With the success of Monsters Vs. Aliens at the box office this weekend, 3-D movies are now firmly back with mainstream audiences. But what other movie fads could be resurrected in a similar fashion?
Admittedly, bringing back the ability for the audience to smell a movie as well as see and hear it would have to be used sparingly; I doubt that many people would pay money to live the oily odor of Michael Bay's Transformers 3-D or whatever. But now that 3-D has proven itself to be reborn thanks to new technology, it's probably only a matter of time before some studio goes back to the well that brought us Scent of Mystery and the "Odorama" version of John Water's Polyester. After all, Japanese audiences have suffered through the scent of Colin Farrell as recently as 2006, so it's not as if the technology isn't there...
It's the ultimate in audience participation; terrifying your viewers through physical means. William Castle created Percepto and made the one and only movie that used the gimmick, The Tingler. Unknowingly for the audience, the director had seats in theaters wired with small vibrators that, at a particular point in the movie, would make the seat shudder as if the person sitting in it was being attacked by the Tingler themselves. True, this idea may have limited use for horror movies today - not so much tingling being offered by today's monsters, after all - but I'm sure some enterprising producers somewhere can think of exciting new uses for chairs that vibrate on cue.
(A completely pointless, personal, aside; I was convinced that the UK theater release of the original Battlestar Galactica had some similar gimmick, when I was a kid; I remember the seats vibrating when the Vipers were launched. Years later, someone pointed out a more obvious solution: That the sound of the launch made the rickety seats shake because it was a crappy theater. Somewhat heartbreaking.)
Another William Castle invention, "Illusion-o" used something similar to oldschool 3-D technology to change the movie you were watching. Viewers who watched 13 Ghosts with the special glasses provided could see ghosts that were otherwise invisible to those watching without the glasses. I have to admit, I'd love for someone to bring this one back for modern audiences, because I love the idea of audiences in the same theater being able to experience entirely different movies for reasons other than they had read the original graphic novel or not.
No, I don't mean in the Return of The King sense where you just wanted the movie to be over already; I'm talking about actually having different endings available to an audience in a theater. Clue, famously, used this trick when in theaters, offering three different endings depending on what theater you were watching in. William Castle (again!) went one better with Mr. Sardonicus, which let audience members choose whether or not a particular character died, with different endings available depending on their decision. Considering all of the technology available now - not to mention the various "alternate endings" that appear on DVDs - I can't believe that this one hasn't made it back to theaters yet. Give me a chance to see Kirk die at the end of May's Star Trek, dammit!
It may seem counter-intuitive in the era of THX surroundsound and all of the other technology that tries to convince your ears that you're actually in the middle of the movie and that Seth Rogen is actually right behind you, but think about it for a second; how many times have you seen a movie that's had a decent plot, amazing special effects and absolutely lousy dialogue or performances? Silent movies would solve that problem by removing the need for dialogue altogether. You don't even need to have a really silent movie; you could keep in all the sound effects, and just remove the dialogue (or push it onto subtitles or caption cards at appropriate times). You're thinking it's a stupid idea right now, but go and watch the start of Wall-E before coming back to admit that, just possibly, it might work after all. After all, what's the alternative for a more involving cinema experience? Building an even bigger IMAX screen?