Sunday, January 03, 2021

Movie Ad of the Week: NEXT! a.k.a. THE NEXT VICTIM (1971)

In the early 1970s, several European productions were announced in the trades as coming soon from Gemini Pictures International. In addition to making their own films, Gemini acquired some completed European productions with the intention of starting their own distribution outfit, Gemini Releasing Corporation. For help in the U.S. market, they signed a deal with distributor Mel Maron to handle their pictures stateside through his Maron Films Ltd., but only two of the films -- Harry Kümel’s DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS and Sergio Martino’s THE SECRET VICE OF MRS. WARDH -- ever saw the light of day under this agreement.

THE SECRET VICE OF MRS. WARDH opened in New York on August 6, 1971 as NEXT! (above) and returned to area theaters four months later as THE NEXT VICTIM (below) on December 10, 1971.

The president and founder of Gemini was Howard J. Zuker, a producer under his birth name but more familiar to movie fans as a character actor under the pseudonym Zack Norman (ROMANCING THE STONE, CADILLAC MAN). If you read Variety in the '80s you'll remember his CHIEF ZABU ad, which ran for at least four years.
TOUCH ME NOT, a moderately engrossing potboiler starring Lee Remick that was filmed in Barcelona, was scheduled as the third Gemini/Maron release in March ‘72, but Maron filed for Chapter 11 in August of that year and the remaining Gemini films suddenly faced an uncertain future. Announced as an Avco Embassy pickup in late 1973, the U.S. and Canadian rights to TOUCH ME NOT were instead acquired by Wolf Schmidt’s Atlas Films sometime in 1974 for a first-quarter ’75 release. It was retitled THE HUNTED in '76 before its sale to television.
ZENABEL, a sexy action-comedy co-directed by Ruggero Deodato and Mickey Knox and starring Lucretia Love, John Ireland and Lionel Stander, was released in the U.S. as THE NAKED GENERAL by Starmaster International in 1974...
...but the others weren’t so lucky in that they bypassed American theaters entirely: LA PENTE DOUCE (U.S. title announced as THE SWEET DECLINE); L’ETREINTE a.k.a. GISELE (U.S. title announced as IMPULSION); the spaghetti western LA TAGLIA è TUA...L’UOMO L’AMMAZZO IO / THE REWARD'S YOURS...THE MAN'S MINE (U.S. title announced as EL PURO); the offbeat World War II story E I CANNONI TUONANO ANCORA/AND THE BOMBS KEPT FALLING (U.S. title announced as THE DARK OF THE DAY, then WHICH WAY DO YOU DIG?), starring Zuker/Norman, Martin Priest and Robert Woods; and most notably LE MOINE/THE MONK, written by Luis Buñuel and starring Franco Nero, Nathalie Delon and Nicol Williamson, which actually got released in Canada as a sexploitation pic titled CONFESSIONS OF A FEMALE MONK.

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