Sunday, November 27, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mystery Movie solved? KARATE AND THE KNIFE a.k.a. THE NIGHT OF THE CAT?

UPDATE: Last week, John Charles of Video Watchdog sent us three old newspaper articles about the making of THE NIGHT OF THE CAT (1973), a long-forgotten North Carolina-shot exploitation flick that was recently unearthed and released by Something Weird Video. Yesterday morning, we received the following message from John pertaining to our most recent "Mystery Movie" entry, KARATE AND THE KNIFE: "In the 'Oh come on, what a coincidence!' Department, this could very well be THE NIGHT OF THE CAT. The things described in the ad do happen in that movie and I couldn't find any actual playdates for the film under the CAT title."

Thanks, John! It looks like you've solved this one!

The three NIGHT OF THE CAT articles that John sent us are posted below. Among other things, they reveal that the film -- credited to director "Jim Cinque" -- was partially re-shot by Mike Plumides, the owner of several strip clubs in Charlotte, after production was shut down because the original producer-director, Norman Williams, was arrested for writing $19,000 in bad checks. And from additional articles that Po-Man found this morning and threw into the mix, it's revealed that Craig Stevens and Aldo Ray were the original stars of THE NIGHT OF THE CAT, but never filmed their scenes because Williams was busted before they arrived on location!

“See a 110 lb. girl destroy a 500 lb. man”

“See five strong men completely disabled by a wisp of a girl
all at once!!”

“See the amazing escape of the girl spread-eagled on a bed.
She used her TOES”

“See the terrible revenge when she killed her sister’s killer!”

“See how good girls are turned into ladies of the night!”

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Today's guest reviewer is Tim Ferrante, a 30-year-plus veteran of the world of fandom. In addition to writing for such publications as Fangoria, Starlog, Gorezone, Comics Scene, and The Splatter Times, he created the Westerns...All'Italiana! fanzine in 1983, co-founded The Phantom of the Movies' VideoScope magazine in 1993, and for 10 years owned and edited GameRoom, a magazine aimed at fans and collectors of coin-operated pinball and video games. He was the vice president of the publishing company Imagine, Inc. and also wrote, produced & directed the trailer compilation video DRIVE-IN MADNESS! (1987). Here he is with a new review of...


Nathan Juran’s furry monster movie was released in 1973 by Universal Pictures as the bottom half of a double-bill with Bernard L. Kowalski’s scaly monster movie, “SSSSSSS”. The company treated both as little more than booking fodder, but for those in the know Juran’s film was the one with a special attribute. It was the third (and final) genre pairing of the director with Kerwin Mathews as his leading man. The duos’ earlier works, THE 7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958) and JACK THE GIANT KILLER (1962), are stop-motion animation extravaganzas and rank amongst the most cherished by fans. While not nearly as demanding, THE BOY WHO CRIED WEREWOLF (hereafter TBWCW) provides sufficient dramatic interest for adults even though the filmmaker’s broader approach is slanted toward a younger demographic. It is, after all, a fairy tale. And like any good fairy tale it meddles with childhood worries and fears which, in this case, bundles parental separation and authority distrust with one’s father becoming a werewolf! It’s about as nightmarish a situation as any youngster could imagine.

The movie wastes no time delivering a tone-setting opening sequence by introducing a werewolf (stunt coordinator Paul Baxley) within seconds of the Universal Pictures logo. The camera pans, zooms and finds something stirring amongst the brush and we catch a glimpse. The main title pops on the screen and a moment later we see a werewolf under a bright full moon, howling in the night! Tom Burman’s unique design of streaked long-hair and canine snout give the creature a fluffy and damn near friendly look. Not especially scary, but certainly something with which to reckon. Ted Stovall’s music is such a critical ingredient here, punctuating everything from the film’s logo to camera zooms to the magnificent reveal of the werewolf. It’s a grand and exhilarating sequence that gives way to more titles, exceptionally scored music, a prowling werewolf and our lead characters’ arrival. TBWCW is Stovall’s only film credit. He is a gifted composer and provided Juran’s film with an extraordinary score and sound. He’s well known within the music industry for his arranging, songwriting, conducting and instrument playing talents. It’s a pity his film music résumé begins and ends with one title.

