10 Hysterical, Sexy, Awesome, Ridiculous, Scary Book Trailers


Book trailers. They are officially a thing. And the world is a better place for it. But from whence came they? And since whence? Wikipedia has the (contested) answers:

The term "book trailer" is currently a trademarked term owned by Sheila Clover of Circle of Seven Productions. The first book trailer to be played publicly was at a book convention in Shreveport, Louisiana in 2003 [contradiction], Dark Symphony by Christine Feehan.

Though book trailers were being made as early as 2002 [contradiction], the term caught on in 2005 when user-generated online video upload became more popular.

Someone owns the trademark on the term 'book trailer'? That's crazy. And who is the jerk that's contesting the title of First Book Trailer? It's like Gene Simmons claiming he invented the devil horns when we all know it was Ronnie James Dio.

It doesn't really matter. Book trailers are here to stay. And to celebrate, here are some of the scariest, sexiest, silliest, grossest, stupidest, most ridiculous trailers currently making the inter-rounds.

'The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex' by Kristen Schaal and Rich Blomquist

This amusing trailer features a healthy dose of colonial dildos, ballerina butt-plugs, and Kristen Schaal's patented jewish-chipmunk-with-a-lisp delivery. Seriously, she is too cute. I don't want to pinch her cheeks, I want to gnaw on them till they're raw. Oh yeah, there's also some nebbish dunderpate playing the straight man (and I use the term 'straight' loosely). 

On a side note, I don't know why I am oddly attracted to Schaal. She is not what you would call classically pretty, and based on her association with Flight of the Conchords, we should be mortal enemies. Let me explain: I was apartment sitting in NYC one night when I was startled awake by a pair of demonic voices heralding the death of humanity. I almost shit my heart. Turns out, it was the fucking Robots song. Two douchey hipsters had their laptop out on the fire escape and were watching Conchords at THREE IN THE FUCKING MORNING! It totally prejudiced me against the show. I saw Bret and Jemaine filming out on the street in front of the same building a few months later and just had to voice a complaint. Out the window. I told them to go back to Australia (and yes, I'm aware they are not from Australia). But I digress.

The Sexy Book of Sexy Sexy looks like a tamer version of Jim Goad's Gigantic Book of Sex. So if you like your freak nasty a little less freaky and a little less nasty, this book might be for you.

'Level 26' by Anthony Zuiker

From the creator of CSI and author Duane Swierczynski comes Level 26, the world's first 'digi-novel'. What is a digi-novel, you ask? Only a revolutionary, cross-platform, immersive storytelling experience, according to the publisher. Basically, it means you can go online and watch videos as you read the book. Woo-fucking-hoo.

Those videos must be where all the footage for this trailer came from. They feature badass character actors Michael Ironside and Bill Duke (AKA Mac from Predator, AKA Cooke from Commando, AKA The Blackest Man Alive). Not a bad way to start things off. Oh, wait! There's also this double-jointed freak in a latex gimp suit prancing about like some Cirque du Soleil reject.

Level 26 came out back in 2009, so someone needs to take Ryan Murphy to task. You thought no one would notice if you ripped off some failed experiment for your little histrionic clusterfuck, didn't you? Well, I've got news for you. The internet never forgets, Ryan. The internet never forgets! (*Shakes fist at sky.)  And this two minute trailer may actually be better than the whole of American Horror Story. So get back to Level 42, you slag!

'Pirates: The Midnight Passage' by James R. Hannibal

A few questions:

Why was this trailer scored with a bad Dropkick Murphys rip-off? Are they positioning this book as The Departed of pirate yarns? Or maybe it's Matrix of the Caribbean, because unless I was confused by the bad editing, one of those pirates catches a bullet at point blank range. And another thing: why are these pirates Irish? Everyone knows that Secret Pirate Island is located in Hong Kong (although, I do like the way the one dude says, dublooooooooooons). I don't see how this trailer could make anyone want to read this book.

'Spanked: Red-Cheeked Erotica' edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

The trailer for this spankophilic anthology is the very antithesis of erotic. It features the book's scantily clad editor, Rachel Kramer Bussel, who comes across more awkward than sexy. She proceeds to extol the virtues of all aspects of fanny tanning, including the use of spatulas, journals, paddles, rulers and hands. Yup. Guess that about covers the full spectrum.

Then the trailer switches gears, giving us a dose of insipid prose layered over a montage of the most unenthusiastic spanking ever filmed. It illicited nary a tremor from the ole' tallywhacker. Cardboard cutouts would have given a better performance. If only Kristen Schaal had starred in this trailer...

