Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cultra & T.O.S. to co-sponsor "Art of Exploitation" film series in L.A.!

In the past couple of months we’ve been approached by people interested in doing Temple of Schlock-themed film festivals, gallery exhibits and magazine & newspaper feature articles. We’re currently looking for a venue in the New York area to run the first Temple of Schlock Film Festival. In the meantime, we’ve teamed up with our friends at CULTRA DVD as co-sponsors of “The Art of Exploitation,” a Friday night film series that will run next month at the Cinefamily @ The Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles. For a measly $10 you get a triple bill – two advertised features plus a bonus mystery film – and we’re working on getting special guests for at least one of these shows. Oh, and these programs consist of film prints only. No DVD projection!

The program list is below. Check out the Cinefamily site for details.

Friday, February 5th
THE LONERS – 9:45 p.m.
Plus! You'll get to see the name "Jerry Gross" in the credits of the surprise third film!

Friday, February 12th
THE BODY BENEATH – 9:45 p.m.
Plus! A third feature that has no connection whatsoever to Andy Milligan, but we don't think you'll mind at all because it stars Claudia Jennings!

Friday, February 19th
JOSIE'S CASTLE – 8:00 p.m.
Plus! An R-rated feature from the ‘70s with “teenage” in the title!

Friday, February 26th
GAME SHOW MODELS - 8:00 p.m.
THE BOOB TUBE - 9:45 p.m.
Plus! Something co-starring Rosanne Katon!

We'll post updates on the Thursday before each screening!

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Endangered List (Case File #61)


Ray Molina
Philip Ahn
Ern Dugo
Forrest Duke
Ebby Rhodes
Mike Zapata
Ray Molina, Jr.
Stan Mason
Mary Martinez
Mike Meyers

Directed by
Charles Nizet

Written by
Charles Nizet

Produced by
Ray Molina

88 minutes
MPAA rating: R
Released by TWI National

First announced in August of 1970 as a Sack Amusement Enterprises production entitled SEX SERUM OF DR. BLAKE. That title was later used for the film's 1976 re-release, as well as the overseas release.

In a Chinese torture chamber in the United States, the commander informs his captured victim that "we have ways of making you talk." And they do! Top secret information has leaked to these Oriental butchers that the U.S. is in possession of a "serum of youth" -- and no torture is too grim to get it for Red China, where it is needed to keep leader Mao in top condition. American scientists carrying the serum are killed by Chinese "commandos." Alone comes Dr. Blake (Ray Molina), a black sheep of his profession, and the serum falls into his hands and his arm. But the serum eats up his blood supply faster than his body can produce it and he craves fresh blood to stay alive. A Dracula-type mad man, Molina is tracked down by police in a wild speedboat chase and killed. And as he dies, his skin shrivels into an ancient human being.

Pass out bottles of sugared water. Call it "youth serum." Hire a young man to carry a sign that he is 162 years old, but has kept his looks because of "youth serum." Arrange a tape interview and play it at the theatre prior to the engagement of "Voodoo Heartbeat."

Filmed entirely in Las Vegas' ATF Studios and surrounding area, "Voodoo Heartbeat" attempts a new approach to the old story of searching for a fountain (or serum) of youth. In this case it's Red China that needs the elixir to keep its leader Mao Tse Tung in power forever. And the only way to obtain it is to steal it from U.S. scientists who have just brought it to America from the jungles of Africa. Adding to this basic storyline a torture chamber, a man turned animal, a speedboat trackdown scene and a lot of blood, and you have a fairly well-made exploitation picture that could appeal to both the horror fans as well as "cult enthusiasts." Torture scenes are fairly realistic and depict the butchering of arms, ears and what have you. Ray Molina's starring role as the doctor turned madman is handled well. Molina also produced the picture. For nudity there is a brief ritual scene shot in semi-darkness, but quite unrevealing. Charles Nizet's direction is only passable as he follows his own screenplay. "Voodoo Heartbeat" should do well in exploitation hardtops, but will find its best returns in drive-ins when hard sell is applied.

[Boxoffice BookinGuide, June 12, 1972, 4496]

Zapata Descendant to Star in 'Voodoo Heartbeat'

HOLLYWOOD -- Mike Zapata, a direct descendant of the famous Mexican Zapata, makes his screen debut in the Ray Molina production, "Voodoo Heartbeat," distributed by TWI National. Robert Saxton, president of TWI National, stated, "Mike Zapata will be one of the top stars of the motion picture and television mediums during the next few years, as he has all the attributes of a James Cagney."