It’s at his dad’s mountainside home where young Richie Bridgeston, portrayed by Scott Sealey in one of his two documented acting roles, is attacked by a werewolf. Robert (Kerwin Mathews) comes to his son’s rescue and is bitten during the fray, the elder now destined for a hairy future. Investigating the attack is the region’s straightforward sheriff who – in a bit of inspired casting – is played by character actor Robert J. Wilke, a familiar face that was tantamount with western bad guy roles. Richie pleads with the sheriff; he knows what he saw. It was a werewolf! Dad, though, says it was too dark and confusing to be sure about anything, especially when the creature was dispatched by a fall onto a fence post and quickly regressed to human form.

It’s here where we get a sense of Mathews’ reserved acting style. Never considered a thespian heavyweight, there are certain roles for which the actor is perfectly suited. This is a fanciful story with selected characters providing mild comic relief, but Mathews’ character is traditional and compassionate. The horror of a fanged monster within is intensified when embodied in such a mild and caring man. In werewolf makeup Mathews is downright regal! In scenes stalking Richie he’s lightly campy and rather ornery, conveying it all through eye movement and body language. Conversely, the mad snarling beast emerges when called for and he does so brilliantly. Juran’s direction of these scenes, while not technically winning, is pretty smart. There is a fright boundary, so to speak, within which Mathews works and both he and Juran sensed where and when a line should be crossed. The beast has a subtle and strangely fun personality at times while at others it’s a merciless killer. This is not an accidental performance. One could easily slam the film to pieces if judged on its surface. There is, however, nuance at work here. It’s so smartly weaved and balanced in all departments that it goes unnoticed on first viewing.

With the attacker dead and none of Richie’s protectors believing him, which now includes his mom Sandy (Elaine Devry), the assaults somehow continue and he soon realizes that it’s his father who’s the new mischief maker! Meanwhile, a motley Jesus freak collective encamp in a roadside clearing. Dad’s poorly-timed terrorizing of it and its pragmatic head, Brother Christopher (Bob Homel), is interrupted by a morning sunrise and transformation back to human form which everyone witnesses. Homel wrote the story and screenplay basing his werewolf on the established legend. He crafted a script that never strays into the offensive or horrible. The bloodletting ranges from extremely tame to none and it all manages to stay within a child’s mindset for what is scary, fun and entertaining. A perfect example is off-camera beheadings. For some bizarre reason Bridgeston’s alter-ego prizes the heads of his victims and buries one inside his garage! Richie sees the werewolf bury something and the whole scene provides a bit of queasy wonder. Think about it…a werewolf with a shovel in a garage burying a head while his son watches! You never see a severed head and it’s the ensuing dialog that suggests it all. The sequence also includes Richie’s witnessing of his dad changing back into human form just as the sheriff arrives and reports the missing heads.

Richie and his mom narrowly escape dad’s wolfish ways while Brother Christopher and his hippie flock try convincing the sheriff there’s something out there. It soon becomes clear that the cursed Robert Bridgeston is loose and seeking more victims. Everyone goes in search of the beast, only now they do so believing the boy who cried werewolf!

This would be Nathan Juran’s last directorial assignment, a man who 32 years earlier won an Academy Award for art direction in HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941). He is an iconic figure to genre fans, directing top faves such as 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH, THE DEADLY MANTIS and ATTACK OF THE 50 FT. WOMAN. Lest we forget his television credits such as LOST IN SPACE, THE TIME TUNNEL and LAND OF THE GIANTS. Apparently, his knack for handling weird material was appreciated by everyone but himself, telling Starlog magazine in 1989, “I wasn’t a born director. I was just a technician who could transfer the script from the page to the stage and could get it shot on schedule and on budget.” While a valuable trait, he intuitively understood fantastical material and how to present it to its target audience.

