Color, 2012, 225m.
Synapse (Blu-Ray) (US R0 HD) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)
The phrase "more bang for your buck" was never more appropriate than this much-anticipated (and inevitable) transition of the beloved 42nd Street Forever trailer series to HD. If the thought of seeing vintage horror, action, and general trash trailers unspooling in glorious 1080p sets your heart racing, then brace yourself for almost four hours of nonstop cinematic insanity featuring some familiar titles from the first two legendary installments along with plenty of new additions. Mixing things up, you also get a new audio commentary with the gang from volumes three and four: AVManiacs' Edwin Samuelson, Temple of Schlock's Chris Poggiali, and Fangoria's Mike Gingold, all of whom obviously did a lot of homework for this one since it's a veritable crash course in drive-in history from the '60s through the '80s. A great chat, though it's questionable whether the world really needed that Green Slime sing-along... And just to reiterate, seriously, that running time above isn't a typo. Image quality obviously varies depending on the source, with some looking darn near pristine and others a bit more grubby and scratchy. Not surprisingly, this becomes by default one of the most essential Blu-Ray titles of the year.
As with most of the DVD predecessors, the trailers are grouped thematically here with a welcome start in blaxploitation territory. And here we go...
- Black Samson: Urban warfare, '70s style, with some familiar faces including Carol Speed (Abby) and William Smith. New to the series.
- Savage!, Kenner, and The Guy from Harlem: Three favorites from Volume 2: The Deuce, newly transferred here. Still odd to see how the latter film, a kid-friendly Jim Brown vehicle originally titled Year of the Cricket, was overhauled by the MGM PR department, who also had little use for Piero Piccioni's cool score.
- Welcome Home, Brother Charles and Boss Nigger: New transfers of a couple of volume one classics, both of which are very, very politically incorrect. For the uninitiated, the former film has one of the nuttiest concepts ever committed to film and is better known on video as Soul Vengeance. The latter, a pretty good Fred Williamson western, is out on video under the more sanitized title of Boss.
- Honky: A newbie for the series, this interracial love story/backwoods trash favorite features '70s blaxploitation it girl Brenda Sykes.
- Sugar Hill and Rolling Thunder: Two AIP classics with rousing trailers that never fail to bring down the house; both deal with vengeance, '70s style, with black voodoo and Vietnam vet twists respectively.
- Act of Vengeance: Also known as Rape Squad, this unsung '70s trash gem was recently seen kicking off the Grindhouse Trailer Classics 3 release in the U.K. Astonishing stuff.
- Ms. 45 and They Call Her One Eye: Arguably the two greatest rape/revenge films ever made, with mind-blowing trailers to match. Abel Ferrara's sordid saga of Big Apple vigilantism is sadly hard to find now (much less uncut), but the Christina Lindberg eye patch classic is still out there from Synapse in both filthy or super-super-filthy editions.
- Ginger and Savage Sisters: Girl power, drive-in style, with a couple of golden T&A/action outings.
- Chained Heat, Delinquent Schoolgirls and The Pom Pom Girls: Okay, there's a lot less feminism here but you get lots of female flesh for your buck. Chained Heat is new to the series (and we've all seen it by now, right?) and looks great in HD, while the other two feature lots of jiggling and catfighting perfect for your LCD display.
- The Teasers Go to Paris, The Teacher, College Girls, Street Girls and The Babysitter: A quintet of obscure, frothy, and fun romps (two of them making premiere appearances here), with nubile nymphs getting into trouble all over the world.
- Teenage Mother and I, a Woman: Two ingenious examples of hype to sell sex to '60s audiences, including the funniest high school dance scene ever committed to celluloid and the trailblazing Radley Metzger Swedish import that put Audubon Films on the map.
- When Women Had Tails, The Curious Female, The Tale of the Dean's Wife, and The Minx: Another quartet of T&A classics, ranging from a silly Italian caveman comedy to American-made urban smut to psychedelic sex, with the latter two also debuted here for the first time.
- The Centerfold Girls: Oh yeah, this one never gets old! Andrew Prine chomps the scenery and chases Tiffany Bolling around in a bona fide '70s classic.
- The Depraved: Yep, Christina Lindberg again - and this time she's subtitled!
- Invitation to Ruin: One of the more infamous '60s roughies, which was later retooled into an equally foul '70s porno thanks to the magic of new inserts.
- Helga and The Sun, the Place and the Girls: This set wouldn't be complete without a Euro birth-of-a-baby offering or a nudist camp romp, so here you get both in a row. The second one (aka Nudes of All Nations) is extremely obscure (and I don't think the trailer's shown up anywhere else before).
- Fairytales and Flesh Gordon: Charles Band's sexy fantasy oddity, complete with a young Linnea Quigley and wannabe disco screen queen Nai Bonet (Nocturna), and Bill Osco's X-rated sci-fi spoof with stop-motion animation.
- Starcrash and Dark Star: Two '70s sci-fi curios, both very cheaply made but with very different creative results. To put it mildly.
- The Raiders of Atlantis: The one, the only. Ruggero Deodato's madcap '80s sci-fi/action fest is welcome anytime, and it looks better than ever here. Now we just need an official DVD of this puppy already.
- Matango and The Green Slime: Two of the trippiest '60s Japanese sci-fi films, the former with its original English-language trailer (a tad more sophisticated than when it was revamped for TV as Attack of the Mushroom People) and the latter in its giddy MGM iteration, complete with iconic theme song.
