We’re lovers of insane trailers here at Film 14. Not only the cinematic book trailers that look like a scene straight out of the movie adaptation, but also the smaller, weirder ones that showcase a new approach to the conventional format. This collection of the 14 most insane book trailers ever has it all: violent, action-packed, animated, quirky, silly, and beyond. Be warned, some of these trailers are graphic.
Into The Current by Jared Young
The book trailer for the 2016 debut novel by Jared Young, Into the Current, won the Jury Award for Excellence in Title Design at SXSW in 2017 and was the first book trailer ever to be featured at the prestigious festival. This insane book trailer showcases the unique beginning of a highly original novel; the protagonists’ life flashing before his eyes after being suddenly ejected from the exploding commercial airliner he was flying from Bangkok to Tokyo. How does one conceive of such a plot, and more importantly, how does one translate it successfully into the book trailer format? You’ll have to check out the trailer from this high flying first-time novelist and see for yourself.
Blood’s A Rover by James Ellroy
From the author of LA Confidential and The Black Dalia comes Blood’s A Rover by James Ellroy, the third book in the Underworld USA Trilogy that started with the ingenious American Tabloid. In classic Ellroy fashion, this insane book trailer kicks off with slick 70’s dudes in perma-creased polyester pants and gas masks shooting people execution-style during a diamond heist on the outskirts of downtown LA. The best book trailers play like a scene from a movie and the trailer for Blood’s A Rover could be straight out of the future film version of the book if they ever get their shit together and produce this series. Would you expect anything less from one of Hollywood’s favorite bad-boy crime novelists?
Cut by Adam Cushman
This disturbing book trailer displays stylized knife fighting sequences between the principal characters in author Adam Cushman’s thoroughly unhinged novel, Cut. Grab the masking tape and put up some plastic sheets around the room because this tour-de-force through the world of underground knife fighting will bleed you out. Reading a few chapters of Cut is the most fun way to ruin your day, and this well-done book trailer provides a window into that gory sadomasochistic world from the safety of your bleak, predictable existence.
Without Expiration by William R. Hincy
The short stories in this anthology by William R. Hincy have been published in multiple literary journals, and the collection Without Expiration was self-published by Hincy in 2019. A good book trailer is a self-published author’s best friend–an all-in-one promotional tool that will generate momentum by getting the word out to readers and critics alike. Directed by Max Rosen, this self-published book trailer should serve as inspiration for independent authors thinking about making one but for some reason are still sitting on the fence. What are you waiting for? Take the plunge already! But before you do, check out this compelling book trailer filled with interesting vignettes, just like the book.
Globes Disease by Lance Oliver Keeble
Is it a zombie apocalypse or some kind of humanoid man-eating creature taking the form of a cute little girl? We don’t quite know–looks like we’ll have to read the book to find out! This insane book trailer for Globes Disease by Lance Oliver Keeble sparks our interest by showing a simple, compelling scene that makes us ask, “wtf?” For a book trailer that lives by the principle of “leaving them wanting more” by not giving away too much, check out Globes Disease by Lance Oliver Keeble.
The Staked Plains by Stefan Kiesbye
Are you an author looking to promote your novel with a book trailer on a shoe-string budget? So was Stefan Kiesbye, and look what he did with this low-budget yet effective animated trailer for his novella, The Staked Plains. In walks a customer for a mysterious psychic foot-reading while a slow tension-building rumble signals something bad is about to happen. A simple, effective, and cheap way to get the point across that fits with the eerie-bleak tone of this strange novella.
Lee K. Abbot says, “…it will scare the stuffings out of you, for its world is in steep moral decline. Think McCarthy meets O’Connor meets Tarantino.”
With a review like that, how can you resist viewing the trailer?
King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
Here’s another animated book trailer in the vein of The Staked Plains that looks like charcoal drawings on canvas and sucks us in immediately with quick and exciting edits. Drugs, magic, fire, and war in the first 20 seconds? I want to know more! Check out the book trailer for King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo for another shining example of compelling-yet-simple animation.
Infinity Son by Adam Silvera
The trailer for Infinity Son by New York Times bestselling YA fiction author Adam Silvera puts an insane twist on the conventional format. Two brothers walking down a New York City alley talking into a go-pro selfie-style turns magical when one of them spots a burning building and the other’s hands spontaneously catch fire. The power behind this trailer is that we’re seeing events from the novel unfolding “in real-time” as if this is actual homemade footage from within that world. Catch fire with this weird book trailer!
Scythe by Neal Schusterman
Another New York Times bestselling YA fiction writer comes forward with a dark-fantasy book trailer–Scythe by Neal Schusterman. This one opens with a strange animation of a dystopian future city skyline and features a grim reaper taking a bite out of a bloody apple then doing some parkour tricks while holding a giant sword. How can we resist? Now here’s a trailer for the books!
One More Thing by B.J. Novak
The Office and The Mindy Project actor/comedian B.J. Novak takes a ridiculous approach to book trailers with this spoof on French New Wave cinema for his collection of short stories, One More Thing. Novak ventures outside of the book trailer box by presenting a skit that has nothing to do with the actual contents of the book. Instead, in this fictional scenario, he becomes inspired to write the book in order to impress “the girl of his dreams” after eavesdropping on her conversation with friends at a Parisian cafe talking about how “chic” it is to be an author. This one is a silly take on book trailers that these seasoned comedians pull off well. It’s twice as long as most, but then again, it’s not like any other.
The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi
Post-apocalyptic scenarios and the YA genre seem to go hand in hand. In the book trailer for The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi, the narrator reads an exposition excerpt from the novel as we see lush, verdant landscapes replaced by crumbling concrete towers and the drowned city of Washington D.C. half underwater. Apparently, there’s a mythical creature that will help our protagonist save the only friend she’s ever had, if it doesn’t kill her first. The CGI animation in this trailer is insane, and that’s coming from someone who is generally not a fan of that sort of thing. It’s tough to do it tastefully, and these guys pulled it off in this trailer for The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi.
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Another doomsday vision of a different major American city, Chicago opens this insanely cinematic book trailer for Insurgent by author Veronica Roth. The trailer tells us this sequel to Roth’s bestseller, Divergent is action-packed, as we can see by the gripping footage of an army of futuristic police storming through an old building, presumably in search of our protagonist, as she sits serenely with her partner in an empty train boxcar, fleeing the Chicago “factions.” The comments on this video say it’s a fan favorite–check it out and see why.
Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen
“When at Loveboat, party like the prodigies do.” Apparently, Ever Wong breaks all the family rules by wasting money and dancing with boys on her first trip alone outside of Ohio in Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen. The trailer includes well-shot, sped-up footage of the pulsing city of Taipei, with its neon lights, street-food octopus, and bumping nightlife, putting us right there in the center of the action. If you’re in doubt, scope it out.
Star Wars: Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber
5ive by 5ive Studios hits hard with this book trailer for Star Wars: Death Troopers by author Joe Schreiber. In this impressive book trailer, made using models and miniatures for that Lucas Films-worthy look on a budget, we see a spaceship of the galactic empire inhabited by a lone stormtrooper covered in blood. This is a great example of a killer book trailer that looks like it was produced with Disney money but for a fraction of what that would cost.
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