Monday, April 22, 2013

Review: "Trailer War"

During my days as an aspiring videographer and editor, I dreamt up many ideas for movie projects: Shag Wars - a Star Wars and Austin Powers combo; Desk Jumper - about a miniature man who base jumps from a school desk to the carpet below; 3 Punks, a Monster and a .45 – pretty self explanatory. But my favorite idea was for a feature film made up entirely of movie trailers, to be called Trailer: The Motion Picture. It would start with a few ads (restaurants, doctor offices, etc), the silence is golden / emergency exit cards, then move into the trailers. And the ending? The feature presentation card, of course.

In the middle of releasing the Tarantino / Rodriguez double feature Grindhouse, Eli Roth mentioned that he would love to make a movie along the lines of the one I had thought of years before. So far, the latest word on that project is a blurb on a wikipedia entry, but I'm optimistic – especially with groups like Drafthouse Films in operation.

You see, the folks at the Alamo Drafthouse theater love movies. They also understand the geeky joy fans get from watching incredibly eccentric movie trailers; the kind that turn out better than the movie they're promoting. In one 2-3 minute burst, we get action, suspense, romance, drama and horror. “COME SEE OUR F###ING FILM! YOU WILL LOVE IT!” And so, in a gift to all of humanity, Drafthouse Films released on DVD, Blu Ray and digital download a collection of some of the most scratched up, obscure and very real trailers ever made.

Now, unlike my original feature idea, Trailer War is not really a movie. Aside from the Drafthouse Films logo, there are no opening or end credits, no main title card, no “Coming Attractions”, none of that – just trailers, one by one. And honestly, it feels a little daunting to watch. As excited as I was to see it, I found it to be a challenge to sit through. This must be what film festival judges go through; being bombarded with movie after movie, story after story. A sensory overload, essentially.

The trailer for Trailer War sums up this feeling with the editing at the end; an explosive, quick cut of crazy moments that almost put you in a trance. In fact, watching this “movie” is a lot like going to a hypnotist, only I'm not sure what this doctor is trying to implant or extract from my head. A second opinion might be needed for my problem. Watching the digital download version, I didn't have the option of skipping trailers, only to fast forward (which I didn't do). If I were to watch this on a disc (with a commentary track featuring the great Joe Dante) I'd probably like this much more.

That being established, there are some a m a z i n g trailers here. Some might recognize Mitchell and Dungeon Master, but it's the unknown ones that stuck out to me. Stunt Rock and Star Crash perked me up, Sister Street Fighter had me clapping, Who Saw Her Die got burned into my brain and Force Four and Five left me laughing hysterically. There are a few lulls, but by the time Thunder Cops appears...

My parents told me once that, as a toddler, I preferred watching commercials instead of shows. I guess that explains my interest in making a movie that is a glorified advertisement. It might only speak to some, but those who get it will love it. The ultimate film buff movie is also the ultimate film buff test. If you take a date to Trailer War, and they don't like it, don't go for a second night out. But do see where this evening ends; you might get the date equivalent of Thunder Cops.   

3/5 *s

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