Monday, March 24, 2014

Celluloid Bloodbath: More Prevues from Hell (2012)

Directed by:
Jim Monaco
James F. Murray Jr.

The compilation tape MAD RON'S PREVUES FROM HELL - which broke up its exploitation and horror trailers (nearly all from the 60s and 70s) with dumb comic segments featuring ventriloquist Nick Pawlow and his zombie dummy Happy Goldsplatt - debuted on VHS in 1987. Since those were the pre-internet days and the only way to really view such trailers were on similar videos, the comp served a useful purpose in whetting the appetite of potential VHS renters / buyers and showing everyone just what was out there that they otherwise may not be aware of. But really, let's be honest here: These releases were primarily just a cheap and easy way to make money by adding minimal new footage to a bunch of preexisting footage and packaging it all as a "new" release. The first 'greatest hits' film of this type that I'm aware of is Richard Schickel's The Horror Show (1979), a theatrical release from MCA/Universal made right before the big home video boom of the 1980s. It was hosted by Anthony Perkins, featured clips from numerous classic horror films and promised audiences "60 magical years of movie monsters, madmen and other creatures of the night." Strangely, this feature has yet to make it out onto home video itself, but there were many others willing to essentially copy the same exact formula.

The Horror Show (1979) = The original horror compilation movie?

Charles Band's Wizard Video were the pioneers of these early home video releases. Their first was The Best of Sex and Violence (1981) hosted by John Carradine and with special appearances by sons David and Keith Carradine. It rented and sold well, so they then put together the Sybil Danning-hosted Famous T&A (1982), a collection of nude scenes featuring well-known actresses. To directly rope in the horror fans, Wizard then compiled Filmgore (1983) the following year, which was hosted by Elvira. A few years later came ZOMBIETHON (1986), which highlighted mostly Euro-sleaze / gore flicks. Rival companies also whipped up their own tapes. Cameron Mitchell hosted the Continental Video release TERROR ON TAPE (1983), which also featured future Scream Queen Michelle Bauer in an early appearance. Rhino video followed with Battle of the Bombs (1985) and their Sleazemania series (1985-1992). Then came Bad Girls in the Movies (1986), a Vestron / Lightning release; HORRIBLE HORROR (1986), a GoodTimes release hosted by John Zacherle; CREEPY CLASSICS (1987), a Fox Lorber release hosted by Vincent Price; DRIVE-IN MADNESS (1987), an Imagine Inc. release combining trailers with interviews, and numerous others. Not limited to just home video, some of these things actually played in theaters. The Paramount release IT CAME FROM HOLLYWOOD (1982) featured Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Cheech & Chong and Gilda Radner making fun of bad / old movies and grossed 2.5 million on the big screen. The biggest success though was Universal's corny Terror in the Aisles (1984), hosted by Nancy Allen and Donald Pleasence, which managed to rake in a whopping 10 million dollars in theaters. That may not seem like a lot these days, but it was double what the likes of Once Upon a Time in America and This is Spinal Tap made in theaters the same year.

Flash-forward to 2012 and Celluloid Bloodbath; yet another compilation of recycled trailers from the same guys who'd made the aforementioned Mad Ron's Prevues 25 years earlier. One question instantly arises: Is there really even a point to something like this anymore? I'm not so sure I can answer that. Needless to say, it's not 1987 any longer and anyone can see these same trailers any time they want online for free. However, this is also completely harmless, put together fairly well for what it is, has the right upbeat attitude and is not at all difficult to sit through, even for someone like me who's already seen most of these trailers before. Unlike with the original Prevues, this time the makers have enlisted the services of numerous horror and B movie celebrities to help link everything together. Some offer brief insight into films they actually starred in, others talk about movies they enjoy watching and some appear to have been ambushed at conventions and memorabilia shows for the brief bits they provide here. Either way, they're effectively used to help break up the monotony of sitting through trailer after trailer.

The opening sequence is set in a movie theater and a projection booth and features actor Joe Zaso, Scream Queen Raine Brown and the zombie puppet Happy Goldsplatt (voiced by Pawlow) introducing "the greatest horror exploitation trailers ever shown." The film then places the trailers - all 60s and 70s films - into 16 different categories. Most of the time they fit but on a few occasions they just seem to be thrown in wherever because they didn't fit anywhere else. Everything's neatly linked up with title screens, which introduce each segment, and the participants are all adequately introduced so we know who they are and why they're here. Good thing, too, because I wouldn't know who half these people were otherwise and I'm pretty well versed in the genre. Since there's not a whole lot else to discuss, I'll break this down by category so you know exactly what you're getting with this one...

