Monday, February 25, 2008
Back when America was pure, before the rise of the VHS tape and the gentrification of the urban landscape, the grindhouse was a staple of the adventurous moviegoers diet. Throughout the 60's and 70's and into the 80's, double, triple and quadruple bills were their daily fare. A 24 hour a day cinematic side-show, most big cities had at least one. A place that showed the detritus of the film industry, the grindhouse was not for the faint of heart. Back when you could gouge out an eyeball, shoot up a saloon, pummel your enemies with nunchuks and throwing stars and still get a PG rating (or GP before 1972). New York, of course, led the grindhouse explosion, and 42nd Street was it's crown jewel. In honor of this distinction, Synapse Films has a series of DVD's called 42nd St. Forever, and volume three just came out. Compiling trailers for 40 some-odd films, each one just keeps raising the bar even higher. This time around, they added the bonus of commentary tracks with Fangoria's Michael Gingold, Chris Poggiali and AVManiacs Editor Edwin Samuelson. The minutia-per-second these guys throw at you is stunning, and guarantees repeated viewing will unearth more bits you missed the first time through. It's amazing what bases these guys can cover during the length of a trailer. And what trailers they are! Laid out thematically, this collection covers most bases of 70's and 80's exploitation film making. Beginning with martial arts and action (failed Chuck Norris' and Bruce Lee clones), onto possession and Satanism, killer cats, dogs, bugs and alligators, roller disco cheerleaders, chain gang prison stewardesses in 3D, pseudo Belushi's and singing truck drivers. Every good bit from these films went into these trailers, and though, in their complete form, most of these films would be an ordeal to sit through, in bite sized pieces I just can't seem to get enough. Add the trivia from the commentary and I'm in heaven! And it's just not trivia, but gossip too. Like how much cocaine was consumed during the making of Convoy? A consensus isn't reached, but all agree, it was a lot. Then there are the bonus TV trailers. Smaller versions of some of the trailers on the main program, they even throw in a Billy Jack and some biker trailers to top off an already full package. I've given this warning before, but get this while you can. Because of legal gray areas, many similar trailer compilations have been pulled off of shelves (Something Weirds long running Dusk to Dawn series comes to mind) and I can't guarantee these things will stick around either. Yeah Synapse, you've created a great (-est?) DVD.