Thursday, September 30, 2010

DVD Short Take: THE KILLING KIND (1973)

Low-budget psycho thrillers in the 1970s were like buses: if you missed one, you only had to wait 20 minutes before another would roll through town. Chances are good that unless you stumbled upon the big box VHS from Unicorn Video a decade later, Curtis Harrington’s THE KILLING KIND (Dark Sky) is one of those rides you missed. Creepy, closeted mama’s boy Terry (John Savage) gets released from prison after serving a two-year stretch for a gang rape he kinda sorta didn’t participate in and drifts back to the boarding house run by his overbearing mother (Ann Sothern). Predictably, it takes all of five minutes for him to begin to unravel, and the screenplay -- by Tony Crechales and frequent Harrington producer-collaborator George Edwards -- pretty much blames mom along with half the women in California for the ensuing carnage. Still, there’s plenty to recommend here, from Harrington’s sharp direction and the haunting score by Andrew Belling to a strong, predominantly female cast (including downward-spiraling Ruth Roman, a pre-LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY Cindy Williams, and Sue Bernard from FASTER PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!) and the intriguing parallel plotline involving the frustrated librarian next door (Luana Anders) and her cantankerous wheelchair-bound father (Peter Brocco) -- characters Crechales and Edwards would bring back seven years later in THE ATTIC, with Carrie Snodgress and Ray Milland taking over the roles. That semi-sequel isn’t even mentioned in the DVD’s sole extra, an otherwise informative 22-minute career-spanning interview with a haggard-looking Harrington, who passed away in May of 2007 (six months before this DVD was released). A nice widescreen transfer does justice to Mario (CARRIE) Tosi’s effective cinematography, and English subtitles round out this overall decent presentation.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Moviegoers in 1976 who expected the scythe, snake and severed head depicted in the Frank Frazetta-inspired publicity art for THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA (Subversive) to actually turn up in the film itself were given at least three reasons to dislike this moody, unsettling psychosexual drama by screenwriter Robert Thom (BLOODY MAMA, DEATH RACE 2000) and director Matt Cimber (known for his Pia Zadora and Laurene Landon star vehicles): no scythe, no snake, no severed head -- in fact, no horror movie at all. On the other hand, some could say that DVD buyers in 2004 (when this disc was released by the now defunct Subversive) were given wayyy too much information about this film’s true storyline and the main character’s motivation in Tim Lucas’ fine liner notes, which should’ve been placed inside the disc case or on the DVD itself and not used as back cover copy. Not content with seeing only this movie spoiled before the "play" button is even pushed, Subversive allowed Cimber and star Millie Perkins to ruin the surprise ending of the pair’s previous collaboration, LADY COCOA, in the serviceable 36-minute documentary “A Maiden’s Voyage.” Luckily, the good news outweighs the bad: the 2.35:1 transfer from the negative is 16x9 enhanced and will be an eye-opener for anyone familiar with the shoddy full frame Unicorn tape, which never convinced me that ace cinematographer Dean Cundey had come within a mile of this movie let alone acted as its associate d.p. Dialogue is low, the rest of the sound okay otherwise. Cundey appears in the aforementioned documentary and contributes to a group audio commentary with Cimber and Perkins that is informative at times but in need of a moderator and better sound recording. Previews for other Subversive titles and bios for Cimber, Perkins and Cundey are also included on this now out-of-print title.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

a.k.a. Robert Pearson?

We’re convinced that the gentleman credited as “Newton Naushaus” in DRIVE-IN MASSACRE (1976)... actually Robert Pearson, director of THE HAWAIIAN SPLIT / THE GODCHILDREN (1971)...


...and who appeared in THE HAWAIIAN SPLIT / THE GODCHILDREN...

...BARE KNUCKLES (1977)...


What do you think?