  • "Monsters," introduced by film historian Jack Polito. Trailers for The Twilight People (1972), FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR (1968), Baron Blood (1972), The Slime People (1963), They Came from Within (1975) introduced by Johnny Legend, the monster-free The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971), Beast of the Yellow Night (1971) introduced by 42nd Street Pete and THE FLESH EATERS (1964). George Stover also says a few generic lines in a cemetery.
  • "Carnival Horrors," introduced by The Great American Odditorium barker / curator Professor Ouch. Trailers for the Carnival of Blood (1970) / Curse of the Headless Horseman (1974) double feature, BERSERK! (1967) and SHE FREAK (1967) introduced by Legend. 
  • "Supernatural Horrors," introduced by low budget actresses Amy Lynn Best and Sarah French. Trailers for THE EXORCIST (1973) and MEAT CLEAVER MASSACRE (1977).
  • "Really Bad Movie Prevues," introduced by Conrad Brooks. Trailers for THE WORM EATERS (1977), Monsters Crash the Pajama Party (1964) introduced by Cinema Wasteland convention promoted Ken KishThe Astro-Zombies (1967), MONSTER A GO-GO (1965) and LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD AND THE MONSTERS (1962).
  • "Vampire Horrors," introduced by Hammer actress Veronica Carlson. Trailers for THE WEREWOLF VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMAN (1971), House of Dark Shadows (1970) introduced by French and GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE (1972) introduced by Kish.

  • "Blaxploitation Horrors," introduced by spokesmodel Jasmine Shields. Trailers for SUGAR HILL (1974), Alabama's Ghost (1973) and Scream Blacula Scream (1973).
  • "Madness," introduced by horror hostess Carmela Hayslett. Trailers for EYEBALL (1975), RABID (1977) introduced by film critic and author Irv SlifkinThe Fiendish Ghouls aka THE FLESH AND THE FIENDS (1960), DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT (1973) introduced by horror hostess Reyna "Miss Misery" YoungMark of the Devil Part II (1973), the "whodunit and what did it?" double feature of The Black Belly of the Tarantula (1971) and THE WEEKEND MURDERS (1970) and THE BROTHERHOOD OF SATAN (1971).
  • "Promotional Gimmicks," introduced by Kish. Trailers for CHAMBER OF HORRORS (1966; fear flasher and horror horn), THE HORROR OF PARTY BEACH (1964; the first monster movie musical), Wicked Wicked (1973; split-screen "anamorphic duovision") introduced by Slifkin and Castle of Evil (1966; free funeral if you drop dead watching it).
  • "Body Parts That Kill," introduced by Mr. Dead Guy, the Dapper Cadaver (some well-spoken guy wearing a tux and skull mask). Trailers for Asylum (1972) and The Crawling Hand (1963).
  • "Psychos," introduced by actress Caroline Munro. Trailers for Psycho from Texas (1978) introduced by Linnea QuigleyDrive-In Massacre (1976) introduced by Ultra Violent Magazine editor Art Ettinger (Legend also discusses the film) and the double bill of Diabolic Wedding (1972), which is now considered a missing film, and Edgar Allan Poe's "Legend of Horror" (1972). Jesse Hess shows up at the end to bid farewell to his father, actor David Hess.

  • "Killer Animals," introduced by (usually soft-porn) actress Darian Caine. Trailers for Rattlers (1976), Squirm (1976) introduced by actress April Burril and Willard (1971) introduced by Young and with goofy comments from actress Debra Lamb.
  • "Baby Horrors," introduced by former child actress Denise Nickerson ("Dark Shadows;" the original Willy Wonka). Trailers for IT'S ALIVE (1974) and THE BABY (1972) with comments from Lamb and Burril.
  • "T&A Horrors," introduced by Scream Queen Michelle Bauer. Trailers for Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973), THE DEVIL'S WEDDING NIGHT (1973) and Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks (1975).
  • "Women Treated Badly," introduced by former porn actress Seka (who flips off the government in her bit). Trailers for Girl in Room 2A (1973), CORRUPTION (1968), THE HANGING WOMAN (1972), Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971) introduced by horror hostess Cindy Marie Martin aka Helena - Hussy of Horror, PRIVATE PARTS (1972), THE GORE GORE GIRLS (1972) introduced by Burril, W (1974) and Snuff (1976) introduced by Exploitation Retrospect editor Dan Taylor. Porn actress Ginger Lynn Allen shows up for a few seconds to bitch about Hollywood's sex / violence double standard.
  • "Cannibal Horrors," introduced by Mr. Dead Guy. Trailers for Tender Flesh aka Welcome to Arrow Beach (1974), which "makes the killing in Snuff look like amateur night," The Severed Arm (1973) introduced by Ettinger and Cannibal Holocaust (1980) introduced by star Robert Kerman.
  • "Dario Argento Films," introduced by Italian actor Giovanni Lombardo Radice. Trailers for Cat O' Nine Tails (1971), FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET (1972) and Suspiria (1977).

At the very end, we get to hear a little bit from William Forsythe, who says he's not a big horror film fan (way to throw some cold water on the proceedings!), and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) co-star Kyra Schon. Horror host John Zacherle aka The Cool Ghoul, sends us out. And that's all folks. 103 minutes. Over 60 trailers. The DVD is from Virgil Films.

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