Fake movie trailers we wish were real

Constructing an entertaining movie trailer is an art form all its own—in fact, sometimes, filmmakers put them together for movies that don't even exist. Whether they're created by editing different movies together, using various effects to change the tone of existing footage, or actually putting together new footage, these clips are sometimes so entertaining that they leave us wishing we could see the full-length feature. There's a whole world of incredible fake movie trailers out there, and these are some of the very best.

The Legend of Zelda

It's easy to imagine what a proper film adaptation of your favorite games would be like, especially when ready-made action set pieces and lore have already been established. Add in the number of big-budget fantasy movies that revolve around hobbits and rings, and it's a wonder that the Legend of Zelda franchise doesn't already have a big-screen counterpart. Until it does, we'll have to content ourselves with this trailer. While the costuming tends towards well-made cosplay (and the actor who plays Link looks distractingly like Jesse Eisenberg), it definitely gets bonus points for staying true to the game's established pattern of Link never talking while introducing the story and characters to a new audience.

The family-friendly Shining

Making a child-friendly movie seem horrific is generally a pretty simple editing trick—enough terrible violence happens in kids' movies already (just rewatch Home Alone if it's been a while) that with a simple change in score, the movies can easily look grotesque. That's why this trailer, which changes Stanley Kubrick's horror masterpiece The Shining into a feel-good family bonding movie, is such a delight. You'll be surprised by how well Kubrick's carefully placed shots meld with the kind of on-the-nose story that might have shown up on the Disney Channel on lazy afternoons. Plus, considering the way they originally filmed the Danny scenes, maybe this is the type of movie actor Danny Lloyd was told he was filming.

The Oregon Trail

Who doesn't have fond memories of whiling away hours of school time playing the unnecessarily hard, supposedly educational game The Oregon Trail? There might be period pieces and Westerns that take place around the same time and setting, but no movie's truly captured the frustration of seeing yet another family member get dysentery because they won't stop drinking toilet water. This trailer perfectly captures the often surreal rules (you can kill a buffalo, but good luck carrying more than 20 pounds of meat away), and the distinctive ways kids played the game (pay attention to the names on the gravestones, just for one example) that shows how lovingly made the whole thing is.

At The Mountains of Madness

H.P. Lovecraft is a beloved horror writer, but there have been very few excellent film adaptations of his work—most directors either take indirect inspiration from his larger concepts or find themselves too compelled by the lure of making an action-monster movie to really dig into Lovecraft's slow-burning insanity. This trailer pulls double duty, not only by creating a trailer for a Lovecraft movie that genuinely looks great, but also perfectly mimicking the style of mid-budget '70s horror. Like trailers for those films, this fake trailer blatantly telegraphs what seem to be the only action-packed moments of the movie to disguise how many slow moments are in the actual feature. We'd love to see if the actual movie is as slow-paced (glacial even?) as it seems.

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

Harlan Ellison's short story I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream is a terrifying look at a world in which a computer, given power and control, murders nearly the entire human population, while keeping a select few alive to be tortured for eternity. It's like a grisly mashup between the most body-horror-centric aspects of The Matrix trilogy and New French Extremity, which means it's probably for the best that the story's never been adapted to film. This trailer, featuring the actual Ellison reading narration from the story, does a great job of showing why—the torture edited in from various movies looks absolutely grotesque alongside the kind of technological horror that would convert nearly anyone to Luddites. This is a trailer that makes HAL look like Siri.

Minesweeper

If nothing else, this trailer will finally teach you how to play Minsweeper, if, you've somehow reached adulthood without ever bothering to learn the rules for the ubiquitous computer game. Beyond that, the trailer leaves the viewer with more questions than answers— why are they even sweeping for mines? Wouldn't it be better to use metal detectors than shovels? Could a real movie really be made out of just adapting a game with fairly simple rules? Well, the answer to that one is pretty obvious, since Battleship exists—and unlike that movie, this trailer seems to have a good sense of humor about itself.

Scary Mary Poppins

We've mentioned the ease with which children's movies can be recut to look like horror films, but it's worth pointing out when a fake trailer does an exceptional job with it. Scary Mary has a gradual build-up, the restraint to use actual edits from the movie, and the benefit of the source material literally being about a magical witch that uses magic to coerce naughty children into behaving better in order to appease her wishes. It's hard to dislike that combo, and it's even harder not to be curious about what a full-length version would look like.