Monday, September 27, 2010

One-Sheet of the Week: TOWER OF SCREAMING VIRGINS (1971)


U.S. release in 1971 as TOWER OF SCREAMING VIRGINS

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Endangered List (Case File #84)


Steve Drexel (as Geoffrey Noble)
Larry Pennell (as Jim Noble)
Leslie Parrish (as Jenny Noble)
Richard Davalos (as Michael Noble)
Kahana (as Pablo)

Anthony Caruso
Ron Brown
Hubie Kerns
Fred Scheiwiller
Mary Angela Shea
Jay Adler

Directed by
William White

Produced by
Hubie Jay Kerns
William White

Associate Producer
Ron Brown

Music by
Jaime Mendoza-Nava

Edited by
Andrew Herbert
Carl Monson
Ed Hunt

Gerald Fine

An International Center Production

Released by
Fine Products

Running time: 95 minutes
MPAA rating: G (in 1969)

Also released by Capital Productions
Re-released as BOCA AFFAIR by Cougar Releasing
Possibly owned by Troma, Inc.


The story revolves around three brothers who have no love for each other but a great love of riches. Their father, hating all three of them, devises a plan whereby greed will lead them to kill each other off. He tells them of a fortune buried in the middle of the South American jungle which only he knows about. He then gives each son a map and legacy which states that the fortune is his alone.

Michael Noble, played by Richard Davalos, is married to Jenny, a beautiful blonde, played by Leslie Parrish. Indifferent to her husband, Jenny is, in fact, in love with Jim Noble, played by Larry Pennell. The third brother, Geoffrey Noble, played by Steve Drexel, is the greediest of the lot. He wants both the money and Jenny.

All three brothers arrive in South America at about the same time and the race is on. Since a violent storm has previously hit the jungle, all roads into the interior are washed out. The treasure is only accessible by water.

Geoffrey, tricking Michael, kidnaps Jenny and takes her away with him on his boat. Michael, frantically seeking his wife and the treasure, inadvertently runs a policeman down with his jeep and kills him. The jeep is discarded when a tire blowout forces Michael to head into the jungle in search of Jenny and “his legacy.” The police now start their pursuit of the hit-run killer.

Meanwhile, Geoffrey has arrived at a point in the jungle where he will have to proceed on foot. Leaving one of his men to guard the girl and the boat, he goes ashore. Jim catches up with them, subdues the guard, releases the girl and scuttles the boat. With the aid of a friendly native named Pablo, played by Kahana of the BANANA SPLITS series, Jim and Jenny make their way to the ancient ruins of the Incas. Jenny, while taking a shower under a waterfall, discovers the entrance to the cave where the treasure is hidden. She and Jim no sooner enter the cave and find the treasure when Geoffrey and his men show up. They, in turn, claim the treasure. At this point, the Police Inspector and his men arrive at the cave. The Inspector claims the treasure for his government. They all leave the cave only to be pinned down by the rifle fire from the now deranged Michael. Geoffrey, knowing that Michael is after him, grabs a gun from the Inspector and takes off into the jungle. A chase ensues and Michael finally corners Geoffrey, who pleads for his life. Michael, now hopelessly insane, kills him. Jim accosts Michael and attempts to bring him in to the police. A fist fight follows and Michael, grabbing the rifle, points it threateningly at Jim. The Inspector comes up behind Michael and kills him before he has a chance to shoot. Jenny, who has come with the Inspector, rushes to Jim, who tells her of his brothers’ deaths. Jenny, leaning on Jim’s shoulder, begins to cry softly. He leads her up a jungle path away from the scene of devastation caused by his father’s hate and his brothers’ greed.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Shaw Brothers short takes

While we wholeheartedly applaud Celestial Films for the wonderful job they've done in the digital re-mastering of over 760 movies from the Shaw Brothers studio, we still think they deserve a swift kick in the balls for neglecting a handful of the sleazier and more offbeat Shaw offerings of the mid '70's -- namely VIRGINS OF THE 7 SEAS (1974), KILLERS ON WHEELS (1976) and THE DEADLY ANGELS (1977). All three played the U.S. drive-in/grindhouse circuit for years, with one earning its widest audience through Saturday afternoon TV showings, before slipping into near-total obscurity. Shown last week on a triple bill in the Temple screening room to an enthusiastic crowd of degenerates, all three are solidly entertaining exploitation flicks that instantly earned the Temple of Schlock seal of approval.

