Did you ever notice how Beavis and Butthead was often a TV show about two guys watching TV? The videos they were watching became the stories within the story. That's the theme we're shooting for this week. We're peeling back the layers of a handful of recent trailers to get at the story within the story.

Tropic Thunder
During the production of an extremely troubled Vietnam movie, a handful of actors are sent into the jungles of southeast Asia to inject realism into the flick. Things don't go quite as planned and our heroes, including Ben Stiller (who also directs), Jack Black and Robert Downey, Jr., find themselves in actual combat with guerrilla forces. Basically, this is the plot of Three Amigos as seen through an Apocalypse Now lens, but this looks like it could be really funny. I can't decide whether or not Robert Downey, Jr.'s performance as a white actor pretending to be black is going to be hilarious or just embarrassing, but it being Downey I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Elisabeth posted about this one as well as the age-restricted teaser trailer, and like her I want to know what the heck Stiller is doing with those baby pandas, though he does appear to be channeling Zoolander in that shot.

Dead Air
This one qualifies for today's topic in that practically all zombie films in the last forty years are built on the Night of the Living Dead template. The dead are rising, they want to nosh on the living, and they carry a dangerous contagion, just like they do in most modern zombie flicks. The variation here is that the action takes place at a radio station, and the zombie plague is started when a series of terrorst attacks occur simultaneously across the U.S. I first posted about this movie (directed by horror maestro Corben Bernsen -- no I don't see that phrase catching on) about a year ago. Zombies have been done to death, so Bernsen and crew are going to really need to do something different to make this work, and this teaser trailer isn't showing me anything I haven't seen before. The presence of genre vets Bill Mosely and Patricia Tallman (Johnny and Barbara from the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead) has my curiosity mildly piqued, but I'm not holding any great hope for this one.

Spine Tingler: The William Castle Story
I came across the trailer for this documentary about the films of William Castle while checking out the Myspace page for the Boston Underground Film Festival. Castle was a filmmaker whose greatest talent was salesmanship. His best remembered films mostly involved imaginative gimmicks to get people into the theater, like the voting cards for Mr. Sardonicus, the ghost glasses from 13 Ghosts and the Fright Break from Homicidal. I have fond memories of seeing several of Castle's flicks (the films within this film) on the TNT and TBS back in the 90's. This doc contains interviews with the likes of Forrest J. Ackerman, Roger Corman, Joe Dante, John Landis, Fred Olen Ray and countless others. This should be a fun look back at a relatively obscure bit of Hollywood history.

Red Velvet

This one appears to have a slasher film trapped within it, but I'll be darned if it doesn't look like they've found a new approach to the genre. This is director Bruce Dickson's first feature which stars Henry Thomas as a man relating a scary story to a pretty girl. The story deals with a group of partying twenty-somethings being picked off by the weirdest looking slasher villain I've seen in some time. Is Thomas's character relating something that really happened? It's hard to say, but he appears to have less than wholesome intentions for his new friend. Generally I don't like slasher flicks, but this one looks like it might have some imagination to it.

Mamma Mia
There's a broadway musical lurking inside Mamma Mia, which of course is because the film is based on a Broadway musical that was built around the songs of ABBA. I mentioned the teaser a few Trailer Parks back, but now we have a full length trailer. A young woman wants her father to give her away at her upcoming wedding, but she learns that her father may be one of three men. Merriment and dancing ensue. The rock and roller in me kind of cringes at the notion of ABBA, but the tunes are catchy as hell, and the lush exterior shots show the film reaches well beyond the confines necessary for a stage production.

And don't forget this week's new trailers over at AOL Moviefone:

  • The Pineapple Express - A stoner (Seth Rogen) and his dealer witness a murder and take it on the run. Here's the trailer:

  • Then She Found Me - Oscar winner Helen Hunt stars in and directs this film about a woman experiencing a mid-life crisis.
  • Deal - A young man with a gift for playing cards joins forces with a poker legend played by Burt Reynolds.
  • The Fall - In 1920s Los Angeles a man spins a fanciful tale for a hospitalized girl, incorporating people from her life into the fantasy.
  • The Incredible Hulk - Edward Norton stars in the new film incarnation of the Marvel comic. Witness the carnage right here:

  • Chapter 27 - Jared Leto and Lindsay Lohan star in a film about Mark David Chapman and the days leading up to his assassination of John Lennon.
  • Fugitive Pieces - Based on the novel by Anne Michaels, this is the tale of a man named Jakob whose childhood trauma in Poland during World War II haunts him throughout his life.
  • American Zombie - Mock documentary about a community of the walking dead living in Los Angeles.
  • Righteous Kill - Robert Deniro and Al Pacino are cops hunting a vigilante killer.
  • Wanted - Second trailer for the comic book adaptation about super assassins starring Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman.