EXPLOITATION


ACHTUNG! THE DESERT TIGERS (1977) - Lame Italian WWII war flick which, for about 45 minutes, veers off into the Naziploitation genre that those spaghetti-benders were so fond of during the mid-to-late 70's (hence, it's inclusion here). The plot concerns a platoon of American and British soldiers, led by Major Lexman (Richard Harrison), who are sent to the Middle East to blow up a Nazi fuel depot. They complete their task, but are captured and sent to a P.O.W. camp in the middle of the African desert, run by nasty SS Captain von Stolzen (Gordon Mitchell), who is so mean he orders a man to be whipped even though he is dead. There's also the Ilsa-like Dr. Lessing (Lea Lander), who performs illegal experiments and torture on the male and female prisoners, including castration, flogging and other acts of degradation. When Lexman is made to view all this human suffering by von Stolzen, he and his platoon, along with fellow American prisoner Max Tyler (Mike Monty), devise a way to escape the camp. After a couple of setbacks, they escape into the African desert and bring Dr. Lessing along as a prisoner. Captain von Stolzen sends his troops out to find them, but Lexman and his men prove to be much tougher than the Captain expected. Lexman and his men lay waste to several Nazi desert outposts, steal some vehicles and head back to the prison camp, but Dr. Lessing breaks free and kills everyone except Lexman (she runs out of bullets). In what has to be the worst ending in recent memory, Lexman throws a shovel at Dr. Lessing's feet and says, "Dig!" Cut to the closing credits.  Directed without an ounce of flair or originality by Luigi Batzella (THE DEVIL'S WEDDING NIGHT - 1973) using his "Ivan Kathansky" pseudonym, this film is nothing more than a mixture of badly-staged war action (with plenty of stock footage from other films) and Nazi war camp atrocities. You will witness a man having his penis lopped-off with a machete, women beaten and stripped naked (with one woman forced to walk on her hands and knees while being whipped with a riding crop), Max being forced to drink another man's urine (he throws it in von Stolzen's face and is shot in the head) and, of course, a Nazi orgy featuring naked female prisoners being forced to have sex. The script (also by Batzella) tries to justify all this depravity and degradation by making Captain von Stolzen a homosexual (he can be seen kissing a transvestite at the orgy) and Dr. Lessing a S&M loving lesbian (who likes to be whipped by her female assistant). Thankfully, at the 45 minute mark, the film reverts back to a straight war film, but it is so damn boring and uneventful, you'll be staring at the clock just begging for it to end. While there is plenty of full frontal female and male nudity on display during the first 45 minutes, none of it is the least bit titilating, which makes me wonder what kind of people enjoy this type of "entertainment". This is just disturbing. Also starring Isarco Ravaioli, Agnese Kalpagos, John Brown, Zaira Zoccheddu and Mauro Mannatrizio. The print I viewed was a DVD-R rip of a letterboxed VHS Dutch-subtitled print on the Sunrise Video Tapes label under the original title of "Kaput Lager: Gli Ultimi Giorni Delle SS." Not Rated.

THE ADULT VERSION OF JEKYLL AND HIDE (1971) - This sadistic early-70’s relic tells the story of Dr. Christopher Leader (Jack Buddliner) who, while browsing through an antique store with his fiancee Cynthia (Jennifer Brooks), comes across the diary of Dr. Jekyll. He returns to the store after hours and demands to buy the book. When the shopkeeper refuses to sell it, the doctor strangles him. He brings the book home and begins reading it. Flashbacks show Dr. Jekyll (Buddliner again) drinking his formula and turning into his alter ego. Mr. Hyde picks up a prostitute, whips her bloody, ties her to a bed, rapes her and, in a finishing touch, shoves a red-hot poker up her vagina! Dr. Leader tries to duplicate the formula, but has much different results than his predecessor. Instead of turning into a Mr. Hyde, Dr. Leader transforms into a horny Miss Hyde (Jane Tsentas). Initially shocked at the results, Dr. Leader learns to make the best of the situation (since now the horny doctor can have the best of both sexual worlds). Dr. Leader reads more of the diary and in flashbacks we see Mr. Hyde brutally bludgeon and rape another prostitute. Dr. Leader decides that Dr. Jekyll’s problems with his murderous double will not happen to him. That is not to be the case. The police find the dead shopkeeper and clues lead them to Dr. Leader. To avoid the cops, Dr. Leader hides in the body of Miss Hyde. Dr. Leader’s alter ego seduces his nurse (Rene Bond), whom he has boned many times before as a man. Since the police are staking out his residence, Dr. Leader can only leave his home as Miss Hyde. She goes to a bar, picks up a sailor and castrates him with a straight-razor, holding his dismembered dick in her hand while she watches him bleed to death. Miss Hyde then tries to seduce Detective Russo (Harry Schwartz), but she fails in her attempt at killing him. Poor Cynthia is next. Promising to tell Cynthia the whereabouts of her missing fiancee, Cynthia agrees to meet Miss Hyde at her apartment. Miss Hyde strangles Cynthia, forcing her to pass out. Miss Hyde is about to rape her when Detective Russo intervenes. Miss Hyde gets tossed out a window and dies, as we view the twisted body of Dr. Leader lying on the pavement below. This poverty row flick (released by David F. Friedman) is heavy on the sleaze and nudity (full male and female nudity with simulated sex) but it is so badly acted and photographed (by screenwriter Robert Birch) that it is almost not worth your time. Almost. The sex scenes are dubbed with so many "oohs" and "aahs" that they become unintentionally hilarious instead of titillating. The phony English accents in the flashback sequences are also funny. Mr. Hyde sounds like Blackbeard the Pirate. The violence is brutal, but never believable. Director Lee Raymond’s (using the pseudonyn "L. Ray Monde") pedestrian approach to filmmaking destroys any tension that may be had from the violent sequences. Producer Byron Mabe ("B. Ron Eliot" here) is better known as the director of SHE FREAK (1967) and star of THE DOBERMAN GANG (1972). I was too young to see this "Adults Only" feature when it was released to theaters and after viewing it today I would have to say that THE ADULT VERSION OF JEKYLL AND HIDE should be only viewed as a curio from an era of filmmaking that we shall never see the likes of again. I didn’t care for it but you may. A Something Weird Video Release. Not Rated.

ANDY WARHOL'S BAD (1977) - Bad taste black comedy about Hazel Aiken (Carroll Baker), who runs a murder-for-hire/electrolysis shop in her home. Hazel prefers to use women as her hitmen, but is forced to hire L.T. (Perry King) when no woman will take a job involving killing an autistic boy. L.T. is forced to live with Hazel when the job is delayed and he interacts and fucks around with the other inhabitants of the Aiken household: Hazel's daughter, mentally-slow Mary (Susan Tyrrell), and her illegitimate black baby; Hazel's mother (Mary Boylan), who never stops smoking or hacking; and Hazel's husband (Gordon Oas-Heim), who is oblivious to everything that's going on and who's main job seems to be putting flyers for Hazel's business on parked cars. We then meet some of the hitwomen and the murders they commit. One woman crushes an "illegal alien's" legs under an auto hydrolic lift, cuts off his finger (for her personal collection) and then takes a Polaroid of the body as proof for the client (who wanted retribution because the illegal alien pushed her husband into an oncoming subway train, severing his arm). A sister hit team, Glenda (Geraldine Smith) and Marsha (Maria Smith), is hired by an angry gassy woman to kill an ex-cop's (Lawrence Tierney) dog, because he made fun of her shorts when they were in a bar!  Glenda and Marsha then take Mary to the movies, where Marsha (who's a pyromaniac) sets fire to the theater, killing fourteen of the patrons (She laughs about it when watching a news report on TV the next day). The sisters steal a car (which Marsha also sets fire to while Glenda is still driving it!) and leave Mary on the street, where she is raped by a black thug. The next night, Glenda and Marsha beat-up the ex-cop and stab his dog. After a particularly nasty episode involving a baby and a highrise window, L.T. gets the phonecall that the mom is ready to have her autistic son killed, but Mary overhears the conversation and tries to warn the boy's father, but he brushes her off (turns out that the guy she talked to wasn't the father but a visiting plumber!). L.T. enters the boy's bedroom, takes a look at the boy (and throws him across the room) and finds himself unable to kill him (He picks up the boy, goes to the parent's bedroom and says to the mother, "You do it!"). Things fall apart for Hazel when her disappointed clients start giving her a hard time (the ex-cop's dog lived, the autistic boy's mother is pissed and a crooked cop pays a visit) resulting in Hazel being drowned in her own kitchen sink. A most fitting end for a woman so vain about appearances.  While this film is basically nothing but a series of outrageous set pieces, it's not without it's twisted charms. Not one person in this flick acts normal or has any morals at all, whether it's Hazel trying to stiff the blind newstand guy by telling him the one dollar bill she handed him was actually a five dollar bill, L.T.'s constant lies (I doubt anything he says to anyone in this film is the truth) or the crooked black cop, Detective Hughes (Charles McGregor), who blackmails Hazel into giving up some names of her clients so he can pad his arrest record. Most of the actors in this speak with thick New York City accents (filmed on location) and some of the dialogue they speak is hilarious. Glenda says in the theater: "I only do blacks. Let's take one home. Daddy said he'd chop my head off if he saw me with a nigger!" You know this film is special when Susan Tyrrell (NIGHT WARNING - 1981) is the most laid-back person in the cast. She plays the role of Mary as a woman-child, who just happens to have a child (she drops it on it's head on several occasions), but Hazel takes her welfare checks and uses them for herself. You actually feel sorry for her as the film progresses. Carroll Baker is downright nasty as Hazel. She has no sympathy for anyone (even her daughter) and is such a money-hungry bitch, she even has a lock on the phone so no one else uses her "messaging units". The film's standout (and gross-out) scene comes when a distraught mother tosses her crying baby out a highrise window and we watch it fall until it splatters against the sidewalk, splashing blood all over a passing woman. A mother then tells her young son as they are staring at the dead baby, "That's what I'm going to do to you if you don't shut up!" Cruel, shocking and hilarious. Much like ANDY WARHOL'S FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA, Mr. Warhol had very little to do with this (he gets a Production credit, but I doubt he ever set foot on the set). This is director Joe Johnson's only directorial credit (he died at the age of 47 in 1996, in the explosion aboard TWA Flight 800), but he worked on various Warhol films as Cinematographer, Associate Producer and Editor. Also starring Kitty Bruce, Brigid Polk, Cyrinda Foxe, Tere Tereba and Stefania Casini (ANDY WARHOL'S DRACULA - 1974; SUSPIRIA - 1977; THE BLOODSTAINED SHADOW - 1978) as members of Hazel's hitwomen squad. An Embassy Home Entertainment Release. Originally Rated X, but later cut to achieve an R Rating. Judging from the baby-tossing scene, not much seems to have been cut.

THE ARENA (1973) - When the Italian "peplum" films (or "Sword & Sandal" as they were also called) began to fall out of favor after fifteen years of popularity, Executive Producer Roger Corman decided to update the genre to fit into the swinging 70's, adding generous female nudity, gory violence and, above all, role reversals, where the female characters were the ones empowered and the male characters were either window dressing or ineffectual villains. This Italy-lensed New World Pictures production is one of the better examples of that genre, thanks to the talent both in front and behind the cameras. The film opens with an army of Centurians raiding various villages, killing the men and taking the women to be sold into slavery. The women, which includes Bodicia (Margaret Markov; THE HOT BOX - 1972); Mamawi (Pam Grier; BLACK MAMA, WHITE MAMA - 1973; also starring Markov);  Deidre (Lucretia Love; BATTLE OF THE AMAZONS - 1973) and Livia (Marie Louise), are brought to the town of Brundisium, where they are bought at a slave auction (for forty pieces of gold) by the obviously gay Priscium (Sid Lawrence), who brings the girls to a gladiator training camp, where they will be used as slaves and whores. Their brutal trainer, Cornelia (Rosalba Neri; LADY FRANKENSTEIN - 1971; here using the name "Sara Bay"), abuses the women worse than the men do; putting them in huge bird cages as trophies for the gladiators and their masters to ogle and Bodicia is gang-raped when she slaps the face of master Timarchus (Daniel Vargas). Bodicia is assigned to be the lover of champion gladiator Marcus (Vic Karis) and they actually fall in love, as does Mamawi and her assigned gladiator, Quintus (Jho Jhenkins), who happens to be a member of her own tribe. When Bodicia and Mamawi are forced to watch their lovers being slaughtered in the arena by hulking gladiator Septimus (Peter Cester), they get into a fight with the other female slaves when one of them offhandedly remarks that Quintus was "only a black". After watching the women fight, Timarchus gets the bright idea of training the women to become female gladiators and pit them against each other in arena matches. It turns out to be a giant hit with the spectators when Bodicia defeats a drunk Deidre in the arena without killing her, but the spectators eventually grow tired of the shenanigans and demand blood, forcing Mimawi to kill Lucinda (Mary Count), Septimus' lover and mother of his child, in the arena. The next arena match is to be between Bodicia and Mimawi, but Bodicia talks a changed Septimus into helping the women escape. When Septimus decides to kill Timarchus on his own and fails (losing his life in the process). Bodicia and Mimawi are forced to fight to the death in the arena, but they have a plan that ends with Timarchus in the arena begging for his life. This leads to a revolt, where the women are aided by the gladiators, much to the fickle spectators' glee, and escape in the catacombs beneath the city. Who will survive?  This compact little exploitationer, directed by Steve Carver (BIG BAD MAMA - 1974; CAPONE - 1975; BULLETPROOF - 1987) and written by John William Corrington & Joyce Hooper Corrington (BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES - 1973), isn't going to win any awards for originality, but it is an enjoyably bloody romp nonetheless. Besides showing off the ample assets of the beautiful female cast (Margaret Markov met producer Mark Damon on the set of this film and they married shortly after) and plenty of stabbings and impalements, THE ARENA is also notable for its behind-the-camera personnel, including Joe Dante (PIRANHA - 1977) as Editor and Aristide Massaccesi (a.k.a. "Joe D'Amato") as Director of Photography (some sources also list Masseccesi as an uncredited co-director). This movie played for years on the drive-in circuit on various double and triple bills (sometimes under the title NAKED WARRIORS) and it's easy to see why. It packs enough nudity, sex and violence in its scant 83 minutes to please even the most jaded genre fan. Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (WANTED - 2008) remade this film in 2001 as (what else?) THE ARENA (a.k.a. GLADIATRIX). Also starring Paul Muller, Dick Palmer, Anthony Vernon, Jann Fox and Anna Melita. Originally released on VHS by MGM/UA Home Video (as NAKED WARRIORS, which, at 78 minutes, was shorn of over five minutes of nudity and violence!) and then on VHS & DVD by New Concorde Home Entertainment in its unedited form. Rated R.

THE AROUSERS (1971) - Gym teacher Eddie Collins (Tab Hunter of GROTESQUE - 1987) has a thing for the ladies. Unfortunately Eddie can't perform sexually (His soldier won't salute) due to his constant watching of his mother undress while he hid in her closet as a child. His only recourse is to kill the women he tries to sleep with and stash them in a pigeon hutch on his roof. Eddie's not a bad guy. He gives his male students pointers on how to treat the ladies ("Be patient. Give them room, but not too much.") and walks around like he doesn't have a care in the world. He's good looking and the women love him. He hires a prostitute (Roberta Collins of CAGED HEAT - 1974) to dress as his dead mother, the only way he is able to achieve sexual gratification. When the roommate (Cherie Latimer) of the first killed girl reports her missing, the police come to her apartment, find grass in the bathroom and arrest her! (This is the 70's after all.) Eddie gets picked up at the beach by a beautiful girl and they take a shower together. Again, unable to perform sexually, Eddie stabs the girl repeatedly (and may have performed necrophelia with her corpse) while calling her a "slut" and cleans up her body in a tub. When Eddie can no longer use his prostitute to play his mother (She tries to kiss him without dressing up as his mother and he spits on her and calls her a "whore".), he begins to unravel. When neighbors of Eddie's apartment complex begin to complain of a bad smell coming from the ceiling, the landlady (Isabel Jewell) tells the neighbors not to worry (she secretly chained-up the pigeon hutch to kill the birds and thinks the smell is the birds decomposing). Eddie goes on a muderous rampage, killing the roomate of his first victim and his wanna-be girlfriend Barbara (Nadyne Turney). The last time we see Eddie, he is sitting in the pigeon hutch, staring blankly. This is the first film of director Curtis Hanson, who would go on to much acclaim for his multi-award winning L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (1997), a favorite of mine from the moment I first watched it (it still has the best gunfight ever committed to film, John Woo notwithstanding).  While Hanson is only cutting his teeth here, he does get a sympathetic performance out of Tab Hunter, who sheds his good-guy image that he had for many years before and opened his career up to play more diverse roles, but unfortunately, mainly in low-budget garbage. Originally shot in 1971 under the title SWEET KILL, this film had a short, unsuccessful limited release under that title and then lingered on the shelf until 1973, when executive producer Roger Corman had Hanson shoot two days of nudity inserts to spice-up the film and retitled it THE AROUSERS. It didn't help the film's boxoffice much. Angus Scrimm (PHANTASM - 1979) has a small role here using the name "Rory Guy". This is a good snapshot of the early 70's that should please the sleaze fans out there looking for plenty of nudity, sex and violence. Also known as A KISS FROM EDDIE. An Embassy Home Entertainment VHS Release. Also available on DVD from Shout! Factory under the title SWEET KILL, but it is actually THE AROUSERS edit and looks to be sourced from a VHS master. Rated R.

THE BAD BUNCH (1976) - Greydon Clark, not content on writing and directing this morality play (also released to theaters as THE BROTHERS, NIGGER LOVER and TOM), gives himself the lead role of Jim, a white Vietnam vet who travels to Watts to deliver a letter to the father of his black friend who was killed in the war. Clark (who bears a resemblance to actor Paul LeMat) meets his dead friend's brother Tom (Tom Johnigarn), a honky hater who proceeds to beat up Clark with the help of his gang called "The Brothers." The melee is broken up by two racist cops (Aldo Ray and Jock Mahoney). When Clark refuses to press charges (he says it was a friendly misunderstanding) the two cops later handcuff Tom and beat him senseless. Tom, mistakenly thinking that Clark ratted him out to the cops, sets out to teach him a lesson. They get into a fistfight at a pool party where everyone goes skinnydipping. The cops haul Tom's ass to jail. When he is released, Tom and his gang kill Ray and Mahoney and gun down Clark at his wedding reception. The film closes with a quote by Martin Luther King asking for peace among the races. Jumpy editing, poor production values and inane dialogue are the main distractions of this exploitation film. Clark is quite good in the lead role. Maybe he should have stuck with the acting profession and forsaken the behind the scenes work. He may have had an accomplished career instead of being known as a hack director and screenwriter churning out such lines as "I ain't nobody's nigger!" and "Tom is the name you Uncle Toms gave me. My name is Makimba!" On the plus side, there is plenty of female full frontal nudity as well as some good acting from Tom Johnigarn when he is not muttering some of the racist dialogue. The late Aldo Ray appeared in many badfilms later in his career, including MONGREL (1983),  BOG (1978/1983), EVILS OF THE NIGHT (1984) and SHOCK 'EM DEAD (1990). Producer/co-scripter Alvin L. Fast and executive producer Mardi Rustam also produced and co-wrote Tobe Hooper's EATEN ALIVE (1976). A United Home Video Release. Available on DVD from VCI Entertainment as part of a double-feature, with Clark's HI-RIDERS (1978) Rated R.

THE BAMBOO HOUSE OF DOLLS (1973) - This is a brutal Hong Kong exploitation film that takes place at a sadistic women's concentration camp run by the Japanese during World War II. The film opens with a squad of Japanese soldiers invading a Red Cross mobile hospital unit looking for a downed American pilot. After callously shooting some Chinese locals and the American pilot, the soldiers grab the nurses, including Jennifer (Birte Tove, a Danish actress who starred in several 70's Hong Kong films), Mary (Roska Rozen) and Elizabeth (Niki Wane), and send them to the notorious 13 Womens Camp, where they are tortured, raped (by both the male and female guards) and treated like human waste. After being put through a litany of abuses, usually at the behest of head lesbian guard Mako (Terry Liu), the nurses join forces with Hung Yulan (Li Hai-shu), a fellow prisoner who is an undercover operative in the Chinese opposition forces and has clues to where a fortune in stolen gold is hidden that could help the opposition defeat the Japanese. One of the male guards at the camp is actually an undercover operative and he helps the women escape, but their freedom is short-lived when it is revealed that one of the women prisoners is a traitor (her identity is not revealed yet), they are all recaptured and the undercover guard is shot and killed. When Mako and her male superiors find out about the hidden gold, they torture Hung Yulan with electric shocks to get her to give up the location. Mako and her superiors are not able to extract the information from her, so they decide to let Hung Yulan and her new friends escape and follow them to the hidden gold (Mary is killed in the escape, but her dying words are, "I'm not the traitor!"). As the group gets closer to the gold, the traitor leaves a marked trail for Mako and a squad of Japanese soldiers to follow. When the traitor kills blind female prisoner Huang Hsai (Lo Hsai-ying) for discovering her identity, she is finally outed and a trap is laid for Mako and the other Japs by the opposition forces. In true Hong Kong fashion, not even the good girls (and guys) survive in the extremely bloody finale.  The first thing you'll notice about this Shaw Brothers production, directed by Kuei Chi Hung (THE KILLER SNAKES - 1974; THE IRON DRAGON STRIKES BACK - 1979; THE BOXER'S OMEN - 1983), is how sexually graphic it is for a 1973 Hong Kong film. Hardly a minute goes by without a shot of naked female breasts and there are also several instances of full-frontal nudity, as well as leering close-ups of panty crotch shots. It's obvious that this film was made as a cash-in to the sudden popularity of the drive-in WIP films like THE BIG DOLL HOUSE (1971) and THE BIG BIRD CAGE (1972), but BAMBOO HOUSE OF DOLLS takes the genre a step further, adding an air of historical reference (the Japanese mistreatment and illegal experimentation of prisoners during the war) and an extremely nasty tone not seen in films of this type at the time. Not only is rape prevalent, violence also runs rampant, as women are shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, electrocuted and, in one instance, Mako forces the prisoners to take turns whipping one of their own until she is dead. This being a Hong Kong production, all the Japanese are portrayed as heartless, raping bastards and bitches that laugh at the sight of human suffering. There's plenty of good action set-pieces on view, especially during the final third, including a pretty decent car jump gag, lots of bloody sword and gunplay and a smattering of martial arts action. Mix that with plenty of girl-on-girl action, Mako's delirious death by rolling off the side of a mountain in a metal barrel (it really must be seen to be appreciated), hordes of snakes (a Hong Kong staple) and a typical downbeat finale and what you end up with may not be the feel-good movie of the year but, boy, it's an entertaining one. Also starring action star Lo Lieh (BLACK MAGIC - 1975) as the rebel guard who assists the women in their final escape (and is the only person left alive by the time the film concludes) and Wang Hsia (OILY MANIAC - 1975) as the merciless male commander of the camp. His death is memorable. This did receive a U.S. theatrical release in the mid-70's in a heavily edited R-rated cut. As far as I can deduct, this never has a legitimate VHS release in the States. Available on DVD in a nice widescreen unedited print from Celestial Pictures. Not Rated.

THE BEASTS (1980) - Five teens go camping in the woods, including brother Wah (Eddie Chan) and sister Ling (Patricia Chung), when they run into an inbred mountain clan in this Hong Kong rape/revenge thriller. After about a half hour of "character development", the mountain clan gang-rape Ling and kill Wah, by pushing him into a wild boar pit full of bamboo spikes. The police are called in, but the mountain clan's elder blames the campers for their own misfortunes ("They come here and destroy the environment!"). The police have two witnesses: Ling, who is now nothing but a basketcase (She's so far gone, she accuses her father of being one of her rapists when he visits her in the hospital), and a local villager (The police put a bag over his head, with two eyeholes cut-out so he can make an ID of the rapists, who are in the same room with him!). The mountain clan (who are sometimes referred to as "disco boys") are able to identify the local villager by his shoes (!) and pay him a visit once they are set loose on bail. They bury him up to his neck in pig shit and make him balance a sharp stick in his mouth, while alcohol is poured down his throat. Ling and Wah's father (Chen Sing) decides to take the law into his own hands since the police are so ineffective. Being a carpenter by trade, he uses tools of his trade in unusual ways to exact his revenge. The mountain clan go to a bar, where they kidnap a prostitute and bring her back to the woods, but they fight each other about who is going to have first dibs with her and she escapes. Ling's father kills the first clan member, Fu (Ko Chun-Man), by luring him into a tent (he simply hangs a couple of pair of women's panties next to it), snaring his leg in a bear trap and then hacking him to death with a specially-made machete. The second clan member, Ko (Kwong Tso-Fai), is dropped head-first into a wooden box full of protruding nails, ripping his head to shreds as he tries to remove it. When he tries to get the last three clan members in one fell swoop, the father fails and has to escape (by jumping off a waterfalls) after being seriously wounded. The clan members think he is dead, but we know better, don't we? As the remaining clan members gloat in their perceived victory, the father returns to finish his revenge and we finally learn just what exactly is being kept in those covered cages. They like raw meat and growl like a dog. Shit! They're just dogs!  Half the fun of watching this disturbing little thriller, directed by Dennis Yu (THE IMP - 1981; EVIL CAT - 1987), is trying to spot how many unlicensed pop and rock tunes you can hear on the soundtrack. I'm sure I missed a few, but I heard one from The Police ("Don't Stand So Close To Me"), Genesis ("Stay With Me") and a terrible Hong Kong remake of Supertramp's "Dreamer". Also, be aware that the version of the film I viewed was a composite print and contains hardcore footage during the rape scene (including vaginal penetration by fingers and a shot of an erect penis), but seems to be missing some frames of gory violence. This is a film very much in the vein of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972) and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978) but, unfortunately, the badly-translated burned-in English subtitles look to have been translated by someone who uses English as a third language, leaving a lot to be desired and actually destroying some of the tension in the latter half of the film. As with SPIT, one of the rapist clan, Mo (Kent Cheng of RUN AND KILL [1993]), is mentally retarded. He still comes off as the most sympathetic character here, as he's continually abused by the rest of the clan, refuses to take part in Ling's rape and has a pet mokkey named Kiki, who is his only real friend. His constant cries of "Not my business!" to Ling's father is the only thing that rings true in a film that's full of unbelievable situations. I was also bitterly disappointed to find out that it was only dogs being kept in those covered cages, especially with the buildup they were giving it. I was expecting maybe an even more feral, cannibalistic clan member, but finding out that they were only hungry German Shepherds was the film's biggest letdown. The best scene comes when Ling's father is being chased by the hungry dogs and he gets them off his scent by feeding them pieces of Fu's body, who is buried nearby. The finale also shows that there are more mountain clans to replace the dead ones, as a trio of new degenerates watch and salivate over a new bunch of campers they see arriving in the forest. As with most Hong Kong genre films of the 70's & 80's, snakes are in abundant supply. They are chopped-up, thrown around, generally abused and used creatively in one death scene. I was never a big fan of rape/revenge films, but this one (also known as FLESH AND BLOODY TERROR) is just offbeat enough to merit at least one viewing. Also starring Wong Chin, Paul Chung, Wong Siu-Ling and Kwok Man-Po as the dentally-challenged clan member named Snake. Never legally available on U.S. home video (I'm sure music rights play a role in that), but you can find this for purchase at many grey market sites. Not Rated.

THE BEAUTIES AND THE BEAST (1973) - What a hoot! Out of all the bad Bigfoot movies I have seen in my life, this inept, howl-a-minute fiasco has my vote for the most enjoyable of them all. The film opens up with a badly manufactured Bigfoot abducting a trio of topless babes from the forest and taking them to his tastefully decorated cave. Bigfoot then disappears from view until the last five minutes of the film, as the story veers off from one tangent to another. College student (and European mammary queen) Uschi Digard (SUPERVIXENS - 1973) and her roommate travel to a cabin deep in the woods to research a term paper (!). They run into four hippies and pretty soon our two college students are experimenting in free love and skinnydipping in a lake. Later on a duo of criminals with hunting rifles kidnap the group and demand to know the whereabouts of a cache of gold coins. The crooks locate the coins at the cabin of a bearded old hermit (but not before trying to rape the girls and roughing up the men). Bigfoot arrives in the nick of time, defeating the crooks and walking off into the sunset with the old hermit. The End. Huh? This sexploitation film has plenty of unanswered questions such as, "What happened to the girls in the cave?", but it is so offbeat it is sure to keep you occupied. Gratuitous nudity and sex, 70's fashions (including hip-high go go boots), campy dialogue and a dream sequence involving two naked girls (wearing only gunbelts) in a Wild West showdown are some of the weirdness on view in this short 62 minute film. You may hate yourself for enjoying it, but there is no denying it's charm. Director Ray Nadeau (associate producer of FANGS [1974], producer of THE MIDNIGHT GRADUATE [1971] and post-production supervisor of MESSIAH OF EVIL [1973]) must have escaped from the funny farm just before making this. One of my favorite discoveries of the past many years. Available at many video and department stores for under ten bucks. Grab it! Also known as THE BEAST AND THE VIXENS. An Applause Productions, Inc. Video Release. Rated R.

BIG BAD MAMA (1974) - Another classic 70's drive-in flick, courtesy of producer Roger Corman and his New World Pictures. 1932 rural Texas: Wilma McClatchie (Angie Dickinson) is tired of living the poor life with her two daughters, sexually promiscuous Billy Jean (Susan Sennett; THE CANDY SNATCHERS - 1973) and dumb-as-a-fencepost Polly (Robbie Lee; SWITCHBLADE SISTERS - 1975). When their Uncle Barney (Noble Willingham) is shot dead by G-Man Bonney (Dick Miller), Wilma and the girls take over his illegal whiskey business, but learn after a short while that this is not a business that women should be involved with, so they head out to California for a "better life". The rest of the film details their exploits while they are on their way to California. Billy Jean and Polly decide to earn extra money by stripping at a smoker, which upsets Wilma to no end. She enters the smoker with pistols drawn and robs the place, which makes Wilma and the girls Public Enemy #1 with Bonney, who is always one step behind them. When their car breaks down, Wilma and the girls steal a car and money belonging to a crooked preacher and then head for the next town, where Wilma tries to cash a bad check at a bank. Enter bank robber Fred Diller (Tom Skerritt), who decides to pull a stickup at the bank at the same time. Diller's partner is shot and killed, so Wilma and the girls pick up the slack and help Diller rob the bank. Wilma and Diller soon become lovers, which upsets Billy Jean because she had her eyes on him. While at the horse races, Wilma meets con man William J. Baxter (William Shatner) and he becomes the newest member of Wilma's gang. Baxter becomes Wilma's newest lover, which now opens the door for Diller and Billy Jean to get it on (Billy Jean even shares him with Polly and Wilma doesn't seem to mind!). Polly becomes pregnant (she carries a rag doll with her throughout most of the film as a symbol of her child-like demeanor) and is wounded when the quintet rob an oil well. The screwed-up family dynamic of the group is put to the test when Wilma demands that Diller marry Polly and he tells Wilma that her really loves her. The gang then crash a party attended by rich, influential snobs. After robbing then, the gang kidnaps snotty debutante Jane Kingston (Joan Prather) and hold her for a one million dollar ransom. Baxter proves how thin his skin is when he leaves the gang in fear, only to be captured by Bonney. He squeals like a pig and gives up the time and location of the ransom drop, which leads to a final big shoot-out between Wilma's gang and Bonney's police force. Diller is killed in an act of self-sacrifice, but Wilma is also killed in the getaway, leaving Billy Jean and a pregnant Polly to survive on their own.  This exploitation staple is what drive-in movies were all about: Plenty of nudity, a smattering of violence, car chases and lots of gunfights. Director Steve Carver (THE ARENA - 1973; CAPONE - 1975; LONE WOLF MCQUADE - 1983) knows exactly what audiences craved, sparing no excuse to get the women (including Angie Dickinson) naked as much as possible. It's apparent that Angie Dickinson is not using a body double here (like she did in the vastly inferior sequel BIG BAD MAMA II [1987]), although I could have done without the sight of a naked William Shatner (who hams it up shamelessly here). The violence is never too bloody, most of it being bloody bullet squibs or gun violence. The screenplay, by genre vet William Norton (I DISMEMBER MAMA - 1972; DAY OF THE ANIMALS - 1976) and Frances Doel, is mostly concerned with the twisted morality of Wilma, who has no trouble using her body (or her daughters' bodies) to get her way. Case in point: Even though Diller got her retarded daughter Polly pregnant, Wilma is again sleeping with him at the end of the film. Though Wilma apparently dies for her various sins at the end of the film, Roger Corman (who was known to milk a good concept until it spits out dust) couldn't resist reviving her in the ill-advised sequel thirteen years later. Look closely and you'll spot a very young Sally Kirkland (topless, of course) in the beginning and Paul Bartel (also this film's Second Unit Director) as a party guest at the debutante ball. The music soundtrack, which is banjo-heavy bluegrass, contains the nimble pickings of Greatful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia. This is also the first film credit for actor Bill Paxton, who was a Set Dresser here. When I think of good 70's exploitation, BIG BAD MAMA immediately comes to mind. Corman, who directed BLOODY MAMA in 1970, followed this up with CRAZY MAMA in 1975 (starring Cloris Leachman), which completed his 70's "Mama Trilogy". After this, Angie Dickinson would star in the successful TV series POLICE WOMAN (1974 - 1978) and then turn in a terrific performance in Brian De Palma's DRESSED TO KILL (1980). Unfortunately, most of her nude scenes in DRESSED were performed by a body double, but her death in an elevator is a shocking piece of 80's slasher cinema. Also starring Tom Signorelli, Royal Dano and William O'Connell. Originally released on VHS by Warner Home Video and then on DVD by New Horizons Home Video. Rated R.

THE BIG BIRD CAGE (1972) - No discussion of 70's exploitation filmmaking can last long without Jack Hill's name popping-up and for good reason. Hill not only jump-started the popular WIP genre with THE BIG DOLL HOUSE (1971) and this film, he also gave us COFFY (1973) and FOXY BROWN (1974), two of the best blaxploitation films ever made, and also the JD classic THE SWITCHBLADE SISTERS (1975). And let's not forget his 1964 classic of the macabre, SPIDER BABY, which would take nearly a quarter of a century to reach the cult status it so rightfully deserved. He directed one more film (SORCERESS in 1982, using the pseudonym "Brian Stuart") and then basically retired from genre filmmaking. Why he didn't direct more films is a story that could fill a book, but at least most of his films are available in some format on home video for us to enjoy over and over again. The Philippines-lensed THE BIG BIRD CAGE opens with singer Blossom (Pam Grier) and her guitarist boyfriend Django (Sid Haig; BLACK MAMA, WHITE MAMA - 1973; also with Grier) robbing the nightclub they are performing at (!) and kidnapping American actress Terry (Anitra Ford; INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS - 1973) as their getaway hostage, not knowing that she is the mistress of the country's Prime Minister. When Django finally realizes who they have kidnapped (it turns out Terry has slept with quite a few government officials, which prompts Django to say, "They'd pay me to get rid of you! You ain't nothing but plain purple poison!"), he jumps off a bridge to avoid capture (Blossom escapes in a separate vehicle) and the police arrest Terry as an "accomplice". Since Terry is an embarrassment to the government, she is sent to a remote government work camp located deep in the jungle, where Warden Zappa (Andy Centenera, who kicks a puppy just for the hell of it!) warns Terry and the other new prisoners that there will be "no fornication, with anyone, of any kind, ever!" The Warden also shows them that escape is impossible by giving them all a taste of his bloodthirsty guard dogs. Meanwhile, Django make the long trek on foot back to his jungle village, where perturbed girlfriend Blossom is pissed at him for kidnapping Terry and threatens to cut-off his balls with a machete (In a hilarious scene, he fights her off with a plucked chicken, where they fall into a mud puddle and then make love!). Django and Blossom are the leaders of a group of "revolutionaries", although none of them are sure what they are revolting against. Group member Moreno (Subas Herrero) complains about the lack of female members, so he wonders out loud where they can find a couple of hundred women. Hmmm... Back at the work camp, Terry is introduced to the other prisoners, including lesbian Bull Jones (Teda Bracci; THE CENTERFOLD GIRLS - 1974) and tall, lanky Karen (Karen McKevic, in her only film role, which is a crying shame), as well as watching Warden Zappa's mechanical contraption, a tall bamboo and wooden gear structure that separates the sugar from the sugar cane, dubbed "The Big Bird Cage", as it claims the life of another female prisoner when she gets her hand caught in the gears and falls to her death. It also seems the only person getting any sex in this prison without bars is the Warden, who, with the help of gay guard Rocco (Vic Diaz; SUPERBEAST - 1972; in a hilarious performance), grabs random prisoners and rapes them. His latest victim is Lin (Rizza Fabian), whom the Warden sexually abuses and then blackmails to become a prison snitch, using Lin's young daughter as insurance she will spill her guts when the time comes. When Blossom gets sent to the work camp after she and her group perform a pretty embarrassing stab at being revolutionaries (a funny scene involving a dud grenade), it leads to a series of events that culminates in boyfriend Django and the other male revolutionaries raiding the work camp and freeing the grateful female prisoners and all the bad guys getting their just desserts. This being a 70's exploitation film, though, nearly everyone ends up dead by the film's end.  Director/screenwriter Hill mixes equal parts comedy with gritty violence (including Terry being strung-up by her hair after an unsuccessful escape attempt), which makes THE BIG BIRD CAGE one of the best WIP flicks to come out of the "anything goes" 70's. Every exploitation element is touched upon, including plentiful nudity by nearly every female cast member; bloody violence; catfights; torture; gay stereotypes (Sid Haig pretending to be a homosexual to get close to Vic Diaz is one of the funniest, if not one of the most offensive slap to gay people, scenes in 70's genre filmmaking); and gun battles. There's not a boring moment in this film and I wish that Karen McKevic made more movies after this because she not only had beauty; she also had a real screen presence (What happened to her?). Vic Diaz is a scream as gay guard Rocco (it's one of his best early-70's roles) and some of his dialogue is simply priceless (as is his final comeuppance at the hands of the horny female prisoners). THE BIG BIRD CAGE is exploitation at its best and set the gold standard for genre films to come. Cirio H. Santiago was an uncredited Producer on the New World Pictures theatrical release for (also uncredited) Executive Producer Roger Corman. Also starring Candice Roman, Marissa Delgado and Wendy Green. Originally released on VHS by Warner Home Video, followed by a VHS & DVD release by New Concorde Home Video. Both are long OOP and command big bucks on the collectors market. Also available on THE WOMEN IN CAGES COLLECTION, a collection of three films on 2 DVDs, also including THE BIG DOLL HOUSE (1971) and WOMEN IN CAGES (1971), released by Shout! Factory. Rated R.

THE BIG BUST-OUT (1972) - This obscure "women in peril" flick relies heavy on the sleaze factor, as well as plentiful female flesh, but it really is not that interesting. A group of women are both physically and sexually abused at a prison  in some unnamed Middle East country, so when they are loaned-out to clean up a convent, they knock out all the guards, make the nuns strip, escape disguised as Sisters of God and take a real nun, Sister Maria (Monica Taylor), with them. Their freedom is short-lived, though, when they are betrayed and sold to white slave trader El Kadir (Gordon Mitchell). As they are about to be loaded onto a ship, the ship's captain, Jeff (Tony Kendall), saves them, steals a truck and drives them to safety. Their truck breaks down, so Jeff leads them on a long walk through the desert, where they happen upon an oasis, swim nude in a lake and then are attacked and raped by some Arab nomads. After having their way with the women (after knocking-out Jeff) and killing one of the women, the nomads leave. Nadia (Vonetta McGee) ends up missing, so Jeff and the women go looking for her. Meanwhile, El Kadir has sent out a hunting party to retrieve his "property". Jeff and the girls come across a remote village inhabited by black burka-wearing women, so they send Sister Maria in to look for Nadia. She finds Nadia nude, tied-up and being whipped by a mute retarded Arab man, but before she can save Nadia, Sister Maria almost gets stoned to death by the burka-wearing women. Jeff and the girls save the day and, after they kill some Arab marauders, they steal some horses and ride away. They run into some "policemen" and kill them when they try to rape the women and Jeff takes them to a castle in the mountains, only to find El Kadir and his men waiting for them. Jeff is thrown into the dungeon and the girls (including Sister Maria) are forced to participate as playthings in one of El Kadir's drunken orgies. Jeff is set free by an unlikely ally (who is after El Kadir's hidden loot) and he goes about trying to free the women. Unfortunately, during the ongoing gun battle, all but two women (and Jeff) make it out alive. Sister Maria sacrifices her own life to save Jeff and the two women, who ride off to safety in the film's conclusion.  This badly-dubbed Italian-German co-production continuously finds new ways to degrade women (rape is the most frequent method), but the film is cold and impersonal, like watching a porn film without any "money shots". Director Ernst R. von Theumer (JUNGLE WARRIORS - 1984; RED HEAT - 1985; HELL HUNTERS - 1986), here using the pseudonym "Richard Jackson", and scripter Sergio Garrone (who would later direct the Nazi sleazefest SS EXPERIMENT LOVE CAMP - 1976) don't really offer much to the viewer besides frequent female nudity and sex (some of which was edited out to achieve an R rating) and mostly bloodless violence. I do give the film some points for the location shooting (the mountain castle is impressive), but there's not much characterization, as all the women (besides Sister Maria) are interchangable and lack distinct personalities. Top-billed Vonetta McGee is wasted in a thankless role (I believe she has the fewest lines of all the women in the film) and was probably given the top spot to lure blaxploitation fans to this since McGee starred in three blaxploitation films in 1972: HAMMER, BLACULA and MELINDA. Fans of those films must have felt cheated for being falsely-lured into seeing this. It's funny that a film about a bunch of female prison escapees would have absolutely no interesting female characters. The most interesting role goes to genre vet Tony Kendall (RETURN OF THE BLIND DEAD - 1973; WHEN THE SCREAMING STOPS - 1973; YETI - 1977), as he manages to save the women nearly every time they get into trouble. So much for female empowerment. THE BIG BUST-OUT is a relic from the past that can be best viewed as a precursor to the naziploitation films that Italy started churning out during the mid-70's in that it portrays ways to abuse women with a minimum of plot. If that turns you on, you'll probably like this. I didn't. Also starring Linda Fox, Karen Carter, Christin Thorn, Mara Krupp, Margaret (Rose) Keil, Rebecca Mead, Girgio Dolphin, Herb Andress and William Berger. New World Pictures handled the 1973 theatrical playdates in the United States. An Embassy Home Entertainment Release. Rated R.

THE BIG DOLL HOUSE (1971) - This film, along with THE BIG BIRD CAGE (1972; both directed by Jack Hill), has the distinction of kick-starting the 70's WIP (women in prison) craze. Tough-as-nails Marnie Collier (Judy Brown) is sent to a "Banana Republic" prison (actually lensed in the Philippines) for 99 years on a false murder conviction. After being thoroughly searched in every orifice, she is thrown in a dingy cell with Alcott (Roberta Collins), Harrad (Brooke Mills), Bodine (Pat Woodell) and lesbian Grear (Pam Grier), who takes an instant shine to Collier. The prison's female warden, Miss Dietrich (Christiane Schmidtmer), is a Bible-quoting she-bitch who's not above murder to keep her prisoners in line. Bodine plans on escaping after she gets a smuggled-in letter from her revolutionary boyfriend telling her that he needs her badly, but someone snitches to Miss Dietrich about the letter and she has Bodine tortured, first by suspending her in a small bamboo cage in the blazing sun and then bringing her to a dungeon, where she is waterboarded and whipped by brutal head guard Lucian (Kathryn Loder) while some unknown person watches in the shadows. Bodine is brought back to her cell bloody and bruised, now even more determined to escape and join her boyfriend. Two black marketeers, Harry (Sid Haig) and his new partner Fred (Jerry Franks), make weekly trips to the prison and supply the women prisoners with a wide range of goods, including drugs, cigarettes and smuggled information, but it all comes with a price, mainly sex. When Miss Dietrich catches Alcott having sex with the inexperienced Fred, she becomes the next torture victim in the dungeon. Alcott is shocked with electricity by Lucian (she attaches electrodes to Alcott's nipples and vagina) while the same unknown person watches in the shadows. The girls put their differences aside and plan an escape, using a cat and the unwitting duo of Harry and Fred in their attempt. It almost comes undone when junkie Harrad stabs Grear in the neck in a fit of jealous rage, killing her. Collier is then tortured with a cobra by Lucian in the dungeon, but Alcott, Bodine and Ferrina (Gina Stuart) rescue her, overpower Lucian and discover the identity of the person hiding in the shadows (it's Miss Dietrich, who gets her sexual jollies by watching prisoners tortured and killed!). The girls then break out of prison, but not everyone will escape with their lives. During the fatalistic, yet strangely satisfying, conclusion, all the women are either killed or recaptured, but not before Miss Dietrich receives her just rewards.  This thoroughly sadistic, yet highly watchable, exploitationer delivers the goods, thanks to the cast of beautiful female genre vets and the  expert direction of Jack Hill, who also gave us such low-budget classics like SPIDER BABY (1964), COFFY (1973), FOXY BROWN (1974) and SWITCHBLADE SISTERS (1975). Hill only directed a handful of films in his career, yet he always seemed to know what audiences wanted: Namely, copious amounts of nudity and plenty of violence. THE BIG DOLL HOUSE doesn't disappoint, as every female in the cast has at least one nude scene (including a boner-inducing fight between Roberta Collins and Pam Grier in a mud pit) and loads of mind-boggling violence, usually by the hands of Lucian in her torture dungeon. This was one of Roger Corman's earliest hits for his New World Pictures production outfit (both Corman and Cirio H. Santiago are uncredited producers) and it's easy to see why. Besides Jack Hill's direction, the cast gives their all here, stripping-off their clothes, getting into catfights and, finally, working together to escape their hellhole. It's no wonder this film spawned countless other WIP flicks. It's well-made, violent (some of the torture devices are downright bizarre), exciting and, surprisingly, contains some real human drama. One of the earliest WIP movies to take advantage of the R-rating and still one of the best. Pam Grier sings the opening tune, "Long Time Woman". John Ashley and Eddie Romero were the Executive Producers. Also starring Jack Davis and Letty Mirasol. Originally available on VHS from Embassy Home Entertainment and later on VHS and DVD from Corman's New Horizons Home Video. Since the Walt Disney Company now owns Corman's New World Pictures library of films, they have slowly been releasing Corman's exploitation flicks, including this one, on DVD through their Buena Vista Home Entertainment division. Sometimes this world is a funny place. Also available on THE WOMEN IN CAGES COLLECTION, a collection of three films on 2 DVDs, also including THE BIG BIRD CAGE (1972) and WOMEN IN CAGES (1971), released by Shout! Factory. Rated R.

BLACK OAK CONSPIRACY (1977) - Movie stuntman Jingo Johnson (Jesse Vint, who also co-wrote and co-produced) is summoned to his hometown of Black Oak when his elderly mother is committed to a nursing home after she suddenly falls into a coma. Almost immediately after he sets foot back in Black Oak, he notices the town is quite different than when he left it, and not in a good way. Jingo cannot understand why his mother would sell the family farm and when he goes to check out the old homestead, he finds that it has been bulldozed over by his old nemesis Harrison Hancock (Robert F. Lyons; THE TODD KILLINGS - 1971), who is in charge of a new mining operation on the land. Harrison is also dating Jingo's old girlfriend, Lucy (Karen Carlson; THE OCTAGON - 1980), and has the town sheriff, Otis Grimes (Albert Salmi; EMPIRE OF THE ANTS - 1977), in his back pocket. Some of the townspeople, including Lucy's brother Homer (Seymour Cassel; DEATH GAME - 1977) and old Doc Rondes (Will Hare), are glad Jingo is back in town because something sinister is going on. Jingo wonders why his mother and many of the town's other elderly citizens are patients of the nursing home, but when he discovers that all of the elderly patients turned over their homes and land to the nursing home, which is owned by Harrison's father, Bryan Hancock (Douglas V. Fowley; HOMEBODIES - 1973), the pieces of the puzzle start falling into place. When Jingo also discovers that his mother's current condition may be medically induced by some mysterious pills given to her every night by the home's nurse (Mary Wilcox; LOVE ME DEADLY - 1972), who is having an affair with Sheriff Grimes, the conspiracy becomes personal and, as we all know, you don't mess with a man's mama, especially when that man is a movie stuntman. Jingo's mother dies and circumstances snowball into bloody violence, as Jingo finds out, with Lucy and Homer's help, that some of the town's most trusted citizens (including Doc Rondes) are deeply involved in a plot to cheat elderly people out of their homes by purposely making them sick and infirmed. When it is revealed that Sheriff Grimes is the brains behind this conspiracy (and he tries to kill everyone who knows it), Jingo must use every trick in his stunt book to bring the Sheriff down.  This is one in a long line of Southern hicksploitation flicks that were so popular in the 70's, thanks, in part, to the popularity of MACON COUNTY LINE (1974; also starring Jesse Vint and his brother Alan) and the Burt Reynolds action films WHITE LIGHTNING (1973) and it's sequel GATOR (1974). All of these films involve some kind of deep dark secret or conspiracy going on in town and a returning resident or complete stranger who must expose it. Jesse Vint (MERCHANTS OF WAR - 1988) may not be the best-looking or most charismatic action hero, but he is quite athletic here, getting into many fistfights and car chases as his and Hugh Smith's screenplay will allow. Under Bob Kelljan's (COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE - 1970; SCREAM BLACULA SCREAM - 1973; RAPE SQUAD, a.k.a. ACT OF VENGEANCE - 1974) capable direction, the action scenes are well-staged and pop with excitement. The stunts, including a scene where Jingo uses his stunt skills to drive a car on two wheels down the highway, are well-performed and photographed. The exploitation elements, including nude scenes by Karen Carlson, Mary Wilcox (LOVE ME DEADLY - 1973) and Janus Blythe (THE HILLS HAVE EYES - 1977), are plentiful and there is a wonderful supporting cast of character actors, including James Gammon, Vic Perrin (the voice of Control on the original THE OUTER LIMITS TV series) and Peggy Stewart. Most of the blood is saved for the final 15 minutes, where Albert Salmi blows off Douglas Fowley's head with a shotgun (in a surprisingly graphic effects shot that begs the viewer to rewind and watch it again in slow motion) and then shoots Robert F. Lyons in the back. The finale , where Vint and Salmi duke it out in a quarry, contains a truly memorable long shot where Salmi's police car flies over a cliff while Salmi has the drop on Vint. This sequence, because of the exact timing, could only be shot in one take and it is pulled-off flawlessly. This type of shot would easily be done today by using CGI, but it would certainly lack the immediacy and realism on display here. Bob Kelljan, who also directed episodes of TV's POLICE STORY (1973 - 1978), STARSKY & HUTCH (1975 - 1979), CHARLIE'S ANGELS (1976 - 1981) and many other 70's TV series, tragically lost his life to cancer at the age of 52 in 1982. One can't help but wonder what other cinematic gems he would have made if his life wasn't cut short. If you're a fan of 70's exploitation/action films, BLACK OAK CONSPIRACY should foot the bill nicely. Also starring Jeremy Foster, JoAnne Strauss and Darby Hinton. Originally available on VHS from Charter Entertainment and available on DVD from Shout! Factory in a widescreen presentation (It's not one of their better presentations, though, as it looks somewhat good, but little money was spent on processing this DVD for sale. It seems their Roger Corman halcyon days are coming to an end.). Rated R.

BLOOD GAMES (1989) - "Babe And The Ballgirls" are a traveling all-girl softball team and today they are playing birthday boy Roy Collins (Gregory Scott Cummins; HACK-O-LANTERN - 1987) and his all-male team of backwoods hicks from the sticks. When Babe (Laura Albert; THE UNNAMABLE - 1988) and her squad of short-shorts-wearing chicks begin to show up the men (Hillbilly grandstand member Vern [George "Buck" Flower, here using the pseudonym "Ernest Wall"] shouts to Roy, "Don't lets those knockers hypnotize you, boy!"), Roy and his good old boys begin playing dirty, intentionally tripping the girls as they round the bases and Roy planting his elbow into Stoney's (Julie Hall) face as she passes second base. This pisses-off Babe's manager (and father) Midnight (Ross Hagen; WONDER WOMEN - 1973), so he riles-up the girls to "kick some ass", which includes intentionally beaning Roy in the nuts with a softball and eventually beating the men by a score of 17 to 2. Roy's father, Mino (Luke Shay), is disappointed in his son ("I lost a thousand bucks betting on this game!") and vows to get even with the girls and Midnight (who he owes the thousand bucks to) for making his birthday boy and the town look like losers. When Vern sneaks into the girls' locker room to watch them shower (gratuitous full-frontal nudity alert!), he is caught and humiliated by the girls. Vern tells Midnight that Mino sent him over to pay the bet, but when he hands Midnight a hundred bucks instead of a thousand, Midnight heads out by himself to the local bar to collect the rest of the money he's owed. Midnight traps Mino (who was once a mercenary) in the bar's bathroom and forces him to pay up, but a fight breaks out (Midnight dunks Mino's head into a shit-filled toilet and then bounds and gags him) and Midnight gets his money and makes a hasty retreat back to the team bus, only to discover that teammates Mickey (Lisa Zambrano) and Connie (Sabrina Hills) went to the bar looking for him. Both girls are now being raped by at knifepoint by Roy and his best friend Holt (Don Dowe) and when Midnight tries to intervene, Roy stabs him in the stomach before the rest of the girls rescue him and bring him back to the bus, where he eventually dies. As the bus tries to get away, Roy and Holt shoot at it with their rifles, killing the female driver (she is shot right between the eyes) and forcing the careening bus to pin Roy between two trash dumpsters, crushing him to death (a fitting death for white trash). When Mino sees his dead son, he wants revenge and offers $1,000 for every "bitch" that the hillbilly locals kill. The bus continues down the backwoods roads and stop at a gas station to get some help. It turns out to be a trap, but the girls manage to escape after killing a couple of hicks. Terminal screw-ups Vern and Holt (Holt: "You drink beer like you piss!" Vern: "You piss like you drink beer!") chase the bus with their pickup truck, but Holt ends up taking a dive off a bridge and Vern wrecks the pickup truck (both are unhurt, though). A roadblock forces the girls to drive the bus on a dirt road that turns out to be a dead end. The girls are forced to abandon the bus and try to make it through the forest on foot, where warfare-trained Mino has a few surprises waiting for Babe And The Ballgirls. But you shouldn't mess around with girls that can handle baseball bats and throw like the pros. The finale finds Babe and a gutshot Mino battling it out at the top of an empty grain silo. Three strikes and you're out, but since only five girls are left alive after the ordeal is over, it looks like they're gonna have to change their sport to basketball!  BLOOD GAMES is demented hicksploitation fun and once you realize it was directed by a woman, Tanya Rosenberg (who has never done anything else), it makes it all the more demented. The screenplay, by Craig Clyde, James L. Hennessy and George P. Saunders, contains all the hicksploitation staples: toothless drunken hillbillies who don't have an original thought in their empty little heads; plenty of good-looking women who walk around with little or nothing on; lots of gory deaths (Stoney is shot in the back with a crossbow and pinned to a tree; another girl gets a crossbow bolt to her chest; one hillbilly has his head cracked open with a baseball bat; various bloody bullet squibs), many of them filmed in ultra-slow-motion; and uncomfortable scenes of rape. Hey, I'm not saying that this is a good film, but it contains enough graphic nudity and violence to keep this viewer happily entertained for 87 minutes. Now I wish that someone would tell me what happened to Tanya Rosenberg (Is it possible that it is a pseudonym?) and why George "Buck" Flower (who gets hung by his neck in the woods by the girls) chose to use the name "Ernest Wall" instead of his usual pseudonym "C.D. LaFleur"? Also starring Shelley Abblett, Randi Randolph, Rhyve Sawyer, Paula Manga and Doc Willis. Originally available on VHS and Laserdisc from RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video and not available on DVD. Rated R.

BLOOD MANIA (1970) - Although this is basically nothing but a soap opera with a sleazy feel (the ads made it look like a horror film), it is still an important part of 70's exploitation because it was one of only four films Peter Carpenter appeared in. Carpenter (who also wrote the story the screenplay was based on and co-produced) was a handsome good actor who supposedly died, but no one can come up with a date or year he actually died. Some say it was a heart attack, some say it was influenza, but one thing is certain: no one has conclusively stated that Peter Carpenter is dead at all. Here's my speculation: Since Carpenter was a star and Producer on both this and POINT OF TERROR [1971; they became famous as a double feature] and a Producer's job is partly securing financing for films, I think he may have borrowed money from people of a "certain" type [a.k.a. shylocks] and when Carpenter knew that he wasn't able to pay them back on time, along with their ridiculous vig [a weekly/monthly amount of interest on the loan that was unusually high, usually within the 50% to 80% range!], he is either swimming with the fishes or changed his name and is living in another country [He's still young enough to be alive]). No matter what happened, there no denying Peter Carpenter had talent and would have probably become a major star (he could actually sing and had no problem with nudity). The story is as old as films themselves: Dr. Craig Cooper (Carpenter) is a doctor who works in a clinic and makes house calls to a rich patient named Ridgely Waterman (Eric Allison), who has a bad heart condition, is cruel to his daughter, painter Victoria (Maria De Aragon: THE CREMATORS - 1972), and owns the clinic Craig works at. Craig is also being blackmailed by Larry Miller (Arell Blanton), who wants $50,000 from Craig in two weeks or he will go to the police with photos of Craig performing illegal abortions when he was younger so he could pay for medical school. Craig reveals all his secrets to his live-in girlfriend Cheryl (Reagan Wilson) and she wonders how in the world he will get $50,000 in two weeks, so she comes up with a plan of her own (behind her boyfriend's back). Craig really is a nice guy who cares about his patients and won't even cheat on his girlfriend, even though every time he goes to Ridgely's mansion, Victoria (who always has a strange recurring nightmare; we see it in the opening of the film, but it is made to look like Ridgely's nightmare) always comes on to him and he always turns her down (After one instance of turning her down, she strips topless at the pool in front of the pool boy and starts coming on to him. He ends up being scared to death and leaves the pool with his bathing suit half-on, screaming "My mother told me about women like you!" It's really funny.). He also chastizes Victoria about not having a full-time nurse on duty and makes her hire Nurse Turner (Leslie Simms) to take care of her father (Ridgely accuses Victoria of poisoning his food, which is believable considering what a manipulative bitch she is). Craig has a moment of weakness and decides to take Victoria up on her offer and starts having an affair with her, in hopes he can borrow the $50,000 he so desperately needs. Victoria also has a bad amyl nitrate ("poppers") habit and Craig tells her that it could do irreparable harm to her heart and she should stop using it. She tells Craig that she doesn't have the $50,000 to give him right now (she thinks he is having IRS problems), but she knows how she can get it for him. Meanwhile, Craig's girlfriend Cheryl invites Larry Miller over to the apartment (without Craig knowing about it) and she offers to have sex with Larry if he will call off the blackmail. Instead, Miller slaps her around and rapes her, saying after he is done, "No deposits. You're good, but you're not that good!" and walks out the door. Victoria sneaks into her sleeping father's bedroom and opens a couple of vials of amyl nitrate under his nose. He dies of a heart attack a short time later (he pops up into the sitting position in his bed as a muscle reflex and the look on his face is the film's scariest moment). Victoria tells Craig what she has done and uses sex to hold the $50,000 over his head (Craig, who really is a nice guy, says to her, "You're a bitch!"). Victoria now believes that she is a rich woman, but the family lawyer (Alex Rocco: STANLEY - 1972; in what amounts to an extended cameo) says the reading of the will cannot take place until at least two weeks because the auditors have to get the exact amount of Ridgely's fortune together and she also has to wait for her younger sister Gail (Vicki Peters) to arrive with her guardian Kate Lewis (Jacqueline Dalya). When the will is read, Nurse Miller is given $1,500 ("I'm rich!"), but the rest of his fortune goes to Gail. Ridgely says in the will that Victoria is allowed to stay in the mansion and receive a small yearly stipend and Craig's clinic is to receive $10,000 a year. Victoria has a nervous breakdown and Craig hires Nurse Miller to look after her. Craig and Gail become romantically involved (by this time in the film, Cheryl is never seen again, in one of the screenplay's biggest holes), as we see them go to a Renaissance Fair and frolic on the beach. Craig wants to have Victoria admitted to a psychiatric hospital because he is afraid she is going to turn violent. It comes a little too late, as Gail offers Victoria half the fortune, but Victoria bashes a nude Gail (who was taking a bath) over the head repeatedly (we see quick bloody edits of Gail's head) and then drags her dead nude body in a rug into another room. Craig calls Gail on the phone, but a truly loony Victoria answers the phone and tells Craig she is unavailable. Craig rushes to the mansion as quickly as he can and finds Victoria painting with blood. Craig discovers Gail's dead body in the bathtub of another room. He begins to cry and carries Gail's body to his car, telling Victoria she knows what he has to do: report her to the police and have her committed. But in a strange turn of events in the finale, Larry Miller comes into Victoria's studio carrying the nude body of Gail and when Craig looks at Victoria's painting, it is a remarkable resemblance of him carrying a bloody skeleton. That can only mean one thing: Craig is fucked for the rest of his life. He can never go to the police because it is he that will look guilty. In this film, nice guys finish last.   Like I said, most of the film is pure soap opera, followed by plentiful nudity, a few jump scares and a smattering of blood. But it is Carpenter's performance that keeps the film interesting as a man who is just trying to do the right thing, but everyone is working against him. Also interesting are the people behind the camera. Director Robert Vincent O'Neill (billed here simply as "Robert O'Neil") also made THE PSYCHO LOVER (1970); WONDER WOMEN (1973; also starring Maria De Aragon); ANGEL (1983) and many more. O'Neill also wrote the screenplays to THE MIGHTY GORGA (1969); the cult classic VICE SQUAD (1972); DEADLY FORCE (1983) and WHAT WAITS BELOW (1985). He also Produced WANDA THE SADISTIC HYPNOTIST (1969) and was an Associate Producer on BONNIE'S KIDS (1972). Production Manager Gary Kent is a well-known jack-of-all-trades in genre films since the early-60's, but is best known as an actor in such films as SCHOOLGIRLS IN CHAINS (1973) and THE FOREST (1981). One of the Cinematographers was Gary Graver and Co-Screenwriter Tony Crechales (who co wrote this film with first-and-only-timer Toby Sacher) also wrote the screenplays for such films as the aforementioned POINT OF TERROR (1971); HOUSE OF TERROR (1972); THE KILLING KIND (1973); PSYCHO SISTERS (1974); IMPULSE (1974), THE GREAT SKYCOPTER RESCUE (1980) and THE ATTIC (1980). So, as you can see, this film has quite the pedigree in front of, as well as behind, the camera. Even though the story has many holes (The disappearance of Cheryl from the film after being raped; Why did Kate leave without telling anyone goodye? Why doesn't Craig just kill Larry Miller and Victoria and blame their deaths on each other? Cheryl's corpse would have surely implicated Victoria in her death and she and Larry could have "killed" each other because Larry was the last one to hold Cheryl's corpse.) The biggest mystery still is "What ever happened to Peter Carpenter?" This man had many talents and would have probably been a major genre film star. Originally released  on fullscreen VHS by Academy Home Entertainment, then on a lot of DVD compilations (especially the ones that dealt with Crown International Films, the theatrical distributor of this film) and much later on an anamorphic widescreen double feature DVD (with the edited PG Rated version of LAND OF THE MINOTAUR - 1976) by Code Red. Also featuring Reid "Chip" Smith as the buttcrack-showing Pool Boy. Both Vicki Peters and Reagan Wilson would later become Playboy Playmates and neither one of them have a problem showing the "full monty" in this film. An extra bonus interview on this DVD by Vicki Peters (which was filmed in 2011) still shows her as a beautiful woman and she had nice things to say about everyone except Maria De Aragon, who Ms. Peters said was "distant" towards her. She was best friends with Chip Smith until his untimely death in 2001 at the young age of 52. Just like everyone else that worked with Carpenter, she had nothing nice things to say about him (she was the youngest and most inexperienced actress in the cast and Carpenter always was there to make her as comfortable as possible), but seems unwilling to talk about any future dealings with him. I'm usually not a conspiracy theorist, but there just are too many unanswered questions when it comes to the life of Peter Carpenter. If you're still out there Peter and are reading this, contact me by email. I swear it will stay private and I will delete it immediately (and I have government encryption erasing software). A Code Red DVD Release. Rated R.

BLOODY FRIDAY (1973) - A group of diverse (and horny) people gather together for an encounter group on an isolated island in "an exercise in liberated living" (in other words, free love). The only problem is, there is a killer amongst them and the first victim is a young woman, who gets speargunned in the stomach and buried in a shallow grave while she is walking alone in the woods. Dr. Phillip Stevens (Wayne Dvorak), who heads the encounter group, has the people introduce themselves to each other by "milling", a technique where he turns out the lights and they grope each other. While the lights are out, someone bites one of the women on her breast and draws blood, sending her to the infirmiry. Allison (Claudia Jennings) has come to the island to escape her abusive boyfriend, Bud (Ed Blessington), but her follows her to the island and begins to get abusive with her in front of everyone else. Morris (Albert Popwell) steps in to break it up and he tells Allison that he would like nothing better than to give Bud a knuckle sandwich, but she stops Morris before he can. Bud, in retaliation, gets picked-up by another woman and has sex with her, which visibly upsets Allison. Mousey stutterer George (Greg Mullavey), who only came to the island "to get laid", sees Allison's strife and gives her a shoulder to cry on. As more personal drama unfolds on the island, Allison incredibly makes up with Bud and they go exploring through the island's many beachside caves and are attacked by bats (!). After George and Bud get into a fight (where the mild-mannered George proves to be good with his fists), Phyllis (Jean Marie Ingels) is murdered by the unseen killer with a garden hoe. While Allison and Bud are making out (What is wrong with this girl?), the killer cuts-up all the girls' clothes and writes "Cunts Bitches Sluts" on the bathroom mirror in lipstick. A few more people are murdered or seriously hurt by the killer before we find out that George is actually an undercover cop who has been after the killer for quite some time. Allison comes face-to-face with the killer in the caves, but George saves her in the nick of time and everyone left alive lives happily ever after. Or at least I think they do.  This sexploitation thriller contains many stars of the B-movie genre, but the problem is that nothing much happens here. For a film that's supposed to be about free love, there's precious little nudity, at least not as much as there should have been (although the late Claudia Jennings does have a topless shower scene). Directors/producers Ferd and Beverly Sebastian, who also gave us the much-sleazier GATOR BAIT (1974), the awful Rock & Roll horror flick ROCKTOBER BLOOD (1984) and many others, don't seem to have their hearts in this and the screenplay (by Ann Cawthorne) is full of scenes that make no sense and people doing stupid things. Why Allison keeps going back to Bud is the most maddening aspect of this film. He's a jerk of the highest order, yet he's made one of the heroes of the film, which is this flick's biggest fault. Another fault with this film is that there are just too many characters here to keep track of or care about. Besides the ones already mentioned, there's the impotent Andrew (Victor Izay), virgin Lola (Joan Prather), cowboy Blue (Jason Ledger), trampy Shannon (Cheri Howell), sexpot Cathy (Mercy Rooney) and a half dozen others. The are given a few moments of screen time and then they are either dispatched or forgotten. The film also seems to be severely edited. There are many freeze frames or jump cuts when the violence is about to be shown. This could be because Ferd Sebastian had a heart attack during the 80's (this film was released on VHS by Ferd & Beverly's "Sebastian International Enterprises" label), became a born-again Christian and is now a minister! He may have edited it because the violence doesn't conform with his religious beliefs. What's truly head-scratching is that Bud disappears during the final minutes of the film, never to be seen again. When George confronts the killer at the end, there's a freeze frame on the killer's face, followed by a shot of George and Allison walking hand-in-hand down the beach discussing what they'll be doing on their first date. It's apparent that a good chunk of the film is missing, as we never find out the fates of the killer or Bud. It's a cheat on the viewer. Besides some fleeting nudity, this film (at least in this version) is not worth your time. Originally released to theaters as THE SINGLE GIRLS by Dimension Films, who released a lot of great exploitation and horror films during the 70's, including THE DOBERMAN GANG (1972), THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE (1972), DOLEMITE (1975), DR. BLACK MR. HYDE (1976), THE REDEEMER (1976), RUBY (1977) and SCREAMS OF A WINTER NIGHT (1979). This early 70's example of a slasher film should not be confused with the 1972 German crime thriller also known as BLOODY FRIDAY. A Sebastian International Enterprises VHS Release. Rated R.

