Sunday, March 31, 2013

Movie Ad of the Week: THE OTHER SIDE OF MADNESS (1975) a.k.a. THE HELTER SKELTER MURDERS (1976)

This b&w quickie cash-in on the Tate-LaBianca killings, featuring songs by Sean Bonniwell of the Music Machine (as well as "Mechanical Man" by Charles Manson), was rated X by the MPAA in October 1971 but edited for content and awarded an R the following March. Above is the ad from the Mansfield, OH opening on September 26, 1975. The ad below is for an Albuquerque playdate over a year later (November 12, 1976), under the title THE HELTER SKELTER MURDERS.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Endangered List (Case File #129)

BLEEP (1971)

Peter Brown
Jo Ann Harris
Elsa Cardenas
Rene Auberjonois
"Arthur, the Egg"

Written, Produced, Directed
Richard Erdman

Allen Daviau

Edited by
Axel Hubert

Music and Guitar
Charlie Byrd

Filmed in
Salt Lake City, UT

Released by
Four Star Excelsior Releasing Company

MPAA rating: R

Re-released by Lone Star Pictures under the title TEENAGE TEASE beginning in July 1979.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sykes-A-Delic Falana-Vision!

Dummy death by farm mulcher and a full-monty Lola Falana are just two of the reasons to sit through director William Wyler's final film, THE LIBERATION OF L.B. JONES (1970).

But our favorite moment occurs at the 43-minute mark. For those of you who have never seen the film, allow us to bring you up to spoiler-free speed: Lord Byron Jones (Roscoe Lee Browne), the prosperous undertaker for the black population of a small Tennessee town, is a deeply troubled man.

He's just filed for divorce from his much younger, hot-to-trot wife Emma (Falana)...

...who has been getting it on with redneck deputy Willie Joe Worth (Anthony Zerbe) and is now pregnant with the dumb cracker's kid.

Knowing that all hell is about to break loose -- and possibly lead to his untimely demise -- L.B. tries to enjoy a stiff drink at a local bar...

...when sweet young thing Jelly (Brenda Sykes) starts dancing for him in a way that suggests her potential availability as the next Mrs. Lord Byron Jones.

Poor L.B. enjoys the show for about five seconds...

...and then starts to catch glimpses of Emma shaking in front of him instead of Jelly.

In a sequence guaranteed to elicit howls of laughter from modern audiences, editor Carl Kress quick-cuts between Jelly and Emma as they dance for the now thoroughly depressed L.B.

The frame grabs above were sourced from a Columbia VHS tape, purchased two decades ago at a Record Explosion in midtown Manhattan and unearthed last year during our move to the new Temple, but THE LIBERATION OF L.B. JONES is now available as a Sony Screen Classics MOD.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Movie Ad of the Week: THE CONTEST (1977) a.k.a. THE MISS NUDE AMERICA CONTEST (1980)

James P. Blake's documentary about the 1974 Miss Nude America Pageant was filmed under the title NAKED CITY, INDIANA and first released theatrically by Trans-American in the fall of 1976 as MISS NUDE AMERICA ("A film exposing a bizarre American phenomena... and the man behind it"). The ad above is from its Madison, WI opening as THE CONTEST (from Atlas Films) on October 14, 1977. Below are two ads from 1980, when the Jerry Gross Organization re-released it as THE MISS NUDE AMERICA CONTEST.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Movie Ad of the Week: BIG ENOUGH N' OLD ENOUGH (1968)

World Premiere - Wednesday, April 17, 1968 - Albuquerque, NM

The K. Gordon Murray production BIG ENOUGH N' OLD ENOUGH -- "introducing" Sidney Poitier's older brother, Cyril Poitier, and directed by Joseph G. Prieto -- had its world premiere at the Tesuque Drive-In in Albuquerque, NM on April 17, 1968. A 52 year-old father of 12 at the time of this film's release, Poitier signed a nine-picture deal with Murray but ended up with a supporting role in only one more of the producer's micro-budgeted movies, THE DAREDEVIL (1972).

By June of '68, Murray was advertising BIG ENOUGH N' OLD ENOUGH as a follow-up to his sweaty drive-in hit SHANTY TRAMP (1967), also directed by Prieto. A month later the title was changed to SAVAGES FROM HELL and a new ad campaign pushed it as a biker flick.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mystery Movie: THE HOUSE BY THE HILL (1977)

Our pal Jon Putnam brought this latest installment of “Mystery Movies” to our attention a couple of months ago. A Newport/Hallmark release that made the rounds during the 1977/1978 release year, THE HOUSE BY THE HILL borrows the tag line and title design from THE HOUSE BY THE LAKE (1976), but doesn’t appear to be a re-titling of that movie; the ad below is from the Boston opening on September 28, 1977, just a few months after THE HOUSE BY THE LAKE passed through the area. We know that it isn’t a re-titling of HORROR HOSPITAL, THE SCHOOL THAT COULDN’T SCREAM (WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE?) or LAST HOUSE – PART II (BAY OF BLOOD/ TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE), since we’ve found those listed in different cities as co-features. We’re also pretty sure that it isn’t THE NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS/LAST STOP ON THE NIGHT TRAIN/NEW HOUSE ON THE LEFT, since Newport had that in circulation in late ‘77 under the title THE X-MAS MASSACRE. Two possibilities are THE HOUSE ON STRAW HILL and THE HORRIBLE HOUSE ON THE HILL, but those were already making the rounds under alternate titles and from different distributors – TRAUMA (Entertainment International) and DEVIL TIMES FIVE (Seymour Borde), respectively – right around the same time.

The most likely suspect is THE CULT (1971), which Allied Artists was playing on the drive-in circuit as THE MANSON MASSACRE from 1976 to ’78, co-billed with everything from FRIGHT and ALICE, SWEET ALICE to LAST SUMMER and TWILIGHT’S LAST GLEAMING -- and because THE HOUSE BY THE HILL’s co-feature throughout New England (Newport’s sub-distribution territory) was another Allied Artist release, TEENAGE GRAFFITI, we’re just about ready to put money down on this one. Besides, THE CULT is still our favorite guy in this unsolved case, and no one has come forward to dispute our assertion that the film’s mystery director, “Kentucky Jones,” is actually Albert Zugsmith. We’re sure this will all get cleared up someday, but until then, we’re hoping someone will come forward with more information on THE HOUSE BY THE HILL and the whole Hallmark/Newport/Central Park/Parker National connection.