Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Critics Rave: A SMALL TOWN IN TEXAS (1976)

To celebrate the first home video release of Jack Starrett's A SMALL TOWN IN TEXAS in its proper Panavision 2.35:1 aspect ratio (available now from the MGM Special Edition DVD-R library), and to observe the 23rd anniversary of Starrett's passing (March 27, 1989), we've collected a few review quotes from the film's theatrical release.

“A pleasantly jolting surprise, A SMALL TOWN IN TEXAS is a reminder that an unpretentious movie, cleverly made, can be one of the true pleasures of filmgoing.”
                                                    --After Dark

“…a tightly paced little melodrama distinguished by excellent acting.”
                                                    -- Louisville Courier-Journal

"The fine acting by Bottoms and Hopkins as two strong egos pitted against each other puts this film a notch above others of the genre."
                                                    -- Boxoffice

“While it deserves a generous helping of abuse for its all-around shoddiness, ‘A Small Town in Texas’ has a curious sort of appeal.”
                                                    -- Grand Rapids Press

"...starts off as a potentially interesting modern western character study, but veers off into cheap B-picture elements."
                                                    -- Variety

“If you dig action films with chase scenes, like to see cars smashed up, don’t mind beatings and stompings and want to see the cops get what’s coming to them, this is probably your cup of tea.”
                                                    -- Albuquerque Journal

“…addresses itself to the corruption of a sheriff and the destruction of so many cop cars with their flashing lights that you begin to wonder if Texas has any left.”
                                                    -- New York Post

“For a small town in Texas, they sure have a well-equipped police force. At least that’s what this reviewer thought after watching an even dozen cop cars bite the dust during the 90 minute running time.”
                                  -- John H. Fahey, Charleston News and Courier

“The best performances are those by the crashing police cars.”
                                                    -- Boston Globe

“…long on screeching tires and short on believability.”
                                                    -– Norfolk Virginian-Pilot

“I’m just a crushed fender or two away from grouping these car crash epics along with pornos, kung-fu flicks and blaxploitation on my Don’t Even Bother to Review list.”
                                                    -- Eric Gerber, Houston Post

“…another piece of grisly trash…wastes its not inconsiderable talents in a deplorably brutal way.”
                                                -- Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

“All you need to know about the story are the first names of some of its characters: Poke, Duke, Boogie, Lenny, Cleotus, Tiny, Bull, Junior.”
                                                    -- Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune

“A few questions remain, as we slog through what looks like a long, hot summer of Good Ol’ Movies. Are all Southern lawmen inevitably corrupt, venal, sadistic and bad drivers? Do Southern girls ALL look wide-eyed and clean-scrubbed and have two first names? Is it a union requirement that one bluegrass band appear in every film?”
                                                    -- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Here's a U.S. release ad for JIANG NAN BA DA XIA/THE GREATEST PLOT (1977), a kung fu flick with gory highlights provided by lethal booby traps and flying guillotines, plus one memorable sequence in which a major character commits suicide by plucking out his own eyes and ripping out his own throat! The battered English-dubbed print we watched, taken from the Alpha Blue Archives VHS tape, runs about 89 minutes and looks like horses dragged it to hell and back. The onscreen title is THE SABER TOOTH DRAGON VS. THE FIERY TIGER.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


by Chris Poggiali & David Konow

If you're a fan of low-budget horror, sci-fi, and exploitation movies and you did your time at the local drive-in or inner-city grindhouse during the 1970s (or spent hours channel surfing at three a.m. during the 1980s), then most likely you've been exposed to the unique films of Independent-International Pictures (IIP) and that studio's top in-house director, Al Adamson. Voodoo, vampires, blind zombies, sexy Swedes, Spanish werewolves, blazing stewardesses, naughty cheerleaders, bikers, blaxploitation, kung fu, chicks in chains, "in search of" documentaries -- IIP touched all of the big exploitation bases of the '70s, often re-titling and re-releasing older films to fit a certain niche market or to take advantage of whatever trend was popular at the moment. Today, IIP is one of the oldest independents still in business, and company president and co-founder Samuel M. Sherman is more willing than ever to share with us his experiences working in the industry and his vast knowledge of movie history.