Juran’s TV directing credits include several episodes of DANIEL BOONE, an NBC television series that ran from 1964-1970. He also wrote an episode for its fifth season. Its executive producer was Aaron Rosenberg who was also the producer of TBWCW. The show’s connection extends even further as co-stars Bob Homel, Harold Goodwin (Mr. Duncan) and Robert J. Wilkie all had guest-starring roles in the series. The film’s co-producer, Russell F. Schoengarth, also worked as an editor. For some, TBWCW was a reunion opportunity.

Kerwin Mathews retired from the business after TBWCW, but was lured back for a one day shoot for a cameo appearance in the opening sequence of John Stanley’s NIGHTMARE IN BLOOD (completed: 1975; released: 1978). His brief movie-within-a-movie role was shot near the Golden Gate Bridge and according to Stanley, Mathews accepted no money for his performance. The actor had settled in San Francisco by then and remained there with his lifelong partner, Tom Nicoll, until his death in 2007 at age 81. His friend Nathan Juran died in 2002.

Beyond its obvious purpose as movie entertainment, TBWCW is a pleasantly preserved recording of career milestones and endings. Its attraction goes deeper than its inventive title, proffering casual viewers, monster fans and film historians alike with more than enough things to enjoy and treasure. Imperfections aside, TBWCW is brought to life with a dose of charm, grandeur and understated style.

Tim currently writes soundtrack CD reviews for The Phantom of the Movies' VideoScope magazine, and can be reached on the web at We highly recommend his excellent limited edition CD sountracks for MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND (Composed & conducted by Tito Arevalo) and DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN (Composed & conducted by William Lava), which can be purchased directly from Tim's company, Elysee Productions.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Endangered List (Case File #116)

“You’ve seen her as the nurse in ‘Deep Throat’…
now see her as Nancy in…”


Carol Connors (Nancy)
Jack Birch (David)
Don Fowler (Mr. Sanders)
Al Del Bake (Uncle)
Aurora Davis (Jo Ann)
Brenda Moore (Mary)

Produced by
Joseph Fink?

Directed by
Rene Martinez, Jr.?

Running time: 72 minutes
Rating: Self-applied X

Released by
Re-Mart International Pictures

"Knowing and loving the right people
is not a guarantee to the top!"


David, after applying many times for a job at Sanders Advertising Company and being turned down every time, becomes frustrated. In despair, David kidnaps the daughter of Sanders Advertising Company, in a desperate move to get money. David keeps the girl hidden in his house for five exciting days. The police unsuccessfully search for Miss Sanders all over the city. The couple, after being together for all that time, fall in love and marry.

David not only gets the girl but the job - an executive position with the Sanders Advertising Company.

One of five movies released by Re-Mart International, a Tampa-based film production and distribution company co-owned by producer Joseph Fink (DEATH CURSE OF TARTU, STING OF DEATH) and director Rene Martinez, Jr. (THE GUY FROM HARLEM, THE SIX THOUSAND DOLLAR NIGGER). Their first release, ROAD OF DEATH (1973), was an R-rated biker flick directed by Martinez and starring Connors and Birch. RIDE TO ECSTASY (1974) and YOUNG, RICH AND RIPE were released with self-applied X ratings, but THE KID AND THE KILLERS (1974) and something called THE SANGUINARY (1974) -- which is also known as SHOCK and may or may not be the U.S. release of LA CASA SIN FRONTERAS (1972) -- were rated PG. Fink succumbed to brain cancer shortly after these five hit theaters, Re-Mart dissolved, and Martinez (who may have directed YOUNG, RICH AND RIPE) went on to make the two worst blaxploitation movies of all time.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Movie Ad of the Week: BANG, BANG, THE MAFIA GANG (1971)

