Synapse Films

Exploitation producers knew that the key to making the long green at the box office most often rested on one thing: advertisement. Outrageous poster art, inventive product tie-ins, contests, and city-wide publicity, and of course the previews that shoved all the best sex, violence, and shocking footage into a compact morsel to leave audiences drooling for more. More often than not, the previews were works of art that hyped the films up so well that the eventual viewing couldn’t help but disappoint. Years later, as exploitation filmmaking is pretty much dead and buried, trailers provide a glimpse into the minds of the moviemakers, their marketing techniques, and sometimes most importantly, rare films which have never resurfaced on home video. Synapse united with Ban 1 Productions to revisit their awesome first disc, 42ND STREET FOREVER VOL. 1. The original disc had a theme of horror films (though many of the trailers were not genre-themed), but this one tackles everything under the sun, providing a sampling of every major cult film genre for fans and novices alike. Trailerholics will be in 7th heaven with this astounding 2-hour collection of theatrical trailers, and best of all, they’re not all the same old previews which have appeared on countless other compilations!

We begin with THE UNDERTAKER AND HIS PALS, a goofy H.G. Lewis-inspired gore comedy shot in 1967 Florida. With a stupid theme song, three leather-clad killers who chain-whip a redhead and stab a blonde, blood-spurting violence, hardy-har-har humor, a woman impaled on her fence (!), and very cheap production values. On DVD from VCI and several bootleggers.

THE FLESH AND BLOOD SHOW was Pete Walker’s first horror film, and seems to be his most obscure. It looks great, though, with a maniac killing off an acting troupe in an abandoned theater. The trailer introduces each character, including “John the weirdo” and “Jane and Angela the girlfriends,” and everyone seems to have sex with someone else, including two beautiful lesbians. It hits all the exploitation bases, with plenty of gratuitous nudity and grisly violence. It’s available as part of Frank Henenlotter’s Sexy Shocker series from Something Weird, but will be hitting region 1 DVD soon with extras.

WOMEN AND BLOODY TERROR/NIGHT OF BLOODY HORROR pairs two incredibly stupid New Orleans-shot shockers from Joy Houck, Jr. WOMEN is the rarer of the two, with lots of ladies screaming and being chased by a violent brute. BLOODY HORROR stars “Major Dad” Gerald McRaney as a kooky guy with sex problems and visions of violence who may be murdering women left and right. It’s pretty lousy, very confusing, but features some interesting gore murders, and a female character with the scariest teeth ever shown on the screen! WOMEN can be had through a few grey market dealers; BLOODY HORROR is part of a Brentwood set, but Something Weird also offers it on DVD-R.

I DISMEMBER MAMA/THE BLOOD SPATTERED BRIDE is one of the most widely-seen double bill trailers ever made, and after seeing it for the umpteenth time, it’s just not as fun as it used to be. But those who haven’t seen it before should find it amusing: a fake TV news crew covers an audience member being dragged away in a strait-jacket, then interviews other patrons as they file out of the theater. A blue-collar couple, a giggling moron, and a stoned blonde wax poetic about the horrors of the double feature. The blonde really grooves on the Upchuck Cup, a promotional gimmick which was handed out to every patron. An original one would fetch top dollar from collectors today! It’s one of the best and most original exploitation trailers, and probably enticed many people to check out this double feature. I DISMEMBER MAMA is a pretty boring psycho flick that should stay forgotten, but BLOOD SPATTERED BRIDE is one of the more interesting Spanish horrors of the 70s. Anchor Bay released it on DVD completely uncut.

Peter Cushing is a sadistic lady-killer in CORRUPTION, one of the most violent British horror films of the 60s. “This is not a woman’s picture,” screamed the posters, and that’s for sure: women are chased, beaten, raped, strangled. All at the hands of Cushing, one of the most gentle men who ever lived! The adorable Vanessa Howard (GIRLY) and sharp cheek-boned Kate O’Mara (THE VAMPIRE LOVERS, “Absolutely Fabulous”) also star. “No woman will be admitted alone to see this picture”!