Pull five foxy fräuleins out of a SCHULMÄDCHEN-REPORT movie (before they've had time to get dressed, natch) and drop them in the middle of a Hong Kong kung fu flick and that's the pitch for VIRGINS OF THE 7 SEAS, pretty much everything you'd ever want from an alliance between the Shaws and West German smut peddler Wolf C. Hartwig's Rapid Film company (Actually, we would've included Ingrid Steeger and that gorgeous black gal from SCHULMÄDCHEN-REPORT #4 in the cast -- but hey, we never said this movie was perfect). Acquired for stateside distribution by Film Ventures International (FVI), with test screenings under the VIRGINS OF THE 7 SEAS title beginning in December 1975, pic was renamed THE BOD SQUAD by the start of the '76 drive-in season and evidently played to good business under that handle for several years.

In a desperate attempt to capitalize on the popular 10-hour NBC miniseries SHOGUN, which had premiered in the fall of 1980, FVI threw together a regional reissue under the rip-off title SHOGUN WARLORD beginning in August 1981, supported by their newer hit KILL OR BE KILLED as the co-feature (the double bill passed through the New York City area in June '82).

Story begins with the titular femmes -- all Caucasians, and only 3 of them still virgins -- held hostage aboard a junk en route to the evil Boss Won Tau’s domain, with the explanation that they were bound for Australia when captured by pirates. Captives are Karen (Tamara Elliot), her younger and innocent sister Donna (hot little Sonja Jeannine from 14 AND UNDER and SCHULMÄDCHEN-REPORTs #5-7), Anna (Diana Drube), Brenda (Gillian Bray) and the buck-toothed Celia (Deborah Ralls), and just when we thought we had never seen a more unflattering collection of wigs in our lives, the junk arrives at Won Tau’s place and every man from the Boss right down to his most bumbling lackey shows up sporting a ratty Cher weave. The girls are quickly stripped, cherry-checked by gloved servants and then groped by key members of Won Tau’s entourage, including his crazy henchman Ju-Lau (who gasps “I wanna cross the Gobi Desert on you!” while squeezing Donna’s bare butt) and the lesbian Aunt Jo-Fu, who sets her eyes on Karen. The 5 are then given lessons in the proper way to make love to a Chinese man (with an elderly woman as their instructor) and taught Chinese dance by the beautiful and sympathetic Ko Mei Mei (Hui-Ling Liu), a slave to Won Tau herself ever since her brother Ko Pao (Hua Yueh) challenged the Boss and then fled to organize an uprising against him.

Ko Mei Mei also secretly trains the 5 in martial arts so they can defend themselves against the horny, wealthy men who’ll be buying them at auction, her self-defense technique of choice being one that we quickly dubbed “deadly pit-spit style” because it involves olive pits as lethal projectiles. This leads to a jaw-dropping training montage in which nude white girls in hideous Rapunzel wigs cram olives into their mouths in fast-motion, spin around and spit the pits at pots of water that spring slow-motion leaks upon impact (while beer was spraying from mouths and noses all over the Temple screening room). And wait'll you see the slave auction, where a bidding war erupts over poor buck-toothed Celia and the winner turns out to be a squeaky-voiced millionaire who appears to be half-man, half-mouse! We knew when we saw the credit “Directed by Chih-Hung Kuei and Ernst Hofbauer” that this was going to be a winner, but by the 20 minute mark we were wondering aloud just how the heck this thing played theaters all over the U.S. for over 5 years without attracting word-of-mouth attention, ‘zine coverage or trade paper reviews. Best of all, the version we got through Cinema de Bizarre is German-language with fan subs that render nearly every line a howler (“I’m gonna turn off your gas and hang you from the Chinese wall!”), making this the most crowd-pleasing party movie we’ve come across in ages.

A Hong Kong hybrid of STRAW DOGS and the AIP biker flicks of the ‘60s like THE BORN LOSERS, Chih-Hung Kuei’s KILLERS ON WHEELS is a fast-paced and nasty B-flick ripe for rediscovery. When released stateside in 1977 by Howard Mahler Films, the same company that had unleashed the Shaw horror pic KILLER SNAKES a couple of years earlier, pic was blessed with a beautiful Neal Adams one-sheet that in no way exaggerates the action and brutality of the story (It also makes no attempt to conceal the film’s Asian origins in its credit block). When Mahler closed up shop a few years later, Terry Levene of Aquarius Releasing acquired the movie for a June 1983 reissue under the title KARATE KILLERS ON WHEELS.

