and the Whale

Based on that tile, you would be forgiven for expecting this film to be some D-Grade Syfy monster movie in the vein of, well, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus. But instead of some badly rendered CGI beasties and ex-Beverly Hills 90210 cast members who can’t get any better jobs, what we instead get is an indie drama starring Jeff Daniels, Anna Paquin and Jesse Eisenberg about a dysfunctional New York family whose lives are falling apart. There are zero giant aquatic animals to be found here.

  • Naked Lunch

This sounds like it could be the prequel to Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, focusing on all the shenanigans those masked revelers at that sex party get up to when they feel a little peckish around mid-day. Instead it’s a gonzo mind trip sci-fi movie adapted by David Cronenberg from William S. Burrough’s novel about an exterminator who gets high on pesticides and then hallucinates that he’s a secret agent who works for a giant bug, and follows instructions from his talking insectoid typewriter.

Yep, definitely no naked lunches here.

  • Leonard – Part 6

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There was no Leonard – Part 1 – 5. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

  • Trainspotting

Rampant drug use, poopy breakfasts, nightmare inducing drug withdrawals, unintelligible Scottish accents, Ewan McGregor’s condom-covered penis. All of these things can be found in Danny Boyle’s 1996 narcotics-magnus opus. Know what can’t be found? Any trains being spotted, or even just some spotty trains. At all.

  • The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing

I have a feeling that some young kid today, raised on a steady diet of memes and Youtube vids, will spot this 1973 Burt Reynolds flick and think “Yeah, I could totally watch a movie about some dancing cats. I mean, who doesn’t love dancing cats? That sounds cute!”. Imagine his surprise when he discovers it to be a western about a guy who tries to take revenge for the rape and murder of his wife Catherine “Cat” Dancing.

  • Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster

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Not only is the title Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster, but look at that cover art! It’s Frankenstein’s famous monster shooting a space creature! How much clearer can this be? As it turns out, a lot. Because see there’s no Frankenstein, either the Doctor or his monster, to be found here. Instead we have Col. Frank Saunders, an android that looks totally human. No, they didn’t even have the courage of their B-Grade convictions to name him the obvious Col. Frank N. Stein. Sigh.

And as for the other titular space monster? Well, he and Col. Saunders do tussle. For like a minute. Close to the end of the film. Double sigh.

  • Halloween III: Season of the Witch

You think Halloween and you instantly think of Michael Meyers, he of the boiler suit, monstrous mask and big ol’ buchers knife. He terrorized his half-sister Laurie Strode – and audiences – for two slasher movies with bloodcurdling glee. So I’m sure that when folks walked out of the cinema for Halloween III: Season of the Witch, they must have had the biggest look of “WTF?” on their face, because not only does this threequel not feature Michael Meyers, Laurie Strode or any of the original cast members, nor continue the story set up in the earlier films, it doesn’t even feature any witches at all!

They completely threw the slasher elements out of the window, and instead there’s a crazy B-grade sci-fi story about androids, and Irish mogul who wants to kill all the children of the world on Halloween night, and jack-o-lantern masks embedded with microchips containing a fragment of Stonehenge that make their wearers explode into a cloud of deadly insects and snakes, and did I mention thta Halloween III: Season of the Witch has nothing to do with witches?!

Yes, somebody paid money to have this movie made. Even worse, somebody paid even more money to have the Halloween name slapped on it!

Last Updated: October 9, 2014

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions – but very little sleep – I’ve been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

  • Nice list! I’m now really sad about Samurai Cop…

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