- They Came from Beyond Space, The Deadly Spawn, and The Dark: Back to the States again for three cheap monster/sci-fi fusions, with varying degrees of success.
- The Evil and The Evictors: Late '70s house-oriented horror, one a ghost story and the other a "true" story of home invasion with Jessica Harper. (Where's the DVD of that one already, MGM?)
- The Undertaker and His Pals: A Z-grade H.G. Lewis imitation with lots of strained comedy; the trailer's definitely one of a kind and looks much better here than ever before.
- The Devil's Nightmare: Long version of the American trailer for this wild Euro gothic/supernatural/erotic mash up with Erika Blanc snuffing a bunch of tourists who represent each of the deadly sins.
- Deadly Blessing: A beautiful, mint-condition trailer for the underrated Wes Craven shocker, with a young Sharon Stone. The commentary on this one is especially juicy...
- Rabid: The David Cronenberg classic. 'Nuff said, and nice to have it remastered.
- Eye of the Cat: Possibly the coolest thing on this entire disc, here's the rare long Universal trailer for this now forgotten late '60s shocker that was strangely retooled and watered down for its more common TV version. Just one of many nifty thrillers from that period that the studio seems intent on ignoring for some reason; wouldn't this make a killer box set with You'll Like My Mother, Let's Kill Uncle, and The Boy Who Cried Werewolf? C'mon, Universal, let's get on it!
- Mark of the Witch: The wild Texas witch cheapie, already covered in depth here.
- I Dismember Mama / The Blood Spattered Bride: One of the best of those "live TV" type trailers interviewing people coming out of a theater, this one is still hilarious and presented here in its ultra-long version with surprising flashes of nudity. Never get tired of this one!
- Women and Bloody Terror / Night of Bloody Horror: Another indelible pairing of two not-so-great horror films for one seriously great promo.
- Dr. Butcher, M.D. and The Grim Reaper: Two of the most infamous early '80s Italian gore films, complete with their wonderfully edited U.S. trailers. Both are party disc essentials.
- Dr. Tarr's Torture Dungeon: Better known on DVD as Mansion of Madness, here's one of the wildest Mexican horror/art films of the '70s from the director of Alucarda. In much better condition here than the Something Weird '80s master we've seen for the past few decades.
- Wicked Wicked and The Flesh and Blood Show: Two gimmicky '70s shockers, the former presented in Duo-Vision (nonstop split screen) and the latter in 3-D, used for the finale of one of Pete Walker's standout films from the period.
- The 3 Dimensions of Greta and Hard Candy: More 3-D, this time for sexploitation silliness complete with big boobs (and John Holmes) poking out at you from the screen. Pure genius.
- Panorama Blue, Italian Stallion, Maid in Sweden and Pornography in Denmark: Back to 2D for more '70s softcore, including Sylvester Stallone's infamous starving actor turn in the buff, a super-scope sex flick, and yes, more Christina Lindberg!
- Secret Africa, Shocking Asia, and Taboos of the World: Yup, it's mondo time with three looks at how depraved, shocking, and weird everyone else in the world really is.
- Chappaqua: The most out-there offering here, this '70s head trip has blown a lot of minds over the years -- and the trailer does a good job of giving you a taste of this LSD trip on celluloid.
- Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom: German trailer (with English subs) for the infamous final film by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Interestingly, all three commentators go dead silent for this one.
- The 44 Specialist: The last of a trio of "Mark the Cop" '70s films starring the tragic Franco Gasparri, including some familiar faces here like John Saxon and future Tenebrae costar John Steiner. Very odd no one's done a DVD set of this series yet.
- The Bullet Machine and Death Drive:
Two oldies but goodies, a Lindsay Shonteff UK crime film (aka Clegg) and a retitling of the uber-trashy Italian trashfest Hitch Hike.
- Spy in Your Eye, Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die and The Last of the Secret Agents: Dana Andrews, Mike Connors, Terry-Thomas, Marty Allen, and Nancy Sinatra are a few of the befuddled faces drifting through this trio of James Bond spoofs, or knockoffs, or whatever you call these goofy '60s spy concoctions.
- The Crippled Master, Shogun Assassin, and Super Man Chu: A startlingly inappropriate kung fu curio, a legendary reworking of a Japanese classic, and a terrible but fascinating Golden Harvest actioner form the obligatory martial arts and swordsmanship segment of our viewing program.
- Born Losers, Hell's Angels on Wheels, Devil's Angels, The Pink Angels and Werewolves on Wheels: Billy Jack! Werewolves! Jack Nicholson! Cross dressers! Yep, it's biker movie time, and these are five of the weirdest ones.
- Dixie Dynamite: Arguably the most mainstream film by exploitation Lee Frost, with Warren Oates and Christopher George in a tale about moonshine and payback.
- Mr. Billion and Super Fuzz: A double dose of Terrence Hill, with a silly cross-country comedy featuring a weird all-star cast and his best-remembered role outside of the Trinity series as a cop gifted with superpowers and a groovy disco theme song.
- Sunset Cove and Van Nuys Blvd.: Sexy beach bunnies and, uh, sexy Valley chicks cruising around in their cars make up these two lightweight late '70s romps designed to play like trashier versions of American Graffiti.
- Skatetown U.S.A.: What better way could you wrap up than with the original final trailer from volume two? Once you've gotten dosed with Patrick Swayze, roller skates, and disco, there's nowhere else you can possibly go.
Reviewed on May 7, 2012.