Friday, January 31, 2014

I WONDER WHO’S KILLING HER NOW (1975)





Directed by Steven Hillard Stern
Written by Mickey Rose
Starring Bob Dishy, Joanna Barnes, Bill Dana, Harvey Jason, Severn Darden, Vito Scotti

I actually watched this one a while back, but have not bothered with a review. At first I think I was overwhelmed, but now I think I might have been underwhelmed.
Basic plot is that Jordan Oliver (Bob Dishy) has embezzled money from his father’s company. His wife Clarice (Joanna Barnes) is leaving him because he is worthless so he takes out an insurance policy and has a contract to have her killed.
Then he realizes he can’t go through with it and tracks down the hired gun. Unfortunately, the hitman hired another guy because he didn’t need all the money.
This happens several times and eventually, Jordan is on his way to Las Vegas with an entourage of bizarre and weird characters to stop the murder.
I don’t know. This should have been funny. The director has done good work like ROLLING VENGEANCE, a personal favorite, but this is just lifeless. The writer is a veteran of some pretty good television from the Golden Age and everything just falls flat. The whole thing has a poverty row version of IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD and seems grimy and worthless.

It was fun to spot all the people I have seen in television and movies over the decades, I just wish it had been in a better movie.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

THE VIRGIN QUEEN OF ST. FRANCIS HIGH (1987)




Directed by Francesco Lucente
Written by Francesco Lucente
Starring Joseph R. Straface, Stacy Christensen, J.T. Wotton, Anna Lisa Iapaolo, Lee Barringer

I saw the title of this and said, ‘Cool! I loves me some teen comedy.’ Yeah, I really do. Too bad there was none of that evident in this movie.
We start in some club where we determine that it is where teen agers hang out to socialize, dance and, apparently, drink. There is a lot of drinking here. I understand that it is shot in Canada. Is there a lot of underage drinking in Canada?
So, Mike (Joseph R. Straface) bets his buddy Randy (Lee Barringer) that he can bed beauty queen Diane (Stacy Christensen) before the summer is over. With the help of his buddy Charlie (J.T. Wotton), Mike is determined to win that bet.
He dreams about saving her as a spy fighting against Lee who is an evil spy. He lies to Diane’s mother about looking like the Elephant Man and eventually wears Diane down enough that she agrees to go to some place up in the woods where there are cabins and bears who try to kill them in the middle of the night.
They discover love, but Mike doesn’t want Diane to find out about the bet and Randy is just interested in trashing her virtuous reputation.
Oh no, what will happen?
I admit to having watched movies with less of a plot, but they have a lot more things that this movie does not. Funny dialogue, acting, nudity, fart jokes. Any of this would have been just fine. I mean the video box is trying to pass itself off as some FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH clone.
The end credits list that the movie had an original title that escapes me and I’m too lazy to go back and check. They do thank God first in the end credits which is always nice, but it sort of explains how the film is so chaste.
It makes me wonder if Crown International Pictures knew what they had before they bought it. Can you imagine being at the drive in for this thing back in the day. I’m pretty sure it would have pissed me off. As it is now it just bored me.
Lead actress Christiansen is very pretty to look at and lead actor Straface is probably the worst actor on the planet. If his dialogue was any more wooden you could have carved Pinocchio out of it.    

This makes WEEKEND PASS look good.


SAVAGE WEEKEND (1979)

I like how the back of the box practically gives away the end of the movie.

Directed by David Paulsen
Written by David Paulsen
Starring Christopher Allport, Jim Doeer, David Gale, Devin Goldenberg, Marilyn Hamlin, Caitlin O’Heaney, William Sanderson, Yancy Butler

Let’s do the plot first before we get into the meat an potatoes here, because I really, really remember the first time I saw this thing.
The movie starts with a scene from the end out of context. It makes you think one thing, but it’s something else altogether. You’ll see.
Marie (Marilyn Hamlin) is going to the country with her new boyfriend, Greg (Jeff Pomerantz) He has someone working on a boat for him, but Otis (William Sanderson) is a slacker so Greg is bringing his buddy Jay (Devin Goldberg) out to help on the boat. Marie is bringing her sister, Shirley (Caitlin O’Heaney) along and, for no other reason I can think of than they needed a flamboyant gay man along for the ride, they bring Nicky (Christopher Allport).
Once they get out there it is obvious that Otis is insane. Shirley lets Jay have his way with her and Greg and Marie rut around when time permits. Handyman/Lumberjack Mac (David Gale) makes eyes at Marie and she wants to let him, but stops herself.
Then the killer shows up. Wearing work gloves and a crummy rubber mask he cuts a bloody swath through the city folk. One of the more imaginative deaths is Nicky who gets a hat pin through the ear into the brain. Another one involving a table saw with faulty wiring is actually a little funny when we get to the payoff.
In the end, the killer is revealed. It’s no big surprise and the remaining survivor is left with a giant plate of mental scarring.
I remember watching one of my favorite slasher flicks, HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE (1980) My brother and I went to see it at the theater and there’s the scene in the beginning where the girl gets stabbed in the movie theater. Yeah, we looked behind us. Yes, there was a guy sitting behind us and, yes, we changed seats. Go ahead, laugh. I do everytime I remember this.
Anyway, I really liked the lead in the flick, Caitlin O’Heaney so, when I saw this movie at the mom and pop rental store I knew I had to try it. Imagine my surprise when we get a lot of her naked in this film. The ladies in the film are pretty sparse so we get as much naked as they can give us. Sure there is the flashback scene where Otis brands his woman’s chest with an H because she’s a whore, Otis can’t spell, but that scene is a little gruesome. There are a few gore scenes that work pretty well in here. Besides the branding there is a chainsaw ripping through flesh that looks pretty good.
And we get to see David Gale as a lumberjack, compete with handlebar mustache. How cool is that. And for all you sharp eyed folk that spotted Yancy Butler of Witchblade fame up there in the credits. Yeah, she’s Mac’s little girl and has one scene. She’s six.
This is a movie of it’s time. Slasher flicks were just starting and the video store movement helped get this thing out there. The more I think about it the more I might have actually seen this in a theater first. I haven’t watched it since the 80s and it has remained etched into my brain better than much more important things.
Weird how that works, isn’t it?
Final thing. Christopher Allport played Nicky like the perfect gay caricature of a man and he was fun to see in the movie. His career spanned decades from things like TO LIVE AND DIE IN LA to those God Awful Jack Frost movies. Not the Michael Keaton one, the psycho killer snowman ones. Anyway, I saw that he died and I was a little sad. Then IMDb was kind enough to list cause of death.
Avalanche.
Really???
Avalanche???
That is a unique way to check out and he was always good in whatever I saw him in. He will be missed.

