Continuing in their grand tradition of releasing homemade, heartfelt trailer compilations, Ban 1 Productions, fresh from their 42ND STREET FOREVER series, returns with their brand-new trailer disc, GRINDHOUSE UNIVERSE! This will hopefully kick-start a new series under this brand name! One can never get enough of trailer compilations, and the fine folks at Ban 1 have consistently delivered jam-packed discs obviously compiled by admirers of the crazed exploitation genre.
We begin with the popular kitten-filled “The Following Film is Restricted” promo before our first trailer, HORROR HOUSE, unspools. This British film, directed by Michael Armstrong (MARK OF THE DEVIL), is advertised as “an orgy of horror”; a group of hip twenty-something’s gathers in a mansion and is gradually killed off one-by-one, and the culprit is one of them. BEACH PARTY alumnus Frankie Avalon looks completely out of place in this violent old-dark-house genre entry, but Jill Haworth, an unsung scream queen of the 1960s and 1970s, is her usual sultry self. When will this hit DVD??
CURSE OF THE CRIMSON ALTAR: Though heavy on atmosphere and psychedelic excess, the film’s pairing of horror icons Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee, while making poor use of Michael Hough and Barbara Steele (looking very sexy in green make-up and bizarre costume, with her voice put through an echo machine) is legendary. A small village is plagued with occult murders being carried out on the anniversary of a witch’s burning. Steele’s cohorts are muscular men in leather with whips, recalling some sort of bizarre S&M magazine layout! Was released on DVD in the UK but it’s apparently out of print already. A shame, because this is well worth watching!
THE CRIMSON CULT: A second trailer for CURSE OF THE CRIMSON ALTAR, under its American title. Virginia Wetherell’s name is misspelled “Wetherwill”! This trailer isn’t as effective as the CRIMSON ALTAR preview, but still easily sells the bizarre UK import. The use of psychedelic kaleidoscope opticals is nice.
NIGHT AFTER NIGHT AFTER NIGHT (HE KILLS): Opening with a British Board of Censors X certificate, screaming women and brooding men in shadows parade before your eyes…as a rather inappropriate mod library music track plays! This oh-so-British thriller follows a series of brutal murders committed by either a cockney hippie or an uptight judge. Blonde Justine Lord is very lovely, and the film, while hard to see, is really quite fun in a cheap, sordid way.
CAMILLE 2000: Many Radley Metzger fans proclaim this his finest work, but other than the gorgeous visuals, striking leading lady Danielle Gaubert, a brilliant musical score by Piero Piccioni…wait, maybe this is his best film! The fast-paced, quickly-edited trailer highlights all of the orgy parties, the sexual wanton behavior of Camille, and basically sums up the entire film in a nice little package. “The Now Child is here!” This has been on DVD several times, and never looking as good as it should.
LITTLE MOTHER: This is certainly Radley Metzger’s least successful film, as he tackles the true story of Eva Peron’s rise to power in Argentina, transplanting the story to a European country. His trademark visual style and beautiful women are all here, but this is such a departure from his usual sexy fare that fans can’t help but be disappointed. Still, I adore it, and Christiane Kruger is exceptional as Marina Pinares, using sex and violence to climb her way to the top.
SLAVE TRADE IN THE WORLD TODAY: How many Mondo movies were made?? Not enough, apparently, as it’s still a popular cult subgenre! This shockumentary tells the “strange, shocking, and true story” of slavery in Africa and Asia, from beautiful women to children to brawny men. Of course a lot of this footage is staged, and for some reason there are strip routines (?!), but you have to wonder if any of it is real simply because the exploitation sales pitch seems so authentic. You don’t hear it in the news, but this still goes on, folks.
TABOOS OF THE WORLD: Another Mondo flick, narrated by Vincent Price as he discusses various strange customs the world over. Travel to Japan, where a family shops for a concubine for the father! A black woman performs a topless Hawaiian dance, monkey’s heads are sold for youth, reindeer blood is drank in Lapland, a grandmother in Asia sells her grandchildren into prostitution, and snakes are torn apart in Hong Kong markets! Yikes! What does it say about me and countless others that we can’t get enough of this genre??
MACABRO: The Mondo Madness continues, with nude skinnydipping in an African river, tribal circumcision, crippled Asian children, seaweed massage, nose piercing, a man eating raw turtle, a woman eating a live mouse, and more bizarre international customs and traditions. Prostitutes resort to dog walking to sell their wares, a gazelle gives birth on-camera, the nuttiness never stops!
