I used to like film trailers when I was a kid. It was part of the thrill of going to the cinema, and before I started throwing my money at film magazines it was also the only way I'd find out what new movies were coming to a cinema near me soon. They helped build excitement for a title I'd crawl through termite covered poison cacti to watch, and the more adult ones became the subject of playground gossip. But as I got older and became more aware that advertising in all its forms was essentially the diarrhoea of Satan, I grew to resent the seemingly endless stream of trailers that sat between me and the film I'd paid money to see.
Nowadays trailers are slickly produced pitches of sometimes criminal deception, usually constructed to a predictable formula. Trailers for '70s exploitation movies, the sort that end up in collections like this, were a different story. They were also deceptive, but usually because those who put them together did not have a clue how to sell the film. Or edit a trailer. Or who their target audience is supposed to be. Or, in a few cases, what the film was even about. They are thus not the best way to judge the quality of the film they are trying to sell. But they are rather fun, though usually not for the originally intended reasons.
As with Nucleus's previous Grindhouse Trailer Classics collections, these are best enjoyed in a single session with some like-minded friends a slab of beer. It's a film fan pursuit, but a very particular type of film fan, those who know and enjoy the sort of movies that qualify for inclusion here. As before, the best way to approach this disc is to go in blind, to watch without knowing what will come up next. If this is how you plan to approach this set then you probably want to give the next section a miss. As I did with Volume 3, I've listed the trailers and passed light-hearted comments on each, a formalised version of the thoughts that popped into my head when I watched them for the first time. If you wish to bypass this, you can click here.
One thing that shouldn't count as a spoiler is that the whole thing kicks off with an animated film that requests that you refrain from masturbating in the cinema. I don't know if this is for real, but I do so want to believe that it is. If not, then it's a nicely constructed parody that sets the tone for the trailers that follow.
"Five midgets and a chick are about to start a king-sized crime wave" in a novelty crime pic from American International. Exploitative? Maybe, but how often do midget actors get to play the lead roles? And let's not forget, "She knows that good things come in small packages." Steady on. One of the gang is played by Billy Curtis of High Plains Drifter and Saboteur fame. Looks a blast.
Women for Sale
Pretty girls are sold to 'human animals' in a film based on 'international police files' that exploits the very thing it claims to be warning you about. "If you have a wife or a girlfriend, you can't miss this shocking new film. She might be next!" we are sternly warned. It's rather more likely that she will kick you squarely in the goolies for dragging her to a film whose sole purpose is to give you a stiffy.
"The ultimate nightmare." It probably isn't, but it doesn't look half bad and has a boffo cast that includes John Vernon and Samantha Eggar.
Dirty O'Neil: The Love Life of a Cop
Cars chase each other then crash and explode in a place where every young woman wants to get into the pants of 'the cleanest cop in town'. That's probably because he spends so much time in the shower with one of the girls.
A very 70s black pimp with the most outrageous wardrobe I've ever seen keeps his bitches in line and has run-ins with the fuzz. I so want to see this. Best not to get the words of the title back to front, but lines like "Willie's got it all right in his hand" make it hard to resist. Produced, believe it or not, by David Brown and Richard D. Zanuck, a mere year before they struck more respectable gold with Jaws.
Hippies are attacked by vampires and voodoo (I so hate it when that happens) under the cackling control of an age-old guru played by Robert Quarry, who won the hearts of vampire movie lovers everywhere in the Count Yorga films.
Mama's Dirty Girls
A trio of girlies use their naked charms to drive men crazy and prompt one to hit another on the arse with a shovel. Well that's what it looked like to me. The trailer's in a bit of a state, but a bag of Jelly Babies to whoever came up with the tag line: "What they do to men is a crime, and they're doing it at this theatre...soon."
The Hammer of God
Every martial art under the Eastern sun is practiced in "a bloody clash of open hand terror". There's an awful lot of shouting, even for a 1970s kung-fu karate kendo judo film. I love stuff like this.
A serious look at the world of the professional model. Nah, only joking. Dodgily dubbed girls – oh sorry, "sex personified women" – have their pictures taken by men with big sideburns, while professional swingers prompt our narrator to wonder, "How many sex-crazed ways are there to get your kicks?" Ooo, I don't know. Fourteen?
Strange Shadows in an Empty Room
A blind girl is terrorised in her own home by a silent stranger. Have the filmmakers seen See No Evil, do you think? We certainly have. A neat looking cast includes Stuart Whitman, Gale Hunnicut, Martin Landau and grindhouse favourite John Saxon.
