Your friendly neighborhood TFG is hard-pressed to think of a better series of DVDs for marathon-style viewing than Synapse Films’ superb trailer collection, “42nd Street Forever.” I don’t know who had the simple-yet-brilliant idea to package up a bunch of old exploitation flick trailers into one full-length DVD over at Synapse, but my hat—and yes, I am really wearing one—is off to them.
I think, although I could be wrong, that many of these are “public domain” trailers, while others required various rights issues to be cleared in order to be included, but again, to whoever is behind all that legwork, my hat is tipped in your direction once more. A lot of the promos seem to be from films from the Crown International vault, so I’m thinking maybe one big deal was brokered to include a bunch of them with whoever holds the C.I. rights these days. In any case, plenty of other studios and distros are well-represented, as well, and the wide variety of clips on display is well and truly staggering. Every exploitation genre is included in the mix, from blaxploitation to motorcycle flicks to horror to nudie cuties to martial arts to crime drama to teen sex comedies to sci-fi to hard-boiled revenge thrillers to—well, you get the idea. There’s even a few forgotten big-budget flops thrown in, as well.
I’m thinking well over half, at least, of the films promo’d have never seen any sort of legit DVD release, and many never even made it to VHS! So for every staple of the grindhouse era that everyone’s seen like “Alligator” or “Ms. 45,” there are five or six examples of films that seasoned exploitation veterans have been holding their breath hoping to see released since —well, since the advent of the DVD format itself.
Synapse are up to four volumes in this collection so far and I well and truly hope they never stop. The picture and sound quality vary from trailer to trailer, as would be expected, but on the whole most of them look pretty damn good and most fit well in the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation format.
Here are just a few highlights of some of the previews included in each volume to whet your appetite”
Volume One – “The Undertaker And His Pals,” “The Italian Stallion,” “The 3 Dimensions Of Greta,” “Secret Africa,” “Star Crash,” “Superfuzz,” “Matango, “Destroy All Monsters.”
In the appropriately titled Volume 2, “The Deuce,” —
“Dragstrip Riot,” “Sugar Hill,” “Rabid,” “The Babysitter,” “Van Nuys Blvd.,” “Kenner,” “Rolling Thunder,” “The Woman Eater.”
Volume 3 -” Exploitation Explosion” —
“Enter The Ninja,” “Blood Beach,” “Gorp,” “King Frat,” “The Life And Times Of Xaviera Hollander,” “Candy Stripe Nurses,” “Guyana : Cult Of The Damned,” “High Ballin’.”
Volume 4 – “Cooled By Refrigeration” —
“Simon, King Of The Witches,” “The Klansman,” “Best Friends,” “Humongous,” “The Legend Of Boggy Creek,” “Americathon,” “Bonnie’s Kids,” “New Year’s Evil.”
Volumes three and four, it should be noted, also contain absolutely must-hear commentary tracks featuring AVManiacs head honcho Edwin Samuelson (who acts as informal emcee and also seems to be in charge of trailer selection), Fangoria managing editor Michael Gingold, and film historian/freelance scribe Chris Poggiali. These guys keep things really lively by giving the basics in terms of production details, quick histories, little-heard anecdotes, etc., for most every film promo’d on the discs, and it’s an absolute blast to watch these two volumes twice in a row, once with the standard sound, next up with the commentary. These three are veritable walking film encyclopedias , but never once do they slide into being pedantic or dull.
My sincere hope is that any and every reader of this blog who hasn’t given this series a spin in their DVD player will do so, and and that many of the great unheralded—and unreleased— films included in this mind-bendingly terrific trailer collection will see a proper DVD release in the future. Some of the flicks from earlier volumes already have, and some others are on the way in the not-too-distant future, so it would be nice if to think that this series is raising awareness of some of these titles to the point where some of the cult DVD distributors decide it’s worth it to give more of them a shot.
Keep up the great work on this series, Synapse, I’m looking forward to the next volume already!