Some horror movies are great at telling you exactly what you’re going to get in the title of the film. Examples would be features like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Swamp Thing or The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies. It was especially helpful in the days of browsing video stores, where each title would conjure up an entire movie in the customer’s mind. But then there are other films that either don’t tell you what you’re getting into or suggest a completely different plot than what you’re actually sitting down to watch. Here are some examples of feature films with incredibly misleading titles.
The title suggests a prequel, but that’s not what this is. This is not the origin story of the titular Leprechaun. It is not even a remake. Instead, Origins has nothing to do with the previous movies in the franchise. In fact, it goes to great lengths to distance itself. The filmmakers were clear about their intent to take the franchise in a different direction. In fact they wanted to distance themselves from all the prior movies as much as possible. They didn’t want a charming and sinister Leprechaun, so instead of harkening back to the Warwick Davis Leprechaun character, they based the design on a naked mole rat. Even the tone of the feature was consciously crafted to not be even a little bit funny. Yet they specifically wanted a title that would tie the feature to the rest of the series, directly misleading people to get them to purchase the film. That’s how much faith WWE Films had in Leprechaun: Origins. It was deliberately marketed so that fans of the franchise would buy it by accident. That is all.
Charles Band, especially in the early days of Full Moon Entertainment, loved naming his movies after miniature creatures. There was Puppet Master. Then came Demonic Toys and Dollman. The titular monsters in Subspecies are little creeps that spring out of the lead vampire’s severed fingers to do his bidding. They are in the feature, but they have nothing to do with it. They’re in it for a few scenes. In the next two sequels, they get one scene a piece until they are finally entirely absent from the fourth. That’s because they’re not remotely important to the plot, which is actually somewhat interesting. The film itself is a throwback to the early Hammer vampire pictures with a healthy dash of Nosferatu thrown in. It’s one of Full Moon’s most competently made productions and is a surprisingly decent little vampire movie. But it has almost nothing to do with its title.
This one’s tough, because the second half of the title is accurate, but the first is not. Halloween III is a legitimately good movie. Most of the hostility towards it over the years comes from the fact that it is not actually a sequel to Halloween or Halloween II. I think fans would have been much more immediately forgiving of Season of the Witch had Halloween II not been made. It’s easier to move into an anthology format—which is what Carpenter and crew wanted—when there’s only been only one previous installment. But given that Season of the Witch is the third installment in the series, it seems natural that people expected what they expected out of Halloween III. But in spite of all of that, the film has finally found its audience.
Hammer’s first—and best—Dracula sequel doesn’t feature the Count whatsoever. Which is fine, given that the title suggests a spinoff film about the brides themselves. But that’s not what this is about either. Instead, we have Peter Cushing returning as Van Helsing to face a new vampire threat. This vampire is named Baron Meinster, and though he is a disciple of Dracula, the title is nonetheless misleading as it is Meinster who is taking the brides in this feature. More than anything, this can be seen as a film about Van Helsing going off on his own vampire slaying adventures, which might have been the best direction this franchise could take. People expected to see Dracula though, so Christopher Lee returned for Dracula: Prince of Darkness and all sequels after that.
This title is misleading on a couple of different levels. First, it suggests a sequel to Troll, which it is not. Second, it suggests that there will be trolls at some point in the movie. And there aren not. Instead, this is a totally unrelated movie and is about goblins, not trolls. I don’t know much about the differences between goblins and trolls, but I know that if someone had made the effort to replace the world goblin with troll in the script, at least the issue of the title would have been fixed. Troll 2 is one of the worst movies of all time and has a thousand other issues, but this was a fixable one. The fact that it’s a movie called Troll 2 and is in fact about goblins and not a proper sequel to Troll perfectly sums up the film in a variety of ways.