For those unfamiliar with the whole Trailers From Hell concept, listen up - what it is, in a nutshell, is basically a website where a few times a week they'll post a trailer with an introduction and commentary from a 'guru.' More often than not, said guru is a filmmaker, so we tend to get some insight into the filmmaking process, maybe a bit of talk as to why this trailer is interesting or some trivia about the movie that it was originally made to promote in the first place, stuff like that. The concept works and it works well and generally things are done with a bit of a sense of humor as well, meaning the content is interesting and funny rather than dull and overly academic. Joe Dante spearheaded the idea a few years ago and it's been going strong ever since.
Trailers From Hell Volume 2 features the following participants giving commentary for the following trailers:
-Brian Trenchard-Smith: Devil Ship Pirates, Stranglers of Bombay
-Joe Dante: Donovan's Brain, The Invisible Ghost
-Guillermo Del Toro: Deep Red, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
-Ernest Dickerson: The Creeping Unknown
-Mick Garris: Fire Maidens From Outer Space, Flesh Gordon
-Jack Hill: Pit Stop
-Larry Karaszewski: Last Summer, The Tenant
-Lloyd Kaufman: Terror Firmer
-Mary Lambert: Godzilla Vs. Mothra
-John Landis: Gorgo
-Josh Olson: Jaws, The Lineup
-Michael Peyser: Seven Days In May
-Roger Corman: Ski Troop Attack, The Premature Burial
So what we wind up with is roughly forty-five minutes worth of trailers for films from different genres but with an emphasis on horror and action movies available to watch with or without commentary from various filmmakers. This is a pretty fun combination, as you can enjoy the trailers au natural or with insight from industry professionals (and in the case of Corman and Kaufman, the men who made the movies in the first place!). The commentaries are obviously only as in depth as the frequently short running time of the trailers will allow for but all involved do a good job of cramming in as many facts and witty observations as time will allow and as such we get some fun insight here.
Highlights include Brian Trenchard-Smith's take on two of Hammer Films' adventure films, his sense of humor shines through and makes these two in particular a lot of fun. Lloyd Kaufman is also in fine form, hyping up his own Terror Firmer as best he can while Landis' take on the importance of British monster movie Gorgo is also quite fun. Corman's memory is still as sharp as ever and so of course listening to his thoughts on both Ski Troop Attack and The Premature Burial should be considered mandatory for anyone with an interest in his work. All in all, while it would have been nice to see more trailers included here (and with those more commentary tracks), what we get is quality stuff and there's not a stinker in the bunch.
The aspect ratio for Trailers From Hell Volume 2 changes depending on which trailer we're watching, but generally the overall quality of the image is fine. There is a Trailers From Hell logo in the bottom left corner during playback, which is annoying, but the picture quality here is fine.
As far as the audio goes, like the video, it shifts a bit as the trailers change but overall things sound fine. The commentary tracks are clean and clear and sound just fine. It's all presented in English, Dolby Digital 2.0, with no alternate language or subtitle options offered.
As far as the extras go, Shout! Factory has included a nice looking version of Little Shop Of Horrors, the original not the remake, presented in anamorphic widescreen for the first time. Along with this is the film's trailer featuring optional commentary from Roger Corman (no commentary for the feature itself, just the trailer). The print used was obviously in pretty good shape and the quality of this release puts the various public domain releases, all of which seem to be fullframe, to shame.
Menus and chapter stops are also provided and you can watch each trailer individually or through a 'play all' feature and you can also opt to watch them with or without the TFH commentary.
While there are going to be those who wanted more than forty-five minutes worth of trailers out of this release, the inclusion of Little Shop Of Horrors in widescreen goes a long way towards making up for the 'main attraction's' fairly brief running time. The commentary from the various participants is also quite enjoyable, giving this disc a good bit of replay value. Trailers From Hell Volume 2 is fun stuff, let's hope we see more releases in the line from Shout! in the future. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.