Color, 2009, 99m. / Synapse (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)
If the last four volumes weren't enough 42nd Street mania for you, Synapse throws a curveball with its fifth compilation of rare and wonderfully twisted trailers by collaborating with the folks at Austin, Texas' legendary Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, which has pretty much become the American epicenter of exploitation movies both current and classic. As usual the trailers flow from one to another in something resembling a coherent theme, and all are bound to grab your attention. Each is transferred from the original film elements, which means you get lots of lovely scuffs and scratches to add to the theatrical experience while the actual transfer quality is about as good as you can get with the elements involved. Of course, the material here is so solid it could be projected in Super 8 on a bedsheet and it would still be terrific.
After an amusing PSA with a tennis-playing Charlton Heston explaining the MPAA system, we dive headfirst into A Life of Ninja, featuring a Howard Cosell soundalike droning over insane footage of sword-slicing mayhem in an alley, a shower, and other inappropriate locations. Oh yeah, it's got glowing eyes and ridiculous dubbing, too. Then "when there is only torture, only violence, only death," it's time for 1973's Sting of the Dragon Masters, another head-splitting kung fu trailer with Angela Mau -- inexplicably scored with the music from North by Northwest! You can find this one on Hong Kong DVD under the title When Taekwondo Strikes, and it's worth the effort of hunting it down. The American trailer for Sonny Chiba's The Bodyguard ("Faster than Ali! Meaner than Bruce Lee!") features another goofball voiceover more appropriate to a Shaft film, climaxing with lots of voices shouting "Chiba! Chiba!" in unison for no apparent reason. Of course, Shaw Brothers has to come next with one of their wildest and most frequently reissued titles, Mad Monkey Kung Fu, which was made immortal by one of Joe Bob Briggs' more memorable reviews. The insane Wonder Women about a female martial arts hit squad is really a movie you need to see unprepared for maximum impact, but the trailer does a solid job of conveying the wall-to-wall mayhem that populates one of the '70s strangest action films.
Things get decidedly more juvenile with Lucky Seven, a kung fu comedy filled with... badass little kids. Apparently they sing, too, and there's a bizarre pregnancy fighting gag you won't see anywhere else. You also get to see lots of kids getting hurled through plate glass windows, which is actually pretty disturbing. Enzo G. Castellari's The Shark Hunter is one of his lesser-known collaborations with Franco Nero, promoted here with plenty of footage of our blond-wigged hero duking it out with maneaters in the water. For very different animal interactions, Birds Do It, Bees Do It is the "intimate story of animal courtship" which will "never be shown on television." Basically it's a nature film of animals copulating in the wild, including, uh, hippos. Human mating habits come next with Let's Do It!, a Skinemax favorite from none other than drive-in king Bert I. Gordon. The VHS is now fetching stupid amounts of money online, but the trailer should give you an idea of what to expact from this silly teen farce. Much more unusual is America's answer to Pussy Talk, the Candice Rialson singing-vagina favorite Chatterbox, with a mugging Rip Taylor and lots of dubbed-in "hoo hoo" effects over any euphemisms for the female anatomy. Danish Love Acts ensures this compilation will never get a PG rating as we see lots of naked couples demonstrating softcore, slo-mo sexual positions to a swinging jazz soundtrack, while Stephanie Rothman's Group Marriage is mostly split-screen trailer featuring a bunch of twentysomethings shacking up together in one house. Much less benign is "Violated!, about a "fiendish monster who RAPES and MAIMs and dumps his victims into the gutter!" Naturally, you don't see any actual footage from the film. Caged Virgins is the familiar Harry Novak U.S. trailer for Jean Rollin's Requiem for a Vampire, which is still great no matter how you slice it. After an incongrous commercial for Sloppy Joes, we segue naturally to the 1979 Japanese sci-fi headscratcher, Message from Space, featuring Sonny Chiba in a sci-fi samurai outfit and Vic Morrow as a boozed-up starfighter blessed by magical space walnuts. The cheapo Dr. Who knockoff The Terrornauts manages to be even more cut-rate, complete with visible strings on ships and fiery minatures. By comparison, Roger Corman's Mind Warp -- a retitling of the awesome Galaxy of Terror -- looks like an FX masterpiece, and having the great trailer here just makes it more irritating how badly this has been treated on video over the years.
Of course, one of the highlights here is the original U.S. trailer for Hal Needham's career-ending Megaforce, which had early '80s kids in a tizzy until they actually saw the finished product which managed to knock off Barry Bostwick, Michael Beck and Persis Khambata from major movie screens forever. The "fearless marauders" of Zebra Force deliver nonstop gunfire, car chases and action for two frenzied minutes, while Blazing Battle nearly tops it with the story of Indonesians battling "Japanese pigs," courtesy of Rapi Films. Super agent James Tont - Operation O.N.E. is a ridiculous Italian 007 knockoff, whose subtitled trailer features crude cartoon footage and amazingly has an amphibious car years before The Spy Who Loved Me. Oh yeah, and James Tont catches bullets with his teeth. International Secret Police is a '60s Japanese spy romp with lots of guys chasing around in the desert and looking for diamonds, while the cool John Cassavetes gangster film Machine Gun McCain (which still airs on TV occasionally) contains lots of explosions and nice lashings of Ennio Morricone music. The very early Andy Sedaris boobs-and-bullets outing Stacey comes packed with loads of cleavage, helicopter chases, and, yes, loads and loads of firing guns. Antonio Margheriti's Lightning Bolt is one of the better Italian spy attempts, and the Woolner Bros. American trailer seen here is plenty of brisk fun. Mission Thunderbolt might sound similar, but it has a lot more chopsocky and a hooker slicing her john's throat with a razor between her teeth, not to mention lots of seriously scary fingernails. The 3 Supermen in the West is the obligatory spaghetti slapstick entry, basically a Terence Hill/Bud Spencer imitation without either actor. However, it does have three guys in red tights beating up cowboys, so there you go. The most perplexing film in Roger Vadim's filmography, Pretty Maids All in a Row, features Rock Hudson, Telly Savalas and Angie Dickinson in the story of a sexually confused high schooler dealing with a slew of cheerleader murders at his school, accompanied by a hellishly catchy Osmonds theme song. We really need a DVD of this one. Oh, and it was written by Gene Roddenberry. Robert Downey's landmark counterculture study of the advertising world, Putney Swope, features a trailer about as wild and irreverent as you might expect, consisting mainly of the film's unforgettable pimple commerical.
Things get much gayer with Redd Foxx's only real starring vehicle, Norman, Is That You?, an absurdly outdated farce about a dad who finds out his son has "purple drapes" and has become a "tinkerbell." Waylon Flowers and Madam are on hand, too, just so you know exactly where the movie's coming from. One of the coolest finds on this disc, Redneck County is one of the many permutations and retitlings of a really nasty, unforgettable little film also released as Poor Pretty Eddie and Heartbreak Hotel starring Shelley Winters about a black beauty queen who runs afoul of backwater perversion and racism whose severity depends wildly upon which version you see. Moonrunners, the now-infamous inspiration for The Dukes of Hazzard that caused Warner Brothers a huge heap of legal problems, is represented with a fun trailers loaded with brawls and car chases, all narrated by Waylon Jennings (who went to work on the TV shows as well).