SAVAGE WEEKEND is something for all slasher fans to make sure they don’t miss. Go see it for Nicky. You’ll be glad you did.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

JIVE TURKEY (1974)




Directed by Bill Braeme
Written by Fredricka DeCosta
Starring Frank DeKova, Paul Harris, Frances E. Williams, Reginald Farmer, Don Edmonson & Larry Greene.

Also known as BABY NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF SHOES, A terrible title if there ever was one, deals with the Italian Mob wanting to cut in on Pasha’s (Paul Harris) number running. The head of the family Big Tony (Frank DeKova) warns Pasha that he has  a man on the inside and knows everything. Pasha tells him to get stuffed and lets his assassin Serene (Don Edmonson) kill one of Big Tony’s flunkies.
Sweetman (Reginald Farmer) is Pasha’s number one number runner and soon it becomes obvious that LA is going to become a blood bath if something isn’t done. And, to make matters worse, it’s an election year and the mayor has decided that number running will be his crusade to win the election. Forget about the drugs and prostitution. People gambling must be stopped.
JIVE TURKEY is a slice of blaxploitation from the 70s. Loud suits, jive talking and some of the bloodier murders I’ve seen in this kind of picture. Serene kills two hitmen by drugging them and bashing their faces in with her high heels. Pasha destroys a thugs face with the butt of his gun and blood spurts covering everything. At the end when the stool pigeon gets gunned down in a phone booth the red is literally everywhere.
In the beginning it does say it is based on fact and things have been changed to protect the innocent, but there aren’t really any innocents in this movie. Every character is bad and sort of get what’s coming to them in the end.

If you think you’ve seen all te blaxploitation out there and have never heard of this low budget semi classic, you should definitely give it a watch.   

Monday, January 20, 2014

BLACK HOOKER (1974)

Great Poster. Most of the images never happen in the movie.


Directed by Arthur Roberson
Written by Arthur Roberson
Starring Durey Mason, Sandra Alexandra, Jeff Burton & Kathryn Jackson

Also known as STREET SISTERS, this is the only film made by the writer/director and it's based on a play that he wrote. The basic concept is that The Painted Woman (Sandra Alexandra) leaves her all white bastard child (Teddy Quinn) with Grandma (Kathryn Jackson) and Grandpa (Jeff Burton). Grandpa is the local preacher for all the colored folks and they live on a farm in the middle of nowhere. I would guess by certain clothing styles and the cars that we are firmly in the 1920s. So, having a blonde haired, blue eyed little boy running around was a bit of a shock.
To make sure we know what the title of the movie is, we get The Painted Woman doing her job with a white john. Afterwards, her pimp beats the Hell out of him and we aren't really sure why.
Years pass and The Boy (Durey Mason) has grown into a man, but they still refer to him as the boy. No one in this movie has a name. The Boys' child hood companion the Girl (Mary Reed, played by Gioya Roberson as a youngster. Related perhaps?) seem to be in love, but one day The Boy comes home and finds his Grandpa in the barn with The Girl having sex.
He has had enough, he leaves the farm and goes to the city to find his mother, but she wants nothing to do with him. He gets a job at a local store but the owner's wife(Stevie Freeman) puts the moves on him and the owner(Donald Blades) catches them.
Apparently, after that the Boy goes to school and he tells his Grandma he is coming to get her to take her to his graduation. The Painted Lady arrives first and the fight between her and Grandpa is too much for her old heart to take and she dies. We then get a weird, sepia tone funeral in the desert with a bizarre coffin. The Boy grieves for the only person in the world who loved him and in the end his mother snaps him back to reality and tells her she is sick and needs his mercy and help in her time of trouble.
This is too much for The Boy and he snaps, killing his mother.
When he sees what he has done he cries out for help.
The screen goes black.
The end.

Seems a little odd doesn't it? It makes me wonder what the exploitation crowd must have thought when they saw it. Sure, we do get two scenes of obligatory nudity in the film, but it comes with this weird vibe throughout the film. I can guess that since the playwright also wrote the screenplay and directed the film that he might have been too close to the project. Some of the cinematography by Foley Artist Joseph Holsen in breathtaking. It looks as good as it might ever get. I do wish that it had been presented widescreen. It is obvious that we are losing acres of information on both sides of the screen.

I also wonder if a longer print exists. After the Owner of the store confronts The Boy with his wife we get nothing else. No resolution. We never get a reason why the pimp beats up The Painted Lady's first john in the film. Usually that is done to roll the sucker and take all of his cash, but they just pound the guy and throw him down some stairs. Why?

Grandpa, Grandma and the child actor who played The Boy in the beginning have all gone on to make other films, but that was it. The rest of this cast is a single movie listing and that is it.

Just an odd, creepy, weird flick. Not at all what I expected when I saw the title BLACK HOOKER.

