42nd Street Forever: Volume 4

Some people look forward to Christmas, some people their birthday. Me? Well I look forward to whenever Synapse releases another volume of their incredibly exhaustive and excruciatingly entertaining 42ND STREET FOREVER series. I make myself a honey-baked ham, pop open some Manischewitz and kick back, enjoying every amazingly fun b-movie trailers these guys have found.

I know — some of you are saying “Why watch the trailers? Why not seek out the whole film?” Because, let's be honest, most of these films are gonna suck if you have to watch the whole thing. And I have watched the whole thing of many of them. But, if you can see all the best (and by best I mean worst) scenes in a two-to-three minute snippet, then it's like having a whole film-festival in two hours. Or, for something fat people might get, it's like a Whitman's sampler of film.

Here's the highlights:

* You remember those toy machines at your grocery store that always had gumballs and Homies figures for fifty cents a pop? And do you remember those sticky hands that you could get? You'd fling them at people or at the wall and it would stick? Remember? Well, in IT CAME WITHOUT WARNING, a big-headed alien is flicking those at Jack Palance and Martin Landau.

* You would think that, with all the pure dreck that has been released on DVD, that YOR, THE HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE would be out by now. It's not. Seeing this trailer, with shaggy-haired, loin-clothed Yor fighting a Darth Vader-wannabe while being attacked by pterodactyls and lasers, really makes me yearn for the days of, um... yore.

* Everyone's going crazy remaking other holiday slashers like MY BLOODY VALENTINE, HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13TH — well what about NEW YEAR'S EVIL? Not only do you have the timeliness of New Year's, but a killer in a creepy smiley-face mask slaughtering New Wave punks, and, in one intriguing scene, hanging a chick by her neck with a chain from underneath an elevator. May all those other lame killers be forgot!

* Charles B. Peirce is paid adequate tribute to with a trio of his rural exploitation pics: rednecks take on Bigfoot in THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK, rednecks take on a serial killer with a cloth bag on his head THE TOWN THE DREADED SUNDOWN and GRAY EAGLE, which doesn't have rednecks, but redskins, and by that, I mean Native Americans. (And I can say that because I am a member of the Choctaw tribe. Honky.)

* In the year 1998, America runs out of “gas, oil and cash”, causing us to elect John Ritter. Well, it's only ten years off, but the all-star comedy AMERICATHON proposes that, to raise cash, the country holds a telethon where Meat Loaf fights an automobile. Elvis Costello and Harvey Korman are in there too, as well they should be. Directed by Neal Israel, who went on to “write” POLICE ACADEMY.

* It's hard to believe Robby Benson was such a box-office draw. It's even hard to believe that in DIE LAUGHING, where he plays a musician who is on the run from the mob and the law over a misunderstanding with a capucine monkey...hey, wait a minute — I get it now! I do want to see this!

* In a story that was ripped from today's headlines, and by today's headlines I mean an episode of THE DUKES OF HAZZARD, Peter Fonda takes on strip-miners who are in bed with the corrupt law, who are out to destroy his farm in FIGHTING MAD.

* So, I'm watching the trailer for MOVING VIOLATION, what appears to be a mediocre redneck sheriff/revenge drama, but am I crazy for thinking that Kay Lenz was pretty hot in the 70s? Anyone?

* Richard Burton makes an incredibly unconvincing action hero, teaming with OJ Simpson to take on the KKK in the racially-charged THE KLANSMEN.

* I'm all for disaster films, but BLACKOUT, with it's tagline “The night the power failed!”, based on the 1977 New York blackout and starring Robert Carridine, is probably the weakest of the bunch. What was next? SHATTERED GLASS, “The day the baseball broke my window!” or FOUNDATION!, “When the support beams could no longer support the house, Hell was let loose at roughly six inches a day!”

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