The Film: 4/5
Exploitation trailer compilations have been around long before even I was before, but since the days when the technology had developed to the point where those musty, degraded 16mm film prints could be transferred to video in watchable condition their existence has become undeniable. Companies such as Something Weird Video, Ban 1 Productions, Synapse Films, and Alternative Cinema to name but a meager few have found success releasing countless volumes of the sexiest, bloodiest, and flat out looniest movie trailers ever put together for the enjoyment of a rowdy Friday night audience on VHS and DVD. A few have even made the jump to high-definition: Synapse was first out of that particular gate in May 2012 with the first Blu-ray edition in their popular 42nd Street Forever series.
The latest to join the ranks of the 42nd Street Forever discs, Drafthouse Films' excellent Trailer War, and the amazing three-disc Shock Festival set created to compliment Stephen Romano's 2009 hardcover masterpiece of the same name is Grindhouse Trailer Classics. Though long available in the U.K. through Nucleus Films, this 129-minute assemblage of the finest shock and schlock trailers ever created makes it way to our shores care of Intervision Picture Corp.
Most of the trailers on this disc are not exactly hard to find and have been released on DVD and Blu-ray compilations before, but Classics still serves as a top-quality primer for every B-movie virgin who never got the chance to bring a date to a drive-in double feature and make out in the backseat while the other patrons honked their horns in jubilant celebration of every cheesy death scene or navigated the sticky, seedy aisles of Manhattan's premiere houses of celluloid ill repute.
The trailers presented here, in order of their appearance, are: I Drink Your Blood/I Eat Your Skin, Blood Splattered Bride/I Dismember Mama, Switchblade Sisters, Caged Heat, Eyeball, Deranged, The Big Doll House, Bury Me an Angel, Last House of the Left, The Street Fighter, Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS, Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde, Don't Open the Window, The Human Tornado, Caged Virgins, Ebony, Ivory and Jade, Deadly Weapons, Torso, They Call Her One Eye, Death Ship, Master of the Flying Guillotine, They Came from Within, The Thing with Two Heads, I Spit on Your Grave, Sweet Sugar, Girls for Rent, The Toolbox Murders, The Executioner, House of Whipcord, Truck Turner, God Told Me To, Doctor Butcher M.D., Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, Night of the Bloody Apes, Bloodsucking Freaks, Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks, The Single Girls, The Corpse Grinders, Zombie, Coffy, The Perils of Gwendoline, Legend of the Wolf Woman, Satan's Sadists, Disco Godfather, Let Me Die a Woman, The Doll Squad, Secrets of Sweet Sixteen, Cannonball, Autopsy, Fight for Your Life, Love Me Deadly, Wham! Bam! Thank You, Spaceman, Shogun Assassin, and Three on a Meathook.
That wraps up the line-up from the original Nucleus Films DVD, but Intervision has included one last bonus trailer for the 1977 German mondo documentary Journey Into the Beyond narrated by John Carradine. It's not listed on the scene selection menus like the other trailers for some reason. Perhaps it was a last minute addition.
Grindhouse Trailer Classics features a few vintage previews (such as the ones for Three on a Meathook and the Ilsa movies) that to my knowledge have never been available on compilation discs before. The majority of the trailers presented on this DVD are the best of the best, real exploitation hall of fame for the most part. That being said, this collection is pretty disappointing if you've never watched another trailer compilation set before. There are no real surprises to be found here, no hidden treasures unearthed from decades of obscurity in storage. Thankfully they didn't include the famous trailer for the U.S. release of Star Crash because I can think of at least three collections that have featured that lionized Joe Dante-edited piece of promotional bliss. As much as I love that movie I'm glad its trailer didn't make the cut for Intervision's release (though its chief competitor for most appearances on these collections - Shogun Assassin, the 1980 New World Pictures release that edited together two episodes of Japan's popular Lone Wolf and Cub series - is present and accounted for here).
In its place we get a double shot of Rudy Ray Moore's finest blaxploitation swill with some retina-scorching funky threads and insane action, the ultraviolent trailer for Duke Mitchell's long unavailable Massacre Mafia Style (under its alternate title The Executioner), Doris Wishman's boobtastic Deadly Weapons starring the gazongafied Chesty Morgan and mustachioed porn stud Harry Reems, Bob Clark's endearing zombie flick Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, and two of grindhouse maverick Ted V. Mikels' finest outings behind the camera - The Corpse Grinders and The Doll Squad.
Nucleus and Intervision certainly didn't skimp on the legendary trailers for this collection. Each entry on Grindhouse Trailer Classics is a mini-masterpiece of giving the people what they really want. The editing is razor sharp, the breathless narration makes the audience feel as the world's most obnoxious carnival barker will not rest until they have successfully beckoned them into their freak tent, and there's plenty of sex, nudity, violence, gore, explosions, vulgarity, and politically incorrect behavior. In summation, this disc contains all the essential ingredients for a life worth living.
This isn't the best compilation of crazy movie trailers ever assembled, but it's a damn fine one all the same and two hours' worth of solid viewing pleasure. The world of exploitation cinema (and it really is a world - almost every nation on this planet has had their own B-moviemaking scene at some time or another) is like a vast ocean with miles of undersea terrain still waiting to be explored. If you're going to learn to swim it's best to begin your education in shallower waters before you dare to venture out further, where the truly mind-boggling visions are waiting.
Most of the trailers appear to have been transferred from film while others look sourced from VHS bootlegs. Certain ones have also been included on past trailer compilation releases and in terms of image quality are just about the same. Print damage is readily apparent throughout with some trailers looking rougher than most and sporting enough grain to appear as if the film was attacked with rocks in the past. At least they're pretty watchable; for a company like Intervision I'm sure this represents the best work they were able to do with the available elements. Every trailer is presented in anamorphic widescreen with a single English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack that does its job regardless of degraded picture quality. English subtitles have also been included.
"Bump 'N Grind: Emily Booth Explores the World of Grindhouse" (18 minutes) was produced by Nucleus for the original UK edition and finds the gorgeous British actress (Evil Aliens) who appeared briefly in Edgar Wright's brilliant fake trailer "Don't" from 2007's Grindhouse presiding over her own beginner's handbook to the grimy exploitation flicks of yesteryear and the seedy cinemas in which they best played, with New York's famous Deuce getting a quick shout-out. Clips from the trailers included on this DVD can be glimpsed between Booth's educational comments. Her discussion isn't always limited to those particular trailers and all in all this featurette is entertaining yet slight and sort of a waste of time if you're already heavily versed in the grindhouse world as I and many others happen to be. Still though it works great for this DVD which is designed to serve as an introduction to sordid schlock.
Wrapping things up is a still gallery featuring posters for every film represented by their trailers here, two to a page.
Grindhouse Trailer Classics is one fun disc full of kicks, cuts, and kink. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll have a crisis of faith, your time will be well spent.