That might have been a good thing.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

WEEKEND PASS (1984)




Directed by Lawrence Bassoff
Written by Lawrence Bassoff
Starring D.W. Brown, Peter Ellenstein, Patrick Houser, Chip McAllister, Phil Hartman & Hillary Sheperd

In case you aren't sure what the movie is about, the opening, annoying repetitive song tells you that four guys from basic training in the Navy are about to experience the LA of the 80's with a WEEKEND PASS. Paul, the comedian (D.W. Brown), Lester, the nerd (Peter Ellenstein), Webster, the blonde stud (Patrick Houser) and the brother from the other side of the tracks, Bunker Hill (Chip McAllister).
Like any good weekend pass we start at a strip club. This is a good thing since it is practically all the nudity we get in the film with an exception later in the picture. You expect partying and carousing and drinking and incredible antics? Yeah, so did I. This movie is pretty tame for a Crown International feature.
Like all good Crown International features we get a few montage musical numbers, the obligatory nudity I mentioned earlier and there is even a dance number.
Sort of.
Now, that I think of it there are like three dance numbers in the flick. This is a lot of dancing for a movie that is not about dancing or a musical. Weird.
In the end the boys all meet good girls, promise they will call them and then back on the boat when the movie is over.
Kind of dull.
The one shining spot is the comedy club scene. Paul is going to get his big shot onstage.
One problem.
He kinda sucks.
But, that's okay. The MC for the night, one Joe Chicago, is played by none other than Phil Hartman. He is funny as he always was, but it made me a little sad seeing him now that he's gone.
Overall, as a T&A comedy of the 80's I would have to give WEEKEND PASS...well, a pass.
Sorry, I knew that was bad before I wrote it. Couldn't help myself.
Maybe I'll go watch TOMBOY again.

MINI COMICS

New post over at the 3/4 Tie Productions site. I'm hawking my wares folks!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

TOMBOY (1985)




Directed by Herb Freed
Written by Ben Zelig
Starring Betsy Russell, Gerard Christopher, Kristi Somers, Richard Erdman, Philip Sterling, Eric Douglas & Paul Gunning

TOMBOY lets us know where we are from the beginning. A flashback to our lead Tommy (Betsy Russell) winning at a baseball game with her proud, astronaut father in attendance.
Then a long crawl of credits as we pan over everything in her bedroom. The alarm goes off, her dog wakes her up and we see she has grown into a woman. She is also the best mechanic in the city, maybe even the world.
She also has a secret crush for professional race car driver Randy Starr (Gerard Christopher) who is being sponsored by local rich kid, Ernie Leeds Jr., or Junior for short (Eric Douglas).
Thanks to her outgoing friend Seville (Kristi Somers) Tommy is dragged up to Juniors’ mansion where she falls hard for Randy. But, Randy treats her like a girl and she knows she can beat him with her hand built race car so, the gauntlet if thrown!
This is a classic 80’s teen comedy that Crown International is known for. Sprinkled with ample nudity, long, drawn out sex scenes of the R variety and musical numbers and montages throughout the film. In fact, this one had so many songs in it I made an attempt to track down any of the bands that contributed to the film.
Yeah, I couldn’t find one of them. Anyone else interested in trying their hand at this, here is the list of performers;

SOUVENIR (Not the 1999 band. They wouldn’t have been around for this.)
P.F. SOLO
BRITTANY
MOSES
LINDA STEVENS-FOOTE
LONNIE ALAN
SNUFF

Good luck and if you do find something substantial I will include it in the book and give you credit as well.

Now, back to the movie. Tommy’s friend, Seville while energetic just comes across as a dumb blonde. When I first saw Eric Douglas I thought he was the lead singer of Wang Chung, not the dead son of Kirk Douglas. Who knew? Yeah, I know everyone except for me.
In the credits on IMDB and other places they say that Tommy’s actual name is Tomasina. It’s like they don’t read the credits in a movie. It just says Tomboy so Tommy would be a natural progression.
With the exception of the awful hairdo, Betsy Russell is gorgeous in the film and I like that she has renewed interest as Jill Tuck, the ex wife of Jigsaw from the SAW film franchise.
The film JUST ONE OF THE GUYS was released the same year so it may have been an influence on this film while sharing nothing in common plot wise, but seems like something Crown International would do to capitalize on the publicity surrounding the higher budget flick.
TOMBOY is a classic formula flick for 80’s teen comedies. This being the third one I’ve watched in the last few days I can see that there is a specific formula for the ones coming from Crown International. They all have a slow motion love making scene that goes longer than anyone wants. They all have a minimum of two music montage scenes, probably because nothing pads out that 90 minutes running time like a montage.
While I prefer MY CHAUFFEUR over this primarily for the presence of Deborah Foreman, this is still a great flick of its time.
And all the cars are cool. Tommy’s car has this weird control panel that is reminiscent of Knight Rider and has a weird intake scoop in the back.
A fun flick with an overdose of 80’s pop music that no one 

Friday, January 17, 2014

MALIBU BEACH (1978)



Directed by Robert J.Rosenthal
Written by Celia Susan Cotelo & Robert J. Rosenthal
Starring Kim Lankford, James Daughton, Susan Player, Michael Luther & Steve Oliver

MALIBU BEACH starts with school getting out for the year. Kids running everywhere and three cheerleaders give a little cheer before someone asks our lead Dina (Kim Lankford) where she’s going.
Malibu Beach, of course!
Bobby (James Daughton) and Paul (Michael Luther) are cruising around in Bobby’s customized Jeep. Dina is a lifeguard for the summer. Muscle man Dugan (Steve Oliver) is putting the movies on teacher Ms. Plickett (Flora Plumb) to no avail.
It’s just another summer on Malibu Beach.
And that might be why this movie is just so damned dull.
There is no plot of any kind in this movie. Bobby and Dugan don’t get along and we have no idea why. There is no huge drag race at the end or no plot to get even with another group of kids or fight the cops or anything. The only one with an agenda is a dog that steals bikini tops on the beach so we get plenty of nudity to go along with, well nothing.
Sure, Bobby and Dugan have a swim off at the end and Bobby is almost eaten by a really fake looking shark at the end, but that’s about it.
And you have to realize that I love this genre of movie. I am a huge fan of the classic 70’s teen comedy and this one is so flat and thin and just kind of rolls along for it’s 96 minute running time until one of the kids tells a bad joke, they all laugh and then freeze frame, the end.
?????
The one interesting thing about the film is that the character of Dugan also appears in the movie THE VAN (1977) that was pretty good and written by the duo that put pen to paper for this epic. Dugan is even played by the same actor so that means this boring dud takes place in the same continuity of THE VAN so, there’s that, but that isn’t enough.
I’m pretty sure that the girl who runs the snack shack was also in SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS, but I would have to watch the end credits again to really make sure and I’m not quite ready to delve back into this mind numbing land of dull again so soon. Kind of like waiting after you’ve eaten to take the plunge. Yeah, that’s it.
We’ll see.
Maybe.
Probably not.
Still not as bad as ETERNAL EVIL, but still pretty impossible to recommend.

