Feed your mind and shatter the walls of your senses with Trailer War – the new gonzo compilation of coming attractions from the vaults of Drafthouse Films! Your adventure begins with possibly the greatest trailer of all time: Brian Trenchard-Smith’s Stunt Rock and ends with the mind-melting masterpiece of severed heads and Nazi toy helicopters, Thunder Cops. In between your eyes will beg for mercy as you behold nearly two hours of questionable castrations, Chinese sci-fi rubber monsters, lots of Joe Don Baker, and an immeasurable amount of madness. In short, Trailer War is a fucking party.
But it’s also wildly educational. Watch it with the commentary on and you’ll be treated to a masterclass in exploitation delivered by Alamo programmers Lars Nilsen and Zack Carlson. These guys cover a staggering amount of information for each three minute trailer – even for films they haven’t seen. Their wealth of information covers obscure actors, foreign directors doomed to the bargain bin, murdered filmmakers and where the bodies were found, and plenty of Joe Don Baker. I can’t get enough of that dude. Listening to the commentary, I found myself drifting to eBay, looking for affordable copies of some of the films I just saw trailers for or ones that Zack and Lars mentioned. I got off cheap – I only ordered Golden Needles and Big Guns.
There’s a great, but sadly brief, interview with the always interesting Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Burbs). Joe cut his teeth editing trailers for Roger Corman and he shares some entertaining anecdotes about the good ol’ days of trailers – when a single coming attraction would be edited by one or two guys, not an entire marketing firm. Joe details how sometimes when Corman wasn’t happy with a film’s take, he’d have Joe recut a trailer to make it look like an entirely different film. And how he used to throw in an exploding helicopter for effect, even if it never happens in the film. Really good stuff and a nice lament for the art of the trailer.
Also featured on the disc is a short look behind the scenes of the American Genre Film Archive. The archive was launched when Drafthouse owner Tim League purchased a lot of something like 200 film prints that were going to be thrown in the gutter. Since then, the archive has grown to house thousands of prints for preservation and loan.
Get a copy of Trailer War now from Drafthouse Films. Throw it on and have a TV party with your friends. Then after they leave watch it with the commentary and educate yourself. If you’re lucky enough to live where there’s a screening, bring the entire family. Then dream about Joe Don Baker running from a gang of Yakuza…- Patrick Cooper