Wednesday, February 28, 2018

EXHUMED FILMS: 20 YEARS OF TERROR - BLU-RAY REVIEW

Released late last year at their much-lauded, 3-D theatrical screening of Enrique López Eguiluz’s FRANKENSTEIN’S BLOODY TERROR (1968), starring Paul Naschy, Exhumed Films’ commemorative Blu-ray 20 YEARS OF TERROR was issued to help celebrate 20 years of unique screenings in the Philadelphia area featuring (quote) “some of the weirdest and wildest movies”. Containing more than 60 trailers and showcasing many of their programming highlights, 20 YEARS OF TERROR is organized alphabetically and was culled from their (quote) “immense 35mm collection”. Like Garagehouse Pictures’ superb TRAILER TRAUMA discs (GP’s Harry Guerro is one of Exhumed’s founding members), the disc is characterized by a number of rarely-seen trailers mixed alongside a number of old favourites.

Things get rolling with elusive TV spots for Enzo G. Castellari’s 1990: THE BRONX WARRIORS ([1982] “The final battle is about to begin!”) and William Girdler’s Blaxploitation EXORCIST imitation ABBY (1974). A brilliant, one-of-a-kind trailer soon follows for Russ Meyer’s BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS ([1970] “This time they’ve really gone Beyond the Valley of the Dolls!”) as does one for Ferdinando Baldi’s and Tony Anthony’s spaghetti western COMIN’ AT YA! (1981), which promotes the Dimension Scope 3-D process in yet another distinctive trailer.  Still another rarely-seen U.S. TV spot for Brian Trenchard-Smith’s THE DRAGON FLIES (a.k.a. THE MAN FROM HONG KONG, 1975) pops up, as does Cinema Shares’ full-length preview for Jun Fukada’s GODZILLA VS. MEGALON ([1973] “Giant against giant! The ultimate battle!”) while John Woo’s game-changing action extravaganza, THE KILLER (1989) gets some respect; bringing back plenty of memories of when I caught it at Toronto’s Festival of Festivals way back in ’89. Absent from every DVD or Blu-ray release, a trailer for Tom Savini’s rather unappreciated remake NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1990) surprisingly shows up, as does another for Daniel Vance’s THE NO MERCY MAN ([1973] “Something inside him, deep inside him is seething. Beware this man!”), which also appeared as a TV spot in Garagehouse Pictures’ colossal, TRAILER TRAUMA IV: TELEVISION TRAUMA. Similar in concept, the much-more familiar yet still extremely gripping and tough-as-nails Percy Rodriguez-narrated trailer for John Flynn’s ROLLING THUNDER (1977) also pops up, and it’s always a welcome inclusion in any trailer compilation. Further extraordinary previews surface for Hideo Gosha’s GOYOKIN (1969), under its U.S. title THE STEEL EDGE OF REVENGE (1969); a rip-roaring spot for Ferdinando Baldi’s 3-D favourite, the cheapjack Indiana Jones wannabe TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS ([1983] “Coming soon to blast you out of your seats!”), again starring Tony “The Stranger” Anthony, with the U.S. trailer for Lucio Fulci’s beloved ZOMBIE (1979) finishing things off.

While nowhere near the exhaustive, laborious undertaking that the TRAILER TRAUMA discs were, this 90-plus-minute compilation has nonetheless likewise been skillfully transferred in 4K, and is yet another first-rate-looking disc; of course, as per usual for these sorts of compilations, picture quality varies from trailer to trailer, but everything looks sharp and colourful, debris and all. Taken from the (quote) “original optical tracks”, the DTS-HD MA Mono audio also sounds clear and robust, and it nicely encapsulates the various bits of ballyhoo associated with each trailer. As an added bonus, a full-length audio commentary is also included from some of Exhumed Films’ films founding members, including Dan Fraga, Harry Guerro and Jesse Nelson. The camaraderie is evident straightaway while the three of them discuss the trailers themselves, but also go into details about the evolution of this unique film collective and their various screenings over the years. Some of their most cherished ones include a double feature of Meyer’s BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS and Brian De Palma’s PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (1974); a triple feature of Greydon Clark’s SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS (1978), JOYSTICKS (1983) and Alan Arkush’s and Joe Dante’s ROCK ’N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL (1979); and a double feature of Gerald Potterton’s HEAVY METAL (1981 – a trailer for which, by the way, is also included on this disc) and Alan Parker’s PINK FLOYD: THE WALL (1982). They also regard Chang Mei Chun’s low-budget kung fu film, DYNASTY (1977) as (quote) “one of the greatest 3-D movies ever made”. It’s a great fun, energetic chat, which makes one wish – and just a wee bit jealous! – that you missed-out on seeing all this great stuff theatrically.


Limited to 1000 copies, which are now available through DiabolikDVD, 20 YEARS OF TERROR is sure to sell out, and it works as an ideal companion-piece to the TRAILER TRAUMA discs, so grab it while you still can!

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