Grindhouse Trailer Classics, Volume 1 DVD Review: Seven Years Later...

Indie label Intervision presents American viewers with a collection of classic previews that has been out in the UK for over half of a decade now.
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Sometimes it just takes a while for things to cross The Pond. Seven years ago, the April 2007 release of the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino flop Grindhouse - an homage to the exploitation double features of yesteryear (which was a great idea, but which its own target audience ironically failed to comprehend the meaning of) - caused a tidal wave of low-budget DVD labels, each of whom had their own assortment of classic exploitation movies at their disposal (sometimes even legally!), to issue forth their own double (and sometimes more) feature discs. The intent of which was to cash-in on the popularity of the soon-to-be-doomed project (which would make some of its money back abroad and on home video, after the titles were split into two separate films, thus destroying what Rodriguez and Tarantino had set out to do).

Meanwhile, upset by the dismal returns of the theatrical presentation of Grindhouse, The Weinstein Company (the backers) decided to take action against those they apparently deemed responsible for the lackluster, lukewarm box office reception of a speciality program that went out (along with its audience) come the invention of the Jerrold cable converter box. So, the Weinsteins threatened legal action against any and all domestic home video distributors who dared to used the phrase "grindhouse", even going so far as to apply for a copyright on the word according to some reports (that I recall, at least). As a result of this very cunning but childish (or shall I say, "legal?") ploy, a number of pending releases were canceled. Others were renamed (RIP, BCI), but just about all were pulled from shelves when everybody realized that the economy was failing around the same time.

Meanwhile, in a magical far-off place called Great Britain, another independent video label, Nucleus Films, was developing their own little series bearing the now-taboo-on-American-soil phrase. The result was the Grindhouse Trailer Classics series, which recently celebrated its fourth entry in the franchise; a relatively easy task since vintage American movie trailers of exploitation movies made all over the world are rarely the subject of lawsuits on the grounds of copyright infringement (well, unless they're for a Weinstein film, perhaps!) - especially in Great Britain. The first volume included a whopping 55 sneak peeks at some of the sleaziest movies ever marketed specifically at specifically sleazy audiences. The DVD release even included a gallery of poster art and an indigenous featurette hosted by cult film fan/actress Emily Booth (who had, appropriately enough, appeared in Edgar Wright's mock trailer in the original theatrical release of Grindhouse).

Well, here we are seven years down the road, with the Weinsteins' interest in suing people who use the word "grindhouse" having waned to the point where it amounts to even less than the original domestic box office receipts of the actual movie Grindhouse. I suppose that's as good of a time as any to issue Grindhouse Trailer Classics, Volume 1 on DVD in the US, right? Well sure, providing you haven't already amassed these very same trailers in other forms of compilation discs (and I think I have). That said, this assortment is a venerable delight of outrageous odds and ends guaranteed to satisfy most people who sport an appetite for such antics.

From the disco music-laden outings of one Rudy Ray Moore (complete with this memorable, rhythmic, rhyming narration), to the stern tone of Roger Corman's hired voice for many of his New World-released pictures, and from the shock and schlock efforts of Italian maestros like Lucio Fulci to the action-packed martial arts movies of the Far East, Grindhouse Trailer Classics, Volume 1 has a little bit of just about everything for the seasoned B movie lover to reminisce about, and the uninitiated to marvel over. Presented here in one form or another (read: I've seen longer versions of at least one trailer, and shortened edits of others) are...

I Drink Your Blood/I Eat Your Skin
I Dismember Mama/Blood Spattered Bride
Switchblade Sisters
Caged Heat
Eyeball
Deranged
The Big Doll House
Bury Me An Angel
The Last House on the Left
The Street Fighter
Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS
Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde
Don't Open The Window
The Human Tornado
Caged Virgins
Ebony, Ivory, & Jade
Deadly Weapons
Torso
They Call Her One Eye
Death Ship
Master of the Flying Guillotine
They Came From Within
The Thing With Two Heads
I Spit On Your Grave
Sweet Sugar
Girls For Rent
The Toolbox Murders
The Executioner
House of Whipcord
Truck Turner
God Told Me To
Doctor Butcher M.D.
Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things
Night of the Bloody Apes
Bloodsucking Freaks
Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks
The Single Girls
The Corpse Grinders
Zombie
Coffy
The Perils of Gwendoline
Legend of the Wolf Woman
Satan's Sadists
Disco Godfather
Let Me Die a Woman
The Doll Squad
Secrets of Sweet Sixteen
Cannonball
Autopsy
Fight For Your Life
Love Me Deadly
Wham! Bam! Thank You, Spaceman!
Shogun Assassin
Three On A Meathook

The video quality as well as aspect ratio varies with each title (as they were procured from various sources, probably from other home video trailer compilations in several instances, I'm sure), but the overall presentation is a good one. A mono soundtrack - replete with all of the auditory imperfections a gathering of worn-out old preview reels used in drive-ins and 42nd Street movie houses time and time again over the years - only adds to the charm. Additionally, the original Nucleus disc is presented in its entirety here, complete with the poster artwork gallery and the featurette with Ms. Booth. Granted, after well over half of a decade since the disastrous premiere of Grindhouse, the hostesses' intended emphasis of referencing the sources of influence of the men behind the aforementioned film seems even more archaic than a Jerrold cable converter box.

Still, for over two-hours' worth of cult trailers, Grindhouse Trailer Classics, Volume 1 is nothing to sneeze at. Or get sued over, thankfully. Recommended.

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