From its first transmission back in May 2007, Trailers From Hell was a Web site with an idea so marvelous, so fertile with possibilities it seemed incredible and ridiculous no one had thought to do it before. But like all great enterprises, the idea had to wait for exactly the right coming together of creative minds and passionate purpose. The brainchild of film director Joe Dante, producer Elizabeth Stanley, graphic artist Charlie Largent and new media entrepreneur Jonas Hudson, TFH set its hooks into the percolating pop-culture saturated brainpans of a cinephile culture which seemed ready and waiting for a new and addictive perspective on the overflowing vaults of film history.
Built around the specifically hyperbolic phenomenon of the movie trailer—always and forever the movie industry equivalent of a carnival barker beckoning to the masses with promises of THRILLS! ACTION! MYSTERY! ROMANCE! ADVENTURE!-- the site provided two to four-minute film classes headed by an esteemed and ever-increasing staff of “gurus” including Dante and other directors and writers like John Landis, Allison Anders, Larry Karaszewski, Josh Olson and Larry Cohen, to name but a few. These garrulous storytellers brought their unique perspectives to what amounted to brief histories of the movies under consideration, all within the time and space of the original trailers used to promote them. The result—an intelligent, often humorous distillation of a movie’s context, history, influence and occasional absurdities into a presentation that, in accordance with the fast and furious pace of the Internet age, lasted only as long as the trailer itself.
Trailers from Hell was a bit of a connoisseur’s paradise at first glance, but word of mouth soon turned it into a genuine phenomenon, a one-stop little shop of horrors and other delights which has over the course of the past six years become a genuinely essential click (each week brings three new trailers) and a unique archive of film commentary amidst the routine glut of movie Web sites. But despite appearances, TFH has never been the exclusive province of horror or genre geeks—a quick glance at the site archive reveals trailers from movies as disparate and unusual as Foreign Correspondent, Rashomon, Get to Know Your Rabbit, Skidoo, Go Tell the Spartans, Sorry, Wrong Number and Lisztomania right alongside those for juicy titles like Gigantis, the Fire Monster, The Pit and the Pendulum and Battle for the Planet of the Apes.
However, if you check in this coming week you won’t see much activity on the Trailers from Hell campus, and that’s because there are some changes afoot for this great institution of reverently irreverent erudition. The TFH brain trust is readying a whole new look that will premiere next Monday, July 1, a top-to-bottom redesign that goes well beyond a simple face-lift. What you’ll see Monday after next will be a much more fluid, social-media-oriented site than has existed in the past.
But just because Trailers from Hell is dark this week doesn’t mean you can’t still get your fix of movie madness. Every day over the next five days this humble blog you’re reading right now will proudly host a little bit of TFH fun to whet your appetite for the exciting changes that will be unveiled on July 1. Starting Monday, you’ll be able to test your mental mettle against the gurus themselves, who have concocted a trivia quiz of escalating intensity that will begin with five “Over Easy” questions relating to the minutiae of movie history and move ever forward toward Friday’s brain-frying beyond-the-pale trivia challenge designed to separate the true Trailers from Hellcats from the pesky, pitchfork-wielding pretenders. You’ll submit your answers to my e-mail address here at SLIFR— firstname.lastname@example.org-- where at the end of the week they’ll be tabulated and the winners announced on the brand-new Trailers from Hell Web site.
It’s a real honor to join with the good and gracious folks at TFH to help bridge the changeover between the world of Trailers from Hell we all know and love and the exciting new frontier of film commentary and movie love laying in wait within the redesigned vaults of this one-of-a-kind site. So come back here tomorrow-- Monday, June 24-- for the first of five installments as Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule presents the Trailers from Hell TRIVIA FROM HELL Contest!
Supernatural? Perhaps. Baloney? Perhaps. A bucket of bloody fun? Most definitely!