Sunday, February 12, 2017

Movie Ad of the Week: The Many Faces of RANSOM (1977)

Filmed in October 1976 in Phoenix and Scottsdale, AZ under the title RAN$OM, this early Arnold Kopelson credit -- which, not surprisingly, remains a no-show on his IMDb profile -- went through more title changes and ad campaigns than any other post-1960s Roger Corman release to date. According to Roger Corman's New World (BFI Dossier Number 7) by Jim Hillier and Aaron Lipstadt, the film was first released as ASSAULT ON PARADISE on April 27, 1977. The ad above dates the Phoenix opening as April 29, 1977.

Less than a month later, the film opened as THE TOWN THAT CRIED TERROR in Newport News, VA on May 20, 1977.

The title was NIGHT HUNTER when the film arrived in Colorado Springs, CO on August 10, 1977.

Some prints under the title MANIAC! feature an added opening scene prepared by Miller Drake and Joel Rapp in which a maniac in a clown mask shoots a young couple making out in a convertible. This scene, which runs one minute long and has nothing to do with the rest of the film, is the selling point of the MANIAC! ad above (Detroit opening: October 19, 1977).

Other prints of MANIAC! that do not include the "killer clown" opener utilized a different ad campaign. This version -- which opened in Chicago on November 11, 1977 (above) and is basically the same as ASSAULT ON PARADISE -- was issued on video in 1986 by Embassy Home Entertainment.

Vestron Video released RANSOM (above) in 1984. The running time for this tape is 1:26:11. The Embassy release of MANIAC! from two years later (below) runs 1:27:15. Neither of these tapes feature the "killer clown" opener.

The film began appearing on television in 1980 -- under both the MANIAC! and RANSOM titles -- via pay stations like Prism, OnTV, and Spotlight, before settling on the USA Network for a five-year run (as RANSOM) beginning in 1983.

But wait! A version of RANSOM running 104 minutes, with a truncated ending and narration by Oliver Reed's character, surfaced on the PLEX/Encore channel in 1997. This longer cut begins and ends with the ITC Entertainment logo and is included as a bonus on the recent Blu-ray from Code Red. Also on this Blu-ray: The "killer clown" opener with the MANIAC! credits (featuring Roger McGuinn's "Victor's Theme: Shoot Him" instead of the Don Ellis main theme, which plays over the opening credits in all other versions) and a nice looking 2.35:1 transfer of the theatrical cut under the ASSAULT ON PARADISE title (runs 1:27:47), which can also be viewed with the "killer clown" opener (1:28:47). The reversible cover art features ASSAULT ON PARADISE on one side and the "killer clown" MANIAC! art on the other. Additional extras include the MANIAC! trailer (peppered with car crashes lifted from GRAND THEFT AUTO!), an audio commentary by producer Peter MacGregor-Scott, and interviews with Miller Drake and actor Paul Koslo.