A seriously gross shrimp roll commercial pops up next, followed by a B&W promo for The Fabulous World of Jules Verne, filmed in "Mystimation" which officially kicks off the kiddie segment of the disc. Evidently shot in someone's Florida backyard (featuring a thrilling "runaway lawn mower"), Magic Christmas Tree looks like the dreariest kid's film ever made -- which of course makes it a must-see. Pinocchio's Birthday Party is almost as terrifying, with amateur actors and raggedy puppets cavorting in front of some of the most garish backdrops ever committed to film. Even odder, some foreign animated fairy tales have been spliced in for "story time" to pad it out, and there's a fairy queen warbling a gooey song about marmalade fountains. It did win a "Best children's Film Award" at the 1974 Atlanta International Film Festival, though, which makes you wonder exactly how fierce the competition was that year. The Magic Kite (from Xerox!) is a G-rated fantasy about a kid who goes to China and romps around with some trippy-looking kite creatures, while The Secret of Magic Island has a bunch of live farm animals let loose on some miniature sets. Where else are you gonna see a real duck flyinig a balloon? Karzan: Master of the Jungle is another cheapo Tarzan copy with actors running around in the woods in skimpy outfits, The infamous AIP bomb The Norseman stars Lee Majors as an unlikely horn-helmeted warrior who, according to the trailer, discovered America before Columbus. Be sure to watch for this during one of its occasional TV airings, 'cause MGM was far too embarassed to release it on DVD. The last film by Jack Hill to receive notable theatrical play, New World's Sorceress is a one of the first and most lurid Conan copies and comes packed with nudity and fancy glowing light effects, not to mention a terrifying monkey costume. You can pretty much see where Empire Pictures got all of its ideas by looking at this one. The semi-all-star Terror in the Wax Museum is a fun spookshow with Ray Milland, Elsa Lanchester, and tons of severed heads, while The Manson Massacre is one of the many Charlie cash-ins unleashed in the early '70s in what looks like a quick TV spot. The British The Devil Within Her features Joan Collins howling through the Rosemary's Baby paces thanks to an evil dwarf; catch this one on DVD under the title of The Monster or VHS as I Don't Want To Be Born. Though it's not credited on the box, the DVD wraps up with a wonderfully lurid trailer for the incredibly hard-to-see Slaughterhouse Rock, one of the more memorable rock-monster outings from the late '80s.
As with the last installment you get a full audio commentary, this time with the Alamo Drafthouse crew including owner Tim League and programmers Lars Nilsen and Zack Carlson. It's a very energetic track packed with trivia and amusing insights, some of which pertain to the films at hand while others verge off on wild tangents while they talk about some of the more memorable fests and related film events at the Drafthouse. All the participants pop up again for "Remember the Alamo," a half-hour documentary about how the theater came to be, the most memorable theme nights and film programs from its recent history, and the colorful personalities who have drifted through over the years. A liner notes insert offers more of a thumbnail history of the theater, illustrated with some tasty poster art from some of the featured films. Obviously worth every single penny, and if you can't plan a trip to Austin anytime soon, this should do nicely as the closest you can come in the privacy of your home theater.
Color, 2008, 105m.
Synapse (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)
Things start with a bang with The Syndicate: A Death in the Family, the very obscure American release version of a 1969 Italian crime film called Colpo Rovente. Best known now for its freakout music score by Piero Piccioni, this psychedelic mob film is packed with loads of colors swirling all over the screen and screaming women, with those great wash transitions found in other Italian trailers like Bay of Blood. Then it's over to America for Combat Cops, a hilarious reissue trailer for William Girdler's The Zebra Killer, a trashy, PG-rated cash-in on the Zodiac Killer story starring Austin Stoker. Continuing the theme of "movies you can't buy legitimately anywhere" is It came Without Warning, the more verbose rerelease trailer for Without Warning, a nutzoid, gory alien movie from 1980 (now languishing somewhere in the MGM vaults) with very hammy turns from Jack Palance, Cameron Mitchell, Martin Landau, Ralph Meeker, and Larry Storch, as well as a very young David Caruso. Equally tough to see is No Blade of Grass, a now-forgotten 1970 dystopian tale from director Cornel Wilde best known for its MPAA-tweaking violence and depictions of sexual assault. Fortunately things lighten up considerably with Yor: THe Hunter from the Future, everyone's favorite Italian sci-fi/caveman midnight movie with an unforgettable theme song and some truly priceless dialogue ("Damn talking box!"), none of which is indicated by this trailer focused solely on the action and explosion scenes.
Then we move into horror territory, sort of, with Simon: King of the Witches, an oddball, blackly comic look at '70s witchcraft with a dynamic star turn from Andrew Prince and loads of LSD-inspired visual effects. It's available on DVD from Dark Sky should you feel inclined to see more. The American trailer for Lucio Fulci's The Psychic focuses mainly on the incredible Giger-inspired poster art and a killer voiceover, with the funky Frizzi-Bizio-Tempera music chugging away in the background. A terrific trailer and a great movie, out on DVD from Severin. From there we go to Cannon Films territory with Schizoid, one of the earlier slasher offerings with Klaus Kinski and Donna Wilkes headlining the story of a shrink whose female acquaintances are all getting punctured by a maniac with a pair of scissors. Elvira used to show this one on TV a lot in the '80s, but it's tough to see now. Probably the most familiar trailer on the set, Tender Flesh, is a cannibal tale best known as the last film of actor Laurence Harvey. The version on this disc is noteworthy, however, as it opens up with some full frontal Meg Foster nudity missing on other trailer comps as well as many prints of the film itself. A drive-in staple that pushed PG horror a bit further than usual, Die Sister, Die is a fun trailer for a lackluster '78 film featuring most of its gory moments (including a wild decapitation); however, VHS fanatics still hold some affection for it from its days on Gorgon Video, but if you prefer DVD, it's also out from BCI with a far less entertaining cover. A much better film is Silent Scream, a brisk and sometimes jolting boarding house screamer with Yvonne De Carlo and Barbara Steele; too bad its biggest jump moment is spoiled here more than once.
Speaking of entertainment, you'll get two solid minutes of it with one of the most hilarious horror trailers ever: New Year's Evil, another Cannon title shuffled off to Elvira-ville. The movie isn't quite as fun as the trailer, but then, nothing really could be. Next up is one of the most sought-after trailers, Let's Scare Jessica to Death, which was inexplicably left off of Paramount's bare bones DVD release. This preview must have scared the pants off 1971 audiences, and it's still a doozy today. Far less frightening but much schlockier is 1981's Mortuary, featuring Christopher George and a boyish Bill Paxton, which became a Vestron VHS favorite in video stores everywhere back in the '80s before disappearing from the face of the earth. This one plays like more of a teaser and works like a charm with some graveyard mayhem under a full moon. A monster movie marketed as a slasher film due to its early '80s vintage, Humongous was one of countless indie horror films unleashed on movie theaters everywhere, and the fiesty trailer is actually much more powerful than the movie itself. The great long, super-bloody version of the trailer for The Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman is always nice to see again thanks to its funky animated effects and slo-more bloodsucking, while fans of big stars slumming in utter trash should get a kick out of Embryo, a tacky bit of cloning paranoia with Rock Hudson and Barbara Carrera, sold here simply with some creepy graphics and the odd tagline, "Forget the facts of life." The Boogeyman still stands as the most popular film by Uli Lommel, who somehow parlayed Ghosthouse's appropriation of his title into a dubious career churning out the most unwatchable films ever released by Lionsgate (and that's really saying something). Easily one of the weirdest splatter movies ever made, it's colorful, nonsensical, and packed with gore, all of which is captured nicely here. Then you get a double header of "true life" horror, first with an atmospheric promo for The Legend of Boggy Creek (a quasi-Bigfoot study with an unlikely G rating) and one of the most in-demand "why isn't this on DVD?" titles, The Town that Dreaded Sundown, a killer trailer for one of the most memorable drive-in titles from the late '70s.
