Exploitation fans, drive-in buffs, and aficionados of cult and obscure cinema have long regarded Synapse's 42ND STREET FOREVER compilations as some of their favorite video releases. A retrospective of movie trailers culled mostly from the `60s and `70s - some for independent films, some for obscure studio product, and many hugely entertaining - this bestselling series has finally released its first Blu-Ray edition and the results do not disappoint.
If you're a series fan, the content here won't be a total surprise, the bulk of it coming as a mix of trailers previously released on the first two DVD editions. However, a few new surprises have been added in, with of course the enhanced benefit of having 1080p AVC encoded transfers that further transform your home theater set-up into a cavalcade of politically UN-correct gore, sleaze, sex, and comedy.
At nearly four hours and with 89 trailers on-hand, it's difficult to comment on them all, but here are a few of my favorites:
-Raiders of Atlantis: Hilarious "Road Warrior" rip-off with one of the all-time funniest decapitation scenes ever - and it's in this trailer! (Incredibly, the film itself just surfaced on DVD, in 16:9 no less, as a part of Mill Creek's 2011 "Sci-Fi Invasion" 50-movie bargain pack).
-Skatetown USA: Scott Baio, Epstein from "Welcome Back Kotter," Marcia from "The Brady Bunch," Ruth Buzzi, Flip Wilson and "introducing" Patrick Swayze? Someone tell me why this disco-skating flick isn't on DVD!
-The Crippled Masters: A favorite from the earlier compilation, in full scope widescreen.
-Wicked, Wicked: Early `70s MGM B-movie offered the first - and last - usage of "Duovision," a two-camera set-up that failed to sell this bizarre looking camp horror outing.
-Welcome Home, Brother Charles: `70s Black exploitation outing with a particularly memorable trailer.
As with the prior 42nd Street Forever retrospectives, the trailers are grouped together by category, from sleazy soft-core sex flicks to biker pictures, martial arts outings, sci-fi and horror, with the occasional big-studio film worked into the mix (like, say, MGM's hysterical Japanese co-production "The Green Slime").
The transfers are all superior to Synapse's admittedly terrific DVD sets (with many in anamorphic widescreen), but are also a mixed lot in terms of their condition, as you'd anticipate from materials that aren't pristine - but that only adds to the disc's inherent nostalgic, and overall entertainment, value. In fact, I've found that playing just a few minutes of these trailers is perfect for certain houseguests and friends you might have over, who are certain to get a kick or two out of them. Commentary by exploitation fan/webzine authorities adds some insight to the fun as well.
Here's hoping Syanpse doesn't wait so long to bring us a second volume!