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Topics - Arizona Colt

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1
Other Films / The Burrowers (2008)
« on: May 18, 2009, 03:37:34 PM »
I watched this nice little horror western last night. A pretty original and frightening species of monster and the makers nicely fit it in among historical occurrences to give them some added significance. Quite grim in places. However, the film builds to its conclusion, so less patient viewers may find it hard going. The creatures aren't really shown till near the end. Things happen from time to time, but again, the film builds its suspense and the script does a good job of keeping things fresh. A lot of other violence and bloodshed is caused because of the monsters between the Whites and various Indian tribes. This again, attempts to weave historical accounts into a fictional setting. It could have been better, but it has a lot going for it and a damn tragic downer of an ending that recalls NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Very sad. Clancey Brown is in it, too. The acting is decent, but could be better as well. The creatures and what they do to their victims is pretty creepy. A nice rental with an interesting plot and setting.

2
Off-Topic Discussion / Romero's new zombie movie
« on: January 07, 2009, 07:08:39 PM »
Promo trailer for still untitled Romero zombie movie...

http://www.shocktillyoudrop.com/news/topnews.php?id=9088

3
Other Films / Treasure of the Aztecs (1965)
« on: December 04, 2008, 02:11:26 AM »
TREASURE OF THE AZTECS 1965

Lex Barker (Dr. Karl Sternau), Rik Battaglia (Captain Verdona)

Directed by Robert Siodmak

Dr. Karl Sternau, a diplomatic courier, is given an important letter by President Lincoln to deliver to Mexican President Benito Juarez regarding assistance against the French occupation. With no money to fund retaliation, Sternau and Juarez seek the location of the legendary Aztecan treasure. The wealthy landowner, Count Don Fernando assists Sternau and his group in finding the fabled riches, the whereabouts of which are known by a beautiful Aztec princess.

An interesting German western film adapted from a novel by popular writer Karl May whose 'Winnetou' series was filmed as a long running series of pictures. Lex Barker starred in some of those and he stars in this movie and also the sequel, PYRAMID OF THE SUN GOD the same year. There's a character named Hasenfeffer (a traveling salesman of cuckoo clocks) that provides some humorous comedy relief. American actor, Jeff Corey plays Abraham Lincoln in a brief role.

This film has a certain sense of adventure about it that transcends the typical western style. This is most apparent once the Aztec temple is discovered which also houses a live volcano(!) replete with secret passages and traps. Battaglia, a familiar face from Euroaters and sword & sandal films, is the main villain here and he gets pretty sadistic past the mid point. He's discharged from Juarez's militia and seeks the treasure for himself. Some of the action scenes are stilted and have an air of the older serial westerns about them. Some of the fight scenes are better than others.

There's also a tribe of Indians that figures into the story and all participants converge on the temple during the final 20 minutes just in time for the explosive closing moments. The movie bogs down slightly towards the end, but picks up steam for the finale. The locations are gorgeous and seeing this movie in a restored widescreen version would enhance this. This dubbed version is woefully out of sync from time to time. The characters are likable and the women are very easy on the eyes. Some larger than life set pieces enhance the adventure and the score is decent for the most part, at times sounding quite boisterous. The dubber for Barker did the English voiceover work for Guiliano Gemma in a number of his movies. 106 minutes.

4
Other Films / From Noon Till Three (Frank D. Gilroy, 1976)
« on: May 11, 2008, 01:50:35 PM »
FROM NOON TILL THREE 1976

Charles Bronson (Graham Dorsey), Jill Ireland (Amanda)

On their way to rob a bank, Graham Dorsey, a member of a gang of robbers, stops at a house owned by a wealthy widow after his horse goes lame. Deciding to stay at the house till his gang goes through with the job, they embark on the bank job while Dorsey keeps the widow company. Through some comedic situations both Dorsey and the widow, Amanda fall in love and have a fling from noon till three. Upon the realization his friends have been captured, Dorsey decides to ride on ahead in the hopes of rescuing them. Along the way, a posse chases after him. Dorsey then switches clothes with a peddler who gets shot for mistaken identity. The posse rides back to the widows home with the supposed body of Dorsey. Upon recognizing his clothes, she believes he is in fact dead. Bronson gets arrested once he arrives in the town and Amanda, heart-broken, writes a book on their three hour affair. Years later, Bronson returns to Amanda who denounces his proclamations that he is Graham Dorsey. Upon realizing he is telling the truth, Amanda cannot allow them to carry on where they left off as so many people's lives were touched by her book. Should the truth come out that he is still alive, it could be catastrophic for those who got inspiration from her book.