   

Thursday, January 16, 2014

MY CHAUFFEUR (1986)



Directed by David Beaird
Written by David Beaird
Starring Deborah Foreman, Sam Jones, Howard Hessman, Sean McClory, E.G. Marshall & Penn and Teller

Brentwood limousine service is about to get a serious upset to their status quo. Casey Meadows (Deborah Foreman) has been sent a letter from a very powerful man, Witherspoon (E.G. Marshall) to report for work. Casey finds herself in a classic fish out of water scenario when she is introduced into a man’s world of chauffeuring the rich and powerful around. 
Her first gig is hauling around a punk rocker named Cat Fight (Leland Crooke) who makes her stop the limousine so he can liberate a woman in a blue dress with blue hair with a blue dog of her panties.
Yeah, it’s kinda weird.
Then we are introduced to workaholic, Battle (Sam Jones). His girlfriend is breaking up with him in the back of Casey’s limo. Note the girl is the same actress who cut the blonde girls hair free from the door in the party scene from SIXTEEN CANDLES. I didn’t feel like looking up her name. There are a lot of actors like that in this movie. People that relate to a lot of other movies. That old, ‘Hey! I know that guy! He was in…’ kind of thing.
Casey advises Battle to have a drink. Battle has a lot of drinks and it isn’t long before we see more of Sam Jones than we ever wanted to. This leads to her taking him home with her since she has no idea who he is. Nothing happens, but he is not happy waking up with the help.
We discover that Battle is the son of Witherspoon and the elder Witherspoon says that Battle works too much and sends him off to check their vineyards holdings in Sonoma. He takes a limo and guess who his driver is?
Well, the limo breaks down in the middle of nowhere and the pair is forced to walk. They wind up at a house in the middle of nowhere with a couple who invite them in. He is the chubby evil guy from PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE. (Again, not looking it up.) The two of them share a bed and more and in the morning he wants to marry her. She is not interested so he continues to try and try and try.
Eventually they come to his father and he has a big secret for them, but he doesn’t. It seems that he thought he was Casey’s father, but one of the limo drivers comes forth and says he is the actual father. This goes a long way in avoiding an extremely awkward situation. And in the end they get married.
I was happy to see MY CHAUFFEUR in the mega set as it might be the one Deborah Foreman movie I have never seen. I had it bad for her back in the day. I can remember repeated viewings of LOBSTER MAN FROM MARS for no other reason than she was in it. She is extremely cute and gives off this bizarre vibe in the film. Kind of a Cyndi Lauper look and this weird staccato reply to any questions people ask her in the movie. Sometimes, she gets this mischievous smile on her face and you aren’t sure if it’s part of the act or she’s just having this much fun. 
And I have to discuss the end. See, my wife and I saw this coming. It was going to end up with them being brother and sister and that made it creepy. Of course they aren’t related, but when E.G. Marshall does the reveal; Sam and Deborah look at each other, smirk and say Uh-Oh.
Really?
Incest makes for an uh-oh? Man, that played really weird. I mean in the end it turned out that her mom was a cleaning lady and slept with a lot of limo drivers. It was the 80’s so being a slut is better than banging your sister.
And, yes, Penn and Teller are in it. It’s weird though in that the only cast member they interact with is Foreman. It seems forced and a little long. It’s sweet in the end, but it seemed totally unnecessary.

In the end MY CHAUFFEUR is definitely a product of it’s time and Foreman is cute and manages to keep her clothes on when everyone else around her is losing theirs. Even Flash Gordon.

EVIL BRAIN FROM OUTER SPACE (1956)



Directed by Koreyoshi & Akira Mitsuwa
Written by Akira Mitsuwa & Ichiro Miyagawa
Starring Ken Utsui, Junko Ikeuchi & Minoru Takada

The evil genius Balazar, from the planet Zemar has become a living brain bent on the conquest of the universe. His first stop is Earth and the only one who can stop him is Starman (Ken Utsui).  Created by the Emerald Planet, Starman is made of unbreakable metal and with his Globe-Meter he can fly through space, detect radiation and speak and understand any language. Add to the fact that he is invulnerable to any damage and Balazar has his hands pretty full.
EVIL BRAIN FROM OUTER SPACE began life as the final three SUPER GIANT films from Japan; THE SPACE MUTANT APPEARS, THE DEVIL’S INCARNATION & THE POISON MOTH KINGDOM. The total running time of the three films was 159 minutes and they are edited down into one, incomprehensible mess of 78 minutes for this feature.
Reflecting the attitude of American serials of the 40’s there is a lot of fight scenes and men in tights. Even the bad guys wear spandex. Black, of course, to offset Starman’s white costume. It is odd that when he’s not Starman he wears a black suit and the bad guys wear white trench coats. Kind of a Yin Yang thing I guess.
There are some odd monsters that are veiny and weird looking from the waist up and then spandex from the waist down. Spandex, I might add, that could have benefited from the actor wearing some sort of undergarment. These pants are too tight and show more than we should have to endure in a superhero flick. Starman also seems to have this particular wardrobe malfunction, but, if you believe the hype, they did this on purpose to make him more attractive to the ladies.
Whatever. Yeesh!
A hat’s off to whomever the insane editor was who could make this into a feature at all. Characters show up and disappear at the drop of a hat. And, after a while, you think the bad guys would just stop wasting the bullets. They know he’s bulletproof, but they continue to blast Starman at every opportunity.
I did think it was funny that when the movie was over, it was just over. Starman bid farewell and headed back to The Emerald Planet to get away from us. The evil brain is melted and he is out of there.

