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Grindhouse Trailer Classics 2

112 minutes (18) 2008
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Nucleus DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Ben J. Lamb
Mention the term 'grindhouse' to a young teenage cinephile of the 1990s and the first thing most likely to spring into their mind is Rodriguez's and Tarantino's collaborative flop of an idea named, unimaginatively, Grindhouse. More mistakenly remembered for its double-bill trademark, little is known about the true essence of grindhouse cinema amongst the current generation of filmgoers. Often dismissed for being exploitational, which it is, it is still nevertheless an integral and grossly overlooked period in cinema that has produced and influenced many great pictures alike.

The concept of the second in this series of DVDs is a strange and weird one but somehow it just seems to work. Grindhouse is a cinematic movement repeatedly parodied, romanticised and made reference to but for today's generation of film goers a period that is difficult to access, one which little is known about unless you were there at the time and of the right age. For those looking to further explore such a cinematic movement, these DVDs are perfect. In just under two hours a total of 55 trailers are crammed in to give you a feel of the genre. This experience may seem tiresome, a struggle for some but afterwards you will instantaneously become an expert of grindhouse cinema. And similarly for those who are already familiar with it, it will be a fond trip down memory lane. Although for those who are not film buffs or have no interest in this period of cinema it will be a waste of time. In its own charming way Grindhouse Trailer Classics 2 is insightful in re-affirming grindhouse's legacy better than Tarantino's attempt. More than simply a bunch of trailers strung together, this is an immersion, an indulgence, an original type of documentation that leaves you able to make your own deductions.

All the trailers on the DVD fall under the category of either out and out repulsive horror, soft porn, blaxploitation, full blown action, parody or a combination of all five which subsequently make the most eventful of the trailers. For certain film stars like Sonny Chiba, Pam Grier, Dyanne Thorne who are regularly referenced we are given the films in which have made them famous. The biggest asset this DVD holds is the fact it is full of films that even the most hardened self-proclaimed cinephile will struggle to be familiar with. None of the films are particularly obvious and therefore the majority of people will not be let down by the range of films they cover.

Some of the trailers are hilarious in their mere concepts such as Jailbait Babysitter (1977), The Black Gestapo (1975), The Pink Angels (1971) - which is a depiction of a homosexual hell's angels, Chinese Hercules (1973), and Flesh Gordon (1974) a parody of the famous sci-fi hero. Although some of the trailers are in fact regarded as classics, Deep Red (1975), Snuff (1976), Foxy Brown (1974), Rabid (1977), and Driller Killer (1979). Grouping all these films with other similar releases of the time really puts them in context adding a new perspective to their criticism. Perhaps there is a fine line between art and exploitation after all. That isn't to say all the trailers are all worthwhile. For example the whole premise of The Worm Eaters (1977) is carried by the idea that a few people eat worms, for The Cheerleaders (1973) some cheerleaders go around showing bare flesh, and Mighty Peking Man (1977) is a direct King Kong rip-off. It is obvious these films were made purely to circulate the wheel of grindhouse and gain profit off cheap gimmicks or by riding off the success of others.

Aside from the trailers themselves the DVD offers a 10-minute documentary Into The Grindhouse which is an interview with Stephen Thrower, the author of Nightmare USA. Here he briefly deconstructs the conventions of the trailers and explains how these trailers in themselves need to be appreciated and admired for their ability to tease and manipulate viewers into going and seeing these types of films. An essential companion to the first Grindhouse Trailer Classics this second DVD offers a new perspective than on the last.

Although the DVD does increase one's awareness of grindhouse cinema it does in fact lack depth. Many questions need answering like why were they so popular? Why did they die out? And what has changed? That's what we need to understand. Overall the DVD is basically a lot of trailers and a really short documentary, with a lot of room for further analysis. As a brochure of all the grindhouse films available though Grindhouse Trailer Classics 2 is impressively researched and put together. After watching it, it puts you in a real sense of discovery.

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