Charles Bronson was always critically derided for his acting ability and regardless of what critics might say he is damn good here and appears happy to be participating in a role that doesn't require him to blow away rapists and murderers. He also gets ample dialog and gets to emote a lot as opposed to his usual tortured hero roles. This film isn't so much a straight comedy than it is a romantic comedy that, towards the end, takes a slightly dark turn that still is humorous, but renders the final shot blackly comical and I would imagine there's the possibility that this wasn't the only ending shot.

Bronson also got to play a lighter role the year prior in the action comedy BREAKOUT (1975), one of his biggest hits in which he played a con man prodded into breaking into a Mexican prison to break a woman's husband out of there. Bronson was a natural at doing low key comedy it's just a shame he wasn't given many opportunities to do so. Even in interviews he stated that every script he gets is filled with violence and that he disliked doing all those movies but that's what the public wanted to see from him. The few films that deterred from that formula performed poorly at the box office, like FROM NOON TILL THREE (1976).

Ireland starred alongside her husband Bronson in well over a dozen movies including VIOLENT CITY (1970), SOMEONE BEHIND THE DOOR (1971), THE VALACHI PAPERS (1972), HARD TIMES (1975), BREAKHEART PASS (1976) and ASSASSINATION (1987) among them. There chemistry here is notable and the pair obviously loved each other very much, an aspect of their relationship that was dully noted in various write ups and publications.

Not particularly recommended for those who only want to see Bronson blowing away scum on the street, there is far more depth found here in this romantic tragi-comedy western. The latter part of the film in which Bronson tries desperately to get people to believe he is who he says he is mirrors his acting career; for years he tried to convince studios and audiences alike that he was capable of so much more than a DEATH WISH sequel but nobody was buying it. A real shame. FROM NOON TILL THREE (1976) is a curious and interesting Bronson vehicle that's highly recommended for those who would like to see something a little bit different from the prolific and misunderstood actor Charles Bronson.

5
Other Films / Skin Game (Paul Bogart, 1971)
« on: May 10, 2008, 07:24:04 PM »
SKIN GAME 1971

James Garner (Quincy), Louis Gossett Jr. (Jason), Ed Asner (Plunkett), Susan Clark (Abigail), Royal Dano, Brenda Sykes (Naomi), Andrew Duggan (Calloway)

Two con artists, Quincy (Garner) and Jason (Gossett) go from town to town playing a slave game. Quincy pretends to sell Jason then later on the two make off with the money. The two continue moving from town to town until Jason is actually sold into slavery when the con backfires on them. Another scam artist (Clark) follows the two men and frequently rips off Quincy making off with his money before showing up to rescue him. They then must find and free Jason from the clutches of Plunkett (Asner).

This curious, comedic, pseudo-serious quasi-western is filled with politically incorrect dialog which more than likely guarantees it not getting a wide DVD release any time soon. However, aside from frequent incendiary exchanges, the film also deals with abolitionists fighting to free the slaves sometime either before or during the Civil War so this film isn't just one-sided as so many similar films are. Their is an interesting rapport between the two main characters and over the course of the film lessons are learned by both parties.

Garner seems to be channeling his MAVERICK characterization here as the con man Quincy. Throughout their countless fake-outs, he shows a playful disregard for Jason's feelings during their games to obtain their cash. It obviously bothers Jason and it comes to a head when they stay at a hotel and Jason must stay in the horse stable and Quincy opts for a $3.00 room. A room for which he hasn't the cash so he must borrow it off his partner! It's quite funny, but the laughs cease when Quincy's cover is blown near the end and he is subjected to a whip lashing until Jason can stand no more and some of the bad guys get their just desserts.

