Back in the 90s I was briefly employed by The Wilshire, an old-school movie theater in northern Utah boasting an expansive 830-seat big house. The building was eventually demolished in 2000, but back in the day it was managed by a guy named Dave, a cine-phile in the truest sense of the word. Over the course of many years in the theater management business, Dave had amassed a respectable collection of 35mm movie trailers, despite the studios’ best efforts to retrieve them. Late one night after a particularly slow shift, Dave threaded a reel of horror trailers he had spliced together, and we watched it after closing in the dark, damp, nearly empty 800-seater, camped out on the carpeted aisles between the rows of seats. Over an hour’s worth of shit. It was glorious.
Mad Ron’s Prevues from Hell takes a similarly sentimental, movie-loving approach to the art of the film trailer. It’s an affectionate mix-tape of 1960-80s-era horror film previews buffered by lame ventriloquist bits that were originally shot in 1987. Nick Partlow, a hyper-nerd ventriloquist of the pre-Bill Gates variety, comes complete with dork glasses, a fierce comb-over, and an ADD-afflicted corpse puppet named Happy Goldsplatt. Together they fill the space between previews by farting out a series of agonizingly bad skits that were probably totally rad in the late eighties.
Thankfully, the puppet filler starts to wind down after the first 30 minutes, and the focus turns to the trailers. It’s an admittedly diverse and entertaining collection, with nuggets like Deep Red, Sisters, Last House on the Left, and Black Christmas (under the alias “Silent Night, Evil Night”), buried in a pile of amusingly lowbrow exploitation.
The disc features 47 previews in all. A handful stuck with me:
Flaunting 3-D titties 35 years before the Piranha remake, the Wildcat Women trailer is packed with an admirably wide assortment of naked boobies…even a pair featuring grossly inverted nipples. Check your inhibitions at the door.
Africa: Blood and Guts
Essentially a montage of clips of African wildlife being slaughtered and/or mutilated. Presumably for those animal snuff purists who dug all the possum torture in Cannibal Holocaust, but wished the animals involved had been more endangered.
This preview is pretty damn awesome, if only because The Mutations is one of the few movies to feature actual freaks. But if you’ve seen the film you know that much of the running time is devoted to Donald Pleasance fucking around with plants. So, whatever.
The Maniacs Are Loose
Promises “hallucinogenic Hypno-Vision” that will put you right in the “middle of the picture with bloodthirsty maniacs all around you”. All that’s missing from this trailer is a phone number for a local ‘shroom hook-up.
Three on a Meathook
Probably my favorite preview of the bunch, it’s cursed with some highly bizarre and convoluted voiceover narration, which comes across like William Shatner orally translating a book of Asian poetry:
“A picture you won’t ever forget because it touches the full spectrum of the bizarre, the forbidden, the twilight areas of a life destined to be spent in shadow and agony. The screen may never again relate to this subject matter. It will certainly never again approach this treatment…The only ones left to mourn, the last witnesses to the execution, suspended in time by a puppeteer with blood on his hands, little broken dolls that go on dancing after the music has stopped…Three on a Meathook.”
I mean, WTF?
Frankly, Mad Ron’s Prevues from Hell is the perfect disc to have running in the background of your next Halloween party. So then why the mediocre rating? Well, it’s worth noting that the previews vary considerably in terms of quality, both in regards to the original trailer, and the digital transfer. A few are letterboxed, but most are cropped. The audio warbles. Nicks and scratches abound. It’s unseemly. But still a disc worth checking out.