Sunday, January 27, 2013

Movie Ads of the Week: Harry Novak in the mid '80s

By 1986, legendary exploitation distributor Harry Novak of Valiant International Pictures (nee Box-Office International) had been in business for over 20 years and still retained a theatrical presence, even if the "core" of his product had gone from soft to hard. Adults-only showcases like the Cinema Theatre in Madison, WI (now known as the Barrymore Theatre) were still running 35mm prints of Novak releases like JOHNNY DOES PARIS (1979), THE SEVEN SEDUCTIONS OF MADAME LAU (1981), THAT'S MY DAUGHTER (1983), INSPIRATIONS (1983) and MOMENTS OF LOVE (1984), the latter two directed by Novak himself under the pseudonym "H. Hershey."

October 25, 1985

January 31, 1986

February 7, 1986

February 14, 1986

April 4, 1986

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Movie Ad of the Week: DON'T JUST LAY THERE (1970)

Advertised as "The ultimate climax," the softcore sex flick DON'T JUST LAY THERE -- directed by character actor Phillip Pine (the first Colonel Green on STAR TREK), with music by Martin Margulies (a.k.a. Johnny Legend) -- started making the rounds in September 1970. Because the storyline has something to do with young people being murdered by a mysterious character known as "Zodiac," it was re-released a couple of years later with a new ad campaign that made it look like a horror movie, with a tag line added to cash in on the then-current Zodiac murders in northern California (Cast member Kathy Hilton also appeared in the softcore THE ZODIAC COUPLES around the same time). The ad above is from the Tucson, Arizona opening on February 23, 1973. The one below is from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on April 5, 1974.

Pressbook Synopsis

The people in DON’T JUST LAY THERE have the right idea. Their lifestyle is centered around an unstoppable, rarely quenchable, and often wildly perverted thirst for sex. One ordinary, passion-ridden day they find themselves thrust into a bizarre, chaotic nightmare world of mystery, murder, and drugs.

Billie Starr, an avant-garde erotic photographer, has been given an interesting assignment by a mysterious nameless employer. In attempting to gather her models and assistants, she finds it difficult to get them to stop their sexual antics long enough to be captured on film. Eve, her lesbian-playmate and model, requires an arousing morning "burst" which she achieves through the use of an electric vibrator and Billie's soothing description of their next torrid affair. Sloan, her photographic assistant, begins his day with grass, acid and a little "peeping torn" action on his table telescope. Rock, the handsome male model, is busy practicing various diagrammed sexual positions with a beautiful black playmate.

Billie finally gathers them all and, together with Rusty (the sensual brunette stripper) and Ion (the groovy, energetic black non-stop humper) they set out on their journey to a secluded mountain camp to photograph an astrology-oriented sexual lay-out. While on the freeway on the way to the camp, the grass flows freely and Rock busies himself on top of Eve. This hilarious sequence shows the reactions of several "straight" passers-by who have an incredibly clear view of Rock's activity. One middle-aged man becomes so wildly "turned on" while watching that he forgets himself and runs into a pole.

Billie and company finally arrive at the camp and are greeted by Creighton, an eerie, often funny caretaker with strange sexual fantasies. They busy themselves around the picturesque countryside, shooting acts of intercourse in dozens of unique positions. Many of the events which take place are seen from Sloan's distorted, colorfully erotic, drugged point of view.

After the day's shooting, the group gathers in their cabin for a wild party. Rusty begins a breath-taking, rhythmic "dance of erotica". The party activity reaches a fever pitch. Suddenly, Rusty's ecstatic movements become a macabre "dance of death" as she ominously freezes and falls to the ground. While the others stand helplessly, a voice from a hidden tape recorder greets them. They learn that they are to be the guests of a sinister unseen host who calls himself Zodiac; and that they are to die, one by one.

The group panics as the avenues of escape are cut off one by one. Creighton is found dead. Zodiac mockingly speaks to them once more, reminding them of their fate. As they feel the creeping fingers of death closing in on them, they frantically seek refuge and escape in violent outbursts of sexuality. The murderer could be any one of them.

Eve and Billie cling to each other on a haystack in a tragic, absurdly classical moment of happiness. The murders continue. The film reaches a surprising, lavish, revealing climax which includes a staggering, slow-motion rape sequence and an awe-
inspiring dream-like orgy in which the murderer is confronted sexually by all of his victims.

