That adds up to nearly four hours of absolutely outrageous ads. Trust me: Whether you watch in a single sitting or several, it’s a real car-chasing, cycle-revving, bomb-exploding, fist-punching, karate-chopping, foot-kicking, gun-shooting, knife-throwing, laser-blasting, woman-screaming, race-baiting, acid-pouring, eye-gouging, head-chopping, phallus-castrating, breast-squeezing, bed-writhing, succubus-sucking, wrist-tying, drug-injecting, butt-whipping, panty-ripping, bikini-filling, disco-dancing, jail-busting, snake-attacking, robot-battling, voodoo-pinning, slime-invading, dominatrix-singing, space-surfing, bellydancing, banana-peeling, sitar-plucking good time!
Although not clearly labeled as such, the contents are presented in the roughly delineated categories of blaxploitation, revenge, women in prison, sex (the non-pornographic kind), science fiction, horror, sex again (this time the pornographic kind, but in R-rated form here), mondo, thrillers, kung fu, biker flicks and comedy — assuming Skatetown USA can be considered a comedy. With its mix of disco, roller skates, Ruth Buzzi and Scott Baio, I find it absolutely terrifying.
Many quarts of juice await to be squeezed out of taglines and bits of narration that reach creative heights today’s trailers don’t dare attempt. Tell me you wouldn’t love to see an episode of Mad Men tackle the task of mining gems of hype such as these:
• Black Samson: “He’s lean and mean and rules the scene!”
• Savage!: “See what he does to stick it to the fuzz!”
• Act of Vengeance: “The Story of the Rape Squad!”
• Savage Sisters: “A three-way combination you can’t beat!”
• Delinquent Schoolgirls: “It’s kinky!”
• Teenage Mother: “Teenage Mother means nine months of trouble!”
• The Evil: “When you think you’re free, you might be dead.”
• Dr. Butcher M.D.: “He’s a departed, sadistic rapist — a bloodthirsty homicidal killer. And he makes house calls.”
Amid the trash are a few critically acclaimed — at least by comparison — films, like Rolling Thunder, David Cronenberg’s Rabid and Shogun Assassin. But let’s get real: Most are merely infamous, such as Fairytales, Flesh Gordon, Starcrash, Dark Star and The Deadly Spawn. Famous faces arrive in The Italian Stallion, Sylvester Stallone’s pre-fame porno, and The Dark, a horror effort featuring a deadly serious Casey Kasem.
I love these kinds of compilations — see also the recent Mad Ron’s Prevues from Hell, with which this has only a bit of overlap — and none I’ve encountered are as well put-together as the 42nd Street Forever series. Some of the installments contain commentaries, and this one does, although I found it disappointing. Going back to select trailers for films I wanted to learn more about, I instead witnessed a bunch of IMDb credit-guessing that wasn’t always correct.
But that’s easy enough to leave switched off, so the only criticism I have is with basic navigation. With such a lengthy running time, it’s not likely many will sit through the whole of the disc at once, but no bookmarking utility exists. You’ll have to scroll page by page by page to find where you left off. It’s the kind of program that cries for a handy insert; yes, each title is listed on the back cover, but it’s incomplete and not in the order presented.
Again, a minor quibble. Not even that is enough of a buzzkill to keep 42nd Street Forever: Blu-ray Edition from being the most fun home-video purchase of 2012. It’s lean and mean and rules the scene. —Rod Lott