THE BUTCHER OF BINBROOK is aka GRAVEYARD OF HORROR, a Spanish horror film that is more boring than anything else, but one would never guess it by the trailer. A blonde woman stabs someone to death viciously, an entire graveyard’s coffins are revealed to be empty, and an oatmeal-faced zombie attacks! Image released this on a fullscreen disc a few years back.

Does GINGER need an introduction? This incredible kick-ass female avenger film stars the lovely Cheri Caffaro as Ginger, a special agent taking on a syndicate dealing in sex and drugs. Gay porn star Casey Donovan/Cal Culver is one of the villains who has his balls sliced off with a razor after a sex scene! The trailer opens with Ginger calling a fight opponent “You rotten son-of-a-bitch!”, setting the stage for an action-packed preview which really sells this sex-n-violence cult classic! She also has a lesbian scene, balls most of her targets before killing them, and gets the shit beaten out of her before being tied up and raped by a gang ringleader! Fans may recognize Cathy Worthington (TRIP WITH THE TEACHER) watching Ginger partake in a catfight on the beach. The GINGER series (including THE ABDUCTORS and GIRLS ARE FOR LOVING) is out on DVD from Monterey, in atrocious transfers. Hopefully someone will revisit these soon!

The trailer included for ITALIAN STALLION hasn’t appeared anywhere else, to this reviewer’s knowledge, and is hosted by notorious adult film director Gail Palmer (EROTIC ADVENTURES OF CANDY, HOT SUMMER IN THE CITY). Notorious because she didn’t do much of the directing, leaving it up to her male crew members to get the films done! Looking at how young and ditsy she seems here, it’s no surprise she is one of the most-hated women in adult film history. One of the films mentioned in the trailer, THE LONG FOOT starring John Holmes, was apparently never finished or released, unless it was the working title for PRISONER OF PARADISE (1980). Of course there’s lots of footage of Stallone here, mostly him fooling around in the snow, with a terrible new theme song and quotes from Stallone’s interview with Playboy. The hardcore version of this film has apparently never surfaced, but it was just one of several other features Stallone shot and subsequently had destroyed after his star took off.

Edwige Fenech was a queen of stupid Italian sex comedies after making her mark in gialli, and CREAM PUFFS is one of the stupidest. She looks great, as usual, and does seem to be having fun amidst all the terrible English dubbing and goofy lewd humor. With Milena Vukotic (BLOOD FOR DRACULA), and directed by Sergio Martino, past his prime.

THE 3 DIMENSIONS OF GRETA is one of Pete Walker’s more popular films, even if people don’t realize he directed it! This 3-D British sex comedy has been released on R2 DVD but somehow has still never made it to DVD on this side of the pond, despite good reviews and that great 3-D gimmick. The photography is inventive and features lots of gorgeous shots of topless girls, go-go dancers, and (gag!) Robin Askwith! “Introducing Leena Skoog, the exciting 3-D girl!,” who was once the lover of Sweden’s King Carl Gustaf! Something Weird offers this in their catalog.

HARD CANDY is better known as M3-D THE MOVIE, a terrible hardcore film transformed into softcore and re-released under multiple pseudonyms. The trailer is shown in 2-D and looks better than the DVD from Pathfinder. John C. Holmes is proclaimed as the star, even though he’s only a supporting actor here; he also talks to the camera, introduces himself, and says that the ladies in the audience can now “sit under the shadow of my long schlong” in 3-D!! John Seeman appears as the “director” (it was really Stephen Gibson), promising a woman’s breasts will appear 4 inches from the viewer’s face in 3-D. This is a great trailer for a very bad film.

THE CENTERFOLD GIRLS is one of Arthur Marks’ most popular titles, even if it’s maybe the worst thing he’s ever done. The cast is to die for: Connie Strickland, Tiffany Bolling, Francine York, Jennifer Ashley, Janus Blythe, Jamie Lynn Bauer, Tally Wright, Janet Wood (UP!), Teda Bracci (THE BIG BIRD CAGE), and Aldo Ray, a few years away from being kicked out of SAG. Andrew Prine plays a bespectacled murderer who stalks the various girls who appear as magazine centerfolds. The trailer is great, playing up the murders and suspense scenes, but the film itself is too long, boring, and the ending is a sheer cop-out. It should be coming to DVD soon.