BOBBIE JO AND THE OUTLAW (1975) - Lyle Wheeler (Marjoe Gortner) is a con artist and quick-draw champion who likens himself to a modern-day Billy The Kid. He steals an orange Ford Mustang, runs a patrol car off the road and meets carhop Bobbie Jo Baker (Lynda Carter). It's love at first sight. Bobbie Jo dreams of becoming a famous country singer (she sings Lyle one of her original songs on their first date), but she's going to have to put that dream on hold because she and Lyle are about to have an adventure. Lyle teaches Bobbie Jo how to shoot a pistol ("It's just like praying!") and shows her how to cheat at pinball by palming a magnet (He hustles one guy for $40 at a pool hall and has to fight the guy off with his car's radio antennae in the parking lot). Bobbie Jo's best friend, Essie (Belinda Balaski), joins Lyle and Bobbie Jo on their travels and soon they are tripping out on magic mushrooms while wading naked in a pond with an elderly Indian, where Lyle has a premonition of his death. When a cop tries to pull Lyle over for driving the stolen car, it leads to a chase where the cop car crashes and explodes (the cop is OK, though). They go to borrow some money from Bobbie Jo's stripper sister, Pearl (Merrie Lynn Ross), and her coke-sniffing boyfriend, Slick Callahan (Jesse Vint), but Slick gets Lyle involved in a robbery where he is forced to shoot and kill a security guard. With roadblocks at every exit out of town, they all disguise themselves as Christians heading to a revival meeting and they escape, but all is not peaceful within the clan. Pearl keeps riding Slick about taking orders from Lyle and Essie wants everyone to turn themselves in after watching Sheriff Hicks (Gene Drew) on TV threaten to "hunt them down like dogs" if they don't give up. Essie secretly calls the Sheriff and makes a deal with him, which backfares terribly, leading to a shootout in a trailer park that leaves Essie and several policemen dead. Essie dies in Lyles arms of a shotgun blast to the stomach and Lyle delivers a sermon over her makeshift grave (which came natural to Gortner, since he was a fire-and-brimstone teenage preacher before he became an actor). The remaining foursome decide to rob a bank, but first they rob a gun store for weapons, which leads to a shootout where Bobbie Jo kills her first man and she seems to enjoy it. There's no turning back now. After many gun battles, a bank robbery, a Wild West showdown and several close calls, Lyle, Slick and Pearl meet their maker while Bobbie Jo is captured, her fate uncertain. One thing is clear: She can kiss her country music career goodbye.  This mid-70's exploitationer, directed by Mark L. Lester (TRUCK STOP WOMEN - 1974; CLASS OF 1984 - 1981; and many others) and written by Vernon Zimmerman (UNHOLY ROLLERS - 1972; FADE TO BLACK - 1980), is the only film that you will ever see the soon-to-be WONDER WOMAN Lynda Carter's naked breasts. Although co-stars Merrie Lynn Ross and Belinda Balaski spend much of their screen time topless, Ms. Carter was very frugal in showing off her tits. So frugal, in fact, that Lester is forced to repeat one scene of a topless Carter making love to Gortner a second time later in the film. Marjoe Gortner has a natural screen presence and his starring turn here is a good one. His portrayal of Lyle as a good-natured criminal who gets caught-up in violence seems natural and unforced. Scripter Zimmerman puts in constant swipes at religion in this film, highly unusual for an exploitationer. The film is full of religious diatribes, some obvious (Gortner's comparing firing a gun to praying and his sermon at Essie's graveside) and some not-so-obvious (the $100 bill that Gortner leaves under one of his victim's hands so he can "have a good funeral"). Bobbie Jo and Pearl's mother, Hattie (Peggy Stewart), is also a devout religious woman, yet her daughters turn out to be a strippers and women who can stand to be around her. Hattie's true colors show through loud-and-clear when it's revealed that she made a deal with Sheriff Hicks to turn both of her daughters in for $50! Another taste of Zimmerman's distaste of religion comes when Sheriff Hicks and his men shoot-up a motel room only to discover that they have killed three innocent people inside. Sheriff Hicks looks at the bullet-ridden, bloody bodies, turns to his deputy and says, "With the Lord's will, they is sinners!" A telling, remarkable scene. The violence doesn't kick-in until the second half of the film and it's mostly just bloody bullet squibs, although some of it is nasty. I'm a big fan of director Lester's films and BOBBIE JO AND THE OUTLAW is the definition of what a drive-in film should be: Plenty of skin, plenty of violence and plenty of action. Also featuring cameos from Gerrit Graham, Virgil Frye, James Gammon and John Durren as Deputy Gance, who gets his throat cut in a barbershop. A Vestron Video Release. Not yet  available on DVD. Rated R.

BONNIE'S KIDS (1972) - Classic 70's exploitation. Waitress Ellie (Tiffany Bolling; THE CANDY SNATCHERS - 1973) and younger sister Myra (Robin Mattson; WOLF LAKE - 1978) murder their stepfather Charley (Leo Gordon) after years of sexual abuse and dump his body in the cellar. They then dump Charley's pickup truck in the parking lot of a big city (to make it look as if he went on an extended trip) and then visit their rich Uncle Ben (Scott Brady; WICKED WICKED - 1973, also starring Bolling), who welcomes them into his home, which happens to be a huge country estate. Unfortunately, Uncle Ben's business is the illegal kind (he runs a high-priced call girl racket that fronts as a modeling agency) and he and his "associates", Eddy (Alex Rocco; STANLEY - 1972) and Digger (Timothy Brown; SWEET SUGAR - 1973), are planning a big score. While Myra becomes "friends" (i.e. lesbian lovers) with Ben's wife Diana (Lenore Stevens), Ellie learns to become a call girl in one of Ben's prostitution rackets. Eddy and Digger, on Ben's orders, hire an innocent dupe, private detective Larry (Steve Sandor; STRYKER - 1983), to pick up a package in Desert Springs. Ben sends Ellie to the same location to retrieve the package from Larry and, while the plan is still unclear, you can bet it's as crooked as a hillbilly's teeth. What Ben, Eddy and Digger don't count on, though, is that Larry and Ellie hook-up and sleep together. They pick up the package together and when Myra phones Ellie and tells her that the police have discovered Charley's body and they are wanted for questioning, Ellie opens the package (against Larry's wishes) and finds a briefcase containing $400,000. Seeing this as a chance for her and Myra to finally disappear for good, Ellie steals the money and tells Myra to meet her in El Paso. This sets off a series of violent encounters that finds Larry and Ellie trying to escape the clutches of Ben, Eddy and Digger. The finale shows that both Ellie and Myra are not the innocents they want everyone to believe they are. Maybe all those bad rumors about their dead mother are true after all. It doesn't end pleasantly for either Ellie or Myra, as one will end up dead and the other will end up all alone. Don't expect a feel-good ending, because you get quite the opposite.  This excellent and complicated sexploitationer, directed and scripted by exploitation master Arthur Marks (CLASS OF '74 - 1972; DETROIT 9000 - 1973; BUCKTOWN - 1974; FRIDAY FOSTER - 1975; J.D.'S REVENGE - 1976), contains everything fans of this genre demand. Besides the ample naked assets of Tiffany Bolling, Robin Mattson and Lenore Stevens, there's plenty of bloody violence, softcore sex and a great cast of genre veterans. There are a few scenes that really stand out, such as when Myra tells Diana that she's leaving for El Paso to be with her sister. Diana, who has been having a lesbian affair with Myra, doesn't want her to leave, but Myra unleashes this uncalled-for bit of dialogue in Diana's face: "Face it, you're a dyke, a lesbian, a no-good queer!" This line makes Diana blow her own brains out with a revolver and when Myra sees her lifeless body on the floor, all she has to say is, "What a creep!". Myra proves to be the most unlikable character in the film, as she is the lynchpin for every bad thing that happens here. She uses everyone (including her sister) to get her way and knows exactly what she is doing, using her teenage body to get people to do things they wouldn't normally do. If she didn't come-on to Charley's friends at a poker game in the beginning of the film, it wouldn't have led to the events that forced Ellie to shoot Charley. It's no wonder that Myra's only true friend is her pet rat (insert symbolism here). It's not until fairly late into the film that we discover that Myra picked up her character traits from her older sister, when Ellie finally shows her true colors with Larry. The film is full of quotable dialogue, but my favorite line comes when one of Charley's poker buddies spits out this nugget to describe Charley's demeanor: "You've always got the three M's: You're mean, miserable and de-mented!" The final line of dialogue (which I will not repeat here) is a classic example of cinematic heartlessness. BONNIE'S KIDS is a great piece of 70's filmmaking; a time when nudity, violence and a real, honest-to-goodness story were necessary to entertain audiences. I miss those days. Be sure to look for a young Sharon Gless in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it role as a greasy spoon waitress. Also starring Luanne Roberts, Hedgeman Lewis and Max Showalter as Frank, a traveling gun salesman who plays an important role in the latter part of the film. Originally available on VHS from Monterey Home Video. Dark Sky Films has this on its 2008 release schedule for a DVD release, but take that with a grain of salt. Rated R.

THE BRIDES WORE BLOOD (1972) - While making love, a couple find a secret panel behind the bed which contains the boy's Uncle Carlos DeLorca's (Paul Everett) journal. The journal explains Carlos' endeavors to end the DeLorca Curse, where all male members become vampires. He contacts Madame Von Kirst, a psychic, to try to find a way to end the curse. She tells him that he must choose four girls and offer them as hosts to his vampire nephew, Juan (Chuck Faulkner). One of them will become Juan's bride and have his child. The child will then be exorcized by Madame Von Kirst, ending the curse. Carlos has his mute servant Perro (Bob Letizia) give invitations to four beautiful girls, offering them a tour of Casa DeLorca. The girls come to the house, where Carlos takes them on a tour. He then invites them to dinner the next evening to meet Juan. After dinner, the girls are tricked into spending the night. One of them is offered up in a "conjuration ritual" by Carlos, which consists of doping her up (graphic needle-in-the-arm close-up) and tying her down to an altar. The girl's boyfriend interrupts the ritual, knocking out Perro and Carlos and unknowingly unleashing a demon to cause havoc in Casa DeLorca. The demon possesses Perro, who slashes the throat of one of the remaining girls and then turns another one into a vampire. The third girl, Yvonne (Dolores Heiser), is chosen to bear the child and is raped by Juan. Meanwhile, the loose demon kills the first girl and her boyfriend (a machete in the head) before being dispatched by Carlos. Yvonne is exorcized by Madame Von Kirst to rid the evil from her baby. Months pass as Yvonne is kept prisoner in the DeLorca house until the baby is born. She tricks Perro into taking her for a walk and throws him down the stairs and tries to escape the house. She runs into the room where the vampire girl is staying, forcing Carlos to stake the girl with a broom handle. Seeing this, Juan chases Yvonne only to have her expose him to sunlight and dissolve. After Madame Von Kirst determines that the baby Yvonne is carrying is normal and the curse has been lifted, Carlos goes upstairs to tell Yvonne the good news. When he opens the door he finds that Yvonne has broken a mirror and has plunged a giant shard of it into her stomach. The End. This impossibly cheap horror film was filmed in Jacksonville, Florida by late director Robert R. Favorite (RIVERBOAT MAMA; INDIAN RAID, INDIAN MADE - both 1969). Filled with cheap 70's gore effects, garish 70's fashions, muttonchops and amateur acting, this film is a testament that anyone with a camera could make a film in the 70's and get it a release. It's hard to keep up with the story as the entire film is told in flashback and sometimes as a flashback within a flashback. This film does not have much going for it as it contains minimal nudity, a no-no for a film of this type. The ending also makes no sense as the boy in the beginning states that he is the son of Juan, who has died in the film and Yvonne kills herself and her baby in the end. Just when did Juan father this child? I could have thought of a better ending.  THE BRIDES WORE BLOOD is of interest only as a relic of a bygone age. Also known as BLOOD BRIDE. Also starring Rita Ballard, Jan Sherman and Dolores Starling. Originally released on VHS by Regal Video. A Retromedia Entertainment DVD Release. Not Rated. The DVD is hosted by the very unfunny horror host, Son Of Ghoul.

BROTHERHOOD OF DEATH (1976) - Lower-tier blaxploitation effort about race relations, the KKK and death in a small Southern town (actually filmed in Montgomery County, Maryland). When Raymond (Roy Jefferson), his brother Junior (Haskell Anderson) and friend Ned (Le Tari) run afoul of local redneck Leroy (Ron David), they join the Army to get away from him and his KKK buddies. After serving their stint while learning jungle warfare and making a hefty profit selling smack to hooked white soldiers, they return home and to the trouble they thought they left behind. When a local black girl is raped by Leroy and two of his white friends, Raymond gets even by beating the crap out of Leroy. The black trio try to enact change in the town legally and non-violently by getting the local preacher to get all the black townspeople to register to vote, but when the townspeople show up at city hall to register, the crooked district attorney, who also heads the local KKK chapter as their "Grand Cyclops" (he wears a pink KKK robe and hood!), closes city hall down. The KKK then burn down the church, murder a local black boy who was about to attend college and kill the sheriff, the only white man in town who was fair with the blacks. The new sheriff (who shot the old one in the head after calling him a "nigger lover") begins to terrorize the black population to find out where the troublesome trio are located, but they have already kidnapped Leroy and the district attorney and are holding them in a shack in the woods. The trio don their Army fatigues and use their jungle warfare training to get even with the KKK (they even trick the KKK into killing Leroy and the D.A. by taping their mouths shut and putting black hoods on their heads!). Using guns, booby traps, poisonous snakes and landmines (even pulling a Cleavon Little in BLAZING SADDLES [1974], where Raymond disguises himself as a KKK member to thin the ranks), the vengeful trio kill all the KKK members and make the town a safe place for all the black folks to vote and elect their own D.A. and sheriff. Don't you just love happy endings?  This cheaply-made blaxploitation flick has lots of stock footage (when the church is burned down, it's just stock footage of a house fire), bad acting and it takes forever to get moving. This film is nothing but a series of racial diatribes, as the white actors are required to say "nigger" at least one time in every line of dialogue. Director Bill Berry paints every white person (except for the sheriff) as a bigot and every black person as a good guy, which makes this whole affair hard to swallow (even during the Vietnam sequences, the only white soldier shown is a heroin addict/dealer). Add to that nothing but talk, talk, talk and too little action (the final sequence lasts less than five minutes) and what you end up with is an action film that is anything but. There is only one instance of nudity (the rape scene), several bloody bullet squibs and one throat slashing in the film's entire 77 minute running time. All that's left is plenty of racist dialogue (on both sides of the coin), lame politics (it seemed dated, even for 1976) and lots of amateur acting. I will give the film a few points for superimposing it's end credits on a real KKK recruitment billboard, though. It's the film's most imaginative moment. Too bad you have to wallow through a lot of crap to get there. It should come as no surprise that there is no on-screen screenplay credit (Who would want to take credit for this crap?), although I suspect Bill Berry is the culprit. Berry only has one other directorial credit, the 1987 comedy OFF THE MARK (a.k.a. CRAZY LEGS), but he does have extensive film credits, such as First Assistant Director on horror films like WITCHBOARD 2: THE DEVIL'S DOORWAY (1993) and CRY_WOLF (2005). A lot of the "actors" in BROTHERHOOD OF DEATH were members of the Washington Redskins football team, including Roy Jefferson, Mike Thomas, Mike Bass, Frank Grant, Larry Jones and Dennis Johnson. Ron David as Leroy is the film's best actor. He's actually convincing as the raping racist, which I find troubling. Also starring Rick Ellis, Brian Donohue and Bryan Clark as the evenhanded sheriff. Older readers may remember Mr. Clark as the spokesperson for Folger's Coffee in countless 80's TV commercials. Available on DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment as part of a double feature, with Fred Williamson's ONE DOWN, TWO TO GO (1982). Also available on Blu-Ray from Code Red. Rated R.

BRUTE CORPS (1971) - Sometimes it amazes me that films I never heard of before slipped through my fingers when I was a teenager because I usually went to movie theaters  3 or 4 times a week (not like today, where you have a choice of about 10 films to see during any particular week and 95% of them don't appeal to me at all). I write this review just a few days after Alex Rocco's untimely death and I'm glad to report that this is one sleazy gem and Rocco supplies a good percentage of the sleaze here. Even more amazing is that Jerry Jameson directed it; he's better known as one of the Kings of the Made-For-TV-Movie, still directing them up to this day, and infrequently venturing out for some innoculouus theatrical films, like THE BAT PEOPLE (1974); AIRPORT '77 (1977) and RAISE THE TITANIC (1980), his last theatrical film being LAST FLIGHT OUT (2003), a "faith based" family film financed by the Billy Graham Ministries. Jameson directed one more sleaze epic, THE DIRT GANG (1972; starring many of the same people in this film, but no Rocco), before he changed course and 85% of his work was then on TV. Right away this film starts out on the wrong foot (a good thing) when a bunch of mercenaries, Ross (Paul Carr; THE SEVERED ARM - 1973); Wicks (Alex Rocco; STANLEY - 1972); Quinn (Roy Jenson; THE CAR - 1977); MacFarland (Michael Pataki; GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE - 1972); Hill (Felton Perry; WALKING TALL - 1973; who takes a leak out of the back of the truck while it is moving); Ballard (Parker West; LEMORA: A CHILD'S TALE OF THE SUPERNATURAL - 1974) and their boss, The Colonel (Charles Macauley; BLACULA - 1972); are traveling down a road in Mexico, when they stop at a closed gas station to steal some gas for their Jeep and truck. Quinn uses the outhouse to take a shit, when four thugs on motorcycles stop at the station and tell Quinn to get out because the biker leader has to take a piss (Jeez, the ground isn't good enough?). When Quinn refuses, they shake the outhouse off its foundation and Quinn leaves, saying "Fuck you" to all four of them (one of them makes a joke that Quinn's penis looked like a "Baby Tootsie Roll"), pulling out a shotgun and blasting them all to death (he shoots two in the back after they try to get away). We now know that none of these mercenaries have much in the way of humanity, except for Ross, who seems weary of the whole mercenary thing. A few minutes before, these mercenaries didn't pick up a female hitchhiker named Terry (Jennifer Billingsley; HOLLYWOOD MAN - 1976), but Wicks leers at her as they pass her by. She manages to get a ride with another hitchhiker named Kevin (Joseph Kaufmann; PRIVATE DUTY NURSES - 1971), as a pink pickup truck picks them both up. They become quick friends and decide to travel together. Both Terry and Kevin and the mercenaries end up in the same small Mexican town, run by corrupt Sheriff Alvarez (Joseph Bernard; THE BABY - 1974), who offers to make the Colonel and his men's stay there pleasurable. The Colonel is not interested in his offer and he plans on setting up camp a couple of miles from town in an abandoned quarry while he waits for more mercenaries to show up for an operation they are going to perform in Central America. Meanwhile, the mercenaries at the bar are getting drunk and having a good time, so Wicks offers the barmaid's father money so he can have sex with his daughter. The father turns him down and Wicks shoots him in the hand. When the father complains to Sheriff Alvarez, Wicks puts a live hand grenade in the father's hand and the Sheriff has to toss it away before it explodes. The Sheriff tells the father, "It was his idea of a joke." We then see Terry and Kevin frolicking naked in a shallow pool of water at the quarry. Terry says she should have become a hooker because she likes to "ball". Kevin tells her that he is in Mexico dodging the draft because he is a concientious objector and the thought of him killing anyone makes him sick. He'll have to change that stance sooner than he thinks. They run into Wicks at the quarry and he invites them both to have lunch with the group. When the Colonel sees them, he tells Wicks to get rid of them after they eat. They all pass a joint around and talk about death, when Wicks pulls out a stick of dynamite, lights the fuse and tosses it to Hill, who tosses it to another member, etc., while Jennifer looks on horrified (Wick says, "This is what it is all about!"). As the fuse gets dangerously small, Ross makes Wicks pull the fuse out of the dynamite (Ross is really sick of this psychotic behavior by his comrades). The mercenaries then show Terry how to fight, but Kevin gets increasingly mad (and not just because he is a pacifist), especially when he sees Wicks putting his hands on her breasts. The Colonel tells Wicks to get rid of Terry and Kevin and let them go on their way, but Wicks says "Colonel. I want to have her!" The Colonel decides that the four mercenaries that want to fuck her should fight each other in one-on-one bouts, the winner getting possession of Terry. Ross volunteers as one of the men because he wants to save Terry, not fuck her. During the fighting, Kevin escapes, so Quinn and Ross head into separate directions to catch him, with the Colonel telling them not to bring Kevin back alive. Ross has Kevin in his sights, but lets him go back into town. Quinn accuses Ross of letting him go, saying "He ain't got it" (because Ross refuses to kill for killing's sake). The fighting then starts to see who gets to fuck Terry and Ross beats Hill by almost killing him as he hangs from a tree (Hill taps out) and Wicks beats MacFarland unconscious with a tree branch and he wins his bout. Wicks cheats and beats Ross, which make him the winner to screw Terry and he rapes Terry after tying her to the bed. He then cuts the ropes that binds her and says she is free to go, only to have all the other mercenaries (sans Ross) gang-rape her. Kevin makes it to town, but Sheriff Alvarez is very unreceptive (he won't even help Kevin after he shames the Sheriff in front of the rest of the town). Kevin heads back to the quarry by himself, where he sees Terry being treated like an animal, a rope tied around her neck like a leash. Kevin gets some much-needed help from Ross, as Kevin kills Wicks for making Terry say she is an animal. When the Colonel sees Ross escaping with Terry and Kevin, the rest of the mercenaries head out on foot (Ross has disabled the vehicles) and soon it is Rambo time (a good ten years before Rambo even drew first blood). Hill and Ballard are killed by Ross' grenade booby trap. Ross seriously injures Quinn with a hand grenade and finishes him off with Quinn's own shotgun. In a real downer of a finale. MacFarland kills Kevin (even though Kevin has a gun but refuses to use it), the Sheriff shoots Ross in the back and Terry shoots and kills The Colonel. The only good thing to happen in the finale is that the population of the small town get to see what a coward the Sheriff really is. This short, 84-minute film only exists to show how people can mistreat other people without having a conscience. Kevin is a coward who runs away from war, only to die at the hands of people worse than the Vietcong. Terry is one giant cocktease, who has no choice at the end but to kill and it is not in retribution for killing Kevin or Ross. She does it strictly for her own personal reasons (She proves she is an animal at the end). The only person in the entire film with a conscience is Ross, who does his damnedest to save Kevin and Terry, not knowing what kind of people these two really are; A coward and a whore. The film is nothing but wall-to-wall violence and sexual abuse, but it has a cast of great character actors (most who are no longer with us) that rarely get together in any type of film. The film has the look and feel of a TV movie, which is not surprising since Jerry Jameson has been working in that medium since the early-60's. Screenwriters Michael Kars and Abe Polsky (who also co-wrote the screenplay to the biker film THE REBEL ROUSERS - 1970) were also the Producers of BRUTE CORPS but didn't have much of a film career after this film. This was Kars' last film credit and Polsky would go on to write the screenplay to the cult film THE BABY (1974) and then disappear from films. This film never had a VHS or home video release before the beautiful widescreen DVD from Code Red. If you want to watch a scuzzy, slimey film that could have only come from the 70's, then get this DVD ASAP before it goes OOP. Also starring  Paul Micale, Edith Diaz and Ramiro Jaloma. A Code Red DVD Release. Rated R.

BURKE & HARE (2010) - For those of you who thought director John Landis had lost his mojo since directing INNOCENT BLOOD (1992), may I suggest that you go out and buy, rent or stream this stylish comedy/horror/semi-historical film that stars some of today's top British actors, as well as some unexpected cameos. It's the 1820's in Edinburgh, Scotland and two warring doctors, Dr. Robert Knox (Tom Wilkinson; THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE - 2005, who is simply fantastic here) and Dr. Monro (Tim Curry; RITUAL - 2002), who has a thing for the anatomy of human feet (!), are looking for fame and fortune in a city that can best be described as a shithole's asshole. Enter conmen William Burke (Simon Pegg; SHAUN OF THE DEAD - 2003) and William Hare (Andy Serkis; THE COTTAGE - 2008), who get caught trying to sell cheese mold as a miraculous cure for anything that ails you. They must come up with another moneymaking scheme, otherwise Burke, Hare and Hare's wife, Lucky (Jessica Hyndes [a.k.a. "Jessica Stevensen"; MAGICIANS - 2007], in a commanding performance), will be kicked out of their apartment. When an old man who was subletting one of their apartment rooms dies, Burke and Hare get the bright idea of selling his body to Dr. Knox, who is working on a new way to study the internal workings of the human body: photography (Knox is credited in this film for coming up with the word). When the old dead man won't fit into a barrel, they have to break his back to make him fit inside (a funny visual later in the film). They take the body to Dr. Knox, who offers them 5 Pounds for every fresh body they bring him. Meanwhile, Burke meets the beautiful Ginny Hawkins (Isla Fisher: SCOOBY-DOO - 2002), whose dream it is to put on an all-female version of Shakespeare's Hamlet at the local theater. Hoping to score some sex with Ginny (who is one of the greatest cockteases in film history), Burke agrees to finance her venture, which means they are going to have to actually kill people to supply Dr. Knox with more bodies. Their first attempt at murder is a complete failure. They try pushing a drunk (Paul Whitehouse) down a long flight of stairs, but he simply gets up and goes on his merry way. They begin a murder spree (one of their victims is Old Joseph, played by none other than Christopher Lee) and begin to make a lot of money. Lucky wants her husband to quit the killings when they have enough money to start the very first "funeral parlor", but Ginny's venture is costing Burke a fortune and proves their undoing. They are dogged by Captain Tam McLintoch (Ronnie Corbett, a popular British TV comedian) and his two privates (one who keeps fainting at the sight of dead bodies). When Captain McLintoch is able to see the photographs and match them to the drawings of all the missing people, Burke, Hare, Lucky and an innocent Ginny are locked up. Even back then the government would like to have something like this covered-up, so they make Burke and Hare and offer: If one of them confesses to the crimes, he will hang and the rest will go free (They also make an offer to Captain McLintoch that he can't possibly refuse). Burke confesses to the crimes (In reality, Hare sold him out) and Ginny finally has sex with him on the night before he is to be executed. When he is asked if he has any last words before the hangman's rope squeezes all the life out of his body, all Burke has to say is, "I did it for love". The government burns all the photographs, Ginny goes on to a successful career as an actress and Hare and Lucky open the first funeral parlor.  I'm afraid that what I have just written cannot describe how funny this entire film is. There were many times I found myself laughing out loud, like when their first body in a barrel gets away from them, when they try to make a freed slave (Chris Obi) one of their victims (it takes Lucky to bring him down) or when Tim Curry looks at a human foot like a horny man would look at a vagina. The screenplay by Piers Ashworth and Nick Moorcroft is full of historical facts mixed with outright lies, but you won't care. You'll love the film for the funny visuals, dialogue and looks on Simon Pegg's face (who is always a joy to watch, especially when he says things like "I had confidence in a fart once, and I shat all over myself.", as is Andy Serkis, who was robbed of an Academy Award nomination as Caesar in RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES [2011] simply because his performance was done by motion capture, the same thing he did as "Gollum" in THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy [2001 - 2003]). It's nice to see John Landis get back to form and I hope he keeps making interesting horror comedies like BURKE & HARE and not crap like BLUES BROTHERS 2000 (1998). Who would have thought that a serious and true subject like the lives of body snatchers Burke and Hare could be turned into one of the best comedies of 2010 (not to mention giving a shout-out to Charles Darwin)? Also starring Bill Bailey (who talks directly to the audience), Robert Fyfe, David Hayman, Amanda Claire, Hugh Bonneville and John Woodvine, with cameos by Jenny Agutter, Ray Harryhausen and Costa-Gavras. An MPI Home Video DVD Release. Rated R.

CAGED FURY (1983) - In a plot reminiscent of TELEFON (1977), this film opens with a prominent female politician receiving a mysterious phone call ("The apples are dying!") and then a package just before she is to give a press conference. She then goes into a trance, straps on a vest bomb underneath her dress and heads down to the conference, where she detonates the bomb, killing everyone. We then follow Canadian girl Denise (Bernadette Williams) as she is taken prisoner and driven to some remote camp in the Asian jungle. The warden of the camp, Van Duc (Joe Mari Avellana), tells Denise that escape is impossible, but if she does what she is told, she will eventually be released. The camp is full of young female prisoners and it becomes apparent after a short while that the women are being "conditioned" (i.e. brainwashed) to become "human bombs" to be used in situations where it would be next to impossible to use regular hitmen or assassins. All it takes is a simple phone call saying a particular phrase ("The apples are dying!") and the women don vest bombs and carry out their missions. While Denise tries to find a way to escape, Van Duc discovers that one of the women prisoners, Linda (Jennifer Lane), is actually an undercover CIA operative, so he has electrodes attached to her breasts and tortures her with electricity. Denise begins a romance with friendly guard Pram Van Tin (Efren Reyes Jr.) and he agrees to help her escape once he witnesses the after-effects of her brainwashing electric shock treatments. When Pram tries to smuggle Denise out of the camp in the back of a truck and Van Duc is waiting for them at the front gate, it proves that one of the women prisoners is an informer. But which one is it? All evidence points to Honey (Taffy O'Connell), an American who sleeps with most of the guards and spends too much time in Van Duc's office, but that would be too easy. Denise and Pram still manage to escape, but Van Duc's men are only one step behind them. After they make love in a jungle cabin, Pram is shot dead by his fellow guards and Denise is brought back to the camp, where she is tortured. All the girls are then loaded onto a train and told that they are going home, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. The train stops in the middle of a field and the guards gang-rape all the women and shoot those in the back that try to escape. The remaining women discover the identity of the informer, kill her and then take over the train, where they escape to the safety of a waiting helicopter. Are the women actually saved or will a simple phone call turn them into explosive assassins? I'm afraid only time will tell.  A lot of people believe that this is Filipino director Cirio H. Santiago's best film and I can't really fault them for thinking that. While not as action-packed as most of Santiago's 80's films, it is better plotted than most (script by frequent Santiago bit player Bobby Greenwood) and probably contains more nudity than half a dozen of his other films put together. Santiago also tosses-in much more human drama than usual, especially the romance between Denise and Pram that ends tragically. There is also a mystery element as we try to determine who's the informer and it's not as easy as you think. Santiago films the mass rape on the train as a series of slow-motion shots, edited in such a way as to show the fear and helplessness in all the women's faces while the guards leer and laugh and shoot women in the back like they were shooting skeet. It's a very effective sequence, as is Pram's gunfight with his fellow guards, which takes place next to a pen of loudly-chirping baby chicks. This was also one of the few Santiago films that wasn't financed by Roger Corman. Future director Jim Wynorski (CHOPPING MALL - 1986; SORCERESS - 1994) was Casting Director here, which could explain why most of the female prisoners are, how do I say, top-heavy? Although the plot never takes advantage of the brainwashing scenario, CAGED FURY still has plenty to recommend. It's not very violent, but it's sleazy as hell. Other Santiago WIP films include WOMEN OF HELL'S ISLAND (1978) and CAGED HEAT II: STRIPPED OF FREEDOM (1993). Also starring Catherine March, Margaret Magick, Gina Alajar, Elizabeth Oropesa, Leo Martinez, Ken Metcalfe and Mike Monty. A World Premiere Home Video Release. Not available on DVD. Not Rated.

CAGED HEAT II: STRIPPED OF FREEDOM (1993) - First off, this in-name-only sequel (originally shot under the title PRISONERS) has nothing to do with director/screenwriter Jonathan Demme's classic WIP flick CAGED HEAT (1974). The only thing they have in common is that they were both made for Roger Corman's production companies; the first one for Corman's New World Pictures (where it obtained a theatrical release) and the second one for Corman's New Concorde/New Horizons Home Video (where it went DTV). Luckily, CAGED HEAT II was directed by late Filipino genre staple Cirio H. Santiago, an old hand at these WIP films; being a credited (and uncredited) producer of such prison drive-in classics like THE BIG DOLL HOUSE (1971), WOMEN IN CAGES (1971), THE HOT BOX (1972) and THE BIG BIRD CAGE (1972) before directing some WIP films himself, including WOMEN OF HELL'S ISLAND (1978) and CAGED FURY (1983). While CAGED HEAT II comes late in the cycle, it's not without its charms if you can get beyond the cheapness of the production (This film is part of Santiago's early-90's output, where boss Corman, who Santiago almost worked exclusively with during the 70s, 80s & 90s, cut budgets on all his productions across the board). The film opens with King Lim (Ramon D'Salva; LIVE BY THE FIST - 1993) being shot several times by protestors who do not like his policies of kowtowing to the American military that occupies his country. Lim's daughter, Marga (Chanel Akiko Hirai), is particularly distressed that her father has the nerve to flout his American mistress, Amanda (Jewel Shepard; RAW FORCE - 1982), out in public. When it turns out that the shooting was staged so Lim and Marga could leave the country and live in New York, a monkey wrench is thrown into the gears when Marga is arrested and sentenced to spend the rest of her life on The Rock, an inescapable maximum security prison located on an Alcatraz-like island. Lim refuses to leave the country without his daughter (and threatens to expose the American military's illegal dealings in his country), so Amanda agrees to go undercover as a prisoner on the island to break Marga out. Unfortunately, Amanda accidentally gets American tourist Lucy (Susan Harvey) arrested at the airport (she has a suitcase full of illegal porn films!), so she, too, is sent to The Rock with Amanda. The Rock's horny Warden Chen (Vic Diaz; EQUALIZER 2000 - 1986) takes an instant dislike to Amanda (after making her strip and trying to fondle her breasts, but he really has his his eye on Marga as his next sexual conquest (He says, "I never had a princess before!"). Amanda has it hard, trying to protect Lucy from butch prisoner Paula (Pamella D'Pella) and reasoning with Marga to escape with her from the prison (Marga would rather be executed than be shamed by her father's treasonous actions). After finally setting Marga straight about her father, Amanda and Marga escape the prison and run into the jungle with the help of two undercover guards. Their escape is short-lived when one of the guards (Totoy Torres, here billed as "Joe Towers" in the opening credits [but using his real name in the closing credits!] and also the Assistant Director) turns out to be a traitor and Warden Chen captures them on the beach. Warden Chen rapes Marga on the beach and hangs Amanda by her hair before eventually throwing them both back in their cells. The remainder of the film finds Amanda and Lucy trying to break Marga out of prison before she is executed for crimes against her country. Along the way, all three will suffer more degradation, including rape (both lesbian and straight), forced drug addiction and constant catfights with Paula and her gang of lesbos. Will all three live to see freedom? When King Lim dies of a sudden heart attack, everything changes and most of it is not good, both for Marga and Lucy. Amanda has to decide if she is going to obey her new orders from her CIA boss, Carl Daimyo (Ed Crick; NAKED VENGEANCE - 1985) and escape from prison alone. Don't count on it.  This is a fairly by-the-numbers WIP flick which contains all the usual standbys. Director Cirio H. Santaigo and screenwriter Paul Ziller (who directed such genre films as PLEDGE NIGHT [1988] and SNAKEHEAD TERROR [2003]) fill this film with plenty of female nudity, shower scenes, catfights, a whipping scene and lots of rape. This is probably the biggest film role Vic Diaz had in the 90's and he looks like he is having one helluva time here, whether it is stripping and raping women in his office that contains one of the biggest bird cages I have ever seen (filled with hundreds of birds), shooting traitors and faithful guards with equal abandon or drugging women to get them "in the mood". The action scenes don't really come until the final third, but the gunfights and explosions are well-handled because Santiago was an old hand at this kind of stuff. Nothing spectacular, but entertaining nonetheless. Also starring Bon Vibar, Philip Gordon, Ronald Asinas, Manny Samson and Henry Strzalkowski as an undercover CIA agent disguised as an ice cream vendor. Originally available on VHS by New Horizons Home Video and not available on DVD. Rated R.

THE CANDY TANGERINE MAN (1975) - John Daniels (BARE KNUCKLES - 1977; FLESH EATING MOTHERS - 1989) plays The Baron, the baddest pimp on the Sunset Strip (He says to a white hooker, "Choose me and you'll have the world by the asshole!"). Two vice cops, portrayed by Richard Kennedy (as "Edward Roehm") and George 'Buck' Flower (as "C.D. LaFleuer"), try to entrapt the Baron using a male officer in drag, but the Baron grabs the officer's nuts and drives away. Baron plays a game of nine ball against competing pimp Dusty (who talks in rhyme) for ownership of new girl Heather (Feng Lan Linn). When Dusty scratches on the last ball (he calls the cue ball "a honky piece of shit"), Baron takes Heather to a bus stop, buys her a ticket home and tells her to "Find some Indian or Spic and have lots of babies". Baron may be a pimp, but he's a pimp with a conscience. He keeps his pimping a secret from his wife Clarice (Marilyn Joi, using the name "Tracy King") in the suburban neighborhood they live in with their two young kids. To them, he is known as "Ron Lewis", a loving husband and father whom they all think is an IBM salesman! Baron starts running into serious problems when Mob kingpin Vince Di Nunzio sends his goons to Baron's whorehouse, where one goon cuts off the right breast of one of his whores. All Baron's whore's go into hiding or go to work for Dusty, temporarily putting him out of business. Baron goes on the warpath and goes after all the people who are harming his business. He goes to Dusty's place and shoves the hand of the goon who cut his whore's tit off into a garbage disposal. Before he is able to get to Dusty, the two vice cops show up, but Baron gets away (Flower says, "Black bastard's got a horseshoe up his ass!"). Baron sets a plan in motion which involves $250,000 in stolen bonds, which will finally end his problems with Dusty, Di Nunzio and the vice cops. Baron gets all his enemies to congregate at a restaurant, where he bursts in, gun blazing, killing everyone (an effective slo-mo scene). He leads the two vice cops on a car chase which ends up with the cops going over a cliff. Baron takes his money and becomes "Ron Lewis" for the rest of his life.  This ultra-low-budget exploitation flick, directed by Matt Cimber (THE BLACK SIX - 1974; LADY COCOA - 1975) and "Featuring the Actual Hookers and Blades of the Sunset Strip", is a gritty little blaxploitation item with a surprising human side. We are not even aware of Baron's alter ego until a third of the way through the film and it does come as a surprise to the viewer. Baron tries hard to keep his two identities separate and there's a comical scene where his next doot neighbor sees him on the city street fully decked-out in pimp clothing and driving a $30,000 pimpmobile (complete with hidden machine guns next to the headlights), yet she doesn't even recognize him (she actually gets turned-on, while her fat female passenger says, "They all look alike to me. Let's go, I'm hungry!"). The fact that Baron is the only character who is portrayed as a semi-decent human being and everyone else is a violent bigot, spewing vitriolic, racist dialogue and killing everyone in sight. The scene near the finale, where the two vice cops are teetering over a cliff in their car (Flower screams, "I swallowed my gum!") and try to make a deal with Baron for their lives is one of the most comical and satisfying pieces of cinema I have seen in quite a while. I actually enjoyed this film and it's always nice to see the late George 'Buck' Flower get a meaty role (he's both comical and brutal, as witnessed by his rape of Heather). Matt Cimber (real name: Matteo Ottaviano, who was once married to Jayne Mansfield for a short time) used Buck in most of his 70's and 80's films and THE CANDY TANGERINE MAN is one of their best. Dig it! Also starring Tom Hankerson, Mikel Angel (a great exploitation writer/director/actor who nearly steals the show as the goon who slices off the whore's breast, has his hand removed in the garbage disposal and spends the rest of the film with an interchangeable hook on his stump!), Eli Haines, Marva Farmer, Barbara Bourbon and George Pelster. Originally released on VHS by Unicorn Video. Soon out on DVD from Subversive Cinema. Rated R.

CHEERLEADERS' WILD WEEKEND (1979) - A schoolbus containing cheerleading squads from three diverse high schools (innocent, urban and ritzy), on their way to a competition, is hijacked by a gang of criminals looking for a big ransom payday. The criminals, led by Wayne Mathews (Jason Williams of FLESH GORDON [1974] and DANGER ZONE [1986]), are all former football stars who were injured on the field. They drive the bus to an isolated house in the mountains, where the cheerleaders discover that their female chaperone, Frankie (Courtney Sands), is in on the kidnapping. George Henderson (Anthony Lewis), the violence-prone black member of the gang, tells the girls that they are now prisoners of the "National American Army Of Freedom", a ficticious revolutionary group (used to ruse the police). The NAAF demand two million dollars for the safe return of the girls and a Governor's assistant announces at a press conference, attended by the girls' worried parents, that the Governor will not pay the ransom, but they have set up a program where the parents can apply for low-interest loans to pay their share of the ransom, providing they pass a credit check! As you can imagine, this plan doesn't go over too well. Wayne keeps the police at bay by phoning in his demands and instructions for the ransom drop-off through popular DJ Joyful Jerome's (Lee Curtis) radio program. As the day progresses, George, Frankie, Billy (Robert Houston) and the slow-witted Big John Hunsacker (John Albert) decide to hold a "Beauty Contest", where they make some of the cheerleaders strip and prance around. Not surprisingly (since this is a 70's cheerleader flick), the girls begin to like it until Big John tries to rape Lisa (Ann Wharton). Frankie saves Lisa, but she then puts the moves on her in the bathroom when Frankie cleans her up. The cops demand proof that the girls are OK, so Wayne picks Debbie (the lovely Kristine DeBell) to call into the radio station. Wouldn't you know it? Wayne and Debbie hit it off. One of the girls, Afton (Janet "Janus" Blythe), unsuccessfully tries to escape (she holds George off with a chainsaw for a few moments). All of the girls put their differences aside and formulate a plan of escape. While Wayne and brother Billy are out collecting the ransom money, the girls use their bodies and cheerleading experience to get even with their captors. Using fire, cheerleading moves and a rope made from their panties (!), the girls overpower Frankie, Big John (who shoots himself in the foot) and George, throw them in the bus and drive off to the waiting police. The girls, led by Debbie, let Wayne and Billy get away with the ransom because thet are basically nice guys, after all. I think I have a tear in my eye.  This late 70's sexploitation/crime drama, directed by Jeff Werner (DIE LAUGHING - 1980), contains plenty of eye-popping nudity from a cast of genre vets. While the plot may be standard "Girls In Peril" stuff, the execution is pretty funny in spots (especially the press conference) and there is palpable tension in some of the later scenes. Although most of the violence is implied rather than shown, there's more than enough action and female flesh on view to keep even the most jaded viewer occupied. The ransom drop-off is pretty amusing, especially when one of the cops (who says, "Oh, bat shit!" a lot) describes a ransom plot he saw on a TV show a couple of months before and his partner then realizes that they have fallen for the same ruse. Wayne and Billy's final escape from the cops after getting the ransom is filmed like a football game, complete with passing, blocking, tackling and a Sousa marching tune on the soundtrack. If you don't mind a lack of violence (no one is killed), lots of naked women (and, really, who doesn't like that?) and a playful sense of humor, this lighthearted film (also known as THE GREAT AMERICAN GIRL ROBBERY and BUS 17 IS MISSING) is a good bet. Bill Osco (THE BEING - 1982), who was the Executive Producer here, also worked with star Jason Williams (who also co-scripted and Associate Produced) on FLESH GORDON. Producer Chuck Russell would later go on to direct A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987), THE BLOB (1988) and some Hollywood blockbusters. Co-stars Janus Blythe and Robert Houston previously appeared together in THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977) and later appear together again in it's asinine 1984 sequel. The beautiful Kristine DeBell (MEATBALLS - 1979; THE BIG BRAWL - 1980) has a smile that could melt a glacier, but she doesn't have one nude scene. Her film career was ruined when it was disclosed she appeared in a porn film (Bud Townsend's X-rated ALICE IN WONDERLAND - 1976). Too bad. The girl had talent. Also starring Marilyn Joi (billed here as "Tracy King"), Lenka Novak, Leslie King, Lachelle Price, Janie Squire, Alton Fields, Billy McVay and Andrew J. Kuehn (director of the horror compilation TERROR IN THE AISLES - 1984). A Vestron Video Release. Rated R.

CLASS OF 1984 (1981) - Prophetic look at a school system gone to the dogs (or, in this case, a gang of punks). Brand new teacher Andrew Norris (Perry King) is assigned to the high school from Hell, where drugs, violence and sex run rampant, thanks to a gang of drug-pushing punks led by Peter Stegman (Timothy Van Patten). The naive Andrew is instantly befriended by biology teacher Terry Corrigan (Roddy McDowall), who carries a gun in his briefcase and tells Andrew that if he wants to survive, he better learn to look the other way (When Andrew spots the gun in Terry's briefcase, he asks, "What's the gun for?" to which Terry replies, "Where have you been teaching lately?"). Of course, being the idealistic new teacher that he is, Andrew doesn't heed Terry's warning and immediately pisses-off Stegman and his gang by throwing them out of his first class; a band recital (where it is revealed that Stegman is an accomplished classical pianist!). At first, the gang's retribution is small stuff, like spray painting graffiti on Andrew's car and squirting stage blood in his face, but it soon develops into more serious (and deadly) retribution when Andrew starts messing with their drug business. When one of his band students freaks out after taking some of Stegman's drugs, climbs a flagpole and falls off, killing himself, Andrew tries to get the dead student's best friend Arthur (a baby-faced Michael J. Fox) to rat-out Stegman, but he refuses because he knows that Stegman will have him killed. After firebombing his car, setting up Andrew to make it look like he beat the crap out of Stegman (Stegman brutally pummels himself in front of Andrew) and killing all the animals in Terry's biology lab (there are skinned rabbits on spits and a dead cat hanging by a noose on view), Andrew finally gets wise and begins dishing out punishment to Stegman that can't be traced back to him (like trashing Stegman's car). Things get much worse when Stegman has Arthur stabbed in the stomach, Terry goes crazy and holds Stegman and his gang hostage with a gun in his class (Terry eventually dies later that night when he tries to run over Stegman with his car and it flips over and explodes) and Stegman and his punks kidnap and gang-rape Andrew's pregnant wife Diane (Merrie Lynn Ross), giving Andrew a Polaroid of the rape just as he is about to conduct the big band concert in the school's gymnasium. Using Diane as bait, Stegman tries to kill Andrew, but as the old saying goes, you can only push a man so far before he tosses humanity into the wind. In the best revenge film tradition, Andrew begins killing members of Stegman's gang one-by-one, by table saw, immolation, lead pipe and crushed under a car, until only Stegman is left. In the immortal words of Stegman: "Life is pain. Pain is everything."  This gritty and violent exploitation flick, an 80's version of THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE (1955), is a terrific mixture of a school system gone very wrong (this may be the very first film to show metal detectors on school grounds) and the only rational way to fix it: by taking the law into your own hands (ah, good-old American vigilantism!). Director/co-scripter Mark L. Lester (TRUCK STOP WOMEN - 1974; BOBBIE JO AND THE OUTLAW - 1975; COMMANDO - 1985) knows how to push all the right emotional buttons, as we witness Andrew turn from idealistic young teacher into a take-no-prisoners vigilante. Even though all logic is thrown out the window early on (the school's principal [David Gardner] is one of the most ineffectual and maddening people I have ever had the displeasure of viewing and the police, led by Canadian vet Al Waxman [SPASMS - 1982], are beyond worthless), CLASS OF 1984 is a slam-bang revenge thriller with much to recommend. Both Perry King (SEARCH AND DESTROY - 1979) and Roddy McDowall (THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE - 1973) are terrific, as is Timothy Van Patten (ZONE TROOPERS - 1985; now an Emmy-winning TV director and writer) as the punk born with a silver spoon in his mouth (his back-story is fascinating, as well as frightening). The violence on view is brutal, especially Andrew's revenge spree in the finale. The reason why this film works so well, though, is because it refuses to pull back or cop-out (even though Stegman has a chance to have his like saved by Andrew, he pulls out a knife and tries to slice Andrew when he offers a helping hand) and the school is one of the dirtiest, graffiti-laden learning centers in film history (making it a character unto itself). A true 80's exploitation classic. Director Lester remade the film in 1990 as CLASS OF 1999, another excellent exploitationer with a sci-fi twist (the teachers are cyborgs that punish the bad students), which, in turn, spawned an inferior sequel, CLASS OF 1999 II: THE SUBSTITUTE (1994), directed by Spiro Razatos. Michael J. Fox, who was twenty years old when he appeared in this (his role here is not huge, but is integral to the plot), looks about thirteen, tops. Also starring Stefan Arngrim (FEAR NO EVIL - 1980), Neil Clifford, Keith Knight (MY BLOODY VALENTINE - 1981) and Lisa Langlois (THE NEST - 1987) as members of Van Patten's gang. Alice Cooper sings the opening tune ("I Am The Future") and punk rock band Teenage Head appear as themselves. Filmed under the title GUERRILLA HIGH. Originally released on VHS by Vestron Video and available on widescreen DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment. Also available on an extras-packed Blu-Ray from Scream Factory. Rated R.

CRACK HOUSE (1989) - This is a late-80's Cannon Films Production, so you know what to expect: Violence, a tiny bit of social relevance (for the time, anyway) and a ton of racial stereotypes. Here, nearly every black and Latino character is a drug pusher, drug user or gangbanger (or a combination of all three), which may not sit too well with the NAACP or George Lopez, but it makes for a totally goofy exploitation flick. Parts of the film take place at a high school that makes the one in CLASS OF 1984 (1981) look like a Disney vacation, where bars are on the windows, drugs are openly sold and violence is a daily occurrence (the film opens with a bloody knifing in the boys room between a dissatisfied black customer and a Latino drug dealer). The film focuses on what seems are the only two do-gooders in town: Rick Morales (Greg Gomez Thomsen) and his girlfriend Melissa (Cheryl Kay), both high schoolers trying to live a clean life in a society that otherwise lives dirty. Rick has avoided gangs and drugs to become a Grade A student, working at a burger joint at night to help support his family, while Melissa hopes one day to become a famous fashion designer while also taking care of her eternally-soused, gin soaked mother (Angel Thompkins; THE FARMER - 1977), who doesn't care for Rick (she's not only a drunk, she's a racist). When Rick goes to borrow his older brother's car (he's the leader of the local Latino gang) so he and Melissa can celebrate her birthday, a local rival black gang shows up and kills Rick's brother in a hail of gunfire. This causes Rick to once again start wearing gang colors (he's an ex-gangbanger) and as new leader of his brother's gang, he leads them on a raid of the black gang's headquarters. After a massive shootout, the police, led by Lt. Johnson (Richard Roundtree; KILLPOINT - 1984), show up and Rick is arrested and jailed for attempted murder. When Melissa comes to visit him in prison, Rick tells her to forget about him because he is now a lost cause. Melissa is nearly gang-raped by the drug-addled Chico (Albert Michel Jr.) and the rest of the Latino gang (talk about loyalty!), but she is saved by B.T. (Clyde R. Jones), a black drug dealer who hooks her on crack and cocaine (Rape or drug addiction? Hmmm...that's a hard choice!). She becomes B.T.'s (which stands for "Big Time") crack whore and her grades at school rapidly decline; so much so that teacher Mr. Dockett (Anthony Geary; PENITENTIARY III - 1987) takes a personal interest in her. Since this is a Cannon Film, we know that his interest in her is not pure in the least. When B.T. is robbed of all his crack by Chico, he pimps out Melissa to Mr. Dockett (who turns out to be a major drug pusher) in exchange for some crack. The city's biggest black drug supplier, Mr. Steadman (Jim Brown; BLACK GUNN - 1972), takes Melissa away from B.T. and makes her his bitch, giving her daily beatings with a belt while keeping her hooked on crack (Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston can probably really relate to this film!). When Rick finds out about Melissa's predicament, he cuts a deal with Lt. Johnson to help bring down Steadman if he's allowed out of prison. Rick goes on a one man crusade to stop the drug trade and rescue Melissa from her crack whore existence. Can he do it?  There's not much in the way of common sense on display here, but director Michael Fischa (DEATH SPA - 1988; DELTA HEAT - 1992) and screenwriter Blake Schaefer pack the film with so many offensive racial stereotypes, bloody shootouts and hilarious stabs at social significance, not to mention some intentional funny dialogue (When Lt. Johnson looks at Mr. Dockett's dead body, which has just been torn apart with a shotgun blast, he turns to his partner and says, "We're going to have to start paying these teachers more money!") and overblown drug references, it's hard not to enjoy this film, even if most of the time it's for the wrong reasons. This is one of those rare films where the mighty Jim Brown plays a bad guy for a change and he's believable in the role. He's not his usual anti-hero here, but a full-blown nasty-ass scumbag, which is a rarity for Brown. Even though Brown is top-billed, he doesn't show up until the final third of the film (his total screen time is ten minutes, tops), but he makes a big impression. CRACK HOUSE manages to cram a lot of sleaze into its 91 minute running time, including nudity, rape, crack smoking (Melissa's transformation from healthy teen to skinny crack whore is a hoot), torture, gunfights and knifings. I can't think of a better recommendation than that. Also starring Heidi Thomas, Kenny Edwards and Joey Green. Originally available on VHS from MGM/UA Home Entertainment and available on widescreen DVD from MGM Home Video. Rated R.

CRUEL HORIZON (1989) - Remember the plight of the Vietnamese Boat People after the fall of Saigon in 1975? Well, here's a film that pretends to care about their hardships while piling-on one sleazy scene after another. The film opens on April 28, 1975, the day all hell broke loose in Saigon. American reporter Nick Vandam (Bruce Baron; FIREBACK - 1983) hopes to take his Vietnamese girlfriend Mai (Jessie Elmido) back to the States with him, but they become separated at a checkpoint and Nick is forced to leave without her, but he promises to come back and find her. Six years later, Nick is a successful businessman in Brussels, but he can't get the image of Mai's pained expression of being left behind out of his mind. Nick's secretary (Ingrid De Vos) keeps trying to get him in bed, but all he can see is Mai's face, so he keeps turning her down (even when she suddenly appears at his front door and strips completely naked!). A couple of weeks earlier, Nick received a letter from Mai postmarked from Thailand, where she professes that she still loves him (Which brings up the film's biggest unanswered question: Why has Nick waited six years to search for Mai?). Nick decides to fly to Thailand to look for Mai with only the letter as his guide. The only clue he has is that she is headed somewhere in south Thailand and when Nick arrives in Bangkok, he is appalled to discover how many young Vietnamese women are abused as sexual playthings by foreign tourists. Nick hires a guide named Sarapong (Louis Kee) to drive him to south Thailand and so the adventure begins. Meanwhile, Mai is on an overcrowded boat on her way to south Thailand, where she must barter for basic necessities like water and food. Sarapong takes Nick to a yacht owned by Nick's old war buddy Mike Forrester (Francois Beukelaers) to help him look for Mai, but Nick soon discovers that Mike is nothing but a profiteer, a common sea pirate. Nick also finds out that searching for a lost love in these territories is a dangerous undertaking, as Mike takes him to refugee camps looking for Mai (while Mike takes care of some illegal business of his own) and discovers the rancid, putrid conditions the refugees must survive daily, including constant pirate attacks. Speaking of pirate attacks; Mai's boat is boarded by a band of Thai sea thieves (this is after Mai has to suffer the indignity of shaving some fat Vietnamese broad's armpits and then is forced into a lesbian encounter with her, just so she can have some food and water), where they shoot and stab the men, toss the ugly women overboard to drown, cut off one child's head (and toss another young kid in the water, where the pirates use him for target practice!) and kidnap the young women (including Mai) to rape, abuse and sell into prostitution. Can Nick reform Mike to care about all the inhumanity going on around him and rescue Mai? Will he find true love before Mai's soul, as well as her body, is destroyed beyond all recognition?  While the first thirty minutes of CRUEL HORIZON is relatively bloodless and violence-free, the remainder of the film will throw the viewer for a loop with its bloody killings of men, women and children; nudity that stretches the boundaries of good taste; and a mass rape sequence on a beach where the pirates rip the clothes off their captives and sexually assault them, blindly killing those who put up a fight (When one refugee tries to defend his grandmother, he gets a machete planted in his neck for his troubles!). Director/producer Guy Lee Thys (THE PENCIL MURDERS - 1982), who co-wrote the screenplay with Leon Lemahieu, tosses-in so many scenes of human suffering and degradation, as well as unusual sights (including a dwarf brothel owner and what looks like the actual burning of a real human corpse), it's hard to believe that this film could actually be taken as a serious statement about the plight of the Boat People. Believe me, this Belgium/Philippines co-production is sleazy exploitation for the majority of its running time, with bloody castrations, face burnings, pissing on people, trips to whorehouses even hardcore pedophiles would think twice about visiting, and tons of nudity, but very little of it (besides Nick's secretary) titillating. This is one of the largest roles of Bruce Baron's career (he spent the majority of the 80's appearing in Godfrey Ho/Joseph Lai's cut-and-paste ninja flicks), although he spends most of his screen time asking people, "Are you Vietnamese?" (It would make a good drinking game). This film is an emotional downer, but if you like your sleaze cut thick and tasty, give it a try. Joonee Gamboa (W - 1983) appears as Sarit, a bugle-playing first mate on Mike's yacht. When Mike's boat snatches German tourist Horst (Jan De Bruyne) out of the water, Sarit plays the German national anthem on his bugle! Also starring Marilyn Bautista, Spanky Manikan, Ding Navasero, Len Santos and Robert Tongko as the pirate leader. Never legitimately released on home video in the U.S.; the print I viewed was sourced from a Greek-subtitled VHS tape. Not Rated, for so many reasons.

CRUISIN' HIGH (1975) - Always pay close attention when a film opens with quotations, such as these two dubious passages, which are shown on-screen before the film begins:

"Juvenile gang violence is a corrosive acid eating away at the structure of our society" - Police Chief Edward M. Davis, Los Angeles Police Department.
And:
"We are caught up in an epidemic of violence, murder has no meaning, killing has become a game, a way of life. The kids aren't afraid any more, the public is." - Captain Rudy DeLeon, Los Angeles Police Department.

If you take these quotations at face value, it's amazing that anyone survived Los Angeles during the 70's. But, of course, Los Angeles did, indeed, survive and I bet those two high-ranking police officials who supplied those quotes wished they toned-down their rhetoric somewhat. This film (originally known as CAT MURKIL AND THE SILKS) tells the story of Eddie "Cat" Murkil (David Kyle, who had a very short-lived acting career in the mid-to-late-70's, including a bit part as Judith's boyfriend in John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN - 1978), a normal looking teen with a blonde shag haircut, who happens to be a member of a street gang called The Silks. When Cat isn't spray-painting his name on every overpass or building wall he can find, he's cruising with his gang, which includes gang leader Punch (Derrel Maury; MASSACRE AT CENTRAL HIGH - 1976), Marble (Meegan King; HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP - 1980) and Bumps (Don Carter), looking for chicks, getting drunk and beating up the members of rival gang Los Raidos, a Mexican gang who constantly cross into their turf. Even though they are somewhat young, The Silks act like they own the town, walking into any store and taking what they want without paying. Cat is extremely touchy on the subject of his older brother, Joey (Steve Bond; THE PREY - 1980), a member of The Silks who is now in prison for murder. Punch belittles Cat every chance he gets and Cat is growing tired of it, so when Los Raidos ambush their car, Cat shoots and kills Punch and makes it look like the Mexicans were responsible. Cat takes over leadership duties of The Silks, but police Detective Harder (Rhodes Reason), who has had many run-ins with both Cat and Joey, doesn't believe Cat's version of Punch's death. Cat's first order of business as leader is to put out hits on the leaders of their Mexican rivals, so he sends two of his members to stab them in the shower of their high school gym, which they do, but they are spotted by the football coach (John Ashton; BEVERLY HILLS COP - 1984) and Detective Harder brings the Coach to The Silk's high school to identify the stabbers when one of the Mexicans dies of their wounds. Cat, who is a very insecure and ineffectual leader, begins to make some very bad decisions (such as pissing-off a Black drug gang and terrorizing one of his teachers and her wheelchair-bound mother at their home), leading The Silks into a deadly downward spiral. When everyone finally realizes what a chicken shit Cat is (he even tries to rape Joey's wife, but fails miserably), Cat loses leadership of The Silks and then resorts to murder to get even. When he discovers what Cat has done, a recently paroled Joey, the Los Raidos gang and Detective Harder teach Cat and The Silks a lesson they will never forget. A deadly lesson.  There's really not much to recommend here, especially David Kyle as Cat, who carries 90% of this film, but he's such a bad actor, the only thing he's is really capable of carrying is my groceries to my car. His acting ability is severely wanting, which makes his role as leader of a gang about as believable as Liberace in a role as a lady's man. Director John Bushelman (the editor of DINOSAURUS! [1960] and the director of DAY OF THE NIGHTMARE [1965]), working with a screenplay by producer William C. Thomas, offers one of the most unrealistic portrayals of L.A. gang life in 70's film history. The Silks are one of the most whitebread street gangs I have ever seen and are about as threatening as my toothless grandmother holding a butter knife. The violence is mild for an R-rated film (even when Los Raidos crash a house party thrown by The Silks, it's bloodless) and, while there is some female nudity, the majority of bare flesh is of the male variety, which is good for gays, not good for everyone else. I can't honestly understand what director Bushelman was aiming for here. It fails horribly as a gang drama (Although I loved the boxes marked "TV Set" that Cat and The Silks steal from a warehouse in the finale. No brand names, just "TV Set"!) and lacks the basic elements for a good exploitation film. The circular ending tries to be meaningful (A traitorous Bumps, who killed Cat, sends his condolences to Cat's mother at his funeral, just as Cat did to Punch's mother at his funeral, with the same results), but it only comes off as forced and, at 104 minutes, CRUISIN' HIGH is stuck in neutral for way too long. Don't bother unless you are a fan of 70's style fashion and haircuts. That's all this film has to offer. Also known as L.A. GANGS RISING and STREET KIDS OF AMERICA. Also starring Kelly Yaegermann, Joe Renteria, Ruth Manning, Douglas McGrath, Mike Tucker, Ricardo Militi, Gregory Castillo and Doodles Weaver. Originally released on VHS by Lightning Video and not available on DVD. Rated R.

THE CURIOUS DR. HUMPP (1967) - This is perhaps the weirdest, wildest and wackiest film I have ever laid my eyes on. This late 60’s obscurity is must viewing for anyone whose taste is for the odd and abnormal. Mad scientist Dr. Humpp (Aldo Barbero) kidnaps men and women, doses them up with aphrodisiacs and drains them of their blood while they are having sex. The doctor then drinks the blood to keep himself eternally young. But wait, that’s not all! Let’s not forget about the doc’s robot assistants, who were previous victims of the doctor’s botched experiments. They are now mindless deformed creatures (who resemble a scarred Zippy the Pinhead with a flashing light in the middle of the forehead!) who kidnap victims for the doctor’s sexual experiments. One robot even plays guitar to get a captive woman in the mood for sex! But wait, there’s more! The curious doc has a living disembodied brain in his laboratory that talks to him! It is the brain of Dr. Humpp’s mentor and it yells orders at Humpp at every opportunity possible. (Let’s not get into the scientific possibitities on how a disembodied brain can speak. There’s not enough space!) There is also a reporter (Ricardo Bauleo) who gets involved in the kidnapping cases only to be snatched by Dr. Humpp’s robots. He is set free by a young woman (Gloria Prat) and they must try to stop Dr. Humpp before more innocent sexual lives are lost. Much more insanity goes on in this film, but I will leave it up to you, the viewer, to experience. Needless to say, Dr. Humpp, the brain and the robots all meet a fitting end.This black and white Argentine-made film, originally titled La Venganza del Sexo ("Sexual Vengeance"), was quite daring for it’s time (and still is today), with full frontal nudity and near-pornographic sex. The nudity is frequent, even if the women have big hairy bushes and visible vericose veins! Lesbian, straight and oral sex are also featured quite often. The gore is kept to a minimum (this is 1967) but there are shots of homemade brain surgery and decapitated heads hanging in a closet. The film also contains some hilarious dialogue as when Dr. Humpp pronounces, "Sex dominates the world......and now I dominate sex!", after hooking the reporter and a girl to a sex machine. No other film in recent memory contains as much sheer lunacy as this one. Not released in the U.S. until 1970, I’m surprised it didn’t cause an uproar when screened. The Americanized version, with soft-X sex scenes added by distributor Jerald Intrator (who will get a future profile in this zine), embellishes the plot somewhat from the original film, adding the hilarious dubbed dialogue that spews out of the actors’ mouths. The added footage is easy to spot, as it was filmed with different stock and populated with American porn stars of the day (including Kim Pope). I’m also surprised that more hasn’t been written about this forgotten gem. This is a cult classic waiting to be rediscovered. Directed by  Emilio Vieyra, who also made the demented THE DEADLY ORGAN ( "Placer Sangriento" - 1967). Both are available for 20 bucks each from Something Weird Video. Buy them today! Not Rated.

CURSE OF THE ALPHA STONE (1972) - After a brief audio history on the ancient art of alchemy, this obscure early 70's exploitation flick opens up with Professor Abe Adams (Jim Scotlin) making love to his girlfriend while a piano concerto plays in the background. After some slow-motion sex, Professor Adams continues his experiments in creating the Philosopher's Stone, an object that gives it's creator untold power. He's very close to finding the secret when some of his students steal his research papers and copy them. When the Dean gets his hands on his papers, he comes up with a way to win back his uptight wife (porn star Sandy Carey), who happens to be Professor Adams' landlady. Adams creates the Philosopher's Stone (after donning some magical jewelry and chanting, "Science and mysticism can be merged!") and he uses pieces of the light-and-smoke-emitting stone to create a powder, which he mixes with wine and gives to a Black homosexual guy to drink (he thinks he's going to get high!). He ends up turning straight, steals a female mannequin and makes love to it (!) and then goes out and rapes a series of women. He goes to a psychiatrist, who hypnotises him, where we find out that he has become possessed by an eternal being called Alpha and is cured of his homosexuality (does the Christian Right know about this?). This upsets his fat White boyfriend who says, "What's the matter with you bitch? There's something queer going on around here and I'm going to find out what it is!" Meanwhile, Professor Adams cooks up another batch of powder and it's effects start affecting the occupants of the apartment house (the maid becomes so horny, smoke comes shooting out between her legs!). The whole apartment complex comes down with sex fever and the females visit Dr. Adams to have sex with him, including his landlady, who turns from dowdy to sexbomb in no time at all. It all ends rather suddenly as the Black homosexual breaks into the Professor's apartment, grabs the stone and there a huge puff of smoke. We then see the landlady walking down the street dressed in her sexy clothes. THE END (?). The outrageous storyline to this little-seen flick is almost enough to make this worthwhile viewing. Almost. There are too many loose threads when the film ends, as the Dean's plan is never explained and the students stealing the Professor's notes leads nowhere. Those two plot points are the reason why I felt cheated when it ended. So much could have been done with them. There's plentiful nudity (including a nice turn by porn star Sandy Carey as the frigid landlady) and all the women look good undressed (no silicon here, folks). The real problem is that the acting is abhorrent, the pacing slow and one-time director Stewart Malleon treats rape as a recreational activity rather than a crime (as did most porn features of this period). As a matter of fact, this film looks like a porn movie without the graphic sex. There's also very little violence, just some bleeding from the eye and a death by rape in the finale. Sometimes films are obscure for a reason. Also starring Lowell Smith, Olivia Enke and Caroline Ronchetti. Jeffrey C. Hogue plucked this out of the vaults in 1985 and released it through his Majestic International Pictures. Something Weird Video had this as a VHS release in their catalogue at one time. The print I viewed was off a DVD-R (in surprisingly good shape) from 5 Minutes To Live. Not Rated.

DARKTOWN STRUTTERS (1974) - This outlandish comedy blaxploitation film exists in some alternate universe (it's very loosely based on the Cinderella fairy tale). Syreena (Trina Parks) and her band of colorfully-dressed female bikers ride around in tricked-out three-wheeled choppers and get into a bunch of adventures. They're hassled by Marines (Syreena and her girls throw lemon meringue pies in their faces and kick them in the nuts while the USMC song plays in the background), the police (who drive around in a patrol car with the biggest flashing red light on the car's roof that you will ever see) routinely stop and frisk them for no reason at all (Dick Miller and Milt Kogan are members of the force) and Syreena is challenged to a race by scooter-riding Mellow (Roger E. Mosley) and his all-male gang of harmless retards. When Mellow loses the race, Syreena takes him back to his place for some hanky-panky (She says to Mellow, "If you ever try to rape me again, I'm gonna break everything that hangs, dangles or swings!" To which he replies, "You're the kinda woman to make a man wanna start a fight and lose!"). Syreena goes home to visit her brother Flash (Gene Simms, who is always kung-fuing his way through doors and windows, eventually the whole front of his house falls down!), where she learns that their momma Cinderella is missing. She went to work one day and never returned. It seems like a lot of important black people have gone missing lately. Could these disappearances have anything to do with Colonel Sanders-lookalike Commander Louisville Cross (Norman Bartold), "diehard barbecue millionaire" and founder of the Cross Foundation, who says in a speech to black reporters, "I intend to see that those who gave it to me, get it back!" ? Syreena goes undercover as a cop to investigate her mother's disappearance and learns that several prominent black males are also missing. Syreena learns (from someone dressed like Aunt Jemima!) that her mother was running an abortion clinic before she went missing. Syreena is then captured by the KKK and brought to Commander Cross' mansion, where she is forced to watch a minstrel show (Where she has to listen to cringe-worthy jokes as: "What's the first half of a word that comes out of every black baby's mouth? Mother...!") and Cross shows her his cloning operation. Cross is attempting to clone all the black leaders he has kidnapped and use the clones to further his political career. Syreena finds her Mom in Cross' dungeon, learns the whole truth and escapes (forgetting to set her mother free!). With the rallying call "The Klan is coming! The Klan is coming!", Syreena gathers all her friends to defeat Cross' dastardly plan.  You got to love a film that opens up with the following on-screen statement: " Any similarity between this true life adventure and the story Cinderella...is BULLSHIT! "  Filled with too many visual and audio gags to catch in one viewing, you'll have to watch this at least three times to take it all in. For a film that is rated PG, this film contains many jokes that would be found offensive today (if Al Sharpton ever finds out this was directed and written by white men, he would surely lead a boycott to remove this film from circulation), from a tasteless hanging gag in a jailhouse; the cops' "Nigger Alarm" that sounds off every time a black person is near; a white police inspector (Charles Woolf) who goes undercover in blackface, dressed as a woman, only to be shot by his own men, who mistaken him for a black intruder (!); and the KKK show up riding motorcycles with huge wooden crosses attached to their seats. That's not to say that the white people in this film get off any easier. The all-white police force are nothing but a bunch of buffoons (Dick Miller even handcuffs a black person's dog!) and one member, Tubbins (Charles Knapp), is so fat, he gets stuck in every doorway he walks through. The script, by George Armitage (who directed HIT MAN - 1972; VIGILANTE FORCE - 1976 and MIAMI BLUES - 1990, among others), is all over the place, but it's such an equal-opportunity offender, there's no way anyone could take offense with this. Directed by TV and film veteran William Witney (MASTER OF THE WORLD - 1961; I ESCAPED FROM DEVIL'S ISLAND - 1973) as some very colorful fractured fairy tale (the costumes, as well as most of the sets, use every bright color known to man). It really makes no sense, but it's funny as hell and visually appealing. There's some great motorcycle stunts (look for the sign for "Awful Knawful: The Fatal Motorcyclist"), a hang-gliding gag involving one KKK member's sheet and a Keystone Cops car crash where the car just falls to pieces. Not to mention some great musical numbers, including a rendition of "What You See Is What You Get" by The Dramatics as prisoners in Cross' dungeon. Cloning was a hot topic at the time this film was made. Produced by Gene Corman for his brother Roger's New World Pictures. Also starring Shirley Washington, Bettye Sweet, Stan Shaw, Frankie Crocker, Sam Laws, DeWayne Jessie and Edna Richardson. Re-released to theaters in 1976 (to cash-in on the CAR WASH craze) under the title GET DOWN AND BOOGIE (also its edited TV title until Turner Classic Movies aired it uncut under its original title in December 2009).  Originally released on VHS by Charter Entertainment. Available on a two-film DVD from Eastwest Entertainment along with BLACK FIST (1975). Rated PG. "Pancakes!"