Gossett is perfect in this film and he has a full head of hair which is unusual. He is a pleasure to watch and the friendship between he and Quincy is enjoyable and seems very sincere. Gossett is a perfect comedy foil to Garner especially during the more comical first half. In the latter part of the film, Gossett tries to befriend some African immigrants used to work the horses in the hopes they can help him to escape. His acting is excellent here and it's a shame this film will probably never be seen again outside of cable broadcast which is where I copied the movie from.

Susan Clark is also funny as the tag-along third party scam artist who later joins Quincy and Jason full time. She is also quite attractive.

Brenda Sykes of course, was CLEOPATRA JONES (1973) as well as featuring in MANDINGO (1975) and DRUM (1976) and numerous other blaxploitation films throughout the 70s.

The most powerful sequence in this movie is when Plunkett sells both Jason and Naomi (Sykes) off to an assumed good plantation owner named Calloway (Duggan). After the sell, Jason stops Calloway and explains his situation as a free man from New Jersey. He says it quite eloquently the way a "proper white man" would speak. Calloway looks at him dumbfounded at what he has heard and utters, "That's the goddamnedest thing I ever heard..." Jason continues but a bit more hesitant which prompts Calloway to repeat the line again followed by, "I never heard a ni**er talk like that before...If I ever hear it again, I'm gonna blow your black ass off. You understand me, boy?" Calloway puts a gun in Jason's face which prompts him to now to change his speech with a humiliating, "Yassa, boss...sho do..." An incredible punch to the gut considering up till this point the film has been a comedy for the most part.

After his beating, which is not shown, the other slaves and house workers teach him how to be a proper slave. While this is going on, Quincy and Abigail go in search for Jason looking up every plantation where Plunkett has sold a slave in the hopes of finding him. The film returns to light comedy when Quincy shows up at Calloway's plantation dressed as a preacher claiming Jason has leprosy. This leads to the aforementioned whipping scene resulting in the one scene of violence. The juxtaposition between comedy and serious dramatics is a bit jarring at times but the film started as a comedy and ends as one. An interesting film which would do well with a DVD release.

I copied this from cable last year but not realizing my DVR is a couple minutes ahead, it shut off during the last minute of the film!!! Haven't seen it on cable since. >:(

6
THE GREAT SCOUT & CATHOUSE THURSDAY 1976

Lee Marvin (Sam Longwood), Oliver Reed (Joe Knox), Kay Lenz (Cathouse Thursday), Robert Culp (Jack Colby), Strother Martin

Three con men find gold but one of them, Jack Colby, wants it all for himself and makes off with the stash. Sam and his sex craving Indian friend, Joe Knox pursue Jack to force him to hand over their share. In the interim, Jack has used the gold to become a powerful societal magnate. With the help of Cathouse Thursday (so named by Joe Knox for his daily visit to the whorehouse; a day of the week applied to a prostitute of his choice) the three attempt to take back their share of the gold and much hilarity ensues.

I haven't watched the film in it's entirety yet but what I've watched so far is pretty funny. The fact that Oliver Reed is playing an Indian is offensive enough in itself but he plays a nymphomaniacal Native American at that. The scene where he has to be tested for a possible venereal disease is right funny. Marvin of course is a joy to watch. Will post more once I've seen the complete film. Another AIP film remastered from MGM and playing on cable. This one though was recorded over a year ago I just happened to look over it recently. Anybody seen it?

7
Recorded this off Encore Western Channel based on the synopsis alone. Looked at a bit of it the other night and thought something was odd about it...the film looked dubbed. Turned out to be another in the 'Winnetou' series. Stewart Granger plays Old Surehand here. Made a DVD-R of the film. Fullscreen only, though. Anyone else seen this one?

8
Here's a bunch of Sword & Sandal and Italian Adventure movie reviews I've done over the past couple years. The further to the bottom represent the most recent...

SANDOKAN THE GREAT 1963 aka LA TIGRE DI MOMPRACEM

Steve Reeves (Sandokan), Andrea Bosic (Yanez), Leo Anchoriz (Lord Guillonk)

Sandokan, the pirate of the Eastern seas does battle with British colonialists who have kidnapped his father. In retaliation, Sandokan kidnaps the niece of the villainous Lord Guillonk  in an effort to trade for his fathers freedom. All doesn't go as planned and a major siege in the British fortress brings the film to a close.