God only knows why the trailer for Grayeagle is on here, but this AIP-released story of Cheyenne warriors battling out on the wilderness has some curiosity value for the presence of Ben Johnson and Jack Elam. A more on-target Indian exploitation film is Shadow of the Hawk, a rousing trailer with Jan-Michael Vincent facing off against a possibly suprernatural, knife-wielding killer and one big-ass bear. Hopefully Sony will get off its butt and put this one on DVD someday. The creepiest of all the Deliverance imitations, Rituals has become quite the fan favorite in recent years with various trailers for its Canadian and American incarnations (sometimes as The Creeper) popping up on various comps. The one here under the original title is the nicest-looking and longest of the bunch, which is always enjoyable; the movie's really excellent, too, and worth hunting down.
One of the odder attempts at a star vehicle for a sitcom star, Americathon plunks John Ritter in a whiplash-inducing satire of US culture also featuring Harvey Korman, Meat Loaf, Fred Willard, and a ton of great songs never released on CD. The trailer's fantastic and will be a revelation for many, which might prompt a DVD release so people will stop charging so much money for VHS tapes. Serial is better, though. Even goofier is Can I Do It... 'Til I Need Glasses?, a gleefully stupid sketch comedy out on DVD from Code Red (though its sequel still remains MIA). The biggest shocker on this disc is easily Die Laughing, the strangest star vehicle for '70s teen heartthrob Robby Benson. Here he plays a can driver who gets involved in strange shenanigans thanks to a spy monkey, all executed by the director of Cheerleaders' Wild Weekend. However, even that's not as weird as In God We Tru$t, a frantic religious satire directed by and starring Marty Feldman, playing a monk tangling with Louise Lasser and Andy Kaufman (as "Armageddon T. Thunderbird") with Richard Pryor popping up as, uh, God. A cable staple now impossible to see, this should job the memories of lots of viewers who grew up watching HBO in the '80s. Another forgotten comedy, Undercovers Hero is the confused American retitling of Soft Beds, Hard Battles, a mediocre Roy Boulting comedy from 1974 with Peter Sellers playing six different roles, including Adolph Hitler.
Fans of Jack Hill's Switchblade Sisters should get a kick out of the reissue trailer on view here as The Jezebels, complete with the infamous roller rink showdown. This one really needs no further explanation; if you haven't seen this drive-in favorite already, go out and grab the DVD already. One of many vigilante crime films from the '70s, Breaking Point is a violent, T&A-laced offering from Bob Clark (in between Black Christmas and Porky's) with Bo Svenson as an average dad fighting back against the mob, most memorably with a huge bulldozer. In the same vein, Fighting Mad has Peter Fonda, the reliably naked Lynn Lowry, and director Jonathan Demme going through the death wish paces as a farmer hits back against the bigwigs trying to take over their farmland. Another mid-'70s actioner, Moving Violation ("It wasn't a joyride!", stars Kay Lenz and Stephen McHattie as two lovers who witness some corrupt cops committing a murder and have to go on the run in what amounts to a 90-minute chase scene, with one fun truck stunt stealing the show in the trailer. More gun mayhem pops up in Bonnie's Kid, one of the most fondly-remembered vehicles for '70s trash cinema queen Tiffany Bolling, who here plays part of a criminal sister team on the run causing trouble in midwest America. Not surprisingly, most of its wildest and nakest moments get the spotlight here. Bo Svenson pops up again in one of his most famous roles as Sheriff Buford Pusser in Walking Tall Part II, breaking up a bunch of fascist redneck justice gangs in the Deep South. But that's nothing compared to The Klansman, an all-star Southern shocker with Lee Marvin, Richard Burton, Cameron Mitchell, and, uh, O.J. Simpson; tacky and tastless in the extreme, it's an insane example of nuts a major studio (in this case Paramount, back to back with Mandingo) could go with a few stars and a questionable script. The trailer for Monkey Hustle, a solid blaxploitation comedy with Rudy Ray Moore and Yaphet Kotto, has been around for years on different comps as well as the feature's DVD release, but it's always n ice to see again. Returning to action trash but this time in the early '80s, The Soldier is a particularly violent offering with Ken Wahl and Klaus Kinski facing off against a bunch of exceptionally nasty terrorists. Blackout, a weirdly endearing 1977 thriller, offers a speculative crime story based around New York City's notorious prolonged blackout, which gives a gang of criminals the chance to run wild. Robert Carradine, June Allyson, and Ray Milland are featured in a truly strange aligning of the casting stars. Speaking of weird casts, Lee Marvin and Roger Moore team up with a bunch of Eurosleave vets for Shout at the Devil, an action-packed film passed off here like some sort of odd period film about some really violent hunters. Or something. Then you get more big-star action, this time out in the desert, with March or Die, featuring Gene Hackman, Catherine Deneuve, Max Von Sydow, Terence Hill, and many more wiping the sand out of their eyes among the French Foreign Legion. Then you get more period mayhem with a slapstick twist courtesy of The Loves and Times of Scaramouche, with Ursula Andress and Michael Serrazin running around surrounded by lots of flying swords and heaving cleavage. Of course, it was directed by Enzo G. Castellari, which is probably the only reason it's on this disc.
How about some bikers? Then take a gander as Hog Wild and The Hard Heads, or put up with Steve Guttenberg for two minutes' worth of the cable classic The Chicken Chronicles. A young Richard Hatch appears for the drive-in Crown International obscurity Best Friends, followed by the sports triple header of Our Winning Season, Coach and the Susan Anton oddity Goldengirl. Many of the entries in the second half are way too mainstream or slow-paced and cause the collection to sag quite a bit, but the rarities here (especially Jessica definitely make it worth a gander. Once again you get a commentary track by Fango editor Mike Gingold, trash cinema guru Chris Poggiali, and AVManiacs' Edwin Samuelson, which helps guide the collection over a few speed bumps and keeps things lively with lots of trivia, much of it hilarious and sometimes utterly foul.
Color, 2008, 101m.
Synapse (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)
After the head-spinning and wildly contrasting first two entries in Synapseís editions of the 42nd Street Forever series, things swerve heavily into Ď70s and early Ď80s action territory with this lively entry, a successful stab at a pure party disc which even newcomers can appreciate. The disc opens with a cute cartoon bumper similar to the kitty-car "Restricted" notice, then jumps into the explosive trailer for Sudden Death with Robert Conrad, Don Stroud, and lots of punching, shooting, and soul brother karate chopping. Packed with fake Anglo screen names, The One Armed Executioner is a particularly berserk martial arts/action epic packed with grenades, helicopter mayhem, and villages exploding all over the place (and narrated by that guy who did most of Russ Meyer's voiceovers). "Martial arts superstar" Joe Lewis stars in Jaguar Lives, a mostly forgotten but entertaining piece of drive-in trash starring Barbara Bach, Capucine, Christopher Lee, Donald Pleasence, John Huston and Joseph Wiseman, plus one of the funniest motorcycle gags you'll ever see. Then it's Cannon time with the amazing Enter the Ninja, which made Sho Kusogi an '80s action icon and dumped Franco Nero and Susan George into the story of a "white ninja." The Lone Wolf and Cub classic Lightning Swords of Death pops up with its original Columbia Pictures trailer; though not as outrageous as the legendary Shogun Assassin, it's an interesting exampe of how this epic series was originally pitched to American audiences. The immortal kung fu classic 5 Fingers of Death (featuring a quick cameo from that familiar "Ironside" theme) makes an inevitable appearance; this one tore up the grindhouse crowds in the '70s and deservedly remains one of the most popular films of its kind. Finally, the martial arts wing of the collection wraps up with Antonio Margheriti's weird spaghetti western chopsocky fusion, The Stranger and the Gunfighter, which teams up Lee Van Cleef with 5 Fingers star Lo Lieh and kept circulating for years under a variety of titles like Blood Money.
