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STUDIO: Shout Factory!
RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes
- The Roger Corman Cult Classic Little Shop of Horrors
A bunch of trailers! Some good, some bad, all of them narrated by a director!
Joe Dante, John Landis, Mick Garris, Roger Corman, Guillermo Del Toro
Those fancy little mini-movies that play in front of the film you’re seeing? Those are trailers, guy! And here are 20 of them with various levels of insightful commentary!
Going into this, I did not know much about Trailers from Hell! but knew that based on the title, these must be trailers for some very bad films, or just trailers that were very bad themselves. Of course now I realize that the title refers to mostly little seen but also some very familiar horror, sci-fi, or fantasy type films. And I now of course realize that it has been present on the internet for several years now. The unique thing is that there are a number of directors (or “gurus”) that provide commentary for the trailers, usually providing anecdotes and fun facts, stuff you never would have known. Apparently Christopher Lee witnessed the very last public execution in France in 1939. Awesome. Where else would I have learned that?
The directors interviewed all seem to genuinely love the movies they are speaking of, mostly because of the fact that some of them are so bad. Each one of them is in essence reviewing the entire movie, not just the trailer. They’re almost endorsements for why you should watch the films. Some of them are like that, and some of them tell you to avoid the film like the plague, which judging by the trailer isn’t always hard to understand.
The trailers present are for the following films:
- Devil Ship Pirates and Stranglers of Bombay with commentary by director Brian Trenchard Smith
- Creeping Unknown with commentary by director Ernest Dickerson
- Deep Red (in English and Spanish) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1957) with commentary from director Guillermo Del Toro
- Donovan’s Brain and The Invisible Ghost with commentary by Joe Dante
- Pit Stop with commentary by director Jack Hill
- Gorgo with commentary by director John Landis
- Jaws and The Lineup with commentary by writer Josh Olson
- Last Summer and The Tenant with commentary by writer Larry Karaszewski
- Terror Firmer with head of Troma/director Lloyd Kaufman
- Flesh Gordon and Fire Maidens of Outer Space with commentary by director Mick Garris
- Godzilla vs. Mothra with commentary by director Mary Lambert
- Seven Days in May with commentary by producer Michael Peyser
- Premature Burial and Ski Troop Attack with commentary by director Roger Corman
Except for Dante, Del Toro, Landis, and Corman, they aren’t the biggest or most recognizable names in film, but the insights they offer can range from very interesting to just plain boring. My favorite was Del Toro– the guy just LOVES to talk about film. He basically goes into telling a love story about Argento’s Deep Red, saying the film creates a “true ecology” with haunting images. He talks about watching The Hunchback of Notre Dame as a kid almost every sunday when he was growing up, and laughs when comparing Anthony Quinn’s hunchback to Javier Bardem from No Country For Old Men. Josh Olson doing the trailer for Jaws was also great, and a trailer that I did not expect to be included. Obviously the best film of the whole bunch, he talks about how in the novel by Peter Benchley, Richard Dreyfuss’s character Matt Hooper had a sort of steamy soap opera affair with Roy Scheider’s character Brody’s wife. Kinda silly, and I’m glad it was never in the film. Also something I never knew is how John Williams was a composer for Gilligan’s Island and actually wrote what would become the Jaws theme for an episode of that show! Pretty amazing! The most hilarious thing, albeit unintentionally, is the trailer for Last Summer in which a young Richard Thomas and Bruce Davison hang out with a young Barbara Hershey. It’s hilarious because it’s supposed to be this story about young love and finding themselves which is the impression it gives you, and the trailer itself is bookended by summer sweetness. Smack in the middle, though, is rape. And two guys making out on the beach. This was 1969? Wow.
If there’s anything this has taught me, it’s that I need to listen to more DVD commentaries for the films I love. It’s old hat to everyone by now, but there’s something so great about listening to someone dissect a film and throw factoids your way that pique your interest, and I realize that probably 90% of my DVDs have not had their commentaries touched. Sad indeed! One thing that needs to be pointed out is that there are 20 brand-new trailer commentaries on this disc that are not available on the Trailers From Hell! website, a major bonus for anyone who has already exhausted the content found on the actual website. That being said, I felt that maybe they should have packed even more trailers/commentaries on here considering the breadth of those available online. But what is here is worthwhile enough for about an hour’s worth of info and insight. A warning, however: if you aren’t familiar with his voice, Roger Corman’s can and will put you to sleep.
Included is Roger Corman’s Little Shop Of Horrors, which although fairly bad and hard to get into is still strangely watchable. I understand that it was fairly well received when it was released, but I just wasn’t a fan. We all hate remakes but the Rick Moranis version is like Citizen Kane compared to this one. A young Jack Nicholson is one of the plant’s victims, looking creepy as ever as the guy who loves going to the dentist. There’s also of course the option to watch all of the trailers as is without commentary but honestly the commentary is the best part.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars