They used to be the best part of the moviegoing experience, one of the few ways to learn what was “coming soon” to a theater near you. In fact, a Saturday at the matinee was never complete without a least a dozen sneak previews. They have now evolved into plotpoint specific spoilers where, more time than not, the entire narrative is spelled out in two minutes, thirty or less. It the past, they could be accused of some substantial bait and switch, filmic fraud in both the inducement and in factum. Now, we marvel at the overwhelming optical splendor and quick-cut editorial ruse, not recognizing that knowing too much is just as bad as being fooled once you buy your ticket and take your seat.
Some may argue that trailers are a dying art. Others will suggest that old school advertising was just as obvious and sneaky as its modern equivalent. Still, there is an inherent intrigue in seeing how movies made before the dawn of all this multimedia hyperbole did their carnival barker best to lure audiences into the Bijou. Enter Stephen Romano and his “Shock Festival”. Based on his famed book about the exploitation and horror movie scene from the ‘70s and ‘80s, his knowledge of the genre is matched only by his fandom for all things flesh/frightening. As a result, he has collected three DVDs worth of sensational schlock adverts, each one arguing for its value as publicity and pulp.