The horror section comes next, carrying over the Italian thread with Ovidio Assonitis' smash Exorcist copy, Beyond the Door, with a pregnant Juliet Mills rasping, puking, and sending kitchenware all over the screen. A truly great trailer for the truly terrible Demonoid somehow manages to make this Samantha Eggar/Stuart Whitman turkey look like a stylish, violent shocker, with a great table-smashing gag really standing out. Then it's back to Italian Exorcist territory again with The Night Child, a scope trailer featuring Nicoletta Elmi ("Just keep saying to yourself: She's just a child! Just a child!") as another tyke gone bad. And speaking of evil kids, the ridiculously brutal trailer for Devil Times Five ("...leaves nobody alive!") features cute little nippers unleashing mantraps and piranhas against a bunch of unsympathetic adults in the woods. Two Carrie rip-offs follow with Patrick (its American trailer, which is different from the one included on the feature's DVD release) and the ridiculous Jennifer, which features Bert Convy and John Gavin in another schoolgirl-gone-evil tale. The excellent Phase IV is the sole directorial outing for pioneering credit designer Saul Bass, and the killer trailer on display here should hopefully motivate more people to petition Paramount for a DVD release. Naturally, you'd have to follow that one with Bug, William Castle's memorable nature-amok offering with big hell-beetles munching away at a small desert town. (This should also please everyone let down by this feisty trailer's absence on Paramount's DVD release of the film itself.) "The most fiendish, the most fascinating creature of all" attacks next in the British anthology film The Uncanny, which recounts three tales of terror instigated by, uh, housecats. The trailer's a riot, though, with Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasence, Samantha Eggar, and Ray Milland all trying to look terrified of hissing kitties. Lest cat lovers be offended, things get remedied next with The Pack as Joe Don Baker contends with a rampaging group of bloodthirsty canines on the loose (mostly in slow motion). As the voiceover helpfully intones, "Last summer they were pets; now they are predators!" The familiar trailer for Alligator is always a winner; this John Sayles-penned classic still holds up as a classic of its kind, and the suggestive trailer still works just fine. Things get much junkier with the charmingly stupid Killer Fish, Antonio Margheriti's disco-scored rip-off of Piranha, Earthquake and The Deep starring Lee Majors and Karen Black. Similarly, Cornel Wilde's Shark's Treasure features solemn voiceovers trying to grab the Jaws crowd while obscuring most of the crime aspects. The movie ain't bad, though. The hilarious Blood Beach gets a suitably goofy trailer, featuring perhaps the most bizarre, stoned-out narration ever recorded for a mainstream release. Meanwhile, John Saxon and Burt Young do their best to look serious with lines like "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water... you can't get to it!"
The sexploitation section commences with that bubble-headed Cannon ode to the wet T-shirt craze, Hot T-Shirts, which basically plays like a long Hooters commercial set to disco music (directed by porn vet Chuck Vincent, no less!). Cheerleaders' Wild Weekend tries its best to look like a raucous comedy ("It'll grab you by the pom poms!"), completely obscuring the fact that this Bill Osco drive-in special is really a violent kidnapping crime story, and a pretty good one at that. At least Summer School Teachers really is a trashy sexploitation comedy, with Dick Miller shouting his way through a bevy of nubile cuties in tight shorts and tank tops. One of the best trailers on the disc, Gorp, features close-ups of talking mouths to tout this "insulting" and "offensive" film; the movie itself, starring a young Dennis Quaid and Fran Drescher, isn't anything special, but the trailer is a blast. The raunch continues with another terrific trailer for the cinema's most epic ode to flatulence, King Frat, another junky "slob" comedy cable classic just screaming out for a DVD release. The 3-D favorite Prison Girls gets pitched with lots of wakka-wakka funk music, while the similar 1000 Convicts and a Woman uses the women in prison template for lots of sexploitation thrills. The more sedate Chain Gang Women still looks great with a psychedelic trailer pushing its more delirious moments, even if the actual film is about as interesting as a flat mug of beer.
Another film still woefully missing from home video, Peter Collinson's The Penthouse, is represented with a killer Paramount trailer; you'll want to see the film (starring Suzy Kendall and Tony Beckley), but good luck finding it. Another sleazy sex-and-violence offering, The House by the Lake, was originally a Canadian thriller called Death Weekend with Brenda Vaccaro but was retitled to cash in on Last House on the Left (with a very similar trailer to match). Roger Corman's Night Call Nurses (directed by future mainstream director Jonathan Kaplan) was the second in the successful series of nurse films, with a bit more perversity here than usual thanks to some bloodshed, cop chases and cross-dressing. More TLC turns up with The Young Nurses, a more typical offering with lots and lots of bare breasts and hot tub action (along with a quick cameo by Samuel Fuller to keep things interesting). Finally the series wraps up with Candy Stripe Nurses, which uses cartoons and weird editing to sell what proved to be a rapidly diminishing franchise. The legally-beseiged hardcore cash-in, The Life and Times of Xaviera Hollander, features a cast of familiar faces walking through the story of the real-life "Happy Hooker," who's also represented in the more mainstream Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood with Martine Beswicke as the enterprising madam who taps Hollywood (and, ahem, Batman himself, Adam West).
If you're craving munchies by this point, the sleazy Mexican "true life" story of cannibalistic soccer players, Rene Cardona's Survive, pops up with its great American trailer packed with lots of voiceover hyperbole and fake snow. (It was later remade as Alive, and the Americanized version dubbed and shortened by Paramount has pretty much vanished from sight altogether.) Cardona returns again with another real-life trashfest, Guyana - Cult of the Damned, a shameless all-star piece of tabloid cinematic junk with Stuart Whitman and Joseph Cotton in the true story of suicide cult leader Jim Jones. The action ramps up again with Andy Sedaris' second film, Seven (a precursor to his seemingly endless string of '80s boobs and boats cable epics), and the generic Stella Stevens action vehicle Scorchy, which features the blonde babe trying to look sexy while shooting randomly at lots of props. One of the most memorable '80s drive-in favorites, Savage Streets, features New Wave punks, cheerleaders, catfighting, and a badass Linda Blair; yet again, this wonderfully vile gem needs a bells-and-whistles DVD release, pronto (and avoid the crappy bootleg DVD already on the market, sourced from a videotape). One of Sam Peckinpah's later and least-remembered films, Convoy, stars Kris Kristofferson and Ali McGraw in a fun but weirdly impersonal action film centered around trucker culture. The mostly improvised final result was disastrous but rather compelling when experienced without warning on cable. Jerry Reed narrates his way through the trailer for High Ballin', a mostly forgotten AIP trucker film co-starring Peter Fonda and Helen Shaver which barely played anywhere aside from network TV. The stunts look fun, though. Of course, you need a little Charles Bronson in there somewhere, and here he pops up in the peculiar comic western, From Noon Till Three, which still seems to pop up on cable TV every other month for some reason. More typical of big Chucky is the great late '70s Don Siegel thriller Telefon, in which he portrays a non-accented Russian teaming up with Lee Remick to stop a series of sleeper agent assassinations triggered by Donald Pleasence via telephone. Still not on DVD, but well worth catching on DVD. The forgotten '80s thriller Lies (from the guys who made Silent Scream) is worth catching if you find it on tape, and the trailer's not too shabby either. Anyone who frequented theaters in the early '80s certainly remembers the weird, minimalist trailer for Tattoo, a controversial kinky thriller with Bruce Dern and Maude Adams (who later argued in public about the level of non-simulation involved in their love scenes).
