Classic Sci-Fi Trailers, Vol. 1 (Sinister Cinema). [Category: Commercial]

Science fiction trailers, mostly from the 50s, which is good because that's when they made 'em campy. A good selection of both classic and classically bad sci-fi movies of the period. Film and video quality is very good. No listing on the package, but Sinister Cinema gets 5 points for providing complete contents listings of their trailer compilations in their catalog.


Highlights:


  • If you were to list the film credits of Howard Hawks, what would you put at the top of the list? If you said I Was a Male War Bride, then you think like the producers of the trailer for The Thing.
  • Godzilla, King of the Monsters had probably the most hyperbolic trailer ever. "Dynamic Violence!!" "Savage Action!!" Manic Narration!!
  • Conspiracy buffs alert! More subliminal messages, this time in the trailer for It! The Terror from Beyond Space. "See IT!" "Don't Miss IT!" You'd think, though, that after going to all that trouble they would have made the messages more specific.
  • The Crawling Hand's trailer is just as cheesy as the movie itself, which is an achievement of some sort.
  • Msties, take note: Contains the trailers for It Conquered the World, The Mole People, Earth vs. the Spider, The Giant Gila Monster, and The Crawling Hand.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.

The Big Snooze (film #3 on Cartoons for Big Kids (Turner Home Entertainment, 1989)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

Despite its appearance on Cartoons for Big Kids, this was my all-time favorite Bugs Bunny cartoon when I was a kid. It's still on my list of all-time favorites, as it's one of the weirdest cartoons ever made, and probably the weirdest Bugs vs. Elmer toon. Elmer gets fed up with Bugs and decides to tear up his contract with "Mr. Warner" and take up fishing. He does so, despite Bugs' pleading with him not to "break up the act". After finding a nice fishing spot and casting, he promptly falls asleep. Bugs then takes sleeping pills and invades Elmer's dream, and if you think Bugs is wacky in the "real" world, just wait till you see what he does to Elmer's dream world! What probably got it on the Big Kids tape is a very funny scene of Bugs dressing up Elmer in drag and then unleashing a bunch of wolves (literally) on him ("Have any of you girls ever had an expewience like this?" Elmer asks the audience). One of the all-time great Warner Brothers cartoons.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: *****.

X Marks the Spot (MST3K Episode #210: King Dinosaur). [Category: Public Service]

Apparently, if you die in an auto accident in New Jersey, before dealing with St. Peter and your general record of sins, you have to face the Heavenly Traffic Court and answer for your driving record. This is what happens to "average driver" Joe Doaks. Reporting on Joe's record is his Guardian Angel of Traffic, who looks like a recent graduate (complete with cap and gown) of the Rocky Marciano School of Big Galloots. Joe's case doesn't fare too well--apparently, like most "average drivers", Joe's driving sucked big time. However, the judge ultimately leaves it up to us, the audience, to decide Joe's fate. Rick Prelinger, in his Our Secret Century series of CD-ROMs, tells us that many auto safety films were made by the auto industry ostensibly as a public service, but actually to place the blame for accidents in the laps of drivers and deflect blame away from design defects in their cars. This seems especially obvious in this film. Joe isn't merely shown to be a poor driver--he's supposed to represent the average driver, leading us to the conclusion that most drivers are extremely unsafe. The only mention of his car is that Joe had regular vehicle inspections (as required by New Jersey law), so "he can't blame his accident on his car". Appalling and lots of fun, with good msting.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: ****. Msting: *****. Overall Rating: *****.

Chicago Television (Hollywood's Attic, 1996). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

Back in the 50s and 60s, there was something called Local Television. Individual tv stations would actually produce their own programs, some popular and some forgettable. Most have been lost to posterity, but this tape is chock-full of excerpts of local Chicago shows. For me, it brings back lots of hazy early-child memories of watching local and syndicated shows, especially since I know some of this stuff was syndicated and shown in Omaha, where I grew up. I could do without the lengthy sports footage, but the tape makes up for it by including moments ranging from the truly surreal ("Diver Dan", "Clutch Cargo", the hostess of "Ding Dong School" having a one-sided conversation) to the truly evil (Pandora, the host of "Kiddie-a-Go-Go"; the Santa in The Three Little Dwarves, the faun in "The Mighty Hercules"). At over two hours, it has more prime ephemera for your money than just about any collection I know of. A must for ephemera collectors.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****+. Overall Rating: *****.

Houston, We've Got a Problem (film #2 on NASA DVD (Madacy Entertainment, 1999)). [Category: News]

This well-produced documentary shows us the nerve-wracking Apollo 13 mission, where a major malfunction in the power supply made the command module non-functional, and the astronauts had to try to make it back to Earth in the lunar module, using manual controls. The film has a minimum of narration, relying mostly on NASA footage of the astronauts and of Mission Control, we-interrupt-this-program news footage, and footage of the reactions of ordinary citizens in New York City to the unfolding drama of the mission to tell its story. This makes it particularly interesting from an ephemera standpoint. Another excellent historical document on the NASA DVD.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.

Atom Bomb Tests: Bikini (film #5 on Atomic Memories (Video Yesteryear)).

This film documents atomic bomb tests Abel and Baker near Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. It's pretty standard for the most part, but the narration is quite pompous and occasionally strange. The most unbelievable assertion is that after test Abel they thought the damage was "negligible" at first, but found out differently at closer inspection. The idea that anyone would think an atom bomb would cause only "negligible" damage (especially after Hiroshima and Nagasaki) is pretty amazing.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.

Argentina

Argentina. Standard geography film about the South American country of Argentina. There’s some historical interest here as you get to see ...