Over the past decade, Synapse has been releasing loads of goodies from yesteryear, including the 42nd Street Forever series. Each entry is a compilation of the weirdest, sleaziest trailers from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, and covers a wide variety of exploitation sub-genres including blaxsploitation, sexsploitation, kung-fu, sex comedies, porn parodies, horror, and Mondo among others. To date, there are six volumes, including a XXX-only collection and an Alamo Drafthouse edition, which showcases the very best of the vintage trailers they play at their theatres. After shelving the series for around two years, Synapsis has brought it back with a Blu-ray collection, clocking in at almost four hours (!).
There’s a significant amount of overlap between the Blu-ray and its DVD counterparts, shaving off only a few trailers in the process, so there’s no real reason to upgrade if you already have the entire collection. The trailers, while looking a tad better, aren’t exactly reference material. Some have gotten a noticeable boost from the 1080p presentation – like Abel Ferrara’s Ms. 45, which made me long for a Blu-ray release – but the majority of them are littered with scratches and debris, making whether or not they’ve been up-resed or remastered kind of irrelevant. These are old trailers, not full-blown releases, so it stands to reason that no one would drop obscene amounts of cash to completely remaster these in HD; that would be absurd – but, in Synapse’s defense, they do look better here than on DVD and, really, some of these are better than the movies themselves.
The real reason to pick this up – if you don’t already own the DVDs – is because of the storage space a Blu-ray provides: there’s eighty-nine trailers! The ads seem to come from volumes one and two predominantly, and they’re more than varied enough to make anyone with even a passing interest pretty jazzed about having it on their shelf. The lone special feature is an audio commentary track with Edwin Samuelson, Michael Gingold, and Chris Poggiali, who chat through all the trailers about their recollections of the films, their experiences seeing exploitations films and the like.
The 42nd Street Forever Blu-ray Edition is a lot to take in on one sitting but on the flipside, it’s pretty much the greatest thing you can throw on as background noise at a party. There’s a good variety of material on the release and you might even find a gem or two you’ve never seen or heard before, making you want to rush out and find a copy ASAP.
And that’s really the beauty of this series: finding forgotten gems and new favorites.