BULLETIN BULLETIN BULLETIN
Although I identified several of the
movies as hopelessly obscure, leave it up to Greywizard
to supply me with info on them
- what do you expect from the man who runs The
Unknown Movies page? You'll find his comments in the appropriate place.
love trailers. They're my favorite part of going to the movies, now that they don't show cartoons anymore*. I have been known to get visibly upset when I arrive too
late to see the trailers. Now you might be pondering (and rightly so)
But Doctor - shouldn't the feature be your
favorite part? Leaving alone the can of worms answering that
question would open, let me say this: I know what the movie is going
to be - the trailers are usually a surprise, and often a delightful
one. How often can you truthfully say that about the feature?
are several companies that do trailer compilations out there - my personal
favorite is Something Weird Video. In fact, I am planning on being very
good this year, so Santa will bring me every movie Something Weird Video
currently carries (note to self: make sure wife reads this week's
review). They have several lines of trailer compilations, but the
best for our purposes is their Dusk to Dawn Drive-In Trash-O-Rama
Show series, for obvious reasons. These tapes pack together the
coming attractions of what seems like every exploitation movie ever
made, from Black Belt Jones to Digby, the Biggest Dog in the
World to Werewolves on Wheels. Ah, my misspent youth!
we're looking at Volume 5, because frankly, it astounds me. There are
movies so obscure on this tape, even I - who live and breathe this bizarre
fringe stuff - have never ever heard of. I'm not going to go
through every preview - I don't have a month to write this column! -
but we'll hit the high points. So to speak.
start off with a bang with:
- Slaughter's Big Rip-Off - And
what a telling title! Jim Brown played the guy who's not John Shaft
once before, and with the opening of Shaft's Big Score, well,
Slaughter's sequel had to come. Lots of action in this one. Looks
like the Mob tried to kill Slaughter, but only got his lady instead,
and now HE'S MAD!!!!! And who's the guy trying to whack my
man Slaughter? ED MCMAHON!!!! Yes, ED MCMAHON!!!! Ooooh,
Mr. Publisher's Clearing House is gonna wish he was out knocking on
somebody's door with a big FomeCore check when Slaughter catches
up with him! Lots of bullets flying, and Richard Williams (as Joe
Creole) wearing at least one of the suits modeled by Fabulous in Sugar
Hill. This one does what trailers should do: I wanna
see the movie. NOW.
- Book of Numbers at least looks
interesting - in the 20s or 30s a pair of black drifters start a numbers
racket in a rural town
and soon bigger gangsters, both black and white, are looking to move
in on their racket. Klansmen are beaten up, which is always a plus.
Okay, so it's a low-budget Sting one-off, but it shows creativity.
And a young Philip Michael Thomas, here simply Philip Thomas.
- And one thing a time capsule like this does is take you back to
a time when a book called The Happy Hooker
could be a bestseller, and get made into a movie starring Lynn Redgrave.
The narrator assures us, "It's sexy, sure... but it's also funny,
sad, and very, very human."
- Another bestseller of the period was The Sensual Man, a sex
how-to book. The movie The Sensual Man,
however, is a sex comedy starring Giancarlo Gianinni. God only knows
what its original title was.
- Bloodsuckers is apparently a
re-titling of Incense for the Damned, aka Doctors Wear Scarlet.
It features an embattled
Peter Cushing and an embarrassed looking Patrick Macnee, who is wearing
a neckerchief apparently borrowed from Freddy in Scooby Doo.
The final frame of the trailer freezes so the announcer can tell us
Bloodsuckers will be accompanied by Blood Thirst, and
the management will not be responsible for nightmares caused by watching
both films. Um hm. Right. The editing on this is pretty choppy, and
doesn't exactly raise your hopes for this "blood-curdling gruesome
- I'm very glad that there is a trailer for The
Wonderful Land of Oz on this tape; I had almost convinced
myself that it had been an hallucination of my sugar-jiggered childhood.
But no, here it is, the very same spot I saw on TV. The pumpkin-head
and the Wogglebug look okay, but the sets and costumes make Santa
Claus Conquers the Martians look like The Phantom Menace
by comparison. Acting and camera-placement: dreadful. This looks like
a high-school pageant put on film. Please, please, Dear Lord, let
this movie be sitting in someone's closet, somewhere. If I could have
any movie ever made in the whole world magically
appear in my hands, it would be this one. It is that unbelievable.
||And look! There's Guru, the Mad Monk, which features, despite its medieval setting, a young starlet with an undeniably '70s hair style (short and feathered)! This preview only serves to remind me that not only have I not reviewed an Andy Milligan film, I have also never even seen one! This is a lapse in my education which must be remedied, and soon. (Future Freex weighs in: Yeah, okay, so I did remedy it, and with Guru, no less. It wasn't that bad. Which isn't to say that it was any good, either)
|The Bang Bang Kid is a Spaghetti Western Comedy which features the usual tyrannical bad guy lording it over the western town, even building himself a castle! Tom Bosley (Tom Bosley!) is a traveling medicine man who has built a robot (!) called "The Bang Bang Kid", who is the fastest gun in the west. Hilarity will surely ensue. A lot of dialogue shots are used, but this trailer is unsullied by a speck of dialogue, just narration - the mark of a bad trailer.