BLACK HEAT, one of IIP's most audacious experiments in exploitation distribution, began life as a telephone conversation between Sherman and Adamson in 1975. The two were discussing GIRLS' HOTEL, a 3-D sexploitation flick that Sherman was trying to get off the ground. "[It] was a stewardess kind of movie," Sherman remembers, "and then I said, 'Can we add a black story into this?'" Black exploitation movies were still big box-office attractions in the inner cities, despite a mass exodus from the genre by the major studios that left many independents (Dimension, Atlas, AIP) happily picking up the slack with low-budgeters like THE BAD BUNCH (1976), THE BROTHERHOOD OF DEATH (1977), and PETEY WHEATSTRAW (1978). “There were a limited number of theatres that could play [blaxploitation], maybe two or three hundred theaters," Sherman reveals. "These were big downtown theaters with thousands of seats that catered to African-American audiences -– but once you played these theaters, the film was done."

Sherman and Adamson quickly hatched a scheme to create one movie that could play two different niche markets, under two different titles, with two different advertising campaigns. The secret would be to shoot two separate opening reels, which would take the film in one direction or another. The drive-ins would get the film as GIRLS’ HOTEL, and the opening reel would have “girls taking showers in the nude, and somebody in the hotel having sex, to kind of set it up as more of a sexy kind of movie,” while BLACK HEAT would open with “the munitions smuggling and the black actors, to establish that part of the story. I said to Al, 'If we could make a two purpose film that could go to either market, we could go to the urban theaters with BLACK HEAT, and then switch the first reel and go to the drive-ins and indoor theatres that play the T&A product with the GIRLS' HOTEL campaign.' So that’s what we did.”

To get the script they needed to pull off the ruse, the duo brought in several writers they had worked with previously: John R. D'Amato had penned GIRLS FOR RENT (1974), BLAZING STEWARDESSES (1975), and THE DYNAMITE BROTHERS (1974) for IIP, Budd Donnelly was credited with the screenplay for Adamson’s JESSI’S GIRLS (1975) and would go on to write CINDERELLA 2000 (1977) and SUNSET COVE (1978) for the director, and Sheldon Lee had been a makeup artist on DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN (1972) and JESSI'S GIRLS. The hero they created was a no-nonsense African-American cop named Kicks Carter, and Sherman had one man in mind for the part – Timothy Brown, former running back for the Philadelphia Eagles, who had co-starred in the IIP/Adamson production THE DYNAMITE BROTHERS (a.k.a. STUD BROWN) one year earlier.

"I'm not a sports fan, but I like athletes because there's something real about them – they do something real to get their fame and success,” Sherman states. “My wife Linda and I had gone to see a small independent film called BONNIE'S KIDS (1973), and Timothy Brown was in it as one of the heavies. I said to Linda, 'This guy is really good. We should use him in something.' So I talked to Al, and I said, 'Maybe we have something he can do, he's very good.' Al said, 'You mean Timmy Brown? I play basketball with him every week!' Al liked to play basketball at the Hollywood Y. I said, 'When you see him next time, tell him we'd like to have him in a picture.' So that's how he ended up the star of THE DYNAMITE BROTHERS."

Brown had dated Diana Ross, and was a fixture in the L.A. nightclub scene, frequently turning up in such trendy spots as The Candy Store on Rodeo Drive and Maverick’s Flat on Crenshaw Boulevard with pals Jim Brown and Fred Williamson. In fact, both Timothy Brown and Williamson had co-starred in Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H (1970) – Brown as Corporal Judson, Williamson as Captain “Spearchucker” Jones. When M*A*S*H became a TV series on CBS two years later, Brown replaced Williamson as “Spearchucker,” but worked for Altman again on NASHVILLE (1975) – which Sherman took full advantage of in the press materials for BLACK HEAT/GIRLS’ HOTEL. Brown’s other exploitation credits include BLACK GUNN (1972) with Jim Brown, the women’s prison movie SWEET SUGAR (1972), and Cheri Caffaro’s third “Ginger” film, GIRLS ARE FOR LOVING (1973).

Stunning newcomer Tanya Boyd was hired to play Brown’s love interest, a gutsy TV news reporter named Stephanie. Later the same year, Boyd would land roles in BLACK SHAMPOO (directed by former Adamson/Sherman crew member Greydon Clark) and ILSA, HAREM KEEPER OF THE OIL SHEIKS (teamed with Marilyn Joi, a regular in Adamson/Sherman productions). Her other acting credits include THE HAPPY HOOKER GOES HOLLYWOOD (1980), WHOLLY MOSES (1980), UP THE ACADEMY (1980), JO JO DANCER, YOUR LIFE IS CALLING (1986), and the ABC miniseries "Roots" (1977). For nearly 15 years she appeared on the popular daytime drama “Days of Our Lives” as Celeste Perrault (Beverly Todd now plays the character). As a singer, she briefly replaced Marilyn McCoo in The Fifth Dimension, and toured for several years with Lou Rawls.

Former star Russ Tamblyn, who had lit up the screen in big budget productions ranging from SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954) and PEYTON PLACE (1957) to WEST SIDE STORY (1961) and THE HAUNTING (1963), was hired to play the sleazy villain, Ziggy. It was his fourth and final film for Adamson, following SATAN’S SADISTS (1969), THE FEMALE BUNCH (1971), and DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN (1971).

"In my opinion, Russ never again got a role equal to SATAN'S SADISTS,” Sherman comments. “Al liked him a lot and wanted to work with him more. We always discussed that. 'Al, we've gotta do a picture around Russ Tamblyn. He was so great in SATAN'S SADISTS, he could be so good – can’t we do something with him?' And I don't know if we didn't have such a picture, or if the films were going in a different direction, or if Russ just didn't want to do those films anymore. When you think about what a great actor Russ Tamblyn is, it’s sad that his career didn’t skyrocket again after SATAN'S SADISTS. I think people were afraid of a picture that was that rough in those days."

After BLACK HEAT, Tamblyn didn’t work in front of the cameras again for nearly 10 years. B-movie director Fred Olen Ray employed him regularly during the ‘80s, but David Lynch provided something of a comeback in 1990 with the television series “Twin Peaks” and its 1992 feature film follow-up, TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME – both of which reunited Tamblyn with his WEST SIDE STORY co-star Richard Beymer.

Another veteran of SATAN’S SADISTS who had a leading role in BLACK HEAT was Adamson’s wife, Regina Carrol – “the love of Al's life,” according to Sherman. “He’d never been really that smitten by anybody before, so the world revolved around her. They were a great couple – they were a lot of fun together. After they got married, she had some health challenges, which eventually caught up with her in the '80s. Al spent all his time taking her to doctors, trying to save her. His dream was that each year medical science would advance another year so they could keep her alive another year. That's all he wanted – to keep her alive and keep her well." Regina, a heavy smoker, lost her long battle with cancer in 1992. “Everybody liked Regina. She and Al looked at Independent-International as kind of a family business we were running."

That image of IIP as a family business was further solidified by the presence of many others who had previously worked with Sherman, Adamson, and Carrol. Geoffrey Land, who plays Timothy Brown's partner, Tony, had been in THE FEMALE BUNCH (1971), JESSI'S GIRLS (1975), and BLAZING STEWARDESSES (1975), and would go on to star in two IIP horror movies directed by Adamson, NURSE SHERRI (1978) and DOCTOR DRACULA (1980).

Al Richardson – Alphonse in BLACK HEAT – had been in HAMMER (1972), MEAN MOTHER (1972), THE DYNAMITE BROTHERS (1974), and THE NAUGHTY STEWARDESSES (1974). Jerry Mills (Narc) was a veteran of three Adamson/IIP productions – HELL’S BLOODY DEVILS (1970), THE NAUGHTY STEWARDESSES, and BLAZING STEWARDESSES – and Jana Bellan (Terry) had been in CRY RAPE, a CBS television movie co-produced by Adamson in 1973. And even though BLACK HEAT was the first movie for J.C. Wells (Guido), he would later turn up in UNCLE TOM'S CABIN (1976) and NURSE SHERRI.

When discussing the distinctive look of the IIP/Adamson films, enormous credit must go to the contributions of cinematographer Gary Graver and title designer Bob LeBar. A former protégé of Orson Welles, Graver shot a dozen of Adamson’s movies (beginning with SATAN’S SADISTS), as well as numerous Roger Corman releases of the ‘70s and Fred Olen Ray productions of the ‘80s and ‘90s. He also directed many of his own horror, action, and exploitation movies, and had a lengthy career in the adult film industry under the pseudonym “Robert McCallum.”

An IIP movie just wouldn’t feel like an IIP movie unless Bob LeBar was on hand to create the opening credits, and the BLACK HEAT title sequence stands with SATAN’S SADISTS and DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN as one of his most exciting openers. In addition to doing the title sequences for almost every IIP release (and a few for Hemisphere Pictures as well), LeBar did optical effects for a few of the movies – such as the animated green mist in NURSE SHERRI – and whipped together the infamous Wolfstein prologue for the IIP import FRANKENSTEIN’S BLOODY TERROR (1972).

Filming for BLACK HEAT went smoothly overall, with only one serious incident that stands out in Sherman’s mind: a potentially dangerous run-in with the law. "Al didn't want to spend money on film permits, and tie up traffic and all that, so he would just go ahead and shoot. Well, we had a scene where J.C. Wells and one of his guys attack a messenger on the street, shoot him in the head, and drag him into a car. Al and Gary Graver were shooting it from the back of the van, but there was no other presence on the street, and some woman saw this happening – saw two guys come out of a car, shoot a guy in the head, grab him and the attaché case handcuffed to his wrist, drag him into a car, and drive away. She called the police! The police went after them, chased them down, had everybody spread-eagle over the hoods of the cars, and had a shotgun pointed at Al’s head! And somewhere, we've got stills of this!”

When BLACK HEAT was released in 1976, it was a big hit for IIP, playing inner city action houses on double bills with the studio’s earlier blaxploitation efforts MEAN MOTHER and STUD BROWN (a re-titling of THE DYNAMITE BROTHERS). The GIRLS’ HOTEL prints were in circulation for most of 1977. “We played off the BLACK HEAT version, and then we changed the prints and put it out into the market as a new picture, GIRLS' HOTEL. While this was happening, we still wanted to sell the picture overseas, and I felt that neither campaign was strong enough for that market — but a straight action approach would be better for the foreign territories, so I came up with the title THE MURDER GANG.”

Sharp-eyed schlock fans in the New York City area got a chance to see this version when it played for a week in 1983, courtesy of Aquarius Releasing. “We had a number of prints that were sitting around in New York, and our sub-distributor [Aquarius president Terry Levene] said, 'I think I can play THE MURDER GANG in New York.' So we re-titled all those prints, and even after it had played there first-run as BLACK HEAT, we went back into the same market as THE MURDER GANG, like it had never played at all!"

During the home video market boom of the 1980s, the film was released by Super Video as THE MURDER GANG, and later issued in the ‘90s as BLACK HEAT (Xenon Entertainment) and U.S. VICE (Lettuce Entertainment).

One more note: If you keep your eyes peeled during the Las Vegas casino sequence in BLACK HEAT, you’ll catch sight of Al Adamson himself at one of the tables. Think about it – Sherman and Adamson were gambling on the 2-title approach with BLACK HEAT, and in the end, it paid off for both of them: Sherman gained a movie he could keep in circulation for several years, and Adamson was immediately hired to direct two more urban action flicks, BLACK SAMURAI (1976) and DEATH DIMENSION (1978), both starring Jim Kelly of ENTER THE DRAGON fame. Now that’s playing your cards right!

