Trailer Camp

Running time: 71 MIN.

Running time: 71 MIN.

Anatural for film festivals and specialized nontheatrical venues, “Trailer Camp” is a glib and genially slapdash compilation of movie trailers ranging from the “The Lawless Breed” (1952) to “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” (1985).

Archivist Jenni Olson (former co-director of the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Film Festival) eschews narration, historical context and even strict chronological order. Rather, she simply offers one trailer after another — many of them in strikingly poor condition — and invites viewers to giggle at camp subtexts, both intended and accidental. A little of this goes a long way, and Olson wisely keeps her compilation to less than 75 minutes.

One lengthy segment comes off as a John Travolta career retrospective, with trailers for “Saturday Night Fever,” “Stayin’ Alive,” “Grease,” “Perfect” and the notorious “Moment by Moment.” For sheer high-camp hilarity, however, none of the Travolta bits can match the spectacularly silly trailers for “Sextette” (showcasing a near-immobile Mae West), “Can’t Stop the Music” and the disco-themed “Thank God It’s Friday.”

“Trailer Camp” mixes obvious choices (Raquel Welch in “Kansas City Bomber,” Faye Dunaway in “Mommie Dearest”) with not-so-obvious ones (Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “The Gospel According to St. Matthew,” resplendent with critical hyperbole). There’s also at least one genuine rarity: a trailer for “Chastity” ( 1969), an early (and not half-bad) attempt by Cher at straight dramatic acting.

Trailer Camp

(Trailer compilation)

Production: An Artistic License Films production. Curated by Jenni Olson. In color, B&W. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival, Sept. 13, 1995. (Also in Sundance Film Festival -- Midnight.)

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