Synapseís anamorphic presentation looks about on par with the previous entries; the transfers look fine in terms of color and clarity, while the source material varies from one trailer to the next. Some scratches and mild wear are evident, but itís entirely appropriate and rarely distracting; all of them are of the same caliber as most vintage trailers on studio releases, in most cases even higher. Only The Night Child really looks messy thanks to an avalanche of red speckles. The mono audio for all of the trailers sounds fine throughout; most of them feature bass-heavy, loud voiceovers which come through loud and clear, with no distracting audio splices to pull you away from the fun. Just fine for what it is. The biggest bonus feature by far is an entertaining audio commentary from the first trailer to the last by Fangoria editor and Leeches scribe Mike Gingold, encyclopedic film historian Chris Poggiali, and AVManiacs editor Edwin Samuelson, who run through thumbnail histories of each film and offer some great tidbits of info, often related to the regional releases of the films during their initial theatrical runs. In another DVD first, you also get to hear the editor of Fango utter "the c word," and don't miss the closing line! Also, a perusal of the special features leads to some fun TV spots for Jaguar Lives, Seniors, High Ballin', The Last Survivor (aka Jungle Holocaust), the unbelievable The Jesus Trip (with nuns on bikes and shotgun crucifixions!), Naked Angels ("whether breakin' heads or smokin' pot, they're the cancer of a sick society!"), Billy Jack, and yet another kung fu film, Golden Needles. Needless to say, you get your money's worth!
Color, 2007, 130m.
Synapse (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)
The mind-melting trailer series takes a severe left turn with this (unnumbered) entry, a compilation of newly-transferred vintage porn trailers covering many of the famous stars and directors from the second half of the porno chic era. Here we go...
Nasty Girls: Prolific director Henri Pachard (aka Ron Sullivan) gets the spotlight first here with this 1983 episodic romp involving various couplings at a metropolitan singles bar. Of primary interest here is the cast, a who's who of performers at the time including Tiffany Clark, Sharon Mitchell, Last House on the Left's Fred J. Lincoln, Sharon Kane, Robert Kerman, and Ashley Moore.
Coming Together: More '80s smut, this time with Paul Vatelli's apparently plotless skin-a-thon featuring fan favorites Sharon Kelly, Kristara Barrington, and the always-busy, inexplicably popular Herschel Savage. Not a particularly interesting movie, but it must have fans since it's been in circulation on video for ages.
Alexandra: An okay 1983 attempt at a plot-oriented soap opera with sex, with Joanna Storm as a woman whose contact with three of her exes has unusual consequences for everyone involved. Currently available on DVD, it also stars Lauren Wilde, Rachel Ashley, and several familiar faces from above including Robert Kerman, Ashley Moore, and the ever-present Eric Edwards. The trailer pretty much covers all the highlights, so it might save you a rental.
Heart Throbs: Two-hitter G.W. Hunter (Oriental Jade-- see below) directed this popular-on-VHS title, which features fan favorite Susan Hart, Laurie Smith, and the energetic but physically dubious presence of Ron Jeremy and Harry Reems. The title card is definitely one of the more creatively lewd conceptions of the decade.
Nothing to Hide: One of the best films represented on this collection, Anthony Spinelli's excellent sequel to Talk Dirty to Me reteams John Leslie and Richard Pacheco as friends whose constrasting degrees of luck in the sack cause them to establish very different relationships with women, including scene-stealer Holly McCall. Easy to find (cheap!) on DVD and highly recommended.
Slip into Silk: West Coast adult favorite Kelly Nichols (who started off in The Toolbox Murders) gets the whole show to herself in this All About Eve-inspired look at a female radio celebrity who has to turn bi to ward off the scheming of a female newcomer.
Oriental Jade: This sequel to Heartthrobs features much of the same cast in another Westerners-gettin'-some-in-the-Far-East story, with Kristara Barrington leading a bunch of white girls (with one token Asian) through various sexcapades with, uh, a bunch of white guys. (See Seven Seductions of Madame Lau for a more adventurous take on the same idea.)
Debbie Does Dallas III: Kristara pops up again for this choppy but popular sequel, which at least features a more impressive roster of stars than the original thanks to Joanna Storm and Jerry Butler, as well as original star Bambi Woods (well, sorta).
Debbie Does 'Em All: One of the porndom's most mysterious cult figures, the beautiful Angel gets a rare lead role in this better-than-average entry in the random series. A former Seventeen covergirl, she nabbed a huge fan following in a brief period with her films, and this is one of her best showcases. Also featured are industry stalwarts like Jamie Gillis, Shanna McCullough, Annie Sprinkle and Marc Wallice, but no too many folks noticed.
I Want To Be Bad: The late Gary Graver (aka Robert McCallum) was one of the few directors to successfully navigate back and forth between XXX cinema and "legit" B-movies, with this run-of-the-mill entry in the "bad girls" template most notable for the presence of the always entertaining Kay Parker, plus pros like Jacqueline Lorians and Paul Thomas.
Sensations: one of the most frequently compiled adult trailers around, and with good reason, this chic and stylish piece of promotion helped catapult erratic but interesting Algerian director Lasse Braun into the porn director elite. Brigitte Maier starts as a nymphet who undergoes a drastic sexual awakening over a 24-hour period, and this beautifully-edited, flashy trailer perfectly captures the elegant but perverse appeal of the film itself, which was reportedly even screened at Cannes!
G-Strings: Holy crap! This 1984 kinkfest from Henri Pachard features one of the most frenzied trailers you'll ever see, with Suzy Nero, George Payne, and Kelly Nichols heading a huge cast engaged in, well, everything you can think of. Wild stuff! Totally deranged, and probably the film you'll put on a DVD wish list first after watching this collection.
For Services Rendered: Bridgette Monet and Rick Cassidy feature in this choppy secret agent spoof, with Bridgette Monet and Heather Thomas adding some extra spice. "Starring" Ian MacGregor as "James Bomb," tee hee.
Blonde Heat: Originally titled The Maltese Dildo, this brain-dead but moderately interesting spoof of the Dashiell Hammett classic features John Leslie as a randy private eye tangling with a colorful cast including Seka, Angel, and none other than the film's producer, exploitation legend David F. Friedman, in the Sidney Greenstreet role. Another one that's been in heavy circulation since the VHS days.
Blonde Ambition: One of the undisputed porn classics, this sexy musical comedy stars Benny Hill regular Suzy Mandel (with a terrible body double for the hardcore scenes) follows the misadventures of a pair of vaudevilian sisters as they tangle with a variety of men, a porno production of Gone with the Wind, some frisky neighbors, and a goofy caper that lands them in a transvestite club. A really good movie, with or without the sex.
Burlexxx: Continuing the vaudeville theme, this series of stagebound skits-turned-sex-acts is a middle-of-the-road offering more notable for its classic cast including Samantha Fox, Honey Wilder, Jerry Butler, Sharon Kane, and the tireless Gloria Leonard. Fun but disposable.
Showgirls: No relation to the Paul Verhoeven film, of course. This outing from the late Gary Graver is, as usual, a professionally-mounted job with Joanna Storm and Nina Hartley and completes the stage-act portion of this DVD, with a bunch of strippers trying to save their place of employment by mounting anything with two legs.
Surrender in Paradise: This companion film to the popular The Pink Lagoon (which features most of the same cast) finds Jerry Butler washed up on a tropical island populated by female castaways who... well, you can figure out the rest. Easy to find on video and a good example of '80s porn at its most accessible, with an early memorable performance from Samantha Fox.
Scheherazade: 1001 Erotic Nights: An early '80s episodic film tied together with Annette Haven as the titular storyteller, teamed up once again with frequent co-star John Leslie. Pretty soft and forgettable, but the fairly ambitious production values might make this worth a look.
Matinee Idol: Another David F. Friedman special, this time with Jessie St. James and John Leslie climbing the showbiz ladder while everyone around them takes advantage of the casting couch. Quite good as far as these things go, sort of a porned-up twist on Friedman's earlier grindhouse favorite, Starlet.