Friday, March 23, 2012


by Chris Poggiali & David Konow

Like numerous low-budgeters released by Independent-International Pictures (IIP) during the 1970s, Al Adamson’s blaxploitation thriller MEAN MOTHER started out life as a completely different film. EL HOMBRE QUE VINO DEL ODIO (1970) was the source, a Spanish/Italian co-production about European jewel smugglers, starring Italian sex symbol Luciana Paluzzi and Canadian actor Lang Jeffries, and directed by León Klimovsky (who is best known today for making a string of horror movies with popular Spanish fright film star Paul Naschy, a.k.a. Jacinto Molina).

Klimovsky’s film somehow made its way to the U.S. and landed on the desk of Samuel M. Sherman, president of IIP, who had no idea how to properly market a dubbed European crime movie at a time when “blaxploitation” films were the current rage. The eyes and ears of Hollywood were tuned in to the incredible box-office receipts of Melvin Van Peebles’ low-budget sensation SWEET SWEETBACK'S BAADASSSSS SONG (1971), now considered to be the first shot fired in the enormously popular black cinema movement of the early ‘70s, and exploitation producers like Sherman were scrambling to cash in on this fad.

“My wife Linda and I were always looking around for different actors,” Sherman explains, “and we had seen Fred Williamson early on in a picture with Liza Minnelli called TELL ME THAT YOU LOVE ME, JUNIE MOON (1970), directed by Otto Preminger, and we really liked him. 'This guy is good,’ I said. ‘Someone’s gotta discover him.'” That someone turned out to be Al Adamson, IIP’s number one in-house director, who was developing a black version of the 1947 classic BODY AND SOUL with a screenwriter named Charles Johnson. The film was to be called BJ, after the lead character’s name, but that changed once Fred Williamson signed on to the project. A former defensive back for the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs, Williamson was nicknamed “The Hammer” because of his powerful forearm, and the tremendous force with which he would use it against his opponents.

Says Sherman, “I think Al, once he met with Fred Williamson and knew he was going to be in it, thought to tie the two together and call the character BJ Hammer.” The film itself was eventually renamed HAMMER and released by United Artists, but by that time, Sherman was no longer involved with the project. “It was something that started with us at IIP, but I didn't want to go further with it because I saw it as a bigger budgeted film. I didn't see the need to spend that kind of money. I didn't think we could afford it, so Bernard Schwartz made it – the same man who eventually made COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER.”

At some point during the production of HAMMER, Sherman and Adamson came up with a crazy plan to transform EL HOMBRE QUE VINO DEL ODIO into a black action film, “even though it seemed far-fetched, since it didn't have those elements to begin with – just like DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN, which began with no Dracula and no Frankenstein!” Sherman says with a laugh, referring to one of IIP’s most famous patchwork films. Over the 30-plus years that he has been distributing movies, Sherman has become quite an expert in the area of film reconstruction, having supervised such IIP patch-up jobs as NURSES FOR SALE (1976), BEDROOM STEWARDESSES (1978), DOCTOR DRACULA (1980), and EXORCISM AT MIDNIGHT (1981), to name just a few. “It’s all based on one thing, and that’s editing,” explains Sherman. “And being that I started out as a film editor, I understood that editing is just assembling a mosaic of little pieces into a patchwork quilt. You can change anything just by how you edit it and how you put the sound in.”

“There are several means of redoing a movie,” he continues. “One, you can put a framing story around the existing story. That would be like what we did in HORROR OF THE BLOOD MONSTERS (1970), where we did the story with John Carradine around the cavemen footage. Another way is to integrate new material into already existing footage, which is very difficult to do. You have to recreate the sets, make-up, photography, lighting... I did that when we shot new material for THE CREATURE WITH THE BLUE HAND, which became THE BLOODY DEAD. And a third way is to do parallel construction – when you have a second story going on at the same time as the main story, and you cut back and forth between them. That works, as long as you pull the stories together at the end with some crossover footage, where the characters from the two stories meet and bring the audience up to date on what they’ve been doing.”

