Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Best of Sex and Violence (1981)

For some reason I’ve always been a sucker for trailer tapes, despite the fact that most compilations usually have some gibbering idiot spouting inane and cringeworthy dialogue between handfuls of teasers for exploitation schlock, the vast majority of which probably never made it past the drive-in or the grindhouse. The Best of Sex and Violence certainly continues that fine tradition with genre veteran John Carradine delivering some of the worst quips this side of Dennis Norden whilst introducing a cosmic cavalcade of celluloid insanity. In other words, 28 frenzied bursts of three-minute mayhem!
Although focusing more on soft-core shenanigans than hard gore violence, there are still more than enough examples of deranged and delirious cinema on show to please any exploitation fan. There are trailers for flicks focusing on bra-burning, man-bashing girl gangs (Bury Me an Angel, The Manhandlers and Truck Stop Women), bawdy adult interpretations of children’s classics (Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Fairy Tales), whacked out fantasy movies (Beyond Atlantis and The Twilight People) and even bank robbing heist hounds (The Doberman Gang).
By far the most familiar titles represented here are those that received an initial release here in the UK as part of the early Eighties video boom. These are predominantly horror titles, consisting of such fare as Lucio Fulci’s Zombie (complete with barf bag in the interests of health), The Boogeyman (“He hurt bad children and did terrible things to their mummies”) and I Spit on Your Grave, which hints that the film was based on fact and repeats the error found on virtually every piece of packaging or advertising world-wide that “five men were cut, broken, chopped and burned beyond recognition.” Just to confuse matters even more the trailer shows only three hapless victims!
The real gems of the tape however are four blaxploitation trailers tucked away at the end. All are narrated in great rhyming couplets that never fail to raise a smile. The first, for Dr Black and Mr Hyde warns “Give him no sass or he’ll kick your ass!” the remaining trio are Rudy Ray Moore vehicles, two of which star his Dolemite character, Dolemite and Human Tornado (pronounce Human Torn-ada) when the main man himself tells us that “I got a dong as big as King Kong!” Forget Fred Williamson as the King of Blaxploitation, Rudy Ray is the man!
The John Carradine segments sandwiched between handfuls of trailers make for depressing viewing, considering the quality and wealth of his experience within the film industry. Obviously shot towards the latter part of Carradine’s career, our host, ever the professional, stumbles on bravely by regurgitating extremely banal dialogue that no doubt looked good on paper, but sounds tired on film. Just to put the boot in on old John, his sons Keith and David are paraded before the camera towards the end for Carradine to suggest that “I don’t really have to do this, both of my sons are working” to which one replies “maybe not after this!” Many a true word spoken in jest. A director’s credit is given to Ken Dixon, although whether sticking a static camera in front of someone whilst they talk can be classed as direction is debatable.
Nowadays the art of the trailer seems to be long forgotten. Thankfully The Best of Sex and Violence takes us back to a time when the trailer was not just an excuse to speed through the actual feature in three minutes, introducing characters and revealing plot twists. It also serves to remind us of an era of exploitation film cinema the likes of which we are unlikely to witness gain. A veritable cornucopia for trash aficionados!

Rob Bewick

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