Friday, October 31, 2014

31 Days of Fright: Trailer Trash or Essential Comp? A Look at GRINDHOUSE TRAILER CLASSICS VOLUME 1

Happy Halloween to all you creeps, maniacs and things that go bump in the night! Though over horror coverage continues all year, today marks the end of our annual 31 Days of Fright feature and we'll be celebrating with a triple bill of terror, a pulsing trio of sinema to scare the pants off you... or, if you're lucky, your date! But no screaming, er, I mean "screening" is complete without some coming attractions, right? So let Chuck Francisco walk you to your seat while he shares some thoughts on the recently released GRINDHOUSE TRAILER CLASSICS VOLUME 1... 

The boulevard of retro trash cinema trailers is a brightly lit thoroughfare of promises. Those gravelly voiced storefronts promise action in spades and explosions by the baker's dozen. Ladies of the night, the day, the jungle, the prison, the basement, and the dark alley pry at the wallet with their supple skins. Evocative displays exploit plate glass propositions in promises so fantastical as to defy expectations. These two-minute movie muffins offer all of the calories of a full filmatic meal without the filler of an additional eighty minutes' content. And in many cases we're better off simply strolling this lane of loud promises, well-to-do and dapper, without ever being taken for a ride by a false siren's call. Ninety minutes of wall-to-wall trailers is an hour and a half of non-stop action, titillation, perversion, laughs, and exploitation.

But this has also been an amazingly well-traveled avenue over the past decade or so. If an overwhelming feeling of "been there, done that" pervades the new GRINDHOUSE TRAILER CLASSICS VOLUME 1 compilation, it's probably because we have walked these streets a million times, seeking the short stack of thrills offered by competing maple syrup sweet discs. It's not that Grindhouse Trailers Classics chose poor trailers, put them in unfortunate arrangements, or neglected some specific spice of schlock in assembling their trashy offerings. On the contrary, everything is button-up tails and top hats to the nines, but it's a borrowed ensemble, worn better by trailer compilations who beat Intervision Picture Corp to the punch by many years' time. The highly successful 42ND STREET FOREVER series is a much more solid proof of concept, as is the ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE'S TRAILER WARS release, both of which include HD Blu-Ray versions as a tremendous step up.

Another scuff on the fancy wing tipped shoes of GRINDHOUSE TRAILER CLASSICS VOLUME 1 is obvious pixilation scattered about the run time. It doesn't effect all of the trailers, but more than a few deteriorated into the tell tale signs of low-resolution posers, those detestable wanna-be fancy gentlemen trying to put on the Ritz, sadly failing to pull it off. About the only brightly luminescent streetlight along this boulevard is the lengthy Grindhouse expose, BUMP 'N GRIND, a wonderfully wicked and snarky slide down the sleazy cinema aisle of indulgence. This feels fresh and fun, while being whip smart and spot on.

I'd like to stress that this isn't a bad release, only that full-on exploitation fans have already paid to visit these attractions many times, and likely still own the forbearers to this release. Newcomers to the slime bowl of schlock will find this to be a solid adventure that potentially unlocks a world of disgusting and weird in their brainpans. Longstanding perverts and weirdoes need not apply, though, as you likely already live here (and have for some time). – Chuck Francisco

Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for, writing Shock-O-Rama. He is a co-curator of several repertoire film series at the world famous Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA. An avid beer brewer, rock climber, and video gamer, you can hear him drop nerd knowledge on the weekly podcast You've Got Geek, and follow him on twitter @CyanideRush. He recently wrote about Nazi Zombies, Spaghetti Westerns and American Hippies for Exploitation Retrospect 52 (available from our website).


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