Thursday, April 8, 2021


Right from the opening frames of Europix-International’s now-famous “Orgy of the Living Dead” triple-feature trailer, which kicks things off in fine style, the folks at the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) really revel in all the lurid ballyhoo these long-gone trailers always delivered. You will see plenty of familiar trailers in this Blu-ray collection, which was curated by AGFA’s and Bleeding Skull’s Joe A. Ziemba, but it also delivers a number of unique, eye-opening surprises along the way as well. For anyone well-versed with their oeuvre, AGFA’s HORROR TRAILER SHOW is very much in the same vein as their amazing Mystery Mixtapes, bringing together several intermission ads for the likes of Pepe’s Pizza, cigarettes, flea markets and other regional attractions, loads of (quote) “disgustingly-photographed food snipes”, as well as several other, oddball commercials too, such as one for a novelty product called “Flamer – The Electric Football.” As Ziemba points-outs in his enthusiastic audio commentary, this is like a (quote) “curated night at the drive-in from Dimension X”!

“You’re about to enter the 21st Century of terror!” opines the narrator on Troma’s trailer for NIGHTMARE WEEKEND (1986), an unclassifiable bit of gory ’80s mayhem, which serves as a wholly-appropriate WTF beginning to this fast-paced compilation. This is immediately followed by the U.S. trailer for WITCHCRAFT ’70 (1970), an Italian-made mondo movie from director Luigi Scattini, which was reedited by American director and exploitation vet, Lee Frost. Here appearing under its much-shorter alternate title THE TEENAGE PSYCHO MEETS BLOODY MARY, Ray Dennis Steckler’s trash classic THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECOME MIXED-UP ZOMBIES (1964) was allegedly filmed in (quote) “shocking Bloody-Vision!” In keeping with the carny spirit, a spot for Leonard Kirtman’s CARNIVAL OF BLOOD (1970) also shows up (“This picture begins where Hitchcock stops and climaxes in nerve-shattering terror!”).


Even though the trailers aren’t necessarily compiled into specific separate sections, ’80s slasher flicks are given plenty of coverage, beginning with SPLATTER UNIVERSITY (1984) and J.S. Cardone’s wonderfully-atmospheric THE SLAYER (1982). Other titles include Stu Segall’s DRIVE-IN MASSACRE (1976)—which, hilariously, comes complete with a misspelled title card!—plus Dominick Brascia’s low-budget oddity EVIL LAUGH (1986) and Jimmy Huston’s much-maligned FINAL EXAM (1981), whose trailer bears the memorable tagline, “Some may pass the test, God help the rest!” Mexican horror films are also well-represented with several oddly-tinted trailers for Fernando Méndez’s THE VAMPIRE’S COFFIN (1958), Chano Urueta’s insaniac THE BRAINIAC (1962), Rafael Portillo’s THE ROBOT VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY (1958) and also the same director’s wonderfully-titled TERROR SEXO Y BRUJERIA (originally released as Cautivo del mas allá [1968]), a film with a remarkable release history, and one that definitely warrants a BD release of its own! A choppy—if most welcome—trailer for Walter Boos’ MAGDALENA, POSSESSED BY THE DEVIL (1974) and a quite lengthy if strangely mesmerizing one (featuring a Christopher Lee intro) for Evan Lee’s MEATCLEVER MASSACRE (1977) are just a couple of the other rare coming attractions nuggets contained on AGFA’s disc. 


Featuring a new 2K scan from a (quote) “newly-struck 35mm theatrical print of the show,” each trailer looks terrific, even though the quality does fluctuate from trailer to trailer, with all the scratches, dirt, debris and other surface damage of the celluloid emulsion you might expect so many years after the fact. That said, there really isn’t anything to complain about, though. The DTS-HD master audio 2.0 also sounds fine, despite the inherent imperfections of the various audio tracks used. Of course, plenty of extra features accompany the ‘main feature’ (i.e., the trailers themselves), beginning with a breezy audio commentary by the AGFA team headed by Ziemba, which barely touches on the actual individual films themselves, they discuss how everything came about and their challenge of compiling something a little different alongside the numerous other trailer compilations on the market, including Garagehouse Pictures’ essential TRAILER TRAUMA discs, which Ziemba admits can’t be beat. They also enthusiastically discuss their earliest memories of seeing their first trailers; their nostalgia over VHS video boxes; and Something Weird Video’s contribution to film preservation and their amazing HEY FOLKS! IT’S INTERMISSION TIME compilations.

In what is easily the biggest surprise, AGFA’s disc also includes Videorage (70m42s)—highlighting the (quote) “most ghastly, repulsive and unbelievable shot-on-video and direct-to-video horror trailers the underworld has ever seen!”—which is surely going to please even the most jaded horror junkie, despite the fact that most of the, uh, ‘films’ represented herein aren’t worth sitting through in their entirety; although several SOV staples, such as Christopher Lewis’ Oklahoma-shot BLOOD CULT (1985), and both Jon McBride’s CANNIBAL CAMPOUT (1988) and WOODCHIPPER MASSACRE (1988), are included, AGFA’s (quote) “video dungeon” also showcases Todd Jason Cook’s zero-budget anthology HORRORSCOPE (1994) and DEATH METAL ZOMBIES (1995); Todd Sheets’ CATACOMBS (2000); the U.S. trailer for Olaf Ittenbach’s German gorefest THE BURNING MOON (1992), which emphatically declares, “No matter what you’ve seen, you’ve ain’t seen nuthin’ like this! Banned in 14 countries!”; Nick Millard’s mind-numbing DEATH NURSE (1987), whose home video preview is also hilariously pathetic; Andrew Jordan’s Canadian-lensed and shockingly-awful THINGS (1989); plus Ron Switzer’s nigh-on-unwatchable SCIENCE CRAZED (1991), another Canadian (non-)production. An exceedingly loooooong trailer (which seems like more of a demo-reel!) for Doris Wishman’s A NIGHT TO DISMEMBER (1983) also appears, as do several homegrown—and highly energetic—Nigerian (“Nollywood”) movies, such as Kalu Anya’s SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE (2007) and Emeka Nwabueze’s ENJOYMENT IN HELL (20??). Not enough, you say? How about video previews for Mack Hail’s MR. ICE CREAM MAN (1996), Doug Robertson’s HAUNTEDWEEN (1991), Don Dohler’s BLOOD MASSACRE (1991), and Mark and John Polonia’s HOLLA IF I KILL YOU (2003), which are just a few more of the titles included in this very welcome bonus feature. 


As if all that lot ain’t enough, AGFA also include Say Goodbye To Your Brain (6m50s), a short (quote) “found footage experiment” comprised of lightning-fast clips and titles from a wide range of horror films. This totals an all-round great comp, that is worthy of repeated viewings. Order it from Vinegar Syndrome.

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