ARCHIVE REVIEW: Grindhouse Trailer Classics 2

Here is a review I wrote last year for Julian Knott’s excellent ZetaMinor that ended up, for reasons of time, not being used. 


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Film legend tells of the Grindhouse, a low rent breed of cinema where the rules of mainstream moviemaking did not apply. ‘Exploitation’ films shown in these venues were designed to lure in select audiences with niche interests. From admirers of the female form, to urban black audiences keen to see the latest Blacksploitation flick or martial arts enthusiasts eager to catch an imported kung fu movie, a lot of genre needs were catered to in these unprestigious venues.

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With the recent release of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’ big budget cinema tribute to the Grindhouse a whole new wave of film buffs have come to discover the many delights (and occasional horrors) that were offered during the heyday of these theatres during the 1960s, 70s and 80s. This disk represents the second offering of Grindhouse Trailers presented for your viewing pleasure by Nucleus films.

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The 55 trailers included in Grindhouse Trailer Classics 2 are Night Call Nurses, The Tigress (Ilsa, the Tigress of Siberia), Sister Street Fighter, Kung Fu, Chain Gang Women, Black Shampoo, The Undertaker and his Pals, Jailbait Babysitter, Violent Professionals, The Cheerleaders, Cuthroats Nine, The Black Gestapo, Sacrifice, Dolemite, The House that Screamed, Dr Minx, Don’t Go in the House, Cinderella 2000, The Hunchback of the Morgue, Criminally Insane, Foxy Brown, Bloody Pit of Horror, The Pink Angels, Nightmare, The Depraved, Don’t Look in the Basement, The Arena, Naughty Stewardesses, Snuff, The Twilight People, The Worm Eaters, The Virgin Slaughter, Mean Mother, Tender Flesh, Ilsa, the Wicked Warden, Death Dealer, Invasion of the Blood Farmers, Deep Red, Mighty Peking Man, Asian Monster, Blood Orgy of the She Devils, The Bodyguard, Virgin Witch, Women in Cages, The Exterminator, Don’t Answer the Phone!, Raw Meat, Street Law, Flesh Gordon, Vampyres, Rabid, House of Psychotic Women, The Girls Who Do, The Driller Killer, Nurse Sherri, Chinese Hercules and Invasion of the Bee Girls.

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This eclectic mix ranges from the disgusting (The Worm Eaters offers exactly what the title suggests), to the hilarious (The Pink Angels, Jailbait Babysitter) and from the well made (Foxy Brown, The Exterminator), to the sleazy (The Depraved is a particularly disturbing example of the darker side of what the Grindhouse had to offer; a film in while the entire plot involves around the pursuit and abuse of a young girl). Regardless of the artistic merit of the films advertised here – you either enjoy this type of thing or you don’t ‘get’ it at all-the trailers offer a fascinating insight into just what kind of films would sell, or at least what filmmakers thought would sell, in the 1970s. While the collection as a whole still stands as a fun overview of Grindhouse cinema it suffers in comparison to Nucleus Film’s first volume. While there are a few excellent trailers on offer here there are very few standouts among the trailers in comparison to the the earlier disk. 

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Video and Audio

All of the trailers are presented in anamorphic widescreen and are a mixed bag in terms of print quality. While one would never wish to view complete films in such grainy, soft focus prints as are presented here there is something about the theatrical trailer that lends itself to a slightly worn transfer. With the inclusion of a coming attractions card and film ‘leader’ at the top and tail of most of the trailers Nucleus Films are clearly sending out the message that this disks intention is to recreate the Grindhouse experience at home.

What is not so forgivable however is that this two hour presentation is crammed onto a single DVD5 and the bit rate suffers as a result at an average of 3.81Mbs. The video is also unfortunately interlaced. While the image is always watchable a number of the trailers, particularly those sources from lesser quality prints, suffer as a result.

NOTE: See the comments section of this post for a reply from Nucleus Films regarding DVD encoding. It would seem release copies differ from review copies in that they are given breathing space on a comfortable DVD9. 

Audio is presented in dual channel mono and is reasonably clear throughout. Some trailers may sound slightly muffled but is fair to assume that many of these instances are a result of the recording techniques used during the production of these low budget films and not the fault of the DVD reproduction. 

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Extras

The disk opens with a trailer for Bloodbath at the House of Death, recently released on DVD by Nucleus Films.

Into the Grindhouse (10m26)

An interview with Grindhouse historian Stephen Thrower, the author of the book Nightmare USA. Thrower tells the story of his own experience of discovering the genre and why he feels this strand of filmmaking deserves critical attention. Despite the short running time of this featurette Thrower is also able to offer a decent overview of the advertising strategies used in the many trailers on this disk.

Grindhouse Poster Gallery (1m49)

A gallery of Grindhouse posters with musical backing. Chaptered.

‘Also Available’ Trailers

A selection of trailers for titles that are available from Nucleus films.

Bloodbath at the House of Death (2m34s) NOTE: This is a different trailer to the one that opens the disk.

Gwendaline (2m12)

Fausto 5.0 (1m35)

Death Ship (2m45)

London Voodoo (2m)

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Summary

While still fascinating to watch the overall impression I got while viewing Grindhouse Trailer Classics 2 was that the best of the collection available to Nucleus Films had already been used in volume 1. Still, for 118 minutes of vintage material, some interesting yet limited extras and pretty packaging a fan of the Grindhouse stable can’t really go wrong considering the disk can be picked up for under ten pounds online.

BUY from Nucleus Films. Or don’t. I can’t make you do anything you don’t want to.

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2 Responses to “ARCHIVE REVIEW: Grindhouse Trailer Classics 2”

  1. Whilst screeners we sent out were DVD5s, the copies in the shops are dual-layer DVD9 discs. Just thought I’d point this out.

    Also as may of the original masters were interlaced we left them that way as stripping out frames would have lessened the picture quality.

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