- A whispering voice asks, "What is....The
Rubber Gun?" A mid-70s counterculture hero does counterculture
things like driving around with a baby doll tied to the grille of
his car, walking down the street pretending to shoot people with an
imaginary gun, and generally messing with people's heads. There something
about a drug deal gone very wrong, with either the Man or the Mob
stepping in, and the voice keeps whispering "What is...The
Rubber Gun?" Let's see....
- I had thought it impossible to find a worse comedy western - or
trailer - than The Bang Bang Kid, but The
Detective Story manages to embody both. Supposedly "Based
on a story by Mark Twain", there's something about a boy detective,
gunslingers and a chesty saloon gal (always in evidence when the narrator
yelps, "A Double Barreled Detective Story!" har har).
Imagine Manos the Hands of Fate if it had been a Western, a
'comedy', and shot in black and white. Well, that's A Double Barreled
- Psycosissimo is some manner
of Italian sex comedy with some murder and a bit of black humor that
the narrator assures
us is "something completely new in film entertainment....a light-hearted
spoof of Psycho!" "A rare combination of thrills
and laughter, to calm your nerves!" There's some rampant
hilarity with a plastic skeleton, and lots and lots of dialogue scenes....
with no dialogue.... and precious little narration! You see,
whoever brought over Psychosissimo apparently also bought the
Italian trailer. No need to dub that, too, however, noooooo,
that might have cost money. So over every piece of dialogue is a tape
of some ominous music and a woman screaming. It's lifted from somewhere
in the movie, as there's a couple of syllables of dialogue left in
the tape loop that they didn't bother to trim out. The one instance
where the dialogue scene is punctuated with a yawn, the ominous music
drops out suddenly, and the actual movie sounds play for a moment,
jaunty sex comedy music. Easily the worst trailer in the collection,
- In The Sell Out, some professional
assassin wants to kill Oliver Reed. Richard Widmark is Ollie's pal
who's pissed Ollie isn't dead yet. A lot of Volkswagens explode. I
would have seen this movie if it had been double featured with a horror
movie, or something with Student in the title and 'R' in the
- Don't Hang Up is one of those
Terrorize The Woman films, with an anonymous caller talking in a drawn-out
whisper (so drawn out these scenes probably added ten minutes to the
running time). The trailer is most notable for falling prey to the
tendency of most trailers in these things to be missing the first
or last few seconds: an angry,
ominous voice says, "Now you listen good, 'cause I'm only going
to say this once...." and then goes on to the next preview.
- Which is Something to Hide,
a low-key British thriller starring Peter Finch and Shelley Winters
that actually looks good.
|The Embalmer recaps (in black and white) some scenes from a movie we've seen just three or four previews before - The Monster of Venice. Embalmer is by far the better preview, with much more footage of the title character and his creepy skull mask. Doubled with She-Beast, which features lots of screaming Barbara Steele and more Volkswagen destruction.
features meaningful re-creations of Viet Nam violence in the leafy
glens of America*. Don Stroud plays toreador
with a sports car. See The Rubber Bullet, above.
- Candidate for Killing - Oooooh,
Italian spy thriller! Supersuave guy! Cute Chick! Sweaty right hand
man! At least I think that's what's involved... all I really
remember is a lot of guys in fezzes getting beaten up. Many movies,
I feel, can only be enhanced by the inclusion of the noble fez.
- Mother Goose A Go Go - AAAAAAAAAAAA!
TOMMY KIRK! RUN! AAAAAAAAAAAA! Oh, sorry, it's "Tom"
Kirk. I guess this must be one of his serious, thoughtful roles. The
number of girls in bikinis bears this out. It is, after all , "A
Far Out Film for the In Crowd!" and producer Jack H. Harris assures
us it is in "Blushing Color".
- The Sinister Monk is apparently
one of the many German-lensed Edgar Wallace mysteries that proliferated
through the 60s. Scotland Yard does its best to catch the titular masked killer,
who likes to walk around in a monk's habit, which has the effect of
inserting a costumed super-villain into an episode of NYPD Blue.
Featuring the many scenic windmills of England!
- A Reason to Live, A Reason to Die
- James Coburn, Telly Savalas and Bud Spencer do The Dirty Dozen
way out West, with an end cribbed from The Wild Bunch. Presented
by K-Tel International, those wonderful folks who also brought you
Mr. Superinvisible and Top 20 Groove Hits.
- Operation Yellow Viper is a
German-Italian co-production, so it's not about super-spies, it's
about super-Interpol agents, all trying to track down The Yellow Viper.
OYV also introduces "the cuella... the new dance
craze!" which had even less longevity than the lambada. As it
was shot in scenic South Africa, the movie features a fellow
in a fez.