PORNOGRAPHY IN DENMARK: This trailer is in German, for some reason, so it probably shouldn’t have been included here. This film isn’t to be confused with the Alex de Renzy documentary/compilation that was a huge hit in the early days of hardcore. Here, in strictly softcore action, we see the openly sexual practices of Danish men and women, including abundant porno shops and nudie photographers and loop-makers
A German theatrical ad for beer is an odd inclusion, before the trailer for FEMALE ANIMAL. This Jerry Gross-directed cheapie was passed off as a European import, though it starred Gross’ real-life lover Arlene Farber (billed as “Arlene Tiger”) as The Female Animal, who is seen in bed with a priest in the opening scene of the film. She also makes out with her cat in the film’s most memorable moment (and key image for the advertising campaign). It’s not a bad film, just not that great, either. You can pick it up on DVD from RetroSeduction Cinema.
THE TALE OF THE DEAN’S WIFE: I love Christine Murray!! The red-headed spitfire was a popular attraction in California sexploitation in the early 70s, most notably in TRADER HORNEE. She appeared unbilled in several other films, used other pseudonyms on others, but was always sexy and striking in everything she did. Here, in one of her few starring roles, plays the wife of a college dean who sleeps with the students when her husband is at the office. A group of radicals with political demands burst into his house for a drug-fueled orgy. If you don’t love Christine Murray after watching this one, you must need glasses! This fun little film is available from Something Weird Video.
THE MINX: Distributed by Lee Hessel’s Cambist Films, this film had the distinction of co-starring a fallen Hollywood star, Jan Sterling, a popular teen actress in the 1950s who for some reason showed up in this professionally-made, but rather dull outing. The soundtrack album by The Cyrkle (who are also seen performing live on-stage) is more popular than the film itself, which is kind of a failure about a corporate takeover involving sexual blackmail and swinging. You can pick it up from Something Weird Video.
YOU ALL COME: Though the title of this one won’t ring a bell, maybe it will under its other titles, ALL THE YOUNG WIVES or NAKED RIDER. A low-budget feature shot in Atlanta, Georgia, the new title probably sounded more provocative and sexy, hiding the fact that this is more of an independent melodrama than a skinflick. A big shot rancher in a small town owns everything in sight, and gets to sleep with any woman he pleases, but when he discovers that his wife has found new love with her horse trainer, he blows a gasket! A highly recommended little gem! Available from Something Weird Video.
KAMA SUTRA: Named after the graphic sexual manual, this film has been elusive for years, but the trailer is great! It’s a German import spiced up with U.S. footage featuring drug use, swinging couples, and skinny dipping! If only a print of this would turn up somewhere!
KAMASUTRA: Another trailer for KAMA SUTRA, however this is a British preview in black-and-white (?!). This trailer focuses more on the Indian segments of the German film, with a beautiful Indian girl experiencing all of the various positions in picturesque locales.
SEXCAPADE IN MEXICO: Who doesn’t love cheap 1970s softcore films like this? You get amateurish performances, bargain basement production values, and unerotic uglies-bumping action aplenty. A young couple run away to get married in Mexico, but run into a gang of ruffians who turn their trip of love into a nightmare. The violent, downbeat ending is memorable! Available from Something Weird Video, if you dare!
THE DIRTY MIND OF YOUNG SALLY: Opening with the Box Office International logo, this Harry Novak-distributed almost-hardcore opus is a virtual love letter to Sharon Kelly, the full-figured redhead favorite of 1970s drive-in flicks. She plays Sally, a pirate radio hostess whose sexually graphic broadcasts incite people to have sex, including George “Buck” Flower, Sandy Dempsey, Angela Carnon, and John Paul Jones. There is more graphic footage here than there was on the Something Weird DVD of the title, indicating that perhaps in Novak’s vaults somewhere are indeed hardcore or semi-hardcore versions of his titles!
Another German beer ad preludes a trailer for THE DOBERMAN GANG, surely one of the strangest action pictures of the 1970s! Yes, that is sexploitation star Byron Mabe as the gang’s ringleader, and you won’t believe it as you watch these Dobermans hold up the bank! What, no one has guns to take these dogs down?? If this film wasn’t enough, there were two sequels and a TV movie, too!