Sherman and Adamson decided that parallel construction would work best for the Klimovsky film, and HAMMER writer Charles Johnson was called in to work on the new plotline. “The Vietnam crisis was going on at the time, and it involved soldiers of all ethnic backgrounds,” Sherman reveals. “So the idea was that if we started the picture [in Vietnam], we might have a tie-in to a parallel story with a black co-lead who could also be in Vietnam, and that would enable the picture to move sideways. That would be the parallel plot.”

If leading man Clifton Brown looks familiar to lovers of ‘60s and ‘70s pop music, that’s because he’s actually Dobie Gray, singer of the Top 40 hits “The ‘In’ Crowd” (#13 in 1965) and “Drift Away” (#5 in 1973). Gray was no stranger to pseudonyms; born in Texas as Lawrence Darrow Brown, he has also been credited as Leonard Victor Ainsworth, Larry Curtis, and Larry Dennis on various music recordings. When his singing career fizzled in the late ‘60s, Gray went back to college, performed lead vocal duties for a hard rock band called Pollution, and pursued an acting career. He played Billy the Kid in the New York production of Michael McClure’s controversial play “The Beard” (directed by Rip Torn) and appeared in the Los Angeles production of “Hair” from 1968 until 1972. It was during that lean period shortly before the recording of his classic hit “Drift Away” that Gray became “Clifton Brown” and entered the blaxploitation history books as Beauregard Jones, the “Mean Mother” – his only dramatic movie role, as far as we know. Sherman and Adamson, always quick to cash in on a star’s success, somehow missed the perfect opportunity when “Drift Away” hit the charts in April of ’73 and stayed there for 15 consecutive weeks. (Gray passed away in December 2011)

Marilyn Joi was an exotic dancer at The Classic Cat, a bottomless club in Hollywood, when Adamson first approached her with an offer to be in movies. She agreed, and appeared in HAMMER as “Tracy-Ann King,” performing a sexy nightclub strip for Fred Williamson and co-star Vonetta McGee (Tracy-Ann King was one of several names Joi used while touring the strip club circuit – note the initials, T and A). Adamson elevated her to leading lady status when he cast her in the new parallel plotline footage for MEAN MOTHER. “When I first saw the footage of her,” Sherman says, “I said to Al, 'I like her! She's really good, she’s really pretty, she's willing to do nudity – let’s keep using her.'” The gorgeous starlet would go on to do several other films for Adamson: THE NAUGHTY STEWARDESSES (1974), BLAZING STEWARDESSES (1975), BLACK SAMURAI (1976), NURSE SHERRI (1978), and another patch-up job, UNCLE TOM’S CABIN (1976).

Al Richardson was also recruited from HAMMER to liven up the new parallel footage, and he too would go on to make more pictures with Adamson and Sherman, including THE DYNAMITE BROTHERS (1974) and BLACK HEAT (1976). “I enjoyed working with black actors,” states Sherman. “Al [Adamson] and I were on the same wavelength about this, and [IIP vice president] Dan Kennis agreed that we should have black actors and actresses in everything. It wasn't a question of making movies to appeal to strictly black audiences in the big urban markets. We knew the blaxploitation films were going to be a trend that would come and go, like any trend. But we felt that the cast should be reflective of the make-up of people in the world. I wanted Al [Richardson] in THE NAUGHTY STEWARDESSES because of his performance in MEAN MOTHER, and he ended up having some of the best scenes in that movie.”

A third “Al” – Albert Cole – also turns up in the parallel footage, and had already appeared in four Adamson productions: THE FEMALE BUNCH (1971), DOOMSDAY VOYAGE (1971), DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN (1971), and ANGELS’ WILD WOMEN (1972). However, he’s probably best remembered for playing the psychopathic head that Bruce Dern grafts onto a retarded handyman’s body in THE INCREDIBLE TWO-HEADED TRANSPLANT (1971). "I met him before [that] was a finished movie,” Sherman says. “[Producer] Tony Lanza only had a preview reel, about ten or fifteen minutes, and he was trying to expand that into a full-length movie. So I met Al Cole when he was the head! Whenever I'd see him I'd say, 'There's the head!' Being a guy from New York like me, we hit it off."