World Premiere - Wednesday, February 24, 1971 - Tucson, AZ

Rated X by the MPAA in 1970, Art Lieberman’s wacky sex comedy BANG, BANG, THE MAFIA GANG -– starring funny guy Frank Corsentino in full Woody Allen mode and exotic Russ Meyer starlet Haji in sexy-as-ever mode -- was released by Headliner and had its world premiere in Tucson with the stars in attendance. A year later the movie was picked up by Group 1, cut for an MPAA-approved R rating and re-released as UP YOUR ALLEY. It toured drive-ins and neighborhood theaters for 5 years under this handle before being sold off to producer/showman M.A. Ripps (of POOR WHITE TRASH infamy), who re-titled it HEADS 'N' TAILS ("Their tails are up, their heads are down, they're the most popular girls in town!") and finally THE MELON AFFAIR for a 1978/1979 roll-out through his EMC Film Corporation. The movie is currently available on DVD-R and for download from Something Weird under its original title.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

State of the Temple Address 6

Hey gang, thanks for swingin' by to say 'hi' on this fine November day. It’s hard to believe that 5 months have passed since the last State of the Temple Address, when Po-Man warned you all not to expect any kind of consistent posting out of him until September,
"'cause all the good stuff is boxed up and in storage," but there it is and here we are. All the good stuff is still boxed up and in storage, but things have calmed down enough for us to start posting again semi-regularly, with plans for a full-blast return on New Year's Day. Po-Man isn’t comfortable divulging family, health and other personal information online, nor does he want to bore you all with the mind-numbing details of his first and hopefully last real estate transaction, but he will say that the last 7 months have been grueling for all the reasons hinted at above, and he can’t wait for life to get back to normal. The good news is, he’s purchased a newer, bigger and better Temple -- located in downtown New Rochelle, just a short walk from his place of employment -- and he’ll be moved into it by the middle of December. And the bad news, you ask? Happily, there isn’t any bad news -- just more good news. Great news, actually, but we can’t tell you what it is...yet. Check back with us in a few days. Or, better still, follow us on Twitter and “like” us on Facebook so you don’t miss the big announcements.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Movie Ad of the Week: THE FIRST TIME...THE LAST TIME (1972)


World Premiere - Waterloo, Iowa
Wednesday, December 6, 1972

"Vivacious star" Cindy Summers made personal appearances at the Cinema X theater from Saturday, December 9 through Tuesday, December 12.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Guest Review: ALEX JOSEPH AND HIS WIVES (1977)

It's an honor and a privilege to have former Variety reporter/editor Lawrence Cohn with us today for this very special installment of Guest Reviews.  Readers unfamiliar with "Lor" are urged to delve into the volumes of Variety Film Reviews for the years when he was venturing into the roughest, toughest New York-area theaters to 
review down 'n' dirty flicks like SHOCKING CANNIBALS, BLIND RAGE, BLOOD WATERS OF DR. Z, CEMETERIO DEL TERROR, MY FRIENDS NEED KILLING, MONSTER SHARK, TRAP THEM AND KILL THEM, LA MARCA DEL HOMBRE LOBO, and CHESTY ANDERSON, US NAVY for the weekly industry trade paper.  Here he is with a new review of the
Ted V. Mikels polygamy propaganda pic...

Alex Joseph and
His Wives

Stillborn portrait of a free spirit.