A DAY OF JUDGMENT (1981) - God sends the Grim Reaper to a small southern town to exact revenge on the people who have broken The Ten Commandments in producer Earl Owensby's regionally filmed religious allegory set in the 1930's. The town priest resigns his post because his sermons only draw three old ladies to the church. (They show up at various times in the story to introduce the characters.) Every one of these people deserve their fate: The town drunk who blames everyone but himself when his wife leaves him and he loses his job; The obese banker who enjoys foreclosing on loans; The shopkeeper's wife who is having an affair with one of the clerks; The son who commits his parents to the county home so he can sell their gas station and home and move out of town; The bitchy old widow who poisons a child's goat because it got in her prized flower bed. The widow is pulled underground by bodyless arms in her flower bed as the pit goes ablaze. The son goes crazy after seeing the Reaper and is committed to the State Asylum. The banker is locked in an icehouse (Talk about freezing your assets!) and is dispatched by the glowing red-eyed scythe carrier. The shopkeeper's wife and clerk kill her husband and are burned to death when lightning strikes the house. The drunk is beheaded by Grimmie after he shoots his wife and ex-boss. At the end the Reaper gathers all his victims together and shows them what is in store for them: A burning eternity in Hell. Then they all wake up in their beds and realize it was just a dream. They all change their ways and that Sunday the new priest plays to a full house. His sermon: "Ye are what ye shall reap." Although unrated this film contains no nudity and very little blood except for a brief shot of a decapitation. Decently acted, especially for an Owensby production. Maybe that is because Owensby decided to stay behind the cameras this time. He is pretty awful as an actor, as can be seen in his films DEATH DRIVER (1977), WOLFMAN (1979) and  DOGS OF HELL (a.k.a. ROTTWEILER - 1982). Believe it or not, his films were very popular at drive-ins and theaters along the Bible Belt. Taste has no bounds. The only way us Yankees can see his films is the video route, thank God. I would have hated to shell out seven bucks at a bijou to see his stuff. Directed by C.D.H. Reynolds (who directed both OFFERINGS - 1989 and LETHAL JUSTICE - 1991 as Christopher Reynolds) and starring William T. Hicks, Harris Bloodworth, Brownlee Davis and Toby Wallace. A Thorn EMI Video Release. Unrated.

DEADLY DAPHNE'S REVENGE (1980) - What a total heap of stinking trash. This lousy rape/revenge exploitation flick is about four men who pick up hitch-hiker Cindy (Laurie Tait Partridge) in their RV. They stop at a secluded hunting lodge where Charlie, the raving racist of the group, rapes her. After the rape she runs into the woods and the four men continue on their trip.  Cindy goes to the D.A. to bring a case against Charlie, but he convinces her to file charges against all four men. All four are arrested on rape charges and released on bail. The three innocent men slowly see their reputations and businesses go down the crapper thanks to the false charges and Bruce (the nerd of the bunch) commits suicide after his wife files for divorce and he loses a huge insurance contract. Steve (who is Charlie's half-brother) loses his coaching job at his school. The final man, Bobo, works at Charlie's business and does whatever Charlie says, even though his wife leaves him and won't let him see his kids. Charlie hires some Mob muscle to kill Cindy, not knowing that Cindy has dropped her suit (she feels guilty about Bruce's suicide and actually likes Steve). Charlie's lawyer tells him that if anything happens to Cindy, the police will know it was him, so he tries to stop the hit but is told by the Mob that it's too late to call it off. Charlie talks Steve into taking Cindy back to the hunting lodge to hide out until he can find the hit man and call it off, but an escaped female mental patient from Charlie's past (the Daphne in the title) manages to throw a monkey wrench into the proceedings. Piss-poor on every level, this film (also known as BACKLASH and THE HUNTING SEASON) tries to portray our justice system as a flawed mess (which it is) and the people who hold the power as vindictive (which they are), but does it in such a half-assed manner that all you can do is shake your head in disbelief. The film looks like it was edited by someone with ADS as it jumps from scene-to-scene in mid-sentence and various shots fail to match in the same scene. Charlie is such a raving racist (isn't it interesting that "racist" and "rapist" only differ by one letter?), spouting rants about Jews, Blacks, Polish and the Spanish (he even shoots a helpless dog!), that it's hard to believe he's the owner of a successful business and the most powerful person in this film. One-time director Richard Gardner, who also portrays on of the four men, gives this film a 70's TV movie look. If it weren't for the nudity on view in the beginning and some foul language, it could very well pass for one. A bad one. Leave it to Troma to dig up some obscure piece of crap, retitle it and try to pass it off as something new and exciting. It's their specialty. Don't fall for it. Troma lists this as a 1987 production, but by the looks of the hair styles, clothing and automobiles, it had to have been made at least several years earlier. Also starring Anthony Holt, John Suttle, Alan Levy and a rail-thin James Avery in an early role. A Troma Team Release. Distributed by BCI on DVD as part of TOXIE'S TRIPLE TERROR VOL. 1 three-film set. Rated R.

THE DEATHHEAD VIRGIN (1972) - Underwater treasure hunter Jock Gaynor  discovers a sunken ship loaded with pearls and accidently unleashes the title creature, a siren with a beautiful body and a skull-like face, in this not uninteresting Filipino production. It seems the old gal has been chained beneath the sea since 1850 and when Jock removes an amulet from around her black-tressed skeleton she returns to life. Jock wears the amulet, against his native helper's protest. Soon he begins to lose track of time and pieces of his memory, as well as obtaining the annoying habit of scalping the female Filipino population as a token sacrifice to the coyote-ugly bitch. The local legend states that once the Deathhead Virgin is revived, seven virgins must be ritually sacrificed to appease her for wrongs done to her in the previous century. Jock has been appointed to carry out the deed. Jock's friend and business partner, Larry (Larry Ward), arrives on the island and after some pleasantries (getting drunk, sharing the same woman and playing hot-potato with a lit stick of dynamite!), begins to notice that Jock is not himself. After witnessing (and stopping) Jock's attempted scalping of a woman, Larry chases him back to the shipwreck where Jock drowns and Larry captures the siren and chains her back up. The next day the skeletons of Jock and Larry are found on their drifting boat.This is only the first hour of the film and is told in flashback to Jock's wife (Diane McBain) by police inspector Vic Diaz (VAMPIRE HOOKERS [a.k.a. SENSUOUS VAMPIRES] and countless other Filipino films). Wifey is also on the island for other reasons, which will not be divulged here. Rent the film to find out. For once, the Filipino actors do not slaughter the English language which makes this a cut above most Philippine-made horror movies. It was also produced by the two leads. Jock's brother, Ward, wrote the screenplay. This got sparse theatrical bookings in the U.S. Directed by Norman Foster (MR. MOTO'S LAST WARNING - 1939; JOURNEY INTO FEAR - 1942). An Academy Home Entertainment VHS Release. Rated R.

DEATH OF A HOOKER (1971) - Back in the 70's, a PG rating didn't automatically mean family-friendly fare (like it does today). Sometimes a PG rating meant that you could make gritty little adult films like this. This is actually a retitled version of the seldom-seen WHO KILLED MARY WHAT'S 'ER NAME?, a likable mystery with a winning performance by the late Red Buttons. Buttons portrays Mickey, a wise-cracking diabetic ex-boxer, who for some reason takes an interest in the murder of a prostitute named Mary Di Napoli. He rents Mary's run-down NYC motel room and begins an investigation into her death. People don't take too kindly to his questions. He asks apartment dweller Malthus (Dick Anthony Williams) if he knows who killed Mary and he says, "Sin. Just like most people." Mickey saves aging prostitute Christine (Sylvia Miles) from two goons who rob her and begins a plutonic relationship with her, which she wishes was more (He says to her, "You don't want me. I'm a eunich."), but also helps him track down Alex (a young Sam Waterston), a photographer who is doing a documentary on prostitutes. Mickey's daughter Della (Alex Playten) and old friend Val (Conrad Bain) also help Mickey in tracking down Mary's killer. Things turn deadly as the film Alex was shooting may have something to do with Mary's death and people who Mickey knows end up dead in the process, while Della and Alex begin a romantic relationship. What does bigwig stock-broker Boulting (David Doyle) have to do with Mary's death? As Mickey investigate further, we begin to understand why Mickey is so interested in Mary's death. Director Ernest Pintoff (here credited as "Ernie Pintoff"), who directed a lot of episodic TV in the 70's and 80's, as well as films such as BLADE (1972) and JAGUAR LIVES (1979), gives us a good sense of what is must of been like to live in New York City's Times Square during the 70's, as the atmosphere is dirty, grimy and, mostly, unpleasant. Red Button is a marvel here, playing a tough man with a debilitating disease, who loves his daughter and is relentless in his pursuits. There are also appearances by the late Ron Carey and Jake LaMotta as bartenders. This is a tight little mystery of a bygone era when New York was full of working girls, the cops didn't care and crime ran rampant. The only difference today is that it's cleaner. Search this one out. A Video Gems Release. Video Gems released it under this title as well as it's original title (maybe to get renters to double-dip). Rated PG.

DEATHROW GAMESHOW (1987) - In 1983, director/writer Mark Pirro and his "Pirromount Pictures" (Love that name!) made A POLISH VAMPIRE IN BURBANK, shot on 8mm film for a little less than $2,500, and it ended up making over a million dollars in VHS and cable TV sales (it played consistently on the USA Network's UP ALL NIGHT in the late 80's) and held the record for the cheapest film ever shown on TV (for all I know, it could still hold that record, as long as we don't take streaming films like SKINLESS [2013; which was made for $2,000] into consideration). Pirro's next film was this one, probably inspired by the success if THE RUNNING MAN (1987), but amping up the comedy and working with a very low budget (around $200,000). At the time of this review, this is the only one of Pirro's many films to obtain a wide theatrical release (by Crown International Pictures), where is did less-than-stellar business, but it is still an interesting document on reality shows, made before reality shows were actually a reality, only this film makes death the reality (And, believe me, we are actually going in that direction in real life, because many reality show contestants have killed themselves after their 15 minutes of fame were up. It happens more often than you think. The vetting process for reality shows needs to be done better, so people don't end up killing themselves once they are off-camera. Only a very few reality "stars" have made a living in show business after their reality show face-time was over.). In this film, Death Row inmates and other convicts appear on a game show called "Live Or Die", moderated by the perpetually happy (at least on-screen) host Chuck Toedan (Pirro regular John McCafferty) and his female assistant Shanna Shallow (Debra Lamb; THE INVISIBLE MANIAC - 1990), where they are given a chance for a pardon or death, depending if they can answer questions correctly (the show is skewed so that the convicts die, because that is what the audience wants). Chuck starts out the latest episode of the show telling the audience that they ran out of time yesterday (the one thing that this movie get right is that a week's worth of shows is shot in a day or two, which is why you may see the same audience members from a show you watched yesterday) and Convict 9372 (who has his head in a guillotine) has yet to have "final judgment" passed on him. Chuck asks the prisoner how he feels ("I'm feeling a little nervous, Chuck."), because if he answers the next question wrong, he will lose his head (we see his family in the audience rooting for him). His question is, "What is the name of this famous movie (watch the monitor)?" It's footage of a mummy missing getting his hands on a bikini-clad girl and the mummy says "Motherfucking son-of-a-bitch!" over and over. For an instant reprieve, Convict 9372 has to name the title, but he can't (in a funny bit, the name of the films happens to be  "Curses Of The Mummy"), but before they cut off his head, he has a chance to win his family members $10,000. If his severed head falls in the basket face-up, his family will get the money (One of his kids says, "C'mon Dad, you can do it!"). If it ends up face-down, the family gets nothing. A smiling Chuck pulls the cord on the guillotine and the convict's head is cut off. Some judges come to look in the basket and Chuck gives the thumbs-up. His family has won the money and start screaming for joy in the audience (Gorehounds will be disappointed, because there is absolutely no blood or gore in this film; we don't even get to see the convict lose his head and there is no blood on the guillotine. The movie is played strictly for laughs.). After the opening credits roll (Pirro wrote the New Wave-like title song), we see a bunch of women, headed by the aptly named Gloria Sternvirgin (Robyn Blythe), protesting the show outside the studio, holding signs that say "Fuck Chuck", "Chuck Sucks", "Only God Can Kill" and my favorite, "Chuck Should Be Aborted" (talk about your mixed messages!). Chuck comes outside the studio with some guards, gets into his sporty convertible and says, "See you tomorrow ladies!" (There's another funny scene where Chuck stops at a crosswalk where there is a sign that says "Slow Children" and we see a bunch of kids walking in slow motion across the crosswalk. Cheap, but funny.). Chuck gets verbally assaulted by a man in the car next to him while they are stopped at a red light and Chuck raises his driver side window, where it says "Blow it out your ass" and he drives off. Chuck's life outside the studio is anything but cheerful, Besides the problems with Miss Sternvirgin and her group, Chuck always has the same crazy loon beg him to let him be on the show when he shows up at the studio every morning, Chuck finds a naked woman in his bed and she is willing to have sex with him if he can get her convict boyfriend on the game show and he is always verbally and physically attacked by complete strangers and criminals that want a chance to be in his show so they can win their freedom (not realizing that the show is rigged against the criminals). Chuck has also run afoul of hitman Luigi Pappalardo (Beano; HOUSE OF THE WOLF MAN - 2009), who wants Chuck dead because of what happened on a past show. Chuck had mob kingpin Don Guido Spumoni (Mark Lasky), known on the show as Convict 9899, strapped to a chair with an electrode attached to his penis (or as Chuck calls it, his "wang-dang-doodle"!) and Chuck tells Don Spumoni that Shanna is about to come out and perform "The Dance Of A Thousand Boners" and if he gets and erection or any movement on his penis, he will be shocked with 50,000 volts of electricity and die. Shanna comes out and does her sexy dance, exposing her breasts at the end, but Don Spumoni makes it through the dance without a single movement from his penis. Turns out Don Spumoni was gay and when Chuck congratulates him for making it through the dance and touches him on the shoulder, Don Spumoni gets a boner and is electrocuted (it's a pretty funny concept). Luigi Pappalardo (who was a good friend of Don Spumoni) was hired by Spumoni's organization to kill Chuck, so Chuck is dodging Pappalardo the best he can. Back to the present, Chuck is back on his show and asks Convict 1768 (who was raped in prison the night before and has to stand; one of the film's low points) whether he wants what is in the the envelope that Chuck is holding or what is behind the curtain Shanna is standing next to. He picks the curtain and Chuck shows Convict 1768 that the envelope contained a stay of execution, so what is behind the curtain cannot be good at all. As the curtain opens, we see a noose with a box beneath it. The convict is hooded and hanged on-air (we don't get to see it, though). It seems that the popularity of Chuck's show has spread to other media, especially TV commercials as, in one such commercial, Convict 2811 tastes two versions of cheese spreads. Turns out that one of them is a new cheese-flavored rat poison and the convict dies. Chuck is then on a popular talk show, where he is ripped into by Miss Sternvirgin, but phone-in audience members all seem to support Chuck, which pisses-off Miss Sternvirgin and she cuts Chuck a new asshole. Chuck calls her a "stupid bitch" live on-air (and then asks the host, "Can I say stupid?"). The last call on the show is from Pappalardo, who says Chuck is a dead man. After the talk show is over, Chuck pulls Miss Sternvirgin into his convertible, as he runs over two masked men carrying guns. When Chuck explains to her what is happening in his life, it's apparent that there is some romantic heat between the two. Chuck has a nightmare (complete with opening and closing credits!) featuring him, a naked Sternvirgin and Don Guido Spumoni, who threatens to kill Chuck, while Chuck changes appearance throughout the nightmare (you should see him as a toothless hillbilly!). It ends with a zoned-out Chuck saying, "I'm afraid of no one!" (which is repeated after the closing credits and the film ends), while the announcer of the nightmare tells us "This is the end of the dream". Pappalardo agrees to meet Chuck and Miss Sternvirgin at his studio office to call of the hit, as long as he can bring his mother, Mama Pappalardo (Mark Lasky again, who is hilarious), with him and Chuck can get her tickets to the taping of her favorite show, which shoots in the same studio lot as Chuck's show. While Mamma Pappalardo is given the tickets to the show by Chuck's secretary Trudy (Darwyn Carson; THE RAPTURE - 1991) and she points the old lady to the direction of the studio, Luigi Pappalardo (who calls off the hit) thinks that Miss Sternvirgin is romantically interested in him and takes her out for a "romantic" lunch. Things go from bad to worse when Mamma Pappalardo (who Chuck has never met) needs to go to the bathroom and gets lost, ending up as a contestant on Chuck's show (The Stage Manager warns Chuck that they don't have the proper release papers for her, but Chuck says this isn't the first time it has happened and not to worry about it.). Her "Live Or Die" task is to carry two cans of gas through a fiery obstacle course outside. If she makes it to the end, she will be granted a pardon. The hunched-over Mamma Pappalardo makes it through the obstacle course (she has to jump through hoops set on fire!) and sets the gas cans in a makeshift table with lit candles on it at the end of the course. The table collapses and the candles ingnite the gasoline, blowing Mamma Pappalardo to bits. The rest of the film finds Chuck trying to avoid Luigi when Trudy notifies him that he just blew-up Mamma Pappalardo. Luigi thinks that Miss Sternvirgin has accepted his proposal of marriage (you wouldn't marry him if you saw the way he eats!). Chuck tries to hide the old lady's death and solve Miss Sternvirgin's problem, but like everything else in Chuck's life, things don't go as planned. Luigi watches a tape of his mother being blown-up and wants Chuck dead more than ever, but Chuck pulls some strings and Luigi ends up as Convict 8981 on his show, where he has to spell "I Want To Live" with child's wooden alphabet blocks in a soundproof and airtight room in less than a minute. He has to spell it before all the oxygen is pumped out of the chamber (Luigi actually does it, but Chuck kicks the chamber and knocks the blocks down!). All the oxygen is now out of the chamber and Luigi is dead. Chuck thinks he is in the clear, but Luigi was merely knocked out and wakes up in a room full of the corpses of previous convicts on the show. Chuck wants to quit doing the show, but his manager convinces him to do one more. Miss Sternvirgin hears the conversation through the door and then locks a very angry Luigi in a janitor's closet. A janitor lets Luigi out of the closet and, during the taping of the last show, he makes Chuck and Miss Sternvirgin get into the airproof booth and they are rapidly running out of air, but the crazy loon that begs Chuck to be on his show every morning shoots and kills Luigi (I guess he is now qualified to be a contestant on the show!) and Chuck and Miss Sternvirgin are saved. They become a loving couple and Chuck does, indeed, quit the game show, as we see during the end credits that he is now doing TV commercials for all types of products, using the corpses from his old game show as demonstration dummies. I guess love is blind, as well as stupid.  Considering the subject matter, I was surprised to find that there is not one drop of blood spilled during the entire film, but thankfully it is full of topless nudity to keep you occupied though all the bad and funny humor (There is a lot more bad humor than good, but the good ones are inspired, such as Chuck's nightmare). Most of director/screenwriter/co-executive producer Mark Pirro's films (CURSE OF THE QUEERWOLF - 1988; NUDIST COLONY OF THE DEAD - 1991; RECTUMA - 2003; THE GOD COMPLEX - 2009) have been comedies with horror overtones, but he was never a proponent of blood or gore until his most recent film (at the time of this review) RAGE OF INNOCENCE (2014), which is a bloody revenge thriller. While I think this film is the weakest of Pirro's films (even though it is the only one to obtain a major theatrical release), the cast look like they are having a good time (the acting is good for a film this cheap) and when the jokes work, they are funny. What I like about Mark Pirro and Pirromount Productions is that all the films are funded in-house, so Pirro hires himself out to other filmmakers to make the money needed for his own films (which is why there are so many years between his films), acting in such films as MONSTURD (2003) and RETARDEAD (2006), as well as writing music for other films. Originally released on fullscreen VHS by Media Home Entertainment, it was released on an anamorphic widescreen DVD by Code Red and the print looks flawless. The DVD also has a running commentary by Pirro and star McCafferty, as well as exclusive documentaries about making the film and marketing films with micro-budgets. There are also the usual Code Red trailers, some for films that Code Red hasn't released yet (Dammit, release FAMILY HONOR [1973] and THE BLACK GESTAPO [1975] already!). A worthwhile purchase just for the extras. Also starring Bill Whitehead, Kent Butler ("Is that a wrap?"), Paul Farbman, David Martinson, Esther Elise, Jim Bruce, Thomas Johnson, Zach Harris, Cheryl Crosland and Paul Bruno. A Code Red DVD Release. Rated R.

DELINQUENT SCHOOLGIRLS (1974) - Crazy exploitation film where three loony inmates escape from the state mental asylum for the criminally insane and invade the Oxford Corrective Institute for Young Women, where the girls are crazier than the escapees. The stern principal of the institute, Dr. Baxter (John Alderman), is making a dozen girls stay at the institute during the holiday vacation as punishment, as most of them are sex-crazy nymphets who get into trouble at the drop of a bra. Before the insane trio hit the institute, they invade the home of impotent farmer Earl (the late George 'Buck' Flower, sporting a funny pair of false teeth) and his nympho wife Ellie (Julie Gant). Carl (Michael Pataki) is the leader of the trio and a celebrity impersonator/rapist. He and Bruce (Stephen Stucker), a homosexual deviant, entertain Earl by playing songs on the piano and getting him drunk, while burly Dick Peters (Bob Minor, in a rare leading role) rapes the willing Ellie. The nutso trio then go to the institute, where they raid the kitchen and rape a couple of female cooks (they end up to be willing, of course). After imprisoning the two girls in a freezer (with an ingenious timelock made of ice blocks), the trio explore the school, where they find an elderly teacher (and his snakes) about to have sex with a hypnotized student (Dick ends up with the snakes dumped on him by the teacher before he has a heart attack), two pot-smoking girls at the pool who get Carl and Dick stoned (and Carl nearly drowns) and Dick is is attacked by by two girls playing croquet. Carl, as punishment, makes the two girls slap and punch each other until one is unconscious. They then go to the gymnasium, where a karate class is taking place. Carl makes all the girls dance like the Rockettes and Dick gets beat up again, this time by Greta (porn vet Sharon Kelly), when he tries to take her panties off. Dick and Carl then get the shit kicked out of them by the girls, while Bruce is manhandled (and liking it) by the male karate instructor. The police arrive and cart the trio away and they are glad to be going back to the safety of the asylum (I prefer to disregard the tacky end scrawl that states they escaped from police custody and are now at large). Director Gregory Corarito (WANDA, THE SADISTIC HYPNOTIST - 1969) fills the screen with so many shots of naked female flesh (including the legendary slow-motion shot of Roberta Pedon's breasts breaking free of her skimpy shirt while doing jumping jacks), you almost forget how ridiculous the entire film really is. The screenplay (by Corarito, producer Maurice Smith and executive producer John Lamb) seems to be implying that the three escapees may not be the worst people in this film. They may be crazy, but at least they have an excuse. There's the elderly male teacher (Ralph Campbell) who hypnotizes a student so he can have sex with her; Dr. Baxter, who pretends to be a prude, but is actually having an affair with one of the teachers and has daydreams of the girls naked; some good samaritans in a van, who pick up one of the girls escaping the trio, only to have them turn out to be rapists; and the girls themselves, who revel in sex and drugs. In the end, it's the crazy trio who end up being the worse for wear. They commit no violence (even though Carl threatens violence, but seems incapable of committing it) but, instead, take the brunt of the punishment from the girls. Genre vet Michael Pataki (GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE - 1972) overacts shamelessly, as he imitates Richard Burton, W.C. Fields, Richard Nixon and countless other celebrities while he mugs wildly for the camera. Stephen Stucker (AIRPLANE - 1980) does nothing but act gay (as he was in real life, before passing away from AIDS in 1986) and Bob Minor (who is an excellent stuntman and character actor, appearing in over 200 films since 1970) sets Blacks back fifty years as a muscular rapist who doesn't see a white woman he doesn't want to fuck. The violence in this film is miniscule (mainly consisting of Dick getting beat up) and there's no blood at all, just plenty of tits and ass (but no bush). This is definitely a product of the sleazy 70's, where rape is considered a joke and there are absolutely no consequences for committing it. A real curio. A lot of reviewers seem to think that this film is a mean-spirited misogynist's dream, which make me wonder if they really watched it at all. Also known as CARNAL MADNESS and BAD GIRLS. Also starring Brenda Miller, Jane Steele, Zoe Grant, Kay Lange and Debbie Raymond. A Vestron Video Release. Rated R.

DEMENTED DEATH FARM MASSACRE (1971/1986) - Leave it to Fred Olen Ray. He's taken an early 70's regional sexploitation film, titled HONEY BRITCHES (available from Something Weird), directed by noted film huckster Donn Davison (SHE FREAK - 1967), slapped less than three minutes of footage of a feeble-looking John Carradine (playing the "Judge of Hell") spouting biblical quotes written on cue cards (he even blows a line!) throughout the film and has the nerve to take co-directing and co-producing credit! The story is this: Four thieves (two men, two women) escape the city after just pulling a big diamond heist. When their jeep runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere, they travel by foot through the backwoods until they come upon the shack of moonshiner Harlan (George Ellis of DEMON HUNTER - 1965) and his new young wife Reba Sue (Ashley Brookes). It's not long before a clash of cultures ensues, which have deadly consequences. It's hard to figure out who is worse here: Harlan, who spouts scripture, accuses his wife of being a whore (yet is incapable of making love to her) but has no problem ogling the two city women or the town's Black whore while drinking himself into a blind stupor; or Kirk, the thief who watches Reba Sue undress and has no problem smacking women around and raping them (although Reba Sue ends up liking it) to satisfy his urges. With their cover blown (thanks to a radio broadcast), the thieves take Harlan, Reba Sue and retarded helper Toby hostage and a series of unfortunate events happen (including the death of one of the female thieves) which culminates in Harlan getting some bloody revenge, which includes some pitchfork, bear trap and gun violence. This slice of early 70's hillbilly cinema (which also includes such films as PIGKEEPER'S DAUGHTER - 1972 and COUNTRY CUZZINS - 1971) is poorly acted but is highly watchable thanks to the frequent female flesh and some off-the-wall one-liners ("Is that a real gun?" "Well, it isn't an ice cream cone!"). The frequent interruptions by Carradine and new library music tracks (not to mention the new title sequence) inserted by Fred Olen Ray are a real distraction and add nothing to the film. The fact that nothing much happens until the last twenty minutes of the film's 83 minute running time may tax some viewer's patience, but if you view this as the Southern exploitation rarity that it is, you'll have some fun with it. Also starring Trudy Moore, Mike Coolik, Jim Peck and Pepper Thurston (she's one tall drink of water!). Also known as MOONSHINER'S WOMEN and SHANTYTOWN HONEYMOON. A Troma Team Release distributed on DVD by BCI as part of TOXIE'S TRIPLE TERROR VOL. 1. Rated R.

THE DEVIL'S MEN (1976) - I remember watching this film on VHS in the mid-80's and being unimpressed, finding this Greece-lensed, English-language exploitationer somewhat boring and tame, lacking the nudity and gore that would make it a good exploitation film, but this (and all other home video versions released in the U.S.) were the PG-Rated theatrical version, missing over five minutes of footage. The fine folks at Scorpion Releasing located a beautiful Unrated anamorphic widescreen version of this film and released it for the first time on U.S. home video on a double feature DVD (with Norman J. Warren's TERROR - 1978) and I'm glad to report that those extra five minutes make for a much better viewing experience. The film opens in a small town in Greece, with a group of cult members, all dressed in different colored hooded robes (that would make the KKK envious), walking up a mountain to a secret sacrificial altar, where a stone statue of a Minotaur rises from under the ground, shooting fire out of its nostrils. Baron Corofax (Peter Cushing, in one of his rare pure evil roles), who is the leader of the cult and wears the only red robe, puts his hood over his head and watches as a young girl (the single-monickered Christina) plunges a dagger into the hearts of a tourist couple the cult has kidnapped (a scene missing from the PG edit). Father Roche (Donald Pleasence, who seems to be having a good time in Greece) calls Police Sgt. Vendris (Fernando Bislani) to report the tourists missing, telling Vendris that this isn't the first time that this has happened, but he blows the good Father off (we saw at the sacrifice that Vendris was there, wearing a blue hooded robe, a suitable color for a policeman!). After Father Roche pulls a small gold idol of a Minotaur out of his desk drawer, he then writes a letter to his good friend Milo Kaye (director Costas Carayiannis, acting under the pseudonym "Costas Skouras"), a private detective in New York City, asking him to come to Greece and solve the cases of the missing tourists. We then see Milo reading the letter, while his girlfriend (Jane Lyle) steps out of the shower and tries to talk Milo out of traveling to Greece (this entire sequence plays with the girlfriend in both full-frontal and topless nudity, which is missing from the PG edit). Back in Greece, Father Roche gets a visit from good friend Beth (the single-monickered Gelsomina), an archaeologist who has brought along fellow archaeologists Ian (Nikol Verlel Verlekis) and Tom (Bob Behling) with her. They are here on an archaeological dig, after finding a small gold idol of a Minotaur's head in the ruins nearby (Father Roche takes one look at it and knows that it means trouble). Ian and Tom head out on their own to scout the area where they are going to dig and discover a stone slab on the ground depicting a medieval double-bladed war axe (the same symbol we saw at the entrance of the sacrificial altar in the beginning of the film). They lift the stone slab, finding a secret underground chamber, which they explore, discovering the dead corpses of the two missing tourists (the female corpse is topless and that shot is missing from the PG edit). They then look up to see the stone statue of the Minotaur spewing flames from its nose, while a disembodied voice says, "Those who enter the unopened chamber of the Minotaur must die!" and both Ian and Tom end up missing. Beth meets the suave and obviously rich Baron Corofax as she is walking out of a shop (the shopkeeper's daughter is the young girl who stabbed the two tourists in the sacriface) and she accepts a ride from him to take a look at some ancient artifacts in his mansion, but she becomes creeped-out by the Baron's behavior after a short time there and leaves on foot, only to be captured by some cult members dressed in black-hooded robes. That makes five missing tourists in a matter of a few weeks, so Father Roche phones Milo in desperation (which he should have done in the first place), pleading with him to come to Greece, which Milo does. Father Roche also gets a visit from Beth's older sister Laurie (Luan Peters), who is also searching for her missing sister. The trio begin their investigation, where a few of the people they talk to either end up murdered (one woman they talk to is discovered with a noose around her neck) or retract what they earlier said out of fear. It becomes obvious to the trio that Baron Corofax is behind it all (he doesn't even try to hide his involvement, since his wealth and influence literally lets him get away with murder). After a few close calls, where cult members try to kidnap Laurie a couple of times and the Baron's chauffeur Max (George Velvis) tries to run over Father Roche and Milo (The Father say to Milo, "Did you have to push me so hard?"), both the Father and Milo discover Beth, Ian & Tom's hidden van, where they get behind the wheel and arrive just moments after we witness the shopkeeper's daughter sacrifice Beth and Ian (we see the blades enter their hearts, more scenes missing from the PG edit), but they manage to catch and beat the snot out of a fleeing Sgt. Vendris, who is still wearing his blue robe. At the same time this is happening, several black-robed cult members finally kidnap Laurie from her hotel room and take her to Baron Corofax, who hypnotizes her into believing that this whole nightmare will end if she sacrifices Father Roche (Laurie has a nightmare where she is graphically stabbing the Father, which is also missing from the PG edit). Laurie's will and mind prove a little too strong, though, for the hypnotism to work, so the Baron has to come up with an alternate plan. When Father Roche and Milo go to the Baron's mansion to make him release Laurie in exchange for Sgt. Vendris, the Baron pulls out a shotgun, fires a warning shot and makes our two heroes release Vendris and leave without Laurie. Because Laurie's will is so strong, the Baron decides that she and Tom will be next to die on the Minotaur's altar. Milo shows up and fires a few bullets into some cult members, but they have no effect, so they capture Milo and decide to perform a triple sacrifice. Father Roche enters the sacrificial chamber holding a ruby-encrusted crucifix, speaks in Latin and throws holy water on the statue of the Minotaur, causing it to explode in a million pieces and stopping the Baron himself from plunging a dagger into Laurie's heart. The Baron, as well as the rest of the adult cult members then bloodily explode, too (a major sequence missing from the PG version, finally giving us closure about what really happened to the Baron and his cult, since the PG version suggests the cult members die when the chamber collapses), leaving Laura, Tom, Milo and Father Roche to survive the whole ordeal. The only cult members to survive are the children (including the shopkeeper's daughter), as Father Roche tells Milo he may need his help again in the future when these children turn into adults (Me? I would have hacked all these children to pieces to make sure history doesn't repeat itself, but since Father Roche is a man of the cloth, he has no other choice but to let them leave and walk down the mountain). We watch the children cult members walk down the mountain while a cheezy rock tune called "The Devil's Men" is heard (sung by Paul Williams, yes that Paul Williams, but it sounds nothing like him and it doesn't play over the end credits of the PG version) while the final credits roll. The song keeps playing for two minutes after the screen turns black!  While nothing earth-shaking, this film, released theatrically and on VHS in the U.S. under the title LAND OF THE MINOTAUR, is still a watchable exploitation item. Donald Pleasence seems to be having a good time here (I'm sure he loved shooting the film in Greece) and there's a running joke throughout the film where Father Roche complains about Milo's driving, first complaining that he drives too fast and then complaining that he is driving too slow. It was also great seeing Peter Cushing playing a totally evil role for a change. Even when he tries to be charming with Beth, his personality just oozes the personification of evil, a role that came few and far between for Cushing (although he was also pure evil in STAR WARS, made a year after this film). The missing five minutes of footage here seem to be major sequences of nudity (the opening between Milo and his totally nude girldfiend is almost two minutes long) and fleeting shots of gore (especially knives entering boodies) until the completely surprising exploding bodies finale, which shows blood and bits of human parts flying everywhere (Also, the title "The Devil's Men" comes shooting out the Minotaur's fiery nostrils in the opening credits and not a badly-inserted title card as we see in the PG version). If you have only seen this film in its PG-Rated version and didn't like it, I would recommend you watch Scorpion Releasing's DVD. You will probably enjoy the film a lot more than you previously did. Director Costas Carayiannes (real name: Kostas Karagiannes) is not much of an actor, but this film doesn't force him to be one. All he has to do is act tough in certain scenes and have a few, brief funny conversations with Donald Pleasence. He made a lot of films in Greece (he passed away in 1993, after directing an amazing 151 films from 1960 to 1991), but precious few of them made it to the States. One exception was DEATH KISS (1976) which he directed using the name "Dacosta Carayan" and was released to U.S. theaters as THE RAPE KILLER and had a VHS release under its less exploitative title from Prism Entertainment. This is one of screenwriter Arthur Rowe's rare forays into films. He was better known for writing episodes of TV series (including the episodes "The Energy Eater" and "Legacy Of Terror" of KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER [1974 - 1975]) and producing 137 episodes of the long-running series FANTASY ISLAND (1977 - 1984; also writing 13 episodes). Music producer extraordinnaire Brian Eno (an original member of the band Roxy Music) composed the film's music score, which he has done with dozens of films, including Dario Argento's (TERROR AT THE) OPERA (1987). THE DEVIL'S MEN had many VHS and DVD releases of the PG-Rated cut (usually under the Crown International Pictures theatrical LAND OF THE MINOTAUR title); on budget VHS releases from both United American Video Corp. and Interglobal Home Video and then on DVD from Mill Creek (as part of their multiple Crown International "Drive-In Cult Classics" DVD compilations), Deimos Entertainment (with Warren's TERROR, as part of the now-defunct "Crypt Of Terror" line) and then on a double feature DVD from Code Red (with the soap opera-ish thriller BLOOD MANIA - 1970). But if you want to see this film the way it was originally made, your only choice is the double feature DVD from Scorpion Releasing. It is now listed OOP, but you can still find it fairly cheaply on eBay and Amazon. Not Rated.

THE DIRTIEST GAME IN THE WORLD (1970) - In this counterculture sexploitation film with a political agenda, party bigwig R.J. (Coleman Francis) sends strait-laced political candidate Titus Moore (Titus Moody) out to get the "hippie vote". R.J. believes that in order to win the election (he's running for State Representative, although documentary footage of the 1968 Democratic Presidential convention is shown in the opening minutes) Titus must infiltrate "these pot users and LSD smokers and suck them over on our side". Complicating matters is Titus' drunken shrew of a wife, Felicia (Sheryl Powell), who puts him down every chance she gets ("You're not man enough to do anything!"). Titus tells Felicia that when this election is over, their marriage is over, too (This is after she strips naked and drunkenly makes love to Titus, who also strips naked to reveal the hairiest ass I have ever seen!). Titus and assistant Frank (Frank Millen) go to the "Citizens Committee To Legalize Marijuana" to start his undercover campaign. A pot-smoking hippie named Bruce (Bruce Beard) puts them in touch with hippie chick Jean (Jean Stone, who we first see dancing naked to an organ-heavy tune), who pulls a joint out of her snatch and offers it to Titus and Frank. Frank declines, but Titus takes a deep hit and the next scene shows Titus and Jean naked (Frank is gone), while Titus eats jam and peanut butter out of her pussy. Jean then straps on a dildo and fucks Titus in the ass, while a poster of W.C. Fields looks on approvingly! When Titus reports back to R.J., it's apparent that he is taking kindly to the hippie lifestyle. Titus makes it clear again to Felicia that he is leaving her, so she tries to shoot him with a pistol, but misses. Titus rapes her while choking her with his belt. Frank, who has feelings for Felicia, tries to get R.J. to call off the hippie infiltration, but he refuses. Titus (who now smokes pot every chance he gets) enjoys his new life with Jean and they screw every chance they get. Frank puts the moves on Felicia (we see her a few moments before, masturbating in the kitchen, using the corner of a counter and the refrigerator door as sex toys!) and Titus catches them having sex in the bedroom, but he doesn't care! A perturbed Felicia confronts Jean but, instead of fighting, they become lesbian lovers (They make love in the middle of an oil field as the pumps chug up and down!). Jean, being a hippie, dumps Felicia after she is done with her, so Felicia follows her to an orgy, where she spots her husband fucking a multitude of women. Later on, Felicia (dressed in bondage gear and carrying a whip) joins in on the orgy and goes crazy, stabbing Bruce with a dagger. The orgy-goers (including Titus) hold her down while Jean rapes her with a strap-on (the same strap-on she used to fuck Titus in the ass). Felicia runs to the bathroom, mutilates herself with a razor and then commits suicide by sticking a pistol up her vagina and pulling the trigger! After witnessing Felicia's suicide, Frank grabs the gun and begins shooting-up the orgy, killing Titus and them himself. The final scene shows R.J. introducing his latest candidate to run for State Representative: Jean!  This is the first feature film from director James Bryan, who also gave us ESCAPE TO PASSION (1970), I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU NOT (1974), BOOGIE VISION (1977), LADY STREET FIGHTER (1978), DON'T GO IN THE WOODS (1981; his best-known film), THE EXECUTIONER PART II (1983) and HELL RIDERS (1984). As you can see, Bryan can't be accused of churning out quality entertainment, but THE DIRTIEST GAME IN THE WORLD, for all it's inherent flaws, including atrocious acting (Titus Moody is horrible, as is nearly everyone else), chainsaw editing, camera noises and bad sound, is still a hypnotic experience. Though not a hardcore flick, it still goes way beyond the boundaries of an R rating (it would get an NC-17 if rated today) and the final few minutes are truly unexpectedly shocking and must be seen to be appreciated. Anyone who says they saw this coming is a big fucking liar! The self-mutilation/suicide sequence is very hard to watch and is as bloody as anything H.G. Lewis was doing at the time. I have to wonder how audiences handled this sequence in theaters, going in expecting a nudity-filled sexploitationer and then viewing a woman slicing into her sexual organs with a razor blade (I'm sure Walt Davis' SEX PSYCHO [1971] had the same effect). This barely feature length (a little over 64 minutes) little-seen film was briefly released on VHS during the mid-90's, when Titus Moody (who died in 2001) and James Bryan joined together and released a few of Moody's rare 60's & 70's movies, which also included OUTLAW MOTORCYCLES (1966) and THE LAST AMERICAN HOBO (1967). During his time away from "legitimate" films during the 70's & 80's, Bryan directed hardcore porn features using the pseudonym "Morris Deal" (HIGH SCHOOL FANTASIES - 1974; TEENAGE THROAT - 1974). The only recognizable actor (besides Moody) is Coleman Francis as R.J., who starred in Russ Meyer's MOTOR PSYCHO (1965), Ray Dennis Steckler's BODY FEVER (1969) and directed the notorious badfilms THE BEAST OF YUCCA FLATS (1961), THE SKYDIVERS (1963) and RED ZONE CUBA (1966). If you ever get lucky and find a copy of THE DIRTIEST GAME IN TOWN, grab it and thank your lucky stars. A Strange Video VHS Release. Also available on a triple feature DVD from Code Red, with ESCAPE TO PASSION and I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU NOT (all in their original aspect ratio) as part of a "James Bryan Film Festival" (essential to fans of this kind of film). Rated X.

DRUM (1976) - After the phenomenal and unexpected success of MANDINGO (1975), producer Dino De Laurentiis fast-tracked a sequel with only boxer-turned-lousy-actor Ken Norton returning, but in a different role (since he died in MANDINGO). Not so strangely, non-actor Norton is the worst thing about DRUM, a violent, sexy and racially-charged exploitation film about slavery with a top-notch genre cast. It's about fifteen years after the first film and Hammon Maxwell (Warren Oates; RACE WITH THE DEVIL - 1975; Perry King played the same character in the first film), the patriarch of Falconhurst Plantation, must put up with a multitude of problems both with his family and his stable of slaves. After a short history of slavery in North America, where we learn Marianna (Isla Vega; BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA - 1974, also starring Warren Oates), a successful New Orleans madame who had a black baby and named him Drum (Norton), who was raised by black slave Rachel (Paula Kelly), we are then transported to an opulent party thrown at Marianna's bordello. Drum, who is serving food and drinks, catches the eye of effiminate slave trader Bernard DeMarigny (John Colicos; BATTLESTAR GALACTICA - 1978-1979), the party's host, who leeringly mentions to his younger gay partner that Drum would make a good stud (yeah, right!). Bernard plans to have a display of pugilistics in the back of the bordello, but when one of the boxers doesn't show up, he forces Marianna to offer Drum as an opponent (For those too young to remember, Ken Norton was briefly a boxing champion in real life). Drum's opponent is Blaise (Yaphet Kotto; TRUCK TURNER - 1974) and the bout quickly turns into a no-holds-barred wrestling match, complete with biting (Mike Tyson would be proud), kicking and elbowing, and eventually Drum wins. Bernard wants to cut-off Blaise's balls for losing, but Drum convinces Bernard to give Blaise to Marianna (Even through all the bloody punching and biting, Drum and Blaise become fast friends). To show his appreciation, Bernard lets Drum pick out one of his slave girls as his woman, so he picks Calinda (Brenda Sykes; GANJA & HESS - 1973), but when Bernard sneaks into their bedroom for a three-way (Bernard is more interested in Drum's sweet asshole than Calinda's pussy), Drum slugs him in the face with Bernard vowing painful revenge. Bernard shows up at the bordello with some men with the intent of cutting Drum's balls off, but when Rachel is shot and killed for interfering and Drum nearly kills Bernard (Drum is under the impression that Rachel was his mother), Marianne sends Drum to Hammond Maxwell and Falconhurst Plantation, where the main slaves' job is not picking cotton, but "studding niggers". Marianna also throws-in Blaise and white whore Augusta Chauvet (Fiona Lewis; THE FURY - 1978) as part of the deal, but Hammond doesn't want Calinda because it will interfere with Drum's stud duties. Hammond buys slave Regine (Pam Grier; COFFY - 1973) to take care of the needs of Augusta, who hopes to weasel her way into Hammond's life and become the next Mrs. Maxwell. Augusta becomes the terror of Falconhurst Plantation, complaining about everything and physically and emotionally abusing the slaves, especially Regine, who Hammond wants to use as his black "bed wench". Hammond wants Augusta to tame his out-of-control daughter, Sophie (Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith; LASERBLAST - 1978). The vulgar, but somewhat likable, Hammond takes Drum under his wing, teaching him how to ride a horse and putting him in a supervisory position over the other slaves. The horny Sophie unbuttons the pants of all the male slaves and plays with their "snakes", so Drum makes it his personal responsibility to keep Sophie away from Blaise, because if Hammond finds them together, it would be instant castration. The snotty Sophie makes a false allegation to her father about Blaise ("He put his thing in my hand!"), but Hammond catches her raising her skirt in front of a chained Blaise and sends her off to finishing school. When Hammond throws a party to announce his marriage to Augusta and the whole town shows up, including Marianna, Bernard and cruel slave trader Zeke Montgomery (Royal Dano; GHOULIES II - 1987), Drum discovers that Blaise has been castrated (by Augusta's orders), so he sets Blaise free and starts a slave revolt, which leads to a night of death and destruction. As Falconhurst Plantation burns to the ground, Hammond, Marianna and Drum are the only survivors, but Hammond can't let Drum stay and makes him run for his life into an uncertain future.  DRUM was originally directed by Burt Kennedy (HANNIE CAULDER - 1971; WOLF LAKE - 1978) before Dino DeLaurentiis fired him (the only time Kennedy has ever been fired from a film) and replaced him with Steve Carver (BIG BAD MAMA - 1974; CAPONE - 1975). Supposedly, about 70% of the footage on-screen is Kennedy's and it's my guess that everytime we see a naked female breast that it is Carver's footage. The screenplay, by Norman Wexler (JOE - 1970; RAW DEAL - 1986), is full of exploitable elements, including rape, prostitution, slavery, castration and whippings, but it could have been a lot more sleazier than it turned out. While there is plenty of nudity and violence, none of it presses the boundaries of a Hard R like MANDINGO did. Even Bernard's castration by Drum's hand is implied rather than shown. There is also a lot to like here, too, from Warren Oates playful performance as a slave breeder (his dialogue about popping-out little "suckers" is hilarious), to a cast of seasoned pros, but DRUM is missing something that would make it a classic of its genre: more sleaze and less soap opera. Oh, and less Ken Norton. Also starring Lillian Hayman, Alain Patrick, Clay Tanner and Lila Finn. Originally released on VHS by Vestron Video. Also available on fullscreen British DVD from Castle Home Video. Released on DVD & Blu-Ray from Scorpion Entertainment through Kino Lorber Home Video. Rated R.

ECSTASY INC. (1980) - Professor Rasputin (Gabriel River) and Dr. Christina (Christina Anderss) run a popular sex clinic in Paris. When they are not curing couples of their sexual problems, the Professor cruises the streets in his sports car and picks up female hitchhikers. He brings them home so he and Christina can rape and kill them. The newspapers label them the "Hitchhiker Killers" and the police are clueless. Everything goes fine until Christina falls in love with a patient; an artist who is having an affair with the married (and insatiable) Countess Marina (Marina Delestra), a frequent visitor to the clinic who has worn out seven husbands with her sexual appetites. Christina begs the Professor to stop the killings, but he enjoys it too much. In the end, the Countess Marina's husband (Chris Regan) shoots the Countess because she caught him stealing her jewels and Christina runs a sword through the Professor to stop his killings and so she can be with her artist love. This unrated soft core Stockholm-made production boasts plenty of nudity and simulated sex but is highly repetitious. A scene of a couple in the clinic is always followed by a scene of the Professor cruising for hitchhikers. No reason is given for the Professor's love of strangling his victims. The violence is implied rather than shown. The only good thing I have to say about this dubbed film is at least the women don't have hairy armpits. It may be fashionable in Europe, but this American boy finds it a complete turn-off. Director Andrew Whyte (real name: Andrei Feher) also made other sex films in Sweden, including SWEDISH LOVE STORY (1977), CRAZY SWEDISH HOLIDAYS IN PARIS (1980), WORLD SEX FESTIVAL (a.k.a. THE PORNO RACE - 1985) and DREAMS OF LOVE (1985). ECSTASY INC. (a.k.a. SWEDISH SEX CLINIC) is a soft core sex film better left behind. A Private Screenings Video Release. Not Rated.

THE ELECTRIC CHAIR (1975) - Who killed the Reverend Samuel Moss (Barry Bell) and girlfriend Marilyn Howard (Katherine Cortez)? When a necking couple find their bodies lying in a field shot to death with Marilyn's throat also cut and tongue ripped out, the film flashes back to the beginning of the mess. Marilyn lives in a filthy house with Jess (Kenneth G. Sigmon), her fat slob of a husband who sits on the couch all day drinking beer and watching TV. The Reverend Moss has Clair (Nita Patterson), his shrew of a wife who refuses to make love to him, saying it's filthy and disgusting. When the Reverend and Marilyn meet at church, they fall in love and start an affair. Cut to the present again, as the police interrogate the suspects: Clair ("That filthy bitch" is all she has to say about Marilyn); Mose Cooper, a religious fanatic ("Sins should not go unpunished"); Jess ("The Reverend was a fine man") and; Billy (William F. Hipp), Clair's crazy brother. With no leads, District Attorney Grover (Don Cummins) is squeezed by the Governor to get a conviction and get it quick. Since Mose Cooper has the weakest alibi, he is tried for the crimes. His religious outbursts in court easily convict him for the crimes and he is sentenced to death by electric chair. Mose is strapped down and prepped on the Old Sparky (lovingly detailed) and just as the switch is about to be thrown, the phone rings. It's the Governor and he has given Mose a reprieve, It seems Mose was having an affair with a divorced woman and he was with her at the time of the killings. She had come forward to save Mose, feeling he would rather die than tell the truth, fearing being called a hypocrite with his religious convictions and all. Next up on trial: Clair and Crazy Billy. D.A. Grover makes the case that Clair overheard her husband talking to Marilyn over the phone setting up a clandestine meeting. She then talked Billy into coming with her to help in killing them. Billy answers all the D.A.'s questions on the stand like a retard until Grover asks him, "Did your mother have any children that lived?" Defense Attorney Klein (Martin McDonald) completely discredits all of the prosecution's witnesses and it looks as if Clair and Billy will get off. That is, until Billy freaks out in the courtroom, grabs a gun, shouts out to Clair,"I'm not going to fry for your jealousy" and kills four people, including his attorney, before he is shot and killed. Clair is convicted for the crimes and is sentenced to the electric chair, where we see her fry after telling everyone watching to "Go to Hell!" This weird and wonderful little-seen film comes from the fertile imagination of J.G. "Pat" Patterson, who directed, produced, wrote and starred (as Mose Cooper). Patterson was also directed the cultish THE BODY SHOP (1973; a.k.a. DOCTOR GORE), produced AXE (1974) and was involved in countless other cheapies until his death from cancer in 1975. Since THE ELECTRIC CHAIR (also known as HIGH VOLTAGE) carries a copyright date of 1975 (but was actually made in 1972), it seems Mr. Patterson probably never saw it released to the general public. Unlike his other ultra-low-budget romps, this one has a pretty involving story, offering the viewer a surprise or two along the way. It still has a lot of Patterson's trademarks: Flubbed lines (Patterson has a problem saying the word "Judas" and various characters are often heard correcting themselves in Patterson's notorious "one-take" style), static camerawork and non-professional actors. It all seems to work here, giving the film a distinct regional style (filmed in North and South Carolina) that probably could not be duplicated with a decent budget and pro actors. Worth Keeter (WOLFMAN - 1979; DOGS OF HELL - 1982) shared special make-up effects credit along with Patterson. The electric chair effects are nothing more than lighting a sparkler on the person's head! All-in-all, this is an enjoyable way to spend 86 minutes if you are in the right frame of mind. Something Weird Video offers this film as a hidden extra on their AXE DVD. Grab it for a night's-worth of surreal entertainment. Now available on Blu-Ray from Code Red in a "Director's Cut", where it is said to be much more complete than the Something Weird version. Rated R.

FAST MONEY (1981) - Regional slice-of-life drug exploitationer, filmed in and around Austin, Texas, about drug smuggling across the Texas/Mexico border. J.D. (Sonny Carl Davis; WACKO - 1982) and Jessie (Marshall Ford) have a lucrative business delivering bales of marijuana and bricks of cocaine in their small plane. They also deal the drugs in the rural Texas town they live in and are also not above using the drugs themselves from time to time (never a good thing). They start spreading the super-strong pot around to their sub-dealers, including the extra-careful (some would say paranoid) Jimmy (Jimmy Seay), the laid-back Ernie (D. Dryden Arnsberger) and good-old-boy Buddy (Lou Perryman, a.k.a. "Lou Perry"; THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 - 1986), and soon they gain attention of some "Yankee" people up north, who show interest in distributing J.D.'s & Jessie's product on the East Coast. Jessie wants to retire from the drug running/selling business after this season ends, thanks to advice from retired smuggler Luther (John Martin), who tells Jessie to stop snorting cocaine, quit pushing his luck and "just do it" (He sounds like a Nike commercial). Their luck starts to turn bad when J.D. and Buddy make a big delivery to two East Coast yankees in a hotel room, but the northern clients make them drop the price drastically before they will buy it (they slice open five sacks of pot and will only buy two sacks unless they drop the price, leaving J.D. to explain to Jessie why three sacks of pot are cut open, so J.D. has no choice but to drop the price $1,000 a pound!). J.D.'s girlfriend, Nancy (Linda Wetherby), wants him to get a real job and quit the drug business. When she catches him dealing, she throws a bowl of mashed potatoes at him (J.D. tells a bartender, "I left the house when she started throwing canned goods!"). Jessie's cocaine use gets out of hand and he starts making terrible business decisions. He plans on making a drug run across the border that is twice the size of his previous trips. It involves two plane trips, which results in J.D. getting arrested by the D.E.A. at one makeshift airstrip and Bobby being followed carrying a truckload of dope by D.E.A. agent Burton (Tim Miller). Buddy loses Burton's tail and Jessie gets away thanks to expert pilot Dusty (Sammy Allred), but J.D. is booked and eventually makes bail. Burton, who is undercover, buys fifty pounds of marijuana from Ernie and then sets up a sting to nab Jessie and J.D. with their hands in the cookie jar. When Buddy has a truckload of pot stolen from him (and his friend murdered in the process) and J.D. is nearly nabbed in the drug sting, Jessie and J.D. decide to move to Mexico, but will they able to make it to their plane before Burton arrests them? Of course they do and they live happily ever after. I think I'm gonna be ill.  There's not much point to this film, directed and written by Douglas Holloway (Whose only other screen credit was as Associate Producer on director Eagle Pennell's debut film, THE WHOLE SHOOTIN' MATCH [1978], which stars many of the same actors that appear here. Pennell, who was this film's Director of Photography, would go on to much acclaim directing the terrific independent drama LAST NIGHT AT THE ALAMO [1983], starring Lou Perryman [who was murdered on April 1, 2009] and Sonny Carl Davis, both stars of this film), except to show a series of vignettes of Jessie, J.D. and their friends enjoying abusing cocaine, marijuana and booze and going about their daily business of dealing drugs. The film goes out of its way glorifying these people and their way of life, as they count their money, snort their lines of coke and go to discos to celebrate. Nowhere in this film do we see the damage their drugs do to society (Hey, I'm no prude. I've smoked my good share of pot and nearly destroyed my life on cocaine in the mid-80's, but I turned my life around. How many people didn't?). We're supposed to have feelings for these people, but it is a very hard sell, especially to anyone who has lost a loved one to drugs or has to deal with a junkie friend or family member. This film is not badly acted (Lou Perry really stands out), but the storyline, where the police are portrayed as a bunch of buffoons and the drug dealers as heroes (a product of the 70's/early-80's counterculture, but this is no SUPERFLY (1972) blaxploitation flick or Cheech & Chong comedy), just doesn't ring true, at least in my eyes. If a film like this were made today, it would be akin to portraying crack dealers as fine upstanding citizens. It just doesn't wash. This film would make a good double bill with 1977's IN HOT PURSUIT (a.k.a. POLK COUNTY POT PLANE), another big "fuck you law enforcement" flick that glorifies drug dealers. Music by Asleep At The Wheel. Also starring Doris Hargrave, Eric Henshaw and Rick Peeples. Originally available on VHS from U.S.A. Home Video as part of their "Sybil Danning's Adventure Video" sub-label. Not available on DVD. Rated R.

FLAVIA THE HERETIC (1974) - I have never been a fan of the Italian "nunsploitation" genre, as I find the antics of sex-crazed nuns unappealing to me (no matter how beautiful the are), but this film, which is one of the first films to give birth to the genre, is more like "Joan Of Arc" than a straight-up exploitation film, and, even though it has its share of exploitative moments, it plays more like a historical drama than it does a nunsploitation film. It could be because it was directed/produced/co-written by Gianfranco Mingozzi, who was better known for his many documentaries than for any other type of genre. Maybe that's why this film seems more like a chronicle of one person's life, told through her eyes, as she witnesses the worst that religion and politics (that go hand-in-hand in this film) than a sex-laden portrayal of a convent, which most nunsploitation flicks portray. Don't get me wrong; there is plenty of nudity and violence in this film, but the nudity is not there to titillate audiences and the violence is shown to relay to us just how bad it was in 1400's Europe, especially for women. FLAVIA THE HERETIC (shown in U.S. theaters in a severely edited form as FLAVIA PRIESTESS OF VIOLENCE, which is a totally misleading title, but that was the way advertising ran back then to put asses in the seats) opens in 1400 A.D., with the title female (Florinda Bolkan; LAST HOUSE ON THE BEACH - 1978) looking upon a field of dead enemy Muslims after a major battle. When she tries to give aid to a wounded Muslim soldier, her father (Diego Michelotti), a general who fought for the other side, decapitates the Muslim soldier and parades around with his head on a pike for all his soldiers to see. To teach Flavia a lesson for showing such insolence, he sends her to a convent in Portugal, where she has her hair sheared off like a sheep would (All the convent women's hair is used as hair for the statues of Christ as he is crucified on the cross, which the nuns manufacture. Women's hair on a holy man's statue. Does anyone see the irony in this?) and made to lie on a cold stone floor face-down for long periods of time, with her arms out to the side so that she looks like a crucifix. Flavia remains a rebel, for every time she looks at a religious fresco of a saint on one of the convent's wall, she see the image of a Muslim soldier coming to life to lead a battle. The convent gets a visit from the members of the Tarantula Cult, who act crazy (one of the head nuns says they act that way because they were bitten by tarantulas!), sexually writhing and dancing around the convent's religious statues and artifacts, a practice Flavia finds both strange and fascinating (consider them the 1400's version of the Charles Manson Family). Most of the nuns are repulsed watching these female cult members rubbing their naughty bits with their hands and religious objects, while a few other nuns are converted and join in the sexual shenanigans, baring their breasts and begging for the tarantulas to bite them, too. Flavia watches Sister Livia (Raika Juri), who is her friend, get into some lesbian activity with one of the cult members, but this turns out to be a trap by convent's Mother Superior (Jill Pratt; WATCH ME WHEN I KILL - 1977), who lets these loons enter the convent once a year to weed out the bad apprentice nuns, and then tortures the ones who don't follow the Scripture, by stringing them up with rope, making them sit in the hollowed-out carcass of an cow or by tying their hands behind their backs and twisting the rope tighter by using a wooden crucifix, while Mother Superior says, "You must pay for your sins!". Of course, Flavia is horrified to see such tactics used. Flavia's only friend outside the convent is Jewish peasant Abraham (Claudio Cassenelli; THE GREAT ALLIGATOR - 1979), who has discussions with Flavia about the first woman on Earth, which wasn't Eve, but "Lillith", who Abraham says was "made from the refuge of the Devil." Flavia questions why women have to be subservient to men and asks Abraham what would happen if a woman took the lead in a male-dominated society. Abraham really doesn't have an answer but it gets him thinking. While Flavia is walking back to the convent, she watches as some nuns castrate a horse (nothing is left to the imagination) and is appalled at what she just witnessed (There is so much symbolism in this film, the Blu-Ray should come with a booklet explaining them all!). When the Bishop and his guards pay a visit to the convent, Sister Livia is handed over to him, where he will have his Inquisition-like religious zealot guards torture her to death. Flavia then witnesses a French Duke (Spiros Focas) rape a defenseless peasant girl in a pig sty (Like I said, we need a symbolism guide) and when the Duke catches Flavia watching him doing the dirty deed (in more ways than one!), he threatens to rape her, too, telling her who would the Church believe, an influential French Duke or a nun? (In that era, the Duke would win every time). Flavia storms back to the convent and defiantly pulls the loincloth off the statue of Jesus and asks him, "Why... why? Why is God male? The Father the Son and the Holy Ghost - all male. Even the twelve apostles. All twelve of them - males." We are about to witness Flavia become the first true Feminist, but with a violent twist. Flavia watches at the top of the torture chamber (it has a large windowless hole in the top of the roof) as the Bishop and his guards torture Sister Livia by pouring boiling hot oil on her breasts and torso while she screams for mercy. When Flavia's father catches her watching the torture session, he tells his "cursed" daughter to return to the convent, but Flavia replies he is the cursed one because he and all the other men treat women worse than dogs. She tells her father that what they see happening below them would never happen to the French Duke for raping an innocent woman, so Daddy slaps Flavia hard across her face. They both watch as one of the torturers grabs one of Sister Livia's nipples with iron tongs and then slices it off with a dagger (The film's most graphic and wincing scene). This proves to be the proverbial straw that breaks Flavia's back. She is about to strike a blow for all womankind and it's going to be bloody. She asks Abraham to go far away with her because she has escaped the convent, like "Lilith escaped Adam." They end up at a beach on the ocean, where they barely escape the Bishop's search party (Abraham was under house arrest for committing heresy). They are eventually caught, though (just as virgin Flavia was going to give herself to Abraham), and Flavia is stripped, tied to a post and whipped repeatedly while her father watches (she spits in his direction as a sign of defiance). Abraham is thrown in a dungeon and not even tortured (he is a man after all). Flavia is brought back to the convent, where she has visions of picking up a sword, joining the Muslim army and fighting their oppressors. The once-cruel Mother Superior actually admires Flavia now, as she shares her feelings with her. She also thinks that it is a male-dominated world and the time has come for women to stand their ground. Flavia gets an even more heightened sense of empowerment from Mother Superior's words. She makes Flavia feel that the female of the species is the stronger of the sexes and when a Muslim army arrives by ship to attack the Church's army, Flavia joins "The Other World" and fights side-by-side with the handsome Ahmed (Anthony Corlan; VAMPIRE CIRCUS - 1972), the man in her visions, to destroy the Church and all it stands for, especially after she sees her father impale Mother Superior with a spear. Flavia's father is captured and as soon as Flavia and Ahmed lock eyes, they know they were meant for each other and he takes Flavia's virginity. After a lengthy battle in the village (where we see a friar impaled on a pike through his ass and out his neck), Flavia, Ahmed and the Muslim army head to the convent, where the nuns cower behind the bolted door. The army batters it down and Flavia heads into the convent on horseback, throwing a mace that sticks in the face of the fresco of their patron saint. Flavia points out the cruel nuns to the army and they kidnap them. Flavia now has the role of Bishop, as she holds a funeral for Mother Superior, while making her captive father watch. Flavia has the innocent girl earlier in the film try to rape the French Duke, but when it is apparent that the Duke is enjoying himself, he is bent over a barrel, butt-fucked by some guards and then castrated, like Flavia saw the horse castrated earlier in the film (The Duke is now a Duchess!). Flavia has another vision, where the fresco of the saint comes alive and pulls the mace off his face. Mother Superior rises from the dead as the blood of the saint flows onto a naked Ahmed's back. Jesus is no longer crucified on the cross. In his place are totally naked females, as are all the nuns, and the door of the convent opens with a blinding light behind it (There is too much symbolism in this scene to even describe in a review). Flavia wakes up with her hands covered in candle wax (showing she has had that vision for a loooong time) and discovers all the nuns are dead (some are hanged, some have their throats slit and others are impaled with spears). Flavia dons a suit of armor and joins the fight, where she discovers the Church has sent reinforcements to the village and Flavia's father is free. Flavia chases her father on horseback and watches as Ahmed's army pushes her father off the hole in the roof of the torture chamber, killing him. When Flavia discovers Abraham is still alive, she goes running to him, but a jealous Ahmed cuts off Abraham's head with a scimitar. Flavia discovers "The Other World" is no different than when she was living as a nun at the convent. She watches Ahmed and what is left of his army sail back to his homeland and Flavia is taken prisoner by the Church for treason. Her punishment is a particularly cruel and painful one: She has the skin just above both her ankles cut all around and is flayed alive by pulling her skin off her body from the ankles-up. She screams while an on-screen scrawl states that the idea behind this film came from the true story known as "The Martyrdom Of The 800 At Otranto" (Google it if you want to learn more).  While scenes in this film are exploitative, this really isn't an exploitation film. It is more of a historical document on the way women across the world were treated as less than human for centuries (Hell, women didn't get the right to vote in the United States until the 1920's!). Like I said in the beginning of this film, director Gianfranco Mingozzi made precious few fictional films, rather making documentaries right up until he passed away in 2009. That is why this film could play as a biography of a real person (it isn't though) because everything we see is through Flavia's eyes. But Italians being Italians, they certainly knew how to bastardize what was obviously a serious film and made many "nunsploitation" films (like Bruno Mattei's THE OTHER HELL [1980] and too many more to begin listing) that play the sex and violence angle purely for entertainment. I actually hate the genre (just like I despise "Naziploitation" films), which is why you see precious few of them reviewed on this web site. Released years ago in uncut widescreen form on DVD by Synapse Films (I'm not sure whether this ever had an official VHS release in the States), the Blu-Ray, from Scorpion Releasing, was taken from a brand new master print of the uncut version and it is flawless. If you want to see one of the first films to inspire the nunsploitation genre, but not wallow in exploitation and actually treat the subject matter seriously, then by all mean, FLAVIA THE HERETIC comes highly recommended. But if all you want to see is nuns having sex with each other, with priests and other men and then get slaughtered for entertainment value, look somewhere else. This is not that kind of film. Also starring Maria Casares, Franca Grey, Laura DeMarchi, Ciro Ippolito (future director of ALIENS 2: ON EARTH - 1980), Carla Mancini and Giuseppe Pertile as the Bishop. A Scorpion Releasing Blu-Ray Release. Not Rated.

