Archive for the '70's movies' Category

Jul

Captain America
1979 – TV Movie – 90 Minutes – Shout! Factory
Starring Reb Brown, Len Birman, Steve Forrest – Directed by Rod Holcomb

Captain America is the prime example of a superhero movie. He has a neat uniform that represents what he stands for, his weapon is cool, he has super strength and speed and to top it off, he’s chock full of American pride. His origins come from the heart, a weakling who wants to go to war to stand up against the Nazis and after a successful superhero experiment, he’s socking Hitler right in the kisser. All the ingredients for a top notch superhero flick. To play the star spangled hero, let’s get Reb Brown; the guy who would later star in the MST3K riffed Space Mutiny and a couple of Bruno Mattei ripoff-sploitation films, like Strike Commando and Robowar. And who else fits the bill better? He’s the blonde hair, blue eyed beefcake best known for shrieking at the top of his lungs while waving a machine gun around and beating the snot out of terrorists, so who else would be a better candidate for the USA’s all American superhero?

In 1979, Marvel would unleash upon the world the made for TV Captain America movie. With everything I talked about above, this movie is going to blow people away!

Nah, just toss all of that out the window.

Well then, how else would you open a Captain America movie, but with him leisurely cruising in a panel van, kicking it back while a mellow tune toots over the footage. What, you think an opening at a heated battle during WWII is action heavy? And this is how we introduce the patriotic Steve Rogers, who in this case is a former marine who is living in his van, traveling the states and finding out who he really is. In other words, Captain America is a hippie. We learn all of this as he talks to his surfer friend about meeting up with his friend Jeff who is in need of help and receiving a letter from a man named Simon Mills who wants to speak with him about his late father’s work. So much action happening in the first several minutes, it’s impossible to take it all in! Slow down, movie!

ca_2But Steve encounters some trouble on the way to his friend’s. Turns out, some thugs are after Steve, as they spray down a curvy road alongside a cliff with oil and do you think Steve spots this obvious trap? Of course not, because that would make the villains look incompetent, which surely they aren’t. Ahem. Since black oil in the bright California sun camouflages in so well with grey pavement, Steve falls prey to their trap and rolls his sweet set of wheels down the cliff, but emerges from the wreckage unharmed… except for a slight tear in his polo! Curse these evil-doers! Just who are they and what do they want with Steve? My guess would be to rid the world of horrific panel vans.

Steve literally walks it off and chalks it up to being an accident and meets up with Dr. Mills who tells Steve all about his father’s last project; FLAG. Full Latent Ability Gain. Yup, cause Super-Soldier Serum was too obvious and this movie needed something that was a little more vague. Although all the test subjects who have been injected with FLAG do gain powers, they don’t live too much longer afterwards. And you thought irritable bowels was an unfortunate side effect. It turns out that Steve’s father created the serum from his own DNA, so they believe Steve would be able to harness the abilities without, you know, the side effect of death. Does our patriotic marine step up to his calling? No. Instead, he whines and tells them he doesn’t want to report in to anyone and wants to lay low, kick back and discover who he really is. Our hero. The few, the proud… the puss.

Moving on with his life, Steve finally goes off to see his friend Jeff, who has just been murdered. Steve seems to be having a rough day. Meanwhile elsewhere, a black limo pulls up to an oil company and a man in a black suit gets out before looking around and walks into the building with a brisk, but relaxed pace. Why did I just describe that to you? Because they show every second of it, so it must be important! Inside, we learn that this man is named Brackett, an evil oil business tycoon (Seriously, is there ever a good one?) who is looking for some microfilm in order to complete building a neutron bomb that Jeff was working on with Brackett’s evil scientist in order to hold the city ransom so he can steal gold… ? I don’t know, it’s kind of a stupid plan. His henchman accidentally killed Jeff while interrogating him about the microfilm, but saw Steve at the scene. Perhaps he knows something? So wait, then why did we try to kill him? Before we even knew that he knew Jeff?

Well good thing Steve managed to survive, so now the villains can find out what he knows. Brackett calls him up, telling him he’s a friend and wants to meet up to tell him about what really happened to Jeff. Steve, of course, walks into this trap head first and what’s the first thing these thugs that are supposed to interrogate Steve do? Shoot at him, driving Steve off a cliff on his motorbike. I guess their policy is shoot first, ask questions later. And what is it about cliffs that attract Steve? It’s becoming a Looney Tunes cartoon at this point, except instead of turning into a xylophone, Steve is gravely injured and there is only one way to save him; inject him with the FLAG serum.

So now there are cool scenes of Steve saving people or accidentally and hysterically breaking things, realizing his full potential and newfound powers, right? Nope. He lays in bed and whines about how they took away his right and he doesn’t want these powers, denying Dr. Mills any testing. The visions of Cap standing triumphantly over Red Skull at dawn with the sun to his back as the American flag flaps in the wind comes to mind.

ca_3Whatever, at least the movie is going to force something to happen at this point. Even the filmmakers realized nothing has actually happened. Steve is kidnapped from the hospital by Brackett’s henchmen and taken to a meat packing plant, because… who cares. At least the movie seems to be setting up an action piece! The henchman outright start demanding for Steve to hand over the microfilm… which he still has no idea about… and if he doesn’t, well one of them reminds him what happened to Jeff.

