There's no word yet whether or not Po-Man's legendary liner notes for the Media Blasters DVD of ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST will make it to the Blu-Ray edition of that classic pasta-land chunk blower. Truth be told, message board murmurings place the cash-strapped MB in such financial dire straits that we're wondering if said Blu-Ray will see the light of day at all. Since Po wasn't paid for his blood sweat & tears -- and in fact had to physically visit the MB offices in New York to claim his one (1) comp copy of the disc because the company, even during its heyday, was too tight to mail it to him -- we're reprinting the notes here free of charge. So grab a 40-ouncer of your favorite malt beverage, rip open a bag of pork rinds and enjoy.
Manhattan, New York.
Half past five on Friday, May 7th, 1982. Rush hour.
You hang onto the strap for dear life as the 1-train barrels into the Times Square station and screeches to a halt, throwing open its doors and exchanging one mass of sweaty nine-to-fivers for another. You fight your way out of the subway car, into the noisy, bustling station, making your way past a newspaper stand, a transit cop giving directions to some tourists, and a group of commuters who have stopped to watch six or seven Bronx teenagers b-boying to Kool & the Gang's "Get Down on It."
You hit the steps leading up to the northwest corner of 7th Avenue and 42nd Street -- the famous subway stairwell Richard Roundtree emerges from at the beginning of SHAFT, only instead of crossing the street and cursing some horn-happy cabby like everyone's favorite black private dick, you make a quick turn and head west. Welcome to "the Deuce," that festering strip of 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, where anything can happen and everything is for sale. It's sunny and warm, about 80 degrees -- a beautiful day to head uptown and walk around Central Park , but no, you're planning to sit in the fetid darkness of a roach-infested rattrap theatre for the next 3 or 4 hours.
Above you are the flashing lights of the Rialto Theater's twin marquees. A cloud of bad breath envelopes your head -- a nauseating mix of nasal congestion, tobacco, and cheap wine -- as a denizen of the Deuce comes up behind you, saying the word "sense" over and over again, as in sensimilia. You barely have time to shake your head and mutter "No thanks" before the next salesman approaches.
Don't make eye contact. Never make eye contact.
"Smoke, coke, smack, speed..."
They're crawling out of the woodwork now, surrounding you.
"Skinny girls, fat girls, white girls, black girls..."
"Want a girl? Want a guy?"
"Sssssssssssmoke, white boy?"
An illegal transaction is going down under the Rialto II marquee. You look away quickly, scanning the marquees across the street to see what's playing. The New Amsterdam has BRUCE LI VS. THE BROWN BOMBER and SHOGUN MASTERS. One door down, the Cine 42 Twin is showing KUNG FU ZOMBIE and KUNG FU EXECUTIONER in Theater 1, and RENEGADE MONK and TWO GRAVES TO KUNG FU in Theater 2. The Ryan O'Neal comedy PARTNERS is at the Harris Theater, paired with John Frankenheimer's idea of a scary movie, PROPHECY. The Liberty Theater is doing a hot Cannon double-header: LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER and BODY AND SOUL. "Get more out of life," the sign above the marquee reads, "Go out to a movie!" Perched on top of the Empire Theater's marquee next door is a big wooden ninja holding a throwing star, a tip-off on the type of programming you can expect from that ancient grindhouse. Forty-seven years ago, Abbott & Costello performed their comedy routines there. Today, the attraction is a triple feature of MISSION KISS AND KILL, THE STRANGER AND THE GUNFIGHTER, and Sonny Chiba as THE BODYGUARD. At the end of the block, the run-down Anco Theater -- which in the past three years has showcased the U.S. premieres of both DAWN OF THE MUMMY and LET ME DIE A WOMAN -- has gone mainstream with a double bill from Paramount, SOME KIND OF HERO and AIRPLANE!
There's a guy with shifty eyes walking backwards in front of you now, trying to rent you his sister for an hour, but you don't want any part of her -- especially not the part he's offering for $20. On your right is the Victory Theater, which offers triple bills of the hard stuff. Their program today consists of DELICIOUS, SCENT OF HEATHER, and FAT AND SWEET. A swaying drunk is urinating on the side of the building. As you step over the yellow stream that's spreading across the sidewalk, a nurse approaches and thrusts a handbill at you. It's an ad for DOCTOR BUTCHER, MD, the movie you're here to check out. Last week, you saw its outrageously gory trailer before AMIN: THE RISE AND FALL and MS. 45 at the Times Square Theater. That essential double bill has vanished, replaced this week by THE FASTEST FIST ALIVE and ENFORCER FROM DEATH ROW, but according to one of the newspapers, DOCTOR BUTCHER, MD is now playing at the Lyric Theater with an obscurity called SLIT THIS -- probably Euro porn with the hardcore cut out.
