Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Mystery Movie Solved! HUMDINGER!!! (1976)

Back in November, trusted Temple of Schlock correspondent Mike MacCollum took a break from bombarding us with PSYCHED BY THE 4D WITCH research to send out a text message in which he asked "Hey, is HUMDINGER!!! still a Mystery Movie?" We knew it was still a mystery to us, but we couldn't recall doing an actual Mystery Movie post about it (or other unknown quantities from Hemisphere Pictures, such as HANKY PANKY and WILLING WIVES). After a couple of minutes searching the archives we ascertained that we hadn't, and that Mike must've spotted the title in our PENTHOUSE PLAYGIRLS review, so we texted back "It sure is! Why, what have you found?" Within minutes we had the solution -- but before we share it with you, let's quickly recap what this HUMDINGER!!! business is all about.

HUMDINGER!!! debuted in U.S. theaters sans an MPAA rating in April 1976, but received a swift and fraudulent makeover in July to become CAPITOL HILL SECRETARIES after Representatives Joe Waggoner (D-Louisiana) and Allan Howe (D-Utah), in two separate incidents, were arrested for soliciting undercover police officers posing as prostitutes.

The co-feature, CONGRESSIONAL PLAYMATES, was a re-titling of the aforementioned Erwin C. Dietrich piece of crap PENTHOUSE PLAYGIRLS.

Mike's research turned up a Baton Rouge playdate in mid August '76 that was promoted with the newspaper ad below, which appears to be a CAPITOL HILL SECRETARIES ad with the HUMDINGER!!! title.
Further sleuthing by Mike uncovered a review by Sunday Advocate film critic Terence Adams, who went to see a movie called HUMDINGER!!! but instead got the CAPITOL HILL SECRETARIES title card attached to the head of - are you sitting down? - a dubbed European sex comedy set in 1814! And despite being lured in by a movie with the tag line "From Watergate to waterbeds," no one in the audience seemed to care when neither anachronism worked its way into a story that takes place in the immediate wake of Napoleon's defeat. From the plot details revealed in Mr. Adams' understandably confused review, Mike was able to identify the film as FRAU WIRTIN BLÄST AUCH GERN TROMPETE/THE LANDLADY ALSO LIKES TO BLOW THE TRUMPET (1970) a.k.a. SEXY SUSAN KNOWS HOW!, the fourth in a series of six Austrian-produced period costumers starring Hungarian actress Teri Tordai as Susanne “Sexy Susan” Delberg.

So that leaves two final mystery movies from Hemisphere Pictures, HANKY PANKY and WILLING WIVES, both of which first appeared in U.S. theaters in December 1976.
As for SMARTIE PANTS, we solved that mystery almost 15 years ago but multiple online sources still claim that it's the tenth installment of the “Schoolgirl Report” series of German softcore sex anthologies when it’s actually the fifth: SCHULMÄDCHEN-REPORT 5. TEIL – WAS ELTERN WIRKLICH WISSEN SOLLTEN/SCHOOLGIRL REPORT 5: WHAT PARENTS SHOULD REALLY KNOW (1973).

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Movie Ad of the Week: NEXT! a.k.a. THE NEXT VICTIM (1971)

In the early 1970s, several European productions were announced in the trades as coming soon from Gemini Pictures International. In addition to making their own films, Gemini acquired some completed European productions with the intention of starting their own distribution outfit, Gemini Releasing Corporation. For help in the U.S. market, they signed a deal with distributor Mel Maron to handle their pictures stateside through his Maron Films Ltd., but only two of the films -- Harry Kümel’s DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS and Sergio Martino’s THE SECRET VICE OF MRS. WARDH -- ever saw the light of day under this agreement.

THE SECRET VICE OF MRS. WARDH opened in New York on August 6, 1971 as NEXT! (above) and returned to area theaters four months later as THE NEXT VICTIM (below) on December 10, 1971.

The president and founder of Gemini was Howard J. Zuker, a producer under his birth name but more familiar to movie fans as a character actor under the pseudonym Zack Norman (ROMANCING THE STONE, CADILLAC MAN). If you read Variety in the '80s you'll remember his CHIEF ZABU ad, which ran for at least four years.
TOUCH ME NOT, a moderately engrossing potboiler starring Lee Remick that was filmed in Barcelona, was scheduled as the third Gemini/Maron release in March ‘72, but Maron filed for Chapter 11 in August of that year and the remaining Gemini films suddenly faced an uncertain future. Announced as an Avco Embassy pickup in late 1973, the U.S. and Canadian rights to TOUCH ME NOT were instead acquired by Wolf Schmidt’s Atlas Films sometime in 1974 for a first-quarter ’75 release. It was retitled THE HUNTED in '76 before its sale to television.
ZENABEL, a sexy action-comedy co-directed by Ruggero Deodato and Mickey Knox and starring Lucretia Love, John Ireland and Lionel Stander, was released in the U.S. as THE NAKED GENERAL by Starmaster International in 1974...
...but the others weren’t so lucky in that they bypassed American theaters entirely: LA PENTE DOUCE (U.S. title announced as THE SWEET DECLINE); L’ETREINTE a.k.a. GISELE (U.S. title announced as IMPULSION); the spaghetti western LA TAGLIA è TUA...L’UOMO L’AMMAZZO IO / THE REWARD'S YOURS...THE MAN'S MINE (U.S. title announced as EL PURO); the offbeat World War II story E I CANNONI TUONANO ANCORA/AND THE BOMBS KEPT FALLING (U.S. title announced as THE DARK OF THE DAY, then WHICH WAY DO YOU DIG?), starring Zuker/Norman, Martin Priest and Robert Woods; and most notably LE MOINE/THE MONK, written by Luis Buñuel and starring Franco Nero, Nathalie Delon and Nicol Williamson, which actually got released in Canada as a sexploitation pic titled CONFESSIONS OF A FEMALE MONK.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Movie Ad of the Week: BLACK ON WHITE (1969) a.k.a. THE ARTFUL PENETRATION and BARBARA THE YES GIRL (1970)