At a recent screening of "Voodoo Heartbeat," the response was so great, says Saxton, that he already has entered into negotiations with Ray Molina Productions to make a sequel entitled "Dr. Blake's Revenge."

[Boxoffice, May 15, 1972, p. 9]

Hollywood Happenings

Stan Mason, who played Inspector Brady in "Voodoo Heartbeat" and who works at Douglas Aircraft in El Segundo, proves the old Russian idea of naturalistic casting. Ray Molina, who produced for TWI National release, selected Mason. Molina stopped him on the street, knowing him slightly, and asked if he would play in the film. "I don't know anything about acting," was the reply -- but he took the role. Now, two studios have called Mason asking him to take a part in Box Saxton's TWI film "The Long Highway."

[Boxoffice, June 5, 1972, p. W-3]

TWI 'Voodoo Heartbeat' A Campy Horror Film

"Voodoo Heartbeat" (TWI National), starring Ray Molina, Philip Ahn and Ern Dugo, is a very funny horror film. Actually, it's campy enough to get real laughs from the teenagers and college crowd. They seemed to love it. Why the film is rated R is beyond me; it's just another example of the inconsistency of the rating system. Everyone was asking the same thing.

Palmetto Theatre
Hampton, S.C.

[Boxoffice Showmandiser, August 28, 1972, p. 121]

Thanks to Mike MacCollum for additional research

Monday, January 25, 2010

There's a new blog in town... SCHLOCKMANIA!

Our friend Don Guarisco, a contributor to the Temple and a writer for AllMovie Guide and AllMusic Guide, has just launched a blog of his own and it's a killer. Schlockmania! -- "Your online guide to the schlock experience" -- will feature movie, music and book reviews, and updates will be posted four times a week (Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays). So in the words of Norman Whitfield, as sung by Rochelle Runnells, Janice Williams and Debra Anderson -- better known as Stargard -- what you waitin' for?! Get your ass over to Don's launch party and have a blast!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

One-Sheet of the Week: MARIKEN (1975)


U.S. release in 1975 as MARIKEN

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Endangered List (Case File #60)


Scott Gaba
Toni Benson
Harry Levinthal
Corey Reagan Hendrickson

Directed by
Robert Hendrickson

Produced by
Robert Hendrickson
Toby Ann Hendrickson

Written by
Robert Hendrickson
Ronald Collier

Based on the screenplay
“The Muff Mobile”
by Robert Hendrickson

Associate Producer
Richard A. Levinthal

Director of Photography
Robert Reynolds

Music by
Tony Coppola
Steve Rucker

91 minutes
MPAA rating: R
A Tobann International Pictures release


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Random Movie Ads: The VARIETY edition

For this installment of "Random Movie Ads" we sent Quasi-Schlocko, our humpbacked and limping library assistant, deep into the archives to pull out some goodies from the Variety Vault. There's not much left, since he sliced apart so many of the Mifed and Cannes issues we used to have back in the day to illustrate the old 'zine, but a few still exist -- mostly the ones Chris picked up at used bookstores and flea markets over the years. Let's see what we have today.

First up is THE BIG SCORE (1978), a Fred Williamson "Jesse Crowder" adventure that is supposedly based on a rejected Dirty Harry story by Gail Morgan Hickman (who had co-written Moving Target, the spec script that became the third Harry Callahan film, THE ENFORCER). This Po-Boy Production was put on hold when someone named Jesse Crowder took Fred to court to stop him from using the name. Fred won, but by the time he finally made THE BIG SCORE -- five years later -- it was no longer a Jesse Crowder movie anyway. Vic Morrow was dead by then and Robert Webber had better things to do, but Tony King and D'Urville Martin returned for the 1983 reboot [and Fred did bring back Crowder for THE LAST FIGHT that same year].

Gary Graver's THE BOYS. This rural shocker fell into the hands of Edward L. Montoro at Film Ventures International, who forced Graver to do reshoots and turn it into a terrible comedy called TEXAS LIGHTNING (1981).

Uh-oh, look out below! It's CATS, from the makers of DOGS (1976), and it was never produced.