Five beautiful girls head off for a swinging summer of go-go dancing, taking drugs, teasing virgins, getting laid, being shot at and attacked by a man with a knife. Seriously, what on earth is going on here?
Too Hot to Handle
Cheri Caffaro (who?) plays 'super hit woman' Samantha Fox (because she's a fox), whose mission appears to be to seduce and destroy all the men on the planet. "Every man who dates her goes home dead!" we are told. Now that's not very nice, is it?
A gang of quasi-hippies use scantily clad girls to tempt horny male drivers to stop and lend assistance, then hit them on the head and rob them. "They're different from you and me," we're told. "Perhaps because they're free." Oh-kay...
"Break the sex barrier with the stewardesses of Fly Me!" Just how fast do you have to go to do that? Everything form nudity to kung fu to that old favourite white slavery is thrown into the mix. "They're your passport to fun and excitement" the voice-over assures us as a young boy is shown the way to the toilet. Excuse me? Dick Miller plays a taxi driver!
Blood of Dracula's Castle
Blood? In Dracula's castle? Who'd have thought? As it happens, the idea of a group of gentrified vampires being served prime quality blood in wine glasses by a butler played by John Carradine looks rather fun. It's also "in colour." The trailer barely is.
Erika's Hot Summer
Vixen! lead player Erica Gavin stars in what must be the only softcore porn film advertised as being "beautifully photographed in Eastmancolor." In a tagline that genuinely made me choke on my beer with laughter, we're assured that "She'll be coming soon... all over your screen!"
One of those compilations of footage of real-life disasters and spectacular accidents that sold so well on VHS. But we never bought them, did we. No sir.
The Devil's Wedding Night
Dazed virgins wander the countryside and are stripped to the waist and vampires flash their oversized fangs in a peculiar looking Italian horror tale. The narrator has an eager fondness for stringing words with the same first letter together like he's composing leery headlines for a cheapjack tabloid, hence lines like: "Diabolic demons delirious with desire" and "Death dwells in the domain of dark dreams." It all goes a bit wrong with "See the sinister sisters of Satan sacrifice screaming virgins." Couldn't think of a word for 'virgins' beginning with S, eh? And the so-called 'screaming' virgins are not screaming at all but in a silent trance. And 'silent' starts with an S. Get it right, man.
This one really threw me, because it stars Peter Boyle and he was also the lead player in a pretty damned fine 1970 film titled Joe, which was directed by John G. Avilsden, who went on to score with Rocky a few years later. I initially suspected a title change, then wondered if it was a sequel ("Joe's back, and he's crazy!"). But no, it's a sub-Godfather gangster flick based on the life of real world New York gangster 'Crazy' Joey Gallo. Looks violent.
Frankenstein's Bloody Terror
Now there's no need for that sort of language. Or this sort of film, by the look of it. Apparently shot in "Super 70mm Chill-O-Rama", it features The Wolf-Monster, The Vampire-Doctor (now that's a show I'd watch) and the Ghoul-Woman.
Born to Kill
Warren Oates stars as "a redneck rebel with a taste for hot women and fast cars." You mean there are redneck rebels out there who don't have a taste for hot women and fast cars? I'd like to meet them.
Las Vegas Lady
Stella Stevens and Stuart Whitman star in the story of three girls who plan the biggest Vegas heist since Ocean's Eleven. One of them is a high wire expert who's scared of heights, which prompts me to question her choice of career. Actually looks OK, and it's hard not to warm to a film whose tag line is "If you can't beat the system, you might as well rob it."
Poor Albert & Little Annie
Poor Albert hates women because of the strange relationship he had with his mother. Little Annie is a 'child woman' that Albert wants to marry. Child-woman? She's a kid, for fuck's sake. "You're just like all the rest!" Albert screams at her, but standing silently amongst mannequins and painted up like a doll, it's obvious that she's not. All looks a bit dodgy.
The Late Great Planet Earth
Orson Welles narrates a highly suspect film that explores one of those bullshit theories about ancient prophecies and the approaching apocalypse. "Is the Antichrist here? Is the computer his weapon?" Ah, that might explain Windows Vista, Mark Zuckerberg, and those childish graphics on iOS7.
All the Loving Couples
Swingers are at it, night after night, even in your own neighbourhood. Since half of them appear to have been transparently dubbed, I'm wondering just where this particular neighbourhood actually is.
