Sunday, February 14, 2021

Mystery Movies: DEATH MASK OF THE NINJA (1981) and THE JACKY CHAN CONNECTION (1983)

When DEATH MASK OF THE NINJA was first issued on videotape in March 1986 by Master Arts Video, "The finest in martial arts entertainment," it was revealed to be the Shaw Brothers production SHAOLIN PRINCE with the opening credits lopped off. Since Shaw already had a distribution deal with World Northal, which released SHAOLIN PRINCE to theaters as IRON FINGERS OF DEATH in 1984 (and then sold it to television under the same title as part of their Black Belt Theater 4 package), we're pretty sure whatever movie premiered at the Cine 42 on June 12, 1981 under the title DEATH MASK OF THE NINJA was not SHAOLIN PRINCE (which didn't open in Hong Kong until 1983). Besides, our pal Shawn Johns tells us that he saw DEATH MASK OF THE NINJA at the sleazy Westdale 4 multiplex in Phoenix in October '84, and although he can't remember what movie was actually shown that day, he does know that it definitely wasn't SHAOLIN PRINCE. So the question is, what the hell movie did get released to theaters as DEATH MASK OF THE NINJA?

Utilizing photos from THE YOUNG MASTER and SPIRITUAL KUNG FU in their deceptive ad campaign, Ivory League Pictures (run by the late Ivory Lee Harris, former print controller for World Northal) premiered something called THE JACKY CHAN CONNECTION at the Times Square theater on December 30, 1983 and then proceeded to play it all over the U.S. for the next two and a half years -- yet no one seems to know what Chan movie was really being peddled under this title. In the book Dying for Action: The Life and Films of Jackie Chan, author Renée Witterstaetter states that it's TO KILL WITH INTRIGUE, but other sources claim it's SHAOLIN WOODEN MEN. Does anyone know the true identity of THE JACKY CHAN CONNECTION?

Saturday, February 13, 2021

The Endangered List (Case File #169)

BANDITS ON THE WIND (1961)
a.k.a. YATO KAZE NO NAKA O HASHIRU

Starring
Yôsuke Natsuki (Taro)
Makoto Satô (Gale)
Somegorô Ichikawa (Gen)
Izumi Yukimura (Kayo)
Chishû Ryû (Village Priest)
Akiko Wakabayashi (Sawa)
Kôshirô Matsumoto (Tasaka)
Nami Tamura (Sato)
with
Mannosuke Nakamura
Jun Tatara
Tadao Nakamaru
Chusha Ichikawa
Akira Tani

Directed by
Hiroshi Inagaki

Written by
Masato Ide
Hiroshi Inagaki
Takeshi Kimura

Produced by
Tomoyuki Tanaka

Cinematography by
Kazuo Yamada

Music by
Kan Ishii
Running time: 111 minutes

A Toho production

Honolulu premiere: February 14, 1962
Los Angeles premiere: September 14, 1962
New York premiere: January 14, 1964
The Honolulu Advertiser - February 16, 1962

Los Angeles Times - September 19, 1962

South China Morning Post - October 24, 1963

Daily News - January 15, 1964

New York Times - January 15, 1964


Sunday, January 31, 2021

Movie Play Ad of the Week: SECTION 8 (1971)

Live performances of SECTION 8, Andy Milligan's stage play about homosexuality in the military (written under his Gerald Jackson pseudonym), began on May 25th, 1971 at the Jewel Theatre, one of Chelly Wilson's all-male porn cinemas.
Although SECTION 8 ran for several weeks, Wilson wasn't interested in letting Milligan stage another show in her 3rd Avenue movie house, so the following year his next explicit production, COCTEAU, was mounted at the Players Theatre. Film versions of that and also BLACK MIRROR, a play by Welsh actress Jackie Skarvellis (THE BODY BENEATH, THE RATS ARE COMING - THE WEREWOLVES ARE HERE) that Milligan directed at Bastiano's Studio around the same time, were announced in Back Stage but there's no evidence that either show was ever captured on film.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Endangered List updates!