PANORAMA BLUE, presented in Panoramic widescreen, is proclaimed as “The World’s Mightiest Adult Film” and it looks to be true. The cast includes hardcore sex stars Sandy Dempsey, Rick Cassidy, Uschi Digart, Rene Bond, John Holmes, Cyndee Summers, Linda York, and Con Covert, all performing softcore, but they look like they’re having a blast making this innovative film. Sex on a roller coaster is achieved through rear projection, but still looks believable and exciting, and there’s also a blowjob during an auto race and sex surrounded by an orchestra. This one needs to come out on DVD pronto!

The only movie shot on DuoVision, WICKED, WICKED is a great time capsule film. Only in 1973 would a major studio shoot an all-split-screen film, with an unoriginal murder mystery storyline, Tiffany Bolling in two wigs and singing two songs, Edd “Kooky” Byrnes as a beach bum gigolo, and Diane McBain as an early victim, an all organ music score. This MGM film now resides in Warner Brothers’ vaults, and with their recent releases of PRIVATE PARTS and NIGHT OF THE LEPUS to DVD, this one may have hope!

Possibly the most enjoyable film Jerry Gross ever made was TEENAGE MOTHER, the 1966 childbirth roadshow classic starring Arlene Farber (THE FEMALE ANIMAL, I DRINK YOUR BLOOD), also Gross’ real-life significant other, as a teenage bad girl with piled-high hair, a rockin’ body, and an insatiable appetite for sex. She finds herself knocked up, much to the chagrin of the new sex ed teacher who is being railroaded by local parents. With car racing, go-go dancing, erotic fried chicken eating (not as good as it sounds), lots of bras and panties, and bad taste sex. The brutish-sounding narrator screams: “TEENAGE MOTHER! Means 9 months of trouble!” Something Weird offers this from a very beat-up print, and this is the best the trailer, nay, any scenes of the film have looked colorful and clean! One hopes Sam Sherman grabbed this one and GIRL ON A CHAIN GANG, its companion piece, in his Jerry Gross acquisition so that it can come out on DVD soon.

A coming-of-age film whose trailer opens with a group of kids masturbating frantically (!), CHARLIE AND THE HOOKER seems to be like 1985’s HEAVEN HELP US shot in Spain. It looks to be more of an art film than an exploitation film, and looks pretty good, as a group of geeky altar boys try to sneak peeks at beautiful women and lose their virginity. This also seems to be the influence on MILK MONEY with Melanie Griffith.

Late-night TV viewers have fond memories of MATANGO, also known as ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE, the precursor to “Lost”. A group of shipwrecked friends wash up on a desert island and take refuge in an abandoned ocean liner, forced to eat mushrooms which transform them into monsters! Media Blasters released the ultimate edition of this film this year on their Tokyo Shock label, and it’s a highly recommended watch.

Warner Brothers has probably been bombarded with non-stop requests for the release of THE GREEN SLIME on DVD! Originally released in the US by MGM, this late-60s space monster epic features multi-tentacled monsters killing humans on an isolated space station. Luciana Paluzzi and Richard Jaeckel look suitably embarrassed to be in this film, but give it their all in battling the outrageous monsters! With plenty of monster action, explosions, space battles, and that groovy theme song “Green Slime.” The cult following on this film is massive, so one hopes a DVD release is right around the corner.

DESTROY ALL MONSTERS is without a doubt the best Japanese monster movie ever made! What other movie combines Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, Baragon and Ghidrah? Evil aliens force the monsters to attack Earth so that they can claim the planet for themselves, but they don’t count on the monsters switching sides and battling for control of the earth. “Godzilla Paralyzes New York! Rodan Ravages Moscow! Mothra Massacres Peking! Baragon Terrorizes Paris!” There’s a really nice Special Edition DVD of this from A.D. Vision that is a must for fans of giant monster movies!

THE CRIPPLED MASTERS is definitely one of the most eye-opening flicks you're likely to see! The film, always seen in ugly fullscreen transfers, has its original widescreen aspect ratio preserved in this trailer with burned-in French subtitles. An armless man and his friend with useless legs join forces to fight the evil tyrant who crippled them. Goofy, shameless, and a whole lot of fun, this one’s in New Line’s hands now.

