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Drive-In Madness!

Sub Rosa // Unrated // May 27, 2008
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Adam Tyner | posted June 14, 2008 | E-mail the Author
There are tons of grindhouse/schlock/horror/whatever trailer comps floating around on DVD nowadays: big stacks of 'em from Synapse Films, AllDay, Something Weird...the list keeps rambling on from there. If you're not all that interested in settling for vintage trailers, though -- if you want to heap on another layer of nostalgia by giving a trailer compilation from twenty years back a whirl -- SRS Cinema has just dusted off Drive-In Madness!. Clocking in around eighty minutes minus credits, this trailer comp from 1987 piles together a long list of schlock, horror, softcore, and campy sci-fi reels together along with a handful of short interviews.

The trailers scattered throughout Drive-In Madness! include...::implied drumroll::...

  • Nurse Sherri
  • Girls for Rent
  • The Blood-O-Rama Shock Festival
  • From Beyond
  • Horror of the Blood Monsters
  • Night of the Living Dead
  • The Human Duplicators / Mutiny in Outer Space
  • Troll
  • Blazing Stewardesses
  • Dead Time Stories
  • Ghoulies
  • Blood of Ghastly Horror
  • Satan's Sadists
  • Dracula vs. Frankenstein
  • Macabro
  • Frankenstein's Bloody Terror
  • The Twilight Horror (excerpt)
  • Don't Open the Window
  • The Naughty Stewardesses
  • Vampyres
  • Psychos in Love
  • The Booby Hatch
  • John Russo's Midnight
  • Dracula: Prince of Darkness / The Plague of the Zombies
  • Queen of Blood / Blood Bath
  • Bloodeaters
  • The Affair
  • The Green Slime
  • House of Psychotic Women
It's a pretty solid mix of movies, spanning quite a few decades and sprinkling in a couple other genres along with all the splatter. Al Adamson gets more attention than any other director, and his cacklingly over-the-top trailers are easily the best of the bunch. Narration by schlock-horror mainstay James Karen -- probably best known for his run in the first couple of Return of the Living Dead flicks -- strings the whole thing together, introducing interviews by Linnea Quigley, Russell Streiner, John Russo, Samuel M. Sherman, Bobbie Bresee, Forry Ackerman, George Romero, and Tom Savini.

Most of the interviews are kinda short and cursory. Quigley chats briefly about shooting some of her earliest movies, the baffling controversy swirling around Silent Night, Deadly Night, and what a rough shoot Return of the Living Dead was for a nekkid punk zombie. Streiner and Russo touch on the business end of getting Night of the Living Dead off the ground, following that up with the R-rated sex romp The Booby Hatch, and not pulling in the residuals Streiner would've hoped for from that iconic "they're coming to get you, Barbara..." line. Russo also spends a bit of time pointing out how eager he was to be tormented on the Night... shoot, filling in as one of the movie's most prominent flesheaters as well as a pan-seared zombie during the whole Molotov cocktail thing. Bresee talks about the early days of her career as a scream queen and shows off some of the prosthetics being applied for her turn in Evil Spawn. Uncle Forry chimes in from the Ackermansion about filming his cameo in Dracula vs. Frankenstein while struggling with a broken arm and goopy monster makeup that refused to stay on for an entire shot.

Meanwhile, Romero runs through the disposability of movies in the VHS era, how hard The Affair tanked at the box office, and Hollywood's overpriced blockbuster mentality that's still relevant twenty years later. Savini discusses how profoundly The Man of a Thousand Faces transformed his life before diving into his early days as a make-up artist, including his work on Bob Clark's Deathdream. Sherman speaks at length about his close partnership with Al Adamson at Independent International Pictures, the no-budget end of movie promotion, and how his working life can pretty much entirely be traced back to an obscure silent short called The Old Oregon Trail. Most of 'em find a way to work the decline of the mighty drive-in into their interviews, in keeping with the title of the compilation and all.

So, Drive-In Madness!...? 'Sokay. The fistfuls of trailers packed on here are a lot of fun, and there are a couple I hafta admit to not being all that familiar with -- like The Twilight Horror and Psychos In Love -- that I think I desperately need to track down. The interviews are more than twenty years old now, and most of them are really short, but...y'know, they're fine for what they are. Seeing Linnea Quigley chatting away casually while still in her prime, an unrecognizable Russell Streiner bellowing "they're coming to get you, Barbara..." through a snarl, Savini practically beaming while recapping the early days of his then-still-thriving career as the premiere artist of splatter... It's just kind of a drag that this DVD is so tough to recommend. This is, for all intents and purposes, the 1987 VHS release transferred directly to DVD. The quality's lousy, there are no extras at all, and...nope, not even a menu. It looks like more work went into putting together the cover art than every other aspect of this DVD combined. To slap on a sticker price of $29.98 on top of that, especially considering that there are stacks and stacks of other comps out there with more trailers, dramatically higher quality, and cost a tiny fraction as much? Drive-In Madness! is a marginal rental, but as a purchase, it's really for completists only.

Video / Audio: Drive-In Madness! looks like it was dumped straight off VHS, so the quality's naturally kinda lousy. The wraparounds have that cheapie, shot-on-video Reagan-era local news show look to it, and the trailers are all over the map. The audio's listenable, although there's some awfully nasty background noise, and it's kind of headache-inducing piped through an oversized home theater rig. This is pretty much a pre-recorded VHS on a shiny 5" disc, so keep your expectations low.

Extras: Nothing. There's not even a menu.

Conclusion: Drive-In Madness! is kind of a nostalgic blast, but...a $29.98 sticker price for eighty-something minutes of VHS-grade transfers of old trailers and really short interviews...? Why? There are way too many other schlock/horror trailer comps out there that cost less, look better, and pile on a heckuva lot more trailers. Drive-In Madness! might be worth a rental or fishing out of a bargain bin down the road for a few bucks, but...yeah, that's about it.
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