Appellate Judge Tom Becker has an undead puppet friend: Lambchopped.
The Extra Mad Edition!
When I looked at the playlist for this collection of bizarre trailers, I wondered if I was getting more jaded, or if "bizarre" had somehow been redefined. Not only had I heard of most of these films, I'd actually seen a fairly high number of them; in fact, I reviewed a couple of them for DVD Verdict. Have I reached a point in my life where all the sleaze there is to see I've already seen? Has "mondo" become "mundane?"
Nah. Mad Ron's Previews From Hell doesn't bring anything new to the trailer-vault table because Mad Ron's Previews From Hell isn't, itself, new. This is a DVD release of a trailer compilation put together in 1987, meaning it was originally released on VHS. Unfortunately, Mad Ron's Previews From Hell still looks like VHS, sporting the kind of atrocious tech you'd see in your own 20-year-old home videos.
But maybe you can overlook the horrendous transfer because the content is great? Well…
There's absolutely nothing wrong with the trailers, other than the fact that they're not exactly rare. Most—if not all—are available on other compilations, and a number are for films that are pretty popular: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Deep Red, Night of the Living Dead, Torso, Beyond the Door, Sisters, Black Christmas, and The Last House on the Left, for instance. Others just seem to be staples of the "weird trailer" genre—Deranged, The Undertaker and his Pals, The Blood Spattered Bride/I Dismember Mama, Two Thousand Maniacs, The Corpse Grinders, Three on a Meathook, The Wizard of Gore, and Bloody Pit of Horror, among others, have turned up on other compilations. Admittedly, though, they were likely pretty fresh back in '87, as was the whole notion of trailer compilations, and they're still fun to watch.
There are a few nice surprises. Africa Blood and Guts is one of those wretched "mondo" shockumentaries that incorporates "real" footage of animals—and occasionally people—being abused. Umberto Lenzi's The Man From Deep River is famous as one of the first of the cannibal films—followed by Umberto Lenzi's more famous Cannibal Ferox. I was personally thrilled to see two of the most lurid PG-rated films of all time represented here, Blood and Lace—with Melody "Wrangler Jane" Patterson (and still not available on DVD)—and the great Spanish production The House That Screamed, which I believe is only available as part of Elvira's Movie Macabre series.
The problem here is that trailer compilations have really evolved since 1987. Collections like 42nd Street Forever: Volume 4 and 42nd Street Forever: Volume 5 feature commentary tracks, with Volume 5 focusing on the legendary Alamo Drafthouse in Texas. Stephen Romano Presents Shock Festival is a masterwork of exploitation insight.
Unfortunately, "insight" is not the operative word for the Mad Ron set. The connecting tissue here is a running skit involving a zombie puppet and a film screening for the undead, with a bunch of folks done up like zombies and eating body parts at a faux theater snack bar. Jordu Schell is credited with makeup effects, but don't let the fact that he went on to a successful career with films like Hellboy, 300, and Avatar under his belt get your hopes up—his work here is pretty much student-project level. The undead puppet (Happy Goldsplatt) and not-dead puppetteer (Nick Powlow) pop up between trailers and do unfunny skit shtick. I guess this is supposed to be their little valentine to horror hosting, but it's more like a poison-pen letter—a soft, grainy, washed-up, pulled from VHS poison-pen letter, at that. Maybe 20-and-change years ago, this made for a fun "party tape," but with so much better product out there now, you have to wonder why they're putting this on DVD in the first place.
There are all sorts of extras here, but nothing too notable. We get some promo trailers for this compilation of promo trailers; some behind-the-scenes stuff; a good poster gallery; a photo gallery; a gruesome "bonus trailer" for Blood Feast; and a couple of Easter Eggs, including a tribute to Herschell Gordon Lewis.
Mad Ron's Previews From Hell has some historical value, I guess, but I don't know if it's enough to recommend seeking it out. The trailers are fun, as these sorts of trailers tend to be, but the original content looks awful, is awful, and ends up being more intrusive than entertaining.
Guilty of resurrecting the better-off dead.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Virgil Films
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