Paranormal marketing: Steven Spielberg offers up the anti-blockbuster

In 1990's Crazy People, one of the better films about the ad industry, a trailer for a fictitious horror film promises that the flick "Won't just scare you . . . It will f%*k you up for life." Of all the movie's outrageous mock ads, this is the most realistic. Filmmaking techniques have changed a lot over the last few decades, but horror-movie promotion still retains a strong link to the carnival barkers of yesteryear.

In the latest twist on that theme, a recent campaign from DreamWorks, owned by Viacom (VIA), combines traditional grassroots development with the personal connection of online social networks. The studio's Paranormal Activities opens today with a very limited release in seven cities, while a chilling Internet trailer exhorts viewers to demand that the movie come to their local multiplexes.