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The bait-and-switch of "Cooties" (2015)

Hey, movie poster snobs!  Time for some irony.

Check out this sweet teaser poster for Cooties that came out back in 2014.

That looks awesome, right?  It's got that cool '70s / '80s horror vibe going for it. Simple, effective, gives you a good idea of tone.  You see that and you've got some high expectations, even without hearing the plot or the knowing the cast or seeing a trailer.

Now check out the poster that was actually used for the movie:

Looks kinda dull, right?  Not terrible.  Just shrugworthy.  You see that and you think, "Well, it's got a lot of comedic standbys and a lead who's known for quirky nebbishness.  Probably going to be kind of average."

You put those two posters side by side, and nine times out of ten, people are going to tell you that the first one is better.  (That tenth person is somebody who doesn't like horror movies.)

But here's the twist.  That second poster is way, way more accurate.

I'm sure I wasn't alone when I saw the teaser poster and thought, "Wow, I have to make a point to see that."  I put it on my Letterboxd Watch List the same day.  I didn't try to look up anything else about the movie - by now, I know better than to spoil myself with too much information - but I had the seed of an idea that Cooties was going to be a no-holds-barred throwback to horror-comedy from yesteryear.

Then I saw it last month.  Huh.

Let me be clear: regardless of what your or my opinions on the film might be, it is definitely not a throwback.  It's barely even a horror movie.  Cooties is better described as a low-budget comedy with some horror themes.  Whether that registers with you or not is your call.

I would probably not have written about it at all if not for these two posters.  The thing that amazes me is simply how bizarre this marketing situation is.  It's not unusual to complain that a movie was marketed incorrectly.  Look at something like Ravenous, which is a terrific movie that had a terrible marketing campaign.

Cooties is a first, though.  This is the first time I've ever complained that the marketing was too good. It's the first time I've ever seen a movie, then looked at the poster and thought, "They really needed some floating heads."

Oh, well.  At least it'll stick around in my memory for some reason.