Simple storyline opens with a trio of vacationers -- husband & wife, plus the husband’s younger sister -- encountering a rowdy gang of bikers aboard a ferry to Hong Kong’s outlying islands, where the three are headed to meet the sister’s fiancée (played by Danny Lee) for a weekend stay in his beach house. They reach their destination, but tensions mount through a series of increasingly hostile run-ins with the bikers (as well as in-fighting among gang members, a common subplot in this genre) until all hell breaks loose: their car is destroyed, the beach house trashed, the wife ravaged and the sister murdered (by having her face repeatedly slammed into a pile of broken glass!). While the revenge-crazed fiancée cracks open a half dozen biker skulls with a crowbar, the husband barricades himself and the wife inside the house to fight off the Yamaha-riding reinforcements in a vicious finale featuring deaths by electrocution, fire, boiling oil, harpoon gun and even outboard motor! This is top-notch action house entertainment, with blood and bare flesh to spare, plus a snappy soundtrack of stolen music ranging from Piero Piccioni’s “Identikit 2” (from COLPO ROVENTE) to Herbie Hancock's très funky "Heartbeat" and Lalo Schifrin cues lifted from KELLY’S HEROES! Unfortunately, the only version we’ve been able to track down (a) has no credits whatsoever, (b) is dubbed into German (c) with no subtitles and (d) has been trimmed of the more extreme barbarism, some of which can be glimpsed in the trailer. There’s also no IMDb entry to be found for this twisted little gem, leading us to believe that even normally diligent Shaw students can’t figure out what the heck it is!

THE DEADLY ANGELS is the only one of the three that we had actually seen prior to the Temple screening, and in a heavily edited TV version thanks to frequent appearances on WNYW’s “Drive-In Movie” in the mid ‘80s. With a rigidly structured script that doesn’t introduce its title characters until the 20 minute mark, it’s also the only one that could be called a mainstream formula actioner (despite the fact that it’s still packed to the rafters with hard-R-rated sex and brutality). Today’s kung fu fans and A.D.D. moviegoers might gripe about a slow first act but we quickly got into the groove and found the plot buildup satisfying, especially after the immediate all-out assault of the first two features. Designed to cash in on the popular American TV series CHARLIE’S ANGELS, pic became one of many Shaw Brothers films licensed exclusively in the U.S. by veteran distributor Mel Maron once he became president of the World-Northal Corporation in 1979. Released theatrically on a double bill with THE FIVE DEADLY VENOMS (New York City opening: February 1980), it received its widest exposure as part of World-Northal’s popular “Kung Fu Theater” syndication package for television.

Nightclub owner Chin and his murderous employees, including psycho girlfriend Yu Chi and sadistic knife-thrower Feng, have a lucrative side business ripping off Hong Kong diamond merchants and using showgirls from the club to smuggle the contraband into Japan and Korea, with Feng closing each deal by slashing to death the beautiful courier with his collection of blades. When the corpses of several showgirls turn up in Korea and Japan soon after the diamond heists, Scotland Yard detective Miss Eve (Evelyne Kraft from THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN) arrives in Hong Kong to put together a 3-woman police unit to go undercover in Chin’s club and bust up the operation. All three women are skilled in martial arts and firearms, with each brandishing a different weapon of choice: Chinese cop Yang Che Sin (Nancy Yen Nan Hsi) swings a mean spiked bolo, Korean cop Kow Chen Chen (Chen Chin Lan) prefers a crossbow, and Japanese cop Lei Ping (Dana/Tsen Shu-Yi) is a crack shot with a slingshot. Once this setup is in place THE DEADLY ANGELS kicks into high-gear with plenty of well-choreographed fight scenes and action setpieces, and despite the slick Aaron Spelling-like exterior there’s a surprisingly high sleaze quotient that was nowhere in evidence in the T.V. print we watched back in the day. Ennio Morricone fans will be kept busy identifying the maestro’s music cues on the soundtrack (especially from THE SICILIAN CLAN), and the whole Temple crew cracked up during the big climactic action scene when we realized it was taking place in the same beach house from KILLERS ON WHEELS. Both are available from grey market dealers. Check 'em out.