Trashy Lady: A rare attempt to do a '30s art deco period piece, and not a bad one (though you'd never guess it from the wretched-looking DVD available now), with Harry Reems as a mobster trying to turn a naive working girl into his moll. This would make a great double feature with The Bite, another solid XXX stab at the same era.
All American Girls: An okay, rather popular '82 title with no-names behind the camera and some notable cult names in front of it such as Jacqueline Lorians and the late Shauna Grant.
The Ribald Tales of Canterbury: Another episodic porn, this time riffing on the Chaucer classic (sometimes with surprising faithfulness) with Hypathia Lee, a bearded Mike Horner, and a very enthusiastic Colleen Brennan making this a lively romp worth checking out, primarily for its marathon-style intercutting of various love scenes throughout the film.
"F": A super-stylish head trip that should have been a midnight movie hit along the lines of Cafe Flesh, this genre-warper follows John Leslie who, after leaving his wife, winds up in a spooky house populated by surreal hedonists who get him involved in an eye-popping array of supernatural scenarios. Definitely check it out, and easily one of this disc's brightest moments.
Naked Scents: An interesting attempt to update the romantic screwball comedy template to '80s smut, this engaging romp follows Tish Ambrose and Italian horror staple Robert "R. Bolla" Kerman as they try to reconcile their promiscuous natures with promises of fidelity.
Supergirls Do the Navy: Fun title, drab trailer; this sex comedy from Henri Pachard is a bit tricky to find now and doesn't look worth the effort, though fans of Raven and Kristara Barrington might find it worth a peek.
Tight & Tender: Ron Jeremy and lots of smiling girls star in another anonymous programmer with no apparent plot.
Passage through Pamela: Whaa-- huh? In this porn version of Dinah East (sort of), the title character (whose real name is never credited) is a supermodel whose quest to complete a sex change operation leads to a number of scorching sex scenes. God only knows who's really responsible for this one, but unprepared viewers will definitely find their attention seized by this one.
Skintight: Annette Haven and Paul Thomas team up yet again, and this is one of their strongest outings as they portray the chief therapist and manager of a sanitarium where everyone has an oddball kink of their own.
Hot Blooded: Angel strikes again in one of her tamer vehicles, though the participation of vets like Kay Parker and Harry Reems ensures some classic value. Haven't seen this one, but the trailer looks pretty middle of the road.
Desire: More Kay Parker, this time in a sultry melodrama about a man trying to uncover his late wife's mysterious past. Also starring William Margold (the closest thing to sandpaper on the eyes in '80s porn), and easy to find on video if you're so inclined.
Beyond Desire: An anonymous-looking mid-'80s programmer featuring appearances by Vanessa Del Rio and Seka. Not much of a plot or even basic concept in sight, except for a discernible lack of lighting.
Hot Lips: A bunch of Runaways-style girl rockers tangle with a bunch of frisky New Yorkers in this fun-looking flick, which looks like it could be a cult item if anyone could actually see it. Click here for another review of this DVD with some oddball trivia about one of the cast members, too!
Aroused: Despite the generic title, this sci-fi-and-smut title looks interesting enough with Amber Lynn and Ron Jeremy heading a cast assaulted with cheap-looking sex toys and Twiggy-inspired robots.
Fascination: One of the many classics churned out over a brief period by the legendary Chuck Vincent (who directed, produced and/or wrote a staggering number of early '80s gems), this one starring Ron Jeremy (in one of earlier lead roles after getting out of his kinkier "hedgehog" period) and the always watchable Candida Royalle.
Scandalous Simone: One of the many attempts to copy the success of Pretty Peaches, this middling effort from exhibitionistic director Peter Balakoff (who had earlier melded porn with horror for much more interesting earlier films) doesn't really stick out from the pack here.
Girls on Fire: One of the lightest Jamie Gillis films, no doubt inspired by Bosom Buddies (and thus Some Like It Hot by default) with two guys dressing up in drag to elude the mob. Also starring eternal fan favorite Ginger Lynn.
Beverly Hills Cox: Speaking of Ms. Lynn, she's featured here far more prominently in one of her better films as a private dick (sorry) whose conquets include regular screen partner Jerry Butler. Pure day-glo '80s trash, just the way you remember it. Bonus points for being one of the last trailers hosted by the main star, which always makes it more fun.
Tickled Pink: Another above-average comedic piece of fluff, this time with ever-busy Eric Edwards and Taija Rae as a couple whose marital problems propel them into the swinger lifestyle; especially notable for a prime later appearance by Farrah lookalike Rhonda Jo Petty.
Making It Big: Here's another one without an apparent plot, but it does feature another name cast including Jacqueline Lorians, Paul Thomas, the controversial Marc Wallice, and Desiree Lane.
Dracula Exotica: One of several vampire spoofs unleashed in the late '70s, this porno version of the Dracula story took a backseat in public awareness to the inferior Dracula Sucks but is a lot more fun. Jamie Gillis stars as the title bloodsucker, though Vanessa Del Rio really steals the show with her juicy bloodsucking turn. The incredible supporting cast features most of the in-demand performers of the period (Samantha Fox, Randy West, and many, many more); too bad the trailer here looks much better than any existing video transfers of the feature itself!
Ultra Flesh: Though it was only marginally noticed upon its release, this delirious sci-fi/hardcore concoction has amassed a solid cult following in recent years, and with good reason. Seka stars in one of her most appealing roles as a sexy alien trying to cure an outbreak of impotence, but that's just the beginning of what could be the closest thing to a XXX version of Rocky Horror. Oh yeah, and Ralphus from Bloodsucking Freaks (the late Luis de Jesus) is featured at the height of his porn career mounting Lisa de Leeuw, which is unlike anything else you've ever seen.
Devil in Miss Jones III: If you're a fan of the Dark Brothers (I'm not), they're well-represented with this popular sequel to the '70s classic. Their post-Cafe Flesh aesthetic of mixing pitch-black grunge with neon colors is plastered all over the place as various oiled-up bodies pound at each other in the afterlife. The back-to-back sequel, Devil in Miss Jones 4, pops up rather afterwards on the disc for a double dose of Dark depravity.
Supergirls Do General Hospital: Another entry in the Supergirls series, this time with heavyweights Kristara Barrington and Paul Thomas joining in the silliness for this ultra-slight soap parody.
The Oddest Couple: While the Dark Brothers would be the most logical place to wrap things up (since they pretty much set the look for years to come), this collection ends instead with a kinky comedy about a slutty blonde (Danielle) whose new prudish roommate loosens up under her spell. Another slick-looking offering from Henri Pachard, who opened this entire collection off as well.
The entire disc is presented widescren at 1.78:1 and enhanced for widescreen televisions; most of the films here were shot open matte to remain TV-friendly but framed for exhibition at around 1.85:1 for theaters. A handful of titles here are still presented with pillarboxed black bars on the sides to maintain a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, notably Nothing to Hide, which could have still been cropped off without doing any damage to the compositions. The film elements look great throughout and have obviously undergone some clean-up, though some of the more cheaply-produced titles will obviously never look pristine. The mono soundtrack is about what you'd expect. Obviously geared for those who came of age to '80s porn before video consumed the industry, this collection is a fun, nostalgic, and utterly randy offering that nicely serves as a companion piece to the vintage '70s trailer comps floating around. Hey, it's packed with big hair, big boobs, and big fun; what more could you want?
42ND STREET FOREVER: VOLUME 1
Color, 2005, 128m.