Then there is the final, haunting shot of Ms. Bussel and her crazy ex-girlfriend eyes, mechanically dropping her own book on someone's lifeless posterior like a gavel. They say you should never fuck crazy, and in this case, I don't think I'd even read it.

'Night of the Living Trekkies' by Kevin David Anderson

Holy crap. A trailer with an actual budget. Looks like Quirk Books is taking advantage of all that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies money.

How funny you'll find this all depends on how much you like Star Trek. Or zombie movies. Or both. But it's slick and it's pretty and it has some chuckles, so it's worth a gander.

'Sex Dungeon For Sale!' by Patrick Wensink

Back in 2010 I reviewed a book for ChuckPalahniuk.net called Sex Dungeon For Sale, by Patrick Wensink. I called it a mildly amusing, if not forgettable collection of shorts showcasing the lighter side of Bizarro Fiction. I've spoken with Patrick a few times since, and he always brings it up, saying how he appreciated my honesty in pointing out the flaws in the book. This inevitably makes me feel bad. I don't know if this is his intention or not, but it's definitely working in his favor.

Seeing the titular story, Sex Dungeon For Sale!, turned into a short film has given me a new perspective. It's not the most well-acted thing, but the medium of film seems to breath life into Wensink's piece, especially when compared to the one-sided monolog of the original. Maybe I'm just feeling guilty for being the 'negative review' guy (although to be fair, my review wasn't completely negative). Anyways, I have a copy of Patrick's most recent novel, Broken Piano For President, which I'm gonna give a shot. I've heard good things. It was put out by Lazy Fascist Press, who recently put out Stephen Graham Jones' Zombie Bake-Off, so Patrick is in good company.

'The Flame Alphabet' by Ben Marcus

We already featured this trailer once on LitReactor, when we gave away two copies of the book (which is awesome, by the way), and there's a good reason it's popping up again: It's a really good trailer. It was created by artist Erin Cosgrove (I wonder if this is the Erin Cosgrove I went to high school with?*) and really accentuates the endemic sickness of the novel. I feel my throat closing just thinking about it.

Since I don't have any jokes to crack at this trailer's expense, there isn't really much else to say. Just watch the trailer, buy some flu meds, and get yourself a copy of the book. It's a kinda-sorta post apocalyptic horror novel about the killing power of language. It's part Ballard, part Cronenberg, and is steeped in mystic Judaism.

'Another Woman's Husband' by Angel Mechelle

Where to begin with this one? The atrocious audio and sound editing? The fact that an actual phone number is used in the intro? (Someone's getting more calls than Axl Rose after using his real phone number on Knocking On Heaven's Door.) The porno-grade acting? The fact that the male lead wears a wife-beater under his undershirt?

None of this seems to matter once the panties drop and the trailer becomes a softcore sex flick. All foot motion and neck nuzzling and Mary J. Blige.

And then, Nooooooooo! Not his good wife-beater!

And then some nosey Chinese neighbor narcs on the dude, leading his wife to his down-low fuck pad (which conveniently happens to be in the same building). Bitch is like 20 years older than him and is built like an anthropomorphic pastry. There's no way that fine-ass gangsta is married to her. No wonder he's steppin' out like Joe Jackson.

And then the cursing begins, causing the audio to peak like crazy. And then what sounds like a Bernard Herrmann score. And then abrupt silence. And then it is time to collect your thoughts from off the floor, because what you've just seen has blown your mind like that skank blew that woman's husband.

'Packing For Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void' by Mary Roach

First it was death. Then the afterlife. Then sex. In her fourth book, Packing For Mars, science writer Mary Roach tackles yet another curious subject that affects us all: living in space.

This is another well made trailer with a decent budget. It is a Dharma Initiative-esque educational film focusing on spacesuit hygiene. Nasa decides one of the great unknowns of the great unknown is how astronauts will handle stewing in their own juices for long periods of time, so they set up an experiment. I quote:  No bathing or sponging of the body, no shaving, no hair and nail grooming, no changing of clothes, the use of sub-standard oral hygene, and minimal use of 'wipes' for four weeks. Olfactory hilarity ensues.

The best part is, based on what I know of Roach's work, this is probably a reenactment of something that actually happened. Her books are filled with all sorts of fun, obscure facts. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't know what urethral sounding was, or that Kinsey liked to engage in it with a toothbrush, bristle end first. Thanks, Mary!

'The Maradonia Saga' by Gloria Tesch

I hadn't previously heard of half the books on this list- mainly because I was scouring YouTube using keywords like 'awful', 'terrible', and 'ridiculous'- but this entry comes with quite a backstory.

