If you weren’t lucky enough to frequent a certain type of picture house of the 60s, 70s and early 80s, you’ve lost your chance to experience the true Grindhouse effect in all its filthy glory. The next best thing is the Grindhouse Trailer Classics collection.
This feature-length collection of cinematic previews has it all: nudity, ninjas, violence, sexual deviancy, samurai, sadism, exploitation, drug use, and cult favourite John Saxon! As you’d expect (perhaps even demand), dirt, scratches and clicks blight the video and audio, enhancing the sense of decay and depravity. The colours are as garish and vibrant as they ever were. And the majority are voiced by the instantly recognisable basso profundo of Paul Frees.
Leading your clammy, shaking hand in to this wonderful, lost world is critic and cult-film expert Kim Newman. A gloriously enthusiastic and informed voice in the obscure and esoteric, even Newman is a neophyte to some of the weirdness here. Additionally, his passionate explanation of Grindhouse can be found in the extras section of the disc to help define the experience for the uninitiated.
Nucleus Films have curated a museum of the very strangest previews you will perhaps ever see. To find fault with these trailers on grounds of quality or content would seem a little churlish. These films are no less valid for not being ‘art-house’ or ‘worthy’. In many of these trailers you’ll find a subversive aesthetic missing from most contemporary cinema. In an age when film makers were pushing boundaries of acceptability, a cinema of fun and excess grew and flourished.
I find an amateurish but passionate film more interesting than a technically perfect, safe piece. What isn’t exciting about beautiful Cannibal Girls pick-axing victims to the sound of bells ringing to warn patrons of excessive destruction and eroticism? You’d peek, wouldn’t you? Superchick might be something of a male fantasy, but isn’t an ass-kicking woman more invigorating than a passive, screaming victim? Aren’t budgetary constraints the mother of invention? Dogs trained to rob banks? I fear some of these trailers might be superior to the films they are selling!
Admittedly there are some trailers here that are troublesome for modern sensibilities. A film about the first black CIA recruit tackles racial politics of the time while still portraying other black characters as hoods and pimps. Nazi Love Camp 27 risks treating the holocaust as sexual fantasy, though seems to have an admirable budget compared to other films here. And rape seems to be a recurrent narrative device, always used as a prime motivator for revenge and violence on the perpetrator. Whether this in any way excuses its use is up to the viewer.
Personal favourites include Linda (possession, nudity, crazy make-up and crabs!), Black Mama White Mama (inter-racial revenge violence meted out by some of the feistiest women you’ll ever meet) and the very curious Doberman Gang. This extensive and impressive assortment achieves the original intent: to titillate and excite the viewer into seeking out the full feature. Treat yourself to a trip back in celluloid time to a cinema filled to bursting with degradation, sleaze, deviancy and excess. I guarantee there are things here you simply won’t experience anywhere else. And that can’t be a bad thing.
Grindhouse Trailer Classics 3 is released on December 5th through Nucleus Films.