According to Sherman, the construction of the new film took many months. “We started doing it under the title SOUL BROTHER, and since I disliked the original film, we kept getting rid of the old footage and shooting more and more new footage. As I'd see it edited together, I'd say, 'Go further – we’ll spend more money – we’ll cut this out…’ Sometimes it can cost more to do it this way than it would if you just made a picture from start. At least that way you’re not working around material you already have, which limits you in a lot of ways. You have to do certain things you wouldn't have to do if you just wrote a whole new script."

Once the film was completed and the publicity campaign was in place, MEAN MOTHER quickly found its niche. "We went where the audiences were known to be – the big cities, major urban areas, where a lot of the big downtown theatres had thousands of seats and were appealing to African-American audiences. Philadelphia, New York, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Atlanta, Memphis – these cities had large African-American populations, and [theater owners] were happy to have product that could bring in a large attendance."

MEAN MOTHER was eventually credited to two directors, Klimovsky and "Albert Victor.” Sherman still isn’t sure why Adamson took the pseudonym. "Sometimes these things are lost to antiquity,” he sighs. “I have a pretty good memory, if you listen to some of the commentary tracks I’ve done. I even amaze myself with some of the things I've remembered, but I guess I could have forgotten an equal amount.” One possible explanation for the pseudonym is that Adamson was paying homage to his late father, Victor Adamson, who acted in cowboy movies under the name Denver Dixon. According to Sherman, the elder Adamson had been responsible for a similar patch-up job of his own back in 1934. “He was producing a serial called THE RAWHIDE TERROR. Somebody put up the money, they shot two chapters, and the leading man quit. Denver had this footage, and it was going in one direction rather than another, so he re-shot the thing, took the guy who played the sheriff, and made him the lead for the rest of the new footage.”

Independent film companies ranging from New World and Audubon to Aquarius and Olympic International were known to incorporate new footage into their finished films from time to time, but Sherman’s studio is the one most associated with this process – to the point where many genre fans consider IIP to be little more than a schlock movie chop shop. “I was always of the opinion, waste not want not,” says Sherman, who’s quick to point out that major studios also practiced the patch-up technique. “The piecing together of pictures is as old as the industry itself. Irving Thalberg, the head of production at MGM, was notorious for shooting a film, hating it, throwing two thirds of it away, re-writing it, and re-shooting it in another direction entirely. They used to say at MGM, 'Great movies are not made, they're remade.'"

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Movie Ad of the Week: DRUM (1976/1980)

United Artists' first-run release
Chicago - August 13, 1976

Joseph Brenner Associates' re-release
New York - June 6, 1980

To learn more about DRUM, read Paul Talbot's excellent book Mondo Mandingo: The Falconhurst Books and Films (iUniverse, 2009).

Friday, March 16, 2012

State of the Temple Address 7

Remember in our last State of the Temple Address, when we said we’d be making several exciting announcements by the end of the week? Well, it’s four months later and we’re finally able to announce a few of the many projects we have on the burners at the moment. But before we get down to business, we’d like to thank everyone who’s written to us with words of encouragement and support during these last ten months, which have not been easy months for myriad reasons that we won’t discuss here because they have nothing to do with movies in general or schlock in particular. Rest assured that Temple of Schlock is still here and won’t be closing its door anytime soon. Quite the opposite, actually -– we’re finally in our new digs and busily unpacking at this very moment! Which reminds us that we owe a big thank-you to Edwin Samuelson, Patrick Lefcourt and Josie Peña for helping Po-Man get all the goodies out of storage and moved into the new Temple. Let’s also have a big round of applause for the Keeper of the Pit, John Charles, Lawrence Cohn, John W. Donaldson, Dylan Duarte, Tim Ferrante, Michael Gingold, Don Guarisco, Mike MacCollum, Nathaniel Poggiali, Jon Putnam, Paul Talbot, and Darrin Venticinque for contributing research and reviews and basically keeping the lights on for us during what would otherwise be our darkest days. Group hug everyone!