Of the three Starman movies, I think this one for its pure insanity remains my favorite. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

RETURN OF THE KUNG FU DRAGON (1976)



Directed by Chick Lim Yu
Written by Lee Gee-Sun
Starring Sun Kuan, Rin Feng, Chang Li, Sing Chen, Lee Chung-Gian, Yu-chiao Szema and Tsai Hon

RETURN OF THE KUNG FU DRAGON is a classic tale of revenge. There is an evil man who goes to The Golden City on Phoenix Island to wrest control of the kingdom from the good emperor and rule The Golden City. The three generals that protect the island are defeated, but not before the princess is whisked away to the old man on the mountain who places an impenetrable fog around the base of the island for nineteen years.
Flash forward nineteen years and all the children of the generals have grown and are ready for the appearance of the princess to lead them to victory against the evil emperor.
This is a standard Kung-Fu epic. There is lots of posed fighting and it always sounds like someone is hitting a plastic couch with a broom handle. While there is nothing special about the film there were a few things I really did enjoy.
One of the daughters of the generals always stamped her feet when fighting. Some bizarre kind of Horse style of Kung-Fu.
The evil emperor has a magician with a long flowing white beard that he can actually use in a fight. The beard has a mind of its own and can punch people. I wish my beard knew how to fight. That would be cool.
Finally, the evil emperor. He had his go to move. whenever someone told him some important news he would give a hearty laugh and then slap the taste out of someone's mouth.
These things made it more of a fun flick, but still pretty standard fare after sitting through about a hundred of these things.
Now, for the weird part. The original name of the movie is Ju Ma Pao, it is a Taiwanese film and if you do a standard IMDB search you come up with the film as far as director and stars and all, but the synopsis is for Sonny Chiba's RETURN OF THE STREET FIGHTER. Weird
One last thing. I have always found people of Eastern descent in films to be quite attractive. Probably the whole exotic thing, but this movie has just some of the homeliest people to every grace a film frame. There is the good wizard's tiny henchman who looks like a troll and is wearing no makeup. A couple of the women are alright, but so many of them just have this horse face that makes you wince when they do the classic zoom in shot with the dramatic music that fills this genre of film. Just not attractive.
Blech.

Finally, if you're bored, go ahead and watch for yourself;

  

Sunday, January 12, 2014

ETERNAL EVIL (1985)

I didn't want to show you a movie poster of this one. It gives the illusion that the movie might be good.

Directed by George Mihalka
Written by Robert Geoffrian
Starring Winston Rekert, Karen Black, John Novak, Patty Talbot, Vlasta Vrana and Andrew Bednarski

Paul Sharpe (Winston Rekert) directs commercials. He did do a movie, The Wandering Soul, but that was his last film and it has been seven years. The basic premise of his film was that of Astral Projection. He really likes Astral Projection and runs into a woman, Janus (Karen Black) who shows him how easy it is. The opening of the film is actually him travelling to his father in law's house where he upsets the dog.  His son, Matthew (Andrew Bednarski) wakes him from the state before anything...interesting occurs.
The rest of the film follows Paul on his day; shooting commercials, visiting his shrink, you know, typical stuff. Well, except for when his shrink is murdered. His insides look scrambled and every rib in his chest is broken. Paul sees this in his astral state, but it isn't registering as real for him. When they go to visit his father in law, the dog attacks Paul.
Eventually the father in law is murdered, Matthew is forced to drink paint thinner and Paul's wife is also dead. It seems that Paul is killing people with his mind.
Or is he?
I have to tell you that when I saw director George Milhalka's name on the credits I was excited. He directed MY BLOODY VALENTINE and  PINBALL SUMMER, two of my favorite films of all time. So, this was going to be amazing. A guy who kills people in his astral form.
This was going to be so cool!
Only, it wasn't.
The entire soundtrack sounds like the bastard child of Miami Vice. Karen Black is wasted in this role. Even when she gets the opportunity to go over the top it is too little too late. The entire film is bloodless, unlike VALENTINE and boobless, unlike PINBALL. The whole thing just comes across as...dull.
Most of the footage is too dark and unwatchable. Even the day scenes could have used a little extra light. I'm not sure what happened here, but you know that when the climax of the film is about to begin and all will be revealed and I nod off and awaken in time to see the ending credits, you know this is one boring film.
Yes, as a professional, I did go back and see what I missed. I discovered that it wasn't much and the twist at the end wasn't much of a twist.
In the scheme of a two hundred movie set, one really bad one is bound to occur. I have actually allowed for about 20 of them to just stink on ice, but this one might have to count for three or four of them.
Just. So. Bad.

BLOOD MANIA (1970)


Directed by Robert O’Neil
Written by Peter Carpenter, Tony Crechales & Toby Sacher
Starring Peter Carpenter, Maria De Aragon, Vicki Peters, Reagan Wilson, Jacqueline Dalya, Leslie Simms, Eric Allison, Arell Blanton, Alex Rocco & Reid ‘Chip’ Smith

