Reviewed by: JimmyO
What's it about
Its trailers galore as Stephen Romano presents some of the sleaziest and goriest previews in all their exploitation glory. Inspired by his book, this three disc set offers up sex, blood and violence that’ll leave you foaming at the mouth.
Is it good movie?
I love exploitation films. It has been a long love affair as I was found myself wandering the video store at a very young age, looking for all the shite I hadn’t seen before. And now, thanks to Stephen Romano, we are now offered several trailers for these cult classics. This three disc set features a ton of groovy trailers to some of the coolest movies ever. We’re talking Flesh Gordon, Pieces, Burnt Offerings, The Toolbox Murders, The Crazies, Hell Night. Okay, you notice I‘m mentioning a lot of horror, and that is simply because those are favorites of mine. But the previews here run the gamut from horror to family friendly fare. And I enjoyed almost every single one. I’ve had the pleasure, or possibly displeasure, of seeing many of these films, but it is pure fun to revisit them in this form.
It all began with the Romano’s B-movie tribute book called “Shock Festival”. Here, he presents a number of faux movie posters and biographies on several fictional folks involved in the making of the films. And as good as this particular DVD is, I would’ve loved to see more of a connection with the real trailers. It might’ve been cool to have a host or a narrator lead us through this tale of breasts, blood and beyond. As it is, we simply have a bunch of trailers put together, which is all well and good, but to see some of the creativity from the book on screen might have been amazing.
The first two discs in the set contain a ton of these little slices of heaven that reminded me why I love these films. It made for a fun watch, while I would every so often go back on Netflix and see I would be adding movies to my Queue. Yes, I found lots of them. And that really is the beauty of Shock Festival. While it does include a few faux trailers inspired by his book, it doesn’t feel quite as inventive as it should’ve been. However, I did mention a third disc, and on that particular disc includes more fun to be had. It includes over three hundred radio spots for all of these delicious cinematic delicacies. This is a great set for movie lovers who hunger for something more than your average Hollywood blockbuster.
Video / Audio
Video: Okay, the trailers are mixed quality, but this transfer is a good as they could possibly look.
Audio: The creepy voiceover that is included on most of the horror previews sound terrific. Again, this is probably as good as these trailers are going to sound.
This massive three disc set offers two tons of fun with two fantastic commentaries on the main disc. One is from the man himself, Stephen Romano who really digs into the why and the what about the trailers included. He is truly an educated fellow when it comes to cinema, and especially exploitation cinema. What a great host to have. The next one is with a great guy that I happen to know, Dread Central’s “Uncle Creepy”. Dammit is he a fun listen. I can honestly say that I had more fun with this track, while I feel I learned just a little bit more from Romano. Either way, both are terrific.
Next up is a series of tribute trailers based on Stephen Romano’s book. They include such titles as “Dead Bugs on the Carpet”, “Warpmonster” and my personal favorite happens to be “Dark Night of the Demonhouse”. Some of these feel very true to their source, while some do not work quite as well as they could’ve. This is still worth checking out, especially with the added commentary from Mr. Romano.
As for the second disc, the extras include another fun couple of commentary tracks with Romano and Uncle Creepy, back to share their wisdom. Again, Creepy feels more like hanging with your best movie geek buddy trashing films together. And Romano is insightful and he really shows his knowledge once again. Both of these guys know their shite.
Shock Festival Television Archives which includes several classic trailers for TV. I was thrilled to see a couple of ads for “The Brood”, “The Changeling”, “Rabid” and “Suspiria”. My favorite though, is a PA for keeping television free and not allowing Pay TV and Cable charge you for viewing. Yep, this was an old one, and it is pretty fascinating to watch this after the recent issue with Fox and Time Warner Cable. Good stuff here.
There is also a terrific interview with the President of Independent International Pictures, Sam Sherman (8:02) who started out making trailers, and later moved to making exploitation flicks himself. He talks mostly about how to make a great movie trailer. While it feels a bit rehearsed, it is still worth checking out, the man knows his stuff. Along with that, there are a selection of trailers to go along with the interview. How many damn times can I write the word “trailer” in this review?
And finishing up this particular disc is a lovely Shock Festival Image Gallery (6:54). Thankfully it is enhanced with some groovy music by Dead House. At least it isn’t a point and click exercise for your remote.
Finally, as mentioned, the third disc includes several radio spots. I was thrilled to hear it start off with one of my favorite gems, Visiting Hours with William Shatner… seriously, it’s a great movie. I could see having this bit of priceless audio on at a party or just when you want to chill out. Don’t forget about those groovy Seventies Blaxploitation craze. Now that’s entertainment.
And don’t forget to look for easter eggs… Fun times baby!
Stephen Romano has really given exploitation fans a wonderful gift with Shock Festival. It’s trailers and trailers and trailers of exploitation cinema and it is certainly a wild ride. From horror to comedy to sex, all the bases are covered and then some. My only minor complaint is the way it is presented, I would’ve loved to see more of the quirkiness from Mr. Romano’s book, but I still had a blast. Anybody who is a fan of AITH should pick this up pronto