Monday, September 20, 2010

CARNIVAL MAGIC on TCM Underground in October!

The late Al Adamson’s G-rated talking monkey movie CARNIVAL MAGIC has been the source of rumors and wild speculation for nearly 30 years. Some folks insist that only one print was ever struck (which would mean the same print that was screened for Variety was also used for the German-language VHS?), while others claim that the film never saw the light of day anywhere until a copy was "found" in Adamson's house shortly after his murder in 1995. Hogwash! We're happy to report that the negative, the screenplay, 16 complete 35mm prints, outtakes, pressbooks, one-sheets and other materials for the elusive CARNIVAL MAGIC were discovered last November in a warehouse somewhere on the east coast, and TCM Underground will be premiering the newly restored master on October 29th at 2:45 a.m. Our inside source also informs us that a 2-disc special edition DVD will be out sometime before 2011. We were fortunate enough to catch CARNIVAL MAGIC last year during the Alamo Drafthouse's Cinemapocalypse tour, but we can't wait to see it again and we're very excited that Adamson's penultimate feature will be making its long-awaited home video debut in such an impressive package.

Meanwhile, feast your eyes on the rare newspaper ad below, which appeared in New York Newsday on November 25th, 1983.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

One-Sheet of the Week: THE KIDNAP OF MARY LOU (1975)


U.S. release in 1975 as THE KIDNAP OF MARY LOU

Re-released in 1976 as THE DEATH DEALER

Re-released in 1980 as ALMOST HUMAN

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Endangered List (Case File #83) -- FOUND!


Gary Conway (Kyle Martin)
Angel Tompkins (Betty)
Michael Dante (Johnny O’)
George Memmoli (Passini)
Timothy Scott (Weasel)
Jack Waltzer (Doc Valentine)
Ken Renard (Gumshoe)
John Popwell (Conners, The Hit Man)
Stratton Leopold (Laundry Sam)
Sonny Shroyer (Corrigan)
Eric Weston (Lopie)

Directed by
David Berlatsky

Produced by
Gary Conway

Written by
Janice Colson-Dodge
John Carmody
Patrick Regan
George Fargo

Executive Producer
Peter B. Mills

Cinematography by
Irv Goodnoff

Edited by
Richard Weber

Music composed & conducted
Hugo Montenegro

“The American Dreamer”
“Outside the Law”

Composed & Sung
Gene Clark

“There’s Only Me and You”

Composed by Jack Segal
Sung by Jackie Alter

Filmed in Panavision and Color
on location in Georgia

A Milway Production
Released by Columbia Pictures

MPAA rating: R
Running time: 98 minutes

Re-released to 42nd Street and other urban action theaters under the title THE KILLER FARMER beginning in 1979.

Comic actor George Memmoli, cast in THE FARMER as a villain, was seriously injured during production and had to turn down his next acting job, which was in Martin Scorsese's TAXI DRIVER (He was supposed to play the crazy cuckold fare, the role that was eventually filled by Scorsese himself). The injuries Memmoli sustained on THE FARMER contributed to his death 10 years later at age 46.


Kyle Martin (GARY CONWAY) is a Silver Star hero who returns home to his Georgia farm at the close of World War II. Behind its Currier & Ives exteriors, it becomes apparent that his farm is terribly rundown and close to foreclosure. Kyle is now in another and more primal war -- his own Pearl Harbor. To save his farm, he must confront the rural power brokers.

He soon learns that Silver Stars do not pay off creditors. The only real help to come his way is the $1500 from a grateful gambler, Johnny O’Neill (MICHAEL DANTE), whose life he saves by pulling the unconscious man from his overturned car moments before it bursts into flames and explodes. The two men are destined to have a closer association.

