Packaging for Garagehouse Pictures’ Trailer Trauma makes the dubious claim that while it’s far from the only coming-attractions compilation on the market, “only [it] contains the ultra-rare titles that you absolutely will not find anywhere else.” And dammit, with the likes of Ironmaster, Dr. Frankenstein on Campus and Smokey and the Hotwire Gang — to name only three — the Garagehouse gang actually makes good on that promise!
Elsewhere on the back cover, the consumer is warned that the 137-minute collection “is going to hurt.” This, too, turns out to be true; in the immortal words of John Mellencamp, it hurts so good. For lovers and mistresses of B-movie advertising, this disc is essential.
Speaking of dubious claims and immortal words, the program overflows with gems of taglines and selling points. In this category fall The Incredible Torture Show (aka Bloodsucking Freaks) as “the show that will make anyone retch”; Grave of the Vampire’s dire warning that “if the sight of an infant child nursing on human blood will make you sick, do not see this gruesomely explicit horror film”; and, best of all, the announcer for Nine Deaths of the Ninja proclaims, “A cat has nine lives … Sho Kosugi has nine deaths!”
Not all of that ballyhoo works as intended, which is half the fun of revisiting trailers of the grindhouse era. For example, Sunn Classics’ Beyond and Back, a 1978 “documentary” about death and the afterlife, presents itself “an exciting experience for the whole family.” Little kids love mortality, right? Meanwhile, Stoner promises “the most dynamic kung fu team ever!” And yet the 1974 actioner pairs that Deadly China Doll Angela Mao with one-time 007 George Lazenby — one of these things is not like the other.
Found among the 65 trailers are early roles for Mr. T (Penitentiary II) and Jean-Claude Van Damme (No Retreat, No Surrender), as well as cinema’s only teaming of Brigitte Bardot and Claudia Cardinale and the onscreen comic-book sound effects of TV’s Batman (The Legend of Frenchie King).
Where else can the discriminating viewer find a tribeswoman breast-feeding puppies, Dabney Coleman as a blaxploitation heavy and an ad for Oliver Stone’s Seizure dubbed into French (because, hell, why not), all in a single source? Nowhere, of course! But speaking hypothetically, even if there were, I’d still bet Trailer Trauma bares a higher BPM (breasts per minute). In this realm, that counts for everything. —Rod Lott