EVIL IN THE DEEP: Robert Kendall of Hollywood Studio Magazine says, “Where JAWS stopped, EVIL IN THE DEEP begins!” Wonder if he lost his job over that one? This is really quite boring, and the story of a hunt for a treasure in an undersea galleon threatened by sharks isn’t done justice. At least the cast is the tops (Cheryl Ladd, Darby Hinton, Rosey Grier, Stephen Boyd).
THE DOG: While the trailer makes this look like a killer dog movie with a gripping, slow-motion opening chase, it’s really a crime thriller about a prison escape and the pursuit of the criminal by a determined German shepherd. It’s better known as a DOG NAMED VENGEANCE. There are some brutal real-life dogfights, lots of guns a-blazin’ action, and a strange love scene. You can pick it up on DVD from VideoAsia on their TALES OF VOODOO VOL. 5 disc. Yeah, I know, this has nothing to do with voodoo, but what do you expect from bootleggers in need of a second feature?
THE PACK: Now this is a killer dog movie! A group of dogs left behind by their owners group together to attack humans in a tourist town. Joe Don Baker is the no-nonsense hero (when wasn’t he?). This is probably the best killer-dog movie of the 70s, with lots of slow-motion terror scenes and intense chases. Surprisingly, this hasn’t hit DVD yet, but with Warner Brothers’ track record of raiding their horror catalog, there’s hope for this one!
BARRACUDA: This cheap flick is the product of the fevered minds of Florida exploiteers Harry Kerwin and Wayne Crawford, responsible for some of the strangest drive-in films of the 1970s (GOD’S BLOODY ACRE, anyone?). Herb “Jason” Evers (the star of BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE!) stars in this embarrassing, almost scene-for-scene JAWS rip-off. Watch PIRANHA instead.
SURVIVE! – Rene Cardona, Jr. strikes with this, his first ripped-from-the-headlines schlock classic! Based on the true story of the Uruguayan rugby team forced into cannibalism to survive a plane crash in the Andes, this film amps up the exploitation angle of cannibalism. The plane crash, making up most of the preview, falls somewhere between horrific and laughable. “CAUTION! The re-creation of the plane crash and THE SURVIVAL SCENES may be too intense for young teenagers!” You think? The full-length Mexican version is on DVD, but as with most of Cardona’s films, many prefer the shorter Americanized version.
TINTORERA: Another Cardona cash-in, and without a doubt the worst JAWS rip-off of the genre! BARRACUDA is positively brilliant by comparison. This Mexican soap opera merely features shark attacks as a subplot, focusing more on the bedroom lives of a variety of characters at a resort. Boring and pointless. But the trailer’s pretty fun. Available on DVD but don’t bother!
THE BLACK ANGELS: The makers of GUESS WHAT HAPPENED TO COUNT DRACULA? also took on the biker genre with this violent, sleazy outing. Lots of race-on-race violence, rape, fistfights, and nastiness against the establishment in “the most violent biker movie ever filmed”. Available from Something Weird Video.
DEVIL RIDER: This monstrosity appeared courtesy of Brad Grinter, the real-life nudist responsible for the mind-melting BLOOD FREAK! DEVIL RIDER isn’t as outrageous, but is still plenty of fun for those seeking sweaty, violent thrills. You should recognize Heather Hughes, the saintly sister in BLOOD FREAK, as a biker mama who gets into a vicious catfight; Hughes was in three Grinter films and served as production manager on this one. Was she related to Grinter?? Chris Martell, ‘Rodney’ in GRUESOME TWOSOME, also shows up as one of the bikers with a ridiculous handlebar mustache. Someone put this out on DVD pronto!
OUTLAW RIDERS: Produced by Anthony Cardoza (of the Coleman Francis school of filmmaking), this ultra-cheap biker flick looks like a home movie. By all accounts this is an atrocious film, but the trailer packs so much violence and action into one minute that you could be forgiven for checking it out at a drive-in in 1970. The cast has several familiar faces, including the late Bambi Allen, Jennifer Bishop, Bill Bonner, and Rafael Campos (most of these guys were veterans of Al Adamson films, all of which look like Hollywood blockbusters compared to this mess). “Rated GP.”
