Thursday, October 18, 2012

Celluloid Bloodbath:More Prevues from Hell; A Ghoulishly Gory Good Time.

In 1987, two movie maniacs, James F.Murray and Jim Monaco, released on video Mad Ron's Prevues from Hell,their affectionate salute to the horror/exploitation films of the 1960's and '70's that populated the various drive ins and grind houses. The video was chockful of trailers from films like "2000 Maniacs", "Bloody Pit of Horror", "Flesh Feast" and "I Drink You Blood" while a zombie named Happy Goldsplatt acted as a sort of undead Greek chorus commenting about the various goings on as his fellow zombies enjoyed the coming attractions at an abandoned movie theatre called the Lansdowne. It was a maiden voyage for the two filmmakers and at times their inexperience showed in the final product. However, the film remains to this day as entertaining and fairly well made.

Now twenty five years later, with video technology having improved by leaps and bounds, Murray and Monaco have outdone themselves with Celluloid Bloodbath: More Prevues from Hell. Not only did they unearth another clutch of gory,sensationalistic horror trailers, but the film has a more polished and professional look to it than their previous outing. As with Mad Ron's Prevues from Hell, grind house fanatics can once again feast their bloodshot eyes on trailers from an era before low budget horror films made by independent companies were relegated to the video market by the major studios.

This time around, zombie Happy Goldsplatt(the creation of comedian/ventriloquist Nick Pawlow) isn't central to the storyline. Instead, the trailers are introduced by B film veterans and horror hosts. They range from a bubbly and vivacious Debra Lamb to a rather stiff, slow talking Conrad Brooks (most famous for his role in Plan Nine From Outer Space) who is obviously reading from a cue card. The film even has an interview with former porn star Seka who makes a fascinating comment about the hypocrisy of the film industry in that main stream movies can depict scenes of sex and violence, but that X rated productions are forbidden to show those same scenes in their films.

Toward the end of Celluloid Bloodbath, the filmmakers show actor Wiliiam Forsythe (The Devils Rejects) admitting to not being a fan of the genre in direct contrast to Kyra Schon(the little girl in the original Night of Living Dead) describing certain horror films as being "comfort food" to her. An interesting dichotomy to say the least.

I only wish the interviews were a bit longer. Jim Murray told me he felt long interviews (at least to him) were boring, so he whittled down each interview to two minutes per celebrity.The problem here is, just as the viewer is getting involved in what the person has to say,the interview ends abruptly and it's on to the next celebrity, effectively turning the actor or actress into a sound bite. Perhaps Jim Murray,unlike some of us, has the attention span of a house fly. In spite of this minor flaw, Celluloid Bloodbath succeeds in entertaining the viewer with the antics of Happy Goldsplatt, interesting, if brief, interviews and terrific trailers of gore.

As the end credits roll the song "Sleeping Like The Dead (written by Billy Marshall and Chad Moxley) plays over a drawing of a graveyard;a fitting end to a terrific Halloween party film. And here's an interesting fact: James Murray told me that "Sleeping Like The Dead" inspired Celluloid Bloodbath and that he acquired the song before shooting began!

To cap things off, there is a scene at the end where George Kosana (another Night of The Living Dead alumni) says to Happy The Zombie," Happy,you're dead.You're all messed up.",echoing his most memorable line from that classic movie.So if you're wondering what video to show to your guests at your upcoming Halloween Bash,Celluloid Bloodbath:More Prevues from Hell is just the ticket. You and your audience won't be disappointed.

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