“He got cute and hid the pictures. Then he got DEAD.”

Threatening words that anger Steve, so he breaks free and heroically defeats his captors by hurling large hunks of meat on them and then calling the proper authorities! Man, does this action ever let up!? There is no way they can top it, so let this mark the film’s only fight scene (or at least what passes for one here)! Steve decides that he should talk to Simon about his new powers, which they discuss along with his father’s secret identity as Captain America; a nickname given to him by those ridiculing him for standing up to for the little guy and fighting crime. Holy crap, Steve’s dad sounds awesome. He was a scientist that created a serum that gave him super powers and so he used it to fight crime… why the hell isn’t the movie about this guy?

Just in case Steve changed his mind about the whole “hero” thing, Simon prepared him a new panel van equipped with all kinds of gadgets that are never explained and a secret rocket bike hidden inside. But that’s not all! Made from the sturdiest materials on Earth, he gives Steve the trademark Captain America shield, representing the colors of the country; red, transparent and blue! Wait, is that right? Oh and cherish this moment where they test out the shield by tossing the flimsy thing into the air as it boomerangs back, because he never throws it again.

But Brackett has had enough. Kidnapping some of their female friends, one being Jeff’s daughter, which he should have done this long ago, who hands over the microfilm (oh yeah, there are a couple females in this movie, but they don’t do anything), he finally completes his neutron bomb and makes his demands known to Steve and Simon or else he will detonate it.

“But why? Bracket is no mad dog killer, he is after something.” – Actual words spoken by Simon.

Using his super hearing, Steve overhears some clues to Brackett’s location and decides to FINALLY do something with his powers and take action. Simon thinks Steve should use a disguise and presents to him what looks like a rejected Evil Knievel (even complete with a silly motorcycle helmet) costume based off one of his sketches. So finally at the 74 MINUTE mark, Captain America arrives! I know a lot of super hero movies wait until about 45 minutes or so to show their heroes, but those are 2 hour movies. This film barely makes 90 minutes. So, we don’t even see the titular hero until the final 15 minutes, which he’s not even in costume for the entire duration of.

So he rescues the girls after spraying down some security guards with oil (yeah not henchmen, but some minimum wage security guards just doing their jobs) and unravels the whole plot, which I kinda forgot at this point, because the stupid soaked deep into my brain. However, they still need to deal with Brackett, who has now rigged a device up to his heart so that if he dies, the neutron bomb explodes. Your move, Cap!

ca_4Transporting the bomb on a semi, Brackett has no idea Steve is hot on his tail, so now we get to see them duke it out or Cap stops the truck in a real heroic and tough way! Oh, why am I getting all of our hopes up. Of course he doesn’t. He bends the exhaust pipe of the truck into the trailer in order to knock out Brackett, but what Steve’s thick skull doesn’t know is that this causes humans to asphyxiate and die. Brackett passes out unconscious and the bomb will go off if he dies, so how does Steve resolve it? Does he punch his heart so hard, it beats faster? Don’t we all wish. So, get this… he calls Simon to come administer first aid to Brackett since Steve is untrained in that area. This scene actually goes on for a few minutes. This is… what the… I can’t. I can’t.

They keep him from dying, disarm the bomb and save the day… off camera, of course. We just see the exposition in a dialogue scene and Steve rocking duds that look identical (minus the motorcycle helmet) to the actual comic book version of Captain America, thus accepting his powers and taking on his father’s legacy.

So to reiterate, your source material consists of a man with great powers, who is brave and courageous, fighting Nazi’s during the second the World War, but for whatever reason that isn’t good enough?! No instead, we get a Captain America, in a much stupider looking outfit mind you, who whines and complains and doesn’t want to use his powers?! In fact, he never throws a single punch, his signature shield or really anything that Captain America is known for! Come to think of it, a majority of scenes are filler where nothing is happening or Steve is just cruising in his van. I’m sorry, but HOW do you f*#@ this up? I understand the 70’s were a different time and budgets were lower and special effects were much more difficult to pull off (especially for a superhero movie), but the Hulk series was fairly close to its source material, so why not Cap?

And Reb, what did they do to you, man? Sure this was before his action movie star days, but when you cast a guy like Reb Brown, you should just let him do his thing. His acting range goes from falling asleep to getting sleepy. Not the most versatile range of acting. They would have been better off actually choreographing fight scenes and letting the dude throw people around and toss the shield, kinda like CAPTAIN AMERICA! THE MOVIE YOUR FILM IS ABOUT! Maybe they thought a guy beating up evildoers was too violent. I mean, they couldn’t get the costume right until the end, threatening us with a sequel.