ROAD OF DEATH: Oh Lord is this bad! Resurrected because of its future porn star leads (Carol Connors and Jack Birch, who co-starred in DEEP THROAT and SWEET SAVAGE before parenting Hollywood child actress turned teen seductress Thora Birch), this Florida-lensed bargain basement actioner featured poorly choreographed, hilarious fight sequences, awkward dialogue sequences, silly plot twists, and barren shooting locations that make you feel like this was shot at the ends of the earth. Available from Something Weird Video, and worth every penny!
TRIPLE TERROR TREAT: Let’s be honest: this black-and-white trailer would never have played a grindhouse. Maybe a small town theater in need of some Halloween programming, but not a grindhouse. The triple feature of MARK OF THE VAMPIRE, THE MASK OF FU MANCHU, and DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1932) somehow is made to look positively frightening! Of the trio, only FU MANCHU still manages to pack a wallop with some of its torture sequences, though the initial transformation in JEKYLL AND HYDE still works, too. The first two films are on DVD as part of Warner Brothers’ must-purchase LEGENDS OF HORROR COLLECTION, and the third film is out on DVD paired with the 1940 version of JEKYLL AND HYDE. The preview ends with “never seen on the little screen”, leading me to believe this is a TV promo spot, not a theatrical promo.
THE FROZEN DEAD/IT: Another non-grindhouse trailer, but at least FROZEN DEAD is so wild it’s a recommended view! Dana Andrews, slumming for sure, is a mad scientist attempting to transplant the heads of Nazi scientists onto new bodies. The description alone doesn’t sell the film, but it’s in such bad taste and filled with so many bizarre surprises it’s definitely one of the better 60s sci-fi/horror hybrids. IT is the equally weird Roddy McDowall film that is essentially a remake of the classic GOLEM. It’s one of the lesser versions of the popular story, but the late McDowall was always good and the killer statue is rather menacing-looking (sort of like a gnarled tree come to life). THE FROZEN DEAD is shown on black-and-white, but it played on TV and appeared on home video in color. While FROZEN DEAD is on public domain DVD, IT is rather obscure and deserves a wider home video release.
FRANKENSTEIN AND THE SPACE MONSTERCURSE OF THE VOODOO: This crazed double feature pairs the stupidest "Frankenstein" movie of the 1960s and a pretty boring British voodoo pic. The "Frankenstein" of the title is a scarred robot astronaut who crash-lands on Earth, and the "Space Monster" is a bizarre ape/lizard hybrid being used by goofy-looking aliens to terrorize go-go dancing teens they've kidnapped to repopulate their planet! Surely one of the silliest films I've ever seen, and one of the most entertaining! Listen for the excellent garage rock song "That's the Way It's Got to Be" by British group The Poets (also recently heard in Edie Sedgwick biopic FACTORY GIRL). On the flip side, CURSE OF THE VOODOO is one of the most uneventful films I've ever seen. A British explorer witnesses a voodoo ritual murder on safari and is haunted by a voodoo curse once he returns to England. Some nice creepy moments but for the most part a waste. Nice to see Dennis Price here before he began slumming in Jess Franco films shortly before his death. SPACE MONSTER is available on DVD from Dark Sky, and VOODOO was released on DVD by Elite.
AMERICAN FEVER: You gotta love a movie called AMERICAN FEVER that is so obviously Italian. Ha! A swarthy gigolo in white John Travolta disco suit picks up Zora Kerova in a disco. Yes, that Zora Kerova, she of the hanging breasts in CANNIBAL FEROX and vagina-stabbing in NEW YORK RIPPER. After seeing her in such gory trash, it’s nice to see her smiling as an adorable love interest. The dubbing’s ridiculous, the comedy falls on its face, the music grating, and the lead character’s named “Danny”, just like John Travolta in SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER. What more could you want from a stupid Euroimport?
RECORD CITY: Rick Dees makes my skin crawl. And here he is, a special guest in this star-studded time capsule filled with beautiful California girls and “hip” comedy and music. Dees performs “Go Go Gorilla”. Shudder…….!! Watch for Ruth Buzzi, Ed Begley Jr., Frank Gorshin, Alice Ghostley, Kinky Friedman, Ted Lange, Sylvia Anderson (in one of her few movie appearances other than EBONY IVORY AND JADE and ANGELS’ BRIGADE), Harold Sakata, and Maria Grimm. All of the music is awful, and the jokes are even worse!! Where can I get a copy??
