Director: Alex Nicol
Scorpion Releasing

The late Peter Carpenter is something of an enigma among exploitation movie fans. A pretty boy dancer/actor who had a few small parts in the late 1960s (including one in Russ Meyer’s VIXEN), Carpenter would co-produce, co-write and star in BLOOD MANIA in 1970, and quickly follow it up (performing the same chores) on POINT OF TERROR, both films being picked up by grindhouse specialists, Crown International. This would be Carpenter’s last film, and his fans (you know you’re out there) will be happy not only to own a pristine copy of the film, but also to explore the extras, which shed some light on the man and his short-lived rise to semi stardom.

Tony Trelos (Peter Carpenter) is a groovy nightclub singer employed at a restaurant called The Lobster House (really) whose exhausting set consists of performing one tune in front of a tin-foil backdrop. Waking up on a barren beach, screaming from a nightmare (of his own dreadful nightclub act) he meets seductive Andrea (Dyanne "Ilsa" Thorne) who's luscious figure is adorned in a white bikini. Taking a liking to the Tom Jones/Engelbert What’s-his-dink wannabe stud, we learn that Andrea is the wife of Martin Hilliard (Joel Marston), the crippled and frustrated head of National Records. She signs him on to the label, makes love to him in the pool and later kills her wheelchair-bound husband in a fit of alcoholic rage climaxed by a confrontational match of shuffling lawn furniture and a laughable bullfight reenactment, complete with imaginary crowd noises! Tony witness the foul play, tries to blackmail Andrea with it, and then falls in love with her naive stepdaughter Helayne (Lory Hansen), who just flew in for dear old dad's funeral.

POINT OF TERROR is typical Crown International drive-in fair and is not really a horror film, even though it was promoted as such (“Demons long locked in the depths of the mind come to destroy the weak and believing!”, screamed the ads). It’s more or less a slice of melodramatic sleaze and at the same time very much a vanity piece for Carpenter, whose struggling recording artist/stud character beds three very beautiful women during the course of the film’s soap opera-inspired shenanigans. The players drink too much, commit adultery and deceitfully murder but the icing on the cake is the fact that Dyanne Thorne has a wonderful nude scene in which Carpenter removes that white bikini top to reveal one of the best racks in exploitation cinema (though by the time the “Ilsa” films were churned out a few years later, we really got to see more of the foxy Dyanne). Director Alex Nicol was also a character actor familiar as Mickey in AIP’s THE SCREAMING SKULL, as well as BLOODY MAMA, THE NIGHT GOD SCREAMED, A.P.E. and many others.

Previously available from Rhino in a decent open matte transfer as part of Volume 1 of their two multi-titled “Horrible Horrors” collections (released in 2004), Scorpion takes things a step further by offering the film in a clean anamorphic widescreen transfer (1.78:1). This baby has some very vivid early 1970s colors (compared to most of the drab-looking things offered in cinemas today) and they come off as vibrant as possible with this presentation. Picture detail is excellent, fleshtones look very natural and there is very little in the way of grain or debris on display. The mono English audio track is clear with no noticeable defects.

Extras include “Remembering Peter Carpenter” (15:11), a fun interview with co-star/acting teacher Leslie Simms. Simms was a good friend of Carpenter’s, and had co-starring roles in both BLOOD MANIA and POINT OF TERROR (as Andrea’s inebriated best friend, Fran), as here she fondly remembers Peter (revealing that his real first name was Page!), what he was like in his personal life, and some stories about making these cheapies (she mentions that she was called back to shoot some extra scenes for the TV version of BLOOD MANIA). Although the IMDB has Carpenter dying of a massive cerebral hemorrhage shortly after POINT was released, Simms remembers hearing that he died of pneumonia some time in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Dyanne Thorne is also present for a telephone interview which lasts about 15 minutes long, as she too only has good things to say about her late co-star, recalling how nice he was on the set and what it was like shooting her swimming pool nude scene. The original Crown International trailer, something that proves the company really knew how to sell a film, rounds out the supplements. (George R. Reis)