This film displays a captivating blend of realistic sexual honesty and offbeat campish melodrama. Also included in the film: an original musical score from a soon-to-be released soundtrack album which features "Don't Just Lay There", "Five Fingered Lover", "Humpin', U.S.A.", "If I Should Spread Before I Die", "Ecstasy in Death", "Play Another Lick For Me", and other exciting music from the film, definitely the best music, lyrics, and score ever created for the wildest, funniest, sexploitation film of any year.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Endangered List (Case File #127)

A FABLE (1971)

James Patterson (Husband)
Hildy Brooks (Wife)
Al Freeman, Jr. (Leader)

Directed by
Al Freeman, Jr.

Screenplay by
Imanu Amiri Baraka [Leroi Jones]
based on his play "Slave"

Produced by
Victor Ramos, Jr.

Executive Producer
Marvin Malmuth

Bruce Sparks

Edited by
George Bowers

MFR Productions

Running time: 80 minutes
No MPAA rating

Cannes Film Festival screening: 5/15/1971
World Premiere (Chicago): 3/31/1972

Monday, January 14, 2013

Guest Review: DARK AUGUST (1976)

To properly introduce Stephen Bissette, our latest guest reviewer, I'd have to write an essay five times longer than the review itself! Mr. Bissette's artwork first caught my attention in the pages of Bananas magazine in the late '70s, but it was the awesome graphic novel adaptation of 1941 that burned his name into my mind forever. Years later, I was thrilled to see my writing appear alongside his in the pages of Fangoria, European 'Trash' Cinema and Wet Paint. Myriad comic book sites, message boards and Wikipedia can tell you the rest, but I highly recommend Steve's excellent blog and fully stocked online store as your next stops. Without further ado, here's Steve with a review of DARK AUGUST! -- Chris P.

Director: Martin Goldman

A flatlander’s nightmare: brooding, burly New Yorker (J.J. Barry) moves to Vermont, where his accidental hit-and-run killing of a little girl (Karen Lewis) leaves him perpetually looking over his shoulder, fearing the backwoods hoodoo retribution of the child’s grandfather (William Robertson).

Compelling but none too scary, in part due to Barry’s unlikable lead. Still, it’s competently made, mounts some effective suspense, and fascinates with its manifest dread of the very land and people its brutish urban protagonist aches to live among. Stowe, Vermont locals and/or vacationers will want to seek this out for the snapshot of the village in its mid-1970s prime; one sustained confrontation between Barry and Robertson is staged downtown by the fire station, affording a lingering view and plenty of townie talent and extras.

Co-starring Academy Award-winner Kim Hunter (for A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, 1951), who is a standout as the rural psychic Barry consults seeking relief; co-scripted by Goldman and lead actress Carole Shelyne, and reportedly filmed in 1975 under the title THE HANT. This PG-rated thriller tasted fleeting theatrical distribution in the US (from Howard Mahler Films, Inc.) and Mexico before its surprisingly wide video release (from Lightning Video in North America and at least two labels in the UK, and other overseas videocassette outfits). Note: Though it didn’t make it into the film version (SILVER BULLET, 1985), Stowe VT is where the young hero of Stephen King’s The Cycle of the Werewolf (1984) was sent to spend the rest of his summer with relatives – after having survived the events of King’s novella.
©2012 Stephen R. Bissette

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Movie Ad of the Week: FULL TIME FEMALES w/ PART TIME GIRLS (1973)

This double dose of R-rated sexploitation from Times Film opened in Chicago on August 10, 1973. FULL TIME FEMALES is the French import L'INSATISFAITE (1972), directed by Jean-Marie Pallardy and starring Danièle Vignault, Michele Bory, Patrice Cuny, and Georges Guéret. PART TIME GIRLS is really PART-TIME VIRGINS, the R-rated re-release title of INTERPLAY (1970). Originally released by Times Film with an X rating, this New York-shot cheapie was written by Harvey Flaxman and directed by Albert T. Viola, the same filmmakers who hit paydirt a year later with PREACHERMAN (1971).

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Movie Ad of the Week: WHIRLPOOL w/ WAKE UP AND DIE (1970)

This double dose of Euro shock from Jerry Gross' Cinemation Industries hit New York theaters on December 9, 1970. WHIRLPOOL is a Danish production from Spanish director José Ramón Larraz, starring Karl Lanchbury, Vivian Neves and Pia Andersson. The MPAA gave it an X rating.

The co-feature at 14 theaters was Carlo Lizzani's SVEGLIATI E UCCIDI (1966), based on the life of Italian criminal Luciano Lutring, starring Robert Hoffmann (as Lutring) and Gian Maria Volonté. It was originally released in the U.S. by Rizzoli in 1967, on a double bill with the spaghetti western KILL OR BE KILLED. Cinemation also released it as I KILL FOR KICKS.