A wonderful theatrical promo by Peter Stuyvesant (called “Saturday New York”) for tourism in New York City follows a quartet of happening twenty-somethings as they experience all the Big Apple has to offer. 42nd Street is happily overlooked. Oddly, the promo ends with Swedish or Danish narration…? Then another out-of-place trailer for Ivan Rebroff, a popular German balalaika singer starring in a star vehicle called THE SONG OF THE BALALAIKA. Huh? It’s a weird trailer, and entertaining, but why is it on a grindhouse compilation? Still, with my strong feelings for Germany and its culture, I would give anything to see this!
GOOD LITTLE GIRLS: A French-language trailer, once again, under the title LES PETITES FILLES MODELES. While it’s interesting to see foreign trailers, in keeping with the “grindhouse universe” theme of the disc, this shouldn’t be on here. The soundtrack is great, and the three leading ladies are all gorgeous in this sex comedy with lesbian scenes, streaking, see-through nighties, a beautiful topless black maid, and picturesque pastoral locations.
SWEET JESUS PREACHERMAN: Before he became a regular on “Magnum P.I.”, Roger E. Mosley was an exploitation regular, appearing in stuff as varied as TERMINAL ISLAND and DARKTOWN STRUTTERS. This, his first major star vehicle, is a blaxploitation obscurity that isn’t remembered too fondly today, but looks deserving of a revival on DVD. A criminal goes undercover as a preacher in a rundown neighborhood and attempts to take control of the crime syndicate, blasting guns, pummeling with his fists, throwing bribes, all dressed in the cloth! William Smith plays his typical bad guy role, and there are some huge afros and really violent scenes on display here!
HONKY: Another obscure blaxploitation film that might benefit from a new audience today. Before Spike Lee made JUNGLE FEVER, this mixed race romance shook up the box office and has been hard to see since it was released, and has never looked good on home video. Beautiful Brenda Sykes and unhappy John Neilson pursue a romantic relationship, despite the objections of Brenda’s father (William Marshall, pre-BLACULA) and Neilson’s parents (including Marion Ross, pre-“Happy Days”). This is really not much of an exploitation film, but as a topical social issues independent drama, it is marvelous! Believe it or not, this was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Song! Imagine the presenter saying “The nominees are…HONKY for “Something More”. The mind reels! Jack H. Harris owns this, so now you know who to bug for it.
THE BLOOD ROSE: Billed as the “first sex-horror film” (hardy-har-har), this French import isn’t that exploitive, though there are some nice visuals and atmospheric touches for Eurocult fans to savor. It’s another “kill people to save my daughter’s face” horror film, starring the excellent Howard Vernon as the villainous doctor in search of skin. The most memorable moments in the film focus on Vernon’s midget assistants!! Recently released on DVD in a sparkling new transfer from Mondo Macabro, which actually allows for a better evaluation of the film’s strong points.
FRIGHT: Some may consider this another influence on John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN, as a babysitter is stalked by her young charge’s mentally unhinged father. Director Peter Collinson (who was also responsible for the underrated Hammer thriller STRAIGHT ON TIL MORNING) draws great tension out of the scenario, and George is a great scream queen, appearing here the same year she made the slightly more respectable STRAW DOGS. Honor Blackman appears briefly as George’s client, and there are some surprisingly bloody moments. Definitely recommended for those who like their horror films more focused on suspense and terror than blood and gore. Available on DVD from Anchor Bay (when they were the saviors of forgotten horror and cult films).
SUPERCHICK: Too bad this movie, with a great title, cast, and trailer, is such a dud. The late Joyce Jillson is Tara B. True, a stewardess double agent. There isn’t much plot here as she sleeps with “a man in every port”, so to speak. The best moments in the film find Uschi Digart, Candy Samples, and Rick Cassidy appearing briefly. Other than that, this isn’t worth your time. The trailer is ten times better than the film! Available on DVD from Rhino and recently re-released as a double feature with HUSTLER SQUAD from BCI.
DEEP THROAT PART II: This ill-advised, cash-hungry follow-up to Gerard Damiano’s blockbuster trend-setter brought Linda Lovelace and Harry Reems for a convoluted international spy comedy. Even if it wasn’t rated R, it would be horrible. The only value in the film is the series of madcap performances by porno stars of New York. Available on DVD from Alpha Blue Archives as part of the LINDA LOVELACE COLLECTION.