E.T. Extinction

E.T. is surprisingly scary for a beloved children's movie. From the faceless government goons to the pruny, sack-shaped E.T. himself, there's plenty to be unsettled by in Steven Spielberg's classic film, and an enterprising YouTuber certainly found enough scary stuff in the original to imagine a trailer for a sequel about E.T.'s return. The level of continuity between the original and the hypothetical E.T. Extinction is pretty impressive, but using edits of other sci-fi features—and editing in scenes from movies starring the grown-up kids from E.T.—puts this fake trailer in a league of its own.

Waldo

Fake trailers usually fall into a few styles and concepts, and the gritty re-edit of a Bourne-esque "spy called back into the field" is pretty easy to slot into a bunch of different brands and concepts. Still, this one, featuring Waldo of Where's Waldo? fame as a spy out to destroy the agency that created him, is noteworthy simply because of its sheer commitment to the joke. The trailer's packed to the brim with nods to Waldo canon, and the puns about where he is are relentless. Plus, it's all original footage, meaning this could someday be turned into an actual movie. The only thing it's missing is Odlaw, but maybe they're saving him for a sequel.

Halo

While the Halo franchise is beloved for its polished gameplay and multiplayer modes, the actual lore behind it is fairly similar to at least a dozen better-known science fiction properties. This would present a problem for a movie adaptation, since the gameplay elements are the one aspect that wouldn't be replicable on the big screen. Luckily, this trailer offers a brilliant solution to the problem of adapting Halo: turn it into a Bollywood film, with all the cheesy special effects and passionate singing that go with the territory. And hey, it's got more for Cortana to do than the entire game franchise, so it's at least an improvement in one way.

Thundercats

Thundercats is a bizarre '80s Saturday morning cartoon that followed alien cats fighting mummies, along with a truly baffling timeline regarding the actual ages of the characters. This trailer keeps the surreal discomfort of watching the cartoons once you're old enough to realize how truly strange they always were—and it looks almost exactly like a low-budget film dumped into theaters in the '90s when no one was looking, only to resurface as a cult classic in Blockbusters. Plus, absolutely pitch-perfect casting: Brad Pitt as Lion-O! Vin Diesel as Panthro! It's so believable you'll be skimming Wikipedia just to make sure it's not real.

The Warriors remake

The original The Warriors, directed by Walter Hill, is pure nitroglycerine schlock, with a plot that never stops moving, incredible character designs, and all the violence and sex your parents always worried were in R-rated movies. This trailer looks like the perfect reboot of the original with a gruesome, neon-stained palette, relentless grindhouse appeal, and a low-fi pulp sensibility that looks perfectly at home with the current '80s nostalgia. While every trailer on this list shows a movie we wish existed, it's hard not to feel a pang of resentment that there isn't an actual Warriors remake (yet).

Arnold Schwarzenegger's Hamlet

The Last Action Hero is excellent for a lot of reasons, but easily the most important is that it introduced audiences to the idea that Arnold Schwarzenegger could play Hamlet as an over-the-top action hero. Arnold as Shakespeare's notoriously passive protagonist would be funny to begin with, but once they start remixing the most famous parts of the play to appeal to Schwarzenegger fans, it starts to look like an action comedy masterpiece.

Daria

The original Daria animated show was an excellent look at a girl too smart for her own good, eventually coming to terms with her internalized bitterness and her need for people that responded to, and cared for, the real person underneath. She's a great character, but her type isn't entirely unique—as evidenced by the fact that Aubrey Plaza has been playing a variation on it in various shows and movies for over a decade. This trailer finally brings Daria and Plaza together with a note-perfect imagined sequel to the animated show, with jaw-droppingly excellent casting for every character on the original.

Pooljumpers

This trailer imagines an award-winning documentary that follows the creators of "jumping in pools" and just goes from there. Like the best skating documentaries and Christopher Guest movies, everyone involved just seems to be having a good time, and the inherent ridiculousness of the concept starts to fade away. The longer the trailer continues, the more you start to wonder who the actual first person was to jump in a pool—and just like that, you're finding yourself hoping for a movie adaptation of a documentary parody trailer.

Titanic 2

This trailer plays out like a perfect piece of stand-up comedy, building off the basic concept of a sequel to Titanic with genuine plot twists and laugh-out loud surprises. You might even be compelled to see if it's actually a real film—just one so embarrassing that the filmmakers destroyed any record of it. When a trailer's concept is this outlandish, yet strangely loyal to its source material, you can't help but wonder what it would look like as a big-budget feature—and the title, revealed at the end, is itself enough to make this worth a watch.