Tuesday, December 19, 2017

TRAILER TRAUMA PART 4: TELEVISION TRAUMA BLU-RAY REVIEW

A lost art form, TV spots for the latest theatrical releases are most certainly a thing of the past, with the vast bulk of promotional adverts now being disseminated via online outlets, which usually feature a film’s theatrical trailers and, in some instances, an occasional teaser for same. Nowadays, the few television spots that do exist are usually designated for gigantic blockbusters and are – most of the time, anyway – used to promote their respective Imax releases or other such promotional gimmicks. But, in the days before the Internet, television was one of the primary outlets via which distributors promoted their new releases, whether they were of huge budgets or lower-budgeted regional drive-in fare. Varying in length from 15 to 60 seconds, TV spots out-of-necessity were (due to stringent censorship of the commercial television medium) essentially just super-condensed mini-trailers, which allowed viewers enough of a sneak preview to whet their appetites, without revealing anything of an unduly shocking nature, even while heavily implying as much as they could get away with, and sometimes actually going so far as stressing the envelope of primetime acceptability with how blatantly their contents were presented. With their compilation TRAILER TRAUMA 4: TELEVISION TRAUMA, Garagehouse Pictures have chosen to dedicate more than three hours (!) to these long-gone, rapid-fire blasts of ballyhoo, with a particular emphasis on horror and drive-in fare.

As with their other colossal trailer comps, TT4 contains so much great stuff that listing every title would be quite the undertaking, so instead we’ll just take a look at some of the disc’s main highlights… Assembled into sections of sorts, the first batch of spots focuses on Roger Corman’s prolific tenure at his famous New World Pictures outfit, beginning with David Cronenberg’s RABID (1977); many of his Philippines-lensed W-I-P films, such as Jack Hill’s THE BIG BIRD CAGE (1972), Gerry De Leon’s WOMEN IN CAGES (1971 [“Innocent young girls held in cruel bondage!”]) and Eddie Romero’s THE WOMAN HUNT (1972); Michael Miller’s STREET GIRLS (1975), which still remains unavailable on disc; numerous sexploitation films, such as Jonathan Kaplan’s NIGHT CALL NURSES (1972 [“On or off duty, they get it on!”]) and THE STUDENT TEACHERS (1973), as well as Cirio Santiago’s FLY ME (1973 [“The sky’s the limit with these cockpit cuties!”]); and even Monte Hellman’s existential – and still highly-underrated – COCKFIGHTER (1974). The Corman connection continues with spots for Joe Dante’s PIRANHA (1979), Bruce Clark’s GALAXY OF TERROR (1980) and Barbara Peeters’ HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (1980), which nicely segues into further random horror spots for Bob Clark’s DERANGED (1974 [“This is where the worst begins!”]), Don Barton’s regional catfish-monster flick ZAAT (1971), William Rose’s rather sleazy giallo THE GIRL IN ROOM 2A (1974), Dacosta Carayan’s very sleazy (GULP!) THE RAPE KILLER (1976), plus DOCTOR BUTCHER M.D. (1980); there’s also a cool double feature snippet for Umberto Lenzi’s EYEBALL (1974) and Dario Argento’s SUSPIRIA (1977 [“Commit yourself to an absolute experience of evil! EYEBALL will grab you! SUSPIRIA won’t let you go!”]), Antonio Margheriti’s KILLER FISH (1979, [“The terror will tear you to pieces!”]) and the pared-back version of Dario Argento’s PHENOMENA, retitled CREEPERS (1985), as promoted by its U.S. distributor New Line Cinema. While horror movies do seem to be the predominant focus of this collection, a few sections veer-off into giant monster movies (mostly of the Japanese kaijū variety), plus some martial arts favourites, Blaxploitation and, as mentioned above, even sexploitationers, and it boggles the mind that some of these sleazy flicks’ promotional previews were ever permitted to be aired on TV at all!