THE DEPARTMENT STORE, a "blockbuster" to be directed by Brian Hutton. Screenplay by Ed Hume, from a treatment by Charles A. Moses.

Another trip to THE DEPARTMENT STORE! Bruce Geller took over for Brian Hutton, and then died in a plane crash the week this ad appeared. The movie was never made.

Below is an unproduced Bert I. Gordon horror movie, with a screenplay by writer-actor Alan Caillou (THE LOSERS, EVEL KNIEVEL, KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS).

DEVIL'S RIFF, a musical mix of live-action and animated fantasy from the people who made YELLOW SUBMARINE and GODSPELL, featuring E.L.O. music. It was never made.

Next up we have an obscure low-budget disaster documentary by Larry Savadove, the guy who brought us the similar CATASTROPHE (1977), only this one didn't get a theatrical release through New World Pictures. We love the tag line, which reads like the lyrics to "Ball of Confusion."

In between THE SECRET DREAMS OF MONA Q. (1977) and MOTHER'S DAY (1980), Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz tried to get this action flick from Charles Kaufman off the ground and failed.

This next one is LA MUJER DE LA TIERRA CALIENTE, which came out in the U.S. as FURY.

An early attempt by Howard Ziehm to produce a sequel to FLESH GORDON (1972). It took him another 12 years to finally get one made.

Years before he directed CLASS OF 1984 and CLASS OF 1999, Mark Lester tried unsuccessfully to make HIGH SCHOOL 2000.

A Mexican Tarzan rehash from Rene Cardona, Jr.

Another unrealized Roger Corman project. You'll find a few more here.

Telly Savalas' only feature as a director, released in 1978 as BEYOND REASON.

Three from New World Pictures, including the unproduced THE PLOT TO KILL CASTRO! Also note the screenwriting credit on AVALANCHE. Gavin Lambert?!

Very obscure action-drama starring Preston Pierce, his WHISKEY MOUNTAIN (1977) co-star Christopher George, and George's wife Lynda Day.

Director William Girdler was killed in a helicopter crash in the Philippines while scouting locations for this sci-fi adventure. He had been dead four months when this ad appeared. Screenplay by...Harry Kleiner?! (OK, that's twice now I've fallen out of my chair reading these screenplay credits)

Ignore the MPAA rating, because this Peter Perry production was never made.

Bill Cosby's plan to turn Al Young's novel Sitting Pretty into a feature film unfortunately never came to fruition (although Young did do uncredited rewrites on the Cosby-Poitier comedy A PIECE OF THE ACTION, also for First Artists).

The Starlog magazine movie, another no-show.

An unproduced Paul Morrissey project from the producer of THE STORY OF O and the executive producers of Joel M. Reed's BLOOD BATH. Torc like poster art!

Gordon Hessler's unmade VAMPIRELLA movie was to star Barbara Leigh (JUNIOR BONNER, TERMINAL ISLAND).

An ad for WINTER KILLS, from when it was still an AIP property and Elizabeth Taylor was still a credited guest star.

Unfinished mondo movie by BRUTES AND SAVAGES and BUDO producer Arthur Davis (More info on this one here).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Alain (Terence Stamp), an insufferable film director who found big success with his first feature but is artistically crippled by fears of a sophomore slump, has been bumming around Las Palmas for two years leeching off his beautiful and wealthy fiancée Sylvia (Pilar Velázquez), daughter of millionaire playboy businessman Alfonso (Fernando Rey). Inspiration finally comes in the form of “Krista Rose” (Corinne Clery), the star attraction at a local striptease club, who Alain is sure he has seen somewhere before -- and he has: she’s Anna Byrne, a once promising actress who, two years earlier, walked out on a potentially career-making lead in a high profile film (amid rumors of drug abuse and mental illness) and promptly disappeared. She recognizes Alain as another lost creative soul and tells him the whole sad story: her nervous breakdown and career implosion occurred when her boyfriend Charles, a brilliant medical student who felt he had to sell narcotics in order to support her extravagant lifestyle, got busted and sentenced to 4 years in prison. The downward spiraling actress married Charles behind bars and a baby girl conceived during a conjugal visit lived only two days. After a late-night skinny-dip-and-lovemaking session, Alain moves her into his rented house and starts writing the outline for "Striptease," his long-awaited second film, to be based on Anna’s life. None of this goes over well with Sylvia, who comes back from a business trip to find Anna sunbathing nude by the pool.