Captain AmericaWith the lack of faithful character adaptation, boring score, sleepwalking performances and lack of any action makes this a bad, cheesy flick to even sit through. Even for the 70’s this film is too mellow. If you’re trying to fall asleep, I highly recommend it. I suppose we should Thank Shout! Factory for bringing this to DVD, but why should we. Otherwise, do your country a fair service and skip Captain America. But that sequel… you don’t think… they wouldn’t… did they?

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Reb Brown. Sigh, I know. I should be more excited.
  • Rip roaring panel van.
  • Captain Whiny-baby.
  • An evil plan! Stupid, but evil!
  • Cliff-diving.
  • Beat by meat.
  • Cap’s durable, light weight recyclable plastic shield!
  • Um, isn’t there a superhero in this movie?
  • Oil change.
  • Semi-serious heart attack.
totals

1

blood

BLOOD

With no fight scenes, I’m giving a point for the ripped polo.

1

blood

BREASTS

There was some cleavage, I think, but who cares.

4

beast

BEASTS

Brackett’s no mad dog killer and Reb is unfortunately underplayed as Cap due to a terrible script.

2 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the TV Spot!

trailers

dripper
Jun

Countess Dracula
1971 – PG – Synapse
Starring Ingrid Pitt, Nigel Green – Directed by Peter Sasdy

When hearing the title Countess Dracula or upon a viewing of the box art, thoughts of traditional vampire imagery may flood your mind; fangs and drinking of blood, capes, widow’s peaks, sparkling… but none of that is actually in the movie. The film is more about the supposedly true story of Hungarian Countess Erzsebet Bathory who would be responsible for 600 deaths of virgin girls, through torture and mutilation, in her time, 1560 to 1614. This is, of course, all speculation, but possibly inspired the tales of Dracula and his thirst for blood to remain immortal. Wow, the more you know.

It’s Hungary in the late 17th century, so if it’s not the plague killing someone, it’s war, which has taken the life of Count Nádasdy. He was a well respected man, so of course his will reading is filled with bottom feeding friends and family dividing up his fortune and estate. Countess Elizabeth (played by the gorgeous and late Ingrid Pitt) is none too pleased about having to share her late husband’s estate with her daughter Ilona. Guess someone should have taught her that sharing means caring, but caring isn’t exactly Countess Elizabeth’s strongest feature, as we see when she talks with Captain Dobi, who has been in love with her for a very long time, she often uses him to gain what she wants.

cd_2If she wanted to stiff her daughter on her inheritance, you can deduce how she treats her chambermaid, constantly scolding and belittling her. All this poor woman needs to do is lay down so that Elizabeth may wipe her soles on her, but something tells me that the Countess is the type of woman who likes to grind her soles. If she were a smoker, I can guarantee she would call in her chambermaid to put her cigarettes out on her. But worse things can and will happen, as the chambermaid accidentally cuts herself, splattering her blood on the Countess’ face. But as cruel fate would have it, the blood from this young woman smooths Elizabeth’s face and removes wrinkles. If a little bit of blood can make her look ten years longer, how do you think every drop of blood in the chambermaid’s body would make Elizabeth look? After a morbid brainstorm with her with maid Julie, they seal the young chambermaid’s fate and use her blood to restore Elizabeth’s youth and she is ready to par-tay!

But how would you explain her sudden youthful look to the public? Not even Maybelline could cover that all up, even if she was born with it. Well, remember when I said she wasn’t the most kind or caring parent? Using Captain Dobi (thinking with his “head”), they carry out a plot to kidnap her very own daughter, so that the Countess may pose as her. Geez, Elizabeth makes Alec Baldwin look thoughtful and compassionate in comparison. With Ilona out of the way, Elizabeth is free to make googly eyes with the young studs.

cd_3Hey, even older people have a libido and need to bump and grind from time to time. Before medication like Viagra, people would have to bathe in the blood of virgins. It’s common knowledge. Having inherited the stables from the recently departed Count, Imre, whose father was a close friend and soldier of the Count, Elizabeth falls for his Errol Flynn like mustache and she manages to seduce him just as her age is returning. She manages to flee, but realizes she needs more blood to restore her youth again. Time to put out a Craigslist ad looking for young blood!

Unfortunately, this doesn’t work with hooker blood as our hooligans discover when Captain Dobi tries to frame Imre for sleeping with a common streetwalker, which Elizabeth murders her and drains her blood, realizing that she hasn’t reverted in age.

cd_4It doesn’t take long for the nosey librarian to discover what’s going on and Captain Dobi is ready to snuff him out of the equation until the Countess realizes his knowledge of spells could be useful. Fortunate for him, his vast knowledge and newly inherited library that contains books on youth incantations will keep him alive, but for how long? As Countess Elizabeth transforms into her slamming young self again, who should finally arrive (unbeknownst to her), but her daughter Ilona, who has finally escaped from her captors after like the thousandth try. Seriously, you could make a montage of all her escape attempts, sync it to the Benny Hill music and it would be pure comedy gold. After all, Ilona isn’t the most nimble creature on Earth. She is quickly introduced to Imre who learns that she is the Countess’ daughter, but if Ilona is the real daughter, then who is… wha… woah. Someone isn’t who they are claiming to be, but we already know who.

