1. True Stories (1986)
piezocuttlefish, davidglasser and zrblm all guessed it. David Byrne makes a film based primarily on headlines found in the Weekly World News, sets it in Texas, and gets John Goodman to sing. Really. The result is all very much the Talking Heads' song "The Big Country" set to film, as Byrne drives around in a convertible making wonderfully innocent comments about suburbia, and the musical numbers are excellent. See it if you can.
2. The Italian Job (1969)
Forget the idiotic remake with Mark Wahlberg, this film is where it's at if you want to see Mini Coopers driving around a city doing things that Mini Coopers should not do. Seriously, the last ten minutes of the film is, as Jeremy Clarkson would say, one of the greatest car chase sequences... in the wuhhhld. People have recreated it in stop-motion Lego animation, it's so great. Quincy Jones' funky and happy score does not hurt, either.
3. Repo Man (1984)
See that car in the distance? It's a-comin' with something pretty intense in the trunk. Repo Man was all about desolation and the automobile, and this wide opening shot is awesome. By the way, you may notice a lot of films with roads in them start in a desert. Not sure why.
A lot of people guessed this was Raising Arizona, which was a very good guess. I would have happily used that film in this quiz, only it doesn't open on a road. Imagine that. (The brilliant title card, however, does. But that would've given it right away.)
4. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Yeah, everybody remembers the opening graveyard scene and "They're coming to get you, Baaa-bara" and all that. But, well, they had to get to the graveyard first, and this is the lonely road they took.
Props to read_alicia, who guessed (and this is verbatim) "My Grandma's vacation slides from Uxbridge, Kansas, Home of the World's Dumbest Dog and Largest Shoney's". Good answer! Good answer! I also would have accepted "In Cold Blood: The Home Movies."
5. Bagdad Cafe (1987)
This film, which inspired a short-lived CBS series starring Whoopi Goldberg and Jean Stapleton, is about an older German woman who finds herself stranded in the American southwest and ends up living at the remote hotel.
Bagdad Cafe is German, which explains why the cinematography and design is incredible. I mean, look at this shot. Look at it. Look at the angles of the car doors and the haphazard shack on the right. Every thing is meticulously set up, yet it looks like the whole scene just happened. The rest of the film is just like the first frame.
A tip of the theoretical hat to coho29, who guessed A Boy and his Dog. That's another film I looked at when putting this thing together, and it begins with a nuclear explosion. I briefly considered a rousing round of "Guess the Film by its Opening Nuclear Explosion", but decided it'd be just a tad bit annoying.
6. Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
This one is a little fudgy: Technically the film opens with a montage of the 60s set to "My Favorite Things", then the title, and then an epigram from Samuel Johnson, which then gets quickly wiped away (this screenshot is set mid-wipe) to the big red beast roaring down the road.
coho29 got it and so did read_alicia, although she spelled it Los Angelos. Half marks for the fear and loathing, admirable as it was. (At least she didn't guess My Own Private Idaho, which she did for most of the other pictures.)
For the record, the Samuel Johnson epigram went like this:
He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.Thompson used it in the book, and Terry Gilliam used it in the film.
7. The General (1926)
Well, it's a road, all right! A lovely opening shot to Buster Keaton's brilliant film. If you ain't seen it, you owe it to yourself to check it out sometime. Even damn Yankees will be Confederate fans if only for the duration of this adventure.
8. Carnival of Souls (1962)
Nobody even tried on this one (except for our friend Alicia, who guessed "Three Easy Women") which is understandable. Like Night of the Living Dead, it's a cult film where the opening shot really doesn't mean much. Except for the fact that the ladies are soon to experience a bit of a shock which sets the story in motion, but that's just details, details, details.
A certain Crow T. Robot remarked on the next film that "every frame looks like somebody's last known picture", but damned if this shot doesn't have that quality, too.
Bonus Poodle: Manos, the Hands of Fate (1966)
Yes, yes, yes. Very well done, all of you. Magic Mirror, tell me today: Which of my friends got it right on this play?
I see mmcirvin and off_coloratura and aliiyf; I see lbmango and I see read_alicia of course (with David Lynchian overtones in her answer.) Phew!
Join us next time when we find something better to do with opening film shots! And see some of those films in the answers if you haven't. This has been a Mark Goodson-Bill Todman production.