Don't forget, tonight's the first night of Cinemapocalypse. You're going, right? Read about it here.
Trailer War! starts at 9:30 tonight at the Hollywood. IT IS GOING TO BE INSANE. Tomorrow night is the Hickspoitation Double Feature at the Clinton Street. Here's what Grindhouse Film Festival's Dan Halsted told us about tonight:
The Trailer War (like all of my Grindhouse Film Festival screenings, Lars' Weird Wednesday screenings, and Zack's Terror Tuesday screenings) is on 35mm film. All of the trailers from my side are from my personal 35mm collection, Lars and Zack will be running stuff from the Drafthouse' massive collection. Majority are from the '70s, with some from the '60s and some from the '80s. All are exploitation trailers, from a wide variety of sub-genres: kung fu, Italian horror, no-budget horror, blaxploitation, hicksploitation, spaghetti westerns, Filipino weirdness, indescribable sleaze, etc. These are the two top exploitation film collections in the country going head to head.Meanwhile, click after the jump to read more of the interview with Lars Nilsen and Zach Carlson, who run weekly programs at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas. You should read it, the guys are a coupla cutups.
For the most part, these were strange, low budget movies being produced in over-saturated markets. These trailers are extremely aggressive and sensationalized since this was their only available form of promotion. Two minutes to sell your movie. Also, a lot of these movies were made for regional audiences, like the hillbilly movies produced specifically for the drive-in audiences of the South. The trailers were made to cater strictly to them. There are also added curiosities like kung fu trailers that were specifically designed and narrated to cater to innercity audiences. And don't forget that these movies came right after the fall of the production code. Suddenly, all bets were off. Everyone was pushing the limits of what they could get away with in a movie. That, mixed with rampant drug use, grainy film stocks, and a full-swinging sexual revolution, makes for a ferociously entertaining Molotav cocktail of mayhem.
Most of these movies are highly recommended, but sometimes the best trailers are for the strangest and most horrific movies. I remember Lars once had a great quote about an exploitation movie: "This may not be everyone's cup of poison, but we'll take a double, and leave the bottle."
MERCURY: Why did you and Zack decide to take this show on the road? Were you driven out of Austin?
NILSEN: We decided to take the films on tour because there seems to be a new trend, exemplified by people like Dan Halsted, who are putting on fun but respectful screenings of movies like these. We have access to some of the best exploitation titles in the world through the non-profit American Genre Film Archive and it seems like we should share them with as many people as we can.
CARLSON: It'd be selfish of us to only screen films like Psycho from Texas and The Six Thousand Dollar Nigger in our own city. It's a moral imperative to get movies like these in front of as many eyeballs as possible.
MERCURY: How did you decide which material would play in which city—and how did Portland get the honor of the Hicksploitation double feature? Are you saying we're hillbillies?
NILSEN: We discussed it widely and put together all sorts of possible lineups. Our main concern was just putting the most entertaining films on screen. In the case of Portland: early in the game when I was discussing this with Halsted he mentioned "feel free to bring Gator Bait and it kinda got me thinking about a hicksploitation double feature there. It's not a reflection on the hard working farmers and small-town culture of Portland.
CARLSON: I wish Portland had MORE hillbillies. That'd help get all the dreadlocked wasteoids and Bowie-chic art student trash off the streets.
MERCURY: How has the Alamo Drafthouse cultivated a filmgoing scene in Austin, and what can other cities/cinemas learn from it?
NILSEN: All of us at the original Alamo Drafthouse have a Fun First mentality. We want to make our money back and all that, but we also want to make a lot of friends and have fun watching great movies. And that's what we do. We work very hard to make our theater fun and the "scene" kind of coalesces around that. I'm not sure what other cities can learn from it - probably: take chances and have fun.
CARLSON: Fortunately, Austin was already full of people who are enthusiastic about movies and — more importantly — daring with what they'll watch. It may be the only city left where the video rental stores are making more money than ever despite the onset of Netflix, On-Demand and downloadable bullshit. So maybe other cities can learn from that aspect of Austin, which we certainly can't take credit for.
MERCURY: What's the process of locating and selecting the trailers for Trailer Wars? Is most of this stuff from the '70s?
NILSEN: We have tons of trailers and a lot of opportunities to show them to audiences. So we have an idea about which ones work, which ones are too slow etc. Pretty much everything is from the '60s, '70s and '80s. We haven't actually decided which ones to bring yet. We'll probably just bring whichever box is nearest the door on our way out.
CARLSON: He's referring to the box labeled: "R.I.P. - DAN HALSTED."
MERCURY: Are you gonna mop the floor with Dan's trailers?
NILSEN: I have no idea. I know Dan's really nervous about it. We're not. It will be a good show no matter how wide our victory margin is.
CARLSON: I'll mop the floor of the theater if Dan will let us sleep on his couch.
MERCURY: Did filmmakers reliably put the nastiest, most fucked up stuff (i.e. the best stuff) in the trailers? And are any of these movies worth seeing on their own?
NILSEN: Trailers are mini-movies in and of themselves. Some are charmingly desperate to sell the films. And yes, most of these movies are worth seeing on their own. People count on us to be film archaeologists and bring treasures back for them from the brink of obscurity. We can't afford to be snobs.
CARLSON: We mainly love these trailers simply because we love these types of movies. Though some excitement can be unique to the 3-minute format, I think most of what gets a viewer's blood boiling in a trailer will remain compelling in the feature itself. Admittedly, there are people that enjoy exploitation trailers but don't have the attention span to endure entire films of the era. These people are called "Dipshits."
MERCURY: What's the art of a good trailer, and why are trailers now so shitty and lame?
NILSEN: Good trailers are like good movies. It's mysterious. If trailers now are shitty and lame it's only because the movies they're advertising are usually shitty and lame.
CARLSON: It's the same with movie posters, not to mention everything else. Modern aesthetics are as easy on the eye as a sharpened stick. Hollywood studio executives have just stayed at the forefront of the current "style." So good job, guys...say hi to Hitler for me when you go back to hell.