Sunday, February 26, 2017

Movie Ad of the Week: The Many Faces of RANSOM (1977)



Filmed in October 1976 in Phoenix and Scottsdale, AZ under the title RAN$OM, this early Arnold Kopelson credit -- which, not surprisingly, remains a no-show on his IMDb profile -- went through more title changes and ad campaigns than any other post-1960s Roger Corman release to date. According to Roger Corman's New World (BFI Dossier Number 7) by Jim Hillier and Aaron Lipstadt, the film was first released as ASSAULT ON PARADISE on April 27, 1977. The ad above dates the Phoenix opening as April 29, 1977.


Less than a month later, the film opened as THE TOWN THAT CRIED TERROR in Newport News, VA on May 20, 1977.


The title was NIGHT HUNTER when the film arrived in Colorado Springs, CO on August 10, 1977.


Some prints under the title MANIAC! feature an added opening scene prepared by Miller Drake and Joel Rapp in which a maniac in a clown mask shoots a young couple making out in a convertible. This scene, which runs one minute long and has nothing to do with the rest of the film, is the selling point of the MANIAC! ad above (Detroit opening: October 19, 1977).


Other prints of MANIAC! that do not include the "killer clown" opener utilized a different ad campaign. This version -- which opened in Chicago on November 11, 1977 (above) and is basically the same as ASSAULT ON PARADISE -- was issued on video in 1986 by Embassy Home Entertainment.


Vestron Video released RANSOM (above) in 1984. The running time for this tape is 1:26:11. The Embassy release of MANIAC! from two years later (below) runs 1:27:15. Neither of these tapes feature the "killer clown" opener.


The film began appearing on television in 1980 -- under both the MANIAC! and RANSOM titles -- via pay stations like Prism, OnTV, and Spotlight, before settling on the USA Network for a five-year run (as RANSOM) beginning in 1983.


But wait! A version of RANSOM running 104 minutes, with a truncated ending and narration by Oliver Reed's character, surfaced on the PLEX/Encore channel in 1997. This longer cut begins and ends with the ITC Entertainment logo and is included as a bonus on the recent Blu-ray from Code Red. Also on this Blu-ray: The "killer clown" opener with the MANIAC! credits (featuring Roger McGuinn's "Victor's Theme: Shoot Him" instead of the Don Ellis main theme, which plays over the opening credits in all other versions) and a nice looking 2.35:1 transfer of the theatrical cut under the ASSAULT ON PARADISE title (runs 1:27:47), which can also be viewed with the "killer clown" opener (1:28:47). The reversible cover art features ASSAULT ON PARADISE on one side and the "killer clown" MANIAC! art on the other. Additional extras include the MANIAC! trailer (peppered with car crashes lifted from GRAND THEFT AUTO!), an audio commentary by producer Peter MacGregor-Scott, and interviews with Miller Drake and actor Paul Koslo.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Endangered List (Case File #158)



HENTAI (1966)

Starring
Sayuri Sakura
Kyôji Kokonoe
Kôtarô Mori
Masayoshi Nogami
Kuniko Masuda
Noboru Misawa
Ken Sugiyama
Kenji Hagi
Ken Akaishi
Noboru Takeishi
Shigeo Sone
Jirô Urashima
Miki Jô
Hiroko Okamoto

Directed by
Hiroshi Nishida
and
Takashi Shiga

Written by
Hiroshi Nishida

Produced by
Noboru Nishiyama

U.S. Version
Felix Lomax [Bob Cresse]
R.L. Frost [Lee Frost]

Music by
Noboru Nishiyama

Planner
Minoru Chiba

Re-Recording Mixer
Sam Kopetzky

A
Nihon Cinema Film K.K.
production

An
Olympic International Films
release

B&W / 81 minutes / U.S. version: 71 minutes


Los Angeles - September 2, 1966


PLOT

An important and respected Tokyo industrialist named Kasama hires Kyoko and Sugita, two young and eager detectives, to find his missing daughter. The few clues he is able to give them reveal that the missing girl had recently made friends with an unsavory group of people, one of whom appears to be connected with a powerful and mysterious nightclub owner called Takami. Kyoko, a brave and lovely girl, goes to work for Takami in order to learn more about his organization, even though he forces her to submit to his passionate advances and eventually delivers her to a special client for peculiar sexual experiments.