FLY ME (1973) - Classic 70's sexploitation from Filipino director/producer Cirio H. Santiago (T.N.T. JACKSON - 1975; THE MUTHERS - 1976) about the romantic and dramatic exploits of three airline stewardesses: Toby (Pat Anderson), Andrea (Lenore Kasdorf) and newbie Sherry (Lyllah Torena). This is Sherry's first day on the job and she nearly misses her flight, but she manages to hail a cab in her bikini and changes her clothes in the back seat, causing the cabbie (played by genre vet Dick Miller) to nearly crash the taxi (he also refuses to charge her for the ride once they get to the airport!). On their flight to Hong Kong, Toby hooks-up with a good-looking doctor named Dave (Richard Young) and then finds out that her highly protective mother (Naomi Stevens), who is out to protect Toby's virginity, is also a passenger. When they land in Hong Kong, Andrea discovers that her boyfriend Donald (Ken Metcalfe) has disappeared. The apartment they shared three weeks earlier is now occupied by another couple and when she goes to see him at his place of business, his secretary tells Andrea that she hasn't heard from him in weeks, but that's not unusual for him. Andrea is followed and then attacked by a Chinese man dressed in black, but she beats him up with some awkward kung-fu moves. Dave and Toby try to have a good time in Hong Kong while trying to avoid Toby's meddlesome and disapproving mother (a job easier said than done), Sherry is kidnapped by Hong Kong drug dealers and Andrea makes a new friend in importer Rick Shaw (Leo Martinez). When Sherry doesn't show up for her flight to Tokyo the next morning, Toby and Andrea incredibly leave without her. Once in Tokyo (and after making love to Rick Shaw), Andrea goes to a Japanese garden to meet Donald, only to be attacked by two martial artists, which she beats up with the help of a blind man with a dart-firing cane! We then learn why Sherry was kidnapped. It seems she is a drug mule along with boyfriend Bill (Cole Mallard), but this time she only delivered half of her shipment and her bosses want the other half. Meanwhile, Dave and Toby are still trying to get some alone time, but Mama doesn't want her daughter popping her cherry with Dave (Yeah, Toby really is a virgin!). All the stories come together when Rick Shaw (Get it? Rickshaw?) confesses to Andrea that he's a British agent trying to bring down Donald, who is actually the head of a drug and white slavery cartel that Sherry was working for. Andrea agrees to work with Rick Shaw to bring down Donald and rescue Sherry. Toby's interfering mother accidentally gets herself and Toby mixed-up in a white slavery auction, where Dave rescues Toby and her mother and Andrea and Rick Shaw bring down Donald and save Sherry.  Although too much stuff goes on in such a short running time (72 minutes), director Cirio H. Santiago makes the most of Miller Drake's (INVASION EARTH: THE ALIENS ARE HERE - 1988) jumbled screenplay, tossing in plentiful topless female nudity, a dollop of martial arts (kung fu sequences directed by David Chow), a couple of bloody shootouts, some comedy and, of course, plenty of softcore sex scenes. This is just a breezy, quick-moving little exploitationer that delivers what it promises: naked women, action and a multi-tiered story that ties-up nicely in the finale. They just don't make 'em like this anymore and after directing COVER GIRL MODELS (1974), Santiago went on to make more action-oriented flicks that favored gunfights and violence over the sexploitation elements. Joe Dante gets an early screen credit here as Dialogue Director, as does Jonathan Demme, who is credited with the confusing credit "Film Direction" (actually Second Unit Director). Vic Diaz puts in a cameo as crooked police inspector Enriquez. Also starring Richard Roarke, Pat Munzon, Jack Davison, Carmen Barredo, Roger Lee, Buzz Albert, Daniel Faure and Ken Warren. Released theatrically by Roger Corman's New World Pictures and never given a legitimate home video release in the U.S. (the version I viewed came from a British VHS tape). Not available on DVD, although Shout! Factory did announce this as a future DVD title until they found out that the film elements they were given were in bad shape. Who knows, maybe they will release it with a warning about the print's condition. I know I would still buy it. Rated R.

FRANKENSTEIN ISLAND (1981) - Holy crap on a corncob pipe, this is one terrible film! So terrible, in fact, that it could probably cure cancer. Four people and a dog crash land on a remote island after their hot air balloon is destroyed by a hurricane (it all happens off-screen). After a cursory search of the island, they run into a tribe of bikini clad amazons who take them back to their camp , where they wash them (!), feed them and put on a show where they gyrate like strippers looking for a dollar bill. The next day the girls take the men on a little hike when one of the girls is abducted by one of the pirates that has lived on the island for years. The pirates take the men to the "Valley of the Sun" where they meet Jayson (Cameron Mitchell), a captain of a wrecked ship who has been held prisoner on the island for 17 years. By now he is quite mad, babbling on about "red corpuscles" and Edgar Alan Poe while one of the pirates sedates him by sticking a large hypo needle in the top of his head. The men are then taken to a mansion where they meet Sheila Frankenstein (Katherine Victor) and she tells the men she wants them to impregnate the amazons so the island can have some new blood. She then takes them to her husband's laboratory, where they see brains under glass, a force of mindless robots (who wear cheap sunglasses and wool ski caps), learn that the island was once visited by aliens and meet Sheila's bedridden husband, Dr. Van Helsing (George Mitchell). There's also genetically produced giant vegetables, robot boxing, kung fu fighting, somebody with a plastic devil's pitchfork who performs a supernatural ritual and, every once in a while, the superimposed image of Dr. Frankenstein (John Carradine) pops-up on screen to shout, "The power! The power!" What does this all mean? I haven't got a fucking clue. All I know is that it's howlingly bad. Did I forget to mention that Frankenstein's Monster appears at the end for no other reason than to give this film a reason to end? The final battle in the laboratory looks like it was choreographed by Stevie Wonder.  Being directed by 50's and 60's cheapsploitation expert Jerry Warren (MAN BEAST - 1955; THE WILD WORLD OF BATWOMAN - 1966), it comes as no surprise that this film has the look and feel of an early 60's production as there is no blood, nudity or foul language, just a music soundtrack that consists of library cues, tons of cheap cardboard sets and dime store props (check out those Don Post skulls!). Warren also populates the film with 50's and 60's B-actors. Besides the already-mentioned Mitchell, Carradine and Victor, we also have Robert Clarke (HIDEOUS SUN DEMON - 1959), Steve Brodie (DONOVAN'S BRAIN - 1953) and Andrew Duggan (IT'S ALIVE - 1973). The screenplay (by Jaques Lacouter) makes absolutely no sense and seems to throw in all the old-time horror and sci-fi conventions (mad scientists, aliens, illicit experimants, ray guns, voodoo rituals, monster on the loose, etc.) in hopes of keeping you entertained. It's as if Jerry Warren wanted to make one more film (this was his last, he died in 1988) to remind us of the good old days of cheap exploitation films. Unfortunately, FRANKENSTEIN ISLAND contains all of the bad elements and none of the good. This is too boring to even have novelty value. What a waste. There's an extra on the DVD where Katherine Victor reminisces about the making of the film. It runs about three minutes. I guess there wasn't a lot to reminisce about. Also starring Robert Christopher, Tain Bodkin, Patrick O'Neil and Melvin the wonder dog. A Retromedia Entertainment DVD Release. Rated PG.

GATOR BAIT II: CAJUN JUSTICE (1988) - The original GATOR BAIT (1974) was an exploitation classic, thanks to the beautiful Claudia Jennings' gutsy performance as a woman out for revenge against a bunch of backwoods scumbags. Since Ms. Jennings unfortunately died in an auto accident in 1979 (it was a big loss for the exploitation community and filmmaking in general), returning directors/producers/screenwriters Ferd & Beverly Sebastian (THE HITCH-HIKERS - 1972; BLOODY FRIDAY - 1973; FLASH AND THE FIRECAT - 1976; ROCKTOBER BLOOD - 1984) hoped that lightning would strike twice by making this belated sequel, but the results are less than satisfactory. The film opens with Angelique (Jan MacKenzie), a big city woman who moves to Cajun country to marry her sweetheart Big T. (Tray Loren). The wedding is crashed by Leroy (Paul Muzzcat) and four of his backwoods hick friends (They all make normal hillbillies look like proper gentlemen, especially when one of them complains, "We'll scare up some new city pussy. The pussy around here smells like catfish!"). Leroy and his friends paw at the women, eat the wedding cake and make general nuisances of themselves until Big T. and his groomsmen show Leroy and his posse a little Cajun hospitality (in other words, they beat the snot out of them). Angelique and Big T. escape in their powerboat for their "honeymoon", but Cajun tradition dictates that his friends try to stop them from having sex that night (a tradition that was also practiced in NIGHTMARE HONEYMOON - 1973), so they chase the happy couple down the river, but Big T.'s boat is too fast and his friends are too drunk. There's also bad blood between Big T. and Leroy, because ten years earlier, Leroy raped and killed Big T.'s sister, so Big T. shot him and left him to die in the swamp, but "the swamp didn't want him" and Leroy survived. Big T. teaches city girl Angelique how to handle snakes (he has a bunch of rattlesnakes as pets), how to use a shotgun, how to call an alligator and how to defend herself in hand-to-hand combat, all skills she will have to use shortly to save her life. One day, while Big T. is away attending to his traps in the bayou, Leroy and his scuzzball friends pay Angelique a visit, first ogling her from afar as she takes a bath on the deck of their riverside home (it's really more of a shack) and then humiliate her for way too long (it's really disappointing how many exploitation elements are ignored here, as rather than making her take her clothes off, they sexually abuse her while she is clad in a towel and then Leroy makes her put on a pair of panties and a bodice!). When Leroy finally decides it's time to rape her, Big T. shows up and Leroy shoots him in the back and ties his not-yet-dead body to a tree stump in the swamp (it's payback for what happened ten years earlier). Leroy and his dentally-challenged gang kidnap Angelique and bring her back to their hideout, chain her up and take turns raping her (offscreen). Angelique escapes, thanks to Luke (Brad Kepnick), a member of Leroy's gang who thinks that all this is wrong. Angelique uses every trick Big T. taught her to exact revenge on these bayou hicks. Don't worry, Big T. shows up in the nick of time to blow Leroy away before he can stab Angelique in her "city pussy".  GATOR BAIT II: CAJUN JUSTICE is just one missed opportunity after another. It's as if Ferd & Beverly Sebastian tried to make a revenge actioner without any of the basic ingredients that fans of the genre have come to expect. The nudity is kept to a minimum, most of the violence (including the rapes) is kept offscreen and Leroy couldn't be any less scary as the main villain. The Sebastians played their cards way too close to their vests, like they didn't want the MPAA breathing down their necks with imposed cuts (although Luke's throat-slitting by Leroy does look to be edited). A clear 40% of the film is of people steering their boats through the Louisiana bayou and while that may be beautiful travelogue footage, it goes on for far too long. Jan MacKenzie and Tray Loren have some nice, easy-going charisma with each other (much of their dialogue seems improvised and real), but Paul Muzzcat and his gang couldn't be more stereotypical, including Geke (Reyn Hubbard), who's a long-haired, trucker hat-wearing, stuttering retard. This is nothing but a pale imitation of the original GATOR BAIT and Jan MacKenzie (who has a nice body) lacks Claudia Jennings' natural intensity. It's hard to imagine that a city girl like Angelique could suddenly turn superwoman and beat five guys, who were raised on the bayou, at their own game. GATOR BAIT II is all build-up and no pay-off. It's like getting bitten by a snake with no fangs. Also starring Jerry Armstrong, Ben Sebastian, Rocky Dugas and Keith Gros. Originally released on VHS and Laserdisc by Paramount Home Video. Not available on DVD. Rated R.

GIRLS ARE FOR LOVING (1973) - Third and final entry in the "Ginger" series of sexploitation/action films (following GINGER [1971] and THE ABDUCTORS [1972]). When three bad guys parachute into the mountains and invade a ski chalet, they force a couple to strip, tie the naked girl to a tree (where she is raped and then shot dead with a rifle), kidnap the guy and blow-up the chalet with dynamite. Super-secret agent/singing star Ginger McAllister (Cheri Caffaro; SAVAGE SISTERS - 1974) is hired to go undercover and seduce bigshot swinger James L. Whitney III (Scott Ellsworth), who the U.S. government thinks is next on the kidnappers' list. The head of the kidnappers, Ronnie St. Clair (Jocelyn Peters), "questions" the first kidnapped man by tying his ankles to a cement block in the middle of a swimming pool and shooting a pistol at him until he gives up Whitney's name (he has important information on Asian trade routes that Ronnie needs for some reason or another) and then puts a bullet in the middle of his forehead for his trouble. Ginger, who is working on this case with FBI agent Clay Bowers (Timothy Brown; SWEET SUGAR - 1972; BONNIE'S KIDS - 1972), begins to seduce Whitney when he visits an exclusive ski resort, but when one of Clay's fellow agents is blown-up while tobogganing (!) down a ski slope, it's apparent that Ronnie (who is also a guest at the lodge) is beginning to thin out the good guys before she kidnaps her target. Ginger is able to get in bed with Whitney rather easily (she sings a couple of songs and does a fluorescent striptease at the lodge's cocktail lounge [while Ms. Caffaro has a smoking hot body, her musical talents are far less than stellar]) and, while they are making love, two of Ronnie's kidnappers break into their room. Ginger and Whitney are able to overpower them (in a highly awkward fight sequence), but Ronnie kidnaps an Asian ambassador that accompanied Whitney on his trip. With Ginger's cover blown, Whitney spills the beans on the importance of the Asian trade route info he has in his possession, which leads Ginger, Clay and Whitney to the island of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, where Ronnie has her base of operations. Whitney is easily kidnapped by Ronnie's men (Ginger is really not such a great bodyguard), so Ginger and Clay try to rescue him, but time and time again Ronnie gets the upper hand, both physically and politically. In the finale, Ginger gets her revenge by tying up Ronnie and having Whitney rape her, a final going away present to remind Ronnie what she'll be missing for the next twenty years she'll be spending behind bars!  As an action film, GIRLS ARE FOR LOVING is so bad, it's laughable. The fight scenes look like they were made up on the spot, as they are terribly choreographed and executed. As bad a singer as Ms. Caffaro is, it pales in comparison to her awful martial arts moves. Thankfully, director/screenwriter Don Schain , who also directed the first two Ginger films, as well as A PLACE CALLED TODAY (1972) and TOO HOT TO HANDLE (1976), all starring Caffaro, had the good sense to have Cheri Caffaro topless or totally naked during most of her fight scenes. As a matter of fact, both Caffaro and Jocelyn Peters (in her only feature film appearance) spend most of their screen time either topless, naked or wearing the smallest amount of clothing possible, which makes this film a treat for the eyes but not the ears (You know a film is in trouble when the best acting comes from 70's exploitation staple Timothy Brown!). Another plus in favor of this film is the respect Ronnie shows for Ginger, giving the film a rare pro-feminist viewpoint, unseen in most films of this type except for blaxploitation films of the 70's with strong female characters. Still, GIRLS ARE FOR LOVING fails as an action film. Ginger tries to be a female James Bond, but it's hard to copy someone when your budget is less than one of Bond's shaken, not stirred, martinis. This is for nudity fanatics only and while that not necessarily a bad thing, this film could have been so much more with a little more attention paid to the action sequences. Also starring Fred Vincent, Robert C. Jefferson and Rod Loomis. Available on VHS & DVD from Monterey Home Video. When this was released to theaters in 1973, it went out without a rating ("Recommended For Mature Audiences"), which is basically the same as a self-imposed X-Rating without having a mandatory MPAA-issued X-Rating slapped on the advertising materials. It would still have a hard time getting an R-Rating today without some trimming, especially during a rape scene near the finale. Not Rated.

GIRLS ON THE ROAD (1972) - Two young girls, Karen (Dianna Hull) and Debbie (Kathleen Cody), hit the wide-open road in search of kicks, ignoring the fact that a serial killer is murdering young women along the beach of California's Big Sur. They rent a car, drive recklessly (a cop gives Karen a ticket for throwing her bra out the window) and fuck with the heads of a series of hitch-hikers (including two gay guys), nearly hitting one guy on the side of the road. These girls are nothing but two spoiled brats who only care about themselves. Also on the road hitch-hiking is recently-released manic depressive Army soldier Will (Michael Ontkean), who we see in the beginning of the film beating up two guys playing pool in a bar for no reason at all, after having a flashback (which he has frequently) with his Army psychiatrist (who releases Will after telling him that the Army has done all they can). Will may also be the serial killer on the loose. Karen and Debbie pick up Will and he brings them to the Institute For Human Potential, a hippie encounter group run by Will's old friend John (Ralph Waite). John tells Will to ditch the Army uniform ("It's a false identity.") if he wants to stay at the Institute. Karen and Debbie catch the eye of The Maker (John McMurtry), a creepy Institute teacher and old Army buddy of Will's. The trio then go to Debbie's parents' beach house, where a bunch of hippies are squatting. One of them knocks out Will and they take off. When Will comes to, he grabs his gun and goes after them. When nighttime comes and Will doesn't return, Debbie and Karen go back to the Institute looking for him. John returns with them to the beach house, where they find a groggy Will waiting by the door. John invites the girls to come back to the Institute in the morning and walks back to the Institute. Karen goes by herself to the Institute the next morning (She says, "I feel loved!" after the encounter group lifts her up in the air in unison), while Will and Debbie spend some alone time on the beach. That night, one of the Institute's women, Frances (Pamela Serpe), is murdered. Karen takes off her top and makes a play for Will, but he rebuffs her. Will returns to the Institute, where The Maker accuses him of killing Frances. We then find out who the killer really is, but stupid girls Karen and Debbie shoot Will with his own gun. The killer (who has a hatchet) meets the girls outside the beach house, we hear a shot and then see a freeze-frame of the killer's face. The End.  This early 70's exploitation film, directed by Thomas J. Schmidt (his only directorial effort; he died at age 35 in 1975), is a severely-dated road movie full of long-haired hippies in bell bottom pants, hippies in communes and hippies being hassled by the fuzz. There were so many hippies, I nearly broke out the bug spray. Much of the film's philosophies (free love, going braless, homosexuality) seem archaic and simple-minded today as do the scenes of body painting and group encounters (not to mention the "far-out" dialogue). Scripters Michel Levesque (who also directed WEREWOLVES ON WHEELS [1971] and the WIP flick SWEET SUGAR [1972]), Larry Bischof and Gloria Goldsmith have crafted a story that spends way too much time on the commune life and not enough time on the murder mystery. Once we get the reveal on who the real killer is, it's way too late to care. Karen and Debbie care nothing about anyone's feelings and cocktease every man they run across, never putting out for anyone. I was hoping these two girls would get abused in some way to teach them a lesson but, except for the oblique ending, they do very much what they please and get away with it. For a film about free love, there's precious little nudity and there's even less blood. It also doesn't help that the sound is out of synch for almost half the running time (a mastering problem on the Unicorn VHS tape). This film is only of interest if you want to see an early film appearance by Michael Ontkean (who would do TV's THE ROOKIES next) and watch Papa Walton himself, Ralph Waite, sporting dashikis, spouting inane hippie psychobabble and trying to get it on with Karen. It's not a pretty sight. Also starring Michael Kopsche, Elizabeth Saxon, Paul Sorensen, Cliff Emmich and a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo from Uschi Digard. The clever opening credits are shown as a series of bumper stickers, hand-painted signs and graffiti on a wall. Also known as HOT SUMMER WEEK. Released to theaters by Joe Solomon's Fanfare Corporation (THE LOSERS - 1970). A Unicorn Video VHS Release. Also available as part of Anchor Bay's GOLDEN AGE OF LEATHER Vol. 2 VHS box set and a DVD in its original OAR from Scorpion Releasing. Rated PG.

GOD'S BLOODY ACRE (1975) - Three hillbilly brothers live on a piece of land deep in the forest. When the National Forest Service decides to build a camping site on their squatted land, the hillbillies, led by big brother Monroe (Thomas Wood), fight back. After throwing stones at a worker clearing trees with a bulldozer, an accident occurs when the worker is cut in half with his own bulldozer blade. Figuring that it is too late to turn back, the hillbillies declare war on anyone who sets foot on their land, including a burnt-out government contractor (Wayne Crawford using the pseudonym "Scott Lawrence"), an obnoxious couple in an RV, and a young woman with sexual problems (Jennifer Gregory). The hillbillies boobytrap the forest, setting up deadly snares and other devices to kill their human prey. When one of the brothers rapes the married woman in the RV, she grabs a shotgun and kills Monroe. The two remaining brothers slit her throat and hang her husband. After witnessing what the brothers have done, Crawford and Gregory are pursued through the forest. Deciding that he has had enough, Crawford turns the tables, making the hunters the hunted. He plants a wooden stake into one brother's chest and bites the other one in the neck, severing his jugular. Mistaking Crawford as one of the hillbillies, Gregory stabs him in the stomach with a sharpened stick as he runs back to her. Some nice way to thank him for saving her life! Director Harry Kerwin shot this film in Florida, where he also made MY THIRD WIFE GEORGE (1968), IT'S A REVOLUTION MOTHER (1968), SWEET BIRD OF AQUARIUS (1970), TOMCATS (1976), BARRACUDA (1977) and others. Actor Thomas Wood is actually William Kerwin, Harry's brother, and has appeared in many films by the notorious H.G. Lewis, including BLOOD FEAST (1963), TWO THOUSAND MANIACS (1964) and A TASTE OF BLOOD (1967) as well as PLAYGIRL KILLER (1965 - a.k.a. DECOY FOR TERROR), THE NAKED ZOO (1969) and most of his brother's films. He died in 1989. Wayne Crawford has made a career in appearing in Grade Z actioners, including the weird SOMETIMES AUNT MARTHA DOES DREADFUL THINGS (1971), JAKE SPEED (1986), QUIET THUNDER (1987), WHITE GHOST (1988), THE EVIL BELOW (1989), REBEL STORM (1990) and SNAKE ISLAND (2002). As an example of regional filmmaking, GOD'S BLOODY ACRE is pretty good. It contains enough blood and nudity to hold your attention and is not badly acted. You could do a lot worse. A Trans World Entertainment VHS Release. Also released on DVD by Code Red. Rated R.

THE GREAT HOLLYWOOD RAPE-SLAUGHTER (1971/1974) - Film school graduate Steve Ford (Michael Plamondon, who also co-scripted) heads for Hollywood with his "perfect" script with hopes of hitting the big time. He puts an ad for work in Variety and gets a response from Mr. Burns (John Dennis of GARDEN OF THE DEAD - 1972), a producer of porn (posters with titles like WIFE SWAPPERS and THE OBSCENE COUCH adorn his office walls). After showing Steve some of the shitty porn films he is forced to make, Mr. Burns offers Steve a chance to make "classy shit", or porn films with a sense of style and tells Steve that if this arrangement works out, he will finance Steve's script. Steve watches as hack director Richards (John Streck) makes a classless porn film (One girl eats M&Ms while being fucked!), so Steve tells Mr. Burns he'll make a porn film for him as long as he has script approval and can hire his own cameraman. Mr. Burns agrees, so Steve hires friend Charlie (Jay Neale) to handle the camera and they both go to sleazy casting agent Hammer (J. Streak) to hire four girls that can handle "dialogue" and two guys that can "act". When Steve's wife Holly (Betty Jean Smith) finds out what kind of film Steve is making, she's none too pleased and somewhat jealous. When Steve and Charlie begin making their porno film, they find they have to deal with tempermental actresses, time overages and hard luck stories from the cast and crew (usually involving money). Steve slowly begins to lose his mind when Holly leaves him and when he catches one of the film's producers raping sixteen year-old porn star wannabe Giselle (Sandra Golden) in a motel room. Steve goes to Mr. Burn's office and tells him he quits (He says to Burns, "You're a porno maker. You'll never get any higher in this business than a woman's crotch!"). Burns flips out and hits Steve over the head with a booze bottle, then he and his gun-toting associate kick the shit out of Steve. In the films "What The Fuck?" finale, some beefy musclebound guy in a BILLY JACK hat pulls up on a motorcycle to a motel room where an orgy is going on, bursts through the door and kills everyone with a shotgun and a six-shooter. He then straps the dead body of a girl to the back of his motorcycle (after chastising her for getting an abortion!) and rides away. The final shots reveals that this is nothing but a scene from a movie that Steve is shooting, as we see the cameraman (an early appearance by PM Entertainment co-founder Richard Pepin) giving him the OK sign, the shot is in the can. Steve finally has hit the big time (even though the guy playing "Steve" in this scene is not Michael Plamondon!). This obscure softcore exploitation flick purportedly shows what it was like to make an adult film. As someone that worked behind the scenes of several porn films during the late 70's, I can say with certainty that this film has a modicum of truth to it, but most of it is strictly fantasy. This film portrays pornography films as a Producer's medium and that may be true, but I never met a producer quite as giving and co-operative to an untested director like Mr. Burns is here. He never talks money (at least specific dollar amounts). Director/producer/co-scripter Charles Edward (He later changed his name to "Charles Brosseau-Fisher" and made a little-seen film called FROZEN HOT in 1999, which has yet to find a distributor) shot this film under the title HARDCORE BLUES in 1971, but got so pissed that people said he looked like Billy Jack during the release of THE TRIAL OF BILLY JACK in 1974, that he shot the non-sensical ending with himself playing "Billy Jacki" as a slap in the face to the late Tom Laughlin, seems to imply that porn films are a necessary means to an end. Steve, just like nearly every film school grad, has written the perfect script, but can't get anyone to read it because he also insists on directing it, too. So, Steve bites the bullet and agrees to direct a hardcore porn film and, even though he loses his wife and gets beaten up, he still manages to make his dream movie in the end (I'm surprised Tom Laughlin didn't sue, because Charles Edwards at the end looks the spitting image of BILLY JACK and one female character even calls him Billy!). The sentiment is a little naive, but it gets it's point across thanks to the final shot. The short (61 minute) ultra-low-budget film is full of both male and female full frontal nudity, but nothing that approaches hardcore and contains one head-scratching scene where Steve and Charlie are filming a guy in a fake moustache (actually star Michael Plamondon), fucking a woman while wearing a top hat that has "SUPER BALL" (the film's alternate title) written on it. As he holds a woman's legs apart with her vagina close to his face, all we hear on the soundtrack is a woman whispering, "Super Ball! Super Ball!" over and over. I'm still trying to figure that one out. The violence in this film is tame (the slaughter scene at the end never shows anyone directly getting shot, except when Bill shoots an injured man in the head after he props his body on a woman to simulate sex) and the music is by The Rings, who sing of the "Lowdown Hardcore Blues". Only of interest to those that like obscure softcore flicks with a little (very little) violence thrown in. The acting is not that bad, though. Also starring Clay Hollister, Ron Darby, Gwen Tanney, Karen Sonjohn, Nancy Woods and Sue Marlino (and, no, singer Linda Ronstadt is nowhere to be found here, no matter what the ad mats say). An Alpha Blue Archives Video Release. Reportedly, there is a reel missing from Alpha Blue's print, but I doubt that reel would change my opinion about this film. Not Rated.

THE GREAT TEXAS DYNAMITE CHASE (1975) - Candy Morgan (Claudia Jennings) breaks out of prison and the first thing she does is hold up the Alpine Bank by walking in holding a lit stick of dynamite. Just-fired bank teller Ellie-Jo Turner (Jocelyn Jones) gives Candy all the bank's money and becomes excited by the experience. After Candy hands over all the stolen loot to her father to save the family farm, she hightails it out of town, where she picks up a hitch-hiking Ellie-Jo. They hit it off immediately and Ellie-Jo convinces Candy to hold up another bank using dynamite. Their first attempt is disasterous, as the sticks of dynamite they use turn out to be duds, which leads to a car chase with the police. After blowing up a police car with their last good stick of dynamite, the girls get away and look for a place to buy dynamite that actually works. They find it by going to construction foreman Jake (Chris Pennock), who gives them a crate of TNT and a shotgun after Candy screws him (and tells him the truth). Their next bank job goes off without a hitch (it's pretty ingenious, actually), even though they get pulled over for speeding on the outskirts of town (what Candy and Ellie-Jo do to the cop is quite funny). After reading in the papers that they are also wanted on trumped-up charges of killing a bank teller, they decide to get even by robbing the next bank they run across (It's the New World Bank, a tip of the hat to New World Pictures, who distributed this.). Finding that the bank is closed (because they crossed into a different time zone), they go to a grocery store where Ellie-Jo is caught shoplifting, forcing the girls to take Slim (Johnny Crawford) hostage in order to make their escape. Slim quickly becomes a part of the gang (and love interest for Ellie-Jo), first as a "hostage" in the bank holdups and later as an active participant. Things take a serious turn when Slim is shot and killed by two policemen when he and Ellie-Jo are having a picnic, forcing Candy to kill the two cops. Candy and Ellie-Jo pull off one last bank job, but it turns out to be a police setup. Candy is shot and wounded during the getaway. The last we see the duo, they are on horseback, crossing the border into Mexico.  This is classic 70's exploitation all the way, thanks to the constant nudity of Jocelyn Jones (TOURIST TRAP - 1979) and the late Claudia Jennings (TRUCK STOP WOMEN - 1974; SISTERS OF DEATH - 1977) and the comical action scenes. Director Michael Pressman (DOCTOR DETROIT - 1983; TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II - 1991) clearly knows how to please the audience, as he doles out nudity, comedy and action in equal amounts. As always, Claudia Jennings (who died much too young in a tragic car accident in 1979) proves to be a good actress, both in and out of clothes. Her chemistry with co-star Jones (they look enough alike to be sisters) is near-perfect and both make a believable team of bank robbers and heartbreakers. Jones' on-screen romance with Johnny Crawford (a former Mousketeer, 50's & 60's TV star [THE RIFLEMAN] and Top 40 musician [1962's "Cindy's Birthday"]) is also spot-on, which only makes it all the more disturbing for the audience when he is killed. The radical shift from comedy to tragedy late in the film throws the viewer for a loop and, while the screenplay (by David Kirkpatrick) may seem broad at times (the fancy hotel scene panders to every schoolboy's fantasy of a threesome in a bathtub), it is very entertaining. While the ending is a little abrupt for my liking (on-screen text tells us both of their fates), what transpires before it is pure 70's drive-in entertainment at it's finest. Films like this are what turned me into a fan of exploitation when I was growing up in the 70's. Also known as DYNAMITE WOMEN. Also starring Tara Strohmeier, Bart Braverman, Stefan Gierasch and Eric Boles. Originally available on VHS from Warner Home Video in one of their huge clamshell cases. Available on DVD from Roger Corman's New Concorde Home Video and also an a triple feature 2-DVD set from Shout! Factory, which also includes GEORGIA PEACHES (1980) and SMOKEY BITES THE DUST (1981). Rated R.

GUESS WHAT HAPPENED TO COUNT DRACULA? (1969) - What a ridiculously weird and cheap film. Vampire Count Adrian (Des Roberts, who also composed the film's music score) runs an underground nightclub in his castle called Dracula's Dungeon (the nightclub is only accessible by asking the "Sacred Owl" for entrance, where a hidden bookcase door opens to allow entry). Count Adrian has his eye on new customer Angelica (Claudia Barron), but her boyfriend Guy (John Landon) never leaves her side. Angelica senses something is wrong ("It's like I'm being drawn to a coffin!"), so Guy reluctantly takes her home ("You're acting like a child. You ruined the whole evening!"). Count Adrian follows Angelica and Guy back to her pad and, after checking for boogey men under her bed, Guy leaves and almost immediately Count Adrian materializes in her home. Angelica faints and the Count puts the bite on her. Angelica goes to Dr. Harris (Roger Branche), who tells her that's she's anemic and jokingly says to have her boyfriend quit biting her on the neck during sex play. He playfully remarks that the puncture marks on her neck look like a vampire attack and, from that moment on, Angelica becomes obsessed with vampires. Count Adrian (who we find out is the son of Count Dracula) is having somewhat of an internal struggle in his castle with his manservant Igor (Danny Lester) and they have a battle of psychic wills (insert cheap opticals here), where Igor loses and ends up caged like an animal. Angelica's friends invade her home for an impromptu party and Count Adrian shows up. Angelica complains that she has a severe migraine, so Adrian hypnotizes her with a medallion he wears around his neck and her migraine goes away. Angelica and Adrian hit it off (he mentions "necrophilia", but she's never heard of the word before) and she invites him over the next night for a juicy steak dinner for two. Later that night, Angelica has a bad nightmare involving rats and running down an endless corridor, right after she looks up "necrophilia" in the dictionary and goes, "Ewwww!" The Count returns that night and bites her neck once again, but not before telling her that she will be her bride and live forever. Guy becomes worried when he notices Angelica's pale skin, her aversion to sunlight, her appetite for raw meat and her fear of the crucifix he wears around his neck. Can Guy and Dr. Harris save Angelica in time before she becomes Count Adrian's eternal vampire bride? Does she even want to be saved? A surprise reveal in the finale proves Guy is not the good guy he was pretending to be.  This ultra-low-budget horror comedy, directed, produced and written by Laurence Merrick (BLACK ANGELS - 1970 [also starring Des Roberts]; MANSON - 1973), has the production values and acting talent of a porn film of the time period. It should come as no surprise then to learn that this is a PG-rated edit (which would explain some of the jump cuts here) of a far more sexually explicit film titled DOES DRACULA REALLY SUCK?, which also contained more violence and, unfortunately, seems to be a lost film. It was also edited into a gay feature called DRACULA AND THE BOYS (which also seems to be lost). The PG edit still contains enough weirdness to keep the viewer entertained, including Des Roberts' portrayal of Count Adrian (who looks like Abraham Lincoln, if Lincoln were a vampire!), who slips in and out of his Bela Lugosi accent so often, it can't be accidental; a voodoo ceremony where someone eats a (obviously rubber) lizard ("I have eaten the lizard! I am the lizard! Macumba!"); a gorilla in a cage; a real pet tiger; a cackling old hag tarot card reader; and a head-scratchingly funny scene where Dr. Harris and his nurse throw double-entendres at each other ("Do you wanna do it on my desk?"), only to reveal that they are about to play a game of chess (I'm sure that scene played a lot differently in the sexually explicit version!). I must say that I enjoyed this little slice of cheese more than I should have, but it is just funny, strange and short enough (78 minutes) to hold interest. The opening and closing credits are written in an old book with flipping pages. Also starring Frank Donato, Yvonne Gaudry, Damu King, Jim Settler, Angela Carnon, Nancy Simpson, John King, Gene Stowell and Jeff Cady. Available on VHS by Something Weird Video (in a pretty battered print) and also available on DVD from SWV as part of a double feature with DRACULA, THE DIRTY OLD MAN (1969). Rated PG (originally GP).

GUYANA: CRIME OF THE CENTURY (1979) - Less than a year after the horrendous November 18, 1978 Jonestown Massacre in Guyana, Mexican director Rene Cardona Jr. (NIGHT OF A THOUSAND CATS - 1972; BEAKS: THE MOVIE - 1987) churned-out this grisly quickie, a fictionalized account of the events than contains enough core truths to make it an uncomfortable viewing experience. But don't write-off this film just yet, because it has a bunch of slightly less-than A-list actors giving their all in what should be a turgid, sensationalized b-flick, but is highly watchable nonetheless. Stuart Whitman (DEMONOID - 1981) is excellent as the sweaty, seersucker and sunglasses-wearing Reverend James Johnson, who moves his flock of trusting human sheep of all races and colors from San Francisco, California to a tract of land he owns in Guyana after telling them that the United States is a den of sinful inequity, full of fornication, drugs and violence that would surely turn their children into the devil's disciples (In truth, Jim Jones was being investigated by the IRS and he needed to move to a country where his "church' could not be touched by the U.S.). He moves his large congregation, which includes families with children, to a 27,000 acre tract of undeveloped land dubbed "Johnsontown", where everyone toils long hours on agricultural farms (they don't know that Johnson is spiking their food with "stimulants") while Johnson spews his psycho-religious diatribes over a loudspeaker ("All those who oppose Johnson's Temple oppose me! And those that oppose me oppose God! They shall die in shame and sin and feel the mighty flow of God's wrath! And that Judgment Day, I will make them pay!"). While most of his flock believe everything that comes out of his mouth, there are a few people who grow tired of working long hours with little food (he has three young children brutally tortured for stealing food) and when they try to escape, they are whipped in front of everyone else as a warning. As the Reverend's behavior grows more bizarre (thanks to his addiction to painkillers) and his punishments grow more severe (he forces one teen boy to have sex with a man when he is caught having sex with a teen girl), the U.S. government sends a convoy of politicians and reporters, including Congressman Lee O'Brien (Gene Barry; WAR OF THE WORLDS - 1953), to make sure that the people of Johnsontown are being treated properly and not being held by force. This leads to a massacre of the reporters when Johnson doesn't believe Congressman O'Brien and his entourage have fallen for the ruse (Johnson dresses his flock in new clothes and makes sure plenty of healthy food is on view, a stark contrast of what is really going on there). When news of the massacre reaches the outside world, Johnson sees no other recourse than to have his entire congregation drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid (those that refuse are forced to drink or shot), which leads to one of the largest mass suicides in modern history and one of the most horrific examples of religious zealotry ever witnessed by human eyes.  Titled GUYANA: CULT OF THE DAMNED when released to theaters in the U.S. by Universal Studios and edited down to a 90 minute R-rated edition from its original 114 minute cut (to tighten the narrative and remove some of the more seedier aspects of the film), the version released by VCI Entertainment on DVD is a longer edit (107 minutes), but is still missing some of the more extreme bits of violence (While this version restores some of the footage of the three young children being tortured [by snakes, drowning and spikes], it omits most of the blood). Director/producer Rene Cardona Jr., who co-wrote the screenplay with Carlos Valdemar, manages to touch on most of the widely known facts about Jim Jones and Jonestown, but takes many liberties with the true story (especially when it comes to what the reporters uncover on their visit to Johnsontown and Johnson's punishment of the unfaithful). While Stuart Whitman is appropriately sleazy as Johnson (it one of his best roles in the latter part of his career) and the film manages to entertain on a b-level, if you really want to view an effective retelling of the Jonestown massacre and the events that led up to it, try watching the two-part 1980 miniseries THE GUYANA TRAGEDY: THE STORY OF JIM JONES with Powers Boothe as Jones. That film will leave a huge knot in your stomach, whereas this film is nothing but cheap exploitation fare that was quickly churned-out to cash-in on the then-recent events, while it was still fresh on everyone's mind. Also starring John Ireland, Joseph Cotten, Bradford Dillman, Yvonne DeCarlo, Jennifer Ashley, Nadiuska, Tony Young, Robert DoQui and Hugo Stiglitz. Quite a cast for such a cheap film. The widescreen print used for the VCI Entertainment DVD is overly dark, especially in the night scenes, making some of the action (especially Ms. DeCarlo's death) hard to see. Not Rated.

THE GUY FROM HARLEM (1976) - Here's a blaxploitation flick that makes any film starring Rudy Ray Moore look like high-end entertainment. Former Harlem detective Al Connors (Loye Hawkins) is now a Miami-based private dick. He is visited by old CIA buddy David McLeod (Vaughn Harris) and partner Paul Benson (Michael Murrell), who want Al to babysit Mrs. Ashanti (Patricia Fulton), the wife of an important African diplomat visiting Miami on business. Al and Mrs. Ashanti register as husband and wife at a ritzy hotel and Mrs. Ashanti complains that she has an achy back, so Al calls for a masseuse. A female masseuse shows up a short time later, but it's obvious to Al (and us) that the masseuse is working for the bad guys, who want to kidnap Mrs. Ashanti for ransom.. Fortunately, she doesn't get the chance to drug Mrs. Ashanti, thanks to Al keeping a close eye on her. When the masseuse reluctantly leaves, Al orders room service ("Send up two New York strip steaks.") and puts the moves on Mrs. Ashanti (She says, "Just because I'm bored doesn't mean I'm hot to trot!"). After knocking out a transvestite pretending to deliver the room service (Mrs. Ashanti asks Al how he knew the room service girl was a guy, he responds, "I know what a New York strip steak smells like and he didn't bring any!") and getting into a tussle with two goons who burst through the front door (a hilariously-bad martial arts fight), Al learns that white man Big Daddy (Scott Lawrence) wants to kidnap Mrs. Ashanti. They move out of the hotel and into the apartment of Al's part-time white girlfriend, JoAnn (Angela Schon), where Al kicks JoAnn out of the apartment and then seduces Mrs. Ashanti. The next morning, Al turns Mrs. Ashanti over to the CIA and returns to his office, where he is visited by Harry DeBauld (Steve Gallon, a.k.a. "Wildman Steve") and his son Larry (Laster Wilson), who want Al to to rescue their kidnapped daughter/sister Wanda (Cathy Davis). Al agrees to deliver the ransom, which includes $500,000 in cocaine and $250,000 in cash, when he learns that the person responsible for Wanda's kidnapping is none other than Big Daddy. Al eventually rescues Wanda, but, surprisingly, she doesn't want to go home. Where does he bring her? That's right, to JoAnn's apartment! After kicking JoAnn out of her own apartment once again, Al makes sweet love to Wanda, delivers her to her daddy and then has a final confrontation with Big Daddy and his henchman Jim (Richie Vallon), where he answers Big Daddy's question: "Is it true that niggers are like dogs, they fight in packs? I want a piece of your ass, if you're not a dog!" Al kills Big Daddy in a no-holds-barred fight (at least I think it's no-holds-barred, it's just hard to tell), thereby saving the world from another white trash piece of kidnapping scum. Now, if he would just do something about all those lousy Cubans!  Impossibly shoddy in nearly every department, from threadbare sets, chainsaw editing, fights that look to have been choreographed by a blind man and, most of all, acting from a troupe of low-talent thespians that not only constantly flub their lines, they also step on everyone else's (you can practically see footprints on the actors' tongues), THE GUY FROM HARLEM is one of those rare films where all the bad stuff comes together and produces a film that's totally watchable in a train wreck sort of way. The production values never rise above that of a 70's porn feature (it may actually be a step down) and neither does the acting , but some of the dialogue and situations are priceless. My favorite scene comes when Matt, one of the white kidnappers, tells Wanda that her Afro feels like pubic hair and then unzips his fly and sticks his dick in her face (we see everything from Matt's back, so we actually see nothing) and Wanda's reply of, "Man, get your ass outta my face!" had me rolling on the floor with laughter (Wanda, my dear, that's not his ass in your face!). Director Rene Martinez Jr., who also made the equally risible ROAD OF DEATH (1973) and THE SIX THOUSAND DOLLAR NIGGER (1978 - a.k.a. SUPER SOUL BROTHER and THE SIX THOUSAND DOLLAR SUPER BROTHER, starring Wildman Steve in the title role) hasn't got a clue on how to frame a shot or be bothered with second takes (my guess is that there's not a wasted frame in the whole film) and sister Gardenia Martinez's screenplay contains way too much overblown dialogue, but THE GUY FROM HARLEM is a goofy Grade Z effort that's good for many unintentional laughs. Also starring Wanda Starr as Al's secretary, whose line delivery is simply beyond words (she at least half a beat behind everyone else). Originally available on VHS from Xenon Entertainment and available on DVD from Mill Creek Entertainment in many of their DVD compilations (including MARTIAL ARTS 50 MOVIE PACK and DRIVE-IN CLASSICS 50 MOVIE PACK) or on a stand-alone budget DVD (as THE GOOD GUY FROM HARLEM) from EastWest Entertainment. Also available on a widescreen Double Feature DVD, with FORCE FOUR (1974), from Code Red. Rated R.

THE HAND OF PLEASURE (1971) - Hopelessly inept sex/espionage comedy. American agents are found "sucked to death" in the Soho quarter of London which Scotland Yard attributes as the work of a nefarious gang known as The Hand Of Pleasure, led by Dr. Dreadful who dresses as the Phantom of the Opera. American tourist Joe takes in a strip show and is slipped some important papers by a captured American agent. He brings the papers to Scotland Yard where he agrees to become a pawn in a plan to locate and defeat Dr. Dreadful and his all-girl gang. Joe meets a female American college student, who is in London writing her thesis on sexual positions! They fall in love. They are both captured by Dr. Dreadful and submitted to various means of sexual torture. Can Scotland Yard save them in time? This dated semi-porn feature wastes about half of its' scant 65 minute running time on travelogue footage of London. The rest of the film is filled with the worst acting and simulated sex that you can imagine. Even though both male and female full frontal nudity is on display, the sex scenes leave a lot to be desired. Fellatio is performed on flaccid dicks. Would your dick be as limp if you were getting oral sex? I think not. Another distraction is the actress (?) portraying the college student. She has such a tremendous overbite that you could hide a Buick Roadmaster in her mouth. There are other signs of trouble: Voiceover narration (probably to hide the fact that no one could handle a speaking part) and no title or end credits. There is some camp value (the 70's fashions and hair styles) but by no means is this good viewing. Starring Marie Arnold and directed by Zoltan G. Spencer (ALL THE WAY DOWN (1968); TERROR AT ORGY CASTLE (1971), who has also directed under the name Spence Crilly (SISTERS IN LEATHER - 1969). Both Luna Video and Something Weird Video offer copies of this lousy film. Buy it at your own risk. Also available from Something Weird on a triple-feature DVD, with EVIL COME EVIL GO and TERROR AT ORGY CASTLE. Unrated.

HI-RIDERS (1978) - Director Greydon Clark may not be one of the better-known and most respected names of 70's & 80's exploitation cinema, but he churned-out many low-budget films in many genres, including Horror (SATAN'S CHEERLEADERS - 1977; WITHOUT WARNING - 1979); Action (ANGELS' BRIGADE - 1979; FINAL JUSTICE - 1984); Science Fiction (THE RETURN - 1980; DARK FUTURE - 1994); Comedy (WACKO - 1981; JOYSTICKS - 1983) and this film, which is two parts street racing drama/one part revenge thriller. Mark (Darby Hinton; FIRECRACKER - 1981) and his girlfriend Lynn (Diane Peterson) arrive in L.A. from San Diego in their souped-up Firebird and challenge Billy (Roger Hampton), a champion street racer for the Hi-Riders, to a street race. After letting Billy win the first race for $50, Lynn challenges Billy (who she calls "Fatty" in a taunting tone) to another race for $550 and Mark wins easily. Seeing that he was played for a sucker, Billy takes off without paying and gets away (thanks to a motorcycle cop who breaks up the chase), but the next day, Mark and Lynn spot Billy driving down the highway and the chase is on. Billy leads them to a deserted Western ghost town that is Hi-Riders headquarters and after a short fistfight, Hi-Riders leader T.J. (Wm J. Beaudine) intervenes and decides that the only way to settle the matter is to have Billy and Mark race each other again. Mark again easily wins the race (after Billy tries to cheat) and T.J. welcomes Mark and Lynn into the Hi-Riders, although Billy and a select few of the members aren't too keen on the idea (Billy challenges T.J. to a game of "Chicken" and when Billy loses, they bury the hatchet and an orgy takes place, where one love-struck drunken gang member chops-off the roof of his car when Lynn mentions that she loves convertibles!). Mark, Lynn and the Hi-Riders then head to a "Drag City", a term used where the Hi-Riders head to some random town and challenge the locals to drag races for money and pink slips. They stop in some jerkwater backwoods town and hit the bar run by Red (Neville Brand; THE MAD BOMBER - 1972). T.J. catches the eye of barmaid Angie (Karen Fredrik) and the town patriarch, Mr. Lewis (Stephen McNally; BLACK GUNN - 1972), enters the bar with two goons and threatens Red with bodily harm and to shut down the bar if he serves his never-do-well son, street racer Jason (Stephen Helgoth), any more booze. As soon as old man Lewis exits the bar, his son enters and challenges Billy to a race for $100. Billy wins the race and everyone heads back to Red's bar to celebrate, but the Sheriff (Mel Ferrer; CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD - 1980) and boozer Deputy Mike (Ralph Meeker; MY BOYS ARE GOOD BOYS - 1978) warn Jason and the Hi-Riders not to race again or they will be thrown in jail. The idiotic Jason challenges Billy to another race (for pink slips), but the race turns deadly when both cars crash and Jason, Billy and a local underage female are burned alive in the explosion. This sets the stage for bloody retribution when Mr. Lewis will not be satisfied until every member of the Hi-Riders are dead. It turns out Mr. Lewis is a retired big shot from back East and he offers $50,000 for the extermination of the Hi-Riders. Takers come out of the woodwork and gun-down most of the Hi-Riders at a gas station, but a mortally wounded Toad (Brad Reardon) is able to warn T.J., Mark, Lynn and Angie before he dies. Our fearless foursome must find a way to stop Mr. Lewis before they end up dead, too.  The first two-thirds of HI-RIDERS is an amiable tale about drag racing and the family atmosphere surrounding the Hi-Riders (Hell, even Billy turns out to be a likeable jerk). The film takes a dark turn after the fatal crash and director/screenwriter Greydon Clark ladles on the blood and violence as the bad guys (who all drive beat-up pickup trucks) try to kill T.J. and the remaining trio. You can tell Clark blew most of the film's paltry budget on the final thirty minutes, as trucks and people fly through the air (in super-slow-motion), fall off bridges or end up in fiery crashes. Clark also fills the film with plenty of female nudity, sex and car chases, making this a perfect night of exploitation for the viewer, the kind of film that could have only been made in the 70's. So sit back, relax, put your brain in neutral and just go along for the ride. Also starring Carl Labove, Dee Cooper, Gary Littlejohn, Lily Rabin, Daulton Smith, Al Gomez and Liza Greer. David Essex's "Rock On" can be heard on the soundtrack. Originally released on VHS by Force Video and available on widescreen DVD from VCI Entertainment as part of a double feature with Clark's THE BAD BUNCH (1974). Rated R.

HOLLYWOOD MAN (1976) - This little-seen film opens with star William Smith (also a co-producer and co-scripter) traveling down the open road with his motorcycle gang while an on-screen passage declares: It has been said: "You always find out what something is worth when you pay for it." It turns out that it was nothing but footage that actor Rafe Stoker (Smith) was showing to a movie producer. Rafe needs $375, 000 to finish the film, but the producer passes. He does give Rafe the phone number of Angelo Russo (Angelo Farese), but warns Rafe, "I'd advise you not to call him." Since a lot of Rafe's friends and fellow actors are depending on this movie being finished, Rafe makes a deal with Mr. Russo (who, not surprisingly, is a Mafia don), but Russo's right-hand man Tony (Carmine Caridi) makes Rafe sign papers that will turn over everything Rafe owns (including his Hollywood mansion) if he doesn't finish the film in four weeks. Turns out that Rafe has the deck stacked against him as Tony hires Harvey (co-scripter Ray Girardin) to disrupt the filming of the movie. Tony wants the movie finished, he just wants it to take longer than four weeks. Never trust the Mob. At first, director/star Rafe works his crew long hours, but the film is on schedule. But then, Harvey and his mentally-challenged brutish sidekick Rhodes (co-producer Jude Farese) start messing with the set. Harvey comes to the shooting location (filmed in Fort Lauderdale, Florida), shoots holes in the generator and threatens Rafe with a gun, but Rafe slugs him and Harvey and his gang of bikers spoil some shots by riding their motorcycles into camera range. The bikers then steal equipment and rape a female crew member. Rafe falls five days behind schedule and runs out of money. He hits-up Mr. Russo for another $50,000 to finish the film and promises Mr. Russo that the film will be profitable. Harvey tries to kidnap Rafe's girlfriend Julie (Mary Woronov), but Rafe beats the crap out of Harvey and Rhodes, saving her. The crooked sheriff (Tom Simcox) arrests Rafe, but Rafe sweet-talks him into letting him finish the film. The delusional Harvey goes totally bonkers (Earlier, he tells everyone who would listen that he appeared in SPARTACUS with Kirk Douglas, but jealousy led to him being fired from the film) and decides to kill Rafe, totally ignoring Tony's wishes. Tony shows up with more papers for Rafe to sign, which Rafe does after having his life threatened. Harvey kills Rafe's stunt double, Barney (Don Stroud), and pins down the crew with sniper fire. Rafe turns the camera on Harvey and films himself killing Rhodes and the sheriff killing Harvey. Rafe finishes the film, but the shocking conclusion once again proves that you should never, ever trust the Mob. This look at the making of a low-budget film, directed by action expert Jack Starrett (THE LOSERS - 1970; THE DION BROTHERS - 1973), is probably the closest you'll probably ever get to see what it's like to make a genre fim without actually being there. This Quentin Tarantino favorite is obviously a labor of love for all those involved and I'm willing to bet that a lot of dialogue was improvised on the spot. My favorite line comes when Harvey's girlfriend, Buttons (Jennifer Billingsley), is in a bar and says, " Hey, bartender! How do you get this jukebox to work?" Without missing a beat, the bartender (Billy Rose) says, "Try sticking a quarter in it, you dumb cunt!" A cast of low-budget pros, including Don Stroud (as a stuntman who is always talking about times when he was high), John Alderman (as a biker named Jesus), Michael Delano, Wade Preston, Stafford Morgan, director Byron Mabe (THE ADULT VERSION OF JEKYLL & HIDE - 1971, and also an Associate Producer here) and everyone previously mentioned give their all to a film that probably cost as much as the craft service budget of a big studio movie. There's not much meat to the plot, but the story does take an unexpected, violent turn when Harvey goes off the deep end and murders all his cohorts (including his girlfriend) with a high-powered rifle (He doesn't kill Rhodes, though, as they seem to have some strange symbiotic relationship). The unexpected finale is also an eye-opener. I won't spoil it for you, except to say it's not a happy ending. It's not a happy ending by a long shot. Be forewarned that if you go into this expecting the late director Jack Starrett's patented exciting action setpieces, like the ones found in his SLAUGHTER (1972), CLEOPATRA JONES (1973), RACE WITH THE DEVIL (1975) or his many other films, you will be severely disappointed because this is a personal drama about one man's travails to get his vision completed at any cost. And, boy, does it cost! If you a a fan of Big Bill Smith (like myself), this film is a must-see. Also known as STOKER. Available on VHS from Monterey Home Video and available on DVD from Mill Creek as one of their 50 film compilations entitled SUSPENSE CLASSICS (in a terribly-encoded print). Not Rated.

THE HOT BOX (1972) - In the (fictional) Republic of San Rosario, three young boys are frolicking naked in a lake when one of them gets extremely ill and is rushed to the local hospice. After some substandard care and homemade herbal remedies, the young boy dies and his father, Flavio (Carmen Argenziano; FIGHTING MAD - 1978), is not a happy man. Meanwhile, at a real hospital just down the road, a full medical staff saves the young son of the country's Minister of Defense, the same operation Flavio's son needed to stay alive. Yes, the Republic of San Rosario has two classes: the rich and influential who can get what is needed to save lives and the poor, hard-working citizens, who can't afford to save their family's lives. Something tells me a change is gonna come. Flavio becomes a revolutionary and begins killing soldiers and military officials with a loyal band of friends. Four American women, Bunny (Andrea Kagan), Lynn (Margaret Markov; THE ARENA - 1973), Ellie (Rickey Richardson) and Sue (Laurie Rose: THE WOMAN HUNT - 1972) are picnicing on the beach with their four Filipino boyfriends when they are captured by land raiders and led off into the jungle (their boyfriends are tied to their boat and set adrift). Flavio pays the land raiders for the four women (just before one of them tries to rape Lynn) and we then find out that these four women are actually volunteer nurses sent to San Rosario to work in the cushy hospitals. Flavio will have none of that and makes the women tend to the poor villagers and injured freedom fighters. At first the women are reticent to help, but once they see the deplorable, dirty conditions the villagers live in, they quickly change their minds (but not before stealing a truck and unsuccessfully making a run for it) and begin making a difference by opening a dispensary and teaching the villagers basic medical procedures. Flavio and his men steal the medical supplies the girls need and Lynn agrees to go on a raid to make sure they steal the right supplies. After seeing the deplorable condition of the hospital they are robbing (they have no medical supplies to steal!), Lynn opens her eyes and becomes a believer in Flavio's plight, falling in love with his second-in-command Ronaldo (Zaldy Zshornack) and going with him on a much more dangerous raid at an Army base, where there are plenty of medical supplies and weapons (the ensuing firefight is well-done and bloody as hell). Flavio and Ellie become lovers (Ellie is black and equates her racial troubles back in the States with Flavio's plight), but Ronaldo believes that Flavio is running the revolution in the wrong way, which leads to internal strife. Ronaldo leaves the camp and agrees to take the four women to freedom, but they are captured by Major Dubay (Charles Dierkop; a regular on the 70's TV series POLICE WOMAN [1974 - 1978]), a despicable military man/rapist who pretended to be a photojournalist named "Garcia" earlier in the film to get the skinny on Flavio's operation. While Major Dubay is raping Sue in his office, the other girls are put in a cage (the "hot box" of the film's title) and forced to strip in front of all the soldiers. The girls escape with Ronaldo's help and head back to Flavio's camp to warn him of Major Dubay's upcoming assault. Will the girls make it in time and will Flavio's vision come true?  For those expecting a Women In Prison (WIP) flick, they are in for a huge surprise. Director/co-screenwriter Joe Viola (ANGELS HARD AS THEY COME - 1971) and producer/co-writer Jonathan Demme (CAGED HEAT - 1974; CRAZY MAMA - 1975) have fashioned a tale full of nudity (Including the women, men and children. Try getting away with that today!), violence and just the right amount of 70's politics and, wouldn't you know it, it works better than it has any right to, thanks to decent acting by a cast of pros, some good action sequences full of bloody bullet squibs, crossbow bolt impalements, knifings, explosions and plenty of stunts. What I particularly liked about this film is that even though Flavio is meant to be the hero of this film, he's one of the most unlikeable heroes you're ever likely to meet. He slaps the women around, treats his men like shit and threatens to court martial Ronaldo when the final battle is over. This Philippines-lensed feature has everything you could ask for in a 70's drive-in exploitation film: Plenty of pretty naked ladies; bloody violence; and a story that is not hard to follow, but it's not simple or dumbed-down. I recommend THE HOT BOX (also known as THE HELL CATS) to all fans of 70's exploitation. Just don't fall for the false advertising that makes it look like it is an early-70's WIP flick (the girls spend less than two minutes of screen time in the hot box). Also starring Jose Romolo, Rocco Montalban, Gina Lafortenza, Ruben Ramos, Roy Alvarez and Ramon D'Salva. Originally available on VHS by Embassy Home Entertainment and available on DVD from Shock-O-Rama Cinema as part of their WOMEN IN PRISON TRIPLE FEATURE (with WOMEN IN CELL BLOCK 7 - 1973 and ESCAPE FROM HELL - 1980). Rated R.

THE HOUSE OF INSANE WOMEN (1971) - After the enormous success of THE EXORCIST (1973), genre distributors scrambled to find any films they could to cash-in on that film's popularity. This Spanish film, made two years before William Friedkin's film was even released, was retitled EXORCISM'S DAUGHTER and set loose on an unsuspecting public. Truth be told, after watching this film, I was kind of flummoxed as to what category to put this film in. It's not a horror film and it's not a thriller. And it really has nothing to do with demonic possession, even though there is a scene of supposed demonic possession in the film. It has a few exploitable elements, so the best place to put it was here. But don't think this is any way an exploitation film. It is actually a serious indictment on how Spain dealt with people who had mental problems at the turn of the Twentieth Century. The film opens up at a female mental institution, where conditions are, simply put, horrendous. We see women dressed in filthy clothes, their hair matted and dirty, their skin covered with grime and fecal matter and the living conditions are horrible (some of the more seriously disturbed patients are kept in cages with no beds). Believe it or not, the nurses are actually nuns, who haven't the slightest idea how to take care of the mentally handicapped so, when they act up, they are strapped into wicker baskets and dunked into a well filled with cold water. A new doctor, Rafael Alba (Espartaco Santoni; VIOLENT BLOOD BATH - 1973), is hired to oversee the asylum and he has new ideas on how to approve the conditions. First, he announces that "This is the end of the era of straitjackets" and says that treating people like actual human beings is much better that treating them as animals. But before any of this can be achieved, he must have to deal with the asylum's cruel male guard, Puzo (Francisco Rabal; CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD - 1980), who has to get drunk every morning just to come to work (there's a scene in the beginning of the film where Puzo is drinking in an attic and he watches a cat catch a rat and eat it, a suitable analogy for Puzo's life). Puzo is a literal sadist, a tortured soul who is worse off than the patients he oversees, who gets off abusing the female patients (both physically and sexually) while the women look at him as they would a rabid dog (one obese female patient pours the contents of her bedpan on the floor when he passes her). He also sells the prettier inmates nightly to stranger for sex, basically acting like their pimp (only he gets to keep all the cash), and he finds particular joy in tormenting the patients by slapping them around or hosing them down while calling them "idiots" and "loons". The first time Dr. Alba confronts Puzo, Puzo tells him, "This hellhole is a cemetery and these idiots are all dead". Dr. Alba begins shaking things up in the asylum, disrupting the status quo, including Puzo's brutal treatment of the patients. Dr. Alba is a man of science, who begins treating the inmates as human beings and not disposable property, first by giving them proper haircuts, cleaning them up and letting them go outside every day to escape the filth and stink that is inside (which he also begins cleaning up). He wins the inmates faith, but his methods anger the asylum's Board of Trustees, who don't like what Dr. Alba is doing because it is costing them money which would otherwise fill their pockets (the more crazy people they have, the more money the country gives to them). They don't want any of these people "cured" because it will hit them in their pocketbooks. Puzo now actually has to treat the inmates with respect, as Dr. Alba orders him to stay sober while he is on the job, something which doesn't go over too well with him. Dr. Alba becomes very interested with a patient called Tania (Analía Gadé; MURDER MANSION - 1972; she was married to Espartaco Santoni when this film was made), who has lost her memory and can't remember anything about her life. He thinks he can cure her with a new scientific method called "hypnosis". He gives a demonstration of hypnosis to the Board of Trustees, who are not happy that this method may be able to cure patients. They would  rather put their trust in religion and leave it to God to cure them (at least thay is what they say, but Dr. Alba knows what their real motivation is: money) and when one of the Trustee members questions Dr. Alba on why they never see him in church on Sundays, he retorts, "I study science, sir, not sorcery!", putting all the members in their place (One female board member [played by Maria Asquerino] tries several times to get Dr. Alba to move out of the asylum and live with her in her mansion so she can have sex with him, but every time she asks, he turns down her advances, which will one day come back to bite him in the ass). Dr. Alba knows he has to tread lightly, because his only friend on the Board (José Vivó; PANIC BEATS - 1982; the one who hired him) explains to him that change doesn't go over well with his fellow Board members, but his interest in curing Tania is so strong, he ends up spending more time with her than any other patient. During one of their hypnosis sessions, Dr. Alba breaks the wall in Tania's memory and learns why Tania was admitted to the asylum at such a young age. When Tania was a child, she witnessed her mother acting strange, twitching on the floor. A bunch of nuns gather around her in a circle and say in unison, "We have come to take your mother. She has had devils inside her body for six years. Only a miracle can save her. Make her drink the holy water!" Young Tania (portrayed by Inma de Santis) watches as her mother dies on the floor, thinking for all these years that her mother was demonically possessed and that she, one day, wiil be, too, to the point of blocking her whole life from her memory. When Dr. Alba tells Tania that her mother wasn't demonically possessed, but probably suffered from epilepsy, which gave her seizures that the nuns mistakenly believed was demonic possession, Tania breaks free of her mind's chains and is cured. Just as Dr. Alba is about to release her from the asylum for good (they have also become lovers, too), he gets word that he has been fired and must leave the premises immediately, never to come back (It turns out the female Board member was tired of him turning down her advances and got the majority of the rest of the Board to fire him). This means that Tania must stay in the asylum, even though she has been cured. Things go back to "normal" at the asylum, where a drunk Puzo can now go back to his brutal ways, while Tania sits on the floor of a solitary confinement cell, trying to keep sane by hearing the last words Dr. Alba said to her: "Hold on. I will return." Does he? We never find out. All we see is Tania sitting on the cold stone floor, her arms around her knees while "THE END" appears on-screen. Sometimes life isn't fair.  As an exploitation film, this fails miserably, but it was never meant to be one. Like I said earlier in the review, this is actually a drama, an indictment about how religion always trumped rational or scientific thought, even it it meant people with mental problems suffered worse than an abused dog. It also shows how religion made people rich back in the days when science was just coming to the forefront, scoffing at the thought that man could do something that God couldn't: Actually help the mentally handicapped. Director/writer Rafael Morena Alba (who only directed a handful of films, including the crime thriller TRIANGLE [1972] and the 1984 biographical Spanish mini-series THE COURT MARTIAL OF MARIANA PINEDA, before passing away in 2000) succeeds in spades when it come to displaying that aspect and that is all he was trying to do. If people felt cheated when they went to see it in theaters, they should have blamed the distribution companies for their outrageous ad campaigns. But if you watch the film for what is was actually trying to convey, you should be satisfied. Nothing more and nothing less. The whole "exorcism" angle only takes up about three minutes of screen time and it's not actually an exorcism at all, but the way religion treated valid medical conditions by putting faith in God rather than giving them medication. It still amazes me today that some religions still believe in this practice, saying "God will cure my children, not medical attention." and nearly every time they die, but they still put their faith in religion, making lame excuses like "God must have had a plan for them in Heaven." That is all this film is trying to put forth to audiences. Spain was no different during the turn of the Twentieth Century than it was in the Dark Ages when it came to medicine and religion (and some could take it as a then [1971] modern-day parable about the Franco Regime). While there is some full-frontal nudity and lesbian activity (surprising for a Spanish film made during this period when sex and nudity on screen was a no-no, but this was probably the International Version; the version shown in Spain probably had the women clothed), it is not titillating in the least. If you are in the mood for something different, by all means watch this. If you think that you will be watching a horror or "Women In Prison" film, you will be bitterly disappointed. Look for Spanish staple Helga Liné (HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB - 1972) as one of the patients. Also starring Yelena Samarina, Asunción Balaguer, Maria Vico, Pilar Bardem, Eulalia Del Pino, Ama Ma Espejo, Rosa Fontana, Mary Levia, Marta Monterrey, Susan Taff, Betsabe Ruiz and Victor Israel. I believe the only VHS release this ever recieved was from Something Weird Video (as part of "Frank Henenlotter's Sexy Shockers from the Vaults"), but Code Red offers a beat-up, but watchable, anamorphic widescreen print (1.78:1) as part of a double feature DVD, with the Mexican horror film NIGHT OF A THOUSAND CATS (1972). Rated R.

THE ICE HOUSE (1969) - Rick Martin (Robert Story) owns an ice house and really loves the ladies. He takes part in women swapping parties on a regular basis. When a British woman (the mono-monikered Sabrina, who replaced star Jayne Mansfield after she was decapitated in a car wreck) smashes Rick over the head with a booze bottle after he beats up her three boyfriends, it damages his brain causing him to halucinate. He wakes up strangling his twin cop brother Fred (played by his real-life twin David Story), calling him "Tramp, dirty little tramp!" When Rick spots the Brit at a club dancing nude doing the latest craze called "The Scrub", he follows her home, rapes her in the shower (She likes it. It is the 60's after all) and then strangles her after having one of his halucinations. He stores her in his ice house after driving around with her in his car for a night. He goes to a doctor to describe his problems and the doc tries to convince him to go to a psychiatric clinic. "I ain't going to no nut house!" is his reply. The Brit's next door neighbor Kandy Kane (Kelly Ross) reports her missing to police detective Lt. Scott (Scott Brady, who has very little to do here besides looking concerned) and gives him a description of Rick. When the frozen Brit's corpse accidentally slides down the ice chute and Jan Wilson (Nancy Dow) spots her body he tries to tell her that it was a pratical joke by one of the employees. She comes on to him and (yep) he strangles her and adds another body to the ice house. When Kandy Kane spots him at the nude dance club, she calls Lt. Scott who tells her to try to keep him there until the police arrive. He again halucinates, tries to strangle her but is unsuccessful thanks to the club's owner (Jim Davis, who also has very little to do besides looking concerned) and some bouncers. He escapes on a motorcycle and a chase with the police and a motorcycle gang ensues (a hilarious sped-up fiasco). When Kandy gives a description to a surprised Fred ("He looks just like you!"), he knows his brother is the killer. He goes to the ice house where Fred finds the frozen corpses and Rick, who accidentally kills Fred and takes his brother's place. "Fred" resigns from the police force and takes over the ice house, free to continue his murderous ways. This relic from the 60's is highly watchable, due to the constant nude scenes (it was rated a self-imposed X on release) and laughable dialogue. In the beginning of the film, when Fred gets caught at a swinger's party that has gone terribly wrong and the police arrive, he asks the owner of the house if there is a back door. When she says "No", he says "So where do you want one?" Director Stuart McGowan  later directed a couple of Tim Conway comedies: THE BILLION DOLLAR HOBO (1977) and THEY WENT THAT-A-WAY & THAT-A-WAY (1979, his last film). He died in 1999. Robert and David Story never made another film. Porn veteran and aquitted murderer John Holmes (watch Val Kilmer play him in WONDERLAND [2003]) makes a cameo appearance as a nude dancer in the club. The print that Something Weird Video uses for the VHS version is extremely scratchy and jumpy, but that only adds to the enjoyment value of this film. Something like this does not need to be in pristine condition to merit a good review. Enjoy it for its' kitschy charms and over-the-top acting. I sure did. Also known as LOVE IN COLD BLOOD and THE PASSION PIT. Not Rated, but would be considered a very hard R or even an NC-17 if rated today, thanks to the copious nudity and simulated sex acts.

INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS (1973) - There's good trash and there's bad trash. INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS is Grade A trash all the way. They don't make 'em like this any more. It's got an inventive screenplay (courtesy of future director Nicholas Meyer [TIME AFTER TIME - 1979]), plenty of nudity and a great sense of humor. A government agent (Big Bill Smith) is sent to a small town to investigate the death of a prominent scientist who was working on a top secret research project. Within a short period of time, over a dozen male townies and scientists at the nearby Brandt Institute are dead from the same cause. It seems they all have died of massive heart attacks after balling their brains out! Bill's investigation leads him to discover that this little town is a hotbed of sexual activity. Swinging, wife swapping, homosexuality and other assorted sexual goings-on are as commonplace as taking out the garbage. Somehow, this is all tied to the experiments taking place at the Brandt Institute and Bill means to find the connection. Together with his newfound scientist girlfriend Julie (Victoria Vetri, whom he saves from an attempted gang rape), Bill find his connection in Dr. Susan Harris (Anitra Ford). Dr. Harris is irradiating female town members with bee genes, turning them into black-eyed sexual dynamos with a penchant for sweets and a desire to fuck their mates to death. Dr. Harris kidnaps Julie, hoping to turn her into the newest bee girl. Bill rushes in to save the day, destroying Dr. Harris' bee machine and putting an end to the sexual menace. The town is now safe to enjoy kinky sex without the deadly repercussions. Extremely erotic (due much to genre vet Gary Graver's excellent photography), this film should be on every exploitation fan's must-see list. It contains just the right amount of nudity (all the women, including a cameo appearance by porno queen Rene Bond, look great disrobed), humor and, most of all, a good storyline to keep the film moving at a brisk pace. The screenplay pokes fun at a lot of issues, including: small town morals, sexual repression, mob mentality and government intervention. While there's not much blood on view (it's not really called for here) there is a disturbing shot of a man being run over by a car and a fist fight. The real meat of the story deals with the sexual morals of the time (the early 70's) and how it affects a small town population. Cliff Osmond (the sadistic guard who gets his fingers lopped off in SWEET SUGAR - 1972 and later went on to direct the strange religious film THE PENITENT - 1986) appears here as a befuddled police chief. Anitra Ford has appeared in many exploitation films, including THE BIG BIRD CAGE (1972) and STACEY (1973). Victoria Vetri is best known for her performance as the scantily clad cavewoman in WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH (1970). William Smith (GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE - 1972) needs no introduction. Director Denis Sanders also made the documentary films ELVIS-THAT'S THE WAY IT IS (1970) and THE AMERICAN WEST OF JOHN FORD (1973). BEE GIRLS was also re-released under the misleading title GRAVEYARD TRAMPS. Under any title, it's a winner of the first degree. See it! An Embassy Home Entertainment VHS Release. Also available on VHS & DVD from MGM Video under their Midnight Movies banner. Rated R.