Everything boils down to a dark ending that you see coming, but it’s still pretty gripping, being a Hammer Film and all. What, you were expecting a happy ending? Once a dead body is found inside the castle, the police, or whatever you would call them back then, evacuate all the help, but leave the residence, believing that no harm will come to them as they hunt for the killer in town. Our cast, however, know better and realize they are trapped inside this castle like a prison and must come up with a plan to reveal the Countess and escape.

This Hammer Horror release is sometimes forgotten or overlooked, as it’s a departure from the regular tales of Frankenstein and Dracula that the company is widely known for, but it still captures the same sleazy, gothic atmosphere (if not more so), which is captured phenomenally on Synapse’s Blu-ray release, which is a newly high definition transfer. If you’re a screen junkie or just happen to notice bad transfers, you may recall the previous DVD release from Carlton Visual Entertainment had a noticeable muddy colors and was obviously stretched to make it appear widescreen. Needless to say, it was an eyesore, but not here. Colors feel right, meaning that thing appear how they should and I should mention that Ingrid Pitt’s aged makeup looks pretty well done and this new transfer doesn’t show any weaknesses in it. I did find the audio to be loud at time, mostly with music stings, and quiet during others, but like with most cases, it will in no way ruin the experience for you. Dialogue isn’t muted or muffled, it’s nice and sharp, but seem to dip in levels from time to time. Overall, Countess Dracula has never looked more youthful.

Countess Dracula
There is plenty of deception, murder and betrayal to go around for every sinister feeling fanatic. The countess goes as far as to have her own daughter kidnapped for an indefinite amount of time and who knows, after some time, what her fate would be. It’s a dark plot is that will leave you satisfied, even if you were in it for the usual Hammer violence that isn’t as intense here as their previous films (did I mention there is plenty of sleaze?). And ladies, don’t try this at home (believe me, I tried)!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Ingrid Pitt looks good, even under all that makeup.
  • Virgin Blood by Revlon.
  • Is there a Necronomicon in that library?
  • The Great Escape, starring Ilona.
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

These virgins may be drained of their blood, but there isn’t very much.

8

blood

BREASTS

Ingrid Pitt, some dead virgins and a hooker. Everyone wins.

7

beast

BEASTS

Looks can be deceiving. Ingrid Pitt is one nasty mother!

6.3 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the entire movie!

trailers

dripper
Apr

SS Girls
1977 – Not Rated – Shriek Show
Starring Gabriele Carrara, Marina Daunia – Directed by Bruno Mattei

Oh Bruno Mattei, is there anything you won’t rip off? Although to be fair, he has made quite a name and career for himself doing so, ranging in different genres from horror with Hell of the Living Dead, action with Strike Commando (read my review here), sci-fi with Robowar and Terminator 2… no not THE Terminator 2, but rather an Aliens/Terminator hybrid rip off, better known to the world as Shocking Dark. This is a man that has broadened his resume by exploring every form of exploitation, including the unappealing Nun-sploitation. Bruno also dipped his mitts into the Nazi-sploitation genre with a few films, most notably the Salon Kitty clone, SS Girls, also known as Private House of the SS.

This whole genre, ripoff-sploitation, gets a bad rap for one glaring, obvious reason; filmmakers, especially foreign filmmakers, are basically stealing the idea of a successful film, adding a simple change here and there and calling it there own. Well believe it or not, it’s actually quite a popular genre. Don’t believe me? Just look at the huge library of films from the Italian and Turkish filmmakers out there. While some are more subtle than others (there are a ton out there), Bruno isn’t the only one who blatantly copies idea. It was a quick, cheap way for the Italian film industry to make a buck and it worked rather well. Unfortunately for their Turkish counterparts, it didn’t work out well, most likely due to even lower budgets and somehow worse acting and special effects, that their films are watched more for laughs or a “you have to see this to believe it exists” factor. Having said all of that, not all of these films are bad. Cheesy… absolutely, but each one of them has something about it you can find enthralling or hypnotic and some of them are actually very well made and told. SS Girls is the fine line between all that.

ssg_2Taking place at the tail end of World War II, Hitler is losing the war and becoming suspicious of unloyal officers in his army. Worried (or paranoid may be a better word) that these conspirators will betray him, SS officer Hans Schellenberg, a man dedicated to bringing back the Moe Howard haircut, is given the task of setting up a brothel with a select group of highly trained prostitutes to seduce and weed out these narcs.

Hookers trained to seduce and kill? Sold!

