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The Grindhouse Trailer That Inspired Edgar Wright’s ‘Don’t’

The elegant art of grindhouse trailer narration needs to come back. Who’s with us?
By  · Published on April 29th, 2020

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As if a Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez double bill weren’t enough, 2007’s Grindhouse came packaged with fake, wildly entertaining fake trailers that served as love letters to the golden age of exploitation marketing. These “coming attractions” were directed by big names in contemporary horror and harkened back to an advertising art form that has (unfortunately) faded from fashion.

The fictional film advertised in Don’t would be, by Edgar Wright‘s admission, absolute nonsense. But the well trained (sadistic, bottom-feeding) eye can pick out some intertextual nods. There are clear moments of homage to 1970s horror flicks like The Amityville Horror, but a hat tip to Roddy McDowall’s bangs in The Legend of Hell House isn’t what most folks remember from Wright’s trailer. It’s the combination of narration and text: the imperative orders to not, under any circumstances, see this film. No matter what the hell it’s about.

As Wright explains in a segment for Trailers From Hell, the inspiration for Don’t‘s textual commands comes courtesy of the trailer for a 1968 film called CorruptionA pretty blatant rip-off of Eyes Without A Face, it concerns a deranged surgeon (Peter Cushing) who discovers he can restore his girlfriend’s disfigured face by murdering other women and extracting fluids from their pituitary glands.

Corruption is best remembered as the picture that dragged Cushing into the era of gritty 70s horror — kicking and screaming, of course. And that’s precisely what the trailer for Corruption hopes to exploit: this is a film so intense that women won’t be able to take it. THEREFORE (as the trailer boldly proclaims like a psyched-up WWE announcer) women won’t be allowed to attend the film unaccompanied. Amazing.

Each of the fake trailers for Grindhouse attaches itself to some lovingly remembered aspect of exploitation cinema, be it sexualized nazis or holiday-themed slashers or, in Wright’s case, aggressive marketing campaigns for films that are, otherwise, complete nonsense.

You can watch the trailer for Corruption here:

Who made this?

They don’t make ’em like they used to. And by “’em” I mean grindhouse trailers, and by “they” I mean whatever marketing savant edited together the trailer for Corruption. The film itself was directed by Robert Hartford-Davis, the man behind Gonks Go Beat, the swinging ’60s take on Romeo and Juliet that features a drum battle.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).