TT4’s contents also include spots for: Ishirô Honda’s DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (1968 [“Massive armies versus mad monsters!”]) and KING KONG ESCAPES (1967), and Jun Fukuda’s GODZILLA ON MONSTER ISLAND (1972); martial arts TV spots include many a Shaw Brothers classic from U.S. based distributors World Northal, such as Chang Cheh’s THE CHINATOWN KID (1977 [“The most spectacular kung fu ever filmed!”]), starring the ill-fated Alexander Fu Sheng, along with THE KID WITH THE GOLDEN ARM (1979), STREET GANGS OF HONG KONG (1973 [“More excitement! More action! More everything!”]), and, of course, “Homer Gaugh”/Ho Meng-hua’s giant-anthropoid-on-a-rampage classic GOLIATHON (1977). These are just a smattering of the hyperbolic delights included herein. As for the Blaxploitation category, it is represented by such genre classics as Melvin Van Peebles’ SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAADASSSSS SONG (1971), Gordon Parks, Jr.’s SUPERFLY (1972) and William Crain’s perennial horror favourite, BLACULA (1972). Some of the more elusive titles are typified by Al Adamson’s STUD BROWN (1974 [“He’s got the biggest rod in town!]), Lee Frost’s THE BLACK GESTAPO (1975), William Witney’s DARKTOWN STRUTTERS (1975 [“You better move your butt when these ladies strut!”]), Raymond St. Jacques’ set-in-the-Depression-era BOOK OF NUMBERS (1973), Mark Warren’s follow-up to Ossie Davis’ COTTON COMES TO HARLEM (1970), COME BACK CHARLESTON BLUE (1972), plus Fredric Hobbs’ ALABAMA’S GHOST (1973), another elusive title which still remains absent on disc in its full-length form. Before moving onto more familiar horror territory, some risqué TV spots for Russ Meyer’s SUPERVIXENS (1975 [“A cinematic smorgasbord of mind-boggling beauty!”]) and COMMON LAW CABIN (under its original title, HOW MUCH LOVING DOES A NORMAL COUPLE NEED?, 1967 [“This is a picture of excesses!]) are included, as are most of the ‘Cheerleader’ films; Howard Freen’s DIRTY O’NEILL THE LOVE LIFE OF A COP (1974 [‘They want a public servant who serves, and serves, and serves!]), Jack O’Connell’s SWEDISH FLY GIRLS (1971), Graydon F. David’s SIXPACK ANNIE (1975), Jack O’Connell’s SWEDISH FLY GIRLS (1971), Harry E. Kerwin’s TOMCATS (1977), and Guido Malatesta’s TARZANA THE WILD GIRL (1969 [“She swings through the jungle as naked as the animals!”]), starring a topless Femi Benussi in the (ahem) titular role, are just a few more examples of the sort of stuff that was, at one point, advertised right on prime/peak-time television.

Other horror-themed tele-spots that take up much of TT4’s running time include Jack Starrett’s RACE WITH THE DEVIL (1975), David Cronenberg’s THEY CAME FROM WITHIN (1975 [“If this picture doesn’t make you scream and squirm, you’d better see a psychiatrist, quick!”]), Greydon Clark’s SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS (1977), John Hayes’ snoozer END OF THE WORLD (1977), George A. Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978), Freddie Francis’ Ringo Starr-produced ‘rock opera’ SON OF DRACULA (1974), as well as John McCauley’s slithery RATTLERS (1976, [“A tale of horror!”]) Further ’80s films include Charles McCrann’s zombie obscurity, BLOODEATERS (1980 [“Nothing will prepare you for these butchers of the damned!”]), David Cronenberg’s extraordinary VIDEODROME (1983 [“It will shatter your reality!”]), Harry Bromley Davenport’s nasty extraterrestrial shocker XTRO (1982), Steve Miner’s crackerjack sequel FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 (1981), Danny Steinmann’s THE UNSEEN (1980 [“The wanted to see something different, but something different saw them first!”]), Max Kalmanowicz’s laff-riot THE CHILDREN (1980 [“Pray you never meet them!”]), George Mihalka’s superior slasher MY BLOODY VALENTINE (1981), Philippe Mora’s THE BEAST WITHIN (1982) and Roman Polanski’s THE TENANT (1976). In addition, there’s a cool double feature rerelease of John Carpenter’s THE FOG (1980) and Don Coscarelli’s PHANTASM (1979 [“Two terrorific hits together to grab you!”]). As mentioned earlier, all these goodies are only the tip of the iceberg, as there are plenty more surprises to be found therein.


Mastered in 4K, everything looks quite impressive, in spite of the variable quality, which (perhaps understandably and expectedly) tends to fluctuate from spot to spot and, as expected, most of the trailers are presented full-screen, as per their original airings on the boob tube. Mastered from original optical tracks, the DTS-HD Master Audio is, naturally enough, in mono, but it sounds very nice nonetheless. But, as with the image quality/clarity, it too varies from trailer to trailer. As with their earlier TRAILER TRAUMA compilations, Garagehouse Pictures have once again included an audio commentary, this time courtesy of Michael Gingold, Paperbacks from Hell author Grady Hendrix and Temple of Schlock’s Chris Poggiali, who effortlessly fill the three-hour-plus runtime with tons of info/trivia related to each and every spot including background info on many of the filmmakers and distributors. For example, Harvey Keitel apparently read for the main role in DERANGED, which certainly would have been interesting! Like the numerous TV spots themselves, it’s a brisk, fast-paced listen, with plenty of infectious enthusiasm from the participants. Rounding-out the extras are trailers for some of Garagehouse Pictures’ other product, including – what else?!TRAILER TRAUMA and TRAILER TRAUMA 2. And don’t forget to hunt for a fairly substantial and very welcome Easter egg.  Order this amazing Blu-ray from DiabolikDVD today!

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