Written by: Carroll Jenkins on December 19th, 2009
Theatrical Release Dates: Various
DVD released: February 9th, 2010
Approximate running time: 300 minutes
Aspect Ratios: Various
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
DVD Release: Bloody Earth Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.99
This release is a grab bag of original and newly created promotional material based on exploitation drive-in features of the 70’s and 80’s.
To start at the beginning, there was a tribute book to the exploitation features of the 70’s and 80’s – but from an alternate reality. Stephen Romano created hundreds of posters and press releases for imaginary films featuring fictitious cast and crew. The purpose of this DVD release is to showcase the films that inspired his muse and to present new faux trailers created by current film makers (tributes to a tribute?). So, other than with the book itself, the best place to start is at the bottom of disc two with the New Exploitation Posters.
This massive gallery of posters are all inspired by actual exploitation product (and all feature in the book). Some are rather obvious, such as Dead Bugs On The Carpet (Four Flies On Grey Velvet), but most are stylistic extrapolations of film content and poster style. Darby Silver is the most recurrent star, who apparently amassed a ponderous resume of genre releases.
Now we go to the beginning of disc one with the newly created tribute trailers. They represent a ‘fleshing out’ of many of the movies illustrated in the poster gallery. All feature rather excessive ‘aging’ effects to make them look like actual beat up trailers – the ‘grindhouse effect’. Again, some are rather obvious: Tool Shed Of The Living Dead a homage to George Romero but with a star that looks like Joe Dallesandro (The Gardener). Two notable entries are Dark Night Of The Demon House directed by Richard Griffin concurrent with Nun Of That with the same cast (‘Dick Hartman’ is Michael Reed), and Girl Killer which is the most effective and fully realized effort. Coming soon to a theater near you – no, not really.
The real ‘meat and potatoes’ of the set is the compilation of original exploitation trailers, presented in segments. The first is comprised of rather tame features, mostly independent US and Italian rip-offs of whatever Hollywood product was popular at the time: Jaws, Star Wars, Wilderness Sagas, Vikings, whatever. Mostly they are mediocre examples of the trailer medium hawking largely forgettable films. The horror section contains the more ‘cult-worthy’ films, though the most horrifying trailer in the collection is for Africa Blood and Guts at the end of the exploitation segment. Next are television trailers, generally truncated versions of the full-length theatrical trailers.
An entire section is devoted to Independent International releases, basically no-budget films by schlock meisters Al Adamson and Eddie Romero. These trailers were produced by Sam Sherman who explains his formula in an interview segment. He used graphics, stills, representative footage, and a climatic cliff-hanger ending. He meticulously avoided spoilers, which makes his product practically unique among trailer product of the period.
The third disc is actually a CD containing hundreds of radio spots. During this period the majors and the indies mailed 7″ (45 sized) records to theaters to be passed on to local radio stations for airplay. Each disc featured one or more edits of varying lengths all separated by a lock track that the stylus can’t play through. Some were double sided featuring different campaigns on each side; some contained the same tracks on both sides (in case one side got scratched), but most were single sided with a blank flip. Generally the small hole records were 33 1/3 rpm and the large holed were 45 – but not necessarily.
As mentioned, the faux trailers look terrible on purpose. The original trailers look pretty terrible too, but mostly because they were played to death. The vast majority are presented widescreen, though some look severely cropped. Leaders are included / inserted between trailers. In addition to the two DVD’s and the CD, a color insert booklet covers the history behind the project.
As original trailer compilations go, there are certainly more interesting and sensational releases available. This is more a study of the movies and the promotions from a by-gone era, and, as emblazoned on the cover, as a companion piece to Stephen Romano’s exploitation film tribute book – Shock Festival.