Here is the best example of a trailer and a poster being better than the actual film: WEREWOLVES ON WHEELS. One watches this trailer and anticipates an exciting biker horror film, with nasty hog-riding pigs being transformed into hairy beasts by a Satanic cult. However, this only takes up a small portion of the feature film. Dark Sky Films is putting this out in 2006, but if you’ve seen the trailer, the film itself will be disappointing.

The world’s only gay biker film (unless Kenneth Anger’s LUCIFER RISING and LEATHER JACKET LOVE STORY count), THE PINK ANGELS is a film most can’t believe was actually written, directed, acted, and released to theaters! Who was the audience for this film? It’s more of a comedy than anything else, and surprisingly isn’t packed with typical 70s gay stereotypes. One black girl reads one of the dumbest lines ever: “Black isn’t just beautiful…it’s good!” Huh? John Alderman (tons of Friedman films and hardcore as Frank Hollowell), “Grizzly Adams” Dan Haggerty, Al Adamson regular Bruce Kimball, and Michael Pataki star. Crown International licensed their library to Rhino, who haven’t done the best job with the films, so this one is still missing in action.

THE DEPRAVED is probably Christina Lindberg’s best film. While THRILLER is a dynamite thrill ride, this one is almost more filthy and immoral, following a young girl with a wild imagination and her submission to a blackmailing bastard with nude photos of her. Lindberg’s never looked better than she does here, with her perfect, giant breasts and angelic face receiving maximum exposure. Coming soon from Synapse, this is a mandatory purchase when it’s finally released.

THEY CALL HER ONE EYE, also known as THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE, should be on the shelf of every DVD Drive-In reader, and is strong competition with DEPRAVED for Lindberg’s ultimate career moment. She plays a country girl abducted and drugged, forced to become a prostitute after having her eye poked out with a scalpel. She finally reaches her breaking point, dons a long black trenchcoat, eyepatch, and wielding a massive shotgun, wreaks her vengeance on her most popular clients and the pimps who ruined her life. A stunning motion picture, mixing art and exploitation to great success. Lindberg reunites with her DEPRAVED co-star Heinz Hopf in this film, too.

MAID IN SWEDEN was the first major starring role for Lindberg, and it’s no wonder she became an international sex symbol upon its release. It’s an obvious remake/rip-off of Joe Sarno’s INGA, but where Marie Liljedahl was an innocent beauty with a lithe body, Lindberg is a sex bomb from the opening credits, with the face of a child and the body of a woman. Who knows when this one will come out on DVD, as MGM/Sony owns it as part of their Cannon library.

Walerian Borowczyk’s BEHIND CONVENT WALLS is generally considered the best nunsploitation film ever made, and this French trailer makes it hard to argue that fact. Lots of nasty nun action, including nuns flashing their pubic hair and tits, seducting sucking their fingers, playing with dildos, and blood! Muscular Eurocult star Howard Ross co-stars. Rumors of a region 1 DVD release circulated a while ago, but no news about an upcoming disc has surfaced.

Mondo horrors abound in SECRET AFRICA, featuring animal violence and local customs and fashions. It doesn’t seem as graphic as other similar films The trailer for SHOCKING ASIA (with Dutch subtitles) is more in keeping with the gross-out factor of Mondo movies, with “agonizing acts” of piercing body parts, a peek into the sex markets of Asia, transsexuals and sex changes, female wrestlers, performance art, animal life, and bizarre local customs. With the release of Blue Underground’s MONDO COLLECTION, one hopes that SHOCKING ASIA may see the light of the digital format.

Wanna see something weird? Check out CHAPPAQUA, a counterculture anti-classic with lots of subliminal words flashing, random stock footage, and other art film techniques thrown into this arthouse experimental mindblower. The cast includes Ravi Shankar, Serge Gainsbourg, and William S. Burroughs! It looks like an acid trip on film! It’s on DVD, believe it or not.