ISLAND FURY (1983/1989) - This is one of those piecemeal films that Executive Producer Mardi Rustam (EVIL TOWN - 1974/1985) foisted onto home video, hoping no one would notice that there are a few puzzle pieces missing. Guess what? It didn't work. In 1989, Rustam hired director Henri Charr to finish his unreleased 1983 exploitationer PLEASE DON'T EAT THE BABIES and he filmed a wraparound segment where adults Sugar (Monet Elizabeth) and Bobbylee (Tanya Louise) are being chased by a couple of guys through the busy streets of Los Angeles and finally being captured. The two thugs, Willie (Mike Jacobs) and Repo (Michael Wayne; THE DANGER ZONE - 1986), bring the girls to an abandoned garage, where they are greeted by Sid (Joe Lombardo), who takes a keen interest in the coin necklace around Bobbylee's neck. After slapping Bobbylee around a few times for refusing to tell him where she got the coin, Sugar chimes in and begins telling a story about taking a trip to a strange island when they were ten years old (Cue the 1983 footage!). The pre-teen Sugar (Sheri Oliff) and Bobbylee (Robin Haden) are on a boating vacation with their older sisters and boyfriends, when they stop at an island for a little scuba diving. They meet a boy named Jimmer (Stanley Wells), who is wearing the same coin necklace as the adult Bobbylee. He tells the group about a hidden treasure whose location is only known about by his strict religious grandfather Jebediah (Hank Worden) and weirdo Granny (Mitzi Stollery). Meanwhile, back in the present day, Sid makes Sugar and Bobbylee retrace their steps back on the island, with Willie and Repo tagging along as muscle. Back in 1983, our intrepid group are invited to Jebediah's mountain cabin, where Granny serves them drugged herbal tea, knocking out the two older sisters and one of the boyfriends. Only Todd (Ed McClarty), Sugar and Bobbylee are left to their own devices when a series of tremors rock the island. The drugged older sisters and boyfriend wake up in a locked shed and discover a secret room under the floor, only to find themselves murdered and cut-up into slabs of meat. Yes, that's right, Jebediah and his clan are cannibals, eating the flesh of any wayward tourists who stumble on their island. While Todd tries to deal with Jebediah armed only with a speargun, Jebediah sends his hulking retarded son Junior (Jonathan Gravish) to grab the two young girls. As you can probably guess, nothing turns out the way it's planned, as Sugar and Bobbylee find the lifeless bodies of their sisters hanging in a meat locker, Bobbylee is captured and used at bait to flush-out Todd and Sugar and Jimmer turns against his grandpappy to save the young girls. Past collides with present when the adult Sugar and Bobbylee run into the adult Jimmer (Ross Hamilton) and he ends up saving one of their lives once again, while killing Sid, Willie and Repo. Ah, the circle of life!  What a terrible, horrible film. It's hard to get excited about a film when the acting is horrendous (the two girls who portray the young Sugar and Bobbylee are so aggravating, you'll soon be begging for them to be hung on Jebediah's meat hooks) and the action is so poorly paced and photographed. Director Henri Charr (UNDER LOCK AND KEY - 1995; CELLBLOCK SISTERS: BANISHED BEHIND BARS - 1995) and screenwriter John B. Pfeifer try valiantly to salvage a sinking ship, by tossing in dismembered body parts, a smattering of nudity, some gore and a confusing earthquake sequence (What the hell was that for?), but this film has so many plot leaks, it would take a squadron of Hans Christian Andersons to plug them. Particularly depressing is seeing excellent character actor Hank Worden (a frequent John Wayne co-star probably best remembered as Mose Harper in John Ford's THE SEARCHERS [1956], who finally gets his rocking chair on the porch in the film's unforgettable finale) starring in crap like this, but I guess we all have to do whatever we can to put food on our plates. Verkina Flower, the daughter of late character actor George "Buck" Flower, was one of the Assistant Directors here. Also starring Kirstin Baker and Joe Lucas. ISLAND FURY was originally available on VHS by A.I.P. Home Video and is now available on DVD from Dark Sky Films as part of a double feature with BARRACUDA (1977). Unrated.

ISLAND OF DEATH (1975) - Lovers Christopher (Bob Belling) and Celia (Jane Ryall) come to the Greek island of Mykonos, not to vacation, but to rid it of all "perversions". Chris and Celia are raging sociopaths and they begin to kill the island's inhabitants that they consider perverts while photographing their dastardly deeds. They crucify a painter for making eyes at Celia, nailing his hands to the ground and forcing him to drink a bucket of paint. They slaughter a homosexual couple, gutting one with a sword and blowing the other one's brains out after making him suck on the barrel of the gun. The biggest perverts on the island turn out to be Chris and Celia as we:

  1. Watch them call Chris' mother so she can hear them making love in a phone booth!

  2. Watch Chris fuck a goat and then slit it's throat after Celia turns him down for sex!
  3. Watch them both masturbate while viewing their sick photographs!

More depravity ensues when a private detective comes to the island looking for Chris and Celia for killings they committed in London. They tie a rope around his neck and take off in a plane, dragging him from behind, finally hanging him in the upper altitude. Chris then sets his sights on an older woman who wants to have sex with him. He pisses on her (she likes it!), then beats her senseless after she playfully bites his dick. He completes the job by cutting her head off with a bulldozer! When Celia is nearly raped by two hippies, Chris impales one with a speargun and drowns the other one in a toilet. They then murder a lesbian junkie by shooting her up with a hot shot and burning her face off with an ignited aerosol can. Chris then murders another woman by burying a sickle in her chest after failing to rape her. The police finally get wise and close in on them. Chris and Celia escape to an old church and then move further in-country to avoid them. A shepherd (who has been haunting Celia in her dreams) gives them food and shelter. The shepherd rapes Celia while Chris watches and takes photos. The shepherd then knocks out Chris and rapes him (never turn your back on a Greek!), throwing him in a lime pit when he is done. Celia then makes love to the shepherd, ignoring Chris' pleas for help. Only then do we learn that Christopher and Celia are actually brother and sister, as we watch Chris slowly burn to death as the lime pit fills up with rainwater......Believe it or not, this obscure piece of total depravity was the first directorial effort of Nico Mastorakis (who I guess now wants to be called "Nick" judging by the new video-generated opening credits), who would never even come close to this one in any of his future films, including such titles as THE NEXT ONE (a.k.a. THE TIME TRAVELLER - 1981), BLIND DATE (1984), SKYHIGH (a.k.a. BLOWN SKY HIGH - 1985), THE WIND (1986), THE ZERO BOYS (1986), NIGHTMARE AT NOON (1987), HIRED TO KILL (1990), IN THE COLD OF THE NIGHT (1990) and .COM FOR MURDER (2001). Filled with copious amounts of nudity and nasty scenes of gore and fucked-up situations, ISLAND OF DEATH can only be described as an exploitation fan's dream-come-true. Mr. Mastorakis blew his wad on this film as he tosses in so many ways to kill a person that he seemed to run out of ideas for his future films. Image Entertainment offers a beautiful uncut full-frame DVD transfer along with a director's commentary and music videos for three of the songs in the film. The lyrics to one of the songs goes: "Get the sword. Kill them all!" Kill them all indeed!  Grab this one if you get the chance. You won't be disappointed. Also starring Jessica Dublin, Gerard Gonalons, Janice McConnel and Clay Huff. Also known as A CRAVING FOR LUST, CRUEL DESTINATION, DEVILS IN MYKONOS, ISLAND OF PERVERSION and PSYCHIC KILLER 2! An Image Entertainment DVD Release. Not Rated and for all the right reasons.

THE JAIL: THE WOMEN'S HELL (2006) - This is Bruno Mattei's second-to-last film and if there was one thing Bruno Mattei (here using his "Vincent Dawn" pseudonym) had until the day he died (May 21, 2007), it was the sleaze factor. If you want to see him use it in one of his best films, this is the film you need to see. As a matter of fact, it out-sleazes most of the WIP films of the 70's & 80's and does it so easily, it was like Mattei could do it with his eyes closed. But his eyes are wide open here and you should really, really purchase this DVD now that it is available on legitimate DVD from Intervision Picture Corp. in the United States, uncut and in anamorphic widescreen. And it looks fantastic. This made-in-the-Philippines WIP flick also contains some familiar male faces to those who were into action films from the Philippines during the 1980's. It has something for everyone. Full-frontal female nudity with women with extremely dark nipples, sleazy ultra violence (some which goes way beyond the bounds of good taste), lesbianism, torture, whorehouses, orgies and more things than a sleazehound could demand. And we know who we are. The movie opens with a ship motoring down a river, carrying three female prisoners who are about to be delivered to one of the worst female prisons in the history of film. The thing is, none of these three women say they are innocent. Lisa (Love Guttierrez) was caught for "dirty trafficking for dirty people". Carol (Amelie Pontailler) says she "Whacked my pimp. That bastard son-of-a-bitch had it coming!" Jennifer (Yvette Yzon; the star of Mattei's final two films ISLAND OF THE LIVING DEAD and ZOMBIES: THE BEGINNING [both 2007]) says, "I've done everything you said and even worse!". When the male guards see the ship pulling in to the dock, one of them says, "Here comes some more occupants for the House Of Lost Souls!" (The prison's name). The other guard says, "They can't imagine what's in store for them!" They are placed on a bus and make the long trip to the prison, nothing but a mud-caked hell of dirt and barely-standing buildings. The whole prison meets The Director (Odette Khan), where she tells the three newest recruits that they are no longer humans , they are numbers, and their numbers will be #51, #52 & #53. She also tells her prison guards to pull out prisoner #27 out of "The Hole" and when one of the guards tells The Director that she is dead, The Director still wants her to get twenty lashes, as a warning to anyone else who tries to escape, so they strip the corpse naked and whip her 20 times as the corpse's back turns into a bloody pulp. We then watch our three newest prisoners get naked power hose washings (while the female guards laugh their asses off) and then examined by 'The Doctor" (David Brass; WARRIORS OF THE APOCALYPSE - 1985), who uses his fingers to explore every one of their orifices. They are then handed prison garb and put in a cell with a half-dozen other prisoners. "Welcome to the Grand Hotel. Welcome to Hell!" is their official greeting by the inmates. Jennifer talks to one of the veterans of the prison, Monica (Dyane Craystan), who says she's been here for an eternity for "cutting off my old man's balls." Lisa is threatened by a lesbian prisoner with a shiv and soon Lisa becomes her bitch. Late that night, the three new girls are pulled out of their beds by The Director to meet the cruel and powerful "The Governor" (our old friend Jim Gaines; JUNGLE RATS - 1987) the owner of the island's whorehouse, who says "Well, well, well." and makes all three strip, but nothing happens to them...yet. We see some female returnees from the whorehouse and they are beaten, bloody and unable to walk. The Director tells the three new prisoners in front of everyone else that if they refuse to go to the whorehouse, they will end up like prisoner #27. The prisoners start a mini-riot when one of the whorehouse women comes back dead and Jennifer demands to see a doctor. The Doctor appears and says he will write up a death certificate tomorrow morning for The Director (You can be damn sure that the certificate will be a lie). The prisoners dig her grave in the pouring rain and uncover some more dead bodies in the process (Ones that were probably never reported). The next morning, everyone's breakfast consists of nothing but a cup of liquid which is supposed to be coffee and then work removing rocks from the muddy earth (those that can't carry their load are beaten repeatedly). That night, Jennifer and Lisa are made to work in the whorehouse where Mr. Alvarez (Bobby Benitez) beats Jennifer and Lisa senseless and tries to rape them. Jennifer knock him out (it begins to look like she not really saying who she actually is). The Director interrupts the communal shower (plenty of full-frontal female nudity) when she sees two lesbians going at it, so she gives them to two males guards to rape the lesbianism out if them. Jennifer is back at the whorehouse where The Governor offers her a job at a party. When she declines, she is forced to pick a piece of paper out of a hat. She is then chained in a room and has to watch a woman tied naked to a bed by "The Sadist" (Mike Monty; FIREBACK - 1983; in his final film. He passed away on August 4, 2006 and is seen in a wheelchair here.). He and a group of men sit around the bed while a large snake is put on the naked woman's body. They force the snake to slither up her vagina, as The Sadist and his men watch her die. Monica is tied between two poles and given twenty lashes just for being Jennifer's friend, but The Governor says he needs Monica, so The Director substitutes prisoner #12 instead (another friend of Jennifer's). Jennifer and some other prisoners dig the grave for prisoner #12 and Jennifer says she found a way to escape. Too bad one of the prisoners, Valery (Xeah Atillano) is a snitch for The Director, who supplies her with a shot of heroin every day and reports the escape plans. The Governor has some very special plans for the three new prisoners, as well as some older ones (Monica has to spend a night in a cage half-filled with water by the dock, where the corpse of another female prisoner has her face chewed off by rats). As the rest of the prisoners kill Valery for being a traitor, Jennifer accepts The Governor's offer and has sex with him (The Governor says, "You know, you're a pretty big whore!"). This is part of Jennifer's plan for all the prisoners to escape, but The Governor is aware of it and has a special plan of his own. This is where the film turns into an ultra-bloody version of THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932), as the Governor and his male buddies arm themselves with shotguns and automatic weapons and let the women prisoners run through the island for one hour before they begin to hunt them down. The Governor's only rule: There are no rules. Some native island guides lead The Governor and his men in hunting the women down. One woman is killed by a swinging spiked log, while two others are captured and killed (One is hanging from a tree quartered with a machete up her vagina with a sign around her neck saying "Your Fate Will Be Worse".) Jennifer pulls the machete out of her snatch and says that the hunters have made one fatal mistake: They have given them a weapon. Jennifer and the other prisoners find the second captured prisoner hanging from a tree, her body all cut to hell with another note hanging around her. This one says "You Have No Hope". Rachel (Cristina Castro) is found by the men and is shot over and over in her extremities by shotgun blasts, so she's still alive when the men have stopped firing. She's then gang-raped and killed (This is the highlight of the film for me. Yes, I know, I'm a sick bastard!). Lisa gets caught in a booby-trap that leaves her hanging upside-down. Before they can release her, Jennifer, Carol and Monica have to run away because they are being shot at. Poor Lisa is let down, stripped naked, tied to a tree, has her tongue cut out and than has both of her breasts cut off (nothing is left to the imagination and this is the film's most sadistic scenes, as one of the men sucks the blood from one of her missing breasts). Carol is bitten by a poisonous snake and says she has to stay behind. Jennifer gives her the machete and Carol feigns she is dead. When one of the men checks her body, she runs the machete up his crotch, but he pulls it out and cuts off Carol's head before he dies. Jennifer and Monica feel guilty and go back to check up on Carol, but when they find her headless body, they collect the man's shotgun and handgun and keep on traveling. Monica stays behind and tells Jennifer to make it to civilization to tell the government what is going on. Monica ends up killing The Governor with a few shotgun blasts, but the Director intervenes and says she will be made an example of back at the prison. They put a black hood around Monica's head and a noose around her neck, but before they can hang her, two big black limousines come through the gates and The Director is arrested. Jessica was a government plant all along and when she pulls the hood off of Monica's head, she says, "I told you I would be back." For once the women win, as they clap while The Director is led away in handcuffs.  When Bruno Mattei passed away in 2007, so did films like this. He was the only Italian sleaze director still churning out films during the New Millennium, giving us copious nudity, graphic gore and dialogue as only the Italians could write it. Sure, a lot of Mattei's later films were turds, but at least they were made. Better to watch an Italian turd than an American-made turd because at least you knew with the Italians, there was no such thing as bad taste. And bad taste is severely lacking in most American horror films today. We seem to cater more to the PG-13 crowd than the people who remember when horror films had balls. Mattei was the last one to remind us of that. To say he will be severely missed is a huge understatement. When the Italian horror industry died, Mattei found funding to make horror films in the Philippines, still keeping the Italian aesthetic, but using local actors instead. This way I got the best of both worlds: Italian-made films, with Filipino and expatriate actors I have admired since the 80's. Thanks for everything, Bruno Mattei. If there is such a thing as the afterlife, I hope you are living your dreams. I really pity those who don't buy DVDs anymore. The widescreen anamorphic print used by InterVision Picture Corp. is flawless and looked excellent on my Blu-Ray player. If you are deciding to wait to see this on Blu-Ray, let me ask you one question: When was the last time a Bruno Mattei film was released in that format? I think RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR (1983) and HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD (1980) were the only films if his released on Blu- Ray and on a double feature disc at that. Never say never, but this DVD looks excellent, so why deprive yourself? Not for the weak-hearted because of tons of nasty violence I haven't even touched on in this review. It has everything (and more) than a sleazehound like me demands, although films like this are not for all tastes. I think this is the best of Bruno Mattei's New Millennium films. I've been waiting for this one to get a legitimate U.S. release for nine years and I was not disappointed. Also starring Jenny Agwilla, Joana Lee and Vanessa Bolabas. An InterVision Picture Corp. DVD Release. Not Rated and damn proud of it. Even if it were to be cut to be R-Rated, it would only be a 10-minute film!

THE JEKYLL AND HYDE PORTFOLIO (1971) - This little-seen sex/horror film opens with a young woman named Janet (Cathie Demille) being impaled with a pitchfork while playing on a swing.  An on-screen narrator then gives us a short visual tour on mass murderers throughout history that suffered from Jekyll/Hyde syndrome. The film then tells the story of strict disciplinarian Dr. Dorian Cabala (Sebastian Brooks), a 19th Century physician who runs the Florence Nightingale Institute, a facility where young women are trained to become nurses. Since Janet was a nurse-in-training at the institute, Detective John Kirkland (Donn Greer, also the film's scripter) questions Dr. Cabala and his assistant, Dr. Leticia Borges (Mady Maguire). Det. Kirkland informs them that Janet was murdered by a "psychopathic killer" who left three star-shaped punctures on her body that form some premeditated pattern or symbol (Like the letter "V"). Hunchbacked institute groundskeeper Moss (Hump Hardy) watches Dyan (Sandy Carey) and her boyfriend Garr (Duane Grace) making love in a barn and, a short time later, they are both killed by someone carrying a sword. The institute's head nurse, Hettie Green (Casey Larrain), lost her daughter years earlier due to the malpractice of a quack doctor and she spends most her time abusing or feeling-up the staff and students. Sergeant Wolf (Gray Daniels) begins questioning the staff and comes up with an important clue from the facially-scarred cook (we don't hear it). When Elizabeth (Nora Wieternik) goes missing and the three-star symbol is found on her bed written in blood, two other student nurses go looking for her in the institute's maze-like basement. Moss kills one of the girls and rapes the other, but Dr. Cabala and Sgt. Wolf catch him in the act and capture him. Det. Kinkaid is not satisfied that Moss is the ritualistic killer ("His mentality isn't that of a sadistic killer. He's an ignorant, poor mute.") and continues the investigation. Good thing, too, because the killer turns out to be June (Rene Bond), a former mental patient, who suffers from a split personality. She kills a few more people (including slicing-up another couple making love with a scythe) before Det. Kinkaid shoots her and she falls on her scythe. The narrator then comes back on-screen to warn all of us that we, too, are capable of carrying an evil split personality. He then scrunches-up his face and makes evil gestures with his hands as his double-exposure evil split personality skulks away. Beware!  This short (77 minutes) feature contains plenty of softcore sex (both straight and lesbian), bloody early-70's violence (including a decapitation) and dissections of live frogs, but the production values never rise above that of an Andy Milligan film, who filmed most of his productions as period pieces so they wouldn't seem dated when viewed years later. Director/producer Eric Jeffrey Haims tries the same thing here, but the porn-style sets, bad post-synch dubbing and amateur acting doom this film from the start. Director Haims must have thought so too, because his next four films were hardcore porn: 101 ACTS OF LOVE (1971), THE SEX MACHINE (1971) and THE MISS LAYED GENIE (1973; see the fourth title at the end of this review). THE JEKYLL AND HYDE PORTFOLIO contains many porn actors of the 70's, including Rene Bond (SWINGERS MASSACRE - 1975), Ric Lutz (PRISON GIRLS - 1972) and Sandy Carey (A SCREAM IN THE STREETS - 1973) and they all do softcore scenes here. The funniest parts of the film are the murders themselves. Before each murder takes place, we hear circus music (the tune that organ grinders use to play while their trained monkeys stole money out of unsuspecting audience members' pockets). What the music has to do with the murderer's motivations is never made clear (I think that it being in the public domain played a big part), but it's funny as hell to hear it while people are sliced-up or losing their heads. The gore is never convincing and primitive (the decapitation looks like a bloody mannequin head), but I will give proper credit for not skimping on the blood. This is a threadbare film, but it does try to be different. The final shot of the narrator making an evil face (using no makeup) is so unintentionally funny, it's almost worth the price of a rental or purchase. Co-star Jane Tsentas, who plays student nurse Joyce, also appeared in the sex/horror film THE ADULT VERSION OF JEKYLL AND HIDE in 1971. Also starring John Terry, Terri Bond and Melissa Ruiz. John Kirkland (a.k.a. "Leonard Kirtman", director of CARNIVAL OF BLOOD [1970] and CURSE OF THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN [1972]) was both Second Unit Director and Lighting Director here. Other 70's Jekyll films include I, MONSTER (1971), DR. JEKYLL & SISTER HYDE (1971), DR. JEKYLL AND THE WOLFMAN (1971), Andy Milligan's THE MAN WITH TWO HEADS (1972) and DR. JEKYLL'S DUNGEON OF DEATH (1979). An InterVision (British PAL) VHS Release. Available on a double feature DVD/Blu-Ray from Vinegar Syndrome with A CLOCK WORK BLUE (1972; also directed by Haims in softcore [DVD] and hardcore [Blu-Ray] versions). Also available in a limited VHS release by Massacre Video, which should be sold out by the time you read this (I still say this is nothing but a scam to get high prices for the VHS tapes on eBay, otherwise why offer such a low limited amount? 90% of their VHS titles are sold out within a day of going on sale.). Rated X, but a soft X.

JIVE TURKEY (1974) - I remember seeing the trailer for this film on some early DVD releases from Code Red, but that was in 2006 and still no widescreen release in 2015 (the same with FAMILY HONOR - 1973), so I decided to watch the fullscreen release on one of those 50-film DVD compilations (in this case Mill Creek's DRIVE IN MOVIE CLASSICS) and I was surprised how good the fullscreen print looked (especially when there was another film on the disc). This film fell into the Public Domain years ago and it is on a lot of compilations, but those expecting an action-packed blaxploitation film are going to be disappointed. This is more of a low-budget "day in the life" portrayal of major numbers runner (and pimp) Pasha (his real name is Hakim, but only his enemies call him that) and what he has to deal with on a daily basis, including threats, traitors, being married and some murder. The film, which was originally called BABY NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF SHOES (a term used by gamblers when they play Craps and hope to hit their number), did poor business, so the distributors pulled it and retitled it JIVE TURKEY, where it still did poor business at the boxoffice. This is purportedly based on a true story that happened in 1956 ("Only the names were changed to protect the innocent"), where Ohio numbers runner Pasha (Paul Harris; THE SLAMS - 1973; TRUCK TURNER - 1974) is the #1 numbers runner in the city (he also has a whorehouse, but doesn't cheat on his wife), whom everyone in the city loves, because he cares about his city, his customers and the people in general and his crimes are minor when compared to crime boss Big Tony (Frank De Kova; CAT IN THE CAGE - 1978), who distributes heroin, mistreats his hookers and shoots black people for fun (at the beginning of the film, while the opening credits run, we see two of Tony's goons machine-gunning down innocent black citizens, like an old lady carrying her groceries and a young boy riding his bike, as a warning to Pasha, while Ernie Banks [THE BLACK GODFATHER - 1974] sings the title song [he also has a role in the film as "DuDirty"]). Pasha, along with female companion Serene (who we later find out is actually a transvestite, played by Don Edmondson), have a meeting with Tony at his Italian restaurant, where Tony wants Pasha (he one of the people to call him "Hakim") to turn over his numbers rackets on the southside of town. Tony warns Pasha that "Chicago runs things now" and tells Pasha that the Chicago mob has put a hit out on him. Tony says he will cut off Pasha a slice of his heroin and prostitution rackets in return, but Pasha says he wants nothing to do with heroin, because kids in his neighborhood are dying from it. Pasha says that he will need 30 days to get his business in order before he can turn things over to Tony and asks him to cancel the hit. Tony then tells Pasha that a member of his gang is a traitor and reports everything directly to Tony, so if he does anything behind Tony's back, he will know it. Pasha then asks Tony to step outside so they can talk privately, leaving Serene alone with one of Tony's goons. Serene then slashes the goon's throat with a sharp ring he/she is wearing (we see a nice bloody wound), Serene comes outside laughing and she and Tony take off in their car (Pasha never considered turning his business over to Tony and this was a small payback for the massacre he orchestrated earlier in the film). The rest of the film finds Tony running his numbers racket, visiting his whorehouse (he slugs a white prostitute by mistake when she hugs him from behind and he apologizes profusely), seeing his very understanding wife (and having sex, the only nudity in this film) and putting Serene in charge of finding the traitor. Pasha also takes an interest in young buck Nathan Jones (Curtis Price); his little brother Billy (Terry Ransom) already works for Pasha, his betting slips are inside the bags of potato chips, joking "That boy sure eats a lot of potato chips!" (Both Nathan and Pasha laugh) and Pasha has his brother Jimmy (Larry Greene) show the Nathan the ropes of taking and collecting bets (There's a funny scene between Nathan and DuDirty about an unpaid payout owed to Nathan, but Pasha takes care of it in his usual level-headed way). Pasha's #1 man, Sweetman (Reginald Farmer), knows all the hiding places where people place their bets, like a broken washing machine, inside a pool table, etc. and makes daily pickups on the bets. Meanwhile, The Mayor and City Council (who are all coming up for re-election) want to do something to get them votes, so they bring in an "expert" to explain how the numbers racket works and how to get rid of Pasha (Typical meeting banter: Mayor: "What kind of name in Pasha?"  Councilman: "A nigger name."). Thankfully, Pasha and the white Police Chief are tight and he informs Pasha about what is going on at those meetings, but the Police Chief says he has to make a few minor arrests of his men so no one becomes suspicious of him. His police force arrests Jimmy in a poolhall (after Sweetman escapes a police chase by hiding his car in a U-Haul truck), so Pasha's young black lawyer, Sam Kingston (Henry Sanders; DEADLY SUNDAY - 1982), proves his worth and gets Jimmy out of jail before Tony's men can kill him. Pasha gets caught in the middle of another hit and one of his men ends up dead and another one gets shot in the leg, but what hurts Pasha the worst is when Nathan is kidnapped and then found dead and dumped (in front of Billy, who yells for Nathan to "Get up!") with an icepick sticking in his neck, a note addressed to Pasha, which Sweetman brings him. All it says is, "You're Next". Pasha then sets up a plan where every bad guy will get their due, but only a select few of his people know the plan. Serene takes two of Tony's hitmen to a motel room (with an offer of sex, they not knowing that Serene is a transvestite), where Serene drugs their booze and then beats them both to death with the sharp heel of her shoe to their faces (the film's bloody highlight, as we see the hitmen's bloody faces as blood splatters on the camera lens until all we see is red). Pasha goes to Big Tony's house, where se says he wants to make a deal. Tony tells Pasha that he wants him dead ("You've always been a man of honor, Hakim. Something I never could stand in a nigger.") and then makes Pasha play Russian Roulette with the gun Pasha left at Tony's restaurant earlier in the film. It seems Tony filed down the firing pin, just to see Pasha sweat, but Tony makes a big mistake when he tells Pasha the the room they are in is soundproof. Pasha hits Tony on his head over-and-over with the butt of the gun until we see quick shots of brain matter flying through the air. Pasha's crew are having a party at Reverend Axle's (Onezene 'Ben' Geyen) house, not knowing that it will be their last party together. Pasha and Jimmy are flying to Mexico tomorrow (Pasha also hands over and envelope full of money to Serene, saying to "lay low", so Serene changes into men's clothing, complete with bald head, thick black-rimmed glasses, a nice three-piece suit and carrying a briefcase and walks outside, where three of Tony's goons are waiting for Serene to come out so they can blow her away. They see the bald guy come out and think nothing of him when he walks up to the driver and asks for a light for his cigar, but when the male Serene walks away, we hear her distinct laugh and the camera freezes on the three goons' faces (I quess we know that they realize their time is up on this Earth). Serene also discovered who the traitor is and told Pasha earlier. It is Sweetman and Pasha has his men machine-gun him down while he is making a call to Tony (who he doesn't know is dead) in a phone booth. As Sweetman comes stumbling out of the phone booth with his bullet-ridden body, his life flashes in front of his eyes and he dies in the gutter. A fitting death for a traitor. The film then ends with these final words: THE DEAD END.  Although director/editor Bill Brame (CYCLE SAVAGES - 1969; FREE GRASS - 1969; MISS MELODY JONES - 1972. He also edited such films as PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW - 1971 and BEYOND THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE - 1979) tries something different with the blaxploitation genre, the screenplay, by first-and-only-timer Fredricka DeCosta, is too laid-back for its own good. There aren't nearly enough action sequences and it plays more like a character study, with very brief instances of violence every 30 minutes. It also doesn't help that this film is also full of anachronisms, including in the first shot, where Tony's goons step out of a 1973 Cadillac and this is supposed to be 1956. We also see plenty of 70's cars reflected off the windows of store fronts. Also, one boy wears a L.A. Dodgers baseball cap and the Dodgers didn't move from New York to L.A. until 1958. We also see the boom mike make appearances at the top of the screen during the City Council meetings, but that is probably because the fullscreen print is open matte and it would have been masked out when shown in widescreen. On the plus side, there is decent acting by nearly everyone involved and having a transvestite character being the boss's sidekick was a ballsy move for a film set in 1956. I get the feeling that Brame was trying to surprise the audience by revealing Serene was actually a transvestite when she changed into men's clothing during the finale, but it is highly apparent that she was actually a he the first time we saw Serene (The opening credits say "And Introducing Serene", while the closing credits gives out the actor's real name, who has never done anything since). Pasha's life is also shown as being anything but glamorous because, even though he has all the amenities money can buy, including a beautiful penthouse where he lives with his mother Mama Lottie (Frances Williams; TOGETHER BROTHERS - 1974) and beautiful wife named Romaine (Karmello Brooks), he really has no time to pay attention to the finer things because he is always taking care of business. I have to say I was disappointed in the film because all the action in the film is shown in the trailer, but if your tastes run more toward character development than action, this film may hold some interest to you. Just don't watch the trailer first. Production Designer Art Names would direct the film FANGS the same years this film was made. Also starring Pat Edwards, Ronald Ransom, Cal Wilson, Luke Walker, Morris Wade, Howard Mayo and Don Thompson. 80% of the people in this film never went on to do anything else. You can find this film on many DVD compilations or as a stand-alone budget DVD (by at least three companies), but get more bang for your buck and go for the compilations. The Mill Creek DRIVE IN MOVIE CLASSICS is the best of the compilations because it has the widest selection of films I have seen in a 50-film set and most of the fullscreen prints look good. NOTE: Code Red has finally released this film (as BABY NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF SHOES) and FAMILY HONOR on OAR Blu-Rays.  Rated R.

JUNGLE VIRGIN FORCE (1982) - Screwy Indonesian jungle film about a female vine-swinger named Jelita (Lidya Kandou). She saves a group of female tribe members from a killer crocodile and to show their appreciation, the female members want to make her an honorary Queen of the tribe, which doesn't sit too well with the skinny High Priest and the other male members. They slaughter most of the females, but Jelita and the real Queen get away (the Queen is tossed off a cliff, but she gets up and dusts herself off!). Meanwhile, a group of college students in Jakarta have gotten their hands on a map that will lead them to treasure in the New Guinea jungle, located in an area called the Triangle of Death. Also after the map are a group of criminals who try to steal the map but, time and time again, are unsuccessful. The college kids take a plane to the outskirts of the New Guinea jungle, where they meet guide Mr. Bunyon (who wears a yellow hardhat!). He leads them down river in a canoe and almost immediately end up falling over a waterfall (some guide!), forcing them to continue on foot. One of the female college students is captured by the male tribe, who cut off her head with a stone axe and parade it around on a pole. The crooks are following close behind and are also captured by the tribe. When the tribe attack the college students, Jelita swings (literally) into action, but the tribe kidnaps female member Maya and seriously wounds Bunyon with a spear to his back (one college kid stupidly asks, "Bunyon, are you O.K.?" while Bunyon is lying there bleeding with a big-ass spear in his back). After watching the tribe consume the flesh of one male crook, Jelita saves Maya and the rest of the crooks and everyone joins forces against the tribe and the spiked boobytraps in the jungle. Bunyon recognizes Jelita as the daughter he lost in a plane crash in the jungle many years ago and makes the college students promise to bring her back to civilization, just before he dies. Jelita and one of the college guys fall in love as the crooks plot a way to get their hands on the map. The conclusion finds the surviving female members fighting the males for control of tribe and the college students fighting the crooks for control of the map. Only two make it out alive. Can you guess which ones?  Unbelievably stupid, but hilarious in execution, JUNGLE VIRGIN FORCE is laugh-a-minute mindless fun. The male tribe members are portrayed as bumbling buffoons yet, when they kill other people, the film suddenly turns very serious and bloody. I especially liked the scene where the High Priest of the tribe (who can shoot magical lightning bolts from his fingertips) rewards the male members he thinks have killed the Queen by growing horns (big-ass horns!) on the top of their heads! One tribe member uses his horns later on to gore one of the crooks in the stomach, just before they cannibalize him. Another hilarious scene has one of the college guys befriending a male tribe member and trying to make him civilized. He looks at his penis and says, "Always keep that thing covered up! Do you want people to think you're immoral?" As with most latter-day jungle films, there's scenes of real animal slaughter, a female tribal dance and plenty of stock jungle footage. Curiously, all the female nudity is optically fogged out, but not a couple of instances of male nudity. Jelita, who has a monkey sidekick, also has the lamest Tarzan-like yell you'll ever hear. The film also offers plenty of bloodshed, as people are impaled by spears, arrows and flying rocks (!), one female tribe member dissolves bloodily before your eyes, a guy is attacked by a horde of snakes and the final battle between the High Priest and the Queen causes a volcano to erupt! Good stuff. Good stuff. Directed by Danu Umbara (FIVE DEADLY ANGELS - 1980). Also starring Harry Capri, Enny Beatrice, Nenna Rosier, Rita Zahara, Jefry Sani, Torro Margens and J.M. Dansyik. Available on DVD from those thieving bastards at VideoAsia/Ventura Distribution in a strangely-cropped widescreen print as part of their TALES OF VOODOO series (Volume 1). This would make a good double bill with PRIMITIVES (1978). Not Rated.

THE KLANSMAN (1974) - Here's a racially-charged 70's exploitation film with an A-list cast. When a white woman, Nancy Poteet (Linda Evans), is raped by a black man in Atoka County, Alabama, the town's sheriff, Track Bascombe (Lee Marvin), tries to keep the peace between the county's black and white citizens, with disasterous results. It doesn't help that the town's mayor, Hardy Riddle (David Huddleston), is the "Exaulted Cyclops" of the local chapter of the KKK or that a group of black and white protesters are planning a black voting rally in town the coming weekend. Members of the KKK grab a black man off the side of the road and castrate him, followed by a diet of several bullets, one fired by each member of the KKK that are present. The dead black man's friend, Garth (O.J. Simpson), the local black hothead, witnesses the atrocity and vows revenge against whitey. Garth dresses as a KKK member and lures one KKK member out of his house and then perforates his body with a shotgun blast. Sheriff Bascomb's best friend, Breck Stancill (Richard Burton), who owns thousands of acres in the county (his ancestors were slave owners in the same county), is sympathetic to the black cause and plans on letting the protesters stay on his land while they prepare for their rally. As you can probably guess, this doesn't sit too well with the KKK and the majority of townspeople, who are racist rednecks (including the women!). When Nancy is considered persona non grata with the local white population (Even though she was raped, she's chased out of church during Sunday Services when the parishioners scream at her, "You slept with a black man!"), Breck lets her live with him in his mountain home and they eventually fall in love. During the funeral for the dead KKK member (which is attended by nearly the entire white population of the county, not to mention the media), Garth picks-off some more Klan members with a high-powered rifle, which leads to all kinds of pandemonium. When Breck's friend, Loretta Sykes (Lola Falana; LADY COCOA - 1974), is beaten-up and raped by Track's deputy, Butt Cutt Cates (Cameron Mitchell), Breck finds out that his friend Track may not be so neutral after all. The question is, which side is he favoring? In the fatalistic finale, the Klan raids Breck's mountain home when he refuses to side with the rednecks at the rally. Breck is forced to put aside his pacifist ways and take up arms with Track and Garth as they battle the multitude of white-hooded interlopers armed with guns and torches. In a surprising turn of events, only Garth is left standing in the end.  Man, I miss the 70's. At least we have films like this to remind us how politically incorrect that decade really was. This film is about as politically incorrect as they come, even if the script, by Millard Kaufman and the late, great Samuel Fuller (who was also slated to direct, but walked-off the project when the studio demanded changes in his script, specifically Lee Marvin's character, who was originally a KKK leader and not a sheriff), is peppered with self-righteous speeches about racial equality and depictions of the Klan as male-castrating, women-raping thugs. Make no mistake, though, this film's heart is firmly entrenched in the seedier elements of exploitation, as women are raped and beaten, people are shot and nearly every white male in the town utters the word "nigger" at least once in every sentence of dialogue. What I find hilarious is that THE KLANSMAN was directed by a Brit, genre vet Terence Young (COLD SWEAT - 1970; THE VALACHI PAPERS - 1972) and it stars Oscar-winning British actor Richard Burton as a gimpy, alcoholic Southern landowner who only gets animated once the "stupid rednecks" kill his dog. Granted, Burton portraying an alcoholic was not much of a stretch, but he basically sleepwalks through his role here and his Southern accent comes and goes, sometimes in the same sentence. Watching Burton's "judo" fight with Cameron Mitchell, where he sends Mitchell clear across the room and through a door with a simple slap to his face, is a thing of unintentional hilarity, though. Lee Marvin is just as sleepy (both he and Burton were drunk most of the time while filming and would often get into fistfights with each other after the camera stopped rolling), so it's up to the amazing cast of character actors to carry the day. And what a cast: Cameron Mitchell, David Huddleston, Hoke Howell, Luciana Paluzzi, Vic Perrin (the voice of "Control" in the original OUTER LIMITS TV series), David Ladd, Virgil Frye, Lee De Broux, Jeannie Bell and, of course, O.J. Simpson, who we see is very proficient with shotguns and rifles (Too bad he didn't use a knife here. It may have gotten him convicted.). Be aware that the DVD put out by Passion Productions is edited for nudity, violence and foul language but, strangely, leaves the word "nigger" unscathed throughout. The only violence missing seems to be the rapes and the castration scenes, which makes me wonder: This couldn't possibly be a TV edit, so just what purpose does this edit serve? The mind boggles. Paramount Pictures (who released this theatrically) must have liked what they saw, because they would release and even more exploitative slave drama, MANDINGO, the next year, which also starred a Brit (James Mason). THE KLANSMAN is available unedited on Swedish DVD and is also available on British DVD under the title THE BURNING CROSS (the term "klansman" has a totally different meaning across the pond). Rated R.

KNIGHTS OF THE CITY (1985) - This 80's gang drama/musical is like a retarded version of WEST SIDE STORY (1961), but instead of the Sharks vs. the Jets, it's the Knights vs. the Mechanics and there's breakdancing and rapping involved. Troy (an overage Leon Isaac Kennedy; HOLLYWOOD VICE SQUAD - 1986), the leader of the Knights (who is also lead singer in the Knight's band, The Royal Rockers), calls for a rumble with the Mechanics when they begin stealing cars in the Knight's territory. During the rumble, the police show up and lock up the Knights for the night, since Carlos (Jeff Moldovan of MASTERBLASTER - 1986, who is also one of this film's fight coordinators), the leader of the Mechanics, has the police on his payroll. During their night in jail, the Knights put on an impromptu musical performance (The Fat Boys and Kurtis Blow, other jail inmates, also perform!), which is heard by music executive Mr. Delamo (Michael Ansara), who is sleeping off a night of boozing and driving in the next cell. He gives the Knights is business card (and his Visa card, which they don't return!) and tells Troy to come come to his office when they get out. The Knights show up at his office the next day and are met by Delamo's daughter Brooke (the beautiful Janine Turner of TV's NOTHERN EXPOSURE [1990-1995]), who takes their demo tape and brushes them off. Trouble is, once Brooke listens to the tape, she likes what she hears, but has no way of contacting Troy. With her father's permission, Brooke holds a citywide street music contest. When Troy shows up to register, Brooke and Troy fall in love, which upsets Troy's live-in girlfriend Jasmine (Wendy Barry). She goes to Carlos' hangout (One member says, "Hey Carlos, Troy's nuts are here!") and conspires with him to bring Troy and the Knights down. Carlos has the police hassle the Knights and enters Jasmine in the music competition (that should teach Troy!). Mr. Delamo doesn't want Troy dating his daughter, which puts pressure on their romance. It all comes down to the street music contest, where Troy and The Royal Rockers compete against the city's best unsigned bands, including "Jasmine And Her Bad Girls". Troy's band wins, Carlos shoots and kills Jasmine and there's a big rumble in the finale where Troy teaches Carlos a lesson. Oh, and Troy dumps Brooke, too!  If the whole film looks and sounds like some extended neon-soaked music video, it because director Dominic Orlando was responsible for music videos for the likes of Berlin, Kansas, Diana Ross, Celine Dion and New Kids On The Block. Besides the film being severely dated with 80's music, dancing, fashion and dialogue ("Sounds fresh!") and having cameos by The Fat Boys, Kurtis Blow, K.C. (of The Sunshine Band), Smokey Robinson and Deney Terrio (of TV's DANCE FEVER), the main drawbacks are a terrible over-the-top performance by Nicholas Campbell (CERTAIN FURY - 1985) as Joey, Troy's second-in-command (I swear he was trying to purposely ruin the film) and an unrealistic view of streetlife during the 80's. Every aspect of life depicted in this film is a fantasy, which would be fine if the screenplay (by star Leon Isaac Kennedy, who also starred in the PENITENTIARY trilogy) didn't try to convince us that this is the way life really was (the film's idea of poignancy is showing a streetperson missing an arm). The music competition is a joke because the only two bands we see perform are Troy's and Jasmine's (What kind of contest is that?), as is the final rumble, where everyone uses breakdancing moves when they fight each other. Believe it or not, this actually got a major theatrical release and did quite well. But, unlike fine wine, this hasn't aged very well. It's like looking in your high school yearbook and being embarassed of the way you looked and dressed. What seemed appropriate back then makes you say "What was I thinking?" now. The only good thing about this film is Janine Turner. Even with 80's big hair and fashions, she's a stunner to look at. Also starring Floyd Levine, Stoney Jackson, John Mengatti, Jeff Kutash (also the film's dance choreographer), Sonny Anthony, Mark Lemberger and Dino Henderson. A New World Video VHS Release. Rated R.

KONG ISLAND (1968) - Bert (Brad Harris), a mercenary, returns to Nairobi, Africa looking for Albert Muller (Marc Lawrence), a doctor who shot him in the back and left him for dead during a payroll robbery a few months before. Bert joins a group of people on safari, looking to bag some type of rare ape, the "Sacred Monkey". When Bert's ex-girlfriend, Diana (Adriana Alben), is kidnapped by some apes, he is convinced Albert is behind it. Bert is correct, of course, as Albert is shown operating on the apes, putting radio-control devices in their brains so they can do his bidding. After much African travelogue footage, Bert and his trigger-happy group have a chance meeting with the Sacred Monkey, who turns out to ba a topless woman (Esmeralda Barros), a female Tarzan who can talk and control all the animals in the jungle. She takes a liking to Bert and he's going to need her help as Albert's henchman, Turk (Aldo Cecconi), and the Albert-controlled apes kill everyone in his group and chase him through the jungle. Bert and Eve (Bert's nickname for the topless woman) find Albert's laboratory hideaway where they have one final confrontation and Bert saves Diana.  This is one of those late night TV staples that use to play every other week during the 70's and 80's before disappearing into obscurity. And rightfully so. This is about the most boring film I have seen and if it weren't for the topless, and in one instance, full frontal, nudity of Esmeralda Barros, I would have surely turned it off. Bert is also one of the most unsympathetic heroes I have seen in quite a while. He is only motivated by money and revenge and doesn't seem to care if Diana or Eve are hurt in his pursuit of Albert. Don't even get me started on the dime-store ape costumes. The Bowery Boys had better looking ape costumes in their movies. Movie tough guy Marc Lawrence, who had been in films since 1932 and later directed the 1972 horror film PIGS (he died in 2005 at the age of 95), is badly dubbed here (his voice is distinctive) and looks rather bored throughout. Retromedia Entertainment has released this film in two versions on one DVD: The American Version as KONG ISLAND and the uncut European Version as KING OF KONG ISLAND. The American Version is shown fullframe and is missing much of the nudity found in the European Version. But beware: The European Version looks like it was culled from a Greek VHS cassette as it looks a little dupey and has non-removable Greek subtitles. It is slightly letterboxed, though. Director Roberto Mauri, who anglicized his name to "Robert Morris" for this release, is better known as the director of SLAUGHTER OF THE VAMPIRES (1962). KONG ISLAND is also known in some parts of the world as EVE, THE WILD WOMAN and if you want to be bored for around 90 minutes, I can't think of a better way of doing it. A Retromedia Entertainment DVD Release. Not Rated.

LETHAL VICTIMS (1987) - During the 70's & 80's, there was a small subgenre of exploitation films that I file under the "rape/revenge" category. Some films that fit into this subgenre include RAPE SQUAD (a.k.a. ACT OF VENGEANCE - 1974), I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978), NAKED VENGEANCE (1985), THE LADIES CLUB (1987) and this one, probably the least-known of the bunch. The story opens with Judy Ballard (Lisa London) being savagedly raped on a beach by two yuppie punks. Her boyfriend is also seriously injured in the attack and after being treated more loke a criminal than a victim by an uncaring Deputy D.A. (Frank Stallone) and an understanding (but ineffectual) cop (GHOULIES' Peter Liapis), Judy joins a group of former rape victims called W.A.R.: WOMEN AGAINST RAPE (the film's original title). At first the group, run by Helen Shaw (Donna Denton), offers classes in self-defense and group therapy, where women tell their rape stories (and flashbacks show how they happened with some of the rapists portrayed by George "Buck" Flower and Jerry Van Dyke [who strips down to his underwear!]). But, when Helen is nearly raped by the Halloween Rapist, a masked serial rapist credited with over 15 sexual assaults, she decides to change the way her group operates: Take the law into their own hands.  Needless to say, this does not sit too well with the police or Helen's father Judge Shaw (Martin Landau), as W.A.R. begins getting serious media attention, giving law enforcement and the judicial system a black eye. W.A.R. begins making a difference, capturing rapists, branding their naked asses with the word "RAPIST" and turning their bruised and burnt bodies over to the police. The more violent rapists get a more lethal treatment, though. Can W.A.R. give Judy's rapists (one being a Senator's son) the punishment they deserve and unmask the Halloween Rapist?  Haphazardly directed by exploitation vet Raphael Nussbaum (PETS - 1974; SPEAK OF THE DEVIL - 1991), this film jumps around from scene-to-scene with no rhyme or reason and looks like it was edited with a chainsaw. Frank Stallone is so stiff (or just embarassed) that I expected termites to shoot out of his mouth every time he talked. I also wondered what Nussbaum was holding over the heads of genre vets Landau, Henry Darrow, Jack Carter and Terry Moore to appear in lurid crap like this (One rapist says to a victim, "I'll choke you with my cock!" Classy, huh?). We also get to see Jerry Van Dyke's naked ass as he gets branded and Don Swayze also plays a rapist. I bet that both of their more-famous brothers must have been proud. The only good moment in this film is the unmasking of the Halloween Rapist and his punishment. It's a corker. Let's just say that this film is not a good day for the reputations of the stars' more-famous brothers.  This DVD is part of Eden Entertainment's I WILL DANCE ON YOUR GRAVE series, which also includes Donald Farmer's CANNIBAL HOOKERS (1986) and SAVAGE VENGEANCE (1989) and Tim Ritter's KILLING SPREE (1987). Eden Entertainment (which was a sublabel of Magnum Video Distributors and was not associated with Magnum Entertainment) apparently had no experience in pressing DVDs, as their print of LETHAL VICTIMS is a total mess. The full frame picture quality changes from reel to reel and the sound quality ranges from a hissly low to moments of eardrum-bursting loudness. It looks like it was ported over from a third generation VHS dupe. There are other budget DVDs out there that also carry the film, but there's a VHS tape of this film from New Star Home Video, under the title DEATH BLOW, that is in much better condition. Rated R.

LETHAL WOMAN (1988) - In this umpteenth retelling of THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME, man-hating Christine (Merete Van Kamp) and her band of female warriors hunt down military men as trophies on her private island (we see Christine and her warriors dancing topless around a fire in the beginning of the film, the head of her latest victim impaled on a stick and his cooked flesh eaten in an act of cannibalism). We quickly learn just why Christine hates milirary men when, in an extended flashback, we see her being raped by her commanding officer, Colonel Maxim (James Luisi), when she refuses his advances. She brings charges and he is put on trial for court martial, but Colonel Maxim is exonerated when Christine's Army boyfriend, John (Deon Stewardson), lies on the stand after being threatened by Maxim with a not-so-plum reassignment. Not only was her military career destroyed, Christine also lost her virginity to Maxim on that fateful day. She has spent the following years killing all those that did nothing to help her when she was raped, over twenty men so far and she has saved Maxim (who raped her again at gunpoint after the trial, just to show her he could) for her final victim. Together, with right-hand woman Tory (Gene Simmons sperm recepticle Shannon Tweed) and her squad of female warriors, Christine (who now uses the name Diana) has Maxim come to the island under the pretext of a hunting and sex party, only Maxim doesn't yet know that he's the one soon to be hunted. Christine makes the mistake of allowing one more military man on the island to be hunted, Major Derek Johnson (John Lipton), who briefly met Christine shortly before she was raped. She is unaware that Derek was pulled out of retirement to stop her from killing any more men. Christine's hatred of men gets the best of her (she's quite deranged, actually), so when she and her all-female court of law convict Maxim of rape, she sets him loose in her jungle paradise and hunts him down with a compound bow, shooting arrows into both of his legs, poking his eyes out with her earrings (!) and then finishing him off with a knife to the stomach. She should have stopped there, because when Derek arrives on the island and proves to be a decent human being (as well as a formidable opponent), Tory falls in love with him and begins to see his side of things. Christine catches wind of it and imprisons Tory in the dungeon while she and her warriors hunt Derek in the jungle. Derek manages to turn the tables and takes on Christine (with an assist from Tory) in a final fight to the death.  Although nothing exceptional, LETHAL WOMAN (originally known as THE MOST DANGEROUS WOMAN ALIVE) is a pretty watchable exploitationer, thanks to tons of female flesh (but, surprisingly, very little nudity), some good location scenery and decent gore and action set-pieces. I love the way everyone mocks Derek's stature (they all say to him, "You're such a little guy!"), yet he always surprises them all with his quickness and agility. There's a scene where, once on the island (where Derek, and we, learn that all the women there, including Tory, were raped at one time), Derek watches a facially-scarred woman take on five other women (including Tory) in hand-to-hand combat and defeats them all easily with her cold-hearted demeanor. When Christine tells Derek to take her on, we expect a good, prolonged fight, but Derek immediately catches her off-guard with his good manners and knocks her out with a rolled-up magazine in less than two seconds. This film follows the plot of THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (the novel as well as the original 1932 film) rather closely, as we see Christine's "Trophy Room", which is full of her male victims' severed heads and a prolonged hunter vs. hunted-turned-hunter finale. Model Merete Van Kamp reminds the viewer of a less-busty Sybil Danning and the acting by the rest of the cast is passable, if a little overwrought in places (especially from some of Christine's female warriors). Like I said, it's nothing special, but there's some fun to be had if you're a fan of films in this genre. I've certainly seen much worse. The diminutive Deep Roy (who played every Oompa-Loompa in Tim Burton's CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY - 2005) has a cameo as a female dwarf (!) during an orgy/feast scene on the island. Also starring Graeme Clarke, Prudence Solomon, Linda Warren, Phillipa Vernon, Larry Taylor and Adrienne Pierce. Originally available on VHS from VidAmerica Inc.. Not yet available on DVD. Rated R.

LITTLE CIGARS (1973) - In the beginning of this PG-rated crime comedy, conwoman/callgirl Cleo (Angel Tompkins; THE BEES - 1978) extinguishes a cigar on crime boss Travers' (Joe DeSantis) penis and then robs him of all his jewelry and money, making a quick getaway out of town before Travers' two goons can find her and bring her back to him. Sporting a short brunette wig to cover her long blonde hair, Cleo takes a job as a waitress at a rundown diner, where she meets dwarf customers Slick Bender (Billy Curtis; HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER - 1973) and Cadillac (Jerry Maren; SIDE SHOW - 1981), who, along with three other dwarves, Monty (Frank Delfino), Hugo (Emory Souza) and Frankie (Felix Silla; Cousin Itt on THE ADDAMS FAMILY and Twiki on BUCK ROGERS), put on a traveling vaudeville and burlesque show (it's really bad) that is nothing but a scam to occupy the audience while the little guys steal items from their cars. Cleo takes in the show and is quick to discover the midgets' scam (It takes one to know one) when she notices that her gun is missing from her car. Cleo and Slick form an alliance when Travers' two goons, Faust (Jon Cedar; DAY OF THE ANIMALS - 1976) and Ganz (Philip Kenneally), show up at the diner and Cleo fires a slug into Ganz's arm (She cracks enough short jokes to fill a book and Slick reciprocates by teasing her about her height, but things get serious when Cleo calls Slick a "dwarf". He grabs her arm and tells her that he's a "midget" and when she asks what's the difference, he simply says, "A broken arm".). Cleo has her car painted a different color and joins Slick's troupe, helping the little guys bilk money from their hick audience (by picking their pockets while selling them magical candy bars guaranteed to increase their sex drive!). Cleo soon grows tired of the nickel-and-dime action (She tells Slick, "I guess being small means thinking small. Hell, you can't even steal big!") and longs for the days of fancy hotels and expensive clothes, so she leaves Slick to find a "big man". Slick finds her at a bar and beats the crap out of the normal-sized guy she is with, which impresses Cleo. After they both rob the bar (and become lovers), Cleo and Slick decide to go into big time crime and begin robbing establishments with the help of the other four miniature sidekicks. Their first job is robbing a garage (late genre vet Michael Pataki [GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE - 1972] plays the garage mechanic), followed by a movie theater heist (which is showing the Warren Oates-starrer DILLINGER - 1973) and a laundry robbery (where the vertically challenged quintet use their lack of height to their advantage), with Cleo donning various disguises as their getaway driver. Things take a turn for the worse when Faust and Ganz track down Cleo, forcing Slick and his gang to kill them to protect her. They can all see the writing on the wall (Cleo is captured by the police, but is rescued by the midgets), so they plan one more big heist, a bank robbery, after which they all plan to go on their separate ways. The robbery is botched and a cowardly Cleo and a pissed-off Slick leave their four comrades behind to shoot it out with the police while they head to San Francisco. The finale shows why you should never betray a little person, as Cadillac, Monty, Hugo and Frankie pay a surprise visit to Slick and Cleo in their hotel room and teach them a lesson they will never forget.  This comedy caper, directed by Chris Cristenberry (a director of 70's American episodic TV; this being his only feature film) and written by Louis Garfinkle and Frank Ray Perelli (who both also wrote the screenplay for THE DOBERMAN GANG - 1972), is a fun and breezy genre film that is not as cheesy or as exploitative as it sounds. It doesn't pander when it comes to the midgets, as they are portrayed as living, breathing human beings and not caricatures. They have the same traits as "normal" people, both good and bad, only they have to put up with constants stares, height jokes and pats on the head by nearly everyone they come across (Some of their verbal comebacks are priceless, though). Billy Curtis is very good as Slick, the leader of the midget conmen; a gruff, no-nonsense individual who has a psychological hold on the other midgets and really loves Cleo (And who couldn't love the beautiful Angel Tompkins, one of the best unsung actresses of the 70's?). There are some laugh-out-loud moments here, including a police line-up of midgets and dwarves (one of them played by Angelo Rossito; DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN - 1971) and a late night holdup of a business where the police refuse to shoot the midgets because they believe they are children! There are also some serious moments, such as the deaths of Faust and Ganz and the poignant finale, where love wins out after all. LITTLE CIGARS (advertised as THE LITTLE CIGARS MOB on posters and ad mats, but not on the actual film prints) is a satisfying slice of 70's exploitation, the kind of entertainment they (sadly) just don't make anymore. If you want to watch little people go about their business today, you have to watch a reality series on The Learning Channel or catch them being exploited at a circus. As far as I can tell, this film (released theatrically by American International Pictures) has never had a legitimate home video release in the United States. My copy was sourced from a recording taken from pay cable station Showtime. Rated PG.

LOST SOULS (1980) - Here's a Hong Kong Shaw Brothers production that opens with an impassioned plea for the plight of illegal immigrants escaping from oppressive Mainland China to the free society of (a pre-1997) Hong Kong and then proceeds to pile-on the sleaze for the next 90 minutes. A group of illegals try to sneak into Hong Kong by swimming to it's shores (aided and abetted by inflated condoms attached to their bodies!), hoping to fall into a 72 hour grace period (where the government will allow anyone amnesty before the mandated October 24, 1980 deadline) and then heading to the legendary city of Diamond Hill, where life is prosperous for everyone, only to encounter degradation after degradation at the hands of profiteers, smugglers and others out to exploit them. The swimmers, led by Tung, finally hitch a ride on an overcrowded boat full of other illegals, but when they make it to shore under the cover of darkness, the leader of the boat people won't let Tung, Dai Chung and his sister Chuen follow them. That decision is a double-edged sword, as all the boat people are captured by the cops (who were expecting them) and our trio is taken in by an old man and his two sons. The old man, it turns out, is as crooked as a hillbilly's teeth. He calls-up Dai Chung and Chuen's uncle, Luk Shang Heng, and demands $15,000 for the safe return of the trio. When Uncle Heng shows up with only $10,000, the old man will only allow two to be set free. Tung tells Dai Chung and Chuen to go, but when Tung has the opportunity to escape, he takes it. The old man grabs Dai Chung and Chuen in retribution and locks them in a shed. Tung returns to rescue his comrades, but a series of events finds Dai Chung getting his leg ensnared in a steel trap and taken captive by human smuggler Fatty, while Tung and Chuen are captured by rival smuggler Mr, Hok and his rape-happy gang (The sadistic Mr. Hok, who is crippled and walks with a cane, is seen pouring hot candle wax over some poor naked woman's body and then turning her over to his gang for some rape antics). This is when the film turns really nasty and unpleasant, as Chuen is graphically gang-raped in front of Tung (after covering her body in human waste), Mr. Hok and his gang attack Fatty's camp and capture the illegals (setting the ones they don't want on fire by pouring gasoline over their bodies), and everyone is stripped naked (including young children) on Mr. Hok's orders and forced to watch a young woman being burned alive with gasoline for refusing to strip. After too much degradation, rape and torture to catalogue in a simple review, the captives become the captors and mete out revenge to those that wronged them (including a torture lifted directly from CALIGULA [1979]). I'm afraid it ends up badly for everyone involved, as all the illegals are captured by the police except Tung, who finally reaches his destination of Diamond Hill, only to discover that it is one of the worst slums in Hong Kong. Another immigrant dream shot to hell.  While this film pretends to be a serious indictment against the abuse of illegal immigrants, it's quite apparent to see that director Mou Tun-Fei (better known on our shores as "T.F. Mous" of MEN BEHIND THE SUN [1988] infamy) was aiming no higher than a graphic exploitationer. Though the film starts out relatively tame, it progressively gets worse and worse, as director Tun-Fei doesn't forego any chance to display every exploitative element imaginable, showing both male and female full-frontal nudity, unpleasant scenes of rape, too much degradation to keep track of and plenty of graphic violence. The misogyny in this film is unrelenting, as women are repeatedly raped, manhandled and, in one case, treated like cattle when a man with a huge potbelly haggles with Mr. Hok over the price of individual naked women in Hok's stable, with the agreed-on price of each woman written on their asses in red lipstick and the final price tallied-up with a calculator after the bidding is over. It should come as no surprise to anyone to learn later on in the film that Mr. Hok is a brutal homosexual (which would explain why many of his male gang members wear tight short-shorts or parade around in their underwear for much of the film); his gang presenting him the naked, hog-tied body of Dai Chung as a birthday gift (wrapped in a white sheet and red bow!). Mr. Hok wastes no time greasing-up Dai Chung's asshole with Vaseline and butt-fucking him, which leads to Dai Chung biting Mr. Hok on the neck and refusing to let go until they are both dead (Hok by punctured carotid artery and Dai Chung by an extensive beating by Hok's goons). Instead of being upset, Hok's gang argue about who is going to be the next big boss! While this is nowhere near as graphic as Mou Tun-Fei's previously-mentioned MEN BEHIND THE SUN or it's third sequel, BLACK SUN: THE NANKING MASSACRE (1995), LOST SOULS still contains a lot of stuff that demands a strong stomach or, at least, an understanding of the "anything goes" Hong Kong exploitation genre. You should know by now whether this film is your cup of tea or not. Starring Yen Hung, Chi Feng, Chen Ming, Chan Shen, Liang Chen-Ni, Chiang Yang, Yin Hsiang-Lin and Chow Chien-Ping. Available on DVD in an uncut Widescreen English-subtitled print from Celestial Pictures/Image Entertainment. Not Rated.

MAD FOXES (1981) - This has to be one of the most fucked-up and politically incorrect films ever made. In other words, I loved it! It's got murder, rape, an overage motorcycle gang who wear swastika armbands, dubbing that sounds like it was recorded by asylum inmates, intestine-fondling and swing dancing! Hal (Robert O'Neal) and his virgin girlfriend are sitting in his Corvette Stingray at a red light when they are hassled by a balding dude and his motorcycle gang. Hal speeds off and, in the chase, one of the gang members is killed when he crashes into a parked car. Thinking nothing of it, Hal and his girlfriend go to a disco (where people are swing dancing!), get drunk and leave. In the parking lot, Hal is knocked-out and his girlfriend is raped by the gang (the bald guy sticks a finger in her vagina and rubs the virgin blood on her nose!). The next day, Hal has his martial arts buddies disrupt the gang's funeral for their fallen comrade and beat the shit out of them (in one of the lamest exhibits of martial arts ever filmed). Hal then has one of his buddies cut off the bald guy's penis and shove it in his mouth! Later on, the gang goes to the martial arts school, throw a grenade into the classroom and run in, guns blazing. After killing all the students, Stileto (Erik Falk), the new gang leader, tortures the teacher for Hal's address and then shoves a knife in his heart (He says, "Keep my knife as a souvenier and as a reward, here's a cigar!"). The gang goes to Hal's home, but he escapes in his Stingray, the gang following close behind. Hal finds time to pick up a female hitch-hiker named Lilly and then heads to his rich parents' home in the country. While Hal is out fucking Lilly in a field, the bikers invade the home and kill everyone inside. When Hal finds is mother and father brutally murdered, he vows revenge. He tracks down the bikers one-by-one and kills them all (My favorite is when he finds Stileto on the toilet and drops a grenade between his legs as the camera focuses on Stileto's penis before the grenade explodes!). Hal drives home, only to find the castrated bald dude waiting in his apartment holding a bomb. It's an expolsive conclusion.  It's hard to put into mere words how insane and off-center this Spanish film really is. While it's basically a yo-yo dance between Hal and the biker gang to see who can get the best of who, it is full of full frontal nudity (both male and female, with male nudity getting the most screen time) that at times borders on hardcore and crammed with violence that almost goes beyond the call of good taste (I dare any man to watch the castration scene and not cross your legs!). A lot of reviewers compare this to LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972), but they couldn't be more wrong. Where HOUSE had an atmosphere of terror and dread from nearly the first frame, MAD FOXES does the exact opposite. The gang of bikers are almost a joke as they keep falling off their bikes, walk around naked in public or just act stupidly (I'm sure a lot of it was lost in the crazy dubbing). Even when they invade the parents' home and kill the gardener with hedge shears, shoot the cook, machine gun the father, shoot the wheelchair-bound mother in the head (her chair rolls backwards and then tips over!) and then eviscerate the maid and play with her intestines, it's all played braodly and builds no tension at all. It's all shown matter-of-factly. It also doesn't help that Robert O'Neal (real name: Jose Gras), as Hal, has the emotional range of a piece of granite and makes a really stiff hero (he's really no hero at all). This film is best viewed as a comedy, although I highly doubt it was made that way. Something got lost in the translation, but I think we are all better off for it. The violence and nudity are extreme and the laughable dubbing will make you shake your head in disbelief. Seek this one out. Directed by Paul Grau (using the name "Paul Gray") and produced by exploitation master Erwin C. Dietrich, who worked with Jess Franco on some of his more extreme films. Also starring Laura Premica, Siggy Helm, Sally Sullivan, Peter John Saunders and Hank Sutter. A JEF Films DVD Release. Not Rated.

MALIBU HIGH (1978) - Low-rent Crown International production about high school student Kim (Jill Lansing, who looks at least ten years too old for this role), who is flunking out of school, her boyfriend Kevin (Stuart Taylor) has dumped her (Kim: "I thought we had a thing going." Kevin: "We had a no-thing!") and she blames her mother (Phyllis Benson) for her father's suicide. Yes, Kim is traveling that slippery road to Nowheresville. Kim and her best friend Lucy (Katie Johnson) buy some pot from local drug dealer/pimp Tony (Al Mannino) and go back to Lucy's house to get high (using a huge black bong) and drunk, where Kim tells Lucy that she is going to have "all the things my Dad couldn't" (cue flashback of Dad's suicide). The next day, Kim goes to school dressed like a hooker (all the boys whistle at her) and history teacher Mr. Donaldson (John Grant) chastises her for the way she is dressed ("There were more eyes on you than there were on the blackboard!"). Instead of being mad, she hits on him ("Meet me at High Point after school."), then punches Kevin's new girlfriend Annette  (Tammy Taylor) in the nose in the school parking lot ("Bitch!") and makes a deal with Tony to become his newest whore. Mr. Donaldson meets her at High Point after school and they screw. Kim then sells her body to a succession of men, fucking them in the back of Tony's custom van. In no time, Kim is driving around in a brand new MG wearing the best clothes and bribes Mr. Donaldson into giving her an A (She threatens to tell his wife about the birthmark he has on his ass as proof of his indescretion!). She begins screwing all her other male teachers  and blackmails them, too. Kim dumps Tony when Lance (Garth Howard) offers her more money and a higher class of clientele (not to mention her first taste of cocaine). Unfortunately, one of her first tricks tries to get rough with her (with S&M gear), so she kills him with a well-placed ice pick to his back. Lance decides to turn Kim into a hitwoman for the Mob (!). He teaches her how to use a gun (she's good!) and her first assignment is to kill Tony, which she does happily. After killing her high school principal (you gotta see it) and moving in with Lance, Kim is assigned to kill Mob kingpin Harry Ingersoll (Robert Gordon), who happens to be Annette's father. To say anymore will ruin the feelgood ending of 1978!  This sleazy little exploitation item, directed by Irv Berwick (THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS - 1959; HITCH HIKE TO HELL - 1977) and produced by Lawrence D. Foldes (NIGHTSTALKER - 1979; NIGHTFORCE - 1987), is chock-full of nudity (Tammy Taylor has the smallest breasts I've ever seen on a grown woman), unbelievable situations and hysterical dialogue. When Kim's mother wonders where she's getting all her money, Kim says matter-of-factly, "I'm doing relief work." (I nearly had to change my pants!). The turn the plot takes when Kim becomes a hitwoman is so off-the-wall and out of left field (She says, "I'm serious. DEAD serious!" when she kills her second victim.), that it takes the film to a whole new level. This is by no means a good film, as it is badly acted, poorly filmed and looks like it was edited with a chainsaw, but it is unusual and unintentionally funny, such as the scene where she gives the elderly hard-of-hearing high school principal, Mr. Elmhurst (John Harmon), a heart attack (Mr. Donaldson tells Kim, just before she goes to the principal's office, "You can screw the teachers, but you can't screw the school!"). She lures the Mr. Elmhurst to her home, steals his heart medication and then shoves her breasts into his face, causing him to stroke out and die (She says to him as he's lying there dying on the floor, "Don't I derserve an A now, sir?"). This may be an awful film, bit it is an entertaining awful film. Also listen for the theme song from THE PEOPLE'S COURT playing in the background during the climatic chase. The director's son, Wayne Berwick (MICROWAVE MASSACRE - 1978), handled the sound recording. Foldes' YOUNG WARRIORS (1983), originally known as THE GRADUATES OF MALIBU HIGH, is a semi-sequel to this. Originally released on VHS by VCI Home Video in the early 80's. It's available on a double feature DVD from the now-defunct BCI with the film TRIP WITH THE TEACHER (1974). Also available as part of a double feature DVD for the first time in its original aspect ratio from Scorpion Releasing with HUSTLER SQUAD (1976) Rated R. They sure don't make 'em like this anymore!

