August 12, 2004
By Franklin Harris
They don't make movies like they used to, and they don't make movie previews like they used to, either.
My favorite movie trailer is for a double bill of "The Blood Spattered Bride" and "I Dismember Mama." The trailer is typical 1970s cheese. It's shot as if it were a local TV newscast, with a reporter on the scene of a disturbance at a theater, which just happens to be showing the double bill in question. Two policemen, decked out in riot gear, carry away a man who went insane while viewing the movies. The reporter then interviews some of the other moviegoers, including a bickering couple, a spaced-out hippie girl and a man with the most bizarre laugh ever caught on film.
All of this goofiness is intercut with random scenes from the two films — just enough footage to let viewers know that each is filled with all of the blood, gore and gratuitous nudity one should expect of B-grade horror flicks.
A disturbance erupts at a screening of "The Blood Spattered Bride" and "I Dismember Mama."|
No one today would even think of making a similar trailer. Instead of hyperactive announcers who tout every unknown actor as the Next Big Thing, we now have the calming, baritone voice of Miramax. He is the guy who begins every preview with the phrases "In a world..." or "In a time..." As a result, today's movie trailers lack the ballyhoo and showmanship that made those produced up until the 1980s the Hollywood equivalent of carnival barkers.
The guys at Ban 1 Productions know how I feel. They've released a DVD containing 40 vintage movie trailers, including the one for "The Blood Spattered Bride" and "I Dismember Mama."
Despite its title, "42nd Street Forever! Volume 1: Horror on 42nd Street" covers more than horror movies. It runs the gamut from horror and sci-fi to action and blaxploitation, which is only natural, given that New York City's 42nd Street was, in its heyday, a Mecca for exploitation cinema.
Here are a few examples:
"Hooker's Revenge": Also known as "Thriller: A Cruel Picture" and "They Call Her One Eye," this is one of Quentin Tarantino's favorite films and an obvious influence on "Kill Bill."
"Devil's Rain": Hear William Shatner overact! See Ernest Borgnine melt before your eyes! Thrill to a preview that gives away the entire movie!
"Black Christmas": Before directing "Porky's" and long before he gave the world "Baby Geniuses," Bob Clark helmed this effective little horror movie starring Olivia Hussey ("Romeo and Juliet") and B-movie veteran John Saxon ("Enter the Dragon").
Clark, who has one of the most diverse filmographies of any director in Hollywood history, also directed "A Christmas Story." Believe it, or not.
"Skidoo": In this trailer, LSD advocate Timothy Leary and Sammy Davis Jr. hawk director Otto Preminger's screwball film starring Jackie Gleason, Carol Channing, Frank Gorshin, Frankie Avalon, Groucho Marx (!), Burgess Meredith (!!) and Mickey Rooney (!!!).
"Vigilante Force": Kris Kristofferson was in a lot of bad movies in the 1970s, and this is one of them. He stars opposite a pre-"Airwolf" Jan Michael Vincent, a pre-"Dallas" Victoria Principal and a pre-"Annie Get Your Gun" Bernadette Peters.
"Fighting Mad": Of course, Kristofferson's wasn't the only big name plastered on a lot of low-budget exploitation movies during the Me Decade. Peter Fonda was doing the family name proud, too. In this case, he stars in an early effort by "Silence of the Lambs" director Jonathan Demme. Look closely, and you'll see a young Scott Glenn, who played Jodie Foster's mentor in — you guessed it — "Silence of the Lambs."
"Food of the Gods": H.G. Wells was probably spinning in his grave when American International Pictures released this movie, based loosely on one of his novels, in which giant chickens and mice the size of horses remind mankind that it's not nice to fool Mother Nature.
"42nd Street Forever!" is available from Ban 1 for $24.99. Ban 1 is on the Web at www.ban1productions.com.