Ridgeley Waterman (Eric Allison) is dying. Bound to his bed by a debilitating illness he relies on the ministrations of his daughter, Victoria (Maria De Aragon, who is most famous for playing Greedo in Star Wars, but I really liked her in WONDER WOMEN (1973)). His protégé Dr. Craig Cooper (Peter Carpenter) checks up on him and makes sure that Nurse Turner (Leslie Simms) keeps Ridgeley away from the brandy.
Unfortunately, for Dr. Cooper he has a dark secret. During medical school he did some abortions and now a blackmailer (Arell Blanton, who’s character doesn’t have a name, but he manages to bring his sleazy A game to the table.) has him by the short and curlies for 50 large.
Luckily, Victoria has a thing for Dr. Cooper and wants him for herself. After seducing him she realizes that if she kills Daddy with an amyl nitrate that all of his money will be hers and she can give him the money to stave off the blackmailer.
The deed is done and the lawyer (Alex Rocco playing it as sweaty as possible in his short screen time) arrives with the will. The will and Ridgeley’s other daughter, Gail (Vicki Peters) (Insert dramatic music here).
Victoria isn’t worried. She is the one that took care of her father. She is entitled, right? Yeah, except Daddy has a few secrets of his own and one of those involves getting all rapey with Gail so with that kind of guilt he naturally gives Gail all the money.
Victoria snaps and is placed under sedation.
Now Dr. Cooper has to seduce the other sister to get his blood money, but something unexpected happens; he falls in love. I would like to mention at this point that Dr. Cooper did start the film with a gorgeous girlfriend, Cheryl (Reagan Wilson) who was willing to give herself to the blackmailer to help out. It didn’t work, but her heart was in the right place. Cheryl gets swept under the rug pretty quick. Poor Cheryl.
Victoria appears to have recovered from her violent tendencies and they send the nurse home and leave her bedroom door unlocked. After all, what could happen? She has made nice with her sister. Everything is warm and fuzzy. Right?
It takes Victoria about five minutes to locate a really heavy lamp and pummel Gail to death. Dr, Cooper suspects something is rotten at the Waterman estate and heads over in time to discover the body. In a panic he hides the body and starts to piece together a plausible alibi.
That’s when Victoria screams. He looks to the door and sees the dead body of Gail standing there. She falls to reveal the blackmailer and Dr. Cooper, realizing what this means snaps. His mind gone his gaze is one of madness as the screen freeze frames.
BLOOD MANIA is a blueprint for every erotic thriller ever shown on Cinemax. It has gorgeous settings, lots of nudity, a sinister sub plot and terrible acting. It’s on the scale of an R rated soap opera.
Now, the director knows his exploitation stuff. Responsible for both ANGEL films (You know, Honor Student by day Hooker by night) and it shows here with the material. The execution though comes across as arty farty. Some of the camera work is fine, but some of it appears very posed and stilted. I’m not too surprised as there are two cinematographers for this; Gary Graver and Bob Maxwell. Some is shot very natural, I would give those shots to Graver and then the weird camera angles and posed situations are probably Maxwell’s. Of course, I could be completely wrong, but I doubt it.
BLOOD MANIA still works. Sure, the clothes are dated as is the dialogue, but the basic plot still plays for the fan of the erotic thriller.
I do find it funny that the lead villainess, Victoria has become famous for a part where we can’t even see her. As Greedo we don’t even hear her voice, but because of the Star Wars phenomenon she has become very popular.
The one I feel sorry for here is Peter Carpenter. IN only four films, starting with Russ Meyer’s VIXEN! BLOOD MANIA is his third film. One of two that he helped write as well. A decent looking fella with rugged good looks, Carpenter collapsed from a cerebral hemorrhage. I imagine he would have had a long career in film and to be cut short so soon is a shame. Plus, the ending shot of this film shows he could play crazy. He would have been really good at crazy.
In the end BLOOD MANIA trail blazed the way for uncountable erotic thrillers, showed us what Greedo looks like naked and gave us Alex Rocco at his sweatiest. Bravo BLOOD MANIA! Job well done.

EXTRA SPECIAL EXTRA PART!

I have the honor of being an acquaintance of Gary Kent. Gary Kent is a stuntman, director, actor, writer. You name it and he has probably done it better than you. He also wrote this awesome book called Shadows & Light that you can buy HERE.
Anyway, I saw that he was the production manager for this film so I picked his brain a little and he answered my inane questions.
Thanks, Gary!

What was your role in Blood Mania?

On this film, the mgt of, and directing of the film, were difficult, as the budgets were low . We had some great people on crew, though, guys like cinematographers Gary Graver and Bob Maxwell, etc. I some ways, I miss those days where you just got a camera, a couple of friends, and just went out and got it done!!!

Peter Carpenter seemed like one of those talented people that was taken too soon. What are your memories of him?

Peter Carpenter was a very nice guy. Very good looking, sure of himself...he had many ventures going besides film , and was on the phone a lot talking to his various endeavors and their minions. He was always in a good mood, had a dynamite girl-friend, joked with the crew, thanked everyone at day's end...

Vicki Peters (Gail in the film) comes across as the epitome of stupid blonde in the film. What was she like in real life?

I do not remember Vickie well, except that she was also a nice person, very polite and not a diva in any sense. Kept to herself and a friend or two most of the shoot.

Alex Rocco as the lawyer seemed to be trying to get as much attention as possible in the movie and played it super sweaty even though no one else in the scene was perspiring. What was he like on the film?

Alex has always seemed a  bit full of himself to me...and this proves it...enough said?

Finally, do you have any personal remembrances from the making of the film? It comes across as the blueprint of the erotic thriller that used to be the mainstay of Cinemax late night.

This film helped spawn the career of Director Robert O'Niel...I had worked several Richard Rush films with him as a prop man/set-dresser, me as a stuntman...suddenly he was directing, and as I was doing some production managing at the time, he asked me to join him on his films...it was a great relationship, and we are friends to this day. He was just down here in Austin, where they showed some of his other films at the Alamo. Good times were discussed over dinner and drinks.



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

DEATH FORCE (A.K.A. FIGHTING MAD) (1978)






Directed by Cirio H. Santiago
Written by Howard R. Cohen
Starring James Iglehart, Carmen Argenziano, Leon Issac Kennedy, Jayne Kennedy, Joe Mari Avellana, Joonee Gambona and Vic Diaz

Doug Russell (James Iglehart), Morelli (Carmen Argenziano) and McGee (Leon Issac Kennedy, billed as Leon Issac) are three Vietnam Vets riding home from the war on a cargo plane full of caskets. In a pit stop in the Phillipines they unload a coffin full of gold and sell it to a local warlord (Vic Diaz). On the boat ride back to the city, Morelli and McGee do a little math and decide that money splits better in half. They stab Russell and throw him in the ocean.
But, Doug Russell is tough. Really tough. He washes up on a little island inhabited by two relics from World War 2. One is a soldier (Joonee Gambona) and the other is a samurai (Joe Mari Avellana). They save Doug and teach him the way of the samurai.
Meanwhile, Morelli and McGee are taking over the crime in Los Angeles and McGee is putting the moves on Doug's woman, Maria (Jayne Kennedy). Maria is more interested in her singing career and taking care of her little boy than anything McGee has to offer.
Meanwhile, on the island, the old man falls in an accident and dies. Soon after a small squad of soldiers come on the island and take Doug with them. The samurai stays hidden. He knows the world is no longer what he remembers and hides from the squad of men. Well, after he kills two of them. They never address that in the movie. Hmmmm.
So, now Doug is back in town and cutting a bloody swath through the gangs of LA. He fights the gangs of Chinatown, the Italian mob. He keeps getting closer and closer to the two men that left him for dead.
DEATH FORCE is a classic piece of action. You have the hero screwed over and coming back for revenge. James Iglehart is a beast of a man, probably well know for BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS and BAMBOO GODS AND IRON MEN. The sword in his hands looks puny, but he does manage to put it to good use.
I put both posters at the top because, well I think I might be ticked off if I went to see the first one. It makes it appear as another Leon Issac Kennedy/Jayne Kennedy vehicle where they get together and have to fight against oppression...or whatever.
Yeah, she is Iglehart's woman in this flick and Leon is a vile, evil man in this one. The second poster is a little closer to home.
The movie is surprising because, for the most part, it is relatively bloodless. It kind of lulls you into that mindset and then the final battle in Mexico comes where Doug storms McGee's hideout. There is arterial spray, decapitations that send the heads flying in a bloody arc through the air. It throws you off guard and makes for a better movie.
This is, as I said before, classic action with everything that comes from that.
Can't go wrong with some classic 70's action.
I also like that the lead character is named Doug. Us Doug's don't get too many of those.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