We have several new Endangered List entries that have been waiting in the wings for a while, but before we post those we thought we'd better do a quick recap of last year's finds.
Vinegar Syndrome's Black Friday 2020 sale unveiled a double feature Blu-ray from AGFA pairing THE DIRTY DOLLS and THINGS TO COME, two films on our Endangered List which we also screened in Austin as part of the Endangered Fest (March 23, 2013) and Endangered Fest II (February 20, 2015), respectively.
In fact, it was during that first Endangered Fest that we introduced contemporary audiences to Craig S. Denney's THE ASTROLOGER, and the big surprise of the second Fest was finding out that THINGS TO COME is partly comprised of softcore footage from the Austin-shot SEXUAL FANTASIES U.S.A. (1973).
Ten years ago this week we did an Endangered List post about TOWING, and we followed it with a Movie Ad of the Week entry seven years later. The so-called comedy is now available to view on Amazon Prime.
Case File #43, EDEN CRIED, was filmed in 1965 but premiered on June 7, 1967 at the Ritz Theater in Newburgh, NY, the hometown of co-star Carole Holland. A release through the Walter Reade Organization didn't happen, and by the time the film was submitted for an MPAA rating in summer 1971 it had been re-edited and updated with smartass narration by a Jack Nicholson soundalike who makes fun of the movie. A 16mm print of this version is now available from Sinister Cinema.
Gary Kent's SECRET PLACES, SECRET THINGS was found a few years ago, but we finally got around to watching it in '20. It's a good, episodic softcore drama (with some humor) that its producer, Mike MacFarland, remade a decade later as PINK MOTEL.
We followed that up with WATCH OUT FOR THE BUMMER, a warning we unfortunately didn't heed. The less said about this bummer, the better.
We weren't at the Pandemonium Picture Show at the Skyline Drive-In in Shelbyville, IN last September, but TOS contributor Marc Edward Heuck made it out for that event and reported that one reel of HAPPILY EVER AFTER (Case File #149) was shown in the dead of night, along with a collection of rare soft-X trailers, "after most of the less hardy souls had gone home."
More news from Indiana: our friend Don Zessin called one night with a full report on AIN'T THAT JUST LIKE A HONKEY, which he described as one of the worst movies he's ever sat through. We were under the impression this was a Wildman Steve standup comedy performance film, since the ads referred to it as "the party record movie," but even as grim as that sounds, the truth is much, much worse. This is actually a black-and-white, Florida-shot nudie first released in 1968 as CAMPUS CONFIDENTIAL...
...the CAMPUS CONFIDENTIAL in the ad above, not the one below...
...which is a 1966 reissue of LOLA'S MISTAKE, the adults-only version of THIS REBEL BREED (1960) with the added nudie footage. We know of at least two other titles for that, but CAMPUS CONFIDENTIAL was a new alias to us and - as of tonight - not filed with the IMDb. Anyway, we'll clean up that mess another time, perhaps as a Movie Ad of the Week (unless another Newspapers.com subscriber gets to it first). Now back to that other CAMPUS CONFIDENTIAL, the subject of this Variety article from May 15, 1968...
...the one that did big business, earned great grosses and was held over in New York, Miami and Providence, according to this ad...
Eight years after it was made, with midnight movies all the rage, there was an attempt to turn CAMPUS CONFIDENTIAL into a "spoof" as detailed in this Boxoffice item from Apr 28, 1975...
Apparently that version failed to catch on with the cult crowd, because the lone booking we were able to find was in Blytheville, Arkansas in February 1976...
...so producer/director Charles Harder turned his attention toward black filmgoers next, hiring Miami-based comedian and radio personality "Wildman Steve" Gallon to appear in comical interruptions that were then sprinkled throughout this moth-eaten sex "spoof"...
...or "sort of black-humor laugh-in" as it's referred to in the above Boxoffice article from June 28, 1976...
...and voila! - "Laff riot of the year!"

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Movie Ad of the Week: FURY OF ROAMING MONK (1981)

The Taiwanese martial arts movie YOU FANG HE SHANG (1980) a.k.a. SHAOLIN MONK FIGHTS BACK and THE WANDERING MONK, was released to U.S. theaters by Unifilm International beginning in 1981 as FURY OF ROAMING MONK.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Mystery Movie Solved! FARMGIRL FANTASIES (1980)

Back in April of 2010 we posted about an unknown Troma release titled FARMGIRL FANTASIES that had received an R rating in September 1980 but contained a lot of bogus credits in its advertising, including "Music by The Fertilizers" and "Photographed in Farm-O-Vision."
It took us almost 11 years, but we finally tracked down a pressbook with a plot synopsis...
...which enabled us to identify FARMGIRL FANTASIES as an R-rated cut of Mac Ahlberg's JUSTINE AND JULIETTE (1975), which had been released in a hardcore version as SWEDISH MINX by Cambist Films in 1977.
After 15 years of running Cambist, president and co-founder Lee Hessel closed the company in 1978 and brought SWEDISH MINX and CRY UNCLE! to Troma, where he also was an associate producer on their R-rated hit comedy WAITRESS!

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Movie Ad of the Week: TO BE A ROSE (1981)

Filmed in the fall of 1973, William A. Levey's TO BE A ROSE - starring sexploitation starlet Sandra Dempsey - got picked up for distribution by Cinemation Industries in 1974, retitled THE PROSTITUTE, and submitted to the MPAA (which gave it an R rating). It was scheduled for a February '75 release that got pushed to June and then vanished from the schedule shortly before Cinemation filed for Chapter 11 in September. Company president Jerry Gross defaulted on loan payments of nearly $1.5 million the following March and two banks foreclosed, selling off Cinemation's library of 54 films at public auction (Sam Sherman's comments about that can be read here). Cannon acquired worldwide rights to the film at the 1981 Mifed Film Market and promoted it with this full-page ad in the October 14, 1981 issue of Variety. We don't know if the 1982 release from Cannon happened, but when Trans World Entertainment issued TO BE A ROSE on videocassette in 1988 the print that was used began with the Cinemation Industries logo and ended with the MPAA R rating tag.