The Sinful Dwarf
Oh fuck has this dated. Couples are terrorised by a cackling and salacious dwarf that the trailer describes, without a whiff of embarrassment, as "a depraved psychotic misfit."
Mark of the Devil Part II
More historical exorcisms and Inquisition nastiness in a follow-up to a famed 1970 shocker. It retains poor old Reggie Nalder but doesn't come with the original's 'vomit bag'.
Pet dogs run away and form a gang to attack people, and only David McCallum can save us. Did he ever change that hairstyle? Another iffy entry in the post-Jaws animal attack cycle.
Night of a Thousand Cats
Hugo collects severed heads and has an army of pussy cats that he feeds with human meat. What do you think will happen if they were to get loose? According to the trailer, they become "a man-eating machine". You can't buy those at Homebase. This one actually has the jump on Jaws and was directed by schlockmeister René Cardona Jnr. The theatre management offer free burial insurance to anyone who dies of fright while watching the film. Now I'm no expert, but for any sort of death insurance to be valid I think you have to take it out before you expire, whatever the cause.
What the hell is a Cheering Section? It sounds like a department in a particularly superficial entertainment company. I'm guessing every connotation of the word 'Cheerleader' had been used by the time this lot decided to get in on the jocks-and-babes high school sex comedy act. Looks about as appealing as a porcupine enema.
Hell's Chosen Few
"Warning. The cycles from hell are coming." And we're not talking the sort that you buy down at Halfords. One of a string of outlaw biker gang movies that followed in the wake of Roger Corman's The Wild Angels. They apparently used real bikers rather than actors but made the mistake of giving them dialogue to deliver. Looks heavy going.
Mansion of the Doomed
I had a sense of déjà vu about this one from the start, and it took a while to realise that I'd only recently watched this trailer on Nucleus's Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide 2 under the title Massacre Mansion. Actually looks pretty creepy, but I'd skip past this one if you've got a thing about eyes.
"What the hell's a Pyx?" someone asks in the trailer. Bloody good question. It's a daffy title, whatever the answer, but the film itself looks rather classy, and stars Karen Black and Christopher Plummer.
The Sweet Body of Deborah
And while we're on the subject of daffy titles... Actually, if this were a cannibal movie it would be rather witty. But it's not. It's an Italian suspense thriller starring Carroll Baker and Jean Sorel. And it's been dubbed. Oooh, has it been dubbed.
Yeah, doesn't have quite the same ring as 'Danger Man' does it. Maybe there's a missing comma, which would make it 'Trouble, man', as in "You get your stupid white ass out of my way or there's going to be trouble, man." Yep, its Blaxploitation time again. A rather cool-looking Robert Hooks plays Mr. T (you read that right), a smart-dressing, no-nonsense professional ass-kicker who carries two guns, one to stop trouble, the other to make trouble. Gosh, I really hope he doesn't get them mixed up.
The Sacred Knives of Vengeance
Martial arts mayhem with a whacked-out title. The English dub sounds as preposterous as ever, but the fights look great. As so often happens, the narrator can't tell the difference between China and Japan and talks of "kung-fu karate" as if they're the same damned thing.
The Sister in Law
"Trouble is a sister-in-law who's looking for trouble." Not looking to pick holes, but trouble is anyone who's looking for trouble – the use of the word 'trouble' at the end of the sentence is a bit of a giveaway. Anyway, what this particular sister-in-law appears to looking for is to jump the bones of any man with a beard. And beards were clearly the thing when this film was made. Uh-oh. That does sound like trouble.
43 The Petty Story
A biopic of stock car racer Richard Petty, who plays himself in the film and provides a narration for the trailer that's so cornball it's almost charming.
A Black Veil for Lisa
A hit man falls for the woman he is hired to kill in an efficient looking Italian crime thriller starring – and I had to look this up to confirm what my eyes had told me – John Mills! Wow.
The Five Man Army
Classy spaghetti western starring Peter Graves, genre favourite Bud Spencer and 'what the hell are you doing here?' import Tetsuro Tamba. The trailer's pretty good, too.
Really well edited trailer (I mention that because precious few the trailers here are) for a horror thriller that adapts a trick from the Last House on the Left promotional material by repeating "Thank heavens, it's only a movie!" It ends with the plea "Please don't see it with someone you love," a rare example of a film trying to scare couples away.
The Severed Arm
"There's a lot to scream about in...The Severed Arm." Yeah, I can think of a few things.
