Blu-ray Reviews

42nd Street Forever: The Blu-ray Edition Review

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Quick Take: Synapse Films' 42nd Street series of trailers jumps to Blu-ray and Matt is impressed.

From the 1950′s to the late 1980′s, New York’s 42nd Street maintained a cinematic subculture of grindhouse cinema. Genres varied from exploitation to revenge to horror to XXX and anything else in between. More often than not, the cheaper the film was, the better it was received. Also more often than not, the trailers for said films were immensely better than the films themselves.

In 2005, Synapse Films created 42nd Street Forever, a compilation of sorts of the best of the worst trailers the grindhouse era had to offer. Having released 6 volumes of DVDs, Synapse has moved the series into the high def age with 42nd Street Forever: The Blu-ray Edition.

Obviously since this is nothing but a compilation of trailers, there isn’t a real plot here. I do commend and appreciate Synapse for coupling the films together with their specific genres. It kicks off with Blaxsploitation and runs the gamut through zombies, women in prison, car chases, kung-fu, slashers, the erotic and the bizarre.

Personally, I love this release. There’s nothing more fun than having some friends over for to watch a movie and being able to play some awful, yet awesome trailers before it. I’ve owned Vol. 1 and 2 of the DVD series since their release and they are both discs I revisit constantly with tons of rewatchability. Now, with 42nd Street Forever: The Blu-ray Edition, almost all of both volumes are combined into a single high-def package, along with some new additions, filling the disc out at almost four hours worth of entertainment that never fails.

To me, this release is also more than just a fun time laughing at bad movies. It also serves as a wonderful preservation of a time in film history that was, at the time, less than appreciated. Whether they are good or bad, the memory of these films will live on for future generations to be shocked and appalled by. Not solely preservation, but it’s also a “gateway drug” of sorts to this bygone era and will surely peak the interests of curious cinema lovers looking for that next unknown gem.

The following is a complete list of all the trailers on this release:

1. Black Samson
2. Savage!
3. Kenner
4. The Guy From Harlem
5. Welcome Home, Brother Charles
6. Boss Nigger
7. Honky
8. Sugar Hill
9. Rolling Thunder
10. Act of Vengeance
11. Ms. 45
12. They Call Her One Eye (aka Thriller: A Cruel Picture)
13. Ginger
14. Savage Sisters
15. Chained Heat
16. Delinquent Schoolgirls
17. The Pom Pom Girls
18. The Teasers Go to Paris
19. The Teacher
20. College Girls
21. Street Girls
22. The Babysitter
23. Teenage Mother
24. I, A Mother
25. When Women Had Tails
26. The Curious Female
27. The Tale of the Dean’s Wife
28. The Minx
29. The Centerfold Girls
30. The Depraved
31. Invitation to Ruin
32. Helga
33. The Sun, the Place and the Girls
34. Fairytales
35. Flesh Gordon
36. Starcrash
37. Dark Star
38. The Raiders of Atlantis
39. Matango
40. The Green Slime
41. They Came from Beyond Space
42. The Deadly Spawn
43. The Dark
44. The Evil
45. The Evictors
46. The Undertaker and His Pals
47. The Devil’s Nightmare
48. Deadly Blessing
49. Rabid
50. Eye of the Cat
51. Mark of the Witch
52. I Dismember Mama/The Blood Splattered Bride
53. Women and Bloody Terror/Night of Bloody Horror
54. Dr. Butcher M.D.
55. The Grim Reaper
56. Dr. Tarr’s Torture Dungeon
57. Wicked Wicked
58. The Flesh and Blood Show
59. The 3 Dimensions of Greta
60. Hard Candy
61. Panorama Blue
62. Italian Stallion
63. Maid in Sweden
64. Pornography in Denmark
65. Secret Africa
66. Shocking Asia
67. Taboos of the World
68. Chappaqua
69. Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom
70. The 44 Specialist
71. The Bullet Machine
72. Death Drive
73. Spy in Your Wife
74. Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die
75. The Last of Secret Angels
76. The Crippled Master
77. Shogun Assassin
78. SuperManChu
79. Born Losers
80. Hells Angles on Wheels
81. Devil’s Angels
82. The Pink Angles
83. Werewolves on Wheels
84. Dixie Dynamite
85. Mr. Billion
86. Super Fuzz
87. Sunset Cove
88. Van Nays Blvd.
89. Skatetown U.S.A.

High-Def Presentation

It might sound unbelievable considering the source material, but 42nd Street Forever: The Blu-ray Edition looks incredible! The disc features a 1080p AVC encode and truly looks marvelous. Obviously, with so many films covering so many different genres, there are a lot of aesthetic differences on display. The trailers have the pops and scratches that time and mishandling has given them and, to be honest, not every trailer is on the same level. Some have damage that is obviously beyond repair, but even amidst the wear and tear, some of the trailers are a revelation. Incredible clarity and detail and strong color palettes throughout make for an exceptional transfer and a nice surprise.

Much like the video, the audio is also quite impressive. Again, a lot depends on the source material itself. There is the odd trailer here and there that’s mix is a bit off, but it’s obviously not Synapse’s fault. In fact, with the disc’s DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track, most all of the trailers have a fairly superb mix to them, especially considering the age and budgets many of these films have going against them. There is little to no hiss throughout and is overall a nice sound package.

Beyond the Feature

An Audio Commentary with Fangoria’s Michael Gingold, Temple of Schlock’s Chris Poggiali and AVMANIACS.COM’s Edwin Samuelson is sadly the only special feature to be found on this release, but at least it’s a very solid one. The trio are quite well versed in the movies presented and offer some excellent insight to them.

It’s hard to complain about more special features after watching nearly four hours of trailers, but it’s the fan in me, wanting to know everything about all of these movies. A documentary on 42nd Street itself, its impact and heritage would be a nice addition. I also personally would have loved to have had a random or shuffle play option. As I said, minor gripes considering the whole disc is basically a glorified special features package, but gripes nonetheless.

As a longtime fan of Synapse’s 42nd Street series, I am overjoyed to see the series make its way to Blu-ray. With nearly four hours of trailers for many of cinema’s forgotten treasures, 42nd Street Forever: The Blu-ray Edition is a must own for any cult film fan, and, I’d say, any fan of film in general (that’s not easily offended, of course). With exceptional PQ and AQ and a highly informative commentary, you’d be a fool to pass up this release. I anxiously await Volume 2!

- Matt Hardeman

Click here to shop for 42nd Street Forever: The Blu-ray Edition for a discounted price at Amazon.com (May 8, 2012 release date).

SCORE: 4.1 out of 5