I hope you are prepared to see lots of boobs and 70’s bush, because there is a lot of it. I mean A LOT. Ladies, you get to see some hairy junk, so don’t feel left out. After Hans and Frau Inge, his right hand man, er… woman who rocks a scar on her face, inspect the ladies bodies and selecting his prime hookers down to an elite ten, a training montage begins! I think this is the precursor to action 80’s montage. All we need to do is sync up some ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and this scene would be gold, rivaling that of Rocky IV for best montage. During this montage, the girls get down in dirty, in many ways. Learning the basics of hand to hand combat, they slap each other around and roll around on the ground. The only thing missing is mud wrestling and pillow fighting to make it erotic. Speaking of erotic, ever seen a half naked Nazi chick unload an MP-40 machine gun? Gotta say, it’s pretty hot. However, all this hotness is instantly diluted when the girls “train” in the art of sex by getting ravaged by drooling, sweaty, hairy soldiers that are so out of shape and doughy, it’s like watching a woman wrestle with a moist loaf of unbaked bread covered in animal hair. It’s like taking a hammer to your nards in the middle of winter; cold, stingy and painful. All sexiness just vaporized in an instant.

ssg_3Now that the girls are all primed and ready for action (in more ways than one), the cat house is open and ready for business. Several officers, who are rather unkempt, with longish hair that looks uncombed, stubble, plenty of back hair and sweating grease so thick, you could cook with it, are invited to stay to feast on the finest foods and wine and fornicate to their heart’s desire. Sounds like a good ol’ time, but unfortunately this is a house with many flies on the wall and lots of ears. As they drink and womanize, the festivities reach orgy levels and the officers talk of the fuhrer being mad (gee, ya think?) and betraying him. All this information is relayed back to Hans and Inge, who spring their trap on the back stabbers that evening. As the officers sit, mocking the Third Reich, Hans enters the room dressed in the most hilarious ceremonial garb I’ve ever seen. Imagine, if you will, if the Pillsbury Dough boy were the pope of the Third Reich. The officers reasonably laugh their arses off, but Hans silences them, makes a big speech and has them executed. Hazing at this fraternity is harsh, bro.

While other officers fall to their exotic trap, other subplots emerge, like a soldier falling for one of the hookers and their secret love, Hans’ love with a woman, which in turn makes Inge jealous as she wants him all to herself. I don’t know why she’s getting jealous. Hans can’t seem to get excited, because his love for his country and the Third Reich is so strong, that he believes he should be the ruler of Germany and not Hitler. Inge overhears this and plots to use it to her advantage to get what she wants. There is more drama and plotting to betray than in a Game of Thrones episode. But not nearly as many floppy weiners.

ssg_4But like all good things, they must come to an end. After being rejected by Hans, being told she is disgusting, Igne rats out Hans and his officer and soldiers come to shut down the brothel. Too much power apparently has gone to his head and it’s time to put a stop to it… but not before one last PAR-TAY! This is the big bash, the end to all ends. During the festivities, Hans whimpers in his office, sad and questioning as to why his country no longer wants him. It’s kinda depressing to watch, like looking at yourself when your girlfriend breaks up with you. But interesting news comes over the radio… Hitler is dead. The war is over. Hans, either rejoicing or out of his mind (perhaps both), plays the radio for everyone to hear. Needless to say, it kills the party, literally. Upon hearing the news, a wave of sadness absorbs the crowd. If it weren’t Hitler, you’d almost feel bad. Nonetheless, what better way to go out than with a bang. They spend their time getting drunk, having sex and committing mass suicide, just like every good cult.

It’s a film that can seem slow at times, since a majority of it is filled with scenes of guys maniacally laughing like cartoon horn dogs and ladies giggling like Asian school girls. After several minutes of this, you’ll probably unconsciously find your fingers on the fast forward button. Although I have said that it is hypnotic, which it is, these scenes can feel unbearably dragged out and endless. Aside from that, you will be totally mesmerized by what is going on, as there is always something in this S & M fetish eroticism that will keep you enthralled or something sinister in each character’s betrayal. It’s also helps that the girls are fully nude in just about every scene. Regardless of being a total ripoff of Salon Kitty (even using several of the same cast members), SS Girls is a riot. Nazi-sploitation is a genre you don’t necesarilly need an interest in, although it helps. Not that you need to understand Nazi history, since these films aren’t exactly known for historical accuracy. But if you’re watching this kind of film for a history lessing, then something is wrong with your neural net processor.

SS Girls
Clearly, you wouldn’t be watching this film for historical purposes, but after viewing it, you can see the type of influence it had on current “grindhouse” filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino. Throughout watching the film, you undoubtedly noticed that all of the characters are rather cartoonish, larger than life. While at first they seem laughably silly, within moments they become menacing and you realize just what type of characters directors like Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino are trying to create. There’s something enchanting about this type of film. You really have to see to understand. There’s no other way I can explain this film other than it’s primium entertaining Eurotrash. Anyway, if softcore Nazi porn with goofy, oddball characters is your thing, than Achtung!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Moe Howard of the Third Reich.
  • SS must stand for Sexy Slags.
  • Hate to say it, but this movie makes Nazi’s look sexy.
  • Scarface, The Wicked Warden.
  • Nazi House! I’m revoking your charter!
  • As Andrew WK would say, “PARTY! PARTY! PARTY!”
totals

3

blood

BLOOD

No shocking amount, but this movie doesn’t need blood to shock you.