Sweet Jesus, Preacher Man
Roger E. Mosley stars as a kick-ass preacherman in another slice of 70s Blaxploitation. Apparently "you can't out-talk him and you can't out-fight him." That doesn't leave much. I'm taking bets on who would win if he went up against Trouble Man.
Terror in the Wax Museum
Are we starting to wander a bit from the Grindhouse guidelines here? Nothing too original (in horror movies, lifelike wax sculptures always have real people underneath), but it has a cast that includes Ray Milland, Elsa Lanchester, Broderick Crawford, John Carradine and Maurice Evans.
Bamboo Gods and Iron Men
American martial arts expert Cal Jefferson – or as the trailer man insists on calling him, Black Cal Jefferson (yes, he's black, but come on...) – goes east and gives the bad guys a serious pasting. Someone gets clobbered with nunchuks at one point, so you can guarantee James Ferman would have slapped a ban on this one.
More violent Blaxploitation starring an afro-haired Bernie Casey as Tyrone Tackett, a perpetually angry, gun-wielding dude who "took on the black jungle single handed." And no-one can stop him. In one genuinely alarming shot, a woman is brought down for real by a lion. Does anyone know if she's OK?
The Daring Dobermans
The Doberman gang are back! "They'll charm you and disarm you!" Seriously, this looks a blast. The dogs are amazing.
The Hot Box
Yet more innocent white girls and their unlucky black friend are kidnapped by leery foreign slavers, but they're not going to take it lying down. Lots of shooting and slapping and angry shouting, plus the odd tender kiss and the expected quota of topless females. "In colour..." says the narrator in so weary a tone that I almost expected him to follow it with, "...for fuck's sake."
Someone is killing swingers with a high powered rifle. The police are baffled. So am I by that title.
Lady Kung Fu
The brilliant Angela Mao kicks seven bells of thrillingly acrobatic shit out of anyone daft enough to take her on in one of the very best of the 70s martial arts films, better known to enthusiasts as Hapkido. No piss-taking here. Read Slarek's review if you want to know why.
Dirty Dan's Women
"Young, wild women who know what they want and will do anything to get it!" So what is it they want, exactly? Well one of them is pregnant, so I presume she wants a baby. Another just wants her fourth shag of the night. Dirty Dan himself certainly seems a bit of a shit. He threatens women, uses redundant words in his racist insults, and he beats up Mickey Dolenz from The Monkeys. Jesus, it IS Micky Dolenz. Not, by the look of it, his finest hour.
They're Coming to Get You
Who, exactly, are the 'they' of the title? At first it looks as if it's some dodgy 70s private eye armed with a dagger and a hatchet, but later it appears to be a creepy religious cult. But they're definitely coming to get you. And this film proves it.
Three demented sex criminals escape from prison and invade a girls' finishing school. Now what could be more fun than that? The girls fight back, of course, at least when they're not snogging each other or jumping up and down in slow motion without their brassieres.
A string of stereotypes fall over each other to see who can deliver the worst performance in the sort of high school sex comedy gave the genre its bad name. Porkys this ain't.
The Man With Bogart's Face
A properly edited trailer for a rather fun homage to the golden age of Hollywood detective thrillers. Robert Sacci really looks the part. Just one thing – no way is this a Grindhouse trailer.
As with previous collections, the quality of the image is a tough one to judge, as the trailers themselves have been captured from a variety of sources and presented in a range of aspect ratios and physical states. The overriding ratio is anamorphic 16:9 and any variants on this sit within that frame. The best are in seriously impressive shape (They're Coming to Get You is a good example), while a handful of others are so blasted with dust and dirt that there's a suspicion that the prints were found in a bin. This matters not. We know what we're watching and even expect this. It's part of the fun.
The Dolby 2.0 mono sound enjoys similar variations in quality. The soundtracks of some trailers are fluffier than others and none are pristine. Plenty of hissy treble, precious little bass, but they do the job.
There's a rolling gallery of Posters (2:20) of the films in this collection, most of which are in sparkling shape. Some are really well designed. The trailer makers could learn from the poster designers.
There are also a ton of trailers for other Nucleus releases. Check 'em out.
As much fun as the previous set, and timing this to pre-empt the release of Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide 2 made it feel like my birthday had rolled around early. Not much in the way of support material, but two hours of booze-assisted trailer trash fun nonetheless. If you have the other volumes, go get this one now.