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Honest trailer vhs vault

The Honest Trailers logo is treated with a retro VHS-style filter for vault episodes.

A vault episode is a trope used in the Honest Trailers series. Vault episodes parody movies released in previous decades, usually the 1980s and 1990s, and are designed to look like they were made in that same era. This includes mimicking the "In a world" voiceover style of '80s and '90s movie trailers much more directly, and using a VHS style introduction and visual effect. In addition, the writers only make pop culture or socio-political references that a person from that time would understand. These references are intended to create irony. In total, there have been four vault episodes: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Top Gun, Captain America (1990) and Rocky IV. The writers have considered making several other movies into vault episodes, but changed their minds for creative reasons.

Format Edit

Vhs

The intro to vault episodes includes a shot of a VHS cassette tape being inserted into VHS player.

Intro Edit

Vault episodes begin with a short voiceover introduction introducing the concept and the reason for doing the episode. For example, the Rocky IV Honest Trailer begins, "Wait, Creed II is here already? Yes! Let's get pumped by pulling an 80s classic out from the Honest Trailer vault."

Style Edit

Voice actor Jon Bailey slightly changes the style of his narration for vault episodes. Bailey's narration style has always been heavily based on '80s and '90s voiceover legends like Hal Douglas and Don LaFontaine, however for vault episodes he mimics their vocal style more directly. The writers also change their writing style slightly to more closely resemble outlandish '80s and '90s trailers.

Irony Edit

The writers use much more irony in vault episodes compared to regular episodes of Honest Trailers. Regular episodes of Honest Trailers strive to be honest, not ironic. The writers avoid using sarcasm as much as possible. As head writer Spencer Gilbert explains, "It’s not “Sarcastic Trailers.” We can’t call Michael Bay the “most understated director of our time” while rolling our eyes, we have to call it like it is, i.e. “the director most likely to jerk off to an explosion."[1] However, with vault episodes the writers are able to utilize historical irony, that is, things that appear ironic with the benefit of hindsight. "Historical irony allows people to look back at events in the past and analyze the contrasts between the anticipated outcomes of events and the actual outcomes."[2] The use of irony makes vault episodes a form of reflective nostalgia, meaning they encourage viewers to look and the past and reflect on how far society has come.

List of vault episodes Edit

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace Edit

The purpose of making this a vault episode was that it allowed the writers to make ironic references to the state of Marvel movies at the time. When the Honest Trailer was produced in 2013, Marvel was known for producing some of the most successful and accomplished superhero movies or all time, but in 1987 their output was pitiful. Geek Tyrant wrote that this Honest Trailer's retro vibe was "particularly fun" and praised Honest Trailers' use of irony.

Top Gun Edit

The purpose of making this a vault episode was that it allowed the writers to make ironic references to Tom Cruise's personal life. When the Honest Trailer was produced in 2014, Tom Cruise was known for being a Scientologist and for engaging in some weird behavior like jumping up and down on Oprah's couch. However, in 1986 he was known as "the kid from Risky Business," and for being a devout Catholic who originally considered a career in the priesthood. Top Gun is one of the most critically well-received Honest Trailers of all time. The retro perspective was praised for providing a humorous lens through which to view the film. For example, Gizmodo wrote that the film "completely falls apart in a hilarious way when you see it through their Honest Trailer lenses."

Captain America (1990) Edit

The purpose of making this a vault episode was that it allowed the writers to make ironic references to the state of Marvel movies at the time. When the Honest Trailer was produced in 2016, Marvel was known for producing some of the most successful and accomplished superhero movies or all time, but in 1990 their output was pitiful. Many sites, including IndieWire, found this vault episode notable for situating the film in its historical context when DC films ruled the box office.

Rocky IV Edit

The purpose of making this a vault episode was that it allowed the writers to make ironic references to the changing geopolitical landscape, for example America's relationship with the Soviet Union and groups like the Mujahideen. In addition, the writers felt that the consensus opinion of Rocky IV's overall quality had shifted dramatically since its release. In 1985, the movie was considered terrible, but in 2018 when the Honest Trailer was produced, Rocky IV is seen in a more positive light.

Abandoned vault episodes Edit

Several episodes of Honest Trailers were originally conceived of as vault episodes, but were changed during the writing process. The writers have explained that the reason for abandoning the vault trope is that they wanted to make comparisons and references to contemporary pop culture or events.[3] For example, in Point Break, they wanted to make a comparison to the John Wick movies which wouldn't make sense from the perspective of someone in 1991. In the case of Point Break, some traces of the vault episode draft remain in the final trailer. For example the line "When the sun is out and the surf is up, the streets of LA are hot with crime" is written in the style of an outlandish 1990s trailer.[4] Another example was the Honest Trailer for Die Hard, which was originally written as a vault episode.[5] However, the writers decided they wanted to underscore the fact that it was the "perfect action movie" and found it difficult to discuss its impact on the genre from the perspective of someone in 1988. Writer Dan Murrell explains, "The vault's tough. It can't just be an old movie, it has to be a very specific tone."[6]

List of abandoned vault episodes Edit

List of references Edit

  1. Gilbert, S. "Here’s What Goes into Making an Honest Trailer," IndieWire, October 9, 2014
  2. O'Donnell, C. 2017, July 21. Forms of Irony. Pen and the Pad.
  3. Dan Murrell says this at 11:51 in the Honest Trailers Commentary for Rocky IV
  4. Spencer Gilbert explains the first draft of Point Break was a a vault episode at 4:34 in the Honest Trailers Commentary for Point Break.
  5. Joe Starr explains the first draft of Die Hard was a vault episode at 5:21 in the Honest Trailer Commentary for Point Break.
  6. Dan Murrell says this at 5:38 in the Honest Trailer Commentary for Point Break.

See also Edit

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