Upon first glance at the cover, it’s pretty obvious “The Monster Club” didn’t just take a bunch of images and pasted them together (seriously, take a look at the cover! It’s like a poster! The horror gods shine on you Kerry Gammill). And “Festival of Fright” is not just a pastiche of trailers to sell DVDs. “Festival of Fright” is in the tradition of trailer compilations of the VHS era that not only help us relive some of the best and worst horror films ever made, but also show us that film can still be fun because it invokes nostalgia, amusement, and lets us marvel at how film has evolved and devolved over decades.
I was admittedly surprised with “Big Boobs…” because judging by the description I expected a glimpse in to making underground films, but surprisingly enough Alter Ego flaunts its most prominent director Shane Ryan with a compilation of his experimental and horror films. The films by Ryan featured are a mixed bag of weird, ridiculous, and very appealing. So, in turn I did get what I wanted, because the film enthusiastically boasts all of Ryan’s short films, while featuring making-of featurettes that many times last longer than the actual film. In one instance one of Ryan’s ten minute films is followed up by a twenty five minute making. It’s insane, but oddly watchable. “Big Boobs…” is never ashamed to admit it’s cheap and self-congratulatory, which adds to the fun experience of watching these films.
Afro Promo” is a textured and rich compendium of Black Cinema trailers that speaks more of the depictions of African Americans on film than any documentary can really try to. There are no real interviews here, just a collection of trailers involving black actors, or starring an all African American cast. And as you’d expect we see the progression from blacks with white lips and bulging eyes, to lecherous and despicable heathens, to blaxploitation films where they were more empowered and able to decide how they wanted to be seen (they settled on “Boss Nigger”?). And every now and then we see the great Sidney Poitier, and Richard Pryor, James Earl Jones, and Pam Grier respectively.