- Daggers Drawn - the legendary
spy/murder mystery featuring singer Petula Clark. Which is all I managed
to carry away from this trailer.
- The Last Gunfight is a Japanese
crime drama starring Toshiro Mifune at his most handsome as a crime
lord who is introduced while slapping the hell out of his henchmen.
There's some sort of love/hate/respect relationship with a cop (oh,
yeah, like The Killer was the first movie to pull out that
twist), and a lot of gunplay. The trailer is punctuated with a lot
of urgent, pithy title cards like LAW OF THE GUN! CITY OF TERROR!
BLOODY HATE! I'm not left with a desire to see the movie, but
it looks good.
- The Emerald of Aratama seems
to be an Italian desert adventure, as Rory Calhoun is a two-fisted
for the tomb (and treasure) of Princess Aratama. So is a disreputable
bandit chieftain. And some guys in fezzes! Most notable is the big
gunfight between the egyptologists and the bandits: as Calhoun is
an American Western star, he's the only one weilding a lever-action
rifle. Everybody else has carbines. I especially like the one archeologist
who is calmly continuing to smoke his pipe while picking off those
- Honey Baby Honey Baby is another
attempt to launch a new Pam Grier. Diana Sands looks great running
around and firing guns in her chic white gown, but I'd have
to see the rest of the movie to give you an honest opinion of her.
The narrator informs her that "You and trouble have integrated!"
This is the same narrator we heard in Slaughter's Big Rip-Off,
and a slew of other blaxploitation trailers, amusing and infuriating
at the same time, because
he's obviously your typical white voiceover guy trying to sound "black".
The trailer also has one of the better laugh lines in the compilation,
as Calvin Lockhart, who's been getting Honey out of trouble tells
her, "You happen to be the most out-of-sight sensational black
chick I've met in years. You remind me of my mother."
- Vault of Horror? Wait a minute!
I recognize this one!
- "Ty Hardin is....RAGAN!"
Ragan is also, we are told, bold, action, and adventure. Not to
mention a mercenary with a code of honor, or so the narrator informs
us. Well, let's get down to brass tacks: in all the "blazing
action scenes" we are promised, bad guy soldiers trot in a rather
easygoing manner right into the line of fire; hand to hand blows obviously
fly above and in front of their targets, but seem to have the desired
effect anyway; and a machine gun fired sloppily over a 20 degree arc
wipes out every bad guy over 180 degrees. "RAGAN is...."
- Swamp Girl features gators,
mud wrasslin', the "eerie beauty of the Okeefenokee Swamp",
and the acting debuts of Country and Western singer Ferlin Husky and
Simone Griffeth, who would later go on to co-star in a little flick
called Death Race 2000.
- Thomasine and Bushrod is a another
period blaxploitation piece featuring Vonetta McGee and Max Julien
as a turn-of-the-century black Bonnie and Clyde duo. I'm not sure
where they got the wild West pimp clothes, however. Damned if this
doesn't warrant a look. "Thomasine and Bushrod: partners in crime...
more - there's several Spaghetti Western trailers (a couple still in
Italian!); Women of Devil's Island,
a period Italian women-in-prison flick (I had no idea that female convicts
still wore those frilly reformation gowns while incarcerated); A couple,
like Scream Bloody Murder and Satan's Playthings simply provide white text crawling
across a black screen, assuring us that scenes from the movie would
be too shocking and terrifying to show, but the movie would soon play
uncut at this location; and so forth.
it's a treasure trove alright. There are some minor problems. One Italian
oat-burner, Find a Place to Die,
is deemed so good, we get to see it twice. And it is my understanding
that trailers are impossible to copyright, so why is that piracy-busting
SWV "bug" constantly in evidence in the lower right-hand corner,
as if I were watching network TV?
I said, minor. The Dusk to Dawn Drive-In Trash-O-Rama Show tapes
provide easy access to a delirious time when anybody, it seems, could
make a film distribution deal, and we gathered like tribes at the drive-in,
staring at the Great White Screen and trekking across the darkened wilderness
of cars to the snack bar. When we weren't (ahem) otherwise engaged,
that is. Do I really miss this time? Hell yes! While
I don't miss the constant hormone poisoning of my brain, I do miss
the seemingly endless variety of cheap entertainment and the strange
feel of the drive-in experience, at once communal, yet private.
last drive-in I managed to attend was seven or eight years ago, when
the last drive-in in Houston closed down, its land to be used for another
Walmart. I watched The Addams Family and Star Trek 6: The
Undiscovered Country. And every single trailer.
was a strange moment there, at the last - I'm one of those people who
watch the end credits. Always have been, always will be. When the credits
for Star Trek faded, I realized I was the last car in the lot.
All the other screens had long ago ended their movies. It was odd to
thread my way through the rows of artificial hillocks one final time,
even missing the dodging of speaker stands that used to be your lot
while leaving. I drove very slowly. I felt like I should have closed
a gate on my way out, or something.
of this wispy nostalgia, he said, dabbing at his eyes. I gotta go find
a copy of Slaughter's Big Rip-Off.