WELCOME HOME, BROTHER CHARLES is better known as SOUL VENGEANCE. Yeah, the giant-penis-growing-and-strangling-people movie. Directed by Jamaa Fanaka while he was attending film school, this is one of the lowest-budget films you’ll ever see, shot in the Watts area of Los Angeles with non-actors and unbelievable dialogue. Most of the film is the story of an ex-con trying to get back on his feet after being released from jail. One hilarious scene finds a black criminal escaping a cop by running at him, screaming, and jumping over him!! Xenon put this out on a very ugly DVD.

THE LEGEND OF NIGGER CHARLEY and BOSS NIGGER aren’t listed on the DVD box, probably for political reasons, but show why Fred Williamson was such a popular blaxploitation action star. NIGGER CHARLEY actually looks like a TV spot, which is pretty funny considering the risqué title. BOSS NIGGER is a black western and plays like a straight version of BLAZING SADDLES, with a black cowboy saving an all-white town from a villainous gang. Neither of these will ever hit DVD unless they’re retitled, but they look great.

John Saxon and Franco Gasparri star in THE 44 SPECIALIST, an Italian crime flick directed by Stelvio Massi. Look for John Steiner, Malisa Longo and Paul Muller in this one, too. It looks pretty good, with a train held hostage by a gang of gun-wielding terrorists, a motorcycle chase, gory gunblasts, a massacre of Arab diplomats, and a score by Stelvio Cipriani.

Violent British crime shows up in THE BULLET MACHINE, from Tigon, better known for its horror films! Its original title is CLEGG, and it’s apparently never hit US home video. It looks quite exciting, with a secret agent trying to track down a beautiful blonde assassin (seen nude in a shower scene!). Packed with beautiful busty women, loud gun battles, noir-ish dialogue, and an intriguing story, this looks like it could be a lot of fun.

Viewers will know DEATH DRIVE as HITCH HIKE, the Eurocult classic with David Hess starring as a psychopathic killer hitching a ride with unhappily married couple Corinne Clery and Franco Nero. The film itself is one of the most surprising films of Italian exploitation cinema, defying a genre and Anchor Bay’s uncut DVD is marvelous. Exceptionally well-written, superbly acted by all three leads, and with a slam-bang surprise ending, this is one incredible flick!

RAIDERS OF ATLANTIS returns us to Italian cult cinema, with a violent sorta sci-fi action flick directed by Ruggero Deodato that seems to be screaming for a DVD release! A gang of punks with guns turn out to be descendants of the original citizens of Atlantis, and shoot it out with a group of scientists investigating the lost civilization. This is so 80s it’s ridiculous! Christopher Connelly (MANHATTAN BABY), Tony King (CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE), Ivan Rassimov (THE MAN FROM DEEP RIVER), future director Michele Soavi, and George Hilton (THE KILLER MUST KILL AGAIN) star in this mostly all-male cast action adventure! One scene of a biker having his head chopped off by riding through a hidden wire is completely stolen from SHE-DEVILS ON WHEELS!

Luigi Cozzi’s cheesy sci-fi pic STAR CRASH is one of the more enjoyable STAR WARS rip-offs, but any movie which doesn’t use a scantily-clad Caroline Munro in a peek-a-boo leather outfit to full advantage has something wrong with it! A slumming cast of Hollywood actors includes Christopher Plummer, Marjoe Gortner, David Hasselhoff, and Joe Spinell, and the infamous Salvatore Baccaro plays a Neanderthal (as he did most of his career). Lots of hilarious special effects, goofy costumes, silly dialogue, and fun characters in this one. A French 2-disc special edition release is the only notable DVD of this trashy epic.

The British CONFESSIONS… series wore out its welcome with the first installment, but apparently the UK couldn’t get enough of these inane comedies so they kept getting made. CONFESSIONS OF A SUMMER CAMP COUNSELLOR is one of the later entries, and brings back the unlovable mug of Robin Askwith as the bumbling holiday camp employee surrounded by gorgeous ladies! Among them is BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW star Linda Hayden!

Schlockmeister Al Adamson directed SUNSET COVE for someone other than Sam Sherman for a change, a teen comedy about a local California beach threatened by land developers who don’t count on the wrath of heavy petting teens who want their beach left alone. The trailer includes male and female nudity, dumb jokes, local cops having pranks pulled on them, and a breathy female narrator who seems really out of place.