A crowd is gathered around a flatbed truck parked at the curb in front of the Lyric. A banner hanging from the side of the truck reads, "I Was Operated on By...DOCTOR BUTCHER, MD (Medical Deviate). Opens Friday May 7th at a theater near you...And he makes house calls!" A gurney is set up in the back of the truck, and a bespectacled man dressed like a doctor is hamming it up with another nurse and a man who has his head wrapped in bandages like the invisible man. A second bespectacled man, this one wearing a suit, is talking about DOCTOR BUTCHER, MD over a PA system, like a carnival barker. No one goes through this much effort to promote a movie anymore -- especially a schlock movie -- so DOCTOR BUTCHER, MD must be something special. Looking up at the Lyric's marquee, you are pleasantly surprised to find that the newspaper was wrong and that the second feature is actually SLITHIS, a mutant monster movie from 1978.
You spent fifteen minutes of your lunch hour today hunched over a newspaper, pen in hand, circling titles and times of the movies playing around town. You could hop from one theatre to the next for the whole weekend and still not see all of the movies you have marked. At the Capri on 8th Avenue near 46th Street is the Radley Metzger-produced TALE OF TIFFANY LUST. One block up, the Hollywood Twin has ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST and THE HOSPITAL in Theatre 1, and THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY and A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS in Theatre 2. Over in Times Square, DEATH WISH 2 and THE AMATEUR are two of the movies playing at the Criterion multiplex, while the Embassy has an idiot action fan's dream double feature, SILENT RAGE and GAME OF DEATH. On and on and on it goes.
Glancing at your watch, you realize that your appointment with the doctor is in ten minutes. You grab a hot dog and 7-Up at the Grand Luncheonette, a tiny greasy spoon tucked under the marquee of the Selwyn Theatre -- currently showing DRAGON'S INFERNO and BLACK FIST -- and then head back to the Lyric. "One for the doctor," you tell the girl at the box-office as you slide a few dollar bills to her under the bulletproof glass. Stone-faced, she pushes a ticket and your change out at you without saying a word. The display cases are splashed with one-sheets and lobby cards for DOCTOR BUTCHER, MD, with signs like "Cooled by Refrigeration" and "Continuous 'til 3 a.m." filling the spaces in between.
"Lyric" is stenciled on all of the glass doors in gold paint, and as you push one of these doors open, the smell of industrial strength cleanser assaults your nostrils. You won't even notice the stink five minutes from now -- but 20 years down the road, you'll forget to breathe through your mouth in a Phillip's 66 restroom and the memory of seeing DOCTOR BUTCHER, MD at the Lyric Theater will come flying back at you like a blood-spattered boomerang. You're now in the long hallway part of an L-shaped lobby, with one-sheets for coming attractions adorning the walls on either side of you -- ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY WEAPON, THE SEVEN GRANDMASTERS, an X-rated cartoon called KING DICK, Carpenter's THE THING -- leading up to a concession stand nestled comfortably in the left-hand corner. A few undesirables are hanging around a video game machine. One of them eyes you hungrily and whispers, "Smoke-coke-smack? Photo I.D.?" as you walk past. A guy who looks like Half Dead from PENITENTIARY is yelling into a payphone, "Moses?! Bitch, don't gimme that shit! He's been Moses since Miami!" The statement means nothing to you, but you smile anyway, knowing you'll never forget it. You make a right and a quick left, passing through a set of four doors that are propped open, entering a thousand-plus seat auditorium from the rear left side.
You stare at the screen, giving your eyes a moment to adjust to the darkness. The trailer for THE CRIPPLED MASTERS is playing, and the audience is laughing as the stars of the film -- two amputees, one missing his arms, the other his legs -- perform incredible kung fu moves. On your right is a dimly lit stairwell that leads down to a bathroom, on your left a four-foot high wall that runs behind the back row of seats. You turn down the center aisle and settle into a lumpy, squeaky seat halfway into the middle section of the back row (better to have the wall behind you than some junkie or psycho with a switchblade). A few seats away from you, a man coughs. You can't see him, but you can smell the phlegm and tobacco. Someone's foot kicks a wine bottle and sends it careening down the aisle. A child says, "Mommy?" and is quickly hushed. Several rows in front of you, a match is struck, accompanied by a sucking noise. A moment later, you smell marijuana. More trailers -- HUMONGOUS, MEGAFORCE, THE WORLD OF DRUNKEN MASTER, Lana Wood as SATAN'S MISTRESS -- and then DOCTOR BUTCHER, MD begins. Scrolling opening credits appear for an instantly obvious Italian import, with American distributor Terry Levene billed as the producer (yeah, right) and someone named "Frank Martin" credited as the director. You sink deeper into your seat -- out of the line of fire -- and wait for the comments to start flying.
This is "getting more out of life." This is seeing a movie on 42nd Street.