Words & Stuff

C: Chain Link Titles

(20 July 1997)

(Note: see end of column for credits.)

By mixing the title of one work (movie, TV show, book, song, whatever) with another, you can sometimes come up with some great combos:

Clan of the Care Bears
Nightmare on Sesame Street [which reminds me of the Duck's Breath Mystery Theater piece called "Sesame Street Blues"]
Fiddler on a Hot Tin Roof
Creature from the Blue Lagoon
The Man with the Golden Pond

But those are sort of cheating. The usual rules of this game as I play it require:

  1. You must use all the words from each title (though you can leave out the occasional "A," "An," or "The");
  2. You can't scramble the order of the words in a title, though you can insert words from other titles in the middle;
  3. The titles must be fairly common (usually enforced by requiring that at least two people present must have heard of every title used).
For instance:
Sling Blade Runner
--Jim Moskowitz
My Fair Lady and the Tramp
When Dirty Harry Met Sally
The Magnificent Seven Ambersons Brides for the Seven Samurai Blues Brothers Karamazov from Another Planet [seven titles... unless you count Seven]
A Room with a View to a Kill
Gone With the Wind in the Willows
Pride of the Damn Connecticut Yankees in King Arthur's Court
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues Brothers
Black Beauty and the Beast
sex, true lies and videotape
Peggy Sue Got Married to the Mob
--Mya Rorer
Bringing Up Three Men and a Baby
--Kristen McCowan
The Quiet Earth Girls Are Easy
--Kristen
The Lost World According to Garp
--Mya
Valley of the Guys and Dolls
--Arthur Evans
The Maltese Falcon and The Snowman
Regarding Henry V: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Attack of the Killer Fried Green Tomatoes
--Kristen
Teacher's Pet Sematary
Natural Born Free Willy Killers
--Kristen/JEH
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures in Babysitting
The Swiss Addams Family Robinson
The Princess Bride of Frankenstein
The Wizard of Speed and Time Bandits
The Wicker Man in the Iron Mask
The Lawnmower Man who Fell to Earth
The NeverEnding West Side Story
A Star is Born Free Willy Wonka and the Like Waterworld for the Chocolate Factory.
The Incredible Shrinking Man Of La Mancha
Bob and Carol And Ted and Alice's Restaurant
Endless Love Potion #9 to 5 Easy Pieces
The Lion King, the Witches of Eastwick, and the Wardrobe, in Winter
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Duckling
The Handmaid's Tale of Two Cities
--Kristen
Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death of a Salesman
--Arthur
Scent of a Woman of the Year of Living Dangerously
--Arthur
Terror of a Tiny Town Like Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More
--Arthur

There are a lot of rules variants. Some people require movie titles only; others allow not only other titles (songs, for instance, or books or TV shows), but common phrases.

Black and Blue Velvet
Follow The Yellow Brick Road Warrior
John Wayne's World
Soylent Green Acres
Village People of The Damned
Gentle Ben-Hur [a bear, a rat, and a chariot race...]
Down Among the Dead Poets Society Men in Black
--JEH
Through the Wallflower [a collaboration among the Bobs, Pink Floyd, and Peter Gabriel]
--JEH

Some chains overlap in parts of words (or of numbers) rather than full words:

Vertigo West, Young Man
Terminators of Endearment
2001 Fine Day
--Kristen
1984 Weddings and a Funeral
Return of the Jedi, Claudius
Two Years Before the Masters of the Universe
Take Me Out of Africa to the Rollerball Game
The Rocky Horror Picture Showboat
Wargames People Play
Clan of the Bad News Cave Bears
Lawnmower Man of La Manchurian Candidate
--Jim
Man and Superman and Superman and Superman and...
--JEH

And allowing homophones, especially in partial-word overlaps, can provide some delightful mixes:

Children of Doonesbury
Brigadune
The Citizen Kane Mutiny
My Favorite Year of Living Dangerous Liaisons
--Bhadrika Love
The Nosferatu Jakes
--Arthur

There are some that only work on paper; if you say them aloud they fall apart. The best such I've seen is

Surf Nazis Must Die Fledermaus
--Arthur

You can, of course, string lots of titles and phrases together. This chain leaves out a couple of words in favor of not leaving any words from one phrase dangling in the middle of another phrase:

Mystic Pizza Man and Superman from Uncle Tom's Cabin in the Sky With Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend's Wedding Gift From the Sea of Love is a Many-Splendored Thing From Another World, According to Garp
--Arthur

The way I first heard of the game being played, the idea was to takes turns adding on to a string of linked titles/phrases. This version is a memory game as well, since you have to recite the whole string so far before tacking on the new item you're adding. The first example I heard started out "Once upon a time and tide wait for no man is an island of Dr. Moreau, row, row your boat..."

Bhadrika once mentioned a nifty word game played in ASL: a chain of words, keeping one parameter the same from word to word, where "parameter" is a linguistic attribute of a sign in ASL. I don't know enough ASL to provide examples, but as far as I can tell the game is much the same idea as some of these linked title chains...

Finally, a challenge to readers: form a chain loop, starting and ending with the same title. The ideal chain loop would use all the words in each title, have every title start with the end of the previous one (so all words from a given title are adjacent), use only titles (no phrases), and end up where it started. Anyone care to construct one?


Credits

All of the uncredited items listed here are listed on, or derived from, Shadowcat's page of mangled movie titles, which were created by a bunch of folks from the alt.callahans newsgroup and IRC channel. Among the people credited on that page are: Six, Drwelbymd, Niche, Claudia, Tess, Janeaway, The Prof, Alan Kors, Bunyip, Fellini, The Doctor, Draemr, Maenad, and Faith. I've substantially modified or expanded half a dozen of those items.


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Jed Hartman <logophilia@kith.org>