SUPER FUZZ: A handsome cop has secret powers to catch bad guys, including telekinesis and super strength! He catches a bullet with his teeth, fixes a billiards game, breaks through walls, walks on water, and survives an atom bomb! To make it better, he’s played by Terence Hill! This one is aimed at kids, but who wouldn’t watch this crazed cop flick? It was an HBO staple in the early 80s, and also stars Ernest Borgnine and Marc Lawrence! Directed by Sergio Corbucci.

Marisa Mell stars in DEATH WILL HAVE YOUR EYES, a film which seems to be a thriller but the trailer is so choppy it doesn’t look that interesting whatever it is. Farley Granger, around the same time as AMUCK and THE SLASHER IS A SEX MANIAC, co-stars, as well as Spanish sex siren Helga Line and Francisco Rebal (CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD).

Just when all the bases seemed to be covered in international cinema, here’s a trailer for a Greek film: DEATH HAS BLUE EYES! The director of ISLAND OF DEATH, Nico Mastorakis, returns with this pretty tepid-looking thriller. A blonde woman seems to be able to kill people at will, including a black guy in a bowling alley. The music sounds like the same people who did ISLAND OF DEATH, and ISLAND co-star Jessica Dublin appears here, too.

Massimo Dallimano’s A BLACK VEIL FOR LISA was one of the earliest gialli, and starring red-haired vixen Luciana Paluzzi, looks like a keeper. She plays a woman marked for death by her husband, but it turns out she may be able to convince her hitman to reverse his mark and kill the husband instead. Sir John Mills co-stars as a detective, and SPASMO’s Robert Hoffman is the hired killer. Some of the trailer music will be familiar from KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS.

IRONMASTER, Umberto Lenzi’s caveman movie, stars George Eastman in the lead as a caveman who invents the sword and fights evil tribes wreaking havoc across the countryside. With men in ape suits, brutal violence, Neanderthals, CANNIBAL FEROX’s Danilo Mattei, spaghetti western star William Berger, and slow-motion sword fights. This French trailer makes it look like QUEST FOR FIRE, but it’s more like CONAN and Fulci’s CONQUEST.

Peplums are pretty much indistinguishable from one another, but this one looks different: THE RAPE OF THE SABINES! There’s a woman flashing a tit during a swordfight, women brawling with men or being abducted left and right, a welcome sense of humor spoofing the genre itself, and a cast of beautiful women. Not to mention Roger Moore pre-Bond as the hero! Something Weird offers this in their catalog, and it looks unique enough to check out.

The trailer for THE DEADLY SPAWN does a great job selling this brilliant low-budget creature feature, with gory highlights, monster footage, a suspenseful narration, and comparisons to “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”! It also bleeps out an instance of foul language. The Synapse DVD is one of their best releases, and if you don’t have it already, what are you waiting for?

Finishing off this incredible trailer show is THE DEVIL’S NIGHTMARE, in a trailer which has never been seen previously on other comps. The only other preview available was the brief U.S. TV spot for a twin bill; this one looks European in origin, and accents the wonderful spooky atmosphere of the film, Erika Blanc’s lovely presence, and the awesome musical score by Alessandro Alessandroni. The Image disc is the only way to go with this film; the other bootlegs have ripped off the Image transfer, but go for the original.

Presented at a generic anamorphic aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the 42ND STREET FOREVER disc looks amazing! Most of these trailers have never looked good to begin with, but it’s clear that a lot of care was put into restoring the colors and length of these previews. Some look to be from negatives, with no grain or debris present, but others have plentiful lines, grain deposits, and other signs of damage. All of them look great, though, and provide immeasurable entertainment value. In addition to being letterboxed at 1.78:1, scope trailers open up to 2.35:1 when need be. The audio track, like the video quality, varies by trailer, but all around every trailer sounds clear and listenable.

This is the party disc of the year, and because it only carries over three of the original Vol. 1’s trailers, this is a terrific companion to the original Ban 1 disc. Get it now!! (Casey Scott)