8

blood

BREASTS

In the spirit of ripoffs, I shall use a Staples ad: “Boobs? Yeah, we got that!”

8

beast

BEASTS

Hans and Inge are not to be crossed!

6.3 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the entire movie!

trailers

dripper
Mar

The Flesh and Blood Show
1972 – R – Redemption Films
96 Minutes – Starring Ray Brooks, Luan Peters – Directed by Pete Walker

Who doesn’t love a good a good murder mystery? In fact, one of the most popular television shows is about an elderly woman who is a writer/detective and the old people love it! When that show comes on, it’s like ecstasy being broadcast over an unseen signal, like in They Live only in a retirement home. Old people aside, I’ve always loved the idea of a ‘who-done-it,’ playing along with the movie as I mentally collect clues and try to solve the puzzle of the murders that will lead to the identity of the killer. Mario Bava’s A Bay of Blood is a perfect example (especially with that set up), but others can fall kind of flat, like Pete Walker’s The Flesh and Blood Show.

Of course you don’t realize this until it’s over, but it’s not a completely bad experience, nor will it leave a sour aftertaste in your mouth. For the most part, it seems to keep everything at a good pace, although feeling like it’s dragging out from time to time until you reach the film’s climax when it feels like it should have been over for some time. Perhaps one of the biggest flaws it has is its plot that has not aged well. Sure, in the early 70’s it probably wasn’t all that common, but now audiences may find that it’s been done to death, especially when parts of it resemble April Fool’s Day. It’s comprised of part mystery, part proto-slasher and part sleazy go-go. Sounds good on paper, but the execution…

fbs_2Like most slashers, there is an obnoxious character, John, and for whatever bizarre reason, decides to go to his friend Carol’s flat with a knife in his belly, but it’s nothing more than a prank. Maybe John and Shelly from Friday the 13th Part 3 are pen pals. Anyway, he stopped by… at 2 o’clock in the morning… waking Carol, who is completely nude and shares a bed with her flatmate Jane (do they have your attention now?) to tell them he has just been offered to have a role in the improv theater show The Flesh and Blood Show at Dome Theater, which has been closed for a very long time after a horrible event took place. Coincidentally, Carol and Jane also have been invited to participate in the show, so off they go to the creepy old abandoned theater where horrible things await them.

They meet up with the rest of the crew comprised of bad 70’s haircuts; Tony the Aussie, Simon, who you will swear is a miniature Mick Jagger stunt double, sexy blonde Angela and Mike, the show’s producer. By a first glance at this place, you should know better not to go in, as it is plagued with all the run down theme park cliches and probably has the actual plague floating around. But that doesn’t stop them from going about their rehearsal or sleeping there. Too cheap to cough up the quid for a hotel, the cast and crew decide to sleep there and it doesn’t take long for things to get sleazy. One of the girls instantly jumps in the sack with Tony for knowing him all of about several minutes and another girl decides to rub Carol down topless as John watches from afar. As if this theater wasn’t caked in enough filth and grime, here’s some more.

I won’t lie. It’s an awesome scene.

fbs_3Immediately following that scene, a scream is heard and the lesbian girl (sorry, I forgot her name and I’m forced to identify her by her character trait) has gone missing. After searching the theater, Mike finds her head on top of a shelf and her body next to a guillotine, but keeps it from the others. I’m actually kinda stunned that a theater has a properly working guillotine. He does, however, get the fuzz involved, but upon inspecting the “crime scene,” all evidence of any murder has been hidden, which is impressive to not leave any trace of a recent decapitation. Everyone chalks it up to John and one of his practical jokes, but soon they find a note that stating why she left… but the note was actually left behind by the killer! Oh well, time to find her replacement. This is showbiz, after all. Enter up and coming film actress Julie!

The town may be as dead as our recently departed blonde, but a local nearby restaurant is still open and probably the only clean thing in town. This is where we meet an elderly man, Major Bell, who you can guess is the killer if you have any deductive powers. The cast crew occasionally pays visit to him and his wife (played by Sheila Keith from Frightmare) in between their rehearsals. Nothing much really happens, until Carol decides she wants to go for a stroll alone one night along the dock. John follows her out, unbeknownst to her, when she is attacked and nearly raped by what appears to be a hobo, until her screams are heard and the gang, minus John, find her. They all come to realize he wasn’t around and becomes the prime suspect… until his body is found a few days later by the police and in a twist, has been dead since that night he followed Carol outside? So if not him, then who?

