One thing I thought I'd never see on DVD: 1987's "Mad Ron's Prevues From Hell," a no-frills compilation of horror trailers, which could be found on the shelves of every oddball local video store, back in the days of ... well, video stores. (Trust me, kids, it was a glorious time.)
You've never heard of the people who put this thing together, but a couple of them went on to work on big-budget projects like James Cameron's "Avatar" and Frank Darabont's "The Mist." For the rest, this feature-length presentation remains their highlight, and that's A-OK, too. Its flimsy premise has nerdy ventriloquist host Nick Pawlow and his wisecracking zombie dummy, Happy, screening nearly 50 coming attractions in theater occupied by the undead, and providing a few interstitial comedy bits along the way.
But let's face it: The trailers are the main feature.
Fans of B movies will dig every minute, with the works of everyone from H.G. Lewis and Ted V. Mikels to George Romero and Dario Argento in the spotlight. "The bloodier, the better" seems to be "Mad Ron's" M.O., as slasher titles like "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre," "Three on a Meathook," "Deranged" and "Torso" find lots of brethren with which to rub their hulking, dirty shoulders.
The program includes genre classics like Wes Craven's "The Last House on the Left," Brian DePalma's "Sisters," Bob Clark's "Black Christmas" and Amicus' original "Tales From the Crypt" pictures of the 1970s. Lesser-known standouts include Dyanne Thorne as a demented Nazi warden in "Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS," the carnival-freak-laden "The Mutations," and an near-unrecognizable Eugene Levy taking a whack by one of the "Cannibal Girls."
And then there's the one non-horror trailer, for a 3-D action/sex non-epic called "Wildcat Women," in which a nudie cutie coos to the camera, "I want you to come ... see me," and the narrator boasts, "You can almost touch them!"
Don't expect pristine video and/or audio, as this was a homemade affair shot on video, and using grainy, scratchy trailers that weren't in great shape to begin with. And honestly, that's how I would prefer it, as it celebrates the long-gone experience of grindhouse double features.
Virgil Films' DVD contains several extras, including two extra trailers, behind-the-scenes footage and, best of all, dozens of posters from the flicks featured. All help make a collector's item even more of one. With such a VHS oddity being released, one holds out hope for other similar fare to see shiny-disc preservation, like Zacherley's "Horrible Horror" and Steve Buscemi in "Film House Fever." A man can dream. "Rod Lott