NIGHTMARE IN WAX (1969)




Directed by Bud Townsend
Written by Rex Carlton
Starring Cameron Mitchell, Lawrence Tierney, Bud Cardos, Anne Helm, Berry Kroeger and Victoria Carroll

The film opens on a close up of Cameron Mitchell's eye that becomes the scene of the movie. As make up man Vincent Renard, Mitchell is wooing leading lady Marie Morgan (Anne Helm) from producer Max Black (Berry Kroeger). They are all at a Hollywood party and when Vincent goes to light a cigarette, Max throws a drink in his face setting him alight, scarring his face horribly and causes him to lose an eye.
Shattered, hideous, Vincent starts a wax museum using his skills to make the most life like wax models ever seen before.
One little secret.
Vincent actually came up with a paralyzing drug filled with nutrients that keeps people immobile and healthy for long periods of time. Just because Max got away with disfiguring him and losing his woman doesn't mean he hasn't been scheming on how to destroy Max.
Unfortunately, he has been so consumed with jealousy that the police are getting suspicious. Vincent gets regular visits from Detectives Haskell (Lawrence Tierney) and Carver (Bud Cardos). He tries to throw them off the trail by blaming Max who is after the insurance money. This sort of backfires when he uses Theresa (Victoria Carroll) to lure Max to his workshop where he can inject Max with the serum to make him a mindless, immobile slave. He has to kill Theresa, but not before he torments her with a mad chase through the wax museum.
NIGHTMARE IN WAX is really an opportunity to watch Cameron Mitchell do what he does best, chew the scenery. There are times his true acting ability shines in this bizarre film, but he's stuck in a part that has been done before and done better. The scarred madman who kills to make his wax figures a reality.
Between Vincent Price in HOUSE OF WAX and Lionell Atwill in MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM, what chance does Cameron Mitchell have?
I did give his character credit in that he keeps his victims alive, but it led to a question;
Wouldn't the people age? And even though the injections give the necessary nutrients and vitamins for survival, isn't there still body waste of some kind? Did he outfit them all with a Depends? And whose job is it changing those?  Might have been less complicated just killing them. Worked for Lionell and Vincent.
I just now got that Cameron Mitchell's character was named 'Vincent'. Clever.
NIGHTMARE IN WAX is an interesting addition to the psycho in a wax museum sub genre, but the ending comes across as a monumental cheat...unless you take the title literally.

TERRIFIED (1963)



Directed by Lew Landers
Written by Richard Bernstein
Starring Rod Lauren, Steve Drexel, Tracy Olsen, Stephen Roberts and Denver Pyle

The movie opens with a long shot of a small, old west town, then it dissolves to a graveyard and then a man walks over a grave where a man is lying in a grave tied up. The bad guy is wearing a suit and tie and a mask that gives him a Diabolik feel. He starts to fill the grave with cement and the young man in the grave snaps. In black and white, this scene is super creepy and if I had seen it as a kid I'm sure it would have scarred me for life. As it is now it still does a good job of the creeps.
Cinematographer Curt Fetters spent his life shooting TV with this being his only film. I think he wanted to pull out all the stops and make this something worth watching.
It is.
After the opening scene we get an older couple that is almost run off the road by a crazy man. They pull into a little bar where the owner, Wesley Blake (Stephen Roberts, an actor with over a hundred credits under his belt.) offers them a drink to calm their nerves. It's there that we get the love triangle of Marge (Tracy Olsen of JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF TIME), Cool guy Ken (Rod Lauren, of THE CRAWLING HAND fame ) who wants Marge for his own and David (Steve Drexel, who got more to do in SWAMP GIRL), who is moody and in college and writing a paper on people surviving terror.
Marge decides she wants to go out to the abandoned old west town to talk to the town drunk. Ken doesn't miss a beat and offers to take her to talk to him. David is not in the mood as the guy at the beginning of the film was a friend of his and he is now in an asylum.
When they get there they find the old drunk dead, gruesomely impaled on the graveyard fence. David shows up and the man in the mask is back to torment and torture him. After escaping from multiple death traps David discovers he must see if his mind can stand being...TERRIFIED! (Yeah, that was cheesy, but it made me laugh.)
I'm not going to reveal the man in the mask as it would ruin the film for people who may have not found this little black and white gem.
There is some genuinely good acting in this little potboiler and some that I can't mention because it would ruin the ending. If you watch it just remember some of the final lines of the masked man after he is unmasked. A couple of them are just heartbreaking.
One of those movies that when it ends and the good guys win and the bad guys die you find yourself a little sad because of it.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

MY TOP TEN LIST OF 2013

I have read a lot of top ten lists in preparation for this. A lot of them. Funny thing. THEY ALL HAVE THE SAME MOVIES ON THEM!!! Time to show the amateurs how this is done so, in no particular order;

MONOCHROMIA

Directed by Michael Legge

Legge again embraces an alternate reality where a deadly chemical weapon is released and the world becomes color blind. A scientist has discovered a cure, but he is murdered before he can give it freely to the world. MONOCHROMIA embraces the themes of greed and corruption and gives pause for thought of what encompassing color blindness could mean to our economy. No reason to make colors if no one can see them, right. And, a plus for me, is the ever lovely Cherry Lynn Zinger in one of the lead roles. She is always a delight to watch.