Like I said earlier, it’s pretty obvious.

fbs_4After some more rehearsals of random things, spiced up with plenty of nudity, they eventually notice someone is running the spotlight (face palm) and another of the crew is killed. As the lights go dim, the Major shows up spewing lines from a play as he confesses to the murders and that it was him who committed the horrible acts long ago and tells us the tale in flashback form. Even after, he still prances about, regurgitating lines from the previous play, to which the remaining members of the crew use to their advantage and cleverly, and oddly somehow, reenact the events of his crime. Since he’s bonkers and his lid has clearly flipped, that same evening from long ago is playing out in his mind. The 5-0 shows up in time, arrest the Major and the crew comes to the realization that in order to kill some of their actors, he must’ve had help… from his daughter… who may be with them at this moment!

As you can gather, The Flesh and Blood Show resembles the Scooby Doo cartoon, only with boobs and wieners (yeah, you get full frontal… ladies). Overall, it feels very stiff and as if you’ve seen it a hundred of times before (which you have, but for the time this wasn’t that common of a plot), it teeters slightly over the edge of sleaze, just enough to keep you watching. It’s self aware of how voluptuous the females are in this movie and will often parade them around fully nude. As you realized, the slasher and mystery bits, in retrospect, seem very cut and paste and tired by today’s standards. The film itself now is considered to be very tame, but at its time, it’s one that could spark a bit of controversy. Maybe it’s the title, but I can’t help but feel this should have been a Herschell Gordon Lewis film, who could have truly brought the sleaziness and violence that the title provokes.

One pretty interesting thing The Flesh and Blood Show does is present the flashback sequence in 3-D in black and white (Pete Walker sure loved his black and white flashbacks, huh?) The scene during the film is standard, but you do have the option in the bonus features of watching the ten minute sequence in anaglyphic red-blue process (for those of you who don’t know, anaglyphic works better in black and white) or if you have a 3D TV, you can check it out in stereoscopic as well. I was able to watch the scene in anaglyphic (make sure you have the classic red and blue glasses, they aren’t included) and it worked pretty well, except for when things are supposed to really pop out at you, like when a character points something directly at the lens, the image seems to split apart. Other special features on the disc are a theatrical trailer and another interview with Pete Walker.

The Flesh and Blood Show
In the end, it’s a little underwhelming and hard to believe that it also received an X rating. Lacking in genuine scares and gore (again like Frightmare, most kills take place off camera), The Flesh and Blood Show has little to offer, but it does have some of that old fashioned grindhouse, go-go sleaziness to it. So if you ever wanted to see what an episode of Scooby Doo would look like with sex and murder, then you should give it a watch.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • John’s jokes are a real punch in the gut.
  • Go-Go full frontal nudity.
  • She lost her head over this play.
  • “Old man Withers!”
  • 3D Flashback Revenge.
  • Daughter secrets.
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

Most of the death occurs off screen making it a mystery… as to why the hell they didn’t show it!

9

blood

BREASTS

These voluptuous, curvy ladies show you why the theater is awesome. Minus a point for 70’s bush and dong.

3

beast

BEASTS

You have to be more useless than lint in a couch cushion to be killed by this old man.

5.3 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer for “The Flesh and Blood Show!”

trailers

dripper
Mar

Frightmare
1974 – R – Redemption Films
86 Minutes – Starring Rupert Davies, Sheila Keith – Directed by Pete Walker

Let’s be all serious for a moment and think; does censorship really protect us? Throughout the 70’s and 80’s, the UK was severely bringing the hammer down on horror films, believing they made sadists, psychopaths and bullies out of the everyday normal Joe. The solution? To excise all sex and violence out of the film, often leaving the final cut incomprehensible. I recently talked about My Bloody Valentine and how the R rated cut of the film’s finale left you puzzled as you saw Axel running away holding his arm. But what you didn’t see was him sawing his own arm off, thus explaining why he was holding his arm. So maybe it wasn’t always incomprehensible, but you certainly were left with a product that was lackluster and taking away elements as to why you are watching the film. In horror’s case; the aforementioned sex and violence.

The BBFC (now apparently at it again) became so notorious for this, that horror films unjustifiably became targeted and heavily censored or downright banned just because of the fact that it was a horror film! Whether it was advertising (via posters or reviews) or because a filmmaker became notorious for having made controversial horror films, it would seem that the BBFC would demand severe cuts or ban the film without actually having taking a look at the film. Now, we know this doesn’t keep the material out of the wrong hands, like children, but that’s a different topic for a different day.

fm_2After years pass, possibly many years, this controversy can actually work in favor of the film. Take Frightmare, for example. Although never a Video Nasty, I always heard so much controversy about this film and all the graphic content that got it banned, so in my head I built this movie up to be an exploitation film filled with blood, guts, nudity and every other fun filled nightmare that I could think of. However, if you’ve seen the film… Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that content makes a film good, but you can see how controversy can create a different movie in your head.

Frightmare opens in a black and white sequence during 1957 as a straggler happens upon a farmhouse. He’s welcomed inside, all shot in POV and within moments, a good chunk of his face has been removed and the assailant, now revealed to be Dorothy Yates, is institutionalized in the following scene for having butchered and eaten several people along with her husband Edmund, who had been faking his insanity so that he may be locked up with his wife that he loved so much. Ladies, how many of your guys would take that vow?

