42nd Street Forever - Vol. 5: The Alamo Drafthouse Experience
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
The opening of this edition is a neat Charlton Heston PSA where he talks about the films ratings system while on a tennis break. The film that kicks things off is A Life of Ninja directed by Tso Nam Lee which showcases lots of craziness, such as ninja training and...mud wrestling?...Sting of the Dragon Masters aka When Taikwando Strikes stars Lady Whirlwind herself: Angela Mao. This is a really cool classic kung fu trailer with plenty of hard hitting, bone crunching action.....Sonny Chiba makes his first appearance with the trailer for The Bodyguard narrated by Adolph Caesar, you also get some great footage of 42nd Street in the 70s. Viva Chiba...Viva Chiba...Viva Chibaaaa!!! Mad Monkey Kung Fu is a Shaw Brothers release directed by Lau Kar Leung, it features some badass martial arts monkey moves and the trailer is another one narrated by the iconic, gravelly voiced Adolph Caesar. According to Tim League, During the time when the movie was released, monkey kung fu was huge.... Wonder Women is a Filipino girl gang film starring Nancy Kwan with a cameo by the great Sid Haig. This sexy group of women kick plenty of ass!....Lucky Seven is one of the stand outs on this disc because its an off the wall kiddie kung fu film. When you see grown men trying to kick the asses of 10 year olds, you'll get the idea. The children being catapulted through plate glass windows takes the cake!....Enzo G. Castellari's Shark Hunter stars Franco Nero as a wily, paragliding hunter of sharks...and thats about it. A really weird looking one.....Next: The animal mating documentary Birds Do It, Bees Do It. It'll get you hot!....The first sex comedy trailer is Let's Do It directed by the American king of huge monster films Bert I. Gordon. Lots of nice early 80s sun glazed T & A here.....Sexploitation kitten Candice Rialson stars as a woman with a singing vagina in the 70s erotic comedy Chatterbox.... Zebra Force is one of the most high-octane trailers, lots of slow motion explosions, car crashes/chases mixed with balls to the wall shootout sequences....Blazing Battle is a anti-Japanese themed, Filipino exploitation war film. Constant beatings, torturing, kung fu fights going on, those never let you down!....James Tont: Operation One an Italian James Bond ripoff directed by Bruno Corbucci (brother of Sergio) features some title cards that look like they were drawn by elementary school kids. I love when the woman throws a small sofa at the bad guy and he catches it and tosses it away....International Secret Police is one of Sonny Chiba's early action films.....Machine Gun McCain stars John Cassavetes as an underworld criminal. A lot of explosive action and intense acting from the supporting cast featuring Gena Rowlands, Britt Ekland, and Peter Falk. Look for appearances by Italian genre film stars Florinda Bolkan and Luigi Pistilli.....Stacey is Andy Sidaris' first film, it's a sexy crime potboiler and its got some nice T&A from the main star Anne Randall...Another Italian spy film is up next Lightning Bolt, directed by the great Antonio Margheriti. According to the commentary, the James Bond wannabe's main mode of getting out of hot water in this film is: his checkbook!....Mission Thunderbolt is a cut and paste, Asian action/espionage film directed by Godfrey Ho. This one is filled with samurai swords, guns blazing & motorcycles....The 3 Supermen In The West is an Italian Trinity style slapstick comedy western featuring three guys in cheap looking superhero tights and capes....Pretty Maids All In A Row is a unique early 70s coming of age/sex comedy/whodunit starring Rock Hudson and Angie Dickinson. The film was directed by Roger Vadim with a screenplay by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. This is a well known cult classic for film geeks. It was originally shown at Quentin Tarantino's Film Fest held at the Alamo....Putney Swope is one of the best trailers from this edition, a film directed by Robert Downey Sr. It is a fake pimple cream commercial featuring a interracial couple (played by Shelly Plimpton and Ronny Dyson) singing a tender love song with some hilarious lyrics....Norman...Is That You? is a Redd Foxx comedy about a father coming to terms with his son's homosexuality. Lots of stuff here that will get you laughing. "Ohh Faaaabulous!". Look for a cameo by Tamara Dobson (Cleopatra Jones herself!)....Redneck County aka Redneck County Rape stars Leslie Uggams as a black woman who gets stuck in a hillbilly town with some very cruel crackers. Co-starring Shelly Winters, Dub Taylor, Ted Cassidy and Michael Christian. Its a true 42nd Street classic....Moonrunners is a 70s Hixploitation action film in the tradition of Thunder Road, about moonshiners starring James Mitchum (son of Robert). It was the inspiration for The Dukes of Hazard TV show.
The Alamo Drafthouse gang: Tim League, Lars Nilsen and Zack Carlson deliver alot of interesting and funny information/stories on each trailer. They do an excellent job keeping the commentary moving and its very easy to listen to. As a longtime fan/follower of the Drafthouse, I was very happy to hear their comments on these classic exploitation gems.
REMEMBER THE ALAMO: A 30 minute featurette all about Tim League's dream cinema. Featuring interviews with main programmers Lars Nilsen and Zack Carlson as well as dedicated patrons of the theater. Lots of really excitable film fans talk about all the special screenings that the theater has held. Theres alot of info given on how the theater works, funny stories about jokes Tim & Co have played on the unsuspecting audiences. Once you hear how fun it is there you'll want to take the trip down to Austin and indulge in your film geek dreams. As we all know, theres only one Alamo Drafthouse, its become a true mecca for film enthusiasts.
FINAL WORD: While this edition of 42nd Street Forever is definitely entertaining to watch and the Alamo theater featurette is an excellent extra, several of the latter trailers aren't too exciting or thrilling to me. One thing Ive noticed with this trailer compilation series is that all the good stuff is crammed towards the beginning and as the trailers go on, they usually get less and less entertaining. Still, if you're a big fan of this series (as I am), I'd certainly recommend picking it up. Even if all the trailers dont blow you away from beginning to end, the audio commentaries added to the discs really makes them perfect for grindhouse/exploitation historians to pick up some trivia. The transfer may be in widescreen, but the trailers look as gritty and artifact filled as if you were sitting in a 42nd Street grindhouse watching worn out reels on their final run. Visible celluloid scratches and choppy editing just add to the joy that these films possess for grindhouse film geeks! Enjoy!
Peter Roberts is the co-founder/editor-in-chief of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb) and contributor to the GCDb's sister site Furious Cinema. A Massachusetts native, he is an avid film fan that has been immersed in the world of entertainment and pop culture his entire life. He is currently majoring in Communications and Interactive Media Design.