Color, 2007, 129m.
Intervision (US R0 NTSC), Nucleus (DVD) (US R0 PAL) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)
By far the most worthwhile series of trailer collections to come out of the U.K., Grindhouse Trailer Classics has been a fantastic resource for fresh new transfers of classic '70s and '80s exploitation trailers, most of them from American drive-in titles with a solid fan following. It took some time but the first volume has made it to American shores, where fans of perennials like 42nd Street Forever can dive into lurid previews for some of the wildest films ever made. This first set is basically a primer covering some of the more famous come-ons in trailer history, which should be enough to create a few new addicts and serve as a walk down memory lane for more seasoned movie junkies. Hopefully this means the rest of the series will make it to the U.S., too, as things get gloriously insane by the time you hit the third and fourth installments.
So, here's the rundown. I Drink Your Blood and I Eat Your Skin was a legendary pairing in the early '70s with absolutely zero footage shown here from the second feature (a minor black-and-white zombie film made years earlier). Instead you get highlights from the first film (which was heavily trimmed to get an R rating at the time) including rabies injections, bloodshed, screaming, and a young Lynn Lowry. Then there's the "nutty patron dragged from the theater" gag for
another iconic double feature, Blood Spattered Bride and I Dismember Mama. Jack Hill's
Switchblade Sisters is here with most of its highlights intact including that great roller rink tussle, one of the highlights of '70s trash cinema. Jonathan Demme's Caged Heat became the most critically-respected entry in the women-in-prison cycle and turned out to be a big hit for Roger Corman's New World Pictures, with Barbara Steele (barely glimpsed here) as an imperious warden.
The ridiculous, wildly entertaining giallo Eyeball from Umberto Lenzi has long been a fan favorite, and the feverish American trailer (concocted by Joseph Brenner) is seen here in much better condition than the brutally cropped (and watermarked) version seen on many old Prism tapes back in the '80s. Then it's off to Canada for the chilly docu-horror gem
Deranged, a fictionalized account of the crimes of Ed Gein; the trailer makes it seem a bit more explicit than it actually is, not surprisingly. Roger Corman pops up again with his first big women-in-prison smash, The Big Doll House, another Jack Hill concoction mixing together Pam Grier, snakes, a leering Sid Haig, and lots of bullets and cat fights. Then there's the female biker oddity
Bury Me an Angel, the notorious "It's only a movie!" promo for
Wes Craven's Last House on the Left, New Line's X-rated martial arts stunner
The Street Fighter with Sonny Chiba, and the legendary tasteless antics of Dyanne Thorne in
Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS.
Bernie Casey takes a stab at a horror chestnut in Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde, and the brief promo for Don't Open the Window has always seemed like an odd but memorable way to promote the terrific Italian zombie classic, The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue. The first of two Rudy Ray Moore titles pops up next with
The Human Tornado (a sort-of sequel to Dolemite), which is of course amazing, followed by a drastic gear shift into Jean Rollin's Caged Virgins, Harry Novak's retitled, dubbed version of the great Requiem for a Vampire. The Filipino favorite Ebony Ivory & Jade caused more than a little confusion with its title (which is shared by at least two other movies), but this is the Cirio H. Santiago one about some American female track stars who get kidnapped and have to use their athletic skills to break out.
The Chesty Morgan/Doris Wishman stunner
Deadly Weapons probably needs no introduction here, but if you've never seen it, well, prepare to have your mind blown. Sergio Martino's ultra-sleazy giallo
Torso had to be in here somewhere, of course, with its Brenner trailer oddly calling out prestigious producer Carlo Ponti. Only in the '70s.
They Call Her One Eye is, of course, the now-famous Bo Arne Vibenius shocker from Sweden, better known now under its original title Thriller: A Cruel Picture. Mixing revenge exploitation and seedy hardcore porn inserts, it was a notable influence on Kill Bill of all things. The 1980 horror offering Death Ship sports one of the creepiest trailers of the era, even if the film itself isn't quite up that level, while
the martial arts cult favorite Master of the Flying Guillotine delivers everything the wild preview promises. Next comes the AIP promo for David Cronenberg's
They Came from Within, a retitling of Shivers, which is great no matter what it's called; less culturally significant is
The Thing with Two Heads, an earlier AIP oddity with bigot Ray Milland's head getting stuck onto football player Rosie Grier for some wacky motorcycle shenanigans. Then it's back to rape/revenge territory with the
subgenre's most volatile entry, I Spit on Your Grave, which still remains a touchy subject in some corners, followed by the women's labor curio
Sweet Sugar and 1974's Girls for Rent, a Georgina Spelvin crime flick better known as I Spit on Your Corpse.
