This review originally appeared in 2010.
Sometimes, it pays to follow your gut. When I read a review of Mad Ron's Prevues from Hell, a review that said at best the trailer compilation was a "rental," I filed the title away in my head until I saw the DVD at Hastings. The Cap'n is something of a trailer freak, and I love a good compilation - I own all of the 42nd Street Forever discs, All Monsters Attack, and am trying to get ahold of Stephen Romano's Shock Festival set - so despite the fact that Mad Ron's Prevues from Hell was clearly duped from a 1987 VHS copy, Professor Murder and I sat down for 83 minutes of preview mayhem.
Mad Ron's Prevues from Hell isn't just a trailer compilation; director Jim Monaco places the clips in between a sort-of "frame story," involving a movie theatre invaded by the living dead. Mad Ron, the projectionist, threads trailers for the ghastly, the exploitative, and the extremely violent while we're "entertained" by Nick (Nick Pawlow) and his zombie dummy Happy. Happy tells... well, I'd be lying if I called them "jokes," but that's what the tape-turned-DVD wants you to regard them as. When Nick and Happy aren't cracking wise, the "film" (I'm using that very loosely) cuts away to zombies getting into hi jinks like pouring blood on popcorn, eating guts, and pulling eyeballs out.
I suppose it's worth noting (because the back of the DVD does) that the effects were done by Jordu Schell, who later went on to work on Avatar, and the gore is pretty good. The tape itself feels like a "let's put on a show" production from locals who wanted to play the living dead while trailers string the story together. They aren't always horror, but you're in for a pretty good selection of full frame, fuzzy, beat up ads for films like Three on a Meathook, Torso, House of Exorcism, The Wizard of Gore, Flesh Feast, Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, Fangs of the Living Dead, Black Christmas (advertised as Silent Night, Evil Night), Sisters, and Mad Doctor of Blood Island.
Towards the end, the trailers wander off into exploitation territory, with movies like Africa Addio (identified here as Africa Blood and Guts), Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS, and some 3-D porno which is presented partially in 3-D (in case you have glasses handy). Does it run a little long? Maybe. Are the Nick and Happy segments kinda tedious? Oh, you bet. Does the anti-piracy warning at the end serve any purpose other than one more gore effect? Not really.
Despite the very low budget-ed nature of Mad Ron's Prevues from Hell, the myriad of detracting factors working against it, and the fact that it's clearly just a video cassette plopped onto a DVD, I'm highly considering showing the disc at Horror Fest during pre-festivities. It's just entertaining enough that audiences in the right frame of mind could get a kick out of the old school vibe.