“Who is she?” Sylvia demands to know.

“Do you remember an actress called Anna Byrne?” Alain responds dryly. “In a film called MIRAGE, about a young girl that kills herself?”

That ought to get the warning bells going ding-ding-ding, but don’t expect this torpid time-waster to do anything but crawl to its obvious conclusion in the least dramatic way possible. In order to appease Sylvia, Alain tells her that he’s playing a “game” with Anna, trying to make her believe that he loves her when he really plans to discard her cruelly after the movie is finished. When Alain’s hard-drinking screenwriter friend George (Alberto de Mendoza) moves in to work on the script, he can’t make heads or tails out of what’s going on until Sylvia tells him everything.

(This composite photo from the back of the INSANITY! video box features at least two shots that aren't from the movie)

This is one of those movies where characters constantly talk about what they’re doing and what they're thinking in order to convince viewers that a story is unfolding. Everything is transmitted through subtext-barren dialogue; the so-called “game” that Alain’s supposedly playing has to be mentioned a dozen times because we never actually see any evidence of it dramatically. DANGEROUS LIAISONS, this ain't.

Anna: I know exactly what was going on! I know perfectly well what you had planned! You can't deceive me!

Alain: What do you mean?

Anna: George opened my eyes to it all!

Alain: How does he know?

Anna: Through Sylvia! She told him all about your little game!

That exchange might seem normal out of context, but by the time it occurs in the movie we’ve already heard (1) Alain tell Sylvia about the “game” he’s playing with Anna, (2) Sylvia explain Alain’s little “game” to George, and (3) George inform Anna about (1) and (2). It’s not surprising that the only writing credits are “Story by Enrique Esteban” and “Dialogue by Germán Lorente and Miguel Rubio,” with no actual screenplay credit to be found; apparently no one behind the camera was informed that film is a visual medium.

(Times Square premiere of STRIPTEASE, 1978)

Except for a quick tour of Spanish language theaters during the summer of 1978, with Stamp’s name absent from the advertising, deathly dull pic went unreleased stateside until the '80s home video boom, when the con artists at Mogul Communications issued it as INSANITY! If trimmed by 30 minutes it could’ve been passable Cinemax filler for glassy-eyed night owls willing to sit through uneventful Eurotrash for the high skin quotient, but at its original running time of 106 minutes it’s simply interminable. Bond-girl-to-be Clery performs two stripteases in the first few minutes and is topless or nude throughout, for anyone who still knows who she is and didn’t see enough of her in THE STORY OF O. As for Stamp, I’m guessing it was the Anna character more than Alain who drew him to the crummy script, since he himself had just come back from five years of self-exile in India after an ego-shattering breakup with model Jean Shrimpton. The one-time Oscar nominee does the best he can with his poorly written role, and one can assume he was at least paid well for the effort and enjoyed his stay in the Canary Islands.

(Jean Shrimpton and Terence Stamp, late 1960s)

Mystery Movie: WILD, WILD APES

While digging through the Temple library for newspaper ads to include in the latest installment of “Random Movie Ads” I came across this howler from December 1968, which deserves its own post and one hell of an explanation. I hope someone can provide one, because I’m stumped.

My take on it: some crooked sub-distributor, after examining the box-office take for PLANET OF THE APES, hauled a print of Cy Endfield’s awesome desert survival flick SANDS OF THE KALAHARI (1965) out of storage and – armed with scissors, glue and a few pressbooks (Antonio Margheriti’s WILD, WILD PLANET being one of the obvious ones) – came up with an ad campaign that looks like a case of fraudulent advertising if there ever was one. WILD, WILD APES is supposed to take place in 2068, when the world has been overrun by apes. All the artwork is recognizable from the WILD, WILD PLANET and SANDS OF THE KALAHARI advertising...

...except for the word “APES,” which was pulled from the PLANET OF THE APES ads...

...and that picture of Ursula Andress, which is what really has me scratching my head. If you can make out the credit block, you’ll notice Ursula’s name has also been added to the SANDS OF THE KALAHARI cast list. I have an image of Nigel Davenport staggering over a sand dune and - *cut*splice* - Honey Ryder's iconic entrance suddenly appears to him on the other side as a mirage.

I give up. The title is WILD, WILD APES. Anyone?