An American Republic Pictures Corp. release of a William Edward Thrush production. Executive producer, Thrush. Produced and directed by Ted V. Mikels. Screenplay, Thrush, Alex Joseph, Mikels; camera (Movelab color), Nickolas Von Sternberg; editor, Mikels; music, Nicholas Carras; production manager, John Curran. Reviewed on Shocking Videos DVD-R, N.Y., November 1, 2011. (No MPAA rating). Running time: 100 MINS.
Nora Grady................................................Undein Hampton
Sheriff Skinner........................................Noble “Kid” Chissell
F.D.A. Man, Perkins.....................................Tommy Simmons
F.B.I. Man, Wood..........................................Beau Billingslea
Motel Manager............................................Stuart Lancaster
Bobby Grey Fox.............................................Billy White Bird
Bar Troublemaker...........................................Patrick Wright
Car Rental Agent...........................................George Costello
Assassin....................................................Steve Blackmore
Special appearances: Danny Scholl, Edmon Kaiser, Jim Gillings
Also with: Alex Joseph and his wives (Dale, Margaret, Leslie, Lorraine, Carmen, Joanie, Pamela, Judy, Paulette, Melinda, Kitty, Carla) and Pius Whirlwind Soldier

Ted V. Mikels’ loyal following of admirers who enjoy his horror and action films might be a bit puzzled at this rather flat biopic of one Alex Joseph, a polygamist and libertarian whose heyday was over 3 decades ago. Since Mikels shares Joseph’s fondness for the harem-lifestyle it was a natural project but emerges as propaganda rather than entertainment.

Because Joseph stars as himself and contributed to the screenplay (with Mikels and the film’s exec producer/instigator William Thrush), we’re treated to a typical ego trip. The wives (over a dozen) play themselves and are all attractive, though without acting skills. Mikels began his career with sexploitation pictures but this project emerges squeaky clean.

Alex’s run-ins with the government are depicted in mainly tongue-in-cheek terms. He’s the heroic outsider with a familiar “don’t tread on me” philosophy, and the minions of Order are buffoons, notably an FDA inspector trying in vain to meet up with Alex and inspect his ginseng health food operations. Paralleling many a latter-day reactionary right up through the Tea Party Movement, Joseph takes an extreme stance, belittling the state’s failed attempts to collect sales tax at the diner he owns, for example.

Mikels employs several actors to supplement the real-life protagonists, including soft porn talent like Stu Lancaster, wasted as a local motel manager delivering some exposition, and Patrick Wright, typecast as a male chauvinist barfly with rape on his mind.

Worst casting choice is the unappealing Undine Hampton in the key role of Nora Grady, a British journalist for a women’s magazine, interviewing Alex and his ménage. She doesn’t even try for any sort of British accent, and is mannishly styled, with clear lesbian tendencies. Ultimately she is merely a mouthpiece/structural peg in order to feed the viewer information about the goofy Alex Joseph. Film’s climax is a “surprise” marriage, and I was hoping that it would be hers (illogical as that would be), but no such luck.

Film’s nadir is reached when Joseph attends a Constitutionalist convention of like-minded nutcases, who each get up and mount their particular soapbox to rant about how our government crushes free spirits. If they had included people like David Koresh, Charles Manson (I couldn’t resist name-dropping him) or Jim Jones it might have held some historical interest, but these folks, like Alex, are minor league cranks whose nutsy world views are not even interesting enough to make the cut in some Mondo documentary.

Major subplot has to do with Joseph’s many Native American friends, who naturally share with him a dislike of the U.S. government for so often mistreating them and their forebears over the centuries. I was far more interested in their problems than those of our self-appointed Major Domo Alex, further detracting from the film’s intended impact.

Occasional comic relief is clumsy, notably Alex’s “funny” racism regarding a Black FBI agent on his case, or his sitting there reading Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book in an idle moment.

My take on Joseph, who is comically described in the end credit crawl as being in Hollywood working on movie projects (no takers after this fiasco, however), is unclear, since he obviously has enough charisma to win over a couple of dozen young women to the point of mindless adoration (end credits indicate that many of his wives are separated, however, by May '77) yet comes off onscreen as a big nothing. The communal life style depicted here was the rage in the ‘60s and still of minor interest today, but Joseph’s polygamous version, defended earnestly by the wives, is boring and strictly self-aggrandizing. - Lor.

Sunday, November 06, 2011