42nd Street Forever
Review by Brian M. Sammons
You’ll notice the review for this new Blu-ray from Synapse Films doesn’t have the usual listings for director and cast. That’s because 42nd Street Forever is a collection of trailers for the grindhouse classics that filled the dirty little theaters that once upon a time (namely the ’70s and early ’80s) made New York’s 42nd Street so notorious and infamous. Ok, they’re not the pornos that aired in the many porn theaters that shared the same street, but to Ma and Pa Middle America, they were almost on the same level.
And yes, you read that right; this entire Blu-ray is nothing but a collection of trailers. Now normally that sounds about as fun as watching a collection of end credit sequences, but these slices of schlocky sinful cinema were a real treat. There’s also a ton of them, 89 to be exact, and with a total run time of over three and a half hours. They also run the glorious gambit of all things exploitation. Blaxploitation, rape/revenge movies, women in prison, naughty school girl movies, skin flicks of all sorts, cheesy sci-fi/fantasy films, schlocky horror movies, surprisingly good horror movies (if you, like me, love cheesy ’70s and ’80s horror flicks), Mondo Cane rip offs, Japanese monster movies, biker flicks, samurai movies, goofy sex comedies, Kung Fu, Eurosleaze, and more.
These are the authentic grindhouse trailers, and that’s both good and bad. It’s good because they’re a little longer than modern trailers. They’re almost like mini movies in and of themselves. They’re also unedited, so since they were promoting movies that sold gore, nudity, and vulgarities of all sorts, the trailers are also loaded with profanity, blood, and naughty nudity. For a collection extoling the ‘virtues’ of the bygone 42ND Street era, I would not want it any other way.
However the (somewhat) bad side to these authentic trailers is that they are grainy, scratched up, blurry, and look like they’re being projected onto some grimy little screen in Times Square during the ’70s. Again, for a celebration of grindhouse flicks, I would not want it any other way. That said, there is no reason these should have been put on Blu-ray. High-def, these trailers are not. The only reason I can think of for this release being Blu-ray only is the storage capacity. Now true aficionados of exploitation flicks would expect and want these trailers to look exactly like they do here. Younger videophiles out there may be disappointed in the picture quality found here, especially considering the usual Blu-ray standard, thus the reason I felt the need to point it out here.
As far as special features, there’s an extensive audio commentary that runs the full three and a half hours. Done by three guys, the only one I recognize was Michael Gingold from Fangoria magazine, this trio had a wealth of information to impart about all of the trailers shown here. You can really tell that they’re huge fans of the grindhouse and it is well worth giving this Blu-ray a second viewing to hear what they had to say about all of the flicks found here.
42nd Street Forever is not a movie for everyone, but that’s ok. Usually things made for ‘everyone’ tend to be mediocre pap that ends up pleasing no one. So if you’re a fan of the sleazy, the weird, the taboo, and the downright strange (in short exploitation and grindhouse flicks) then you’ll love this collection. Note: Synapse Films has a long running, multivolume DVD series called 42nd Street Forever which, like this Blu-ray, are nothing but collections of trailers. So if you already got those DVDs then you do not need this new BD. Consider this disc a Best Of collection. However if you have yet to take a naughty, nostalgic trip down 42nd Street, then this is a great way to do it. Consider it highly recommended for those with deviant tastes.