42ND STREET FOREVER: THE BLU RAY EDITION (Blu-Ray Review)

42nd St forever Blu cover

42ND STREET FOREVER available on Blu-Ray from Synapse Films!

*** Originally published on Beyond the Marquee, 06/02/12 ***

Hey Doc, this morning I was doing my pilates, listening to Prince and just fixating on life.  As a matter of fact, “Let’s Go Crazy” came on and the Purple One gave me some insight to it all: “Electric word, ‘life’. It means forever and that’s a mighty long time.  But I’m here 2 tell U there’s something else: The afterworld.”  Pretty deep.  Then I turned on my Blu Ray player and it all just clicked.  Synapse Films has given an afterworld to some of the greatest grindhouse trailers released in the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s through their new 42nd Street Forever: The Blu Ray Edition (available now).  Forever IS a mighty long time clocking in at nearly 4 hours, but every single minute of it is, as the man said, electric.

42nd St forever Blu cover

42ND STREET FOREVER available on Blu-Ray from Synapse Films!

If you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing a 42nd Street Forever disc, now’s your chance to catch up.  Over the years there have been about a half dozen of these exploitation trailer comps, but this is the first time one has been released in High Def.  The Blu Ray Edition serves as a sort of “best of” collection, showcasing content from previous volumes.  Trailers from Crown International, New World, American International Pictures, and Toho are represented as well as low budget fare from majors like Warner Bros. and MGM.

Synapse breaks down the playlist into several different exploitation subgenres.  There’s Blaxploitation cinema (Black SamsonWelcome Home, Brother Charles), revenge pictures (Ms. 45Chained Heat), Sci-Fi (Dark StarThey Came From Beyond Space), Horror (Eye of the CatDr. Butcher M.D.) and more!  A trailer for Sylvester Stallone’s pre-Rocky softcore, The Italian Stallion (released as Party At Kitty and Stud’s) pops up in an “X-rated” section.  With bad special effects, poor acting, cheap sets and oftentimes some REALLY bad voice over work, these trailers will both crack you up and give you a slight tinge of nostalgia.

Star Crash
“Star Crash” had some decent production value for a “Star Wars” knockoff

Obviously, the picture and sound quality varies from trailer to trailer based on the condition of its source and year of release, but any and all warts are proudly displayed having never looked better (or is that worse?)  Every single emulsion scratch, speck of dust and piece of grain can be seen, giving the illusion of watching an actual 35mm film collection on your television… it’s an exploitation enthusiast’s paradise.

Superfuzz
Italian buddy cop classic “Superfuzz” is represented. As is Ernest Borgnine.

For the casual fan, these bite size chunks (some running as long as five minutes) give the experience of sitting in a busted theater watching only the best parts of films that you might not otherwise be interested in sitting through.  However, I found the real fun and benefit to be in listening to the commentary track.  Edwin Samuelson from AVManiacs.com, Fangoria’s Michael Gingold and Temple of Schlock’s Chris Poggiali sit through all four hours (as I couldn’t help but doing) and literally give an entire film education… over EACH trailer. I can say with total honesty, that this is the most informative and engaging commentary track I’ve heard to date.  It’s just like playing the Blu Ray in the background and talking with other cinephiles about these pictures over a beer. Or six. If I taught a film course, this would be required viewing. Period.  Aside from the commentary, there are no extras – not there needs to be.  42nd Street Forever: The Blu Ray Edition just is what it is and thankfully, there’s plenty of it.

4 of 4 devils

JUDGEMENT: 4 of 4 Devils

This disc is just so much fun, but the real clincher is that commentary track, alone worth the purchase.  I don’t give it often, but this is positively 4 out of 4 devils.  I would be remiss in giving Synapse’s latest and greatest offering anything less than DC’s top honor.  Watching a 42nd Street Forever disc IS sitting in the Downtown Cinema. Now if I can just find a decorative homeless man to lie passed out in my living room…

*** I couldn’t find a trailer for the actual disc, Doc – so here’s one of my favorites to give you an idea of what you’ll get.***

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