Trailer From Hell Vol. 2 (2011)
Director: Not Available
Writers: Not Available
Starring: Bryan Trenchard Smith, Joe Dante, Guillermo Del Toro and many more.

The Review

Trailers From Hell, which is based off of the website of the same name, has become a true fixture in the film geek community. The concept, in a commercial form, seems even more profitable than other “grindhouse” trailer compilations such as the 42nd St. Forever films, so it was only a matter of time before the DVD’s started to hit the market. Although this DVD might not catch the eye of passive movie-go’ers, for film enthusiasts and all around geeks this might prove to be too entertaining a prospect to pass on. The premise is simple. You take some of the most creative genre-film directors and commentators in the business and you get them to offer commentary over trailers for some of their favorite b-pictures. So, there is no true “plot synopsis” on this disc other than to say that several great minds sit around and talk to the camera about movies that they have loved from their past. This disc isn’t a general movie, obviously, so it’s difficult to critique it as a whole so I’ll glance over some of the most engaging moments from the one hour long set.

The very first director to introduce a title on this set may turn out to be one of my favorites, as we get Bryan Trenchard Smith commenting on both The Devil Ship Pirates and The Stranglers of Bombay. He is everyone’s favorite Australian genre-movie filmmaker and he is also well spoken and almost always interesting. With The Devil Ship Pirates he has a lot of fun, as he points out the Napoleonic ships used in a movie about the Spanish Armada, but he always remains affectionate. The Stranglers of Bombay, the second of Smith’s choices on the set, was another Hammer produced title (along with The Devil Ship Pirates) and Smith goes into a bit of background on the film and its dealings with the BBFC due to its rather grizzly material. He also expounds on the film and its dealing with the very real Indian cult The Thuggee which were the main inspiration for the strange natives in Steven Spielberg’s The Temple of Doom. Bryan Trenchard Smith, who is easily one of the most relaxed and outgoing filmmakers out there and whom will gladly speak with his fans as if they were friends, seems to be as caring about cinema here as he presents himself outside of the camera’s gaze.

Ernest Dickerson (Dexter and Juice) covers The Quartermass Experiment (aka The Creeping Unknown within the US market). Dickerson’s presentation is similar to a very detailed review, which is a bit different from most on the set and is actually impressive since he manages to elucidate his points very clear with such a small amount of time. Dickerson, who is a director I wouldn’t have known straight off the top of my head, is well spoken and turned out to be one of my favorite speakers on the set.

Guillermo Del Toro, who is far from being an obscure choice, presents Dario Argento’s Deep Red in both the English language as well as a special Spanish version. The way that Del Toro describes his love for both Deep Red and Argento is incredibly passionate. In the short amount of time that he talks, he makes some very thoughtful remarks on Dario Argento as a director and what precisely made him special as a filmmaker. The logical versus the lyrical is discussed and Del Toro makes some of his most thoughtful remarks while discussing Argento’s use of violence in comparison to childlike and soft visuals and how that tends to create something bizarre. Del Toro also presents the 1957 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame which is a classic piece of horror that featured Anthony Quinn in the lead role. A sentimental favorite for the filmmaker, he has more fun with less overt praise for the title.

Joe Dante, the brilliant director who never seems to hold back during any speaking engagements, has fun whilst giving his interviews/commentaries. He first covers Donovan’s Brain and, the same with the rest of the gentleman here, he is well spoken and goes into a lot of the background information for the film. Including amongst his dialogue, he talks about its influence on many aspects of the general “mad doctor playing with brain surgery” concept that has been played with time and time again. The second feature that he discusses is The Invisible Ghost which featured Bela Lugosi on his downslide. The film seems like fun and although Dante generally razzes it for the majority of the trailer, he seems knowledgeable about its production and has a true affection for it and the Monogram Pictures studio that produced it. Jack Hill, who has to be everyone’s favorite true “grindhouse” film director, gives an introduction and discussion on his very own second film: Pit Stop. If anyone had information on this picture, it would be him. Hill describes it as potentially one of his best films and certainly one of his favorites, despite it never being given the chance to catch on with an audience. It’s a film about figure-8 racing and features Hill’s go-to actor Sid Haig. A film I never would have pictured coming from the early work of Jack Hill, it’s a title that jumped right up my personal “to watch” pile.

That really seems to be one of the best features of a compilation such as this one. Sure, you can youtube trailers for hour after hour and come up with some pretty strange titles, but when you hear John Landis describe his affection for Gorgo (a British kaiju film of all things) your enthusiasm jumps up several additional notches. The background information provided via the commentaries also gives insight into the context and history of these films, so not only is your interest piqued after watching this DVD but there is a strange connection now between you and any one of these titles.

The Conclusion
There are so many others on this set and so many other outrageous films. Josh Olson (Infested, A History of Violence), Larry Karazweski (Ed Wood, The People Vs. Larry Flynt), Lloyd Kauffman (The Toxic Avenger, Tromeo & Juliet), Mick Garris (The Stand, Riding the Bullet), Mary Lambert (Pet Sematary 1, 2), Michael Peyser (Hackers, SLC! Punk) and of course the godfather of b-cinema Roger Corman pops up on the disc. Corman’s very own Little Shop of Horrors is also included on the Shout! Factory DVD as a supplementary feature for the first time ever in widescreen. For what it is, I have to say I enjoyed this compilation. It’s very simple stuff and it drew me in as a viewer. I give it a solid four out of five.