“Hot Tub Time Machine” is opening today to generally favorable reviews, and why shouldn’t it? It’s called “Hot Tub Time Machine”. Who can resist a movie with that title? Commies and freaks, that’s who.
Not since “Snakes on a Plane” has a movie title so deftly encapsulated its concept, its tone, and its genre. You know this movie is a comedy. You know it is silly. And you know, above all else, that there will be a time machine engineered out of a hot tub. Such brilliance is not easy to capture.
It got me thinking: What are the 10 greatest movie titles of all time? Never mind the movie itself. What movies in history there have a title that is utterly unique, and perfectly captures everything that film represents? Well, I did some thinking, and this is the list I came up with:
1. Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb Probably the only movie in history that can get away with having two titles, “Dr. Strangelove” offers the promise that you are about to see something odd, yet obviously comedic. The title makes you laugh, yet it’s somewhat unsettling as well. There’s both levity and extreme darkness at play. Just like Kubrick’s masterpiece itself.
2. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians This 1964 crapfest was also titled “Santa Claus Defeats The Aliens,” which is just as delightful. I really like the idea of Santa Claus conquering things. By night, he’s a jolly old man who brings you presents. By day? BLOODTHIRSTY IMPERIALIST.
3. Raiders Of The Lost Ark One of the reasons people like me were greatly annoyed that Spielberg (no doubt with prodding from George Lucas) changed the title of this movie to “Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark” for its DVD release is because the initial title of the film is perfect, and needs no embellishment. It automatically has the cheesy feel of an old comic serial, just as Spielberg intended. But the RAIDERS at the front, especially when plastered across a poster, makes it doubly awesome. SOMETHING WILL BE RAIDED!
4. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly It’s the “Ugly” part that really makes it. Good and bad work together. But suddenly, there’s an ugly dude tossed in. I’m intrigued by such hideousness.
5. Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia SPOILER ALERT: He does.
6. Deep Throat The most notorious porn film of all time is one of the few porn titles to not rely on a clever pun to let you know that hardcore sex is about to be shown. Also, it became the nickname of the man who brought Nixon down. Strong title.
7. Killer Klowns From Outer Space I like the completely unnecessary K in “Klowns”. They didn’t care enough to make a good movie, but they did ensure the title was alliterative. I appreciate those small touches. Also, this movie has killer clowns. And they’re from outer space.
8. Star Wars The plural wins. Not only will you be seeing ONE war taking place in outer space, you will be seeing multitudes of them (NOTE: This does not end up being true, actually, given the plot revolves around a singular war of empire vs. rebellion, unless you count Luke’s war with Uncle Owen over going to the Toshi Station to get some power converters). Also, it just sounds great when you say it. OR SING IT! STAR WAAAAAAARS…. GIVE ME THOSE STAR WARS!
9. There Will Be Blood And there totally is! You have to like a movie that delivers on its promises.
10. Being John Malkovich Few movies have the stones to put the name of a real actor (who plays himself) in the title of a movie that is NOT a documentary. This one did, and it’s pretty damn brilliant. Also, this movie title spawned the whole titling formula of Blanking Blank Blank. I am a sucker for such things.