Synapse (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)
42ND STREET FOREVER: VOLUME 2
Color, 2006, 121m. / Synapse (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)
Adding a welcome "Volume 1" to the name of an earlier fan-based DVD trailer compilation, this appropriately lurid guilty pleasure disc from Synapse carries over the same philosophy of a coming attraction free-for-all in which giant monsters, kung fu kickboxers, and naked women all mingle together in one mind-bending visual stew. Carrying over many titles from the earlier disc's promised "Worldwide Trash" installment while adding many new welcome surprises and oddities, this offers solid basis for its advertised claims as "the greatest party DVD ever!" And unlike its competitors, this offering presents brand-spankin'-new 16x9 transfers of every trailer, with every eye-popping hue and grimy emulsion scratch offering in razor-sharp clarity.
A quick run-through of the goodies on display, most dating between the mid-'60s to the late '70s, reveals a few familiar favorites rubbing shoulders with some striking new discoveries. The Undertaker and His Pals kicks off the disc with a welcome splash of gore, followed by the long, moody trailer for Pete Walker's The Flesh and Blood Show, a pairing of Women and Bloody Terror and Night of Bloody Horror, and the long, loooong version of that ubiquitous I Dismember Mama/Blood Spattered Bride trailer ("heh heh heh heh"). However, things detour into more unusual territory with the trailer for that elusive Peter Cushing sleaze gem, Corruption and the incredibly obscure The Butcher of Binbrook, followed by a dip in the sexploitation pool with the sex-and-spies favorite Ginger, the Sly Stallone soft-core favorite The Italian Stallion, the Edwige Fenech video staple Creampuffs, Pete Walker's 3-D sex opus The 3 Dimensions of Greta (instead of the usual "Four" in its title), more 3-D titillation with Hard Candy, the Tiffany Bolling exploitation favorite The Centerfold Girls, and the scope-smut epic, Panorama Blue (complete with Rick Cassidy getting down in a rollercoaster, apparently). Ms. Bolling turns up again for the split-screen shocker oddity Wicked Wicked, followed by Jerry Gross' sex-ed curio Teenage Mother and the Spanish-lensed sexathon, Charlie and the Hooker. How do you follow that one? Well, with the killer-mushrooms-and-drugs classic Matango, of course, along with Kenji Fukasaku's The Green Slime, the ultimate Japanese monster mash, Destroy All Monsters, and the jaw-dropping, non-PC martial arts gem, The Crippled Master.
Then hop on your hog for two of the weirdest biker films ever, Werewolves on Wheels and the stunning The Pink Angels, followed by the Christina Lindberg triple-header of The Depraved, They Call Her One Eye and Maid in Sweden. Walerian Borowczyk steps up next with the French trailer for Behind Convent Walls, while the mondo subgenre gets a nod with Secret Africa and a Dutch-subtitled trailer for the infamous Shocking Asia. Then you get a great, eye-popping trailer for the druggie/indie oddity Chappaqua, followed by the blaxploitation/killer penis antics of Welcome Home, Brother Charles and two Fred Williamson titles understandably omitted from the DVD's outer packaging, The Legend of Nigger Charlie and Boss Nigger. John Saxon pops up for Stelvio Massi's Italian actioner The 44 Specialist (a little-known alternate title for Mark Strikes Again), and British crime gets its shot with The Bullet Machine (an equally obscure retitling of Lindsay Shonteff's Clegg). Speaking of weird title changes, the David Hess/Franco Nero sleaze gem Hitch-Hike pops up under the title Death Drive, and Ruggero Deodato's Raiders of Atlantis offers that one-time-only teaming of Christopher Connelly, Tony King, Ivan Rassimov, George Hilton, and, um, a bunch of scary mutant bikers from beneath the sea. Then it's up to outer space for the ultra-tacky Italian Star Wars cash-in, Star Crash, with an abrupt switch to ditzy British sex comedy with Confessions of a Summer Camp Counsellor, the sexy beach antics of Sunset Cove, and the ridiculous Terence Hill vehicle Superfuzz. And if you want really rare, how about Death Will Have Your Eyes, apparently a very covert English release of the super-rare Farley Granger/Marisa Mell thriller, Infamia. More Euro-thriller antics ensue with the Greek Death Has Blue Eyes and the Italian A Black Veil for Lisa, then brace your brain for a French trailer for the awe-inspiring Ironmaster. Another unadvertised trailer pops up in the form of a scope sword-and-sandal outing, Rape of the Sabines, which leads to the standard (i.e., non-video) trailer for The Deadly Spawn and, last but not least, a full-length trailer for The Devil's Nightmare that's much more satisfying than the U.S. teaser that usually turns up.
Video quality on the trailers ranges from excellent to scruffy, though all have been obviously given new hi-def facelifts and look better than one would expect. (Oddly, the most recent titles seem to be in the roughest shape!) As an overall experience, the disc certainly succeeds as a sampler platter of the kind of electic fare offered on 42nd Street (and comparable neighborhoods willing to play anything to get a buck); what a shame you can't experience this kind of brain-damaging cinematic nirvana outside of a home theater anymore! If you're a trailer fanatic, this is a no-brainer essential purchase; for anyone curious about exploitation and "incredibly strange" cinema dying to make the leap, this is an enjoyable, fast-paced place to start.
If that's not enough, Volume 2: The Deuce piles on another two-hour helping. Once again all the trailers are transferred from film elements at a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, which suits most of them just fine. First up is the absolutely killer trailer for Abel Ferrara's Ms. 45, a hypnotic mini-masterpiece inexplicably left off the DVD release (but included on the original unrated laserdisc version), followed by Billy Jack's first cinematic outing, the biker classic Born Losers. You get a nice chunk of '70s drive-in fun with the William Devance / Paul Schrader classic Rolling Thunder (is that one ever coming out on DVD?), the Lee Frost moonshine/vigilante favorite Dixie Dynamite, the biker favorite Hells Angels on Wheels (with Jack Nicholson), MST3000 favorite The Hellcats, the '50s JD hotrodder, Dragstrip Riot, and the gun-packed '70s speeder, Stingray. Take a drag through the Valley with Crown International's Van Nuys Blvd., the proper car racing drama Burnout, and the weirder "anything on four wheels" mudfest, Dirt. Blaxploitation gets a workout with the tough-to-see Savage! and the wild-looking Kenner, followed by the southern-fried dramatics of ...Tick...Tick...Tick, the color-blind western Take a Hard Ride, the urban action of Samson and The Guy from Harlem, and of course, that memorable zombies-and-voodoo AIP favorite, Sugar Hill.
Head off to Europe next for the dopey Italian comedy of When Women Had Tails, the trendsetting Swede sleaze of I, a Woman, the softcore smut of The Curious Female and the B&W The Babysitter, the colorful Street Girls and monochromatic College Girls, Crown's randy The Pom Pom Girls, the birth-of-a-baby antics of Helga, the super-roughie action of Invitation to Ruin, the frisky road antics of Pick-Up, the cons-and-cuties weirdness of Delinquent Schoolgirls, the AIP Filipino explosions of Savage Sisters, and for some reason, the B&W Jayne Mansfield vehicle, Female Jungle.
