Wednesday, July 11, 2007


It ought not to surprise anyone that I would consider Joe Dante one of my favorite filmmakers. Hollywood Boulevard, the wire-and-spitballs comedy he made in 1976 with Allan Arkush, made my personal top 100 and I gladly return to movies like Piranha, The Howling, Explorers, It’s a Good Life, Innerspace, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, The ‘burbs, Matinee, Small Soldiers, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, The Second Civil War and Homecoming as often as I can. Plus, anyone familiar with his DVD commentary tracks on Hollywood Boulevard and The Howling knows how unpretentious, self-effacing, and quick-witted he can be, as well as how encyclopedic is his knowledge of the high points, as well as the cobwebbed nooks and crannies, of genre films.

Now Dante has put together a site which seems made for me, and for you too, I’d wager. It’s called Trailers from Hell, on which he gathers like-minded, quick-witted genre filmmakers like Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead), Mick Garris (The Stand), Mary Lambert (Pet Sematary) and John Landis (An American Werewolf in London) to present gloriously crazed and otherwise cheesy genre trailers from all categories of B cinema. But here’s the kicker: these directors introduce the trailers, and then provide DVD-style commentary for the duration. (You can choose to watch the trailer with its original audio as well.)

The whole enterprise has the intimate feel of a two-minute version of those old Creature Features-type programs, minus the bad sketch acting and ubiquitous late-night used car ads. This week's featured trailer is for the Tor Johnson epic The Unearthly, hosted by Dante, who provides details about the actors (John Carradine and 50-Foot Woman Allison Hayes joining Johnson) and some hilarious observations—over a static shot of Carradine and another actor on either side of a anatomy class torso model inexplicably placed in between them, Dante quips, “This is a particularly interesting composition that’s probably won many awards in Europe.” He even draws the line linking this near-forgotten movie to Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex…, which heavily draws on The Unearthly in a parody sequence featuring Carradine himself as a mad doctor who unleashes a rampaging, and lactating, 50-foot breast on the unsuspecting countryside. The site also provides information on Dante, Landis and the rest of the aptly dubbed “Grindhouse Gurus,” as well as plenty of good information on the brain trust behind this inspired project. You can click on a link to buy the movie once you’ve seen the trailer, there’s a store where you can buy Trailers from Hell merchandise, and you can even sign up for regular e-mail updates whenever something new comes lumbering out of the dark virtual vaults where the trailers are stored.

Trailers from Hell promises to be a gas for anyone who loves low-budget genre films but also has room in their heart to give them a good-natured ribbing now and again. And what better person in Hollywood to launch such an enterprise than the director who has shown so much savvy, understanding, genuine love and respect for genre, as well as seemingly boundless energy and a wickedly subversive streak wider than the dusty, empty streets that seem to measure a half-mile from hitching post to hitching post in any Sergio Leone western? Joe Dante and company talking monsters are now just a click away (and always available on my sidebar). That’s not hell, that’s heaven.


Anonymous said...

Isn't that strange. I was sitting here in from of my computer earlier today thing that I should post on my blog a piece about my favorite movie trailers of all time. I guess it's back to the drawing board for me.

In the next couple of minutes I will be off to explore TRAILERS FROM HELL. How great is this idea. I love to check out the audio commentaries on certain DVD's eother purchase or rent and sometimes you will get real gems with the director, actor, writer or any combination of talent really providing some entertaining or interesting conversations about the creative process.

Sometime you get a bunch of people on prozac.

I 'm hoping to have a good time with these "B" trailers.

Incidentally, if you want to see one of the best teaser trailers to come along in a while, check this out

Anonymous said...

Ooops! Sorry for all the typos. Kinda got a little loopy with this southern comfort.

Aaron W. Graham said...

And who knows more about trailers than Dante, being a former editor of them himself? I'm so glad this came down the pipeline, and I wish it a long and prosperous life.

Do you know, by any chance, if trailers are governed by prickly rights issues? I notice (on such shows as E!'s "Mysteries and Scandals" -- and, hey, don't make fun for watching such trashy television! Andrew Sarris turned up in the Otto Preminger episode) that they can't afford to show clips from the film itself, but can somehow (legally) sample original theatrical trailers instead. If this is the case, I'd love to see a collection of "Trailers from Hell" turn up on DVD some day.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I wanted to point this site out to you, but of course you've heard about it already. Great stuff!

Ivan G Shreve Jr said...

The DVD of Hollywood Boulevard contains one of the funniest commentaries I've ever heard--even more entertaining than the movie!