Released by Audubon Films with a self-applied X rating, Tinto Brass' pop art stunner NEROSUBIANCO/BLACK ON WHITE had its U.S. premiere in New York City on October 10, 1969. Within a few months the title was changed to THE ARTFUL PENETRATION OF BARBARA, shortened to THE ARTFUL PENETRATION for newspaper advertising.

Sporting the new title and a different advertising campaign, it returned to New York on April 22, 1970 -- with the "y" in psychological missing on the opening day ad.
A week later (May 1, 1970) the film appeared in Chicago as BARBARA THE YES GIRL with a completely different ad campaign.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Movie Ad of the Week: KUNG FU MANIAC (1981)

BAI CU SHI FU KOU CU TOU (1979) a.k.a. THE EAGLE'S KILLER - a Hong Kong production starring Hwang Jang-Lee ("King of the Legfighters") and John Cheung (Chang Wu-liang) - was released to theaters in the U.S. by Unifilm International as KUNG FU MANIAC beginning in 1981.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Movie Ad of the Week: SKIP TRACER (1977-1979)

If you listened to my interview on the podcast Supporting Characters last week, you heard me speaking fondly of Manhattan stores like Record Explosion and Entertainment Outlet, which had bins of cheap used VHS tapes purchased from mom & pop video shops that had gone out of business. One tape you could always find in these places (or in the 60/40's, which were porn shops that had to devote at least 60% of their floorspace to non-porn merchandise or get shut down) was the Academy Home Entertainment release DEADLY BUSINESS, which everyone avoided because of the cheesy cover photo...
...until word got out that it was actually a really good, moody, '70s character piece called SKIP TRACER, and had been the first Canadian film to play the New York Film Festival. The world premiere was at the Varsity Theater in Vancouver on July 22, 1977 during their Festival of International Films.
The film returned to the Varsity for another "world premiere" on March 28, 1978...
...before playing the New York Film Festival and landing a deal for distribution in the States.
Of all the low-budget indie distributors of the '70s, it was N.W. Russo -- whose G.G. Communications was mostly known for stateside releases of European exploitation (ONE ON TOP OF THE OTHER, A HATCHET FOR A HONEYMOON, FIND A PLACE TO DIE) and kid pics (PIPPI LONGSTOCKING, DUNDERKLUMPEN, ONCE UPON A TIME) -- who saw this downbeat, moody character piece and thought it would be a good tax shelter his golden ticket into the arthouse scene. Apart from its month-long U.S. premiere run at the Orson Welles Cinema in Boston in January-Feburary '79, SKIP TRACER doesn't seem to have gotten much of a release through Russo. The next stop was Cinemax in 1980, followed by Academy Home Entertainment's video release in 1986 (under the title DEADLY BUSINESS) and showings on the USA Network in '87 and '88. Sightings outside of Canada since the early '90s, such as a festival of Canadian tax shelter films at the Anthology Film Archives in 2015, have been few and far between -- except for Youtube.

Sunday, December 06, 2020

Movie Ad of the Week: HE KILLS WITHOUT WARNING (1981)

The Taiwanese production DA YING WANG (1978), a.k.a. THE EAGLE KING and starring Hua Tsung, was released to theaters in the U.S. beginning in 1981 as HE KILLS WITHOUT WARNING by Unifilm International.

Friday, December 04, 2020

Don't miss Chris P's first podcast appearance!

Last month Bill Ackerman of the great Supporting Characters podcast interviewed Po Man about his "many endeavors in film culture, from co-creating the Temple Of Schlock fanzine and founding the long-running blog of the same name, to contributing to various magazines and video releases, distributing BLACK SAMURAI and working on books with Grady Hendrix, Michael Gingold and Sam Sherman. Topics include: Jack Starrett, the impact of crack on 42nd Street theatres, Steve Puchalski’s Slimetime and horror fanzines, The Journal of Interstitial Cinema, William Smith, blogathons, Paul Talbot, lost and endangered films, the link between THE GREEN HORNET and WANDA, bootlegs, THAT’S HOLLYWOOD, screenwriting for William Grefé, identifying PETS with Vinegar Syndrome and how interviews can become derailed by criminal confessions." Check it out HERE!