Then it's time for gargantuan proportions of a different kind of a bunch of '50s monster both big and average: Gigantis the Fire Monster (a retitling of the second Godzilla movie), The Giant Gila Monster, The Hideous Sun Demon, and the much rarer The Monster of Piedras Blancas. The trippy 1970 AIP trailer for Murders in the Rue Morgue pops up (looking a tad more ragged than the one on the MGM DVD), followed by the Richard Gordon Brit-horror oddity The Woman Eater, the wacko alien-monster thrills of The Dark, and an absolutely riotous trailer for the Richard Crenna/Joanna Pettet horror freakshow, The Evil, that must've packed 'em in back in '79. Then it's back to AIP again for the mostly-forgotten rural terrors of The Evictors (featuring the always welcome Jessica Harper), Wes Craven's underrated Hittites-and-spiders mash Deadly Blessing (featuring a very young Sharon Stone), and upgraded versions of the two often-seen trailers for Rabid and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Whew! Yep, there's more, like the long and very freaky, text-heavy promo for The Clones, the '50s sci-fi fun of Mission Mars (featuring a disturbingly young Darren McGavin), the silly Terence Hill action of Mr. Billion, Brett Halsey and Dana Andrews doing the Eurospy thing in Spy in Your Eye, the slapstick stupidity of The Last of the Secret Agents?, the what-the-hell shoot-'em-up Trunk to Cairo, and the ridiculous James Bond knock-off, Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die. Want some peplum? Howzabout Amazons of Rome with LOuis Jourdan, the wacko muscleman-and-Zorro outing of Samson and the Slave Queen, and the decidedly more lavish Revolt of the Slaves (with Rhonda Fleming) and The Revenge of the Gladiators. Though neither of them are mentioned on the back sleeve, the disc closes out with two of its finest offerings, the reworked Lone Wolf and Cub Americanization of Shogun Assassin and the unique, disco-heavy charms of Skatetown U.S.A., featuring a young, gum-popping Patrick Swayze. After that, your brain will explode.
42ND STREET FOREVER
B&W/Color, 2004, 108m.
Ban 1 Productions (US R0 NTSC)
As the title implies, this all-over-the-map trailer collection pays homage to the golden age of exploitation when New York's 42nd Street hosted every conceivable genre within a few blocks. Gory horror, sleazy sex potboilers, martial arts, marauding aliens, ear-splitting rock music; you name it, producers had it. Though subtitled "Horror on 42nd Street," this disc actually swerves through a number of head-spinning, genre-twisting concoctions that will remind older viewers of days gone by and make younger ones kick themselves for being born after Disney decided to clean out and sanitize the whole neighborhood.
After that great "R-rated" kitten spot found on many trailer comps, we're first treated to a reissue trailer for Freaks focusing on its memorable finale. Oddly enough, there aren't any trailers on the official Warner Brothers release of the film, so fans may want to snap this up just for the opener alone. Then you get the infamous, politically incorrect kung fu favorite The Crippled Masters (in scope no less), featuring the handicapped stars inflicting whoop-ass in various highlights from this must-see oddity. The Mutations, probably the most widely-seen trailer here, boasts real freaks (a la The Sentinel) in a story of mad experiments starring Donald Pleasence. The Something Weird favorite Aroused represents the roughie market with a blend of psychosis and female skin (all color tinted), but that ain't nothing compared to the Paramount trailer for Skidoo, Otto Preminger's star-studded LSD romp. Complete with a Timothy Leary endorsement(!), this is one bizarre trailer and even carries over wholesale the film's best moment, Harry Nilsson's all-singing end credits. Sporting wild hairdos, swimming pool sex and middle-aged coupling, The Wild Scene looks like an equally misguided attempt to lure middle America into a counterculture cash-in.
The postmodern mondo film The Wild Eye (which features one of the greatest '60s Italian lounge soundtracks) features The Frightened Woman's Philippe Leroy as a callous filmmaker exploited real-life cruelty, and the trailer appropriately captures this tough-to-see curio's mixture of soapy drama and high-vaulted moralizing. In The Animals, Keenan Wynn and Henry Silva star in a violent western featuring plenty of gunshots and shouting. Also seen on Synapse's They Call Her One-Eye DVD, the combo trailer for this film with House of Whipcord (retitled as Hooker's Revenge and The Photographer's Model respectively) offers pure trash heaven. Brothers barely clad in denim Kris Kristofferson and Jan-Michael Vincent star in George Armitage's Vigilante Force, a trashy revenge drama with Victoria Principal and baby-faced Bernadette Peters. Too bad this one's not on video. The action trash parade continues with Lee Frost's Dixie Dynamite, a weirdly-cropped trailer featuring Warren Oates, Christopher George, lots of car crashes, and an exploding toilet scene years before Lethal Weapon 2. Not enough? Then how about more gun-toting vengeance with Jonathan Demme's rarely-seen Fighting Mad in which Peter Fonda (and Lynn Lowry sans makeup) do their best in an explosion-packed Billy Jack knock-off.
Uh oh, then we get to the infamous Welcome Home Brother Charles, better known to the home video crowd as Soul Vengance. Yep, this is the blaxploitation outrage featuring a giant penis that strangles prison guards. Not to be missed. Then return to the down-home theme with Shantytown Honeymoon, a typical Southern heavy-breather that looks like a much less stylish Russ Meyer film. Therese and Isabelle's Anna GaŽl highlights the French thriller House of Missing Girls, but you'll be more distracted by the following trailer for Sins of the Daughter, a mish-mash of bar fights, naked body painting, lesbian trysts, and really scary ascots. It hurts so good. Then it's more sexploitation with School Girl Bride (a typical Euro nudie-cutie), the amazing-looking Josie's Castle (a biker-prison-sex-fantasy-drama), and the infamous, well-remembered Chatterbox in which Candice Rialson learns her "sensitive spot" can't learn how to shut up. The long version of the usual trailer for The Blood Spattered Bride / I Dismember Mama features the patron-in-a-straitjacket gag along with other fake ticket buyers mugging for the camera.
A retitling of Junge Holocaust, Carnivorous is Ruggero Deodato's dry run for Cannibal Holocaust combining flesh-eating atrocities with a standard jungle adventure. Then the AIP/Bert I. Gordon favorite Food of the Gods pops up to remind you of just how far some stars can fall and just how low some stars can rise (Marjoe Gortner, this means you). Tales of the Bizarre, a retitling of Secrets of Sex, features split-screen lunacy involving a mummy and chained actors. Back to the faded star motif, The Devil's Rain offers William Shatner and friends in a tale of Satanism best-remembered for the presence of a melting John Travolta. Black Christmas is the same lackluster trailer present on the Canadian DVD, while The Legend of Boggy Creek (looking oddly overmatted) is the matinee favorite about Bigfoot running loose in the Southern wilderness. The German gothic favorite creature with the Blue Hand is here with Klaus Kinski taking star honors, while the grassroots horror cult items Mark of the Witch features more Southern occult mayhem. Mark of the Devil 2 ("Exorcism!") piles on more torture and titillation with Reggie Nalder (providing the former, not the latter), while the more benign Virgin Witch features Ann Michelle and sister Vicki in one of the more fondly remembered British sexy horrors from the '70s. The double bill from hell, Women and Bloody Terror and Night of Bloody Horror (featuring a young Gerald McRaney), offers maximum ballyhoo with minimum payoff, but you will find rewards with the trailer for The Revenge of the Blood Beast, the retitling of the Barbara Steele/Michael Reeves/Ian Ogilvy cult item She Beast - in scope! If you weren't already dying to see this one restored to its original width, this excellent-looking trailer should do the trick. Then there's the great drive-in action favorite Wonder Women (featuring ass-kicking with Marilyn Joi and Roberta Collins), the rarely seen AIP gem Savage Sisters (with Cheri Caffaro taking a break from the Ginger series along with Sid Haig and JOhn Ashley), and last but certainly not least, a German trailer for Pier Paolo Pasolini's last film, Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom, which packs enough depravity into three minutes to send viewers scrambling for the showers with bleach in hand.
Apart from the trailers themselves, the disc also features an ad art gallery with pressbooks and posters for the featured titles (including Revenge of the Blood Beast, The Devil's Rain, The Mutations, etc.), a truly gonzo full pressbook for Food of the Goods with hilarious theater promo suggestions, and a promo spot for Ban 1's next release, a trailer compilation of international sleaze entitled Worldwide Trash including such gems as Creampuffs, Hitchhike, The Butcher of Binbrook, Death Will Have Your Eyes, The One-Eyed Swordsman, The Depraved, Charlie and the Hooker, and much more.