OK, time for those announcements...

Despite the fact that we barely have time to manage one blog, we've recently started a second one, The Paperback Film Projector, which is dedicated to novelizations and other movie tie-in books. This new blog is itself a tie-in, since it promotes a reference book that Temple of Schlock co-founder Chris Poggiali and Fangoria's Michael Gingold have been working on for years, The Paperback Film Projector: Novelizations & Movie Tie-Ins from A(ce) to Z(ebra). Once the book is published, the blog will then serve to update and expand on its contents. Please feel free to bombard the Temple with cover scans, ads, corrections, suggestions, etc. and we'll make sure you get a "special thanks" in the book. We're also accepting submissions for the blog, but please email us first with proposals. Oh, and we're also planning to do book giveaways in April and May, but in order to be eligible you must be a "follower" of the new blog, so head on over to The Paperback Film Projector and join the fun!

We've got good news and bad news regarding Bill Grefe's long-lost shocker THE DEVIL'S SISTERS (1966), which is Case File #11 on the Endangered List. First the good news: it's been found, and a special edition DVD-R should be out any day now. The bad news? The only print Bill could track down, after decades of searching, is missing the final seven minutes. However (boldfaced and underlined twice), with the help of Daniel Griffith and Ballyhoo Motion Pictures, Bill was able to recreate the ending of the film using promotional stills, original script pages, new storyboards and narration, and the final result is... Well, actually, we have no idea how it turned out, 'cause Daniel never sent us a test disc. But we did see the surviving 82 minutes of THE DEVIL'S SISTERS, and it kicks ass. The wild card in a filmography that's wild to begin with, we guarantee that THE DEVIL'S SISTERS will not disappoint Bill's fans. The DVD-R from Ballyhoo includes special features, none of which we can safely mention save for the liner notes by Temple of Schlock's Chris Poggiali (Wait a sec -- that's me!). Stay tuned for more details.

Above: One of several "world premieres" for THE DEVIL'S SISTERS

Above and below: THE DEVIL'S SISTERS on the Deuce, January 1967

Speaking of the Deuce, 42ND STREET FOREVER: THE BLU-RAY EDITION will be out May 8th. Running three hours and forty-five minutes, it contains the best trailers from the first two volumes of 42ND STREET FOREVER plus a bunch of new trailers and a full-length audio commentary by AV Maniacs chief Edwin Samuelson, Fangoria managing editor Michael Gingold, and Temple of Schlock's own Chris Poggiali (Holy shit! Me again!). And as a special bonus, all of you who are now following The Paperback Film Projector get to call out Gingold and Po-Man for not mentioning the COLLEGE GIRLS photonovel during the commentary!

It's been out since September, but the Synapse DVD/Blu-ray combo of THE EXTERMINATOR (1980) has been getting rave reviews, not only for the sparkling new transfer but also for the great audio commentary by director James Glickenhaus, which was recorded by Edwin Samuelson and moderated by Temple of Schlock's head honky in control, Chris Poggiali (Damn, I am everywhere!). Nothing is in stone yet, but rumors are swirling that this same team will also provide commentaries for two more James Glickenhaus films coming soon from Synapse, MCBAIN (1991) and SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS (1993). Check back with us later for more info on these gigs.

Way the hell back in August, when we were up to our eyebrows in mortgage paperwork, our pal Don Guarisco of Schlockmania and AllMovie sent a few tour buses our way by posting links to his Temple of Schlock contributions. We may have Tweeted about this, but we sure didn't properly thank him here in the Temple -- so thanks, Don! Next time we hang, the chicken & waffles are on us!

That's all for now, folks. Until next time, take it sleazy. -- Po