MAMA'S DIRTY GIRLS (1974) - You know from the opening shot, where a topless Becky (Candice Rialson; PETS - 1974) starts feeling herself up while looking in a mirror, that MAMA'S DIRTY GIRLS is going to be something special. It turns out that Becky is nothing but a cocktease, strutting around in a white bikini, tempting and tormenting stepdaddy George (John Dennis) until he nearly rapes her, but is stopped when Becky's mother, Mama Love (Gloria Grahame; THE NESTING - 1980), catches him in the act. Mama Love shames George into writing a letter confessing his sins and then has Becky drug his drink and lure him into the bathroom, where Mama Love, Becky and sister Addie (Sondra Currie; POLICEWOMEN - 1974) hold him down in a bathtub and slit his wrists with a strait razor. They make it look like a suicide by placing the confessional letter he just wrote next to the blood-filled tub. Mama Love and her girls, which also includes naïve step-sister Cindy (Mary Stoddard), are in for a rude awakening when they discover that George was actually flat-broke (When Mama Love finds out that George was only renting the huge home they were living in, she tells her girls, "Remember, a man is only a man, but property is security!" A wise, wise woman.), so they now have to find another rich man to take advantage of and, eventually, murder. We then switch over to Sheriff Roy Collins (Christopher Lofton, here billed as "Christopher Wines"), who we first see screwing his wife Charity (Annekade de Lorenzo) and the demanding a divorce (!), as he pulls Mama Love and her girls over for speeding. He talks them into staying in his dinky little town (Roy and Addie immediately make eye contact) and has them stay at a health resort run by widower Harold (Paul Lambert). When Mama Love finds out that Harold is well off ("Oh, a man of property!"), the overnight stay turns into an extended one. Mama Love puts the moves on Harold, while Addie and Roy hook-up, Cindy meets nice guy Paul (Dennis Smith) and Becky cockteases Willy (Joseph Anthony), the hulking, halfwit groundskeeper. Complications arise when Mama Love marries Harold, not realizing that Harold is actually a cold-blooded killer. Not only did he drown his first wife and make it look like an accident, we watch as he also kills a hobo with an axe after the hobo tells Harold that he saw him murder his wife. What happens next is far too complex to explain in a short review. Needless to say, people get their comeuppance, a fortune in hidden jewels comes into play and nearly everyone has sex.  This totally entertaining sexploitation flick, directed with a sure hand by John Hayes (THE CUT-THROATS - 1969; DREAM NO EVIL - 1970; GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE - 1972; GARDEN OF THE DEAD - 1972; and who also directed porn features, such as HOT LUNCH [1978], under the name "Harold Perkins") and written by Gil Lasky, who also produced (with then-partner Ed Carlin; THE NIGHT GOD SCREAMED - 1971; THE MANHANDLERS - 1973), is a fun, sexy thriller that contains so much nudity and sex, you'll think you've died and gone to Heaven. Half the fun of this film, though, is watching Harold and Mama Love trying to kill each other in a series of staged "accidents", neither of them aware that the other is actually a cold-blooded murderer. As a matter of fact, no one here, with the exception of Cindy and Paul, can be considered remotely sympathetic in any way. Addie and Roy murder Charity so they can be together and pin the crime on Paul; Becky does her bikini tease routine on Willy one too many times until he can't stand it anymore (Hey, even mentally-challenged morons need some nookie every now and then!); and Mama and Harold continue their love/hate relationship. One gets the feeling when watching this that Gloria Grahame is slumming here, much like she did in the Carlin/Lansky production BLOOD AND LACE (1970), but she's still a hoot-and-a-half to watch, doling out nuggets of hilarious wisdom to her daughters ("It's a hard world for a girl and sometimes to survive, we gotta play dirty, because, sure as hell, a man will play dirty with us!") and doing whatever it takes, including putting her daughter's lives in danger, to get her way. While not overly violent or bloody, MAMA'S DIRTY GIRLS is a sleazy, wild foray into 70's sexploitation, the kind of film you wish they still made today. Be aware that the closing credits misidentify Dennis Smith as "Roy" rather than "Paul". Originally released on VHS by Trans World Entertainment, Inc. and not available on DVD. Rated R for raunchy, randy and raucous.

THE MANHANDLERS (1973) - 70's exploitation flick that mixes gangsters with sex. After her Uncle Leo (George Skaff) is gunned-down and killed by gangster Carlo (Henry Brandon; THE LAND UNKNOWN - 1957), naïve Katie (Cara Burgess) inherits Leo's massage parlor/prostitution business along with a briefcase containing a bunch of incriminating 8-track tapes which Carlo is eager to get his hands on. After visiting the massage parlor, Katie is horrified at the sex acts going on in the back rooms and fires everyone on the spot. Katie hires two female friends, Liz (Judy Brown; THE BIG DOLL HOUSE - 1971) and Mo (Rosalind Miles; THE BLACK SIX - 1974), to help her reopen the business as a legitimate massage parlor, with no intentions of prostitution. Carlo, who believes Leo had a secret partner, becomes agitated that Katie's massage parlor is no longer under his control, so he sends associate Frank (Vince Cannon; TRACKDOWN - 1976) to check it out and get Katie to sign over the business. It becomes apparent to the viewer that Katie and Frank will soon become lovers, as they instantly don't hit it off when they first meet. Carlo, meanwhile, starts killing anyone previously associated with Leo, including his lawyer Ratchit (G.J. Mitchell) and former massage parlor madam Violet (Arleen Sinclair) as he searches for the audiotapes. Carlo gives Frank one week to bring Katie in line or else he will deal with it in his usual violent manner. Unfortunately for Frank, Katie's massage parlor becomes a smashing success and turns a good profit, so Katie makes Liz and Mo equal partners. Frank and Katie become romantically involved, which puts Frank in quite the pickle, because Godfather Vito (Dan Seymour) orders Carlo to make Katie's business part of his stable immediately, so Carlo sends violent goon Harry (Wayne Storm) to bust up the joint (he also gives Liz a painful bear hug!). When Katie finally listens to the audiotapes and discovers that Frank is a mobster, she breaks off the romance. Carlo goes off to kill Katie while Harry holds Frank prisoner. Frank breaks free and tries to save Katie, but the police grab him for questioning (When Frank gives a statement, he says, "You, Detective Buckley, are an ignorant clown that doesn't know his ass from his earlobe!" Detective Buckley replies, "You can't say 'ass' in court!"). Frank drops a dime on Carlo to Vito (it seems Carlo broke the Mafia's code of  "omerta") and ends up saving Katie's life when Vito's goons stop Carlo from strangling her in an amusement park. The final shot will tempt you to kick-in your TV screen because it is so devoid of logic.  This sexploitation item, directed by Lee Madden (THE NIGHT GOD SCREAMED - 1971; NIGHT CREATURE - 1978; GHOST FEVER - 1986) and written by Gil Lasky (who also produced with then-partner Ed Carlin, both responsible for producing the previously-mentioned GOD, as well as BLOOD AND LACE [1970] and MAMA'S DIRTY GIRLS [1974]), is chock-full of both male and female nudity and some bloody violence, but the film is technically sloppy. The very first scene in the film, during the face-off between Leo and Carlo, Leo mistakenly calls Carlo "Leo" in a line of dialogue. It's a glaring error that could have easily been fixed with a bit of looping. There are also camera and microphone shadows in several scenes. The film also spends too much of it's 87 minute running time detailing the individual personal lives of the three female characters and not enough time on the crime aspects. While these scenes give the ladies an excuse to disrobe (always a good thing!), the plotlines are boring, from Liz's relationship with disinterested painter Gavin (Tom McDonald), Mo's affair with shy, skinny black customer Elliot (Peter Fitzsimmons) and Katie's romance with Frank. There are a few redeeming scenes, especially Carlo's cold-blooded reactions to all those he perceives as his enemies, but more often than not, this film just plods along to it's completely unrealistic conclusion, where Godfather Vito sides with Katie and decides to turn all his whorehouses into legitimate massage parlors! C'mon now! Does he have Alzheimer's? If you like nudity, THE MANHANDLERS may be of some interest, but there are much better 70's sexploitationers out there, such as INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS (1973), which this film shared a double-bill with throughout much of the 70's. Also starring Herb Voland, Wade Crosby, William Smillie (in a funny bit as a fat, old horny gent who wants more than a massage) and William Molloy as the clueless Detective Buckley. Originally released on VHS by Trans World Entertainment and not yet available on DVD. Rated R.

MASSAGE PARLOR MURDERS! (1973/1974) - There's not much more background information on this obscure exploitation film that hasn't been written by genre expert Chris Poggiali in the booklet included in Vinegar Syndrome's Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack (If you haven't visited Chris' excellent Temple Of Schlock blogzine, click HERE, but be prepeared to spend hours and hours reading it, because Chris has more knowledge about obscure films than anyone, including me, could ever hope to achieve), but I have been dying to see this film because it is the only flick that I haven't seen that features Brother Theodore (but more on that later on). The film open with an apprehensive man (played by co-director Chester Fox) paying a massage parlor chick money for an actual massage and then slipping her a couple of twenties to take off her top and shorts. He can't go through with having sex with her because he feels guilty about cheating on his wife, so he leaves. The credits then roll (You know you are in for something special when the first credits to appear on screen are "A Cinamid 'Flim' Production"!) and we then see New York City Detective Jimmy Rivera (George Spencer) just after having sex with a pretty massage girl and getting dressed, then meeting his partner, Detective Danny O'Mara (John Moser), downstairs in their unmarked police car. Jimmy then goes home to his religious, strait-laced wife, who complains when Jimmy puts his gun on the kitchen table (Being a good wife, though, the first thing she does is hand him a can of Budweiser!). A short time later, that same massage girl is murdered by an unseen john wearing latex gloves. He smashes her face into a mirror and strangles her. Jimmy and Danny investigate the murder and discover that the victim is Jimmy's weekly hooker date. Danny goes to meet the dead hooker's roommate Gwen (Sandra Peabody, a.k.a. "Sandra Cassel" of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT - 1972), who tells Danny that all she does is give massages with no sex and it is love at first sight (Check out the wallpaper in Gwen's apartment!). Gwen tells Danny that her roommate had a weekly session with a man she called "Mr. Creepy" (a surprising early appearance by the great character actor George Dzundza, who starred in the first season of TV's LAW & ORDER [1990 - 1991] and was also Assistant Director of this film) and that after coming home after meeting him, her roommate was full of bruises. After getting his real name from the dead roommate's datebook, Jimmy and Danny stake him out and chase him when they spot him following a woman walking on the street. Jimmy kicks the shit out of him, but just as they are about to arrest him, they get a call on the radio that another massage girl (from a different parlor) has been killed, this time asphyxiated and having acid poured on her breasts and stomach by the same psycho. All the men who handled the psycho's money before he supposedly had sex with the girls can only describe him as a well-dressed man with no distinguishing features. Jimmy and Danny visit a crazy astrologist who they think could be the murderer (played by wacky [and personal favorite] Brother Theodore [DEVIL'S EXPRESS - 1975; GUMS - 1976], who says such nonsense things as, "It is more important to go to Heaven than to go to the Moon!", "When I listen to rock and roll, my ears bleed!" and "It is my sincere wish that immediately after my death, my head be severed from my body and replaced by a bouquet of broccoli!"), but they cross him off their suspect list when he tells them he was being treated in the hospital for ulcers at the time of the murders. More massage girls are murdered (one is strangled with a towel) from different parlors, while Danny and Gwen continue their romance, first going to a nude indoor pool orgy (with surprising full-frontal male nudity), having a picnic in the park and walking through Times Square (where we can see posters and theater marquees for such films as SEVEN GOLDEN MEN [1965], BLOOD OF DRACULA'S CASTLE [1969], THE YOUNG SEDUCERS [1971], PRIME CUT [1972], the big-budget musical flop LOST HORIZON [1973], HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER [1973] and many others). While Jimmy and his wife are at church listening to a priest preach about the Seven Deadly Sins, it hits Jimmy that all the massage parlors that the girls have been murdered in have the name of one of those sins (I wonder if the writers of SE7EN [1995] saw this film?) and the word "Lust" is next on the list. They go to a massage parlor with that word in their title, only for Danny and Jimmy to discover that Gwen has been brutally murdered, her throat cut and her body hanging upside down. They then go to the next massage parlor on the list, where the religious fanatic killer is about to murder the same hooker we saw in the beginning of the film with the apprehensive man, but she manages to throw a bowl of rubbing alcohol on him and sets him on fire. As Jimmy and Danny bust down the door, all they see is the killer being burned alive (Jimmy pumps a couple of bullets into him just for the hell of it), his flaming hand sticking up in the air as he screams his last breath.  While not a good film by any stretch of the imagination, MASSAGE PARLOR MURDERS! (later retitled MASSAGE PARLOR HOOKERS; it plays for many years under that title on double and triple bills up till the mid-80's), it is a great time capsule for old fogeys like me who remember when Times Square was littered with porn (and normal) theaters, adult book stores and hookers as far as they eye could see. This area was destroyed in the mid-80s when the Walt Disney Corporation "regentrified" Times Square as a family-friendly zone. Not much remains of its original gritty glory, so watching this film brought back many fond nostalgic memories. While co-director Chester Fox hasn't done anything of note as far as genre films go (this is his only film), other co-director Alex Stevens is a well-known stuntman, stunt coordinator and bit actor, working on such films as WHO KILLED MARY WHATS'ERNAME? (1971), THE DION BROTHERS (1974), INVASION U.S.A. (1985) and THE HIDDEN (1987), although this film was his only directorial effort. Stevens was responsible for directing the film's lengthy car chase (where Danny, clad only in a towel, steals a cab and chases a suspect, strikes several cars and then smashes the cab, only to discover that the man he is chasing is not their man [but he had two kilos of herion in his car, so Danny is off the hook!]), the pool orgy and Danny and Gwen's walk through Times Square. As per Chris Poggiali's liner notes, it is obvious that some of these scenes were filmed sometime in early 1974, even if the film was submitted to the MPAA for an R-Rating in September 1973. The pool scene alone would absolutely negate the film's R-Rating (especially if they included the outtakes that are part of the combo pack's supplements, most notably the scene of a man with a semi-hard erection!), but they didn't bother resubmitting the film and it went out with an R-rating without any complaints from the audiences. The print that Vinegar Syndrome uses for the transfer is in generally good condition, with only a few grainy scenes, but is is not enough to distract you like the terrible print they used for their release of THE SUCKERS (1972). There is not much blood or gore on view (the first kill and Gwen's death are the bloodiest, showing that nice bright red blood that was used during the 70's), but the film doesn't need it. It has a general air of sleaziness that could only have come from those sexploitation films of the 70's and that's enough for me. It also completes my quest to see every film the late Brother Theodore appeared in (fans of David Letterman's Late Show remember his guest appearances as offbeat and hilarious and I was lucky enough to see his one man Off-Broadway show when I was younger), unless there is some unknown hidden gem that I have never heard of. Who knows, it may be out there somewhere waiting to be discovered in someone's attic or basement. Also starring Anne Gaybis, Marlene Kallevig and Chris Jordan. A Vinegar Syndrome Blu-Ray/DVD Release, who offer the film in two versions: The original 80-minute version and the edited 74-minute version, which cuts out the first six minutes of co-director Chester Fox with the massage parlor girl/hooker. The 74-minute version is the one that played for years and years in theaters, so it's nice to see the original version was also included. Nice job Vinegar Syndrome! Rated R.

MASTER'S REVENGE (1970) - Say, would you like to be bored for 70+ minutes, watching endless scenes of people walking or driving down the street? Then have I got the film for you! Bored spoiled brat Kathy (Sharon Mahon, daughter of sexploitation pioneer Barry Mahon, who was Director of Photography here) has an argument with karate champ boyfriend Jim Aldridge (Ridgley Abele) and runs off with eyepatch-wearing Champ (Ross Kananga) and his motorcycle gang. Kathy drops acid while her father (director Brad F. Grinter) hires private investigator Roger Kimbrough ("My friends call me Kim.") to find her. Dad tells Kim the heartbreaking story about how his other daughter Penny turned into a prostitute and how he doesn't want to see Kathy follow the same path. While Kim scours bars and adult arcades (Where we see a sign that reads: "Live Burlesk On Stage - Sonya Lane - Wild Nude Movies") looking for Penny, since she was close to Kathy and may have a clue as to where she is, Kathy watches as biker chick Dixie (Patty Scanlon) kills another woman in a fight (When another biker asks Champ what they should do with the body, he replies, "Hell, I don't know. Find some quicksand, throw her in!"). Kim finds a drunk Penny in a bar (She says, "Here's to booze. The evil of all roots!") and she takes him to a motel room, where Kim pays her $100 to tell him the sad story of how she became a hooker (Flashbacks show us how, on her 18th birthday, she took a ride with a biker and was gang-raped in a mountain cabin by a guy named Playboy and his pals, busting her cherry.). In the film's unintentional comedic highlight, Kim decides to go undercover and infiltrate the biker gang (he's at least 20 years too old) after getting a tip from Jim, who use to be a biker before he changed his ways and started living the proper life as a karate champion. Kim borrows a motorcycle, puts on a ridiculous hippie wig and rides up to the gang. He tries to say something hip and immediately gets caught by the gang. Champ ties him to a tree while his gang pokes him with sharpened sticks while riding by him on their motorcycles. Jim rides in and saves Kim from a certain death and they then try to save Kathy from being gang-raped (Kim threatens the gang with a coral snake!). The finale finds Jim challenging old nemesis Champ to a one-on-one fight, the winner getting Kathy. Jim wins, but gang member Sarge (Chris Martell) knifes him in the gut in retribution, killing him. The gang leave as Kathy cradles the dead body of Jim in her arms.  My God, this was a tough one to make it through. Director Brad F. Grinter, who also gave us the supremely bad FLESH FEAST (1969) and the badly-supreme BLOOD FREAK (1972), also co-produced and co-scripted (with Charles G. Ward) this mess and employs a headache-inducing editing technique, where he quick-cuts back and forth between shots. It's quite disorienting and unnecessary. This Florida-lensed obscurity, originally titled DEVIL RIDER, has very little entertainment value (it has only one instance of nudity and the fight scenes look to have been choreographed by someone with no experience in where to place a camera when a punch is thrown, as we can see the actors miss their target by feet, not inches), unless all you are interested in are late 60's fashions, haidos and a lousy rock band called "Heros Of Cranberry Farm" (a band so low-rent, the couldn't afford the "e" in "Heroes"), who play a tune in the middle of a field at the beginning of the film. Even though there are microphones on the stage, all they do is play an instrumantal tune (which doesn't match what they're playing on-screen). Just more filler in a film full of filler. During Penny's flashback gang-rape, the camera pays more attention to two little gold-colored cherubs hanging on the wall than it does to the rape itself. I supposed it could be viewed as ironic symbolism, but I doubt that Grinter ever aimed that high in any of his films. This film's message seems to be that if you're raped, you'll spend the rest of your life as a cheap hooker. Or, as Penny says, "I'm a hooker. W-H-O-R-E!". The film's ad campaign promised, "Cool Chicks and Burning Rubber!", but all we really get is skanky broads and a definite smell of crap. Also starring Wayne Hagan, John Donnell, Wes Dunbar and Ernie Falco. An Academy Entertainment Home Video Release. Rated R.

THE MUTHERS (1976) - The Muthers are two female pirates, Kelly (Jeanne Bell; TNT JACKSON - 1975) and Angie (Rosanna Katon; THE SWINGING CHEERLEADERS - 1974), who lead their all-male crew robbing and plundering pleasure cruises and yachts of their goodies on the high seas ("Muthers" is also the name of their pirate vessel, a three outboard motor-powered speedboat equipped with stationary machine guns and mortars). When Kelly's sister, Sandra, runs away from home, Kelly and Angie set out to the island of Santo Domingo in search of her. After getting into a bar fight, Kelly and Angie are informed by a government official that Kelly's sister was kidnapped by white slaver Montiero (Tony Carrion), who kidnaps unescorted women, holds them prisoner on his coffee plantation and uses them as slave labor (among other things). Kelly and Angie agree to go to Montiero's plantation as undercover prisoners in return for the government looking the other way regarding their pirate activities. Once on the prison plantation, Kelly and Angie meet prison trustee Marcie (Trina Parks; DARKTOWN STRUTTERS - 1974), who clues them into the rules of the plantation. Marcie also informs Kelly that Sandra escaped from the plantation two days earlier and has not been caught...yet. The girl that Sandra escaped with is caught and everyone watches as Montiero has her strung-up by her hair with her hands tied behind her back. Montiero's mistress, Serena (Jayne Kennedy; FIGHTING MAD - 1978), who use to be a prisoner on the plantation, slowly becomes friends with Kelly and secretly begins helping Kelly and Angie escape, especially after they unsucessfully try to escape on their own and end up in a hot box (not to mention getting Kelly's adoptive father killed when he tries to help them escape). As if things weren't tough enough for them, Kelly and Angie's old nemesis, the dreaded pirate Turko (John Montgomery), is on the warpath and is killing all their friends and associates on the outside as he tries to find out their location. When Sandra is recaptured and killed, Kelly makes it her mission to make sure Montiero pays for it with his life. Kelly, Angie, Marcie and Serena escape from the plantation (Marcie is bitten on the breast by a cobra during the escape and Serena sucks out the poison), but it all turns out to be a set-up by Serena and Montiero. The girls still manage to escape and hook-up with their pirate crew, where they get into a gun battle with Montiero and his guards. When Turko and his crew suddenly appear, it's a free-for-all that many will not survive.  This strange mixture of WIP (women in prison) and pirate themes comes courtesy of Filipino director/producer Cirio H. Santiago and, quite frankly, it doesn't make for a good mix. For a film that spends much of it's time at an all-female coffee plantation/prison, there is precious little nudity (just an all-too-quick prerequisite shower scene when the girls arrive at the plantation). What we do get is plenty of scenes where our two heroines get into lots of hinky martial arts fights and it's rather obvious that stunt doubles were utilized most of the time. There's also far more dialogue than usual for a Santiago film (script by Cyril St. James, from a story by Santiago, who uses the pseudonym "Leonard Hermes") and precious little action. While it is a pleasure to watch four beautiful actresses play off of each other, Santiago never fully takes advantage of putting them in truly exploitative situations, like long naked showers, catfights and, most importantly, long naked showers. While the final gun battle is violent (Jayne Kennedy's death on a suspension bridge is memorable), it takes forever to get there (the film's running time of 82 minutes seems twice as long). I get the feeling that Santiago was slumming here, as he really doesn't seem to have his heart in this film. This film just rambles along and is full of so many missed opportunities (like long naked showers), I just wanted to cry. I expected more from Mr. Santiago. With this exceptional cast of beautiful actresses, he should have made a gem of an exploitationer. Instead, THE MUTHERS is a yawner that only perks up when Jeanne Bell's nipples are visible through her tight shirt. It ain't often enough, folks. Santiago made the PG-rated EBONY, IVORY AND JADE (another film full of missed opportunities, also starring Rosanne Katon) the same year. Also starring Sam Sharruff, Ken Metcalfe, Bill Baldridge, Rock Monti, Robert Miller and Dick Piper. Originally released in one of those great big boxes by Continental Video. There are some DVDs of this film floating around, but their legitimacy is highly questionable. Rated R.

NIGHT OF THE BLOODY TRANSPLANT (1968) - Dated entry, originally titled THE TRANSPLANT, about a doctor trying to get permission from his peers to perform the first human heart transplant.  A wealthy old woman with a bad heart offers the doctor one million dollars if he will give her a good heart. He has one problem: His superiors have nixed the idea of human heart transplants and forbid him to do one, fearing it would make people think that doctors are butchers. (I told you it was dated.) When the doctor's n'er-do-well brother accidently injures a girl outside a bar, he brings her to the doctor's office, where he tries to save her by massaging her heart (where real open heart surgery footage is shown). She dies. So why waste a perfectly good young heart? The doctor performs the transplant on the wealthy old woman. It is a success. But who can he tell? Meanwhile the police find the body of the heartless girl. Much more goes on here, but why spoil the fun? This production, filmed in Flint, Michigan, is pretty awful with its' bad photography and even worse acting.  But, in a strange way, it's highly watchable. Check out the 60's hairstyles, clothing and music as well as the semi-nudity and cheap gore. There is also a stripper (real tame), body painting and performance art. The screenplay is scattershot, as it tries to tell ten different stories at the same time. It doesn't work but you can't blame them for trying. For all my drug-crazed sensibilities I actually liked this dog. Most reference books list this film as being made in the 1980's.  They must be kidding. Starring Dick Grimm, Cal Seely and Elizabeth Rawlings. Directed by David W. Hanson (JUDY - 1969). A United Home Video Release. Rated R.

PETS (1974) - Bonnie (Candice Rialson, here billed as "Candy") escapes from her abusive brother (Mike Cartel) and meets conwoman Pat (Teri Guzman), who carries a German Luger in her purse. They meet married man Dan Daubrey (Brett Parker), who takes them for a ride in his convertible and tries to put the moves on Bonnie (who doesn't seem to mind). Pat pulls out her gun, makes Dan pull over, has Bonnie tie him up and then tortures him with a safety pin until he gives up his house key and information on where he hides his money. Pat has Bonnie hold him hostage in the woods while she drives to Dan's house (where she flashes the gardener, finds the money and steals jewelry belonging to Dan's wife). Bonnie does an impromptu striptease in front of Dan and then reveals that Pat's gun is nothing but a water pistol (After revealing the gun is fake, Dan says to her, "You know what you are? A cheap little hunk of flesh! A piece of meat that's on sale for a few lousy bucks!"). When Dan's small dog Bebe bites Pat (dogs don't seem to like her), she throws it over a cliff, killing it. When she returns back to Bonnie and Dan, she threatens Dan with a (real) knife and takes off without Bonnie after she finds out that she revealed to Dan that the gun was fake (She says to Bonnie, "You're not a kitten. You're just a little pussy!"). After calling him her "lapdog", Bonnie makes love to Dan and then leaves him in the woods, still tied-up. Bonnie then hitches a ride with three guys in a dune buggy and then meets lesbian artist Geraldine (Joan Blackman), who takes Bonnie to her home, lets her take a bubble bath and hires Bonnie as her model. They become fast friends and lovers until Geraldine becomes over-protective and jealous, especially when rich art collector Vincent (Ed Bishop) becomes interested in puchasing Geraldine's nude portrait of Bonnie. When Geraldine shoots and kills a "burglar" named Ron (Matt Green) in a jealous rage, (he was just looking for something to eat and becomes Bonnie's secret lover), Bonnie runs away and ends up at Vincent's house where she learns that he is more than a collector of art. He buys Bonnie expensive clothes and jewelry, feeds her special ice cream made with "goat's milk" and keeps her caged like an animal! Vincent is a collector of the female species, including all species of animals as well as women and keeps them captive in his "zoo" in his basement as "pets". He invites Geraldine over to his house, where he slowly begins to gain control over her, eventually leading them to his basement. Bonnie gets the last laugh as she traps Vincent and Geraldine together in a cage and releases all the other pets. She drives off in Vincent's car and picks up the first male hitch-hiker she spots. The End.  This exploitation gem contains so many references and visuals of animals, the film's title takes on a whole different meaning. Everyone is calling somebody some type of animal or another, whether it be "lapdog", "kitten", "pussy" and an art connoisseur (Berry Kroeger) calls Vincent "a strange fish". There are some revealing bits of dialogue, such as when Geraldine says to Bonnie, "I like you best in the dark, when I can't see you. Then you are as I wish you were." Pretty heady stuff for a cheap exploitation film. That's not to say that this film skimps on the exploitation elements. The late Candice Rialson (MAMA'S DIRTY GIRLS - 1974; CHATTERBOX - 1977) spends the majority of her screen time naked, topless or in skimpy outfits. She comes off as half-innocent schoolgirl and half-sexual temptress. Her character is really hard to pigeonhole until the finale. Director/producer/co-scripter Raphael Nussbaum, who also made the terrible rape/revenge film LETHAL VICTIMS (1987) and the weak horror flick SPEAK OF THE DEVIL (1991), keeps things moving at a brisk and somewhat unorthodox pace. The final third is especially disorientating, as Vincent invites Geraldine over to his house. He says to her, "You women. You always have great expectations but, still, you never know what to expect." and then proceeds to try and possess her. His reasoning for his hatred of women needs to be heard to be believed (Part of it goes, "All I ask them to be is women instead of frauds!"). The late Ed Bishop (BATTLE BENEATH THE EARTH - 1968; TV's U.F.O. - 1971) is quite good as the insane collector, as he whips his pets into submission (He says as he's whipping Geraldine, "The lioness has spirit!" and "Show me a man that's satisfied with one woman and I'll show you a liar!") without any human conscience. Co-scripted by Richard Reich, based on his play of the same name. I'm willing to bet that much of the colorful dialogue in this film is lifted verbatim from his stage version. If you like films full of nudity and animal symbolism, try tracking PETS down. Some advertising materials and posters tried to pass this off as a WIP film. I would hate to be the audience member who thought they were about to view a film in the vein of CAGED HEAT (1974). They must have been pissed! The DVD released by Code Red is one of their worst releases (besides being long OOP). The print used for the transfer looks like it has been run through a projector at least 100 times too much, as it is splicey, scratchy and very soft. Rated R.

PISTOL-PACKIN' LEROY (1973) - The three Bassett Brothers; deeply religious, but just plain mean Leroy (John Goff; JOHNNY FIRECLOUD - 1975), beer-guzzling and slightly retarded Wilbur (George "Buck" Flower; DRIVE-IN MASSACRE - 1977) and wise-ass younger brother Melvin (James Ward), work out a plan to free their Native American friend, Keema Greywolf (Cody Bearpaw; GENTLE SAVAGE - 1973), from prison. The Bassett brothers steal a police car at gunpoint, Leroy steals a cop's uniform and they follow another police car carrying Keema for extradition to New Mexico (Keema killed a cop and badly injured a sheriff in New Mexico on his wedding day when he drunkenly tried to outrun them in his car, but he ended up killing a cop and his new bride when he wrecked his car). They stop the police car and rescue Keema, but not before killing one cop for bashing-in Wilbur front teeth and taking Deputy Chavez (Robert Padilla) hostage. When Sheriff Trask (Elliott Lindsey), the same sheriff Keema injured on his wedding day, finds out that Keema is on the loose (Keema lets Deputy Chavez go free and tells him to warn Sheriff Trask that he's coming back to finish the job), he puts together a posse to stop Keema and the Barretts from reaching their destination. Keema is living on pure rage, blaming the sheriff for his bride's death (Even though it's obvious to everyone but Keema, that Keema himself is ultimately responsible for her death, as Sheriff Trask [who is not a bad guy] warned Keema during the wedding reception that he was too drunk to drive). Keema has flashbacks to happier days when he and his bride-to-be would frolic in the mountain snow and he can still hear her calling his name, but it seems the more he reminisces, the more deluded and violent he gets. The quartet hole-up in a cabin occupied by horse doctor Charlie Zornes (Dick Winslow) and his deaf and dumb daughter Twila (Bobbi Shaw) and when a drunk Wilbur tries to rape Twila, Leroy gives Charlie permission to pull all of Wilbur's broken teeth without the aide of an anesthetic. The quartet then takes the Zornes family hostage, forcing Charlie to drive his RV closer to Cloud County, New Mexico and a showdown with Sheriff Trask. At the first roadblock, a gunfight breaks out where Melvin and two cops are killed. The surviving trio hijacks a bus full of frightened passengers on their way to church. The bus is stopped at the next roadblock, where Leroy kills another cop and a passenger before he is shot dead by cops at the entrance to a church (a fitting death), Wilbur is captured and Keema escapes into the snow-filled mountains with Sheriff Trask and a small posse quickly closing in. When Keema hangs one of Trask's men and then himself gets caught in a couple of bear traps, Sheriff Trask stops being Mr. Nice Guy and puts a bullet in Keema's head, thereby proving that old adage, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian".  This early 70's crime drama, originally titled THE DEVIL AND LEROY BASSETT, is enjoyable merely for the fact that it gives starring roles to John Goff and George "Buck" Flower, who were friends in real life and usually had much smaller roles in the films they appeared in (many of them together). Director/screenwriter/co-producer Robert E. Pearson (whose only other film seems to be HAWAIIAN SPLIT [1971 - a.k.a. THE GOD CHILDREN]) lets Goff and Flower's natural chemistry shine through here, as Goff spouts Bible passages (but is the most violent brother) and Flower plays most of his scenes drunk (either sporting the ugliest set of upper false teeth or no teeth at all). The violence is brutal, but restrained (this was rated PG when released to theaters), and mainly consists of people getting shot or being threatened with guns (the shooting of the innocent bus passenger goes way beyond of what would be accepted as PG today, though). The film loses interest very quickly when Goff is killed and Flower captured, mainly because Cody Bearpaw has the on-screen charisma of a cigar store Indian (even Old Chief Wood'nhead in CREEPSHOW 2 [1987] had more facial expressions than Mr. Bearpaw) and the film turns into a standard fugitive scenario. It still gets my recommendation, though, because it is one of the best examples of seeing both Goff and Flower shine in larger-than-normal roles. Singer/actor Don Epperson (WILD WHEELS - 1969), who plays Sergeant Don here, was accidentally killed during the making of this film and there is a dedication to him after the closing credits. Also starring Hal Bokar, Lillian McBride, Siegfried Anton and James Beach. The print on this VHS tape released by High Desert Films looks to have been sourced from a beat-up 16mm print that is full of splices, missing frames and emulsion scratches, which makes it a perfect grindhouse experience in your own living room. Not available on DVD. Rated PG.

A PLACE CALLED TODAY (1972) - Dated political exploitationer that was originally Rated X when released to theaters. While it seems rather tame today, a few ideas remain timely. Not many, just a few. This film asks that age-old question: Are people really equal, no matter what the color of their skin? As radical Carolyn (Lana Wood; SATAN'S MISTRESS - 1982) and her fiancé Ron (Richard Smedley) argue over the question of equality (Carolyn says, "I'll steal for it, fuck for it, kill for it and die for it!"), a black radical places a time bomb at the entrance of a bank, but he is spotted by a white cop and shot dead. The next morning, Carolyn and Ron are standing in front of the blood-stained sidewalk where the black radical was shot down and Carolyn screams about it being the police's fault ("Those pigs! Those lousy, rotten pigs!"), while Ron wonders why a black man would try to blow-up a bank with a bomb ("The reason has to be more important than the act.") and vows to find out why. Ron is a TV news director and local black lawyer (and closet radical) Randy Johnson (Herbert J. Kerr Jr.) warns best friend Carolyn, "One day you're going to have to choose between what makes you happy and what you believe in!" when she tells him she loves Ron. Carolyn doesn't know that Ron is having an affair with rich white bitch Cindy Cartwright (Cheri Caffaro; SAVAGE SISTERS - 1974), the daughter of rich businessman Alexander Cartwright (Leo Tapp), who is a moneyman and "advisor" to the town's current mayor, Ben Atkinson (Peter Carew). Randy has political ambitions and figures that the only way he will get elected for mayor is if the voters are scared of him, so he has all his radical buddies (both black and white, including Carolyn) start a campaign of terror and violence to get the voters to fall in line. While Ron is oiling-up Cindy's naked body and screwing her brains out, Randy (with Carolyn standing beside him) holds a press conference where he announces that he is running for mayor as an Independent, on the "Equality For Everyone" ticket, This being the early-70's, it causes quite a stir, especially when Randy promises to stop the violence plaguing the city, the same violence where Randy has his radical buddies placing a few bombs around the city (and killing some innocent white construction workers). If Randy can make the citizens believe that only he can stop the violence and killings, it will make him look like the new messiah. Ron grows suspicious of Randy's candidacy and warns Carolyn not to get too close to him (little knowing that he is way too late). That choice Randy warned Carolyn she would have to make? It's gonna come sooner than later. Pretty soon, it turns out, as the entire city experiences a race war, with whites fighting blacks over the mention of Randy's name. Randy has one more huge violent act for the radicals to perform before he reels it all in, but politics, much like life, is a vengeful bitch and Randy's political ambitions get in the way of his personal views (Absolute power corrupts absolutely). It ends badly for everyone, as the election draws near and it proves impossible to stop the violence once it reaches the boiling point, where everyone has hatred in their blood.  This is a talky political melodrama that is interrupted every so often by shots of female nudity and bursts of violence. Director/screenwriter Don Schain, who also directed the Ginger trilogy (GINGER - 1971; THE ABDUCTORS - 1972; GIRLS ARE FOR LOVING - 1973) and TOO HOT TO HANDLE (1976), all starring his then-wife Cheri Caffaro, ladles-on the way-too-earnest political mumbo-jumbo until you'll be screaming for it to stop (I guess you would have had to live through that period of time, which I did, to really understand the politics on display here). Since we now have a black President in our highest office, most of this film's political motivations are rendered moot (and I think Mr. Obama would cringe at the thought of winning the presidency the way Randy tries to win the mayoral race in this film), but it's always nice to see Lana Wood and Cheri Caffaro completely naked (Carrafo the actress, on the other hand, is painfully terrible to watch and listen to). If you view A PLACE CALLED TODAY (also known as CITY IN FEAR) as a time capsule of an era long gone by, you may find some entertainment value, but a film like BILLY JACK (1971) managed to convey its political beliefs in a much more entertaining package. Also starring Timothy Brown and Woody Carter. Originally released on VHS by Monterey Home Video and not available on DVD. Rated X, but it would easily garner an R-rating if re-submitted today.

PLAYGIRL KILLER (1965) - For those of us old enough to remember, this mid-60's exploitationer played on TV from the late-60's through the 70's under the generic titles DECOY FOR TERROR and PORTRAIT OF FEAR and it left an impression on my delicate little mind, but now that I have more days behind me than ahead of me and my mind is much more "rational" (yeah, right!), it's time to give this film another spin to see if it still holds up. Well, there's good news and bad news. The bad news first: The scenes that left an impression on my pre-teen mind now seem quaint and dated. The good news: The film oozes a sleazy vibe, contains some scenes that are quite atmospheric and has a winning nutso performance by William Kerwin (BLOOD FEAST - 1963; he shares story credit here with brother Harry Kerwin, director of such genre films as GOD'S BLOODY ACRE - 1975 and BARRACUDA - 1977). The film follows the exploits of sandals-wearing (with socks!), goateed artist Bill (Kerwin), who has more issues than National Geographic. The first time we see Bill, he and a female cutie in a one-piece bathing suit are in a rowboat in a park and dock at a rocky part of the lake. While the cutie poses on a boulder, Bill whips out a piece of paper from his jacket pocket and begins sketching her, but when she laughs at his commands of "Don't move! Don't move!", Bill picks up a handy speargun and shoots her in the chest, killing her. Bill is nearly caught by a policeman and a witness to the crime, who chase him through a park (filmed in Montreal, Canada) during the opening credits, but he manages to avoid them and make it back to his apartment, where he packs his belongings and hightails it out of town on foot. We the switch to Bob (singer Neil Sedaka, a good friend of William Kerwin's who also sang a song ["Do The Jellyfish"] in STING OF DEATH a year later, a film Kerwin also worked on) and his girlfriend Betty (Linda Christopher) frolicking in a pool at Betty's rich Daddy's mansion, that is until Betty's cocktease older sister Arlene (Jean Christopher, who is Linda's real-life sister) shows up and asks Bob to rub some suntan lotion on her back. Bob happily obliges, but it pisses-off Betty, who goes storming off with Bob closely following behind her. Betty has a pool party that night with all her college friends (a band called J.B. And The Playboys play their hit song "If You Don't Want To"), where Bob, who is a (what else?) rock-and-roll star, sings his latest hit "Waterbug" ("Get with it, don't quit it, waterbug!") and everyone dances The Monkey around the pool. Arlene crashes the party, does an impromptu striptease (since it's 1965, all the flesh we see is what's not covered by her black bikini) and puts the moves on Bob. Later that night, Arlene sneaks into Bob's bedroom and screws him. The next morning, Daddy drives Betty and Bob back to college in his limousine (This is the last time we see Bob, Betty or Daddy, as this entire long sequence seems to be inserted to show what a slut Arlene is and to give Sedaka a chance to sing). When Arlene has trouble closing the garage door, she asks a hitch-hiking Bill (who just happens to be passing by) to help her and it leads to her flirting with him and offering him $15 a day to help her close-up the family mansion for the end of Summer. Bill accepts and soon Arlene is pulling the old "Oh, Bill, will you oil my back?" routine, but Bill couldn't be less interested. While Bill is cleaning the house, he notices a huge walk-in freezer in the basement and he starts getting ideas. Very bad ideas. It turns out Bill is not only an artist, he's also a misogynist (There's some mother issues mentioned throughout the film in Bill's dialogue, such as when he tells Arlene that his mother taught him how scrub floors when he was a child). After a childhood trauma, Bill is obsessed with an image in his mind of two women in the water with a third woman firing a bow and arrow at a shadowy figure. He has been trying to paint that image since being released from a mental institution, but his female models can't sit still ("They... always... move!!!") and he goes into a murderous rage. Now that he's got the walk-in freezer, he figures he can kill his models and pose them in the freezer. This way his models will never move. Bill begins by strangling Arlene while she is taking a midnight stroll in a see-through nightie and posing her dead body with a cocked bow and arrow in the freezer. He then gets the bright idea of advertising for potential victims in the newspaper's Personals section and Pat (Mary Lou Collins) applies for the job. Bill drugs her drink, strangles her and poses her as the second woman in the freezer. His next victim is Nikki (Andree Champagne, who sings a song in French), who he picks up in a jazz club, drugs her drink, strangles her and poses her as the third woman in his dreams. He is now able to paint his masterpiece, but a visit from one of Arlene's bitchy friends and a power outage bite him in the ass. The bodies in the freezer start to thaw and Arlene's corpse releases the arrow into Bill's neck, proving he was the shadowy figure in the image in his mind. Karma, it's a bitch.  Though slow-moving and uneventful throughout most of its running time, PLAYGIRL KILLER, directed and written by Erick Santamaria (his only screen credit), still oozes sleaze (most of the women here are either sluts or are so naive, all it takes is a few choice words to get them to take off their clothes), has a killer jazz score and is a good time capsule of French Canadian Montreal in 1965. William Kerwin is suitably creepy and wide-eyed as the crazy Bill and while the bloodletting is kept to a minimum (the speargun murder is the bloodiest bit in the film), the freezer sequences will stay in your brain for a long time to come (it's what I remembered most since watching this on TV as a kid in the late-60's and early-70's). Kerwin's oft-repeated line of "Don't move!" will have you in stitches (it would make a good drinking game), as will the thought of Neil Sedaka portraying a playboy (I always pictured him more comfortable on Liberace's lap than in the arms of a woman, even if he once was married to singer/songwriter Carole King). A good slice of 60's sleaze cheese. Also starring Ted Rust, Fred Smith, Serge Lasalle, Jacqueline Douguet, Denise Andrieux and Eileen Woliner. Originally released on VHS by New World Video and on budget DVD from Platinum Disc Corporation. Not Rated (ignore the R-rating on the DVD, this film was released before those ratings were implemented), but it would probably receive a PG-13 if submitted to the MPAA today.

PRIMITIVES (1978) - Leave it to those thieving bastards at VideoAsia/Ventura Distribution. Once again they have pirated a film (in this case a slightly letterboxed Greek VHS release of the Indonesian jungle horror tale complete with Greek subtitles!), slapped it on DVD and claimed it as their own. I could have done a better job of mastering a DVD on my home system as this print contains rollouts, distortion and other video noise associated with an overused VHS tape. Here's the story: Three too-stupid-for-words archaeology students (including Indonesian action star Berry "Barry" Prima [HELL RAIDERS - 1985], in his first film role) hire some guides to take them deep into the jungle where they hope to study a very primitive tribe. After losing their boat and supplies to the raging rapids (where one becomes separated from the others), they must travel by foot, where they witness an anaconda eating a large lizard (obvious stock footage) and find the abandoned camp of Dr. Marcus, a scientist who disappeared in the area a year earlier. Rita (Enny Haryono), the lone female of the group, is nearly bitten by a cobra (a rubber snake on a string) and they then are taken captive by a tribe of cannibals after their guide is killed by a spiked boobytrap. Tied to poles, they are carried back to the cannibal's camp, where they are tied to a rock and stripped nearly naked. Robert (Prima) is forced to walk on all fours and act like a dog while the children and women ride him. Robert is put in a bamboo cage where the children pee on him and we witness a ritual where we see the cannibals turn a giant snake into a maggot-ridden edible paste. When one of the cannibals tries to rape Rita, the tribal leader gives him a sharp rock castration. Meanwhile, Tommy (Johann Mardjono), who was dislocated from the group during the boat accident, treks through the jungle by himself. He sees an alligator attacking and eating a leopard and eats poisonous fruit, causing him to get sick and trip out. We also view the cannibals chowing down on live lizards, slaughtering a live alligator and eating it's steaming innards. Tommy witnesses a cannibal woman giving birth (she bites off the umbilical cord and eats the afterbirth!) and follows her back to camp. After Robert professes his faith in "Our Lord", he and Rita watch as the cannibals bash in the head of a monkey and eat it's brains. Tommy finally reunites with Robert and Rita, where they escape into the jungle, the cannibals not far behind. After battling some quicksand, the trio must battle the cannibals and one of them will get a spear in the gut before the other two get away. What's the point of all this, you may ask? It's the Indonesians way of competing with the Italian cannibal films, which were becoming extremely popular at the time. While it's no MAN FROM DEEP RIVER (1972) or JUNGLE HOLOCAUST (1976), PRIMITIVES (also known as PRIMITIF) offers enough gross-out moments and lapses in logic (A boomerang axe? It must be seen to be believed!) to satisfy fans of cannibal cinema and real life animal slaughter (which I find troubling). In other words, it's insanely gory and utterly shameless. Not to mention unintentionally hilarious. Tommy's halucinations and Robert's sudden knowledge of martial arts in the finale are two standouts. Put your mind in neutral and enjoy the ride. The use of "We Are The Robots" by Kraftwerk in the opening credits is, I'm sure, unauthorized.  Directed by Sisworo Gautama Putra (THE WARRIOR - 1981; SATAN'S SLAVE - 1982; HUNGRY SNAKE WOMAN - 1987), who sometimes uses the Anglicized name "Sam Gardner". PRIMITIVES also stars Rukman Herman, Yayuk Suseno, Michael Kelly and Novita Rully. Also known as SAVAGE TERROR. A VideoAsia/Ventura Distribution Release as part of their TALES OF VOODOO series (It's on Volume 2). Not Rated.

PSYCHED BY THE 4-D WITCH (1972) -  I have seen some boring, worthless films in my lifetime, but nothing comes close to this piece of shit parading as a film. Shot silent in 8mm with voiceover narration (a good clue that nothing good is about to be seen), this film makes anything made by Ray Dennis Steckler look like Orson Welles in comparison. A young ( and terribly ugly) girl performs a supernatural sexual ritual and conjures up her ancient witch ancestor who initiates her virginal body to various sexual encounters (including making love to a gay man!). The whole film (?) is a mixture of LSD trip visuals and home movie footage trumped-up as filmed in "trans-etheric vision and telepathic dialogue". I guess if they told the truth and said it was filmed in "silent Kodak 8mm and dubbed later" it wouldn’t have sold at all. Nothing in this film is in the least bit watchable and, to add insult to injury, the words "pussy" and "fuck" are, for some unfathomable reason, bleeped out every time they are spoken. Weird for an R-rated flick. Thankfully, director Victor Luminera has never made another movie (his wind-up camera probably broke). Some films should just stay lost. The theme song’s lyrics go "She came from the belly of the Devil’s bitch, beware of the 4-D witch." You should just beware of this film. It can cause diaharrea, vaginal cramps and brain cancer. Starring Margo, Esoterica and Tom Yerian. They are probably working today as cashiers at the local Home Depot. A Something Weird Video Release. Rated R for rancid.

THE REVENGE OF THE TEENAGE VIXENS FROM OUTER SPACE (1985) - Many of you old enough may remember this regional oddity (made in Seattle, Washington) being screened endlessly on the USA Network's NIGHT FLIGHT/UP ALL NIGHT program during the late 80's and early 90's, minus the minimal nudity and foul language. This sci-fi comedy/sexploitation film opens with an alien medallion (which looks like a metal pretzel) falling in the woods next to a small town. Four scantily-clad female aliens show up at the home of schoolgirl Karla (Lisa Schwedop) and her disc jockey brother John (Peter Guss), where they ask Karla for tips on the opposite sex. Since Karla is still a virgin, she doesn't have much advice to offer them. The next day, the four vixens start attending school (at the appropriately-named Bliss Hall, which is a real Seattle school campus) and begin screwing around with the male student body. Within a week, the vixens have done it with nearly all the popular guys and that doesn't sit too well with the school's female population. Karla and her new boyfriend Paul (Howard Scott), along with conniving schoolgirl Stephanie (Amy Crumpacker), who has the hots for Paul's teacher father, Jack Morelli (Julian Schembri), try to find out just why the vixens are here. When Jack gets suspended from his job for screwing one of the vixens, he tells Paul that the vixens are from the same planet as his mother, who visited here sixteen years earlier, got pregnant with Paul and then went back to her home planet after having the baby. He also tells Paul that when they get angry or frustrated, the vixens are extremely dangerous. Jack also believes that Paul's mother, Mary Jo (Anne Lilly) has return to Earth and he is right. When Paul finds out he is half-alien, he also discovers he has special powers (he removes Karla's blouse by just thinking about it!). The vixens become frustrated with the sexual performance of the males in town ("They are all virgins!") and begin zapping everyone with rayguns, turning them into giant vegetables! Paul and Karla go to Mary Jo and ask for her help in ending the madness, but she refuses. The Pentagon is called and they send troops to blow up the vixens (stock war footage and model planes on visible strings). Jack is able to change Mary Jo's mind and she gives Paul a medallion that channels his powers. I guess it all ends happily, as we next see Paul in photos on "Intergalatic" postcards, smiling and posing with vixens on their home planet. What?  The premise for this film is quite unique, even if the execution leaves a lot to be desired. As Mary Jo explains to Jack, the reason why their all-female race came to Earth sixteen years earlier was because they picked up a TV signal of Elvis Presley's original censored performance on the Ed Sullivan Show! She says, "You got the top half and we got the bottom half." The reason behind their return visit to Earth is because one of their young females got hold of a copy of a "teen magazine" and got curious! Mary Jo came along as a chaperone this time, but tells Jack that "they'll have to learn from their own mistakes." Although most of the humor is juvenile, I must admit that I laughed out loud when the vixens turned a bunch of students into giant vegetables (the huge carrot with eyes is a comic standout). The special effects are strictly lower-tier (lots of billowing fog and foam rubber), but they fit in well with the overall tone of the production. One-time director Jeff Ferrell, who also co-wrote and co-produced this with his wife, Michelle Lichter, offers the viewer zero nudity, which is strange considering the subject matter. The closest this comes to naked skin is when Paul telekinetically removes Karla's blouse and we then see Karla covering her breasts with her hands. There is a lot of funny dialogue, such as when the dastardly Danny (Sterling Ramberg) is zapped by the vixens and his mother comes out of the house with him in a jar to show the other concerned citizens. Danny's father turns to the crowd and says, "There, that's what's left of my son Danny. Just a giant pickle!" A guy in the crowd then says, "They did this to my sister?" Stephanie replies, "Worse. She was stepped-on afterwards!" We also hear a radio announcer say, "We just received word that the entire town of Springfield has been turned into a giant summer squash!" We then see a giant summer squash with eyes! It's no AIRPLANE (1980), but it's a hell of a lot funnier than AIRPLANE 2 (1982). Worth a purchase, if just for the memories of watching it on TV over 20 years ago. Also starring Sarah Barnes, Susanne Bailey, Lisa McGregor and Kim Wickenburg as the Vixens. THE REVENGE OF THE TEENAGE VIXENS FROM OUTER SPACE was originally released on VHS from Continental Video in one of those big boxes and now available on DVD by a new outfit called Sovereign Distribution, who offer an uncut fullscreen print (it looks like a VHS port, but it's watchable) with filmmaker commentary, a deleted scene (a musical number that had to be scrubbed because they couldn't get the music rights), a mini-commentary by Susanne Daily, filmmaker bios (where it states that both Jeff Ferrell and Michelle Lichter were abducted by aliens in 1992 and went missing for ten years!) and trailers for other Sovereign releases. A nice little package, even if the cover art looks like it was drawn by a fifth grader. Not Rated, but it would probably garner an R if submitted to the MPAA, due to foul language. "Nobody sit on my harmonica!"

RIOT ON 42ND ST. (1985) - While this may be a terrible film, it's historical value is immeasurable because it shows Times Square just before it was cleaned-up and Disneyfied. You can almost taste and touch the filth and desperation. God, I miss those days! Glenn Barnes (John Patrick Hayden, sporting an 80's porn moustache) returns home to his family-run 42nd Street grindhouse business after serving time on a manslaughter rap, where he accidentally killed a drug dealer in the theater three years earlier. His sudden reappearance doesn't sit sit too well with several people, including his brother Tom (Lance Lewman), who is now in a street gang; cop Frank (Jeff Fahey. Yes, that Jeff Fahey), whose partner Michelle Owens (Kate Collins) was Glenn's lover (she picks up where they left off before he was sent to prison); and crooked businessman Leonard Farrell (Michael Speero), who runs a competing stripper/hooker bar and has a long-standing rivalry with Glenn. When some of Farrell's stripper/whores want to defect to Glenn's newly refurbished business (Farrell slaps one of his girls around and says, "You're gonna fuck, suck, lick and eat anybody I tell you to!"), Farrell orders his men to kill everyone that works for Glenn. What they don't count on is that Glenn and his men, including Rip (Rick Gianisi), are fighters and they beat-up and shoot Farrell's men (When one of Farrell's men gets shot in the arm, he pulls out the bullet with his teeth!). Glenn's grand re-opening is a big success (It's like a burlesk show, with a rock band, a black female crooner, strippers and a bad comedian named "Zerocks", who's "A" material consists of jokes like, "I'm not black. It's the sun lamp I bought in Woolworths!" and the audience roars with laughter!) and Farrell puts in an appearance to make some veiled threats, has someone deliver a human head to Glenn in a box (!) and later has his men burst into the Glenn's crowded business and slaughter nearly all the patrons (including Glenn's father) with machine gun fire (in the film's most effective scene). Glenn and his men join forces with Tom and his gang (even cop Michelle looks the other way) and they all look to get some NYC payback. When Farrell kidnaps Michelle, Glenn must fight his way to her floor-by-floor while Farrell watches all the action on close circuit TV. Believe it or not, there actually is a riot on 42nd Street, as Farrell and his men are graphically dispatched and the good guys take back the streets.  This is the rarest of director/scripter Tim Kincaid's non-porn films (He still directs gay porn flicks using the name "Joe Gage"). Best known in the 80's for directing a string of lousy (yet, somehow, endearing) ultra-low-budget genre films, including BAD GIRLS DORMITORY (1984), ROBOT HOLOCAUST (1986), BREEDERS (1986), MUTANT HUNT (1987), THE OCCULTIST (1988) and SHE'S BACK (1989). Kincaid made this one obviously without permits on location, which may be why it is so hard to find in the U.S. (The print I viewed came from a Japanese-subtitled laserdisc). It is atrociously acted (as are all of Kincaid's films), but there are some surprising bits of gore (effects courtesy of Ed French, who did the makeup effects for most of Kincaid's genre films), including a throat slashing that turns into a beheading (!), a boobytrapped tunnel where one of Tom's gang is impaled through the head with a spring-loaded spike, the bloody, squib-filled slaughter in Glenn's grindhouse and the finale, where people get shot in the head and torso and Farrell falls off of his building's roof and is bloodily impaled on a fence below. The film's one true standout is Carl Fury as Farrell's musclebound right-hand man Remy Wyler, the bullet-biting, almost indestructable, never-say-die psychopath, who beheads people with a knife (!), kidnaps children and has a long one-on-one fight with Glenn in the finale (Yet his feelings still manage to get hurt when Farrell yells racist remarks at him!). It's apparent that Jeff Fahey (in a thankless role) appears here as a favor to someone, probably to relative Mary Fahey, who has a small role here as "Lulu". While RIOT ON 42ND ST. can't be classified as quality entertainment by any stretch of the imagination, it's rare location shooting and frequent violence will keep your interest. Hell, who am I kidding. I loved it! Melvin Van Peebles is one of the people thanked in the closing credits and the cheesy synth tune, "Riot On The Deuce", that opens and closes the film will be ingrained in your brain for weeks to come. Also starring Frances Raines, Philip Harris, Asie Kio, Dan Geffen, Pearl Bank, Ceal Coleman, Amy Brentano (BLOOD SISTERS - 1987) and Ron Van Clief as himself. Now available on a double feature DVD from Code Red, with Kincaid's BAD GIRLS DORMITORY (1984). Not Rated.

ROLLING VENGEANCE (1987) - I'm still scratching my head over this one. This trucker action film was made at least ten years too late. It was during the 70's when audiences were most interested in trucker films, thanks to their fascination with CB radios and it's culture, especially the shorthand language that went with it ("10-4, good buddy!"). Thanks to this obsession (which was thankfully short-lived in the mainstream), there was a short spurt of trucker exploitation flicks during the mid-to-late 70's, including TRUCK STOP WOMEN (1974), WHITE LINE FEVER (1975), BREAKER, BREAKER (1977), Sam Peckinpah's CONVOY (1978) and, of course, SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT (1977). The genre petered-out during the early 80's (thanks, in part, to the inferior BANDIT sequels), which makes me wonder why anyone would green-light a film like this. The story is generic trucker stuff: A father-and-son trucker team, Big Joe Russo (Lawrence Dane; RITUALS - 1977) and Joey Russo (Don Michael Paul; ROBOT WARS - 1993), suffer a devastating loss when Big Joe's wife and other pre-teen son are killed when a bunch of drunken jerks in a pickup truck force their car on the opposite side of the road, directly into the path of an oncoming 18 wheeler, killing them instantly. The driver of the pickup truck, Victor Doyle (Todd Duckworth), is brought to trial, but the judge finds a lack of evidence for a manslaughter conviction and fines Victor $300 instead, which pisses-off both Big & Little Joe. To add insult to injury, Victor's father Tiny Doyle (Ned Beatty, sporting the most ridiculous-looking hairpiece I have ever seen), who runs the town's only bar (and a used car lot, just to show how crookedly evil he really is), fires the Russo's from delivering the booze to his bar, which puts the hurt on the Russo's trucking business. Besides Victor, Tiny has a bunch of other half-wit sons by different mothers with names like Moon Man, Finger and Hair Lip and just like any good inbred clan they do whatever Papa says. That includes dropping cinderblocks from an overpass directly into the path of Big Joe's rig, forcing him to jackknife and crash, putting him into a coma. Little Joe says enough is enough and, in true 80's montage fashion, builds a monster truck (it spits flames out of it's exhaust pipes) and uses it to trash Tiny's used car business as well as Tiny's tricked-out Cadillac. The police, led by Lieutenant Sly Sullivan (Michael J. Reynolds), are baffled as to who and what have caused all this destruction (Little Joe only brings out his monster truck at night to avoid detection) and since Tiny is not cooperating, there's very little the cops can do. Tiny orders his mentally deficient sons to ambush Little Joe's trucker friend Steve Tyler (Barclay Hope), but Little Joe and his truck of destruction show up in the nick of time and save Steve's ass, killing two of Tiny's sons (Little Joe has equipped the monster truck with a giant drillbit in the front, which he uses to rip the door off the van that Tiny's sons were in). The rest of Tiny's sons rape and brutalize Little Joe's girlfriend, Misty (Lisa Howard; REPLIKATOR - 1994, also with Ned Beatty), so Little Joe chases them down, flattening them under the truck's obscenely-oversized wheels. When Big Joe succumbs from his injuries, Little Joe hops in his monster truck and heads down to Tiny's bar, where Tiny and only surviving son Victor are arguing about about Victor's yellow streak. Little Joe flattens the bar, Tiny is shot between the eyes by Lt. Sullivan and Victor steals the monster truck and chases Misty into a drainage tunnel with the truck's drillbit (insert phallic symbolism here). Little Joe saves Misty in the nick of time and, with all the bad guys dead, Lt. Sullivan covers for Little Joe, letting him get away with murder. Hooray for vigilantism!  Directed without any flair by Steven H. Stern, who is better known for directing TV movies like THE GHOST OF FLIGHT 401 (1978) and THE PARK IS MINE (1985). That could be why this film has the same flat look and feel of a TV movie. The violence and nudity are also fairly restrained for a film with an R-rating. We never really see the bloody aftermath of Little Joe's truck vengeance and Misty's rape cuts away before the viewer sees anything. Which brings up my whole point: Why make a trucker revenge film ten years too late and then forget to add violence or nudity? It just doesn't make any sense. This has to be the worst film Ned Beatty has done (he's absolutely awful here) and the acting talent by the rest of the cast never rises above a TV Movie Of The Week. I can't find one thing to recommend here. There's more action at a monster truck rally. Avoid it like a case of herpes. Also starring Michael Dyson, Hugo Dann, Michael Kirby and Alar Aedma. Originally released on VHS by Charter Entertainment and still awaiting a DVD release. The widescreen print I viewed was recorded off of pay cable channel Showtime Extreme. Rated R.

SATAN’S CHILDREN (1974) - This obscure lensed-in-Florida rarity is a true exploitation maven’s dream. Poor Bobby Douglas (Stephen White) runs away from home after putting up with his abusive father (Eldon Mecham) and cockteasing stepsister Janis (Joyce Molloy) one too many times. He is then promptly raped by four men in the back of a car and dumped unconscious naked in the woods. He is found by a cult of Satan worshippers and brought back to their compound. Sherry (Kathleen Archer), the temporary leader of the group (their leader, Simon, is away on business), falls in love with Bobby who is laid up in bed nursing a sore ass. Dissention erupts in the group over Bobby ("He’s queer. Satan doesn’t want victims") and Sherry hangs three of the disciples for wanting Bobby ousted from the compound. The dashing, debonnaire Simon (Robert C. Ray II in an excellent performance) returns and, finding out what Sherry has done, buries her up to her neck and pours maple syrup over her head. While waiting for the ants to come, Simon gives Bobby two choices: He can stay in bed and watch the ants devour Sherry or he can get out of bed and quit being a victim. Bobby opts for the latter. He escapes from the compound and returns home (after electrocuting two compound guards and drowning two more guards in quicksand). He hits his father over the head with a bottle, ties up his stepsister (rape is implied) and throws her in the backseat of his car. He then drives to the house of the four men who raped him and kills them with a shotgun. He cuts off the head of the lead rapist, puts it in a plastic bag (he may have done the same thing to his father since there are two heads in the bag) and delivers it, along with his stepsister, to Simon. The final scene shows Bobby and Sherry making passionate love intercut with scenes of his stepsister being crucified (with metal spikes!) on a wooden cross. A true happy ending! This mind-blowing flick must be seen to be disbelieved. The screenwriters (Gary Garrett and Ron Levitt) are definitely pro-Satan and anti-homosexual. All gay characters are portrayed as sexual deviates and meet nasty ends. When a female disciple swears before Simon and Satan that she is not a lesbian (she is), a river of blood flows from her mouth and she chokes to death! This demented film, directed and produced by Joe Wiezycki (has he done anything else?) is so steeped in homosexual undertones (Bobby is either naked or in his underwear for most of the film) that one gets the feeling that the filmmakers were trying to exorcise some demons of their own. Toss in some good music (the opening and closing theme is a killer) and decent acting (only the father is wooden) making SATAN’S CHILDREN a thoroughly watchable and unforgiving flick, one of the best that came out of Florida during the 70’s. I now declare this to be one of CritCon’s top 20 films of all time! Something Weird Video has dug up a near pristine print of this unknown classic. Do yourself a favor and send $22.00pp off to them and buy this whacked-out tale of Satan-loving homo-hating hippies. You’ll be glad that you did. Rated R for Really Weird. Update: Robert C. Ray II (a.k.a. Simon) emailed CritCon with his take on this film: "The fun thing about that film for me has to be that a significant part of the dialog was badly recorded while filming (the Nagra crystal sync recorder wasn't too good), so we had to re-record the entire thing at my apartment just off-campus from the University of South Florida in Tampa.  The sound man and I went into the bathroom for the better acoustics, and stood in the bathtub and did another series of takes. My young wife was in the kitchen, hidden behind the door, laughing hysterically at us.  All in all, it came out quite well, considering all of us worked for spec.  We all had fun making it, which is ultimately what it's all about anyway..." Mr. Ray II can be seen in the ape adventure/comedy BORN TO BE WILD (1995 - a.k.a. KATIE) playing a corrupt Customs Officer whom Peter Boyle pays off.

SAVAGE INMATES (1976) - Also known as ISLAND OF 1000 DELIGHTS, this German/French co-production is merely an excuse to show as many simulated sex scenes and naked flesh as is humanly possible in a 90 minute film. The thin story line involves a gambler (Philippe Garnier) who plots to kill his aunt to inherit her fortune. The subplot is about a casino owner who runs a slave trade business on the side. None of that is really important as beautiful women (except the native one with a moustache!) are shown in various states of undress as well as in precarious predicaments. See Olivia Pascal (Jess Franco's BLOODY MOON - 1981) tortured with a red hot light bulb to her nipples and pubic area. Watch as the mustachioed native girl is coerced into masturbating with a lit candle and then forced to perform oral sex. Marvel at the sight of a stripper performing the erotic banana dance. Director Hubert Frank has been churning out softcore porn like this for years. His other titles available on tape are MELODY IN LOVE - 1978; VANESSA - 1977; and (STORY OF) THE DOLLS - 1984. SAVAGE INMATES contains lush photography, exotic locales, beautiful bodies, spurts of violence, double and triple crosses, plenty of pubic hair (both male and female) and decent dubbing, enough to warrant a recommendation for fans of this type of exploitation. I enjoyed it a lot. WARNING: Showtime cable network has been showing SAVAGE INMATES under its alternate ISLAND title for over twenty years in a severely edited form. It is devoid of many of the sex scenes and most of the violence (the candle scene and banana dance are completely missing). Avoid it and track down the unrated cassette version. T-Z Video sells this version for $9.99 and it is recorded in the SP mode! This is a good buy. Grab it! Also known as SEX SLAVES and TRIANGLE OF VENUS. Unrated for obvious reasons.

SAVAGE ISLAND (1980/1985) - What do you do if you are Charles Band and you've gotten your hands on two European WIP films (HOTEL PARADISE and ESCAPE FROM HELL, both directed by Eduardo Mulargia in 1980) and you want to royally screw-over the viewing audience? Why, you use the pseudonym "Robert Amante" (the same name Band used when he directed THE ALCHEMIST [1981]) as a producer credit, film ten minutes of new footage featuring Linda Blair, Leon Askin and Penn Jillette (!), mix and edit everything together into a 77 minute mess, give directorial and co-scripting credit to someone named "Nicholas Beardsley" (yeah, right!) and release it through Empire Pictures. The film opens with a woman in some island prison buried up to her shoulders in sand while a snake coils around her neck, squeezing the life from her. We then switch to the newly-shot footage, where Daly (Blair) steps out of a limousine, walks into a highrise building, shoots the security guard (Jillette) at the front desk right between the eyes when he asks her to sign-in (how rude!) and then takes the elevator to the office of Mr. Luker (Askin). While Daly holds Mr. Luker hostage with a machinegun, she relates a story to him about his dirty jewel business and how he and his associates use women prisoners as cheap labor to mine his precious jewels on Emerald Island. Suddenly, we are back to the old footage, as Daly narrates the story of how a handful of female prisoners put up with abuse from horny guards and a sadistic warden at a work camp. A couple of new female prisoners are actually working in conjunction with Daly (though we hear her voice, Blair does not appear, even as inserts, in the old footage) to bring down the camp and, with the help of Laredo (Anthony Steffan), the island's only good guy, bring all the female prisoners together for a revolt, but not before plenty of naked showers, lesbian and straight encounters and some good, old fashioned torture, including rape and whippings. After the women escape with Laredo's help, they are hunted down in the jungle by the remaining guards. After surviving an attack by leeches (well, one doesn't survive) and a pool of quicksand (oops, another one bites the dust), the remaining women (both of them) take an injured Laredo to safety and we then return back to Daly in Mr. Luger's office. After killing Luger's bodyguard, Daly shoots Luger and robs his safe of all his jewels. There, I've just saved you 77 minutes of your life. Use them for something more productive, like getting painful laser treatments to remove that Yogi Bear tattoo you had put on your left asscheek during that one drunk night no one ever talks about.  This is a real ordeal to sit through, thanks to the lousy dubbing and a plot that makes absolutely no sense. This is nothing but a "best of" collection of scenes from the two earlier films, which shared many of the same actors (Steffan, Ajita Wilson and Cristina Lai), whose hairstyles and clothing change from scene-to-scene. While there is plenty of full-frontal female nudity on view, the hackneyed rewritten plot and slapdash editing offer little entertainment value for your hard-earned cash. The ridiculous dubbing consists of people yelling profanities at the women prisoners, such as this exchange: Female Guard: "Get back to work, you filthy cunts! Didn't you hear me?" Female Prisoner: "We didn't hear you!" There is a smattering of violence here and there, including Ajita Wilson (a hermaphrodite in real life) biting the head off a snake, none of it is very convincing or exciting. Shame on Linda Blair for participating in deceitful crap like this. While we expect false advertising and sleight-of-hand from Charles Band (who is still churning out crap up to this day, such as the excruciatingly-bad THE GINGERDEAD MAN [2005]), we expected better from Ms. Blair back in the 80's, who still was making good genre films like HELL NIGHT (1981) and SAVAGE STREETS (1984). SAVAGE ISLAND is to be avoided at all costs, especially since HOTEL PARADISE (a.k.a. ORINOCO: PRISON OF SEX) and ESCAPE FROM HELL can be viewed in their unedited form on home video. This is just another example on how Charles Band continually promised more than he could deliver. Here, he promised us Linda Blair and gave us nothing but a pastiche of cliches. Shame on him and double-shame on me for not knowing better by now. Also starring Stello Candelli, Luciano Rossi, Also Minardi, Luciano Pigozzi and Cintia Lodetti. A Force Video VHS Release. Available on DVD as part of Full Moon's "Grindhouse Collection" (which basically means it has not been remastered and was probably taken from 1" tape masters). Rated R.

