For Grindhouse aficionados, “42nd Street Forever” is historic as a release because it’s quite possibly one of the greatest compilations of grindhouse film trailers around. At nearly four hours in length, “42nd Street Forever” compiles a plethora of grindhouse trailers and rare press footage that passes through the various phases of the grindhouse plateau that will appease the appetites of many fans alike. There are numerous trailers for blaxploitation, asianslpoitation, porn, erotica, cannibal films, and much, much more including rare trailers to films like “Italian Stallion,” the rare porno starring Sylvester Stallone.
At its core, “42nd Street Forever” is a treasure trove of some of the best and yet most infamous grindhouse films ever released and the treats are plentiful with undoctored trailers that reveal the many pleasing aspects of the sub-genre. In one trailer as Black Samson holds a white villain over a ledge, you can see he’s clearly holding a mannequin as a stunt double. And in many of the action films, much of the choreography is absolutely piss poor and will guarantee a laugh from the audience. Often times amusing and sometimes surreal, the slideshow of cinema art is wonderful and provides glimpses in to films I never thought existed before. And of course there are some I’ve seen a dozen times over. Who can forget the putrid “The Dark” or the stone cold revenge pic “They Call Her One Eye”? As you venture in to the package of numerous trailers you’ll see a rotating series of cast members who appear in almost all of the films and it’s quite jarring to see them invest so much in films that were considered disposable back in their days.
There’s John Holmes, Angie Dickenson, and the immortal Marilyn Chambers, all of whom grace the screen often. There’s an interesting contradiction that ensues in many of the trailers. Inexplicably, the trailers are hesitant to display brutal language, bleeping out expletives, but suddenly we see a full frontal shot of a man strapped to a bed with his testicles hanging out. It’s an interesting dichotomy presented among the timeline of these trailers that comb over various sub-genres and sub-sub-genres alike. What’s most interesting about this time capsule is that most, if not all of the trailers present an interesting creativity to their premises, even when the films seem much too surreal to sit through. There’s a woman who uses her body as a weapon against men, Atlanteans attacking a small army in an island, and the story of starving Asians struggling to survive on a deserted island with forbidden mushrooms they’re dying to eat.
Every trailer accomplishes what it’s supposed to. It makes the film itself feel like a reward the viewer must claim and I found myself writing down a list of films I must see sooner or later. There are so many gems in the grindhouse arena, it’s a buffet for any fan willing to seek out the outskirts of cinema. If you’re ready, willing, and able, consider “42nd Street Forever” a valuable tool in your discoveries. This compilation is in demand for a reason; it’s a veritable Smörgåsbord of timeless trailers ranging from the exciting, erotic, and surreal that will whet the appetite of any cineaste looking to reach beyond the mainstream doldrums.