AN EVENING WITH MY GREAT AUNT BEDELIA

Directed by Josh Suire

Chris Seaver of Low Budget Pictures fame created a plan that would make it seem like there was a video company called Warlock Home Video from the 80's and these are the lost films of that now defunct company. A truly great idea.
Director Josh Suire under the fake name Tobe Larone gives us a tale of inheritance, demons and madness. Throw in some uncomfortable situations and gore and you have one of Warlock Home Video's best rleases of the past year.



DEATH O'LANTERN 2

Directed by Rudy Bellafonte (Probably Chris Seaver)

The second one from Warlock this year is a sequel to one of the first Warlock Home Video releases. Stingy Jack is back to kill again and again and again. Meredith Host returns as the hero and, being a huge Low Budget Pictures fan, the more I watched this, the more I missed Heather and Puggly. It made me sad that time is over.
Then, at the very end. The very, very end, the garage door opens and we get an epic song and dance to end the film and I laughed so hard and it made me feel better. This makes the film and it is awesome.



BLOOD CREEK WOODSMAN

Directed by Joe Sherlock

Joe Sherlock gives us movies like no other. Lots of grue, lots of boobs, lots of big girls. Lots of boobs...wait, did I already say that? Oh well...booooooobs! Crazed lumberjack with edged weapons and a chainsaw? Yes, please!

Dr. Frankenstein's Wax Museum of the Hungry Dead (2013)

DR. FRANKENSTEIN'S WAX MUSEUM OF THE HUNGRY DEAD

By Richard Griffin

I am of the opinion that Richard Griffin in incapable of making a bad movie. Don't believe me? Try out Atomic Brain Invasion. Or Disco Exorcist. Griffin embraces the exploitation film genre and makes it his own. Always a good time and a worthy addition to the pantheon of Frankenstein films. Plus, how friggin cool is that title? So good.



INDIE DIRECTOR

Directed by Bill Zebub

I have been going to Cinema Wasteland for years. One of the first people I met there was director, Bill Zebub. I had seen one of his earlier efforts THE WORST HORROR MOVIE EVER MADE and thought it was pure genius. Bill has two kind of movies; the bondage, slimy sicko flicks and the fun movies. I am a huge fan of the latter. This year, Bill decided to put himself under the microscope and show us what he goes through to make his movies. It is funny, sweet, uncomfortably honest and probably the best thing he has ever done. Truly a great film.

Babysitter Massacre (2013)

BABYSITTER MASSACRE

Directed by Henrique Couto

This is one of two movies that Mr. Couto directed this year. The other one, A BULLDOG FOR CHRISTMAS, I have not seen yet, but this one...
This one is slasher movie gold.
Any regular reader here knows that my favorite genre is the slasher genre. Especially ones in small towns with a cast of unknowns that looks like a real small town.
Slasher Heaven.
The kills look good. The ladies look awesome.
Final girl Erin R. Ryan does a magnificent job in her role.
This is what people trying to recreate the slasher phenomenon of the 80's need to watch.
This is perfection.

And there is your top ten for the year.
What?
You say that's only seven films?
Yeah, I hate top ten lists.
Go find these movies. Go buy them. Watch them. Make your friends watch them. These are real movies by real people. Not Hollywood Committee Crap.
Have a great New Year!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

BLOOD OF DRACULA’S CASTLE (1969)




Directed by Al Adamson & Jean Hewitt
Written by Rex Carlton
Stars: John Carradine, Paula Raymond, Alexander D’Arcy, Robert Dix, Gene O’Shane, Jennifer Bishop, Ray Young

This beat up print of a Crown International flick starts with a young woman (Vicki Volante) tooling down the road to the beat of Gil Bernal singing The Last Train Out. After the song the lovely lady gets out of her car (big mistake!) and is captured by the mute monstrosity known as Mango (Ray Young of Bigfoot and Wildboy fame). He drags her off to a castle in the middle of the desert where Count and Countess Dracula reside. OF course, this is modern times so they refer to themselves as the Townsends and their butler, George (John Carradine) makes sure to extract their blood in a more refined way so they can sip it from a glass.
Unfortunately for the Townsends, their landlord has passed away and left the castle to his grandson, Glen (Gene O’Shane) who, with his fiancée Liz (Jennifer Bishop), are set on moving into the castle and setting up house.
The Townsends have arranged for their violent friend, Johnny (Robert Dix) to be released from a mental facility to join them and help procure a new stock of women for their cellar.
Johnny cuts a violent path through the countryside to make it to the castle and the Townsends plan on using him to change Glen and Liz’s minds about the castle
I think that BLOOD ON DRACULA’S CASTLE get a bad rap. This is an interesting idea of Dracula settling down in the west with a supposed werewolf as a best friend. We are never sure if Johnny is a werewolf. He sure mentions the moon often enough, but we never get a transformation.
John Carradine as George is magnificent. He still has his acting chops and gets into a pretty good fight with Gene O’Shane on the dungeon stairs. When he starts flinging an old school mace around you kind of root for him. In fact, I found myself on the monsters side more often than not.  Well, except for Johnny. He’s kind of a tool throughout the film. But George is a devoted servant. The Townsends have that laid back, European air to them and Mango is the best mute, disfigured servant a couple of vampires could hope for.
There’s a scene where he is feeding the girls in the basement and he is being so kind and gentle until the new girl rebuffs him and he just throws the dish on the floor and stalks off. You’d feel more sorry for him if he hadn’t dragged a girl off earlier into his nest under the stairs for what we can only assume was some rape and fun.
At a running time of 84 minutes BLOOD OF DRACULA’S CASTLE knows not to wear out it’s welcome. It gets in, tells it’s twisted little story and gets out again. Blood is minor at best and most of it appears to be tomato juice. No nudity to speak of.
The most clever thing in the film is when Liz says she heard a woman scream and John Carradine informs her that it was their pet Toucan. I checked, yeah that’s a plausible excuse.
Well done, Mr. Carradine.

One down One Hundred and Ninety-Nine to go!

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