SAVAGE SISTERS (1974) - This is one of Filipino director Eddie Romero's many 70's exploitation flicks, only this one is the less-seen of the bunch as it never got a legit U.S. home video release, unlike his BEAST OF THE YELLOW NIGHT (1970), TWILIGHT PEOPLE (1973) and BEYOND ATLANTIS (1973). Cheri Caffaro (GINGER - 1971) stars as Jo Turner, an American revolutionary working in the Philippines with boyfriend Ernesto (Dindo Fernando) to overthrow a facist regime helped along by the sadistic Capt. Morales (Eddie Garcia). Jo is captured by Capt. Morales and is sent to prison while boyfriend Ernesto is doublecrossed and murdered by bandito Malavasi (a long-haired Sid Haig in a sombrero) and his sidekick One-Eye (Filippino staple Vic Diaz). With no help for outside help to escape, Jo and her friend Mai Ling (Rosanna Ortiz) must find their own way to break out, but they are dogged repeatedly by female interrogator Lynn Jackson (Gloria Hendry), who nearly rapes Jo with a razor-sharp dildo attached to a power drill. When Jackson shows her Ernesto's bullet-ridden corpse, Jo swears vengeance on Malavasi and works with Mai Ling to find a way out of prison. Malavasi, meanwhile, ambushes a government convoy and steals one million dollars of General Balthasar's (Leoplodo Salcedo) illegal kickbacks and tries to find a way off the island. The General orders Capt. Morales to find Malavasi and return the money and opportunist W.P. Billingsley (John Ashley) works out a deal with Jackson to break Jo and Mai Ling out of prison so they will lead them to the money. The three girls escape, ditch Billingsley and go searching for Malavasi and the money, but the bumbling Capt. Morales and his troops are not far behind. All three factors meet at a dock where Malavasi tries to escape by boat (helped by a guy in a wheelchair called "Peg Leg"). He fails, but gets away, Morales gets run over by a jeep and the three women finally catch up with Malavasi at a beach, where they bury Malavasi and One-Eye up to their necks and wait for the tide to come in. All three women (and in some aspects, Billingsley) get what they came for in the finale.  Eddie Romero sprinkles many comedic moments in this film, which at first plays rather uneasily (considering the amount of bloody violence), but, as the film moves along, becomes extremely funny. When Capt. Morales captures Jo and Mai Ling, he kills all their female comrades by firing squad for refusing to tell him the whereabouts of Ernesto, but spares Jo and Mai Ling's lives by saying, "There's more than one way to skin a pussy!" and then sending them to prison. We then see Morales' true colors at the prison, where he and prison matron Ortega (Rita Gomez) play S&M games and she calls Morales a "dog" and makes him lick her. There's also a funny scene after the prison breakout where Jo, Jackson and Mai Ling separately seduce Billingsley all in the same night to find out the location of Malavasi and the money (he tells all three of them, "It's just the three of us: You, me and the money!) and they tie him up the next morning and take off without him. Billingsley then joins forces with Capt. Morales (I told you he was an opportunist). Billingsley also tries to flimflam Malavasi (Sig Haig is hilarious throughout the whole film) by getting him out of the country on a plane that literally falls apart on the runway. The funniest running gag is Capt. Morales and his constant need to get everything he does down on film. He has his lieutenant take photos of him standing next to dead bodies, meeting the general, getting beat up in a bar fight and even his own death. As he lies dying on the pavement after the three girls have just run over him with a jeep, he orders his lieutenant to take photos of him with his final breath, by saying, "The camera, quickly, while we still have light!" It's apparent John Ashley (who loved the Philippines) was also having a great time. He gets to make out with all three ladies, participate in some gunfights and even talks directly to the audience in the beginning of the film, where he sets up the plot of the film while surrounded by beautiful women. Not surprising, since he also co-produced this with Romero. Quite bloody in spots (there's a castration scene that's both funny and severe) and entertaining as all hell. Seek this out. Also starring Angelo Ventura, Alfonso Carvajal, Subas Herrero and Johnny Long. As I have said before, SAVAGE SISTERS has never been legally available in the U.S. on home video. The DVD-R I viewed was a worn, but watchable, print struct directly from 35mm elements. Originally released to theaters by American International Pictures. The artwork for the posters and ads in black neighborhoods featured Gloria Hendry front and center, while white neighborhoods got Cheri Caffaro standing in the center. Rated R. UPDATE: Eddie Romero passed away on March 28, 2013.

SAVAGE VENGEANCE (1989) - Simply horrid and shameless SOV rip-off of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978) which, believe it or not, also stars Camille Keaton (here using the pseudonym "Linda Lehl"). Keaton once again portrays a woman (this time named Jennifer) who is raped in the woods by four men (it's quite confusing as none of the men, nor Keaton, take their pants off). Five years later, Jennifer is now a 29 year-old woman in law school. It seems that after she was raped, she got revenge on the four men, killing them all and found innocent by a jury when brought to trial. When her law class discovers Jennifer's history, she and girlfriend Sam (Linda Lyer) go away for a weekend to a cabin in the woods. When Sam goes for a walk, she gets lost and ends up at the house of Dwayne (Phil Newman, who looks like a deranged Conway Twitty), who proceeds to rape her and then passes her to crazy friend Tommy (director Donald Farmer), who we earlier see stab  a girl in a bar. Tommy knifes Sam in the vagina after she knees him in the nuts, killing her. With Sam now dead, Dwayne and Tommy lure Jennifer over to Dwayne's house, where they make her taste "pork belly pie" (which contains the flesh of Sam) and then chase her through the woods, where they rape her (again without taking off their pants). Tommy cuts her across the chest with his knife and they leave her for dead. Jennifer comes to later on (and her knife wound is gone!) and flags down a passing car. Jennifer gets her revenge by using a chainsaw to cut Dwayne's head in two and blows Tommy's balls off with a sawed-off shotgun.  This stupid, juvenile and cheap (not to mention short at 65 minutes) SOV flick looks like it was thrown together in two days. The obnoxious and irritating music score drones so loud that it drowns out most of the badly-recorded dialogue.  The special effects are anything but special (the chainsaw-to-the-head bit will make you howl at its cheesiness). For a rape/revenge film, there's surprisingly very little nudity, just flashes of breasts here and there. The rapes are very sterile, as everyone leaves their clothes on and just dry-humps, so the sickos out there expecting something graphic will be bitterly disappointed. Donald Farmer, who started out by publishing the influential fanzine The Splatter Times in the early 80's, made a career directing terrible SOV films with titles like DEMON QUEEN (1986), SCREAM DREAM (1989), VAMPIRE COP (1990), INVASION OF THE SCREAM QUEENS (1992), AN EROTIC VAMPIRE IN PARIS (2002), DORM OF THE DEAD (2006), CHAINSAW CHEERLEADERS (2008) and SHARK EXORCIST (made in 2012, but not able to get a release until 2015!). As you can see, he's still churning them out today. This DVD is part of Eden Entertainment's badly-mastered series titled I WILL DANCE ON YOUR GRAVE, which also includes Farmer's CANNIBAL HOOKERS (1986), Raphael Nussbaum's LETHAL VICTIMS (1987)  and Tim Ritter's KILLING SPREE (1986). While SAVAGE VENGEANCE may be the best-looking of the bunch, that's not saying much because it still looks like it was ported from a VHS dupe. Scream Queen Melissa Moore has a cameo as a singer in a bar band. Also starring Jack Clout and Bill Sweeney. An Eden Entertainment DVD Release. Also available on DVD by boutique label Massacre Video. Not Rated.

SCALPS (1987) - Here's something you don't see on my site often (or at all): A gore Western. No, not a horror film set in a Western setting (I've reviewed plenty of them), but an honest-to-goodness Western with plenty of gore. During the Civil War, a squad of psychotic Southern soldiers murder Indian chief Black Eagle and most of his tribe (they shoot them in the head, stab them in the backs with swords and even decapitate them) and then kidnap the Chief's beautiful daughter, Yarin (Mapy Galan; CITY OF LOST CHILDREN - 1995). She eventually escapes from the psychotic gang, which makes the squad's leader, Gordon (Albert Farley; who, using his real name, "Alberto Farnese", appeared in NO WAY OUT - 1973), very unhappy. He hires a halfbreed named Hondo to track her. Yarin ends up at the ranch owned by Matt (Vassili Karis; who, as "Vic Karis" starred in THE ARENA - 1973), who cleans her up, cleans out her infected eye and puts clothes on her back, yet she still tries to kill him because he is a white man. We find out Matt's wife was raped and killed by Indians, yet he still protects Yarin from Gordon (he shoots and kills Hondo for being nosey) and his men. Matt was once Gordon's lieutenant, but he quit because he got tired of all the needless killing. Yarin and Matt begin to depend on each other and they'll need the comraderie as Gordon and his squad surround Matt's ranch. Matt and Yarin sneak out of the ranch and escape (Yarin scalps one of Gordon's men and slits the throat of another when they make their retreat), with Gordon and his men not far behind. Yarin catches-up with the remaining survivors of her tribe and Matt must fight a young buck to prove his worth. Matt does just that and he and the tribe manage to thin Gordon's squad one man at a time, but Matt is shot and seriously wounded, which slows their progress. They avoid detection, which again pisses-off Gordon (he whips one of his own men in anger). Matt makes a miraculous recovery (thanks to Yarin's Indian medicine), but gets captured by Gordon and tortured by having two hooks attached to his chest while Gordon's men tug at them with ropes. Yarin goes on the warpath, scalping, skewering and blowing-up Gordon's men, until only Gordon is left. We then learn the real truth of how Matt's wife died and justice is done, leaving Yarin and Matt to live a long and happy life.  Directed by late Italian sleasemeister Bruno Mattei (Using the pseudonym "Werner Knox", which website IMDB misidentifies as Claudio Fragasso [MONSTER DOG - 1985], who was Assistant Director on this film using his normal pseudonym "Clyde Anderson" Why would someone be the director and the assistant director on the same film? It makes no sense.), SCALPS is bound to upset anyone who whistles "Dixie" on a regular basis. Southerners are portrayed as murderous, women-raping perverts who think nothing of killing innocent Indian women and children and proudly hang their severed heads on their horses.  Since this is an Italian film, it's an equal-opportunity offender, as most of the Indians (actually Italians wearing greasepaint) are seen either holding scalps or scalping every white man they encounter, whether they are a threat or not. There's not much meat to the plot, which was written by Mattei and Robert Di Girolamo (with a co-story credit going to actor Richard Harrison [BLOOD DEBTS - 1983], who doesn't appear in this film). It's just basically a long chase film, but the final 30 minutes is a non-stop gorefest. Gordon performs a nasty scalping on a helpless Indian; Yarin shoots people through the neck and other body parts with her bow (she even blows one guy apart with an arrow/dynamite combo); Gordon shoots his own wife in the head for betraying him and Matt gets his ultimate payback by scalping Gordon, when he learns that Gordon, who was Matt's wife's father, killed his own daughter when he tried to rape her, then blamed her death on the Indians. The hardest scene to watch is when Matt has two hooks (which look like eagle claws) pierce his chest and Gordon's guys pull on them in opposite directions, kind of what happened to Richard Harris in A MAN CALLED HORSE (1970). The easiest parts to watch in this film are the plentiful nude scenes of the beautiful Mapy Galan. Bruno Mattei, better known for his crazy horror and action films like RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR (1983) and ROBOWAR (1988), made this film back-to-back with his only other western, WHITE APACHE (1986). I'm a big fan of Westerns (especially Spaghetti Westerns) and this film would make a great companion piece with CUT THROATS NINE (1972), a Spanish Western with plenty of gory scenes. Mattei's death in 2007 brought an end to Italian exploitation cinema (Yeah, I know Dario Argento is still making films, but it's just not the same thing, if you know what I mean.), as he was the only living director making cheap Italian gore films on a regular basis (ZOMBIES: THE BEGINNING - 2007 was his last film). Also starring Charlie Bravo (NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF - 1980), Beny Cardosa (BARBED WIRE DOLLS - 1976) and Emilio Linder (SLUGS: THE MOVIE - 1987). An Imperial Entertainment Home Video Release. Also released on Spanish and German DVD. Not Rated.

SIMON - KING OF THE WITCHES (1971) - Simon Sinestrari (Andrew Prine) is a homeless warlock (he lives in a storm drain) who gets picked up by the cops on a vagrancy charge. While in jail, he meets Turk (George Paulsin), who later introduces him to Hercules (Gerald York), a rich socialite who gives Simon money to make talismans. Simon becomes a society darling, performing magic tricks and reading tarot cards for the elite. Linda (Brenda Scott, Prine's real-life wife at the time), the District Attorney's daughter, falls hard for Simon and it seems he and Linda were lovers in a previous life (at least that's what Simon tells her). When snooty socialite Colin (Angus Duncan, the evil Dr. John in SWEET SUGAR [1972]) pays Simon with a bad check for a tarot reading, Simon makes a wager with Hercules that he can kill Colin within two days by using "witchcraft only". Simon takes Turk under his wing as his apprentiss and they both view a glowing red orb floating in Simon's underground lair, but Simon chases it away with his "powers". Simon makes a crude wooden cross and attaches the bad check (along with a live chicken) to it and we next see the red orb appear outside Colin's house, where a huge flower pot falls on Colin's head, killing him. With the money he wins from the wager with Hercules, Simon moves out of the storm drain into a large basement apartment (When Simon draws a pentagram on the basement wall, the landlord thinks he is Jewish!). Simon has sex with Linda after performing a spell over her (they are both naked and Simon keeps repeating, "Electric, charge! Magnetic, charge!") and Hercules is visited by the red orb, scaring him into making Simon remove the (imaginary?) curse. Simon and Turk then make a visit to a fake suburban witch's coven (run by Andy Warhol regular Ultra Violet), where Simon makes everyone look like a fool. The police raid Simon's basement apartment, thanks to Linda's father (Norman Burton), but all the cops find are some legal herbs and a metal rod that contains a mysterious force (it could it just has a strong magnetic force). Simon helps all the drug users get revenge on narc John Peter (Richard Ford Grayling), stabbing him to death while performing one of his rituals. It all bites Simon in the ass, though, as the town's drug supply dries up and the addicts take it out on Simon.  This early 70's exploitationer was given an advertising campaign to market it as a horror film, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. This is really a wicked little black comedy (Prine even talks directly to the viewer in the very first scene) where we have to decide whether Simon is the real thing or a tricky charlatan. The funniest scene come when Turk (who had Simon perform a love spell for him, after Simon makes him jerk-off in a cup) complains to Simon that he has an erection that won't go away. Simon come up with a comical and novel way for Turk to lose his hardon (it involves a hankerchief tied to his penis and a knife). This is Andrew Prine's film all the way, as he injects a bit of scoundrel, con man and rogue into his character. As the film progresses, Simon's true colors come to light, but we are never sure if he's a fake or the real magilla. Real or not, one gets the sense that Simon believes in everything he is doing and Prine conveys a sense of playful danger in every scene he is in. Director Bruce Kessler (KILLERS THREE - 1968; DEATH MOON - 1978) rightfully leaves the viewer to decide if a lot of what is happening on-screen is real or just in Simon's fertile imagination (An in-joke has Simon carrying a wooden crate marked "Kessler Chemical" when he moves into the basement apartment). The screenplay, by Robert Phippeny, loses it's way in the final third, when it turns into a narcotics and police corruption drama and the focus is taken off Simon. Still, it's a pretty entertaining blast from the past and a rare chance to see Andrew Prine in a starring role. He was pretty much in demand during the 70's, taking starring roles in THE CENTERFOLD GIRLS (1974), BARN OF THE NAKED DEAD (1974), GRIZZLY (1976) and THE EVIL (1978) and, even though he still acts today, it's usually in bit parts or as secondary characters. Associate Producer Thomas J. Schmidt would next direct GIRLS ON THE ROAD (1972) for Executive Producer Joe Solomon's Fanfare Corporation (THE LOSERS - 1970), who also released this film. Also starring William Martel, Michael C. Ford, Allyson Ames, Helen Jay and Lee J. Lambert. Originally released on VHS by Electric Video in 1982 and later released on VHS by Unicorn Video. Rated R. "Death is only temporary. Think about that for a while."

THE SINFUL DWARF (1972) - This sick, sadistic Danish production could never be made in today’s politically correct climate. It treats women like dirt, contains brutal torture scenes and is definitely not for the faint of heart. In other words, I loved it! Peter and Mary (Tony Eades & Anne Sparrow), a down on their luck couple, rent a cheap room on the top floor of a converted nightclub run by the sadistic Lila Lash (Clara Keller) and her deformed midget son Olaf (Torben, who is a sight to behold). Lila and Olaf run a prostitution ring in the attic, where kidnapped girls are kept in check with unhealthy doses of heroin and nightly beatings. Mary notices a wide variety of faceless men entering the attic at all hours of the day and night and becomes suspicious. When she tells Tony what she has seen, he tells her to mind her own business because he is more worried about finding a job than losing the only place they can afford to stay. Lila and Olaf set their sights on adding Mary to their stable but first must figure out a way to get Tony out of the picture. Lila sets Tony up with a job in a toy shop run by a fat slob named Santa Claus, which is actually a front for a heroin smuggling ring. Santa sends Tony (who is unaware of the illegal activities) to France, giving Lila and Olaf the chance to kidnap Mary. They leave a note in the room in which Mary tells Tony that she is leaving him. Meanwhile, Mary is chained naked in the attic, shot full of heroin and vaginally penetrated with the handle of Olaf’s cane. She is then raped by one of Lila’s customers. Tony returns from France and finds the note. Feeling dejected, he goes back to the toy shop to work off his worries. While working in the basement, he overhears Santa and Olaf talking about the heroin and prostitute operations. Remembering what Mary told him, Tony goes to the police and they bust Santa Claus and raid Lila’s house. Tony finds Mary and three other naked girls in a hidden room in the attic. When he realizes what has been done to Mary, he shoots Lila (with a gun given to him by a cop!), killing her. Olaf jumps out of the attic window to avoid police capture and dies from his wounds. This sleazy bit of exploitation is really rough stuff. You can actually feel yourself getting dirty as you are viewing it. The problem is that this is well-made sleaze, which makes you all the more uncomfortable. When Lila, who was once a nightclub performer before being scarred in a fire, sings cabaret songs (with Olaf accompanying on the piano) for her elderly drunk female friend, the scenes are intercut with the captive girls being whipped, raped and going through withdrawal. These scenes are effective and quite unnerving. The sex scenes are near-pornographic, showing both male and female full frontal nudity and simulated sex that nearly looks real (as a matter of fact, this was actually shot as a hardcore porn film and was edited down to a soft-X for theatrical play in most countries by Harry Novak and his Boxoffice International Pictures). The real find in this film is Torben, who, to the best of my knowledge, has never made another film. His many close-ups reveal grotesque features which even the best makeup artists could not hope to duplicate. He has a diabolical laugh that is goosebumb-inducing and one gets the feeling that he is not acting when he relishes injecting his captives with drugs, spying on Mary and Peter making love and playing with his many wind-up toys (a motif throughout the film). This is one truly frightening guy, regardless of his three foot frame. In closing, let me say that you will sit spellbound while viewing this film and hate yourself for watching it after it ends. How many films can make that statement? If you are daring, this sick shocker (also known as ABDUCTED BRIDE) can be purchased for ten bucks from Something Weird Video . The hardcore version and the soft-X version are both now available as separate DVDs from Severin Films (Severin released the hardcore version on sub-label Private Screenings to distance themselves from controversy).  Not Rated and X-Rated.

SINNER'S BLOOD (1970) - Here's a film that screams out "Independent Production". 80% of the personnel both in front of and behind the camera never went on to do anything else in the film business (or before this film, either), including the director and those that did continue in the business had some unusual credits (to say the least). Here's just a taste: Co-screenwriter (who refused to have his name put on this film) and Assistant Director Peter R.D. Deyell (Lee Stone gets sole screenwriting credit on-screen; his only film credit) went on to become an Associate producer on THE CLONUS HORROR (1979) and First Assistant Director on the Sho Kosugi martial arts flick PRAY FOR DEATH (1985). Co-Producer/Stunt Coordinator/Second Unit Director Michael Rae (who Produced this film with actor Walter Robles, who appears in this film) went on to direct one of  Charles Band's best films of the late 80's, LASERBLAST (1978; his only directorial credit; as a matter of fact, his only other credit, period). The fact that you can't take your eyes off the film even though it is a total mess, just makes the film all the more mysterious. And the "What The Fuck?!?" ending only adds to the film's mystery. Here's the film in a nutshell (most of the actors and the characters they play are guesses by me since the film doesn't give us that information, but I am 90% sure of my choices). When sisters Penelope (Nanci Sheldon; her only other credit is the porn film THE POLITICIANS a.k.a. NAKED...ARE THE CHEATERS - 1970) and Patricia's (Cristy Beal; her only credit) parents die in a car crash, they are sent off to live with their uber-bossy Aunt and lecherous Uncle (who acts shy, but he loves to watch beautiful girls undress). The Aunt and Uncle meet the sisters at the train station, where the flirtatious Penelope (who likes to be called Penny, so that is what I will call her from now on) locks eyes on town hunk Gentry (Stephen Jacques; his only credit) and we know that a romance will develop in the near future. Once they get to the Aunt and Uncle's home, the sisters meets their obviously retarded cousin Aubrey (John Talt, who is truly amazing here; his only other credit is as Set Technician on FLESH GORDON - 1974); he only sports a pair of white cutoff shorts (throughout the ENTIRE film!), who clumsily carries their luggage to their room. They also meet their normal (well, nearly normal) cousin Edwina (Julie Connors; COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE - 1970; she quit acting in 1972 after using numerous psyeudonyms and getting nowhere), who welcomes the sisters with open arms (She really is a nice person, at least until she tries to force herself on Patricia for some lesbian action later in the film). When Aubrey accidentally spills some of the things out of Patricia's suitcases and locks eyes on her, he no longer looks at her like a cousin anymore (you'll find out why soon). The Aunt really is a bossy bitch and treats her husband and Aubrey like trash, which might be the reason the way they are. We are then introduced to Zack (Parker Herriott; his only credit) and his estranged father, who happens to be the Preacher in the town. Zack wants his father to be more assertive (even with him), but the Preacher is the rather timid type, which is why he and Zach don't get along. We then watch as Penny's Uncle watches her undress and he swings the bedroom door to act like he is surprised to see he taking off her clothes, but Penny acts like she doesn't mind and tells her Uncle he's more than welcome to stay, because she is not embarassed at all to let people watch her undress. The Uncle makes up a lame excuse and leaves the room. But that doesn't stop Aubrey from watching her undress through a peephole (just above a painting of a doll; that must be some type of symbolism, but the film is so obtuse, I failed to make a connection). When his mother asks Aubrey to go to the store to pick up some soap for Penny and Patricia, he is playfully harassed by Zack and Gentry because Aubrey is holding a page from a magazine showing a naked girl. Gentry and Zack then ride their motorcycles (not hogs, just regular motorcycles) to visit Penny and Patricia. Penny hops on the back of Gentry's bike to do some "sightseeing" (in other words, ball in the woods), while Zack and Patricia stay on the porch to learn more about each other (another romance in bloom). The next time we see Penny, she is asking her Uncle to unhook her bra from the back (she loves to play with his emotions) and then takes a shower with him in the bathroom; eventually she pulls him in the shower with her (but we never see what happens; we can only guess). We then watch members of a local motorcycle gang (again no hogs, just regular motorcycles), where the overweight leader, Bluto Dangerfield (I have no idea who portrays him, but he wears a red tee-shirt with the word "MONSTER" on it) and other members watch two other members beat the crap out of each other (all because one member threw a rock at the other!), with the loser knocked unconscious, while the winner is congratulated by the rest of the gang. In one of the film's most unbelievable moments (The film becomes extremely weird after this), Zack and Gentry agree to join the gang and they enter the town to start harassing everyone. The Shefiff pulls out a rifle, but Bluto and his gang make fun of him and take the rifle away from him. It is at this time the Preacher decides to grow a set of balls and chastizes the whole gang, including his son. Zack is quite proud of him, but since he is now a member of the gang, he must leave with them or lose face (now who is being the weenie?). As the Sheriff leaves in his car, the Preacher is hit from behind with a pipe by the creep member of the motorcycle gang who won the fight before (his name is slang for a knife, but the sound is so bad, it is hard to make out, so I'll call him Jim). The Preacher looks seriously injured (the film's bloodiest moment), so the female flock tend to his wounds. After the aforementioned lesbian encounter between Edwina and Patricia, Aubrey watches it through the peephole and becomes very angry. When Edwina leaves the room, Aubrey tries to rape Patricia, but he can't get it up, so he runs out of the house and just keeps running until he has nothing left in him. Seems Aubrey has settled in a good hiding area where the motorcycle gang are holding an orgy. He watches as Penny spikes Gentry's drink with way too much acid and Gentry takes off on his motorcycle with Penny on the back. Gentry begins to have a bad trip, so Penny jumps off the bike and Jim drives his bike into a ravine, the bike landing on top of him and exploding, killing him. Penny runs back to the gang and tells them that Gentry is dead, unaware that Aubrey is still there and knows exactly what happened. Jim (Buddy Arett) finds Aubrey and stabs him in the stomach while the rest of the gang rides away and Jim sexually assaults Penny with a knife to her breast (the same scene the film opens with). Jim tells Penny that he loved Gentry (as in homosexual love) and that "all women are dirty". When Zack and Patricia learn of Gentry's death when a seriously injured Aubrey makes it to his house and they race to the scene to save Penny, we are treated to one of the most "What the Fuck?!?" moments in film history, as Jim and a few members of the motorcycle gang are dressed in hospital scrubs and Penny is their patient. Jim says he knows how to fix Penny and asks for his knife. Then the film just ends.  It's obvious the first and only time director Neil Douglas had no idea how to make a film, as it is nothing but a bunch of vignettes hardly connected at all, which makes it a hoot and a half to watch. Who needs acid when we have SINNER'S BLOOD? The first time I watched this film was on the Genesis Home Video VHS of the film, but the tape broke ten minutes in and absolutely ruined my VCR (Genesis was not known for turning out quality product). Luckily, Code Red offers a widescreen anamorphic DVD (taken from the only surviving 35mm print) which also contains a fullscreen 3/4" tape master version that contains an extra scene. The biggest difference in the film is that the widescreen version only offers a card insert of the film's title (which makes it look like it was retitled from something else), but the 3/4" tape master offers the full cast & crew credits, but doesn't offer any character information that the cast played (Except for John Talt as "Aubrey"). The extra scene adds nothing to the film, so watch the widescreen version, even though it has its share of emulsion scratches. This is one film that will leave your brain twirling after watching it, so if you are already high on something, DO NOT watch this film. Nearly everyone in this film (besides Zack and Patricia) are scumbags, so don't go into this film thinking that you are going to end up feeling good. All you will be left feeling is confused, but in a good way. The DVD opens with a dedication to the late Sage "Moonblood" Stallone, who absolutely loved the character of of Aubrey. Enough to let William Olsen and Code Red use his 35mm print for this DVD. Sage Stallone died of a drug overdose soon after. Most of the footage in this film was used in the hardcore porn film HARD RIDERS (1973). Also starring Dennis McKenna, Ron Fisher, Drucilla Hoy (THE CORPSE GRINDERS - 1971), Justin Wells  and Joe Stead. A Code Red DVD Release. Rated R.

SIX PACK ANNIE (1975) - Cornpone Southern hospitality sexploitationer with strong (but dimwitted) lead women characters. 'Sixpack' Annie Bodine (Lindsay Bloom; COVER GIRL MODELS - 1975) and best friend Mary Lou (Jana Bellan; THE MURDER GANG - 1976) work at Aunt Tess' (Danna Hansen) country diner; that is whenever they're not drinking (Annie keeps a well-stocked cooler full of cans of Miller beer in her pickup truck) or screwing (Annie's boyfriend Billy Joe is played by a baby-faced Bruce Boxleitner, in his feature film debut). When Aunt Tess learns that she may lose her diner because she can't pay the mortgage, Annie and Mary Lou must find a way to get hold of $5641.87 within seven days to save the diner from foreclosure. In between fighting off the advances of lecherous, bumbling fat Sheriff Waters (Joe Higgins), who offers Annie the money if she'll marry him (turns out he doesn't have a pot to piss in and he only wanted to get into her cut-offs) or trying to stay away from the always-horny Bustis (Larry Mahon), Annie and Mary Lou travel to Miami to get the money from Annie's rich sister, Flora (Louisa Moritz; NEW YEAR'S EVIL - 1980), only to discover that Flora is a gold digger (in other words, a prostitute), who has less money than Annie. Annie takes Flora's advice and goes looking for a sugar daddy, with Mary Lou as her "manager" (They shop for clothes at a Fredericks Of Hollywood outlet and the inexperienced Mary Lou interviews prospective sugar daddies by asking them questions like, "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?"). After a disastrous first attempt at finding a sugar daddy (the guy dresses like Napoleon and wants Annie to kiss his feet!), Annie meets the seemingly rich Mr. O'Meyer (Ray Danton; director of DEATHMASTER - 1972; CRYPT OF THE LIVING DEAD - 1973 and PSYCHIC KILLER - 1975) at a bar (He tells Annie that the "O" stands for "Oscar" and she falls for it!), while Mary Lou takes a job at a cocktail lounge (she is forced to dress like a sexy rat!). Mr. O'Meyer turns out to be nothing but a conman who only wants to get into Annie's panties. After getting what he wants, O'Meyer steals all Annie's money and disappears., forcing Annie and Mary Lou to return home. Just when everything looks hopeless, the diner is saved in the nick of time when a previously-thought worthless bauble Annie picked up on her travels turns out to be extremely valuable.  While nothing but a series of pretty tame sex scenes, fish-out-of water sequences and ribald HEE-HAW-style humor (the camera often cuts away to two old-timers sitting in the diner [played by Doodles Weaver and Ronald Marriott] as they tell each other double entendre sex jokes), mixed with funny cameo bits (Stubby Kaye as a traveling salesman who has nearly anything you could possibly want hidden somewhere on his body; Richard Kennedy as a drunk Texan in a Miami bar; Pedro Gonzalez Gonzales as a Miami bartender; Sid Shelton as one of Flora's customers), SIX PACK ANNIE is still an enjoyable romp, even if some of the puns and visual jokes are groan-inducing. I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions against my better judgment, such as when Annie and Mary Lou unintentionally pick up two gay hitchhikers on their way to Miami or Flora farting when she gets nervous. Both Lindsay Bloom and Jana Bellan are fine as the sex-starved, but strong-willed Southern belles who get into more comical scrapes than the Three Stooges. All the nude scenes come courtesy of Ms. Bloom (Bruce Boxleitner also appears bare-assed), though Ms. Bellan shows off her fine assets in some form-fitting outfits. The standout here is Richard Kennedy (a.k.a. "Wolfgang Roehm" in the first two ILSA films) as the rambunctious, rich Texan drunk Jack Whittlestone. Whenever he's on-screen, you can't help but laugh. Director/producer John C. Broderick (BAD GEORGIA ROAD- 1976; THE WARRIOR AND THE SORCERESS - 1984), who directed this using the pseudonym "Graydon F. David", doesn't offer anything new here (the jokes are as old as a baggy-pants burlesque routine), but the film has an infectious, innocent charm (even the nude scenes don't feel salicious) that makes the whole story (script by Norman Winski, David Kidd and Wil David) nothing but good, harmless fun. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Billy Barty puts in an uncredited  appearance as a pie-carrying little person in the film's closing shot. Also starring Vince Barnett, Steve Randall, Donald Elson, Oscar Cartier and Montana Smoyer. As far as I could tell, this American International Pictures theatrical release never had a legitimate U.S. home video release in any form. A lot of gray market sellers have it available on DVD-R. Rated R.

SLAVES OF LOVE (1969) - Impossibly cheap sexploitation flick, directed by the late Charles Nizet, maker of the elusive VOODOO HEARTBEAT (1972) and the insane THE POSSESSED! (1974). Detectives Joe (Peter Owen) and Troy (Lloyd Davish) fly their plane out of Tahiti to help a client, when their plane's instrumentation is jammed and they are forced to crash land on an uncharted island occupied by machine gun-toting Amazons in miniskirts. They are taken prisoner and marched through the hot sun by three of the women and camp out when the sun goes down. At midnight, one of the girls makes love to Joe next to a roaring fire. The next day, after another long walk, Joe and Troy are put on a boat (one of the women says, "We've captured some game.") and watch the three women strip naked and wade in the water. More women show up and shed their clothes, too (Where is this island?). All Joe and Troy can do is watch because "The ugliest bitch you ever saw" is standing next to them, ready to use her machine gun if they move. Joe and Troy overpower the "ugly bitch" and Troy shoots one of the women, killing her (beats me why he did it). The skipper arrives and gets the drop on Troy and they are transported by boat to another island where they are led to the futuristic (for 1969) base of the Chief (Tina Brown). Troy is tortured and given thirty lashes for killing the woman. Joe is told by the Chief he must make love to all the women and herself (Where is this island?) and is given a love potion to help him out. More women dance around topless while Joe watches in a drugged-out haze. As Joe is making love to five women, Troy is getting whipped on his back until it bleeds. When Joe is unable to satisfy all the women, the Chief orders her girls to kill him and Troy. But, the women who was whipping Troy has secretly made a deal with him to escape as long as they take her with them. As they escape, Troy and the woman are killed and Joe gets away and tells his story to some friends in a bar. They don't believe him, even though he has a bullet hole in his arm.  This film is just an excuse to show as much naked female flesh as it possibly can. Nothing more, nothing less. Director Nizet (who was murdered in Brazil in 2003) just keeps showing shot after shot of naked, unaugmented women swimming in the water, lying topless on a boat soaking up the sun or frolicking on land while awful library music plays in the background (including a Dixieland version of "Will The Circle Be Unbroken"!). Much of the film is shot silent and most of it is narrated by Joe, who tells the entire story in flashback at a bar, so we know he survives. I have the feeling that Mr. Nizet knew a lot of strippers, because there are many scenes of women dancing in their g-strings (although the women are naked, they are filmed in such a way to avoid shots of pubic hair, typical of 60's sexploitationers), gyrating to jazzy music. There's not much meat to this film, but I doubt there was meant to be. SLAVES OF LOVE is nothing more than a nudie show with a bare (no pun intended) plot to hold it together. If you can live with dialogue like, "They live underground and thrive on sex!", you may find some enjoyment in this little-seen relic. Just a year later, hardcore porn would legally arrive in theaters, making softcore features like this almost obsolete. This may have also been released to theaters under the title WILDERNESS LOVE SLAVES, but more infomation is needed before I can confirm it. The next film Charles Nizet made after this one was THE RAVAGER (1970), another softcore film with a much harder edge. Also starring Sally Blair, Mary Horton, Cary St. Clair and Tina Vienna. This was a very early (1978) VHS release, from Media Home Entertainment. Not Rated.

SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA (1987) - This is one of those films that was a staple on USA Network's UP ALL NIGHT during the late 80's to early 90's (minus all the nudity and bad language, of course). Three college nerds spy on the Tri Delta sorority's pledge initiation night, watching the sorority girls paddle the behinds of pledges Taffy (Brinke Stevens) and Lisa (Michelle Bauer) and then squirting whipped cream on them. The three guys get caught watching Taffy and Lisa taking a shower by pledge mistress Babs (Robin Rochelle) and she makes them go with the two pledges and break into the local bowling alley (that's in the middle of a mall). They have to bring back a bowling trophy as proof of the break-in. If they do, Taffy and Lisa will become part of the sorority and Babs will not call the cops on the three guys. They break into the bowling alley, not aware that Babs and two cohorts are watching their every move on the security cameras. They also meet Spider (Linnea Quigley), who has already broken in and is robbing all the cash registers and video game coin boxes. The group steals a trophy, accidentally drop it and a wisecracking imp escapes from it and offers everyone one wish apiece. Jimmy (Hal Havins) wishes for a pile of gold, Keith (John Stuart Wildman) wishes for Lisa to have sex with him and Taffy wishes to be prom queen. All three wishes backfire rather quickly as the imp possesses Bab's two cohorts and then begin killing the cast. Jimmy is decapitated, his head used as a bowling ball on one of the alleys. Keith gets his face deep-fried and Taffy has her bones dislocated from their joints. Spider and Calvin (Andras Jones) join forces and with some information garnered from the mall's deaf janitor, they try to put the imp back in the trophy while trying to avoid the possessed sorority demonesses. They succeed, but one thing really bothers me after watching this film: Why were two gorgeous women trying to get into a sorority that only has three members? It's no wonder the boys call it "Felta Delta". Their parties must be very intimate.  An early directorial credit for David DeCoteau (DREAMANIAC - 1986; LEECHES - 2003), this low-budget horror comedy (that actually got a theatrical release) is an OK time-waster if you happen to be in the right frame of mind (i.e. stoned). There's a running gag where the mall's deaf janitor (the late George "Buck" Flower, using his "C.D. LaFleur" pseudonym) keeps getting locked in a closet. He knows all about the imp and his interrogation by Spider and Calvin, where he doesn't hear the questions correctly, is the film's comedic high point. Brinke Stevens and Michelle Bauer (here billed as "Michelle McClellen") are naked or half-dressed for most of their screen time, but Linnea Quigley (unfortunately) stays clothed throughout. The imp (voiced by Michael Sonye as "Dukey Flyswatter", who is made to sound like Audrey in the remake of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS - 1986) is the weakest part of the film, cracking third-rate jokes while most of the cast dies. If you're looking for blood and gore, this is not the film for you as there is no blood whatsoever, just the aforementioned rolling head and frier scalding. Still, it's an enjoyable romp, livened by frequent nudity and George "Buck" Flower's all-too-brief appearance. I dare you not to laugh out loud when he says, "God-damn, that fucking imp!" just before he dies. SORORITY BABES is also known as THE IMP. Charles Band was (the uncredited) executive producer. Also starring Kathi O'Brecht and Carla Baron as Bab's two sorority cohorts. An Amazing Fantasy Entertainment VHS Release. Now available on Blu-Ray from Full Moon Video. Rated R.

SOUTH SEAS MASSACRE (1974/1976) - Modern day (well, for 1976, that is) Filipino pirate flick with a heavy dose of sleaze. Pirates take over a luxury cruise ship, robbing the passengers of all their money and jewels and raping all the pretty females they come in contact with. Also on-board is Interpol agent George (Junero Jennings; SUPERCHICK - 1973) and his prisoner Steve (Troy Donahue; THE LOVE THRILL MURDERS - 1971; in an embarrassing, career-destroying role), who are handcuffed to each other. Rather than fighting the pirates, they jump overboard and wash ashore a tropical island, where George and Steve are met by a tribe of natives and taken to their chief, Siram (Vic Vargas; INTRUSION: CAMBODIA - 1981), who welcomes them to the island (he doesn't seem too concerned that they are still handcuffed to each other!). Siram introduces the pair to his beautiful daughters, Sari and Silima (the chief is way too trusting!) and later on George and Steve get into a knock-down, drag-out fight (while still handcuffed to each other), which forces Siram to demand that George release Steve from his shackles to restore "harmony" to their peaceful island. George reluctantly agrees (Where is Steve going to go? They're on an uncharted island!) and Siram makes both George and Steve honorary members of the tribe, even going as far as to offering them their choice of woman to spend the rest of their lives with (Steve replies, "Only one?"). Steve picks the beautiful Myla (Eva Reyes), while George sets his sights on Sari. The harmony of the peaceful island suddenly comes to an end when the pirates land on the island with plans of making it their home base. Siram and his tribe offer the same deal to the pirates as they did to George and Steve, but it's not long before the pirates begin raping the native women (including Myla and Sari) and gunning-down the native men. Steve and George put aside their hatred for each other (it's revealed that Steve killed George's brother in self-defense while working in a mine, but George refuses to believe that his brother was responsible for a cave-in that killed several people) and work together to free the natives once Silima is killed and pirate leader Marco (Eddie Garcia) demands to marry Sari. Thanks to a cache of weapons left on the island during World War II, Steve and George lead the natives on a bloody revenge spree, shooting and slicing their way through the pirates until they are all dead. But victory comes with a deadly price.  Though pretty slow moving for the first half, the film picks up considerable steam once the pirates set foot on the island. Director/producer Pablo Santiago (LITTLE CHRISTMAS TREE - 1977), working with a screenplay by Tommy C. David and Filipino genre stalwart Leo Martinez (ENTER THE NINJA - 1981; CAGED FURY - 1983), offers copious male and female nudity (some full frontal from both sexes) and some surprisingly graphic gore, including a bloody decapitation by machete, various blood-gushing stabbings and gory bullet hits. The film's biggest weakness is the choppy editing by future director Segundo Ramos (DEADLY COMMANDO - 1982; DEATH RAIDERS - 1984), as scenes begin and end with little rhyme or reason, especially the sudden appearance of the pirates on the island (Where did they come from?) or the equally sudden and confusing appearance of Navy rescuers in the finale (How did they know to go there?). The film is also a little too rape-happy for its own good, as every woman is either slapped, punched or kicked while having their clothes ripped off and raped. It gets tiring after a while and much of it reeks of overkill (unless you're the type of sick bastard that gets off on this). Troy Donahue is simply awful as Steve and he plays his character as an aloof asshole who seems to side with whomever has the upper hand at the time, even going as far as to whip George with twenty lashes on Marco's orders. If Donahue were any stiffer, he would be sprouting branches and giving the rest of the cast splinters. Still, SOUTH SEAS MASSACRE should appeal to fans of sleazy entertainment, thanks to the plentiful nudity and bloody violence. Made in 1974, but not released until 1976. Also starring Lito Anzures, Vic Varrion, Ding Salvador, Benny May, Edwin Perry and the TNT Boys stunt team. Originally available on VHS from Prism Entertainment and not available on DVD. Not Rated.

SS EXPERIMENT LOVE CAMP (1976) - The Italians, of all people, should be ashamed of themselves for turning out degrading exploitation crap like this. The story concerns a group of women who are taken to a Nazi concentration camp where they are sexually and physically abused much to the delight of the sadistic doctors and guards. If your idea of fun is watching women forced to have sex with Nazi soldiers, tortured with scalding and freezing water, given electrical shock and thrown into ovens (while their bodies twitch), then I can give you the the phone number of a good psychiatrist. A slew of these films were made in the country shaped like a boot after the success of ILSA, SHE-WOLF OF THE SS (1974), and the fact that they were in league with the Germans during World War II, makes these films all the more unconscienable. It's crammed with full frontal nudity, simulated sex, torture galore and European women with hairy armpits (yech!). Why anyone would bother viewing this abomination is beyond me. Also known as SS EXPERIMENT (from Wizard Video in one of their eye-catching big boxes), SS EXPERIMENT CAMP and CAPTIVE WOMEN II (available under this title from T-Z Video for $9.99). Under any title this film still panders to the lowest common denomination. Stay away! Starring Mircha Carven, Paola Corazzi and Giorgio Cerioni. Directed by Sergio Garrone (DJANGO THE BASTARD - 1969; SS CAMP 5: WOMAN'S HELL - 1977). Unrated.

STONE (1973) - A classic of Australian exploitation cinema. The film opens with the Gravediggers motorcycle gang stopping by an environmental protest rally, where they heckle the man speaking at the podium. One of the members, Toad (Hugh Keays-Byrne), who is tripping on acid, wanders off and witnesses a sniper shoot and kill the speaker at the podium. The Gravediggers manage to get away in the ensuing madness, but now someone is killing members of the gang one-by-one. The first one is decapitated when a wire is strung across the road as he is passing on his motorcycle. The second one is killed when his motorcycle explodes as he starts it up. A third one is killed when he is run off the road and drives off a cliff. At the funeral for the third member, (where he is buried standing up so he "doesn't have to take anything from the Evil One [Satan] lying down"), the remaining members of the Gravediggers vow revenge to whomever is responsible. The police try to question them at the cemetery, but the Gravediggers' leader, Undertaker (Sandy Harbutt), tells them to 'piss off" as they will solve the murders on their own. Enter policeman Stone (Ken Shorter). He comes riding in on his motorcycle, all dressed in white leather and enters the Gravedigger's local hangout. He tells the Gravediggers that he was sent to solve the murders of their friends and, after saving Undertaker's life from a sniper's crossbow, the gang votes to let him be a temporary member until they catch the killer (the voting isn't unanimously in Stone's favor, though). At first, it's a very uneasy alliance between Stone and the Gravediggers (their clubhouse is an old WWII bunker overlooking the ocean), but the gang eventually indoctrinate him into their circle, piercing his ear (!) and pouring beer all over him. It's not long before Stone and Undertaker begin admiring each other as human beings. They may not like each other, but each begins to understand the other's way of life. As Stone begins his investigation, he's surprised how well thought of the Gravediggers are by the surrounding community. When a rival gang, the Black Hawks, swing into town, the corporation that hired the sniper sees this as a way to kill all the Gravediggers and blame it on the rival gang. After a gunfight between the Gravediggers and the bad guys, Stone catches the sniper and brings him to justice, which pisses-off the Gravediggers, who dole-out a surprising bit of payback to Stone in the bloody finale. There is a code to the biker culture and Stone is about to learn it in a most painful manner. It sets up a sequel which, unfortunately, never materialized.  This Australian offshoot of 60's American biker films is an entertaining action/exploitation flick that has much to recommend, even if this is a low-budget affair. Director/producer/co-scripter/star Sandy Harbutt (who's only other directorial effort was a 1972 Australian TV version of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR!) infuses this film with a sense of humanity, as the bikers are living, breathing people and are not portrayed as one-note shit-kickers. Sure, they get into trouble every now and then, drop acid and get into fights, but they are basically good guys just looking out for each other, like some extended screwed-up family (and who doesn't know what that's like?). Ken Shorter as Stone is a strange-looking chap and seems an odd choice as the hero of the film, but the more he is on-screen, the more he grows on you. This film also has one of the strangest music scores (by Billy Green) you will ever hear, full of howling voices at one moment and then a simple acoustic guitar solo the next. Very unusual and effective. It just wouldn't be a biker film without some of the staples of the genre and this one doesn't disappoint. There's a couple of druggy "trip" scenes (one leads to everyone skinnydipping in the ocean), a bar fight, a motorcycle race between Stone and the Gravediggers' best rider, plenty of nudity (both male and female) and lots of colorful gang member names, including Septic, Dr. Death, Captain Midnight, Hooks, Ferret and my favorite, Stinkfinger. If you're a fan of biker films, STONE should be high on your must-see list. Fans of exploitation should see this as a precursor to the later wave of Australian genre films, starting with MAD MAX (1979; co-star Hugh Keays-Byrne would play "Toecutter" in that film). Real members of the Sydney, Australia chapter of the Hell's Angels portray members of rival biker gangs. Also starring Roger Ward ("Fifi Macaffee" in MAD MAX), Vincent Gil ( "Nightrider" in the opening of MAD MAX), Rebecca Gilling, Helen Morse, James H. Bowles, Bindi Williams and Lex Mitchell. The DVD I viewed has a very entertaining documentary where nearly all the surviving actors and crew gather together over 20 years later and reminisce about the good times they had making this film. It's one of the better "behind the scenes" docs that I have seen in quite a while. A Magna Pacific (PAL Code 0) DVD release. When originally released to theaters in 1974, STONE was over two hours long. For it's 1995 Australian theatrical re-release, director Harbutt recut the film to it's current 98 minute edit, removing some slow spots and tightening-up the film. It's this "Director's Cut" that is on the DVD and the excised bits are, unfortunately, not on the DVD as extras. Also available in the United States on DVD (NTSC Region 0) from Severin Films. Not Rated.

STREET GIRLS (1974) - Sordid tale about whores, strippers, pimps, drugs and the people who love, abuse and use them. Angel (Chris Souder) is a small town girl-turned-stripper who is very confused. She is carrying-on a lesbian affair with fellow stripper Sally (Carol Chase), but has trysts with men, including drug dealer Mario (Jay Derringer), which doesn't sit too well with Sally. Mario turns Angel into a heroin addict and she becomes a prostitute to feed her habit. Angel's father, Sven (Art Burke), a naive Midwestern man (who believes you can catch VD from a toilet seat or get hooked on Smith Bros. cough drops!) becomes worried when he doesn't hear from his daughter, so he heads off to the Big City in search of her. He's about to get an education on the seedier aspects of life. Irv (Paul Pompian, also a Producer here), the owner of the strip club, is using the club as a front to turn his strippers into call girls. He simply has Mario get them hooked on smack and then makes them turn tricks for their next fix. As you can probably guess, Irv is making a mint as a secret pimp and Angel is going is going to be the newest addition to his stable. When Sven enters town, the first person he meets is Albert (Michael Albert Walker), a schizophrenic babbler who just happens to be Sally's brother. Albert takes Sven to Irv's club to meet Sally, who is dancing there that night. Sally takes Sven to the communal home where she lives and Sven meets a good cross-section of the counterculture community, including Albert, who is now dressed as a woman! Sally lies to Sven and tells him that Angel is on a year-long cruise around the world, but he gets pissed and storms out of the house when she tells him that she and Angel are lesbian lovers (Sven disgustingly says, "My daughter would never get involved in such filth!"). If he only knew the whole truth. Angel's first professional trick is a grease monkey in a motel room, who hands her a pair of scuba goggles and tells her to lay in the bathtub. You guessed it, he wants to piss on her (!) and when Angel refuses and locks herself in the bathroom, Irv later gives her a black eye and threatens to turn her out on the street, making her a five dollar street whore. As Sven gets closer to finding his daughter (thanks to a tip from a black prostitute), Angel sinks further and further into a pit of despair and drug addiction. When Sally tries to save Angel (it's strictly for her own benefit and has nothing to do with Angel), she pays for it with her life. Sven is assaulted and beaten to a pulp, but his determination will finally lead him to his daughter. Even though he knows what Angel has become, his experience over the last few days turn him into a different man and he hugs his daughter. It's a hug a father could only give his daughter.  This early 70's exploitationer, directed by Michael Miller (JACKSON COUNTY JAIL - 1976; OUTSIDE CHANCE - 1978; SILENT RAGE - 1982) and scripted by Miller and Barry Levinson (director of such mainstream hits as DINER [1982] and RAIN MAN [1988]; he was also Assistant Cameraman on this film), is an extremely low-budget, but effective, peek at the underbelly of society's dark side. While watching this film, I couldn't help but notice how much Paul Schrader borrowed from it for his film HARDCORE (1979), starring George C. Scott. While HARDCORE has a much larger budget and more professional actors, STREET GIRLS was here first and the common theme shared between the two films (clueless father must search for his daughter in a landscape totally alien to him) is no less diminished by STREET's ultra-low-budget and cast of non-pros. Quite the contrary. This film's lack of budget and raw acting actually enhance the proceedings, making the plentiful nudity (mostly by women who are non-enhanced in the chest region and are plain janes in the looks department) and gritty location photography (filmed in Eugene, Oregon) seem natural and urgent. The music soundtrack (featuring songs by Muddy Waters) also gives the film a distinct 70's feel, as do the fashions and hairstyles. It's in no way a perfect film (the ending is a little too quick, like director Miller ran out of money and condensed all the loose ends into a final two minutes), but it's a compact 84 minute, fast-moving look into the inner workings of a lifestyle most of us would rather not think about. Also starring Linda Reynolds, B.J. Harris, Jimmy Smith, Fred Garrett and Frank May as Rico, a diminutive white pimp in a huge limousine. New World Pictures picked this up for theatrical distribution and it was released on VHS by Charter Entertainment in the mid-80's. Grey market seller Substance looks to have ported over a slightly letterboxed 16 mm print for their no-frills DVD release. It's soft-looking, but watchable. Rated R.

THE SUCKERS (1972) - I have to admit that I wanted to see this film ever since I saw a newspaper ad mat for it in the early-70's as the bottom half of a double bill, with THE ADULT VERSION OF JEKYLL AND HIDE (1971), but I was too young at the time to see X-rated fare. It has been unavailable on U.S. video in any form until now, but after watching it, I wish I hadn't. Sometimes the hunt is better than the catch. It also doesn't help that the 35mm print offered by new boutique DVD label Vinegar Syndrome is an absolute mess, with emulsion scratches running throughout the entire film, missing frames that offer aggravating jump cuts, some annoying hisses and hums on the soundtrack and what looks like a missing reel. This is basically a softcore porn version of THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932), that is short on thrills and heavy on the softcore porn. The plot is simple: A rich big game hunter named Steve Vandemeer (Steve Vincent, who uses the pseudomym "Vincent Stevens" here and also used the pseudomym "Adam Lawrence" in films like DRIVE-IN MASSACRE - 1976) invites a female photographer, her business partner husband, two fashion models and another professional hunter to his out-of-the-way hunting reserve where they eventually become the prey. I say eventually because you have to put up with nearly an hour of softcore sex scenes (complete with flaccid male penises and shots of hairy ball sacks), both straight and lesbian, while library music plays in the background. Once we finally get to the actually hunt, there seems to be an entire reel missing, as Vandemeer announces that they are going to be his and his two sidekicks' prey and then the film jumps to everyone already separated and running through the woods. One model is captured, brought back to the house by one of the sidekicks, raped and then stabbed repeatedly with a hunting knife (we never see the deed, only the bloody knife after the stabbing). The female photographer is raped and shot by Vandemeer (both offscreen) after her husband is knocked unconcious. The other model is captured by the second sidekick, but she pleads with him not to hurt her and offers him a huge amount of money she saw back at the house. Vandemeer hears the whole thing and shoots the sidekick dead (this time on-screen). She gets away and is saved by the other professional hunter who is also the prey. He and she fall for the old rope trap trick when they find the naked bloody body of the female photographer and Vandemeer ties them both to trees.  Vandemeer threatens to skin the model alive, but his plans are foiled when the photographer's husband fires a pistol at Vandemeer and the hunter breaks free from the tree, because he had a hunting knife hidden behind his back (Why didn't Vandemeer search him before tying him to a tree?). He and Vandemeer get into a knife fight and, just as Vandemeer is about to kill him, the model grabs Vandemeer's rifle and shoots him dead. That's all folks. Like I said before, the film elements are a total disaster (nothing like their double feature DVD of DUNGEON OF HARROW [1962]/DEATH BY INVITATION [1971]), but even if Vinegar Syndrome could have found a better source print, the movie would still be a bore. That's surprising, since it was directed by Stu Segall (using the pseudonym "Arthur Byrd"), who directed the previously-mentioned DRIVE-IN MASSACRE, as well as real X-Rated porn films such as TEEN-AGE JAILBAIT (1973) and INSATIABLE (1980) using the names "Godfrey Daniels", "Ricki Krelmn" and "P.C. O'Kake", before becoming a successful TV producer of series such as HUNTER (1984 - 1988) and SILK STALKINGS (1991 - 1999). Writer/Producer "Edward Everett" is actually Howard Lime, who also had a healthy porn film career as a director/producer/writer. The script to this film is full of noticeable errors, such as when everyone calls their vehicle a "Jeep" when you can actually see the "Ford" insignia on the front grill. Although there is plenty of non-silicone enhanced nudity and hairy bushes (but no actual visible penetration or "money shots"), almost none of it is erotic and most of those scenes go on much too long (The rape, on the other hand, only lasts for about 30 seconds). I've said this many times before: Just because a film is considered "rare" or "lost" doesn't mean it is good. That's THE SUCKERS in a nutshell. Exploitation great David F. Friedman was the uncredited Executive Producer. Also starring Sandy Dempsy, Richard Smedley, Barbara Mills, Norman Fields, Jim Pannin, Laurie Rose and Lyle Vann. A Vinegar Syndrome Release, which is part of a double feature DVD with THE LOVE GARDEN (1971). Originally released to theaters with an "Adults Only" rating (it's like an unregistered X-Rating). If it were be submitted to the MPAA today, it would probably garner an NC-17 Rating.

SUPERCHICK (1973) - Oddball and rather tame piece of 70's sexploitation about stewardess Tara B. True (Joyce Jillson; a 70's film & TV actress who gave up the profession to become a world-famous syndicated newspaper astrologer, as well as an astrologist to the stars, before passing away in 2004), a.k.a. "Superchick", a swinging single woman who changes her appearance in every port of call (in the opening seconds of the film, she changes in a phone booth [ala Superman] from a frumpy brunette to a stunning blonde in a skintight pair of black leather short-shorts) to keep her identity secret from her three boyfriends: Rich brain surgeon Ernest (Thomas Reardon) in New York, who will fuck Tara but won't let her kiss him on the mouth because of his "germ" issues (they shake hands instead!); playboy Johnny (Tony Young) in Miami, a degenerate gambler who owes a ton of money to mobster Mr. Garrick (Louis Quinn); and musician Davy Charles (Timothy Wayne Brown) in Los Angeles, a famous pop singer who has two top ten singles and a hit TV show. Tara certainly lives up to her Superchick nickname, because she's not only hell in the sack, she also has an unquenchable sexual energy that no one can seem to drain. Tara's secret identities come crashing down around her when Mr. Garrick discovers who she really is after accidentally watching her change from frumpy stewardess to sexy passenger in mid-air to indoctrinate a recently returned Marine into the Mile High Club (it is her patriotic duty after all!). Mr. Garrick blackmails Tara to deliver packages for him across the country or he will not only unmask her secret identity, he will also kill Johnny. Along on her adventures, Tara meets lesbian porno star Mayday (sexploitation vet Uschi Digard) and goes to a drug-fueled party with her and Davy's associate Sims (Junero Jennings), where Tara and Sims smoke pot in a closet while a pair of cops raid the party (and sample the weed!). Tara transforms herself into her frumpy alter ego and talks the older cop (Norman Bartold) into letting her go, leaving Sims and Mayday to their own devices (they get arrested!). As she is walking through a park, she is accosted by a flasher (She looks at his dick and says, "You poor dear!") and then by a pot-smoking motorcycle gang (one of the bikers is portrayed by an uncredited Dan Haggerty), who want to gang-bang her, but she beats them all up with her superior kung-fu skills (offscreen) and steals one of their bikes. After a few more exploits, Tara is put on the spot when a "package" she delivers turns out to be guns being used for a mid-air hijack attempt on a flight she is working on. Tara defeats the hijackers, which gives her unwanted national TV exposure and a hospital stay. Ernest, Johnny and Davy rush to her hospital bed in one of the most unbelievable, knuckle-headed conclusions I have seen in quite a while.  This underwhelming exploitationer, directed by Ed Forsythe (INFERNO IN PARADISE - 1974; CHESTY ANDERSON, USN - 1976) and written by Gary Crutcher (STANLEY - 1972; who also has a small role here as the younger cop who busts the party, as well as supplying cringe-worthy dialogue like, "Last one in bed gets no head!" throughout the film), is nothing but a series of loosely connected vignettes that showcase Joyce Jillson's assets (although the end credits state that a body double was used for some of her nude scenes). While there is plenty of nudity from nearly every female cast member (Uschi Digard has a nice full-frontal scene on the set of an S&M porno shoot), clearly 90% of the screen time belongs to Ms. Jillson and it's no coincidence that she soon changed careers after appearing in this. Her acting talents are less than stellar and this film suffers because of it (try watching her play "stoned" while in the closet or reaching "orgasm" while listening to classical music in Ernest's living room). John Carradine puts in an embarrassing five minute cameo as aging horror star Igor Smith, who keeps an S&M dungeon in his mansion and has the funniest line in the entire film (It comes right after Tara asks him, "What would your mother say?"). Otherwise, SUPERCHICK is a dated exploitation flick that ends on one of the most preposterous denouements in recent memory (Believe me, you'll be shaking your head in disbelief and your fist in anger). Also starring Jack Wells, Gus Peters, Phil Hoover, Steve Drexel and Dale Ishimoto. Originally released theatrically by Crown International Pictures (an inside joke has Tara working for Crown International Airways, complete with the highly-recognizable Crown logo) and available on DVD by Rhino Video as a standalone title or from BCI Eclipse as a double feature with HUSTLER SQUAD (1976), as part of their now-defunct "Welcome To The Grindhouse" series. Rated R.

SWEET SUGAR (1972) - Prostitute Sugar (Phyllis Davis of TERMINAL ISLAND - 1973) is set-up on a phony marijuana bust and makes a deal with the police chief to cut sugar cane in a work camp for two years in lieu of a trial. She should have stuck with the trial. The work camp turns out to be much worse than any prison, as the women working there are abused, beaten and raped and brutal head guard Burgos (Cliff Osmond) takes an instant dislike to Sugar. The women work long, hard days next to the male prisoners, the only difference being the men are shackled and the women are not. The owner of the camp, Dr. John (Angus Duncan), attempts to get Sugar in bed, but she turns him down, which pisses him off. It turns out Dr. John is an "ethnopharmacologist" (someone who studies the drugs used by primitive people) and he is using the women in the camp as guinea pigs, injecting them with fertility drugs to test them for frigidity. He injects Sugar with the fertility drug and she reaches orgasm almost immediately, overloading the doctor's instrumentation and causing it to explode! It's apparent that Dr. John is nothing more than a raving loon, raping and murdering as he sees fit. After a short period of time, Sugar becomes the the unofficial leader of the female workers, looking after some of the more vunerable women, including seventeen year-old Dolores (Pamela Collins), who was a virgin until Dr. John raped her. Black prisoner Simone (Ella Edwards) falls in love with Mojo (Timothy Brown), a male prisoner and voodoo priest, while Sugar makes time with nice young guard Carlos (Darl Severns). When Dr. John catches Sugar and Carlos making love in his bed, he has Sugar tied up spread-eagle in the middle of the camp and Burgos forces Carlos to whip her. When Carlos whips Burgos instead, Burgos unloads a .45 clip into Carlos, killing him. Burgos then shoves the hot barrel of the gun down the front of Sugar's cut-offs (He says to her, "You like it hot?"). When Sugar tries to escape, Dr. John punishes all the women by throwing them in a room with dozens of cats injected with a serum to make them feral. When Sugar, Simone and Mojo find the graves of former camp workers that Dr. John killed in his experiments, Mojo is burned alive (like a witch) by Dr. John and Burgos in retribution. Sugar, Simone and all the women revolt, setting fire to the sugar cane fields, grabbing some guns and giving the bad guys everything they deserve. Not everyone makes it out alive, however.  This classic WIP flick treads the fine line between brutality and comedy and, while it doesn't always succeed, it sure is entertaining. Case in point: When Sugar attempts to escape from the camp in the middle of the night, she runs into a mountain lion. Instead of being torn apart and mauled, Sugar sweet-talks the lion ("Hey good-looking....!") and the lion falls for it! Most of the comedy in this film comes from the interaction between bumbling guards Rick (James Houghton, who became an Emmy Award-winning soap opera writer!) and Max (Albert Cole, one-half of THE INCREDIBLE 2-HEADED TRANSPLANT - 1970), as Max continually tries to get the inexperienced Rick laid, with disasterous results. The film also contains elements of the occult, as Mojo uses voodoo on Sugar to locate the mass graves of former female workers. While there is a lot of nudity on view (Ms. Davis looks mighty fine here), the violence is kept to a minimum until the finale, where Cliff Osmond (who would next appear in INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS - 1973) gets his fingers lopped off and then gets run-through with a machete. The film's highlight is Sugar's whipping and subsequent torture by Burgos with the barrel of a gun. Once seen, it's not easily forgotten. Not because it's graphic, mind you, but because it makes you so uncomfortable watching it. Director Michel Levesque, who also directed WEREWOLVES ON WHEELS (1971) and co-scripted GIRLS ON THE ROAD (1972), gives you your money's worth here, mixing all the good elements of exploitation into a satisfying, fulfilling brew. Besides, how can you not love a film with lines like, "I hope somebody hacks off your hambone!"? James Whitworth, "Papa Jupiter" in THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977), portrays nasty guard Mario. Filmed in Costa Rica. Beware of the VHS version on the Continental Video label that's part of a double feature (with ESCAPE FROM WOMENS PRISON - 1978), as it is shorn of over 10 minutes of it's 85 minute running time to fit on a T-150 tape. Also known as SHE DEVILS IN CHAINS (not to be confused with Cirio H. Santiago's 1976 film with the same name), CHAINGANG GIRLS and HELLFIRE ON ICE. A Cult Video Release. Rated R.

SWINGERS MASSACRE (1975) - Here's a weird little sexploitation thriller from the swinging 70's. Charlie Tishman (Eastman Price) is a successful lawyer who is getting tired of only making love to his wife Amy (Jan Mitchell), so when a client suggests he and his wife go to a swingers club, the idea intrigues him. Problem is, Charlie has to get Amy to agree to go, which will not be easy. Amy is not too keen on the idea (She says to Charlie, "You have the seven year itch and we've been married ten years!"), but Charlie keeps working on her (even going as far as to prematurely ejaculate when they have sex so she's left unsatisfied!) until she eventually relents and agrees to go. Once at the swingers club, Amy at first acts like a cold fish until they meet Rod (Paul Oberon) and Marge (Mickie Nader), a swinging couple who invite Charlie and Amy over to their house for one of their frequent partner-swapping parties (Charlie is impressed because their invitation is printed instead of hand-written!). Amy is still reluctant when they show up at the party, but a couple of stiff vodkas and Amy joins the other women, Marge, Donna (Ann Perry), Diane (Rene Bond) and Irene (Marsha Jordan) as they change into lingerie and pick partners. A funny thing happens, as Amy gets turned-on making it with all the men, including Rod, Jerry (Philip Luther), Bill (Ron Darby) and Jim (Gary Kent), but Charlie is unable to "get it up" and make love to any of the women. As Amy screws all the men, Charlie gets drunk, becomes disillusioned with the swinging lifestyle and gets into a big fight with Amy on the drive home (Charlie says, "You need an army! No wonder I can't keep you satisfied!"). Charlie begins to go slowly insane with jealousy and when Bill calls him the following week to invite him over for a poker game and mentions that Amy's "the best fuck we ever had", Charlie snaps. He stakes out the poker game and follows Jim home. He knocks out Jim, puts him in his car, runs a hose from the tailpipe to the car's window and watches as Jim chokes to death from carbon monoxide poisoning (while Jim pleads, "I didn't mean it Charlie!"). He next kills Rod in the same manner (The police at first think both their deaths was a gay suicide pact!). Charlie then grabs a sniper rifle and kills Bill as he gets in his car. When Charlie and Amy go to Jerry and Donna's house for drinks, Amy and Donna have lesbian sex (after a three-way with Jerry), while Charlie gets drunk and homicidal. Charlie drugs all their drinks and then strangles Jerry and hangs Donna. As the police close in and Amy is made aware of her husband's murderous habits, Charlie goes totally bonkers and tries to kill Amy (He screams, "I did it all for you!"). Amy fights back and kills Charlie with a revolver and the film ends just as it began: With an abused wife killing her husband in self defense. Only this time, Charlie won't be able to represent her in court and get her off with a slap on the wrist like he did with the woman in the beginning of the film. Life is funny, isn't it?  Leave it to director/producer Ron Garcia (billed here as "Ronald V. Garcia") to show a dark side (and a pitch-black one at that) to the swinging lifestyle. Garcia, who also directed the weird sci-fi nudie THE TOY BOX (1970 - also starring Rene Bond) and is an award-winning cinematographer (TV's CRIME STORY and TWIN PEAKS), builds suspense slowly, at first showing us plenty of naked female flesh before showing us the consequences of wife swapping. Charlie has really no one to blame but himself, because Amy wanted nothing to do with swinging but, once she got a taste, there was no turning back. Charlie, who wanted so desperately to be part of the lifestyle, only to find himself unable to perform, creates a Frankenstein's monster in Amy, at least in his own mind. And, just like Frankenstein's monster, Charlie is unable to control Amy's new-found desires. The screenplay (by Helene Arthur) is nothing but a "be careful what you wish for" scenario, spiced-up with male and female nudity (Swinging was a hot topic at the time and was used as a plot device in many hardcore and softcore features in the 70's). The violence is not very graphic (the sniper shooting is the bloodiest), but Eastman Price, as Charlie, makes a brooding and effective villian and his mental breakdown is fairly good for such a low-budget flick. Genre legend Uschi Digard (BEAUTIES AND THE BEAST - 1973) puts in a cameo appearance as a swinger in the club (filmed at Filthy McNasty's on Hollywood's Sunset Strip). Donald M. Jones, the director of such films as SCHOOLGIRLS IN CHAINS (1973), THE LOVE BUTCHER (1975) and THE FOREST (1981), was the cinematographer. Also starring Harrison Phillips, Richard Stobie, Carmine Marino and Dawna Kaufmann. Also known as INSIDE AMY and SUPER SWINGING PLAYMATES (available from Something Weird Video under this title on VHD and DVD-R). An Even Steven Productions VHS Release. Rated R.