Cut to present day 1974 where the daughter of Edmund from a previous marriage, Jackie, is having dinner with some friends all while her stepsister Debbie is out causing a ruckus at a bar. She’s what you would call a “wild card” or “hangs out with a rough crowd.” Don’t believe me? She and her rowdy friends, a biker gang with The Monkee’s style haircuts, beat a bartender within inches of his life just for not serving her a drink for being underage. That’ll teach you to obey the law!

fm_3Dorothy and Edmund have also been declared sane and released, living back in their remote farmhouse. Now, I’m no expert, but wouldn’t they be under probation of some kind or under supervision temporarily? Or maybe I’m wrong and convicted cannibals are free to roam willy nilly once they get that stamp of approval. Jackie puts her love life on hold and keeping her family’s secret to the persistent Graham, who looks like a British Peter Parker, to keep an eye on her father and stepmother. Edmund tells Jackie that he fears Dorothy is already lapsing and up to her old deeds and he has every right to be, because she is. It doesn’t take Dorothy long before she is luring in loners without families or loved ones with tea and tarot card readings that result in their (most of the time) off screen deaths. I have no idea how she fooled such clever doctors.

After several visits from the fuzz, Jackie has had it with Debbie and demands she leave, but newly psychiatrist Graham tells Jackie she needs to be more caring to her sister, because if there is one thing that girl needs it’s negative reinforcement for her bad behavior. But Debbie is beyond a simple scolding, as she claims to have “found” the barkeep from the fight dead and has stored him in her trunk. It’s actually pretty sneaky, since you aren’t sure whether or not Debbie is directly involved in his death, but soon all suspicions are laid to rest, as she has a secret of her own…

Coming home from work one day, Edmund discovers Dorothy in the midst of one of her murders and although he’s shocked and terrified, vows to help her cover it up. Because of his loyalty, Dorothy lets him in on her little secret, that she has been having a little help with her murders from her daughter! Hey, you may as well keep it in the family. Edmund comes to the conclusion that Dorothy will never stop, but Jackie will be a thorn in their side. Hmm, what are crazed murderous cannibals to do?

fm_4After learning of Dorothy’s illness, Graham sets out really figure out what is going on, so I’m sure he will be alright. Jackie heads out to the old farmhouse to bring things to a close, but she may already be too late and discovers the shocking and grisly truth that Dorothy is still murdering… with a little help. Now lacking protection from her father, Jackie is walking into a trap and she may not make it out alive!

After viewing the film, you may have noticed that there is quite a lack of gore. Most of the bloody effects are an aftermath, someone’s face sliced halfway off, but there are a few scenes of Dorothy stabbing someone to death. This is what I meant earlier about a film’s censorship unrealistically boosting your expectations, as I went in expecting murder and mayhem, but what I got was actually a mild, violent filled, shocking and suspenseful tale of a cannibalistic woman that is very well paced. In a way, it reminds me of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It doesn’t need to show you graphic details, but lets your mind make it up for you. Even though most of the butchering is never seen and we never actually see her eat anyone (the implication is more scary, but clearly not as grotesque), Dorothy is a well developed and truly frightening antagonist. Every moment on screen, you are never sure which way her personality is going to take her, so much so, that I was expecting her to kill Edmund at any moment.

As usual, Redemption did a stellar job restoring the film from its original 35mm prints. Although slight discoloration and grain is present, the overall image quality is clean and sharp, revealing beautiful detail to the visceral imagery. As for the audio, there isn’t a whole lot you can do with something that’s 2.0, but it’s never muffled and the dialogue is clear and understandable and really, you can’t ask for more. It’s almost impossible to restore a forty year old film without some remaining damage, but Redemption manages to make it the best it will ever be. On a special features note, there is an interview with director Pete Walker as he recalls the film and talks about how the censorship was a help to the publicity, a look at the work of Sheila Keith, the actress who played Dorothy, a trailer and a commentary track.

Frightmare
If the sight of pulling out intestines, eating splines and feasting upon the organs of people, as blood spews like a faucet isn’t your thing… then you’ll probably enjoy Frightmare, as I’ve said, it doesn’t show much gore, but rather pulls the punches in the suspense. Although not quite living up to its famous controversy, Frightmare is still a bloody good time that’s good for a scare with plenty of secrets.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • My Step Mother is a Cannibal next on Maury.
  • Not the WB Sister/Sister that you remember.
  • Some death with your tea?
  • For England, they have some nice teeth.
  • Husband of the year.
  • Driller killer.
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

Some squirts, some sprays and some eyeball removal.

5

blood

BREASTS

Jackie sports some cleavage making you want to see more.

8

beast

BEASTS

Debbie will break your heart and Dorothy will eat it!

6 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer for “Frightmare!”

trailers

dripper
ZombieWorks
join our mailing list
* indicates required

About the Highway

Lost Highway is your satirical detour down the twisted back roads of b-movies and cult films reviews. learn more >>