Another title that had women's lib groups up in arms comes next:
The Toolbox Murders, a particularly nasty quasi-slasher film with Cameron Mitchell at his creepiest. Seen here under the title The Executioner is the insane trailer for Duke Mitchell's Massacre Mafia Style, which basically shows the entire opening sequence to increasingly stupefying effect. Things don't get less violent with Pete Walker's grimy House of Whipcord, a mid-'70s look at British justice taken to nightmarish extremes in the countryside, and then we naturally segue to Isaac Hayes in one of his few starring roles as Truck Turner. Larry Cohen's God Told Me To remains one of the great conceptual freak outs of mid-'70s cinema, far more than you'd expect from the great but relatively streamlined trailer here, but you get exactly what you expect with
Dr. Butcher, M.D., the beloved Americanized working of the Italian gut muncher Zombie Holocaust. Speaking of zombies, here's the Bob Clark/Alan Ormsby cult classic
Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, a peculiar but ultimately harrowing mixture of gallows humor and undead horror. A less dignified mix can also be found in
Night of the Bloody Apes, which mashes together Mexican wrestlers, a killer deformed ape man, and open-heart surgery. That's pure class though compared to the raving antics of
Bloodsucking Freaks, a legendary sickie whose early '80s reissue from Troma sent critics into fits.
Oh, and here's Ms. Thorne again in her second outing as everyone's favorite time-traveling SS commandant,
Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks, followed by the memorable '74 sex and bloodshed curio The Single Girls, also known as Bloody Friday. Something from Ted V. Mikels was inevitable, of course, and the first of two titles here is
The Corpse Grinders, his tender tale about the mayhem unleashed when dead bodies get used for cat food. Then there's the familiar Jerry Gross trailer for the American release of Lucio Fulci's Zombie, followed by some more Pam Grier in one of her most famous roles, Coffy. Just Jaeckin's delirious S&M adventure Gwendoline gets an appropriately lively trailer here under its American title, The Perils of Gwedoline in the Land of the Yik Yak, featuring the unforgettable Tawny Kitaen. Equally vivid for different reasons is the furry female savagery of The Legend of the Wolf Woman, not to mention former musical star Russ Tamblyn turning into a vicious biker for Al Adamson's
Satan's Sadists. And Rudy Ray Moore turns up again in the funktastic PCP exploitation legend
The Disco Godfather, followed by the jolting sex change revelations of Doris Wishman's Let Me Die a Woman and the more traditional female stars of Ted V. Mikel's The Doll Squad.
Sporting a title you'd never see in theater now is the Euro softcore offering Secrets of Sweet Sixteen, while David Carradine revs up in the drive-in perennial Cannonball, a not-quite sequel to Death Race 2000. Mimsy Farmer gets to freak out plenty in the definitely NSFW American trailer for the unsettling giallo
Autopsy (another Joseph Brenner special), and the still-shocking
Fight for Your Life remains a jolting piece of race-baiting cinematic junk food of the highest order. '70s audiences were more than a little surprised by the creepy necrophilia melodrama
Love Me Deadly, which really has to be seen to be believed, and there's no guessing how they reacted to Harry Novak's Wham! Bam! Thank You Spaceman, an intellectually-challenged look at aliens meddling with people's sex lives in Hollywood. The immortal
Shogun Assassin should be a known quantity to everyone by now, and the trailer's still a winner, while the deeply creepy
Three on a Meathook (which still hasn't had a legit DVD release anywhere in the world) has a fittingly eerie pitch here to match. Though it's not listed on the chapter menu, the disc closes out with the death-obsessed movie movie,
Journey into the Beyond.
Apart from some unavoidable element damage here and there, the trailers all look quite good with solid colors and much better quality than some earlier editions. It's really worth picking up just for the uptick in quality alone. Also included is an 18-minute "Into the Grindhouse" short featuring Emily Booth in a movie theater offering a overview of some of the disparate genres brought together by the era, plus a four-minute poster gallery featuring artwork for the films represented on the disc.
Reviewed on August 19, 2014.