THE SWINGING BARMAIDS (1975) - Someone is killing off the waitresses at the Swing A Ling cocktail lounge. A patron (with an obvious fake blonde wig and beard) gets angry when waitress Boo-Boo (Dyanne "ILSA" Thorne) calls him "Sonny" ("Don't call me Sonny!"), so he follows her home after her shift is over, breaks into her apartment, stabs her repeatedly in the back with a switchblade ("You dirty, stinkin' whore!") and then takes photos of her dead body after posing her in various provocative positions. Boo-Boo's co-workers, Jenny (Laura Hippe), Susie (Katie Saylor) and Marie (Renie Radich), arrive at Boo-Boo's apartment to find the killer standing over her body, so they hightail it out of there and head to the local police department, where they give detective Harry White (William Smith) a sketch of the killer's face. When the killer sees his face on the TV news the next morning, he cuts and dyes his hair and shaves off his beard. Looking like a completely different person, the killer begins stalking and killing the three other waitresses while Harry continues his investigation and gets closer to the truth. The killer, who is now using the name Tom Brady (Bruce Watson), takes a job at the Swing A Ling as a dishwasher/bouncer, so he can keep a closer eye on his prey. He follows Jenny home and peeps on her as she makes love to her boyfriend Dave (James Travis) and he develops a fatal crush on her. When Jenny rebuffs his advances, Tom drowns Marie in her pool and poses her topless body on a deck chair. Tom also seriously injures Zitto (Zitto Karzann), the Swing A Ling's owner, when he stops by to check up on Marie. To keep Zitto from identifying him, Tom sneaks into his hospital room and injects a hypo full of air into Zitto's neck. Unaware that Tom is the killer, the rest of the club's employees gather together and devise a plan to trap the psycho. The plan backfires when Tom strangles Susie a day before the plan is to go into effect. For her safety, Tom volunteers to bring Jenny to her parent's house, but it turns out to be anything but safe. Harry finally uncovers the truth and rushes to Jenny's parent's house. When Harry and the police arrive, Tom grabs a shotgun, kills a couple of cops (as well as Jenny's father), grabs Jenny and they take off on his motorcycle. Harry saves the day when he pumps all the shells that are in his shotgun into Tom's chest until he looks like a bloody piece of Swiss cheese.  This mid-70's sexploitationer, directed by Gus Trikonis (THE STUDENT BODY - 1976; MOONSHINE COUNTY EXPRESS - 1977; THE EVIL - 1977; JUNGLE HEAT - 1983), is a little-seen sex thriller that lacks bloody violence (until the finale), but doesn't skimp on the sex or the sleaze. Although Tom's motives for the killings are unclear, it seems some keywords set him off, such as "Sonny", "funny" (Marie calls him that and his personality changes in a split second) or "faggot" (which Susie calls the killer when the club's devise the plan to capture him, unaware that Tom is the "faggot"). All the women take their tops off, though much of it is not erotic or titillating at all since Tom manages to rip their clothes off while he is murdering them. The most imaginative kill is Marie's, as the camera bobs below the surface of the pool's water and back up again, mimicking Marie's last gasps for breath. There's not much to the acting here, but that's not to say anyone is bad (although Zitto Karzann is a much better bar owner than he is an actor and I'm willing to bet that's exactly what he was in real life). Bruce Watson (This is his biggest role, as he was usually just a bit player in movies and TV) takes top honors as Tom, who can switch from happiness to madness at the tip of a hat, but the rest of the cast, including William Smith (HOLLYWOOD MAN - 1976), who looks bored to death here and sleepwalks through his role, are nothing but window dressing or second-tier characters to advance the plot. The screenplay was written by Charles B. Griffith, who also scripted NOT OF THIS EARTH (1957), A BUCKET OF BLOOD (1959), the original LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1960) and DEATH RACE 2000 (1975), as well as directing EAT MY DUST (1976), UP FROM THE DEPTHS (1979) and the cult comedy DR. HECKYL AND MR. HYPE (1980). He died of a heart attack in September 2007. Almost all of the films Griffith was involved with were for director/producer Roger Corman. THE SWINGING BARMAIDS was a rare exception. He scripted this one for producer Ed Carlin, who also co-produced BLOOD AND LACE (1970), THE NIGHT GOD SCREAMED (1971), THE MANHANDLERS (1973) and MAMA'S DIRTY GIRLS (1974) with partner Gil Lansky and produced most of director Gus Trikonis' 70's films, as well as BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS (1980) and SUPERSTITION (1982) on his own. THE SWINGING BARMAIDS (also known as EAGER BEAVERS and KILLER) is a minor snapshot of 70's sexploitation. It's nothing special, but it's not a bad way to spend 88 minutes of your life. Also starring Ray Galvin, John Alderman, Milt Kogan, Judith Roberts, Dick Yarmy and Andre Tayir as Bruce, the club's transvestite MC who, for some reason, disappears for the rest of the film after his/her opening scenes. The print I viewed was a dub of a Dutch-subtitled VHS tape. As far as I know, this never got a legal release on home video in the United States. Rated R.

TENEMENT: GAME OF SURVIVAL (1985) - For all you people who have the washed-out version of this film on VHS, you can now throw them away as Shriek Show has issued a pristine print (under the title GAME OF SURVIVAL) on DVD. This is perhaps director Roberta Findlay's most sought-after film, due to it's frequent use of repellent violence and MPAA-issued X rating on it's initial release. When the occupants of a dilapidated tenement building call the cops on a drug-taking gang, led by the sunglass-wearing Chaco (Enrique Sandino), who are illegally living in the basement, the gang gets taken away only to be released on a technicality. They come back to the building swearing revenge and they keep their promise. They kill a blind man's seeing-eye dog, rape a black woman with a broomstick and then kill her after she rams a pair of scissors into one of the gangs eye. The rest of the tenants band together and try to fight back as the gang moves floor-by-floor destroying the apartments along the way. The only hero in the bunch is Sam Washington (Joe Lynn), an electrician who leads the group of survivors and comes up with some boobytraps of his own. As the night progresses, both sides take casualties as one gang member shoots up rat poison (thinking it is heroin), one tenant (Dan Snow) gets stabbed in the stomach, a john (Felix Rivera) gets run-through with a pipe, the female gang member (Karen Russell) has a refrigerator dropped on her, another female tenant has her throat cut with a straight razor and another gang member is electrocuted. The whole film is basically just a way to show different ways to kill someone and the blood flows rather freely and graphically. The only actor of any notice is Paul Calderon (PULP FICTION - 1995), who has been on TV's LAW & ORDER as a guest star playing different roles more than any other actor in memory. He's good here as Chaco's cackling right-hand man Hector, who glees in impaling, raping and stabbing everyone in sight, before getting his comeuppance during the finale. While technically this film looks very cheap (it was), it still holds your attention due to the constant graphic violence, blood and nudity (sometimes all at the same time). It also has a title song that just will not leave your head long after the film is over. The ending involving a pregnant woman and Chaco on the roof of the building is also gripping and satisfying. The DVD also contains an interview with director Findlay, who has had a long and distinguished career in the exploitation field. She has some amusing anecdotes to tell about this film, including one about a drunken assistant cameraman with a bowel problem, all told in her thick Bronx accent. While she hasn't made a film since 1989's little-seen BANNED, she has held up very well and someone should give her some money to make another film. TENEMENT, also known as SLAUGHTER IN THE SOUTH BRONX, also stars Olivia Ward (whose husband was Police Commissioner of New York City at the time), Jorge Baqueiro, Walter Bryant, Sylvia Medina and Alfonso Manosalvas as the drunken, sniveling Mr. Gonzales. A Shriek Show DVD Release. Not Rated. Other films which tread similar ground: BLACKOUT (1978) and SIEGE (1982).

THEY'RE PLAYING WITH FIRE (1984) - Here's an early 80's sexploitationer combined with some slasher elements. Sexy college professor Diane Stevens (Sybil Danning; THE PHANTOM EMPIRE - 1987) hires nerdy, but popular, student Jay (Eric Brown; VIDEO MURDERS - 1988) to varnish her yacht, but it soon becomes apparent that Diane wants more from Jay than just a revarnishing. After parading around in a teenie bikini and seducing Jay with her naked body, Diane talks Jay into breaking into the mansion of her husband Michael's (Andrew Prine; THE CENTERFOLD GIRLS - 1974) mother, Lillian (K.T. Stevens), and grandmother Lettie (Margaret Wheeler). Diane and Michael want Jay to pretend to be a burglar and scare Mom and Grannie, which he does, but Lillian grabs a rifle and chases him away. A few minutes later, an unknown person wearing white sneakers and black leather gloves grabs the rifle and shoots both Lillian and Lettie in the head. When Jay reports back to Diane and Michael, they drive to Lillian's house to see if Mom and Grandma were effectively scared, only to find the house empty, but Michael finds signs of foul play and accuses Jay of murder. The question soon becomes: Are Michael and Diane setting-up Jay to take the fall for murder or is there another killer in their midst? Jay swears he will uncover the truth, but his jealous ex-girlfriend Cynthia (Beth Shaffel) has compromising photos of Jay with Diane that could spell doom for everyone. Jay searches the yacht and finds a pair of bloody sneakers and some documents about a mental institution in Switzerland. As Jay investigates further (he still continues boning Diane), the killer tries to murder him, but is unsuccessful. Cynthia shows up at the mansion to give the incriminating photos to Michael, but when she enters the house and discovers a child's playroom upstairs, someone dressed as Santa Claus (!) bashes her head in with a baseball bat. When Michael ends up stabbed to death while watching Jay and Diane making love, it becomes apparent that the killer is someone close to Jay that has secret ties to the Stevens family. The attic in the mansion holds the clues to the killer's identity, but will Jay and Diane survive the night after discovering the truth?  This is a fairly easy-to-solve murder mystery, but director Howard 'Hikmet' Avedis (THE STEPMOTHER - 1972; DR. MINX - 1975; SCORCHY - 1976; THE FIFTH FLOOR - 1978; MORTUARY - 1981), who also wrote and produced this with wife Marlene Schmidt (who also has a small cameo as a gas station customer), offers enough eye-opening nudity (Sybil Danning never looked better) and bursts of graphic violence to hold your attention. Eric Brown (who was previously seduced by Sylvia Kristal in PRIVATE LESSONS [1981]) is pretty weak as the much put-upon Jay (It's hard to believe any girl would want his body, as he's so skinny, it looks like a small gust of wind would blow him away), but the rest of the cast, including Danning, Prine, Paul Clemens (THE BEAST WITHIN - 1981) as Jay's troubled roommate Bird, Gene Bicknell as the mysterious mansion gardener George, future director Dominick Brescia (EVIL LAUGH - 1988) as Jay's fat friend Glenn and Alvy Moore (THE WITCHMAKER - 1969) as gas station owner Jimbo, more than acquit themselves. As a whodunit, THEY'RE PLAYING WITH FIRE fails miserably, but Danning's frequent nude scenes, coupled with some bloody gore (Lillian getting shot in the face, deaf Lettie getting shot in the back of the head, Cynthia's head-bashing) makes for an interesting hybrid of sex and horror genres. Nothing remarkable, mind you (besides Danning's body, that is), but it's not boring. This film has a nice gloss to it, thanks to the late Gary Graver, who was the Director of Photography. Also starring Greg Kaye and Suzanne Kennedy. Originally released on VHS by Thorn EMI Video and available on DVD in a no-frills widescreen edition from Anchor Bay Entertainment. Rated R.

TOMCATS (1976) - Cheap, but somewhat effective, Miami-lensed exploitation revenge thriller from prolific director Harry E. Kerwin (GOD'S BLOODY ACRE - 1975; BARRACUDA - 1977) and producers/screenwriters Wayne Crawford (star of SOMETIMES AUNT MARTHA DOES DREADFUL THINGS - 1971 and director/star of SNAKE ISLAND - 2002) and Andrew Lane (director/screenwriter of the Crawford-starrer JAKE SPEED - 1986). When four scumbags, led by M.J. (Crawford, using his frequent pseudonym "Scott Lawrence"), rape and shotgun-to-death diner waitress Wendy (Alison Schlicter), they don't know what trouble they have gotten themselves into. It turns out that Wendy was the daughter of Chief of Police Ben Garrett (Rich Demott), niece of Detective Tom Garrett (William Kerwin; BLOOD FEAST - 1963, director Harry Kerwin's brother, who uses the pseudonym "Thomas Dowling" here) and sister to law student Cullen Garrett (Chris Mulkey; TWIN PEAKS - 1990-1991, in one of his earliest acting gigs). A drunken bum witnesses the rape/murder through the diner's back window, but he only remembers that the license plates of the gang's vehicle were from Chicago (actually their van bears Oregon plates), to which Detective Garrett says "They don't issue license plates to cities!" and hands the bum a bottle of wine! The rape-happy foursome then kidnap, rape and kill another girl (Mia Marchand), again using the shotgun, before they are pulled over by a cop. He searches their vehicle, finds the shotgun and one of the gang confesses to the murders on the spot. During the trial, the judge has to to let the gang go free on a technicality because the arresting officer read them their Miranda Rights after the confession was made and the defense can't rely on the drunken bum as their only witness. When M.J. walks out of the courtroom, he says to Cullen, "Your sister wasn't half-bad!" and then shoves an ice cream cone in Cullen's face and punches him in the stomach in the parking lot in front of Cullen's girlfriend Tracy (Polly King). From that point on, Cullen puts away his law books and sets out to get revenge for his sister's death. First up is gang member Johnny (Daniel Schweitzer), who Cullen traps in a bus station bathroom, shoves his face in a toilet and tells him to keep looking over his shoulder, because he won't see his death coming. Johnny tells what happened to M.J., who laughs it off. While Johnny is with his girlfriend (Melisande Conaway), who washes Johnny's penis because it is infected (!), his phone rings and it's Cullen at the other end, who tells Johnny that his time is up. Johnny calls M.J., who tells him to stay in his house until he gets there. Johnny doesn't listen and makes a beeline to his car after receiving another phone call from Cullen, only to be shotgunned in the stomach by Cullen as he opens the car door. Cullen then goes after gang member Billy (Jim Curry), whom he stabs in the hand with a knife and then is about to shoot him, when M.J. and Curly (Sam Moree) enter Billy's home. M.J. accidentally shoots Billy in the back, killing him (he doesn't seem too broken up about it), when he tries to shoot Cullen, but Cullen gets away. Detective Garrett and his brother find Cullen's knife at Billy's house and cover it up (The Police Chief says they will do "Something we can live with." when they don't turn over the knife to the other detectives). They grab Tracy for her own safety, while Cullen follows M.J. and Curly to a seedy motel, where they hole-up with a couple of chicks (M.J. finds his girl too ugly to have sex with!). When M.J. goes outside to get some ice, he notices Cullen hiding behind a corner of the motel. M.J. comes up with a quick plan. He goes back to his room., tells Curly to go outside, locks the door and hops out the back window, hoping to kill Cullen while he shoots it out with Curly. Cullen kills Curly with his six-shooter and M.J. misses his opportunity to murder Cullen, which leads to a shoot-out/chase on the beach (where neither of their guns seem to run out of bullets!). Detective Garrett and Tracy spot the shootout and Tracy goes to run towards Cullen, but M.J. takes a shot at her and she falls down. Cullen shoots M.J. in the stomach, killing him and then rushes to Tracy's side. Turns out that Tracy wasn't shot at all, she just fell down! Detective Garrett and the Police Chief grab Cullen's pistol and everyone lives happily ever after.  This mid-70's slice of sleaze (released theatrically by Dimension Pictures) contains plenty of nudity and scenes of rape (but nothing too explicit; just panties being torn off and the gang, with their pants on, humping for a few frames), but the violence is rather mild. There is some blood, but we are shown the gunshots after the fact, except for Johnny's death; he's shot in slow motion and flies through the air. While nothing spectacular (the sound is especially bad, as some of the dialogue recorded outside is muffled by background noise), this film (which has the title GETTING EVEN during the end credits) still delivers the goods the only way 70's exploitation films could. Also starring Robert Shields, Michael Kennedy, Ed Lupinski, Melodee Spevack and Myraih. Originally released on VHS under the title AVENGED by Continental Video. It is now available on DVD from Code Red as the bottom half of a double feature, with GOD'S BLOODY ACRE, in a fullscreen print that looks to have been sourced from a VHS master. It's watchable, but no better than Continental's big-box video release during the mid-80's. The IMDb lists the original title of this film as DEADBEAT, but I could find no ad materials to back up this claim. Rated R.

TOO HOT TO HANDLE (1976) - Both the director and the star of the GINGER series (GINGER - 1971; THE ABDUCTORS - 1972; GIRLS ARE FOR LOVING - 1973) return in this, a sexploitation action feature that could very easily be the fourth film in the GINGER canon if it weren't for the heroine having the name "Samantha Fox". Cheri Caffaro is Samantha, a top-tier hitwoman who, in the opening minutes, catches the eye of millionaire industrialist MacKenzie Portman (John Van Dreelen) at a tennis match. He takes her home, where they play S&M games in his torture room. Samantha ties him to the bed in what he thinks will be a gentle whipping session, but Samantha pulls a plastic bag out of her purse, ties it around his head and smokes a cigarette while he slowly asphyxiates and dies. Chief of Detectives Domingo de la Torres (Aharon Impale) and Detective Sanchez (Filipino film staple Vic Diaz, who was also Production Coordinator here) investigate Portman's death and spot Samantha at his funeral. Domingo begins investigating Samantha as his chief suspect and the more he spies on her (such as when she is sunbathing nude on her yacht), the more he begins to look at her as more than a suspect. He seems to be falling in love with her. Samantha, meanwhile, has accepted her next job, where she has to assassinate three very bad people before she will get paid. She dons various disguises (including a black maid!) to get close to her targets and kills them in various unique ways (She paralyzes one guy in his hot tub by poisoning the water with an ancient Chinese potion and watches him drown), while fighting off enemies who want to see her dead. As Samantha gets closer to completing her contract, Domingo introduces himself to her at a cocktail party and they find themselves intellectual rivals and, eventually, lovers. They both know that the relationship will never last, but they make the best of the time they share together. Samantha kills the second person on her contract, a female white slaver, and Domingo finds himself protecting the very people who may be Samantha's final hit on the contract. Things go from bad to worse when Samantha accidentally (?) kills Sanchez, makes her final hit and leaves Domingo tied-up on her yacht while a timebomb ticks away nearby. Did Samantha leave Domingo enough time to undo the Chinese knots on his ropes and escape from the yacht before it explodes? His fate is left to the viewer's imagination.  This 70's sexploitationer, which pushes it's R-rating into hard territory due to nudity and sex and contains equal measures of sexploitation elements and action set-pieces, was directed by Don Schain, whose short directorial career includes the three GINGER films and the dated political racial prejudice flick A PLACE CALLED TODAY (1972). This is the last directorial credit for Schain (who would eventually work for the Disney Channel, where he was responsible for producing the hugely popular HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL series of films) and the last acting credit for Cheri Caffaro (SAVAGE SISTERS - 1974; She also scripted the sexploitationer H.O.T.S. [1979] and was Associate Producer of Bill Rebane's THE DEMONS OF LUDLOW [1983] before disappearing into obscurity), who spends most of her screen time topless or completely nude (Schain and Caffaro were once married to each other for a short period of time). It's a good thing, too, because she's a terrible actress and an even worse martial artist (there's a fight on her yacht with a Filipino cop that's the epitome of ineptitude, especially when they both find wooden chaku sticks that just happen to be lying around on the deck and fight each other in one of the funniest choreographed fights committed to celluloid [you can actually see Caffaro mouthing "Left, right, up, down" as they swing their chaku sticks at each other!]). Actor Aharon Impale is not much better in any department, either, as his martial arts skills are also highly suspect as is his command of the English language. He has since gone on to make a name for himself as a fine character actor in films and on TV, usually portraying Middle Eastern bad guys, military personnel or politicians. TOO HOT TO HANDLE is a mess, but it's an entertaining mess that contains some nice Philippines location photography, lots of nudity and Vic Diaz (always an entertaining proposition!). Producer Ralph T. Desiderio (who also produced all of Schain's other films), was also the producer of the exceptionally bed regional horror flick TRACK OF THE MOONBEAST (1972). Screenwriters J. Michael Sherman and Don Buday would next find their place in badfilm history by writing the teleplay to KISS MEETS THE PHANTOM OF THE PARK (1978)! Also starring Corrine Calvet, Jordan Rosengarten, Butz Aquino, Subas Herrero, Grace Lee, Paquito Salcedo and Joonee  (billed here as "June") Gamboa. Released theatrically by New World Pictures and on VHS by Warner Home Video. Available on a triple feature DVD (with TNT JACKSON [1975] and FIRECRACKER [1981]) as part of the LETHAL LADIES COLLECTION (Volume One) from Shout! Factory. Rated R.

TORTURE DUNGEON (1970) - There is no gray area when it comes to the late low-budget auteur Andy Milligan (THE GHASTLY ONES - 1968; THE BODY BENEATH - 1970; THE RATS ARE COMING! THE WEREWOLVES ARE HERE! - 1972; BLOOD - 1974; LEGACY OF HORROR - 1979; CARNAGE - 1983; and many others). You either love him or hate him. I happen to love him (well, most of his films) because, even though his films were dialogue-heavy (which turns off a lot of people), if you listen to what the people are actually saying, you will get an idea the torturous life that Milligan lived (and, believe me, it wasn't pretty). Even though the title of this period film is somewhat misleading, it still is one of Milligan's bloodiest films. It begins with the ruler of some centuries-old kingdom (probably England, but it never says so) cutting a rose from a bush and then a black-hooded executioner sneaks up behind him and chops off his head with a medieval axe. We then see his funeral procession at a beach (where anachronisms abound, including a modern-day buoy in the water), where mentally deficient pallbearer Albert, Duke of Aberthy (Milligan regular Hal Borske), who is next in line to become King, is seen continuously picking his nose and looking at his boogers! The unnamed sister of the dead King blames her half-brother, Norman, Duke Of Norwich (Jerremy Brooks; that's the way it is spelled in the opening credits) for her brother's death. She confides in her also unnamed female servant that she was in love with her brother and is pregnant with his child. She swears that one day she will get even with Norman, proclaiming, "From now on, revenge is my lover!" Norman and his sidekick, Ivan the Hunchback (Richard Mason), conspire with the Council to eventually get rid of the people next in line for ruler, which is in this order: Albert, Lady Agatha (Donna Whitfield) and Lady Jane (Patrician Dillon), all brothers and sisters of the dead King who hate Norman (Well, Albert is incapable of hating anyone, since it is obvious he is mentally retarded). Being that Norman was only the King's half-brother and is not 100% royal blood (his mother was a prostitute who got knocked up by his half-brother's father), he is considered not fit to be a ruler, but since it is the Council that actually runs the kingdom (the King is nothing but a figurehead that does the Council's bidding), Norman can rule the kingdom by proxy. Peter the Eye (Neil Flanagan, who was the titled GURU THE MAD MONK - 1970, another Milligan film), the eyepatch-wearing head of the Council, reminds Norman that in order for this plan to work, Albert must get married to a plague-free bride (the Bubonic Plague has wiped-out nearly half of the kingdom's population) so he can produce a male heir, which Norman and the Council will use as a puppet to do their evil biddings. They all vote that nineteen year-old Heather MacGregor (Susan Cassidy) will be Albert's bride. The problem is, Heather is in love with peasant William (Dan Tyra), as we watch them frolicking nude in a stream and then making love (this film has a lot of female nudity in it, which runs opposite to Milligan's real-life homosexuality, but there are also a lot of naked male asses in this film, too). Heather's father, Mr. MacGregor (Robert Fucillo), who was forced to sell his daughter to the Council for thirty pieces of gold,  and family friend Margaret, the one-eyed hag (Maggie Rogers), assure Heather that the arranged marriage will be beneficial to her, as she will never go hungry again and she will now have the title "Lady Heather". Heather's father that has a bout of guilty conscience and arranges for his daughter to escape the kingdom, but first Heather must try to get William to believe she doesn't love him anymore (it doesn't work). William and Heather decide to escape together, but two hood-wearing executioners nail William's hands to the side of a barn, impale his chest with a pitchfork (a Milligan trademark) and disembowel him with a knife (this happens right after Ivan and the loincloth-wearing Marvin [George Box], a long-time friend of Heather's, have a homoerotic wrestling match and Ivan whispers something into his ear). With William dead, Heather has no choice but to become halfwit Albert's bride. But before that happens, Lady Agatha and Lady Jane warn her of Norman's plan, even going as far as to show her Norman's torture dungeon, where we see various victims missing tongues, eyes, lips and legs (one of Milligan's most ambitious and effective scenes in any of his films, but this is the only time that we see the torture dungeon in the entire film). It seems that Norman has bouts of unexplained "fits" (it could be epilepsy) and when he does, he likes to hurt people and take them to his dungeon for some torture sessions, including Agatha's and Jane's male servants (There's a scene in the film where Norman has one of his "fits" when a snake bites Ivan on his hump. Norman cuts the hump open with a dagger and forces a servant to suck out the poison!). We then cut to a scene where Rosemary (Patricia Garvey) catches Ivan in Norman's bed and Norman quite frankly says, "I'll try anything. I'm not a homosexual. I'm not a heterosexual. I'm not asexual. I'm trisexual. I'll try anything for pleasure." He then makes love to Rosemary. Heather marries retard Albert (he doesn't even know how to kiss the bride when the priest announces "I now pronounce you man and wife.") and when it come to the honeymoon night, Albert is more interested in eating chicken than having sex, so Norman has to show him how to do it step-by-step (we then learn that Albert was "mysteriously" dropped on his head when he was six years-old). When the deed is done, Heather leaves the room when Albert falls asleep, but the two hooded executioners enter the bedroom and hammer a wooden stake into Albert's heart. Norman celebrates Albert's death by having a ménage a trois with Ivan and Rosemary, but first he makes Ivan tell Rosemary his life story (it's quite funny in its awfulness) and Rosemary has to tell her life story to Ivan (it's not pretty) so they become friends before they do it (Norman says, "Just one big happy family!"). Lady Agatha informs Heather of Albert's death and helps her escape the kingdom. Norman stabs Agatha in her stomach with his dagger when he discovers what she has done. Lady Jane hides out with Mr. MacGregor and the one-eyed Margaret, but when she tries to escape the kingdom on horseback, one of the hooded executioners kills her and dumps her body in a stream. Norman decides to kill Heather (I guess using her baby a a puppet is being dropped), as we then learn that Heather's lifelong friend Marvin is one of the hooded executioners. He chases Heather, knocks her out, puts her on a horse and takes her to a barn, where he plans on killing her with an axe, but his love for her stops him from doing it. Discovering that Heather is still alive, Ivan stabs Marvin in the stomach with an iron spike, but Marvin manages to impale Ivan's hump with a pitchfork before they both die. Heather then tries to escape on a horse (it is tied to a post, so all she does is ride around in a circle!), but Norman shows up swinging a big-ass chain. Before Norman can kill Heather with the chain, Margaret shows up and throws a spear, which impales Norman through his torso, but Margaret is trampled by a horse in the process. Before Margaret dies, we then learn that she was the unnamed sister we saw in the beginning of the film. The baby she was carrying was actually Heather and Margaret became disfigured when Norman tried to burn down the church she was hiding in nearly twenty years earlier (I know, the timeline in this film makes no sense at all.). Heather is actually Mr. MacGregor's adopted daughter and Margaret has finally seen her plan of revenge come to fruition before she dies. Heather is now ruler of the kingdom and the Council has no chance in Hell of using her as a puppet.  Even though this film has all the trademarks of a cheap Andy Milligan film (it was filmed in Staten Island on 16mm short ends of film stock for less than $10,000 and blown up to 35mm for theatrical showings by Milligan's longtime producer, the legendary cheapskate William Mishkin), including library music, his patented swirling camera movements and just barely acceptable acting (some of the smaller parts were people Milligan pulled off the streets of Staten Island for no pay and their Staten Island accents and horrible line readings are very apparent). The 1.78:1 widescreen Blu-Ray, released by William Olsen and his company Code Red, is so pristine and colorful, we can see all the cheap makeup effects for the first time at home as clearly as they could ever have been seen. I don't remember this film being so sharp even when I saw it in theaters back in the early-70's. The print is a marvel to look at and makes the film all the more enjoyable to watch. There is more than enough blood and gore on view to satisfy those interested in early-70's exploitation films (much more than most of Milligans other films) and it is nice that Code Red found a print that is mostly uncut (thanks to licensing it and other Milligan films from the legimate rights holder, Films Around The World), as most other previous versions (on fullscreen VHS from Midnight Video and Something Weird Video) were missing some of the more gorier bits, including later theatrical releases on the bottom half of double bills. The screenplay, by jack-of-all-trades Milligan (who photographed, edited, sound recorded and designed the period costumes) and John Borske (brother of Hal Borske), is quite involved (and has many instances of sexual identity, some overt, some hidden), but somewhere, nearly twenty years passed and no one aged, which is a real cheat to the audience. Still, this is one of Milligan's films that even non-fans of Milligan can enjoy, thanks to the frequent gore, nudity and the beautiful print. If you really want to learn about Andy Milligan's incredibly sad life, I would recommend that you try to find author Jimmy McDonough's biography of Milligan, titled "THE GHASTLY ONE: THE SEX-GORE NETHERWORLD OF FILMMAKER ANDY MILLIGAN". It will make you appreciated the films of Milligan much more than you do now. Code Red also released Milligan's BLOODTHIRSTY BUTCHERS (1970) and THE MAN WITH 2 HEADS (1972) on Blu-Ray, something I thought I would never see in my lifetime. Look for reviews of them on this site soon. I applaud Code Red for taking chances like this because most other companies would not take the care needed to properly restore these films (Just look at Retromedia Entertainment's DVD titled THE ANDY MILLIGAN GRINDHOUSE EXPERIENCE, which crams three of Milligan's films onto one disc.). William Olsen has gone on record saying that he rescued these prints used on the Blu-Rays just before they turned to vinegar (using the Frankenstein technique of taking the best parts of various reels from different prints to make one cohesive film), but he must have put a lot of work into them to make them look this good. Find these if you can. They are worth every penny if you are an Andy Milligan fan. Also starring Helen Adams and Matt Baylor. A Code Red Blu-Ray Release. Rated R.

TRIP WITH THE TEACHER (1974) - Mid-70's Crown International Pictures exploitation flick, which mixes cheerleader-like sexploitation with some LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972) nastiness. A short bus carrying teacher Miss Tenny (Brenda Fogarty; CHESTY ANDERSON, USN - 1976) and a handfull of pretty young teenage girls, along with driver Marvin (Jack Driscoll), are driving down a highway in the middle of the California desert on their way to a weekend field trip. meanwhile, on the same stretch of road, biker Pete (Robert Porter; THE JESUS TRIP - 1971) has a tire blow out on his motorcycle, forcing him and his malcontent brother Al (the late Zalman King; BLUE SUNSHINE - 1977), to pull over to the side of the road. Luckily, good-guy biker Jay (Robert Gribbin; HITCH HIKE TO HELL - 1977, also featuring Jack Driscoll) passes by and helps Pete temporarily fix the flat. He offers to ride with the duo until they get to the next gas station and Pete agrees (over Al's back-handed comment, "What is he still doing here?"). The trio of bikers ride until they catch up with the bus, where the girls flirt through the windows with Jay and Pete, but the moody Al stays behind the bus and ignores the girls. Everyone pulls into the next gas station, where schoolgirls Julie (Cathy Worthington) and Pam (Susan Russell) flirt with Jay, while Pete and a morose Al hang out by the 7-Up machine and watch the action (Teacher Miss Tenny doesn't seem too concerned at all, but bus driver Marvin acts like he's the girls' unofficial guardian, refusing to answer Jay's questions about where they are coming from or going to and making sure all the girls are on the bus once it is filled-up with gas). After the bus leaves the station, Al gets into a confrontation with the gas station attendant when he accidentally (?) spills gas on Al's gas tank. Al then kills the attendant (out of eyeshot of Pete and Jay) by lowering a jacked-up car on him and the trio then take off to catch up with the bus, which has conveniently broken down on the side of the road, "smack-dab in the middle of nowhere". Slut Bobbie (Dina Ousley) and virginal Pam get into a catfight when Pam calls her a bitch, just as the three bikers arrive on the scene. While Pete tries to fix the bus, Jay and Julie flirt with each other some more and Al zeroes-in on Bobbie. When it is discovered that the bus' fuel pump is shot, Jay, Pete and Al tow the bus with their bikes until they come to a deserted farmhouse. Now the real "fun" begins. Al kills Marvin by running him over with his bike (breaking his neck), so Al decides that no one will get out alive. Al and Pete tie-up Jay and Al rapes Miss Tenny, while Bobbie, Pam and Tina (Jill Voight) keep Pete sexually entertained so Julie can untie Jay and let him escape on his bike. Jay dies when Pete runs his bike over a cliff. Al kills Tina (by suffocating her face-first in the sand) when she tries to escape and then Al rapes Bobbie, forcing everyone to watch. Turns out Jay didn't die after all (he was playing possum) and he returns to the farmhouse, hangs Pete with a piece of rope and gets into a fight with Al. It all ends when Miss Tenny impales Al in his back with a metal spike. Today's lesson: Don't fuck with the teacher!  This is a pretty boring exploitation flick for 75% of its running time. Director/producer/screenwriter Earl Barton (a former 50's bit actor and dance choreographer; this is his only directorial effort) slow burns this film so much, it's like trying to light a tightly-wrapped joint and getting a good hit. It doesn't help that Zalman King gives such a lethargic performance; he looks and acts like he is sleepwalking through much of the film. The only time his acting comes to life is when he is ripping-off the clothes, raping or killing the young girls (and teacher Miss Tenny), which may be why King basically gave up acting to become a director/producer/screenwriter of arty, well-made erotic films and cable TV series, including Showtime's THE RED SHOES DIARIES (1992 - 1996; with a pre-X-FILES David Duchovny) and TWO MOON JUNCTION (1988; a personal favorite of mine), among many others. TRIP WITH THE TEACHER (also known as DEADLY FIELD TRIP; distributed on VHS by Monarch Home Video under this title) has the look and feel of a 70's TV movie, with some nudity and violence not allowed on TV at the time tossed into the mix, but the problem is there's not enough nudity or violence to make this film the sleaze classic it wants to be. Zalman King (who passed away in early 2012) is no David Hess (who passed away late in 2011) and this film fails to generate the suspense needed for the viewers to care about the girls' plight. I wouldn't even call this film an interesting failure. It's just a failure. Speaking of exploitation, late label BCI Eclipse has exploited this title on DVD in many incarnations, beginning as a double feature with MALIBU HIGH (1970) as part of their "Welcome To The Grindhouse" line and then as part of their DRIVE-IN CLASSICS 8, 16 & 32 MOVIE COLLECTION series Also available as part of the 12-film GOREHOUSE GREATS COLLECTION from Mill Creek (talk about false advertising!). Also available on a Double Feature DVD with JAIL BAIT BABYSITTER (1977) from Code Red. Rated R.

TRUCK STOP WOMEN (1974) - This is 70's exploitation at it's finest. Anna (Lieux Dressler; KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS - 1977) runs a truck stop in New Mexico that's a front for prostitution and stolen truck rackets. Anna has cameras installed in every room of her motel, where she watches and listens to truckers screw and talk to her girls, picking up tidbits of information of expensive loads the truckers are hauling. She then sends daughter Rose (Claudia Jennings; GATOR BAIT - 1974) and hooker Tina (Jennifer Burton; INVISIBLE STRANGLER - 1977) to go out and hijack the trucks, pretending to be two stranded girls on the highway. Anna runs into trouble when Mob guy Smith (John Martino) is sent by his East Coast associates to put her out of business, even though she has backing from the West Coast Mafia. When Smith tries to hijack a load of already stolen color TVs from Anna's truck stop, Anna's employees Curly (Dennis Fimple), Mac (Gene Drew) and Winter (Len Lesser) stop him and send Smith and his goon Rusty (Speed Sterns, also the film's Stunt Coordinator) packing. Trouble ensues when Rose turns traitorous and sides with Smith, even sleeping with him. When Anna learns that her West Coast mob boss has been murdered (We see Smith and Rusty gun him and a whore down in a bathtub in the film's first scene), she asks her West Coast connection, Seago (Paul Carr, who plays his role as if he's dying of tuberculosis), for some help. Anna goes to Smith's truck stop and slugs Rose (knocking her out) and she and Mac bring her back home (Rusty tries to stop them, but wrecks one of Smith's trucks in the process). When Winter and another one of Anna's mechanics are murdered by a mystery killer (we only see the ring on his finger), Anna makes a deal with Seago to rip-off some securities hidden in a truck full of cattle in exchange for Seago's help in getting rid of Smith. It is at this time we learn the identity of the mystery killer and Anna, Mac and Curly will have to watch their backs. After pulling off the securities heist and finding a piece of evidence pointing to the guilty party, Anna and her two men devise a plan to bring down Smith and rescue Rose (There's nothing like the sight of women firing machine guns in anger!). The finale in a ghost town has an unexpected twist that I didn't see coming. Better acted than most 70's exploitationers, thanks to a cast of veterans (it's even sadder when you realize that Claudia Jennings, Paul Carr, Dennis Fimple, Len Lesser, Lieux Dressler and Gene Drew are all dead now), this early effort from director/producer/co-scripter Mark L. Lester (CLASS OF 1984 - 1981; COMMANDO - 1985) covers all the bases, tossing in plenty of nudity, action and violence into the mix and doing it with a lot of panache. Lieux Dressler stands out as the tough-as-nails broad who still has a soft spot for her daughter. It's nice to see a woman in charge for a change and Dressler does a remarkable job here, fighting, loving and driving an 18 wheeler just as well as any man. Claudia Jennings (GATOR BAIT - 1974; THE GREAT TEXAS DYNAMITE CHASE - 1975; SISTERS OF DEATH - 1977), who lost her life at an early age in a tragic car accident, plays Rose as the ultimate conniving bitch and does a very good job at it. It's plain to see that she had talent, which makes it sad to think how far she could have gone if she didn't lose her life. All-in-all, TRUCK STOP WOMEN is an exciting, sexy romp with a good story (Remember when films like this actually had good stories?), better than normal acting and some good looking women (surprisingly, some older ones, too) in various states of undress. A true gem of the raunchy 70's. Director Lester had much success in the 80's and early 90's with films like FIRESTARTER (1984), CLASS OF 1999 (1990) and SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO (1991). He then went on to direct tight, low-budget DTV films like NIGHT OF THE RUNNING MAN (1994), THE EX (1997), MISBEGOTTEN (1998) and SACRIFICE (2000). His last directorial effort (as of this writing) was the horror film PTERODACTYL (2005) for the Sci-Fi Network. Also starring Dolores Dorn, Eric Nord, Nicky Blair and a cameo by sexploitation queen Uschi Digard (BEAUTIES AND THE BEAST - 1973). Originally released on VHS by Vestron Video and later by Bingo Video. Still awaiting a DVD release, but soon to be available on Blu-Ray from Code Red. Rated R.

VIOLATED (1984) - This sleazy rape/revenge exploitationer opens with Liz Grant (Elizabeth Kaitan) getting raped at a party thrown at mobster Jack Diamond's (D. Balin) home. When Liz reports the rape at the local police station, Detective Kevin McBane (J.C. Quinn) talks (or, rather, shames) her out of filing a report when he hears Jack Diamond's name mentioned. It seems Diamond throws at lot of parties at his house and rape and abuse is a common theme. He gets away with it, too, since the clients at his parties are rich and influential. The latest victim-to-be is 18 year-old soap opera actress Lisa Robb (April Daisy White). She attends one of Diamond's parties and catches the eye of sadistic mobster Frank Lyon (Alec Massey), the same scumbag who raped Liz. After some innocent skinnydipping in the pool, Lisa is later tied to a bed and gang-raped by Diamond and Frank. When she gets home, Lisa's overbearing Aunt Shirley (Kaye Dowd) berates her with an "I told you so!" diatribe and her 13 year-old brother Danny (Jonathan Ward) makes Aunt Shirley call the police when he sees what shape she's in. Detective McBane shows up at the house and questions Lisa, but she refuses to co-operate, although a strange friendship developes between her and McBane. A newspaper reporter latches on to Lisa's story when Aunt Shirley gives him enough information to make it a front page story, pissing off Frank, who warns Diamond to take care of the problem before the police look too closely into Frank's illegal businesses (including a huge shipment of marijuana sitting on a ship at sea). Thanks to the newspaper story, a Grand Jury is convened and everyone at the party Lisa was at is issued supoenas. Diamond and Frank intimidate the witnesses to lie and Lisa goes to McBane for help. He "unofficially" questions Liz (who is now a high-priced call girl in Diamond's stable) and he and Lisa go snooping around Diamond's party house, where they find a library of videotapes of hidden camera porn and rapes. When McBane finds a tape showing Liz's rape, he has all the proof he needs to nail Diamond and, eventually, Frank, but no one will ever see the tape because it was obtained illegally. At the Grand Jury, everyone lies, saying Lisa was doing drugs and hitting on every man at the party (even showing an out-of-context videotape of her skinnydipping in the pool), making her look like a tramp. Diamond and Frank get off scott-free and Lisa is shamed in public and loses her soap opera gig. She grabs a gun and goes out seeking justice, not aware that McBane has the same idea. No one lives happily ever after.  It's really difficult to establish what kind of film one-shot wonder director/producer/co-scripter Richard Cannistraro was going for here (he even has a small acting role in this). On one hand, it's a sleazy rape and nudity-filled exploitationer, where women are naked as much as possible and there are scenes that are uncomfortably intense. While the rapes are hard to watch, the scene that really upset me is when Lisa's 13 year-old brother Danny walks into her bedroom while she is topless and she doesn't even attempt to cover-up. On the contrary, they talk graphically about her tits, his masturbation habits and at one point he hugs her naked torso and says, "If I wasn't your brother!" Yecch! On the other hand, Cannistraro tries to show us how the court system can make anyone look guilty given the right circumstances, especially in cases of rape. Since this was made before Rape Shield Laws were put into effect, this film shows that rape was a fairly easy crime to get away with, since the victim's sexual history could be brought up as evidence of character. Unfortunately, this film has a hard time meshing all the elements together as a cohesive whole and VIOLATED fails to entertain. It plays like one of Lisa's soap operas, with very little to recommend besides some full-frontal female nudity (the men keep their pants on, even while raping the women!). John Heard (C.H.U.D. - 1984) puts in a cameo as an arms dealer who supplies McBane with a rifle equipped with a silencer, so he can go off on a half-assed revenge spree in the quick finale (Heard also delivers a head-scratching speech on how he would like to have a Civil Service job!). Future BAYWATCH babe and Tommy Lee deep-throater Pamela Anderson and porn stars Sharon Kane and Samantha Fox have cameos as party guests. Top-notch cinematographer and so-so director Barry Sonnenfeld is listed in the credits as supplying "Additional Photography". There's also an annoying, sappy love ballad titled "Love Through The Tears", sung by Christopher Cross sound-alike Joe Paps, that opens and closes the film. Joe Papsmear is more like it, if you ask me. Also starring Carole Francis, Lisanne Falk, Bill Galarno, Charles Gilbert, Chris MacLeod and Claude Vincent. Also known as VICTIMIZED. A Vestron Video Release. Not yet available on DVD. Rated R.

VIRGIN APOCALYPSE (1988) - Here's a Joseph Lai-produced piece of sleaze that's not his usual 80's-style cut-and-paste stuff. Gang leader Chan Chung (Danny Lee) runs a female slavery ring where he has his gay photographer cohort Ah Kahn (Paul Lee) stage phony photo shoots in order to kidnap the female models and turn them into prostitutes for use around the world. Flamer Ah Kahn hits on a dude in a disco ("You're real sexy, like Charles Bronson!"), not realizing that the guy is Ho King (Bill Lau), a private detective that has just returned from England and is investigation the disappearances of several women. Ho King goes out on a "date" with Ah Kahn, but when Ho asks too many questions about the missing women, he is knocked-out by a couple of thugs and wakes up with his pants pulled down around his ankles, with Ah Kahn whacking his penis over and over with a chopstick! Ho is eventually thrown down a sewer and left to die, but he is rescued a few days later by a pedestrian who hears his cries for help. We are then taken to the camp where the kidnapped women are "conditioned" for their new lives as whores or indentured servants. Those that try to escape suffer even harder fates: They are either constantly dunked in a river while trapped in bamboo cages, forced to stand out in the hot sun until their skin blisters or put in wooden coffin-like boxes filled with snakes. Tough cookie kidnapee Judi (Eva Bisset) runs her own exclusive clique in the camp and constantly gets into catfights with other captive women, especially new girl Tina (Gigi Bovee), but when Judi's sister dies after being raped (She is taken to the camp doctor, who is told, "She thinks she's in pain down below!"), Judi and Tina join forces and lead a revolt, eventually escaping after much gunfire and death. Judi and Tina go after Chen Chung, Ah Kahn and other members of the Triad, using their womanly charms to lure and kill their prey (one poor guy is hung by his ankles over a bathtub as it fills with water). Ho King is also after the same people; only he is now (incredibly) working for the police. Ho and the girls quickly join forces and begin torturing gang members (another poor guy has firecrackers tied to his penis, which are then lit when he doesn't answer their questions fast enough!) until Chan Chung is shot dead. The question then becomes: Who is Chan Chung's boss? I'm afraid one major character is not going to like the answer.  This is a sweaty, depraved Hong Kong sexploitation/action flick full of full-frontal female nudity and scenes of torture and sexual depravity. Single-monikered director Pasan (also known as "Pasha" and "Leung Poeh") keeps the story moving at a quick clip, even though the screenplay (credited to "Ho Ward Ki") makes very little sense. Characters are introduced and then quickly forgotten and all logic is thrown out the window to advance the plot (I guess the quickest way to join the Hong Kong Police Department is to get your pecker twacked with a chopstick and then get thrown in a sewer!). This film is full of action and torture sequences, including gunfights, car chases, martial arts fights and lots of snakes. There's not much meat to this film, but you gotta love a flick where, in the finale, a bandaged head-to-toe Ho King pursues another fully bandaged man (the head head bad guy) through the hospital like two mummies, only for Ho to discover that the bad guy is actually his brother, who slits his own throat with a strait razor in front of Ho! What happens to Judi and Tina? Well, I'm afraid that this film can't waste its time with small details like that. Do you expect anything less from Joseph Lai? This is one of those films where, based on the first couple of minutes, you'll instantly know whether it's your cup of tea or not. It had me hooked the moment when Ah Kahn stares at Ho's ass in the disco. You'll know what I mean when you see it for yourself. Also known as ANGER, ANGELS WITH GOLDEN GUNS and TERROR IN A WOMAN'S PRISON. Also starring Loretta Leone, Ryan Chu, Maria Ho, Richard Bau, Thompson Kao, Nuna Naru, Paul Lee and director Pasan as a Triad boss. The print I viewed is fullscreen, English-dubbed and free of the usual Dutch or Greek subtitles. Not Rated.

WALKING THE EDGE (1983) - This well-paced exploitation flick opens with sadistic hired muscle Brusstar (Joe Spinell; THE LAST HORROR FILM - 1982; RAPID FIRE - 1989) and three goons holding Christine Holloway (Nancy Kwan; WONDER WOMEN - 1973; NIGHT CREATURE - 1978) and her son at gunpoint in their home while they wait for her husband, a drug dealer who has double-crossed Brusstar's boss. When he comes home, he and his son are shotgunned to death by Brusstar, but Christine escapes into the darkness. Ex-minor league baseball phenom Jason Walk (Robert Forster; ALLIGATOR - 1980; VIGILANTE - 1982), who now drives a taxicab but is actually a collector for a bookie, is hired by Christine to drive her around for an hour while she takes care of some "business". Unfortunately for Jason, that business happens to be splattering the brains of Brusstar's boss against the wall. Unaware of what she has done done, Jason then drives Christine to the garage where Brusstar and the three goons work, but things go horribly wrong. After Christine shoots one of the goons in the eye, Brusstar and the other goons shoot back and, from that point on, Jason and Christine's lives are forever intertwined. Christine explains to Jason why she in on the revenge spree, so the lunk-headed Jason agrees to help her. Not only do they have to avoid the police, they now have to contend with Brusstar, who is mighty pissed-off that Christine shot and killed his best friend Jesus (Luis Contreras) with a bullet to the eye (He doesn't give a rat's ass that his boss is dead, though). Brusstar orders the remaining two goons, Jimmy (James McIntire) and McKee (Wayne Woodson), to find the taxi driver, as it is the most logical way to locate Christine. Jason drives around enforcing and collecting old gambling debts so he can gather enough money together to send Christine out of state. After Jason's best friend and nosy landlady are both killed by Brusstar and Christine disappears, Jason goes on a revenge spree of his own, killing Jimmy and McKee (he shoves a butcher knife up McKee's ass!) and saves Brusstar for last, shooting him a couple of times and then getting some "eye-for-an-eye" vengeance with the same power drill Brusstar used on Jason's best friend. Sometimes revenge is not a dish best served cold.  First off, let me state that I'll watch Robert Forster in anything, even if all he is doing is reading the phone book. He's a classy actor that automatically improves any film he's in, even if it's just a cameo. Thankfully, WALKING THE EDGE is a showcase for Forster's off-the-wall charms and is one of his better early 80's films, made when Forster was beginning to go through a bit of a dry spell (He had a lot of exposure in films and TV during the 70's, starring in such films as MEDIUM COOL [1969] and the TV series BANYON [1972 - 73] and NAKIA [1974]). His career waned throughout most of the 80's and early 90's, resurging in the mid-90's, thanks to his Academy Award-nominated performance in Quentin Tarantino's JACKIE BROWN (1997). Director Norbert Meisel (LOVE LUST AND VIOLENCE - 1975; NIGHT CHILDREN - 1989) gives us a relatively sleazy slice-of-life exploitationer that's helped immensely by the on-location photography of Hollywood's seedier landmarks and Curt Allen's expletive-filled script, which contains some humorous, as well as racist, dialogue  (Forster must have liked the screenplay, because Allen later wrote the script to HOLLYWOOD HARRY [1985], the only directorial effort by Forster). The most intense scene is when Brusstar, Jimmy and McKee torture Jason's best friend Tony (A Martinez; NOT OF THIS WORLD - 1991) with a power drill to try and get him to give up Jason. The entire torture session is intercut with scenes of Jason and Christine making love, which reveals a "pleasure and pain" scenario that's very hard to watch. The knife-up-the-ass runs a close second, as McKee pleads for his life in the dingy bathroom of a punk rock bar, while Jason slowly shoves and twists the knife further up his ass. Joe Spinell is his regular sweaty self and has a humorous scene at a batting cage that eventually turns nasty. As a matter of fact, this film is full of baseball metaphors, some overt and some buried deep in the dialogue. Give this film a chance and you just might find yourself enjoying it more than you thought you would. Also starring Terrence Beasor, Russ Courtney, Aarika Wells, Jackie Giroux (TRICK OR TREATS - 1982) and Ivy Bethune as Jason's nosy landlady, Mrs. Johnson. Originally released on VHS by Vestron Video and available on widescreen DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment. Rated R.

WAR VICTIMS (1985) - Some may view this as a standard Indonesian sleaze epic, but they would only be partially correct. This film actually makes a strong political statement about patriotism and the willingness to suffer greatly for your cause. During World War II, an Indonesian girl named Amelia (Marissa Haque) is sent to an all-female P.O.W. camp, run by brutal Japanese soldiers, after watching her rebel opposition boyfriend get riddled with bullets by the Japs. Once at the camp, she and the other women are subjected to sadistic torture and sexual abuse by the male guards. Amelia, who is pregnant, loses her baby during one such torture session, but she refuses to give up hope (She says, "Freedom must be earned. We must be willing to sacrifice everything else in our life for it."). When the Allies bomb the camp from the air (and accidentally kill one of the women), a visiting Japanese General theorizes that one of the female prisoners must be a spy (it's Amelia) since the camp is also a secret ammunition depot (One of the female prisoners steps out of formation, rips open her blouse and shows the General her hideously deformed breasts, the product of the camp's torture techniques. The General is so disgusted by what he sees, he orders her to be shot! His orders are carried out immediately.). Amelia is raped the next day by the camp's most brutal guard, Sgt, Tukigawa. When she reports it to the camp's commander, Nokamura (the only Japanese soldier here depicted as having anything close to a conscience), he tells Amelia that without corroboration, there's nothing he can do. When two of his guards are killed by mistake (one is shot and killed by his own buddy when his gun discharges accidentally), Nokamura has no choice but to force the women to stand in the blazing sun with no water. One of the women goes mad with heatstroke and is shot dead trying to escape by climbing over the camp's barbwire fence. Amelia and most of the women come up with a plan for escape and attempt it one night when Nokamura is away (He's actually at headquarters pleading for better treatment of his prisoners!). They fail miserably, as some of the women are shot, one is attacked by a huge snake, another steps on an explosive boobytrap and some are electrocuted on the camp's fence. Amelia then becomes Nokamura's lover, which pisses-off the rest of the female prisoners. Is Amelia simply pretending until the right time comes along for her to strike or is her love for Nokamura real? It seems it's a little of both, as Amelia ends up pregnant with Nokamura's baby, but when the rebels storm the camp and free the women, Nokamura commits hara-kiri rather than being captured. Once again, Amelia is left alone and pregnant, only this time she can raise her child in freedom.  WAR VICTIMS (a.k.a. KAMP TAWANAN WANITA) will find no favor with Japanese viewers thanks to their depiction here. All the Nippons, besides Nokamura, are portrayed as maniacal laughing rapists who view the women in the camp as disposable playthings to be used, abused and then killed with hardly an afterthought. The scene where Nokamura leaves the camp to plead with his superiors for humane treatment of his female prisoners, only to be rebuffed, shamed and then told that these women are nothing but cattle and are the spoils of war for the Japanese soldiers to rape, cements the film's political agenda. Director Jopi Burnama (FEROCIOUS FEMALE FREEDOM FIGHTERS - 1982; the amazing THE INTRUDER - 1986), working with a script written by brother Piet Burnama, doesn't skimp on the sleazier aspects of P.O.W. life (there's rape, humiliation, whippings, hangings and brandings), but there's more to this film than sleaze. Burnama shows what it really means to suffer for freedom (most Americans could learn something here), even if the beginning of the film is a little overblown, where we hear a bombastic narrator say, "War is a thrilling and glorious thing only to those that have never experienced it in reality!" and he then goes on even longer giving us examples why! The film closes with the same narrator saying, "And this is war! A Hell on Earth! Will the madmen of the world ever learn this lesson?", followed by a stream of children dressed in white walking across the landscape while "The Beginning" is flashed on-screen. A little heavy-handed? Yes, but it does make it's point rather effectively. The script has a little more meat on it's bones than most Indonesian genre films, but it doesn't sacrifice those ingredients we've come to expect from out friends in the Far East: Namely, outrageous pieces of oddball dialogue ("You're a horse's ass, Mr. Stallion!"), graphic violence (bodies explode; a woman has a sword hammered through her torso while she is tied-up) and nudity. Worth searching out. Also starring Boy Tirayoh, Mangara Siahaan, Farida Ciptadi, Jeffi Sani, Ivina Anwar, Advent Cristy and H. Usman Effendi. WAR VICTIMS was once available on VHS in the U.S. from Video City Productions with the nudity optically fogged. The print I viewed was sourced from a Greek-subtitled VHS tape which, in turn, looks to have been sourced from a Japanese print since all the nudity is optically fogged-out and a black band covers the bottom fifth of the screen, blocking out the Japanese subtitles and superimposing the Greek subtitles overtop them! Not Rated.

THE WOMAN HUNT (1972) - Filipino rip-off of THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932) with plenty of sex and some violence thrown in for good measure. Four women are kidnapped, blindfolded and driven to the jungle compound of demented hunter/rapist Spiros (Eddie Garcia; BEAST OF BLOOD - 1970) and his lesbian assistant Manda (Pat Woodell; THE BIG DOLL HOUSE - 1971). On their way to the compound, the women try to escape by seducing their "escorts", Silas (Sid Haig; who sports a full head of hair), Tony (John Ashley; also one of the Producers) and Carp (Ken Metcalfe; who sports a ridiculous fake nose, a long hippie wig and a headband), but are unsuccessful. The women are brought to the compound and given pretty clothes to wear, but they know their lives are in danger, especially when they find a previous kidnapee named Sam (Alona Alegre) drugged and sexually assaulted. The arrival by helicopter of a group of men of varying nationalities further cements that the ladies are in serious trouble. In case you haven't guessed by now, the men have paid Spiros exorbitant sums of money for the pleasure of setting these women free in the jungle to hunt them down like animals. Tony doesn't agree with what is going down, so he grabs the girls and some guns and they head for freedom, while Spiros and the other men go on a practice hunt with Sam as the prey. One of the girls is shot and killed by the guards during the escape (Carp shoots and kills Silas for being drunk on his watch) and another girl breaks her leg during the trek through the jungle, which forces Tony and the remaining two girls to go on without her (She does manage to gun down Carp and delay the hunt before Spiros kills her). When another girl is bitten by a cobra and dies (Tony kind of sucks at being a "protector", doesn't he?), Tony and the last girl decide to stay put and make a stand. Setting up spiked booby traps, Tony and the girl wait for Spiros to show up (everyone else, except Manda, are either dead or have fled the jungle). It ends with a seriously wounded Spiros blowing his brains out (after he mercifully puts a bullet in Manda's brainpan when she steps on a spiked booby trap), even though he has Tony and the girl in his gun sights, letting them escape to safety. This average 70's exploitationer, directed and co-produced by Eddie Romero (BRIDES OF BLOOD - 1968; THE BEAST OF THE YELLOW NIGHT - 1970; SAVAGE SISTERS - 1974; all starring frequent Romero collaborator John Ashley), suffers from poor pacing, lethargic acting (especially from Ashley and Pat Woodell, who both starred in Romero's TWILIGHT PEOPLE the same year) and not enough violence, as well as some jarring jump cuts that seem to edit out huge chunks of the story. I really don't understand why this was done (the film runs slightly over 71 minutes) since there is plenty of nudity and bits of R-rated violence on view (Sid Haig's death and the shooting in the head of one hunter, where blood shoots out of the wound like a gusher), but since this film was released by New World Pictures, it's not unlikely that Roger Corman ordered the cuts to pick up the pacing. The only problem is that THE WOMAN HUNT is too disjointed now to hold the viewer's complete interest. It just jumps from scene-to-scene with no connective tissue, like an unfinished film. In my opinion, this is minor 70's exploitation that is lacking in every department except for nudity. Even the four kidnapped women, portrayed by Charlene Jones, Lisa Todd, Laurie Rose and Liza Belmonte, are interchangeable and lack distinct personalities. They are not given much to do but disrobe and run around. Not a must-see unless you're a 70's exploitation completist. Or easily entertained. Also starring Lotis Key, Alfonso Carvajal, Ruben Rustia, Don Lipman, Tony Gosalvez and Paquito Salcedo. Originally released on VHS by Charter Entertainment and not yet available on DVD. Rated R. UPDATE: Eddie Romero passed away on March 28, 2013.

WOMEN OF HELL'S ISLAND (1978) - Here's a lesser-known film from the busy Cirio H. Santiago. It's a pretty standard WIP (Women In Prison) flick about a bunch of innocent (and not so innocent) women who are kidnapped and brought to a remote jungle camp where they are stripped, vaginally-inspected and told they will be used as "sexual playthings for the bad guys". The camp, it turns out, is a training facility for assassins and as the butch camp leader explains to her financiers about the assassins, "They're not robots. Sex is a need, like food." The new girls are housed in a huge cave where some of the veteran prisoners give them the skinny on their situation. They are enclosed in an electrified fence and surrounded by jungle, which is full of swamps and boobytraps, so escape is next to impossible. Every night, the camp's sadistic warden (Ken Metcalfe), picks certain women to be used for "room service". They are cleaned-up, injected with an aphrodisiac and taken to "The Resort", a building that contains rooms with nothing but beds, where they make love to the assassins. If you don't come when the warden calls your number, he simply shoots you point-blank in the chest and picks another woman. The aphrodisiac eventually messes-up the women's nervous system, causing them to go crazy or suicidal (one girl blows her head off with an assassin's pistol and another jumps out a window to her death), which is why new women are brought to the camp regularly. Three women try to escape, but one is shot in the back, one is blown-up when she steps on a land mine and the last one is recaptured and thrown in a "Hot Box" (a steel box buried in the ground) as punishment. Some of the new girls begin to dig an escape tunnel, but the veteran prisoners tell them that they are wasting their time. Meanwhile, the fiance of one of the newly-kidnapped girls, Cindy (Bernadette Williams), puts the heat on the American Embassy to find his girlfriend. That's when we find out that two of the recently abducted women are actually undercover agents, but they have yet to contact their superiors with their location. Some of the veteran prisoners try to force their way out by taking the warden hostage, but it all ends rather badly when all but one, Maggie (Kerry Nichols), are massacred in a hail of automatic gunfire. Maggie is then strung-up and whipped within an inch of her life. The warden then rapes Cindy, but she grabs his knife and slices off his wang. The warden kills Cindy with a couple of bullets to her chest and has the camp doctor re-attach his penis. The finale finds the remainder of the women escaping en mass through the tunnel and trying to make it to a waiting plane, while avoiding enemy fire and a pissed-off warden.  Slow-moving and uninvolving, this exploitationer from prolific Filipino director Cirio H. Santiago (THE DEVASTATOR - 1985; SILK - 1986) is too lethargic for it's own good. The script, by Santiago regular Ken Metcalfe, is full of missed opportunities and gaping plot holes (If you dig a tunnel in the jungle, how far do you have to dig before you make it to safety?) and the film's snail-like pace gives the viewer plenty of time to reflect on the deficiencies. Another major problem is that we know precious little about these women, so it's hard to get emotionally involved in their plight, even when they are killed. All good WIP films give a little backstory to their characters, so we can sympathize with them when they are put in peril. There's none of that here, so when the women are killed (especially the massacre after the warden is taken captive), it's just like watching background characters taking a bullet. There's no resonance. Santiago does throw in a lot of nudity and bits of gore (impalements on spiked boobytraps, bloody bullet squibs, castration), but without someone to identify with, it all rings hollow. That's interesting, because Santiago produced such WIP classics like THE HOT BOX and THE BIG BIRD CAGE (both 1972), so he should have known better. (The less said about his THE MUTHERS [1976] and CAGED HEAT II: STRIPPED OF FREEDOM [ 1993], the better.). Santiago would finally do the WIP genre proud when he directed CAGED FURY (1983), which many people think is his masterpiece. I wouldn't go that far, but it's much better than this one, which was filmed under the title HELL HOLE and is also known as ESCAPE FROM WOMEN'S HELL HOLE. This film has a copyright of 1984, but it was actually filmed in 1978. Also starring Ingrid Greer, Nanette Martin, Rosemarie Gil, Joe Mari Avellana, Bill Baldridge, Sherry Greenwood, Nigel Hogge and Victor Ordonez. A Shine Home Entertainment VHS Release. The only DVD of this film is from those thieving bastards at Videoasia, as part of their TALES OF VOODOO series (Volume 1), under the title HELL HOLE. The VHS is actually the preferred version. Not Rated.

WRONG WAY (1972) - Nancy and Cathy are picked up by a pair of drug dealers after their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. After convincing the girls that they are geologists (!), the girls jump into their truck, unaware that they are about to be delivered to a bunch of slimeball bikers who have just taken delivery of a brick of grass. As soon as Nancy and Cathy are spotted by the rest of the group, they are gang-raped. Cathy is forced to perform oral sex on Nancy and then they are terrorized by one member with a coral snake. A visiting biker gang think that the other guys are going too far, so they leave. When Cathy doesn't call in at her scheduled time, her father calls the sheriff and reports his daughter and Nancy missing. The sheriff investigates and finds the girls' abandoned car. The girls, meanwhile, are still being raped by the gang. After all the guys are done, they toss the girls aside and leave (incredibly, the girls beg them not to leave them alone!), forcing Nancy and Cathy to find their own way back to civilization. After walking a short way, the girls run into a Manson-like man (Ron Darby) and his "family" (including a baby boy) as they are burying a dead body in the rocky terrain. The Manson-like man (who wears a Japanese robe and has a necktie tied around his forehead) takes the girls prisoner and tells his followers that he plans on killing them, but first they will have a little fun with them. I guess the filmmakers ran out of money, because the rest of the film is displayed as a series of quick edits, as the police dispatcher tells the sheriff that Nancy and Cathy were rescued from the hippie cult (one cult member takes a shotgun blast to the balls) and the sheriff is called out to an abandoned cabin, where he gets into a gunfight with two guys who have a woman prisoner in their car's trunk. After killing both of the men and being wounded himself, the sheriff radios for help, telling them "not to stop for beer" on the way. In the immortal words of the sheriff: "It's been a day. Not good, but different!"  Terrible. Simply terrible. Atrociously acted, edited and photographed, this film looks like it was all filmed on the first take, as lines are constantly flubbed and the motorcycle gang has a hard time staying vertical on their bikes (One guy falls off his bike and it lands on him. You can't fake the pain he displays.). This is nothing but scene-after-scene of the girls being raped, intercut with scenes of the sheriff and his men searching for them, all while some bad Bob Dylan-soundalike sings a bad folk tune or bongo music plays on the soundtrack. While there is both male and female full-frontal nudity on view and the film flirts very near pornography territory, there is no hardcore footage on view. Just endless scenes of softcore sex in every position imaginable, including oral sex, intercut with endless scenes of the sheriff talking into his radio or police cars driving around dirt roads looking for the girls. There's also a weird scene in the beginning of the film where the leader of the gang smokes a joint and fantasizes about winning loads of money playing craps and poker, followed by a nude girl in a cowboy hat and a tin foil star on one of her nipples dancing around provocatively. That pot must be some good shit! There's also a scene later in the film of two old guys and a young girl in a cabin talking about trading the girl for some heroin down in Mexico and then shots of the two guys screwing her. Since neither scene has anything to do with the rest of the film, it's apparent that one-time director Ray Williams put them in there to pad out the running time. WRONG WAY is a cheap, repellant film that wallows in rape, misongyny and degredation. Don't waste your time. The only recognizable actors are porn star Ron Darby (SWINGERS MASSACRE - 1975) as the Manson-like cult leader, Jack Buddliner (THE ADULT VERSION OF JEKYLL & HIDE - 1971) as one of the cabin rapists and Rene Bond, Lynn Harris and Becky Sharpe as cult members. The remaining "actors" include Laurel Canyon and Candy Sweet as Nancy and Cindy, Forrest Lorne and Ray Wray. I'm willing to bet that they are all pseudonyms. Available on DVD-R from many grey market sellers. Originally Rated X.

THE YOUNG PREY (1973) - It's kind of hard to tell what late director Lawrence Dobkin (who was also an accomplished actor and TV director) was going for here. It's a real simple story about a backwoods family called the Erdlys who come into eight thousand dollars when a piece of their land is sold for a highway project. Ma Erdly (Mercedes McCambridge), Pa Erdly (Ford Rainey) and their kids Bruvver (John Lozier), Naomi (Simone Griffeth) and half-wit J.C. (Buddy Foster) go into town in their horse-drawn carriage to collect the money. They are then set upon but some unscrupulous people who want to steal their money. First up is a preacher (Parley Baer), who tries to guilt Pa into giving him the money while guzzling down Pa's newly-bought moonshine. Ma runs him off with her mop. The whole family treat themselves to a bus trip to a county fair where Naomi is hit on by the motorcycle cage rider Jake (Peter Green) and Bruvver falls in love with exotic dancer Carmelita (Beverly Powers), who only goes after him because she knows that his family has come into money. Jake sleeps with Naomi and Carmelita has sex with Bruvver (after getting him drunk and saying that they got married) in her motor home. They both miss the bus home and Ma and Pa worry about what happened to them. Not to worry as Carmelita pulls up to the Erdly's house the next morning in her motor home demanding the money since she says that she is entitled to it by law. After constant hijinks by J.C.., who lets the air out of her tires and spits water at her, Carmelita just wants out of the place. Along comes Jake and Naomi on his hog, drops Naomi off and Carmelita jumps on the back as Ma chases them both off with her mop. Bruvver and Naomi run off into the woods hand-in-hand and live happily ever after. After a pretty funny beginning, especially the scene where Ma has to tell a lawyer the names of her kids (Bruvver's real name is Luke). The lawyer then asks if J.C. is short for something biblical. She says J.C. is short for J.C. Penny, who was running a sale the day she gave birth to him! Things go steadily downhill from there. There's an implied scene that Bruvver and Naomi are having an incestual relationship, but it is handled so tastefully that you want to scream. There is some nudity (especially from Griffeth, who was "Annie Smith" in DEATH RACE 2000 - 1975), but absolutely no violence, blood or gore. So one has to ask: What's the point of this film? The only answer I could come up with is that backwoods folks are not so different than us. They care about their kids and want the best for them, even if they can't afford the best in life. And, oh yes: Money corrupts. Aw, shucks. I'm getting all teary-eyed. Originally titled SIXTEEN (it's also available on video from New World Video under this title) and also known as LIKE A CROW ON A JUNE BUG (also the title of the theme song) and CARNIVAL TRAMP, this film is just an updating of the old Ma and Pa Kettle films of the 50's with a little nudity thrown in. As a matter of fact, Dobkin did co-star in a Ma and Pa Kettle film in 1953, MA AND PA KETTLE ON VACATION. The transfer on the Direct Video VHS was one of the worst in recent memory. It's so grainy and dark, that you have to squint to see what's going on half the time. Go for the New World version instead if you really want to see this. Hey, it's a relic from the 70's, so there are some of you out there that will view it on that aspect alone. Rated R, but besides the small amount of nudity there's nothing objectionable here.