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Trailer Trauma

Garagehouse Pictures // Unrated // January 4, 2016 // Region 0
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Adam Tyner | posted January 21, 2016 | E-mail the Author
"The making of a great trailer compilation, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer to grab attention."

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"Then you've got to take it up a notch."

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"...but you don't wanna blow your wad, so then you've got to cool it off a notch."

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"There are a lot of rules."
- Rob Gordon on cult cinema trailer comps, probably

Why bother whiling away an afternoon watching one or two grindhouse flicks when, in the space of a couple hours and change, you can gawk at hordes of flesh-eating mummies, a gaggle of Santa Clauses getting savagely butchered, a bunch of mobsters skewered by a power drill, undead kids who can melt their parents with a touch, a horned demon rocking a pair of sais, and a cyborg warrior on tank treads? Where else can you see Mr. T, Jean Seberg, Klaus Kinski, James Mason, Jean Claude Van Damme, Smokey Robinson, Harvey Keitel, and Edwige Fenech brought together for the first time? Trailer Trauma, the second release from the newly-minted Garagehouse Pictures, delivers all the gruesome, sticky, sleazy, and unrepentantly batshit insane highlights from dozens of drive-in flicks.

Below is a list of the 64 (!) trailers -- along with the 'This Film Is Restricted' panther -- on Trailer Trauma. Because I guess I have a little too much free time on my hands, I've also tossed in some notes about which of these films are available on Blu-ray. Hey, we've even reviewed a few of 'em here at DVD Talk!

  1. Title / Restricted Animated Cat
  2. Death Bed
    (not to be confused with...y'know; also known as Terminal Choice)
  3. The Hex Massacre / Lucifer's Curse
  4. Dawn of the Mummy
    (the 1981 original, not the remake-in-name-only)
  5. Dark Sunday
  6. Sunday in the Country
  7. Don't Open Till Christmas
    (available on Blu-ray in Austria, if you're curious)
  8. Savage Weekend
    (on Blu-ray courtesy of Scorpion Releasing)
  9. Mean Frank and Crazy Tony
  10. Wacko
  11. Hysterical
  12. The Incredible Torture Show
    (this Troma mainstay is on Blu-ray as Bloodsucking Freaks)
  13. Mondo Magic
  14. Coonskin
    (on Blu-ray overseas; awaiting a domestic release from Etiquette Pictures one of these days)
  15. Fingers
  16. Revenge of the Living Zombies
    (Shriek Show's Blu-ray release is titled Flesh Eater)
  17. The Children
    (the 1980 version I'm desperate to be properly remastered)
  18. Dr. Frankenstein on Campus
  19. Dracula Blows His Cool
  20. Creature from Black Lake
    (was rumored for a Blu-ray release from Synapse Films, but suitable elements couldn't be found)
  21. Goliathon
    (better known as The Mighty Peking Man; on Blu-ray overseas; announced for a domestic release years ago, but Well Go pulled the plug for whatever reason)
  22. The One-Armed Executioner
  23. Naked Vengeance
  24. Food of the Gods II
  25. Fright
    (a common title, yeah, but this is the one from '71)
  26. Jack the Ripper
    (this 1976 flick starring Klaus Kinski scored a nice Blu-ray release in Germany)
  27. The Annihilators
  28. Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!
  29. Sands of the Kalahari
    (on Blu-ray courtesy of Olive Films)
  30. Sacrifice!
    (there's a cut high-def release in the UK as Man from Deep River; I don't believe Raro Video's Blu-ray release has surfaced)
  31. The Games School Girls Play
  32. The College Girl Murders
  33. Beyond and Back
  1. Black Fist
  2. Penitentiary II
  3. Dog Tags
  4. Nightmare
    (1981; on Blu-ray courtesy of Code Red)
  5. Superstition
  6. Frankenstein in 3D
    (there are 2D releases overseas but nothing on Blu-ray over here)
  7. Homebodies
  8. The Alpha Incident
  9. Mutant War
  10. The Eliminators
  11. 9 Deaths of the Ninja
  12. Stoner
  13. Next!
    (better known as The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh; inexplicably not on Blu-ray)
  14. The Rah Rah Girls
    (an unrecognizable repackaging of What Have You Done to Solange? as a teen sex comedy)
  15. Paranoia
    (also known as Orgasmo)
  16. Silent Madness
  17. Trick or Treats
    (1982; on Blu-ray courtesy of Code Red)
  18. The Creeper
    (aka Rituals)
  19. Tango Macabre
    (available on Blu-ray as Seizure courtesy of Scorpion Releasing)
  20. Ironmaster
  21. No Retreat, No Surrender
    (many different foreign Blu-ray releases, but nothing over here)
  22. Knights of the City
  23. Legend of Frenchie King
  24. The Farmer
  25. Smokey and the Good Time Outlaws
  26. Smokey and the Hot Wire Gang
  27. The Demon Lover
  28. Diabolic Wedding / Legend of Horror
  29. Grave of the Vampire / Garden of the Dead
  30. Hell Hunters
  31. Jungle Wolf II: Return Fire
  32. Captain Apache

Horror! Blaxploitation! Slashers! Westerns! Genre spoofs! Swedish skin flicks! Poliziotteschi! Gialli! Kung fu! Balls-out '80s action! Science fiction or whatever the hell the incomprehensible trailer for The Alpha Incident is about! Mondo quasi-documentary flicks! A comedy where a bunch of septuagenarians about to get the boot from their apartment building murder everyone in sight! Rednexploitation that extends to a couple of Smokey and the Bandit knockoffs that I didn't know was a thing! Lee Van Cleef without his trademark moustache that I just...can't even cope! A dangerous drinking game in the making where you take a shot everytime the narrator says "Mean Frank" or "Crazy Tony"!