LITTLE LAURA AND BIG JOHN: Who had the bright idea of pairing Fabian Forte and Karen Black? A fallen teen idol of the 1950s and one of the up-and-coming superstars of 1970s cinema (soon to fall hard by the end of the decade)? If that isn’t bad enough, the script is a total mess. Like other trailers on here, this would never play at a grindhouse. It’s basically another version of the Bonnie and Clyde story, but pretty unwatchable. Released on DVD as part of an ill-advised double feature with VAN NUYS BOULEVARD from BCI.
THE CREEPER: This is better-known as RITUALS, a Canadian DELIVERANCE rip-off that has somehow gained a massive cult following over the years. It’s nothing special, though there are some nice shock moments and the script is well-written. It’s the execution that’s off, as the film ends up being more slow and dreary than anything else.
RITUALS: A second trailer for the film under its better-known title. The trailer looks more clear and beautiful than any of its home video incarnations.
THE TEASERS GO TO PARIS: A European import filled with promiscuous teenage girls banging any boy who crosses their path, no matter how gangly or unattractive. The funniest scene finds the girls waking up a group of army men in their barracks, who go crazy yelling “Real girls! Real asses! Real tits!”, resulting in a free-for-all of grab-ass and rape. “It will never be seen on TV.” You got that right! Has this appeared on home video anywhere either?
H.O.T.S.: This goofy sex comedy, packed with buxom beauties in tight white T-shirts or nothing at all. Most of the comedy works, in a sophomoric frame of mind. Danny Bonaduce performs a rock song (!), before he became the roid rage reality star he is today. The cast is great, including Lindsay Bloom, K.C. Winkler, Playboy Playmates Susan Lyn Kiger, Pamela Jean Bryant, and Sandy Johnson, fat girl Mary Steelsmith, Angela Aames, Steve Bond (MASSACRE AT CENTRAL HIGH), and Richard Bakalyan! Available on DVD from Anchor Bay.
CINDERELLA: The very best Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith star vehicle. It’s really all about her, as she plays Cinderella, the put-upon stepsister . Cheryl seems to be the only one giving a genuine performance, as the rest of the cast hams it up to the hilt. Sy Richardson is particularly memorable as the jive-talking Fairy Godmother! The songs aren’t too bad, the gags successfully funny, and the entire production is much more successful than that other X-rated musical, ALICE IN WONDERLAND. Whoever owns this should release it on DVD in its original scope aspect ratio as soon as possible!
THE STUDENT BODY: While the trailer tries to sell this as a sexually adventurous exploitation comedy, it is more of a social issues film, like the NURSES and TEACHERS films coming out of New World at the time. Naturally this was made on a lesser scale than those, if that’s possible. Three bad girls become part of a social experiment at a small college, but find it hard to curb their problem behavior because of the experimental drug they’re being given. Blonde beauty Jillian Kessner (the real-life Mrs. Gary Graver), brunette June Fairchild (who in later years suffered a tragic fate as a homeless alcoholic), and wild-eyed Janice Heiden (who has since disappeared) play the trio with spirit. Highly, highly recommended little film!
COMMUTER HUSBANDS: The director of the hardcore masterpiece DIVERSIONS began in softcore sexploitation, including this picturesque British skinflick. We follow a group of businessmen and their sexual liaisons behind closed doors and the backs of their wives. Not one of Ford’s better films, but the photography is typically striking.
SIXTEEN: Simone Griffeth (the SWAMP GIRL herself) is SIXTEEN, and a Southern-fried harlot extraordinaire! Shot on-location in the backwoods of Georgia, this very obscure exploitation effort has some surprising star power in Mercedes McCambridge, who provided the voice of Pazuzu in THE EXORCIST the same year. Watch for Beverly Hills (Powers), also in INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS the same year, in a screaming match resulting in her getting slapped! In fact, this looks to be one of Beverly’s biggest and most challenging roles, and she gives one hell of a performance! Another film languishing in the vaults of Jack H. Harris. Let ‘em loose, Jack!
INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS: Funny that this follows another Beverly Powers trailer. Ha! Imagine a 1950s sci-fi schlock classic, throw in 1970s-style nudity and production values, and cast “Price is Right” model Anitra Ford in one of her key career moments, and you have BEE GIRLS, one of the still-unsung drive-in cult classics of the 1970s! Ford is marvelous as the villainous scientist creating bee women who mate and kill, character actor William Smith is given a rare leading heroic role, and underrated Victoria Vetri is a memorable heroine, who also contributes memorable nudity. Someone at Harry Novak’s offices must have done the casting, as sexploitation starlets Rene Bond, Kathy Hilton, and Sharon Kelly all appear as Bee Girls.
THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN: While this has been hailed as a slasher classic, it’s really a true-crime picture with a great air of authenticity, as it was shot down in the same region where the real murders occurred. The Phantom Killer of Texarkana, Arkansas was responsible for a series of random killings shortly after WWII, terrifying the small town to no end. He was never caught. For such a low budget affair, this is a very effective thriller long overdue for a DVD release. Believe it or not, this is from the schlockmeister responsible for the abysmal BOGGY CREEK films! The cast has real star power, too, including always-great Ben Johnson, edgy Andrew Prine, and Dawn Wells.
THE DIAMOND MERCENARIES: Better known as KILLER FORCE, this action-packed film shot in South Africa by former Hammer director Val Guest has a great cast (Telly Savalas, Peter Fonda, Christopher Lee, O.J. Simpson, Maud Adams, Hugh O’Brian), but not much else. It’s a heist thriller with a diamond mine as a target, with some nice explosions and gorgeous desert cinematography.
DOCTOR BUTCHER M.D.: For my money, this trailer defines the grindhouse filmgoing experience of the 1980s better than any other. Aquarius Releasing licensed ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST, added some tacky scenes and an irritating synthesizer score by the prolific Walter Sear (possibly partially performed by Roberta Findlay!), removed the more talky scenes, and played up the graphic gore and outrageous mix of zombies and cannibals! “He’s a Depraved Sadistic Rapist, a Bloodthirsty Homicidal Killer…And He Makes House Calls!” I would have loved to have seen the reactions of audiences watching this non-stop smorgasbord of violence and bad taste! Available on DVD, in its ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST version, from Media Blasters. Would love to see someone put out the DOCTOR BUTCHER M.D. cut someday!
EMANUELLE AND FRANCOISE: Eurocult fans will know this better as EMANUELLE’S REVENGE, an early Joe D’Amato film before he became synonymous with globe-trotting erotica and cheesy horror flicks. A young girl with a louse of a boyfriend discovers him cheating on her and kills herself. Enter her sister, with revenge on her mind, who enters the boyfriend’s life and begins to enact her vengeance! The trailer doesn’t play up the very violent and sadistic nature of the film, with a clean-shaven George Eastman appearing as the asshole boyfriend chained up. The primary song playing throughout the trailer is hard to get out of your head!! Available on region 2 DVD from X-Rated Kult Video.
EMANUELLE AND THE LAST CANNIBALS: Another 42nd Street favorite, with New York footage to go along with the sleazy grindhouse aura of the film. This uneasy mix of erotica and violent gore was released here as TRAP THEM AND KILL THEM, and has since developed a massive cult following, moreso than other BLACK EMANUELLE films, but it’s easily the worst of the lot. Gemser has plentiful sex scenes with both her off-screen husband Gabriele Tinti and blonde sexpot Monica Zanchi (her co-star in SISTER EMANUELLE the year previously). The best moment occurs in the climax, when Gemser poses as a river goddess in the nude to save Monica from the cannibals. Nico Fidenco’s score is mesmerizing. For some reason, this trailer has what look like Cyrillic subtitles, so it really shouldn’t have been included here. Available on DVD in a flawed transfer from Media Blasters, but you can pick up either the Italian Shock DVD from Holland (with the complete soundtrack as a supplement) or the X-Rated Kult Video disc.
THE GRIM REAPER: Woah, the third Joe D’Amato trailer in a row! This attempt at a shocking horror film from a director who really didn’t care for the genre shows its limitations quickly. Other than the memorable setpieces of a pregnant woman being disemboweled and the villain eating his own intestines, there is some nice atmosphere and it’s always great to see Zora Kerova in anything. Tisa Farrow looks appropriately lost, as she always did in her films. The trailer makes this look better than it really is. Available as a 2-disc set from Media Blasters.
The promo materials for GRINDHOUSE UNIVERSE mention an audio commentary by journalist David Hayes, but the screener under review here didn’t feature that supplement. This disc will not be available in stores, so be sure to order it direct from Ban 1 Productions at http://www.ban1productions.com. It’s a limited edition of 1000 copies so don’t wait! And while you’re there, pick up their definitive adult trailer collection, SMUT PALACE INSANITY! (Casey Scott)
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