Later, Johnny O’ is blinded in an underworld vendetta and turns to the farmer to seek revenge. He offers Kyle $50,000 as a gun for hire. “You’ve killed 26 men to save your country, probably farmers like yourself. Why not go after five scumbags to save your farm?”

“That was war,” says Kyle.

“Bullshit war!” Johnny yells. “If Uncle Sam can ask you to kill, why can’t I?”

Kyle says he’ll think about it.

But Kyle is not persuaded. War is war and crime is crime. It’s a different kind of killing to the farmer. But, he’s in deeper than he knows. One night when he’s in town, his barn is burned to ashes. Gumshoe (KEN RENARD), an old Black who long has been in the family, is shot and left to burn in the barn. And Betty (ANGEL TOMPKINS), Kyle’s girl and long-time friend of Johnny O’, is brutally raped in the barn by Weasel (TIMOTHY SCOTT), one of the syndicate men.

This drives the farmer to action. Violence begets violence. Through the courtesy of Uncle Sam, Kyle already is a trained killer. With impeccable professionalism, he begins to eliminate, one by one, the men Johnny O’ sent him after. In panic, Passini (GEORGE MEMMOLI), the rival chieftain, hires a top hit man, Conners (JOHN POPWELL), to track down the unknown killer of his men. He also has the hospitalized Johnny O’ killed by a poisonous injection.

Kyle completes his wipe-out and drives back to the farm to rejoin Betty. Out of his truck, he embraces her. At that moment, Kyle is being pinpointed on the cross hairs of a telescopic sight. On a bluff overlooking the reunion scene is the dead Passini’s hit man. He is behind a rifle slowly bringing Kyle’s face into bold focus. The farmer’s eyes, usually hard-set and wary, for the first time are sun-bright with hope. The hit man and Kyle have crossed paths once before…

The ending is unexpected – not to be revealed here – and jolts the moral complacency of the viewer. Like Billy Budd, Kyle Martin is fated to be what he is…to do what he does. We meet in the farmer the tormenting struggle between good and evil and the search for rough justice in the scheme of things. But, THE FARMER is ultimately a statement against violence, against hypocrisy, and against man’s inhumanity to man.

Those slick bookers at the Fabian Theater in Paterson, N.J. knew they had a real turkey on their hands with METALSTORM, so they dug deep into the co-feature archives to come up with THE FARMER, a 1978 unsung gore classic starring Gary Conway (HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER, LAND OF THE GIANTS, etc.) as a revenge-bent agrarian out to get the mobsters who have raped his girlfriend, burned his barn and murdered his ranch hand. Conway disposes of the creeps in a variety of graphically-displayed ways (garroting, stabbing, blowing off gonads with a shotgun, etc.) that will keep violence mongers titillated with glee. However, the Fabian boys were worried that the title of the picture might go over with their largely urban audience like a sack of cow manure, so they changed the title on all marquees, one-sheets and news ads to THE KILLER FARMER to ensure the exploitative connection. The switch worked well as disgruntled METALSTORM patrons soon forgot their anger and got caught up in the tide of eyeball gougings, burnings and rapings offered up by Conway and company in this fast-paced epic. Younger gore fans and those who may have missed it the first time around should seek out THE (KILLER) FARMER, a satisfying, demented, violent winner!!
-- (The Gore Gazette, No. 60, August 1983)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Po-Man reveals the SECRETS OF SEX

In the title-changing tradition of such exploitation mini-moguls as Joseph Brenner, Terry Levene and Sam Sherman, Synapse Films is reissuing Antony Balch's BIZARRE on DVD under its original title, SECRETS OF SEX, with a psychedelic and sexy new look [See above]. The packaging is different and the pressing is new but all the tasty extras from the previous BIZARRE version are present and accounted for, including the critically lauded liner notes by Temple of Schlock editor and co-founder Chris "The Po-Man" Poggiali. The street date is October 12th. Pre-order now!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Random Movie Ads: The CLAUDE CHABROL Edition

June 24, 1930 - September 12, 2010

The following was originally posted on June 30th, 2009 as our contribution to Day Ten of Flickhead's Claude Chabrol blogathon.