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My favorite trailer comps -- say, the fifth volume of 42nd St. Forever and Trailer War -- play like movies in their own right. It's not just about tracking down the most gonzo trailers but sequencing them together the right way. Like a really great mixtape, there ought to be a flow to 'em -- a rhythm, a series of arcs -- that keeps a death grip around my attention. Not only does an ideal collection clock in at a couple hours in length, but once I mash the 'play' button, I should feel compelled to watch the whole thing from start to finish. Trailer Trauma nails it. Even better, this comp plays kind of like a master class. As much as I adore the trailers for, oh, I dunno, Starcrash and Mr. No Legs, those are everywhere. Trailer Trauma makes it a point to steer clear of any overlap with the other trailer comps on Blu-ray, emphasizing the particularly rare and unique. Even some of the more familiar films in this collection are hardly more of the same, presented under alternate titles or teased with variant trailers that've largely gone unseen. I'm in awe of what Garagehouse has assembled here, and for anyone who already has a trailer comp or two under their belt, Trailer Trauma is essential viewing. Highly Recommended.

Just to hammer it home again, Trailer Trauma piles on sixty-four trailers, with its oldest clips dating back to the mid-sixties and the most recent one hailing from the class of '88. These trailers span many, many years, numerous genres, quite a few different countries of origin, and budgets that are all over the place. Garagehouse Pictures made it a point to showcase as many rarely-glimpsed trailers as they could too. I mean, it's not as if they had a dozen different French-language trailers of Oliver Stone's Seizure so they could cherrypick the best looking of the bunch like that guy in the Stella Artois cidre ads.

What I'm awkwardly trying to get at here is that the overall quality isn't something you can pin down in a couple of sentences. Some trailers are vivid and colorful, while others have faded over the years. A bunch of these trailers are reasonably sharp and well-defined, although on the complete other end of the spectrum:

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Don't get the wrong idea, though. Stoner is the only disastrous looking trailer in this mix, and that clip from George Lazenby's woulda-starred-Bruce-Lee-if-he-hadn't-died kung-fu epic is so awesome that I'll cheerfully take it no matter how fuzzy it is. As weathered and heavily speckled as these trailers often are, the damage is never remotely severe enough to really get in the way. The last word of Legend of Frenchie King getting abruptly cut off is as close as things get there. Garagehouse Pictures clearly wants these trailers to look as great as they possibly can, even going to the time and expense of scanning these trailers in 4K from Harry Guerro's 35mm archives. The exception is Jungle Wolf II: Return Fire, which sure looks like low-res video to my eyes. Aside from an outlier or two, the quality generally stacks up pretty nicely next to Synapse Films' 42nd St. Forever Blu-ray collection if you want a point of comparison. Trailer Trauma's most exceptional looking clips don't reach quite the same heights as 42nd St. Forever or Drafthouse Films' Trailer Wars at their very best, but the quality overall absolutely hits the marks I'd hoped it would.

Trailer Trauma unspools for a little over two hours and fifteen minutes across a single-layer Blu-ray disc. All of these trailers have been encoded with AVC, and they're generally presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. There are some 1.33:1 and 1.66:1 clips in here too for good measure, though, and there's also stuff like that double feature of The Hex Massacre and Lucifer's Curse that leaps back and forth between ratios.

I don't have nearly so much to drone on about when it comes to the aural end of things. Trailer Trauma's 16-bit monaural LPCM audio is unavoidably erratic but solid enough. The voiceover work in particular frequently sounds terrific, even if the audio of the films underneath 'em isn't always in that same league. Only a couple of trailers are a letdown aurally: the wildly uneven levels of Grave of the Vampires and the kinda muffled/clipped/whatever Revenge of the Living Zombies. For the rest of the two hours and change, though...? Nothing but nice things to say.

Aside from Ironmaster and Tango Macabre, Trailer Trauma is presented entirely in English.

There aren't any extras on the disc itself. It's a bit of drag that there isn't the sort of optional commentary that Trailer War and 42nd St. Forever have served up; I'd have loved to have heard a bit more about many of these movies without having to type a whole bunch of titles into Google. Not even close to being a dealbreaker, though!

Trailer Trauma boasts some really slick cover art -- far and away my favorite of the trailer comps I've come across -- and a full list of these sixty-five trailers is revealed after cracking open the clear, standard-width case. Oh, and this is indeed an all-region release.

The Final Word
For my money, anyway, a trailer compilation should play less like reference material in an archive and more like a movie in its own right. Sure, I might wanna just skip to a few of the highlights when showing that sucker off to friends and family, but a good comp should seize hold of me and refuse to relent from the first trailer to the last. From the way Trailer Trauma is curated, it sure looks like Garagehouse Pictures feels the same way. This easily gets my nod as the most entertaining trailer compilation I've come across on Blu-ray. Even better, not only is there no overlap with Trailer War or that 42nd St. Forever best-of-and-then-some, I've never come across the majority of these trailers -- hell, most of these movies in any form, period -- until now. It's a must-have for the rabid cult cinema crowd, and unlike similar releases that are either one-and-done or stuck in a years-long hiatus, Garagehouse has already announced that Trailer Trauma 2 is on the way. Here's hoping the second volume comes as Highly Recommended as this one.
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Highly Recommended

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