The dvd companion to Stephen Romano’s excellent Shock Festival book is out now and it is a must have for slasher lovers, exploitation junkies, and movie nostalgia fiends. If you grew up watching movies in 42nd Street grindhouses or southern drive-ins, then get ready for major flashbacks because Shock Festival brings back our childhood friends. Vic Morrow, Christopher George, Klaus Kinski, Joe Spinell, and many other stars who are no longer with us can be seen in these beautifully remastered trailers. I’m a big fan of trailer compilations (I have all of the 42nd Street Forevers and a few of the horror comps from Something Weird and other companies) and Shock Festival is easily the best one in my collection.
Disc 1 starts with mock trailers based on some of the features in Romano’s book. Some of these are sleazier than the real trailers that follow. Next up is the exploitation trailer marathon which covers all the sploitation genres. You get Italian Mad Max rip offs (1990: The Bronx Warriors), blaxploitation (Cornbread, Earl, andMe among others), jiggle fests (Titillation is a real stand out, just don’t let the wife and kids see that one), action, kung-fu, and everything else that was big during the 70s and early 80s. There are two commentary tracks, one by Romano and one by Uncle Creepy, but these are hit and miss. Romano’s track is rambling and rarely has anything to do with the trailer appearing on screen at the time. Uncle Creepy acknowledges the action on screen but seems clueless as to the name of the films or actors involved. There is one hilarious highlight when Creepy watches Duke Mitchell’s Gone with the Pope trailer. His screams of terror are pure comedy gold.
If you’re a horror addict (like me) you’ll jump straight to disc two to check out the Ultimate Horror Marathon trailer collection. You get slashers (Pieces, Maniac, Pranks, Hell Night, Toolbox Murders), animals attacking (Great White, Grizzly, Tentacles), Dario Argento (Deep Red, Cat O Nine Tails), sleazy gore classics (Mark of the Devil, Bloodsucking Freaks), and plenty of others. Disc 2 also contains a compilation of vintage tv commercials and trailers for films produced by Sam Sherman. Commercial highlights include spots for Four Flies on Grey Velvet, Suspiria, The Changeling (my favorite haunted house flick), and Evil in the Deep, a Jaws rip off narrated by William (Blacula) Marshall. The best Sam Sherman trailers are for the Blood Island series and the Blood-O-Rama Shock Festival. Romano’s commentary is more on track for this disc and I’m especially grateful for the info on Great White, a film I saw in theaters before it was banned from the US.
Disc 3 is a special mp3 disc featuring an unbelievable number of rare radio commercials for exploitation films. Slasher fans will love disc 3 as it features ads for Visiting Hours, Twitch of the Death Nerve, Don’t Answer the Phone, Night School, two for Graduation Day, Maniac, The Town that Dreaded Sundown, and Motel Hell. Other ads are for the super rare Screams of a Winter Night, Watch Me When I Kill, A Knife for the Ladies, a preview for Phantasm before the film went nation wide, and an Eyeball/Suspiria double feature. This is barely scratching the surface folks since there is over three hours of radio commercials on this disc. These radio ads are a bloody marvelous supplement to the trailer compilations on disc 1 and 2.
Shock Festival is an amazing compilation of trailers and deserves a place in the collections of exploitation fans. Those of you who spent weekends at drive-ins and sleazy movie houses will get a massive nostalgia fix from these trailers. If you grew up after the exploitation films died away, then Shock Festival will show you some of the cool things you missed out on. Modern cinema is unbelievable boring when compared to this era of film making. Hopefully, there will be more volumes of Shock Festival dvds in the future. I know I’m craving more editions.