Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Monday, December 08, 2008

DVD PReview: 42nd Street Forever V.4

Movie trailer compilations aren’t for everyone, but I enjoy the hell out of them. It can be a kick seeing how distributors and exhibitors have tried over the years to sell their wares, and when the wares in question are sleazy exploitation films, the trailers can often be more entertaining than the movies they promote.

Synapse Films continues their awesome 42nd Street Forever DVD series in January with Volume 4: Cooled By Refrigeration, containing 105 minutes worth of sleazy exploitation film "coming attraction" previews and TV spots, running the genre gamut from crime thrillers to horror to slob comedies and blaxploitation.

The Syndicate: Death In the Family, Combat Cops, It Came Without Warning, No Blade of Grass, Yor: The Hunter From the Future, Simon - King of the Witches, The Psychic, Schizoid, Tender Flesh, Die Sister Die, Silent Scream, New Year's Evil, Mortuary, Humongous, Embryo, The Boogeyman, The Legend of Boggy Creek, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, Gray Eagle, Shadow of the Hawk, Rituals, Americathon, Can I Do It...'Til I Need Glasses, Die Laughing, In God We Trust, Undercover Hero, The Jezebels, Fighting Mad, Moving Violation, Bonnie's Kids, Walking Tall Part 2, The Klansman, Monkey Hustle, The Soldier, Blackout, Shout At the Devil, March or Die, Hog Wild, The Hard heads, The Chicken Chronicles, Best Friends, Our Winning Season, Coach, Goldengirl...

As usual, I've only ever seen a handful of these titles, and after watching this compilation, I'm reminded again of just how many B-movies and drive-in classics I have yet to see.... and how many still haven't appeared on DVD. Some of these trailers are mini-masterpieces of hyperbole and ballyhoo, making the most abysmal dreck look tantalizingly appealing. Many familiar faces appear in these trailers, which just goes to show that almost every actor of note has a few of these kinds of skeletons in their cinematic closet – among those aforementioned faces are Martin Landau, Lee Marvin, Roger Moore, Robby Benson, Steve Gutenberg, John Ritter, Gene Hackman, Michael Biehn, Cathy Lee Crosby... and O. Jailbird Simpson.

Since these are old, much-run theatrical trailers which were never intended to have a life beyond the films they advertise, never mind be preserved for posterity, picture and sound quality varies widely from preview to preview, with a lot of wear and tear evident on most clips. Still, the overall presentation is quite watchable – all of the trailers are intact – and the scratches and soundtrack hiss just add to the overall grindhouse experience. The disc also includes a commentary track by Fangoria magazine editor Michael Gingold, film historian Chris Poggiali and Edwin Samuelson, editor of the AVMAniacs website. Oh, and the package art is fantastic – a great tribute in style and execution to 70's exploitation film posters.

For anyone with an interest in such things, the entire 42nd Street Forever series is a treasure trove, and worth checking out. (Be warned, though – in addition to the four-volume regular series, there's also a "XXX-treme Special Edition" installment that features hardcore porn trailers from the 70's.)

Personally, I really want to know why The Soldier isn't on DVD....

1 comment:

Chad Carter said...

I own the first of these...some of the trailers border on brilliant. Just watching them you get the sensation not unlike a York Peppermint Patty. The thing is, you can find ideas in these coming attractions that probably never made it into the movie, and yet create another plot entirely. It's an idea factory.

And THE SOLDIER...adore it. Nobody can understand the Ken Wahl thing until they've seen it. Fantastic soundtrack too.