She and Sugita gradually learn that Takami operates a large narcotics ring headed by an unknown "Big Boss" who always appears masked, that together they abduct pretty young girls, addict them to heroin, rape them and put them to work as prostitutes. One of these seduced and addicted girls, she discovers, is Kasama's missing daughter. With the help of an international narcotics agent, Kyoko manages to escape from Takami and his goons, and while the Tokyo police track down and arrest the members of the gang, she and Sugita rip the mask of respectability from the brutal "Big Boss' - Kasama, their prominent client. To his utter horror, this ruined man learns that he has unknowingly raped, drugged, and prostituted his own child. Hentai is not a pretty story, but neither is the condition of Kasama's beloved daughter when she is finally returned to him, her body ravaged and her mind destroyed by her father's abnormal lusts.



REVIEW

The boom in Japanese movie production during the last ten years has established the Japanese as masters of the craft in at least two major areas: tastefully made sex/violence pictures, and imaginatively mounted science fiction films. An excellent example of the former is HENTAI (Abnormal), a recently completed product of the Japan movie mills that was brought into this country by Olympic International Films for U.S. distribution.

HENTAI is a pulse-pounding detective story which incorporates all the elements of a successful mystery: drama, intrigue, suspense, strong characterization, and a shocking, completely unexpected twist ending. Add to this a quartet of stunningly beautiful Japanese girls and a hard-hitting screenplay that features plenty of action and wild scenes of all types.

HENTAI is basically about a man-woman team of detectives that is retained by a wealthy industrialist to locate his missing daughter. During their search they encounter many dangers and accidentally uncover a nest of evil that stretches throughout all of Asia. The heroine in the story is the lovely Kyoko, half of the detective team. Her partner is Sugita, a private eye with a roving eye who flips for every pretty girl he meets along the road.

Effectively combining narration by both halves of the detective with dialogue, HENTAI tells a powerful story. It is an exceptional picture and should not be missed when it opens all over America.

                                                    -- Wildest Films, October 1966


BOB CRESSE said...

I was getting the Japanese films so cheaply it was a joke. I'd buy the rights for America, Belgium, and England for $4,000. Then I'd sell the Belgium and England rights for $4,000, and we'd have America for free. Unfortunately, the Japanese films did not go over well here. The American audiences liked the Japanese women, but they couldn't relate to the Japanese men. The funny part is that these were often very well made films. And to show the depth of Lee's talent, look at one of these Japanese films, which Lee would dub himself. He'd get three or four actors and actresses and sit in the sound studio and direct the dubbing and he'd do a good job. Because of the vowel and consonant sounds, it's much easier to dub a German or Italian film than it is to do one from Japan. But Lee could do it pretty well.

                           -- Interview by Mike Vraney (Cult Movies #9, 1993)



Sunday, February 19, 2017

Movie Ad of the Week: HOLY WEDNESDAY (1974)


World Premiere - Friday, April 26, 1974 - San Bernardino, CA





HOLY WEDNESDAY - El Paso, TX - March 21, 1975


SNAKELUST - Lawton, OK - September 26, 1975


FANGS - Tallahassee, FL - February 18, 1977

Friday, February 17, 2017

Mystery Movie solved! THE SWORD AND THE CLAW (1983)


Three and a half years ago we put up a Mystery Movie post about THE SWORD AND THE CLAW, the main feature on a martial arts triple bill from William Mishkin Motion Pictures that opened on August 26, 1983 at the Rialto I on 42nd Street. What we thought was a kung fu movie actually turned out to be the wacky Turkish action-adventure flick KILIÇ ASLAN (1975), better known as LION MAN, which was a Movie Ad of the Week just a month or two back. Big thanks to Sebastian del Castillo of the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) for helping us with this one.