Thursday, November 12, 2009

Don't Fast Forward- You Never Know What You're Missing!

The other day, I got into a discussion with a friend about movie credits. Or, more specifically, that the opening credits to “Zombieland” are the greatest ever made (his stance). As a proud (and vain) cinephile, I was not about to concede this point without further investigation. Certainly, it is in the top 5, but #1? I’m not so sure. So, with a little investigation, I compiled my list of the top 5 movie opening credits and published them to my Facebook. I am expanding this list for you here, and encourage you to pay attention the next time your at the movies. Sometimes, what we’re shown before (or even after) the movie begins; let’s us in on more information faster than we could perceive watching just the movie. Enjoy!!

In no particular order:

Zombieland- If you haven’t seen this movie (and really, come on! Get up and go right now. Or, better yet, wait til after you read this blog). Zombies run and attack and eat in slow motion while “For Whom the Bell Tolls” blasts out at us. Adding to the novelty of it all, the predator and the prey run through the written credits, scattering names and jobs to the wind.

Reservoir Dogs- My first thought for one of the best opening credit scenes. Perhaps made better by the scene which proceeds it (seriously guys, tip your waitresses), it is none the less iconic. Tarantino is god, but this is really his best credit sequence and the only time we aren’t given a simple scroll of names. Our Dogs walk away from the diner as K Billy’s Super Sounds of the 70’s and “Little Green Bag” play in the background. I have to tell you, I’m a big fan of credits (either opening or closing) giving us the name of the actor with a shot of their face. It’s nice to not have to run to IMDB when all I want to know is a name.

Juno- I had totally forgotten about this one until I started staring at my DVD collection. Our heroine travels from the mini-mart to home and in and out of an animated reality. The music by the Moldy Peaches works with instead of distracting from the film and cements Jason Reitman as a formidable peer of Wes Anderson and Tarantino for music choice.

Lord of War- I liked this movie and I don’t particularly care for Nic Cage (“Peggy Sue got Married” not withstanding). This sequence could have been renamed “The Secret Life of Bullets”. Super fun.

Seven- I remember being mesmerized sitting in the theatre watching these credits. What were we looking at? How was this significant? It only becomes clear as we progress through the movie. You feel uncomfortable watching it, and it perfectly sets the tone for the sepia hued film to follow. I also loved the music by Trent Reznor and the mix of typed and handwritten lettering for names and jobs.

The Pink Panther- Come on, who doesn’t love this? As famous for the music as the cartoon cat working his way in and out of trouble.

House of 1000 Corpses/The Devils Rejects- The opening bars of “The Sinister Urge” began to play and I got really excited. The buzz surrounding the movie before opening was that Rob Zombie was not using any of his own music in the film. Kind of a bummer if you ask me, so when that song started and the visual assault of grotesque and pornographic images played on screen- I knew I would not be disappointed. Not to be a one trick pony, Zombie’s sequel stayed true to its western outlaw/70’s exploitation roots. The Allman Brother’s “Midnight Rider” provide the soundtrack as we follow the escape of the Firefly family from the police, leaving a wake of damage and casualties behind them.

Raging Bull- Beautifully shot, stark black and white contrast, a slow-motion De Niro warming up in the ring: priceless.

The Watchmen- A complete history and field guide for the uninitiated set to the Dylan classic “The Times They Are A-Changing”.

Run Lola Run- Animated goings on of the movie we’re about to see, but it doesn’t detract, only enhances what’s to come.

Lock, Stock, and 2 Smoking Barrels- The opening credits of Guy Ritchie’s first film sum up everything you need to know about him, the movies he makes, and the characters. Slap dash black title cards interject a back-alley grafter doing business and running from the cops. A voice over introduces the characters who, in turn, get their own title cards.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail- Never seen it? Just look it up. I don’t want to ruin the surprise. While I’m at it, what do you mean you’ve never seen it? Were you raised in a cave? Some kind of hermit? Next you’ll ask me who this Monty guy is and I’ll be forced to slap you in the face with a fish.

Freeway- Sam the Sham’s “Little Red Riding Hood” plays to an animated Goldilocks who’s having none of it. Gotta say, I may be biased as I just love this song so much!!

Amelie- I heart Jean-Pierre Jeunet so much I could just spit. This movie marks a special place in my heart because it was the first time my mother sat through and LOVED one of his movies. They’re not really her bag, and that’s okay, but it’s nice to finally have something together. The music of Yann Teirsen is genius. Again, we get history and back story woven together with current events- the quirky humour that is Jeunet permeates this sequence.

Men in Black- Ah Danny Elfman, it’s like we’re kindred. This simple opening is too much like the other’s he’s scored to stand on his merits alone. No, it is the wandering fly, minding his own business until he meets the business end of a semi that gets me.

Okay, that’s probably enough for now. What did I miss?


  1. I definitely agree with the Watchmen opening credits. I loved how he compressed the history of the Superhero fad into the credits and then played Dylan's music in the background.

    Man, my birthday needs to get here so that I can own that already.

  2. I swear, you earn your "walking IMDB" title more every day! Lots of fun information (and I won't even tell you how many of these movies I've never seen).

  3. Donnie Darko. Whether it's the Director's Cut to the tune of INXS's "Never Tear Us Apart" or the use of the AMAZING "The Killing Moon" by Echo and the Bunnymen in the theatrical release, the mix of slow mo' and character snippets establishes the feel of the film very well, which, really, is the point of well-executed opening credits.

    And I concur with Lock Stock, for sure. I heart Guy Ritche. And the skinny British eye candy offered up in his flicks.

  4. Thanks! I'm just bummed so many of these were protected on youtube. I wanted to post as many examples as possible. Oh well.. Happy Hunting

  5. I don't know if I'd give Zombieland #1, but they were damn good. Plus it's really the only place the zombies move in slow-motion, sort of a zombie staple.

    I loved the beginning of Juno...and Seven and Lock Stock and Reservoir Dogs.

  6. I totally agree with Zombieland, Lock, Stock, and 2 Smoking Barrels, Watchmen, and Reservoir Dogs. I'd also like to add The Wedding Singer, because it just makes me laugh.