Blu-ray Review: 42ND STREET FOREVER: THE BLU-RAY EDITION

Charlie Hobbs, Contributing Writer
In 2005 Synapse Films released the most fantastic collection of exploitation trailers the world had ever seen, 42nd Street Forever. There were boobs, butts, and blaxploitation; sexploitation, drugs, and rock 'n roll; and horror, action, and all manner of '60s through '80s awesomeness. 42nd Street Forever was such a big hit, that it has become Synapse's longest running series of releases, with six different editions currently in their collection. It was only a matter of time that this incredible home video icon got around to releasing some of these gems on Blu-ray, and the time is now.

42nd Street Forever: The Blu-ray Edition features three hours and forty five minutes of trailer goodness spanning a large portion of DVD volumes 1 & 2, as well as a lovely sampling of new trailers covering all of the major genres. Just try and stop yourself from grabbing a pen and paper and jotting down titles for films you just have to see. Apart from the big name stuff like Abel Ferrara's Ms. 45 (which I still need to see), Chained Heat (with one of the finest casts ever assembled in John Vernon, Linda Blair, Sybil Danning, Tamara Dobson, and Henry Silva), Shogun Assassin, and a German dubbed trailer for Salo: 120 Days of Sodom; we also get some incredible and incredibly hard to find classic trash. Films like Delinquent Schoolgirls, Kenner, the fantastic trailer for Teenage Mother, Ruggero Deodato's thrill-a-minute Raiders of Atlantis, Eye of the Cat, and dozens more. You'll plow through legal pads trying to keep up with all of the eye candy popping out of your screen.

The ultimate party video, 42nd Street Forever: The Blu-ray Edition is not only howlingly entertaining, but a fascinating look into the way that the sleazy films of the past were marketed in order to make them palatable for mainstream drive-in crowds. Sexploitation films like College Girls are overdubbed with lectures about what happens behind closed doors in dormitories around the country, in which women never wear clothes and the men never complain. I, A Woman, a Scandinavian product from the Swedish sex-wave of the '60s purports to be an art film, and was in fact distributed by Radley Metzger's Audobon Films, but is clearly not afraid to do the deed. The post-mondo gruesome twosome of Secret Africa and Shocking Asia give us ritualistic violence and a graphic shot or two of a gender reassignment surgery, all while explaining that their goal is merely to enlighten and not titillate. They just don't make 'em like this anymore.

It would take me eons to give the amount of detail required to do proper justice to this collection, but let it be understood, you need this. I didn't see a stinker in the bunch, and even if you don't like one or two, you can just stick around for a minute and you'll get twelve or thirteen in a row that will leave you in stitches. I wish I could say that I was around when these trailers were duping sleazeballs into theaters in the good old days, but I'll never get tired of visiting that heyday, and thanks to Synapse, I've got nearly four hours worth of A-class material to pop in whenever I get a pick me up.

Buy this motherfucker!

The Disc:

Not unlike my previous reviews of documentaries on Blu-ray, the material in 42nd Street Forever: The Blu-ray Edition varies wildly in quality due to the source materials. Some of these trailers look great, for example, Ms. 45 is in excellent condition and really roped me in. Others are pretty rough, mostly the obscure '60s stuff, but also some of the higher profile stuff like Rolling Thunder. In reality, the scratchier stuff is forgivable, but the good stuff that really benefits from the HD upgrade is awesome and will blow you away. Even the weaker trailers show more authentic looking grain and detail, even the scratches look more real! The audio is equally hit and miss, though there is less of an audio difference than a video difference. There is no reason not to upgrade, though you'll want to keep your originals because a few trailers didn't make the cut this time around.

There is only one extra on the disc, but it is notable for its ambition. Edwin Samuelson (AVManiacs.com), Michael Gingold (Fangoria), and Chris Poggiali (Temple of Schlock) lay down an audio commentary over the entirety of the proceedings, in one of the most impressive displays of commentarianism I've ever had the privilege of witnessing. The great thing that they are good! All three contribute facts, anecdotes, and background info throughout the massive runtime. It was clearly well researched, and the participants are clearly both enthusiastic about the material and well-versed in the history. Who needs other extras when you've got a nearly four hour audio commentary?

Buy this motherfucker. Buy it now.

Special Feature:
- Audio commentary with AVMANIACS.COM's Edwin Samuelson, FANGORIA Magazine's Michael Gingold and TEMPLE OF SCHLOCK's Chris Poggiali
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