Back in the days of my misspent youth I had a friend named Kenny who was the one kid I could always count on for tales of outrageous movies that he'd somehow stumbled across in whitebread Westport, CT. in the pre-VHS days (some of the moneyed families we knew had such luxury items, but the likes of Kenny and myself didn't get properly hooked up in that department until around 1984). The most memorable film he ever described was a little charmer entitled OLD MacDONALD'S FARM, a rather eye-opening selection from his dad's incorrectly-presumed-hidden library of 8mm hardcore pornography that was Kenny's first exposure to the magical world of grainy bestiality, and when Kenny recounted its grimy highlights all the kids in our junior high art class paid rapt attention and sat there in sheer shock. Our mutual pal Matt backed up Kenny's claims and since everyone knew Matt was a source to be trusted we bought Kenny's impromptu film review and from then on gave ear whenever he'd say, "I saw the most fucked-up movie the other day..."
At some point during our high school years Kenny mentioned some movie he'd seen at the local combination art house/grindhouse movie theater, Norwalk's Sono Cinema, and though he could not recall its title I was intrigued by his recounting of it. The nameless film in question was apparently a collection of "coming attractions for movies that never come," hosted by a nearly dead and visibly-crippled-by-arthritis John Carradine (a very respected character actor from the golden age of Hollywood, for all you young 'uns what don't know), and packed to the rafters with an avalanche of unforgettable trailer come-on copy of the kind they simply can't replicate nowadays. I'd heard of a handful of the films Kenny described as being represented, but the majority of them made me scratch my head and wonder if he was making up most of them (Matt had by this time moved a few towns away and was no longer on hand to verify Kenny's cinematic education). Since Kenny couldn't remember the film's title and none of my friends who worked at the Sono were there for the one-shot midnight show when it ran I had no verification if this alleged cornucopia of sleaze even existed, so for once I wrote it off as Kenny bullshitting me for the sake of spinning an entertaining story and soon forgot all about it.
Then came college and a few years of drunk and utterly stoned VHS movie-watching, and at some point during that time a fellow sleaze film junkie, a freshman who would later go on to be known as "Selwyn Harris" (one of the undisputed experts on the grindhouse pleasures of the Deuce in its heyday), invited me to watch a tape of trailers provided by his roommate. The tape was entitled THE BEST OF SEX AND VIOLENCE and as I watched it it seemed familiar, miraculously battering through my damaged brain cells to get to the memory of Kenny's yarn from five years prior. When I realized what I was watching I let out a scream of recognition and explained the Kenny connection to my fellow viewers, both of whom where shocked that it had actually received a theatrical run. As soon as possible I obtained a copy for myself and over the next several years dragged any who were willing to sit through it into its squalid depths, eventually yielding a fiercely loyal audience among my friends who were still in Westport as we made the transition from college to the world of grownup life and responsibilities.
THE BEST OF SEX AND VIOLENCE is by no means a particularly good trailer compilation but it is indeed entertaining, and for every dreary coming attraction like THE WORKING GIRLS or THE MANHANDLERS, there's a FAIRY TALES or EBONY, IVORY & JADE to be had. With the exception of 1980's THE BOOGEYMAN and TANYA'S ISLAND, all the films included hail from the late 1960's and the 1970's, covering several genres, including biker sleaze, Euro sexploitation, blaxploitation, women in prison T & A epics, softcore (and not-so-softcore) porn comedies, and of course horror. Perhaps 95% of the films represented are outright shit, but THE BEST OF SEX AND VIOLENCE is where I first heard of the now legendary DOLEMITE and its sublime sequel, THE HUMAN TORNADO, so it was well worth sitting through more than once.
This cheapjack pseudo-documentary opens with a shot of an attractive blonde walking down the street in broad daylight as an ominous Casio-generated tune is heard on the soundtrack to suggest menace. She looks around nervously and soon begins to run as an unseen attacker gives chase. Then for no apparent reason she's seen running full tilt, only now she's clad in naught but a pair of panties as her breasts flop all over the goddamned place, mere seconds before the camera shifts to show a masculine arm driving a switchblade into the lens as the woman's scream is heard. It is at that moment that the titles appear, accompanied by some clearly disinterested offscreen singers belting out "Sex...and Vi-Oh-Lence!!!" and we're off to the races.
The film includes the following trailers, supplemented by truly awful jokes croaked forth by John Carradine and a bizarre segment in which his sons David (he of KUNG FU television fame and later the KILL BILL films) and Keith flank him and do nothing but look into the camera with faces filled with embarrassment for a few seconds before the next coming attraction kicks in:
- BURY ME AN ANGEL (1972)
- THE DOBERMAN GANG (1972)
- TUNNEL VISION (1975)
- THE SIN OF ADAM AND EVE (1969)
- BILL OSCO'S ALICE IN WONDERLAND (1976)
- CINDERELLA (1977)
- FAIRY TALES (1978)
- EMANUELLE AROUND THE WORLD (1977)
- TANYA'S ISLAND (1980)
- I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978)
- TOURIST TRAP (1979)
- THE BOOGEYMAN (1980)
- ZOMBIE (1979)
- THE SINGLE GIRLS (1974)
- THE WORKING GIRLS (1974)
- THE MANHANDLERS (1975)
- DR. MINX (1975)
- TRUCK STOP WOMEN (1974)
- THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE (1973)
- BEYOND ATLANTIS (1973)
- THE DEVIL'S WEDDING NIGHT (1973)
- SWEET SUGAR (1972)
- TERMINAL ISLAND (1973)
- EBONY, IVORY & JADE (1976)
- DR. BLACK & MR. HYDE (1976)
- DOLEMITE (1975)
- THE HUMAN TORNADO (1976)
- DISCO GODFATHER (1979)
When the trailer for DISCO GODFATHER ends, Carradine states that the only thing that could keep him from hosting THE BEST OF SEX AND VIOLENCE PART 2 would be the end of the world, so of course the camera immediately cuts to a cheap globe prop that explodes as we're treated to a reprise of "Sex...and Vi-Oh-Lence!!!"
The bottom line on this one is that THE BEST OF SEX AND VIOLENCE is a surefire winner if put on during a boozy late-night gathering of like-minded sleaze addicts, especially those who have not yet seen it. If nothing else, it's likely to spur the uninitiated to track down grindhouse movies for their own edification, and the preservation of that now-extinct in-theater genre and indelible part of this nation's cinematic history is a noble pursuit.