Gloria Tesch is the self-proclaimed 'World's Youngest Novelist', having allegedly written the first installment of her Maradonia Saga at the tender age of ten. From what I can gather, it is some sort of self-pubbed fantasy epic, in the vein of Harry Potter. A succinct summary from tvtropes.org describes it thusly: A girl called Maya and a boy called Joey find a World between the Worlds: Maradonia. Upon their arrival a prophecy is fulfilled, whereby they have to try and change the future of Maradonia. Sounds tropey!

By the age of 15 she had written her 6th Maradonia novel, and was taking provocative promotional photos like THIS. Who is the target market for these books? Pedophiles with 3rd grade reading comprehension? Methinks I smell an exploitative parent running the show.

Think I'm being harsh? All you need to do is read one of the many one star reviews on Amazon to get an idea of the quality of the writing. Here is a quote from one of my favorites: I can hear the trees screaming as they're cut down to make this thing...

If the quality of the trailer is in any way indicative of the quality of the book, then those reviews are spot on. It features awful faux reportage by some over-the-top wankster and the most amazing (read: terrible) green screen shots showcasing what must be the young author's rote dialog. I wonder if these are actual scenes from the movie adaptation currently in production? I hope so. I'll be first in line to Irish pirate that shit and watch it Mystery Science Theater style with my friends.

Alright folks, that about wraps it up. Did I miss and gems? Any turds? Any turds that can be polished into gems? If so, post 'em in the comments.

*It's not.

Photo by Pat McNulty

Joshua Chaplinsky

Column by Joshua Chaplinsky

Joshua Chaplinsky is the Managing Editor of LitReactor. He is the author of The Paradox Twins (CLASH Books), the story collection Whispers in the Ear of A Dreaming Ape, and the parody Kanye West—Reanimator. His short fiction has been published by Vice, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Thuglit, Severed Press, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, Broken River Books, and more. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @jaceycockrobin. More info at joshuachaplinsky.com and unravelingtheparadox.com.

To leave a comment Login with Facebook or create a free account.


Dennis's picture
Dennis from Los Angeles is reading Necroscope by Brian Lumley April 13, 2012 - 10:25am

The one about spanking... somehow made spanking unsexy.  :(

Larry Hill's picture
Larry Hill April 13, 2012 - 10:29am

Um, how is American Horror Story remotely like the Level 26 bullshit?

Dan Roberts's picture
Dan Roberts April 13, 2012 - 10:37am



SGJ's picture
SGJ from Midland, Texas (but in Boulder, Colorado, now) is reading weird fiction and horror fiction and science fiction and literary fiction and innovative fiction, or maybe a romance or a western or a magazine on bowhunting or show trucks or anthropology April 13, 2012 - 11:04am

nice finds, good write-up. too, I always thought "Fixation" was the first book trailer. or, at least when I signed on with Rugged Land backn in 2002, that's what they told me. and it's really an excellent trailer.

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading a lot more during the quarantine April 13, 2012 - 12:07pm

I guess that's why it's contested on Wikipedia, Stephen. One day someone will have to write the history of book trailers. If anyone wants to hire me, I'm game.

and @larry: I think the similarities to AHS are pretty clear.

SGJ's picture
SGJ from Midland, Texas (but in Boulder, Colorado, now) is reading weird fiction and horror fiction and science fiction and literary fiction and innovative fiction, or maybe a romance or a western or a magazine on bowhunting or show trucks or anthropology April 13, 2012 - 1:18pm

forgot to say: that TREKKIES one's the best one ever. glad you included it. 

and, I kind of dug the one for SUPERSAD TRUE LOVE STORY (does that link play? could be my browser's fried).

and, no clue where or if that Rugged Land trailer is anymore, but it was kind of like this one, for THE MINUS MAN (which won't play for me either -- but I'm sitting far from my house, barely any wireless on my laptop. it should be the one with two people talking after the movie. just walking all around. if not, sorry).


Jason Van Horn's picture
Jason Van Horn from North Carolina is reading A Feast For Crows April 14, 2012 - 8:29am

I'm with you - I find Kristen Schaal strangely hot

paula's picture
paula April 16, 2012 - 2:15pm


check out Scott Wrobel's trailer- it's hilarious (as is his book)-

Larry Hill's picture
Larry Hill May 3, 2012 - 3:35pm

What just because they both have guys in leather gimp suits? I guess the Shield is a rip off of The Wire because they both have cops.

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading a lot more during the quarantine May 3, 2012 - 7:49pm

Somebody's awful touchy about their American Horror Story.

Rancecassady's picture
Rancecassady June 1, 2013 - 3:54pm

Well that Wikipedia page is all different now. Apparently that lady doesn't own the term book trailer after all, which is kind of weird that she would think she did. It's like owning the term motion picture.