Definitely one of Reeve's best movies I've seen. I enjoyed this much better than HERCULES (1957). Reeves isn't that great of an actor, but he is most imposing as Sandokan. He even duels with a tiger early in the film. The fist fights may be a little slow, but for the time, they pass as decent enough. The action scenes are few and far between causing the film to seriously drag in spots but the island photography is very nice. Lenzi shot the film in India and was able to capture some nice shots of the jungles and wildlife there. That's not to say the film doesn't have lots of action, it's just not spread out evenly throughout.

While the film isn't action packed, especially at 111 minutes, the movie picks up considerably during the final 15 minutes with a massive assault on the fort. Sandokan and his men are to be executed but they manage to escape with the help of a monkey whom Yanez befriended earlier in the film. After the battle has begun, Sandokan and his men are cornered in a tower and out of ammunition. Help arrives with the Indian tribes joining the fight as well as the remainder of Sandokan's ship mates. Reeve's gets to man a gatling gun and mow down a bunch of the British soldiers.

This scene is quite violent for its time. Sergio Leone is often quoted as having first shown people being shot with both the gun and the victim in the same frame but it is here in abundance during the finale and this was a full year before FISTFUL OF DOLLARS. Participants are shown shot with rifles then shot again once they're down with some impaled with spears in one take. Others are run through with swords or blown up with dynamite.

Reeves of course, was a natural at appearing in these kinds of movies and this was a slight departure from his usual sword and sandal movies like THE LAST GLORY OF TROY (1962;with SW regular Gianni Garko), THE GIANT OF MARATHON (1959) and THE TROJAN HORSE (1961). However, Reeves did play a similar character to Sandokan in the rare THE WHITE WARRIOR (1959) where he played a Turkish warrior fighting against Russian invaders. Reeves also did one spaghetti western, which he also wrote, the interesting THE LONG RIDE FROM HELL (1968). He retired from movies after that reportedly from injuries sustained during his career.

Andrea Bosic can also be seen in THE WITCH'S CURSE (1961), a fusto movie starring Kirk Morris and also Corbucci's peplum ROMULUS & REMUS (1961) also starring Reeves as well as Gordon Scott. He appeared in later SW's such as the Gemma movies DAY OF ANGER (1967), FORT YUMA GOLD (1966) and ARIZONA COLT (1966) among many others as well as appearing in some of Lenzi's later war epics.

Anchoriz, who also plays the villain in the sequel to SANDOKAN, SANDOKAN & THE PIRATES OF MALAYSIA (1964) also appeared in the fusto favorite, PERSEUS THE INVINCIBLE (1961) starring Richard Harrison. He, like so many others, carried over into westerns appearing in the lively and adventurous big budget Italian oaters 7 GUNS FOR THE MACGREGORS (1966) and the first sequel 7 WOMEN FOR THE MACGREGORS (1967) and also in the downbeat classic A BULLET FOR SANDOVAL (1969).

Umberto Lenzi is probably the single most underrated director in Italian cinema considering the man dabbled in every genre proving his diversity and versatility as a director. He proves himself capable of handling big action scenes such as the siege at the end which is probably what led to him directing the later war pictures. Lenzi also foreshadows his cannibal movies briefly when Sandokan and his cohorts encounter tribes of headhunters whom turn out to be loyal to Sandokan's father. One of my favorite directors of all time, the man is unjustly called a hack and this tag is based only on his most notorious films, his violent jungle movies and his more extreme horror works.

Sadly, these few films will probably be all he will ever be remembered for outside of Italy. The man is justly saddened and irritated in interviews when it appears the only subject warranting discussion is CANNIBAL FEROX (1981) when so many more better and respectable films fill out his exhaustive filmography. Without a doubt his cop and adventure movies are his best works and are all sorely in need of some attention to give the man the recognition he so vehemently deserves.

Lenzi also returned for the sequel which I have yet to see but will watch very soon. Lenzi also directed the peplums MESSALINA AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES (1964) aka THE LAST GLADIATOR and TEMPLE OF THE WHITE ELEPHANT (1964).

This new DVD of SANDOKAN THE GREAT has a 12 minute sequence that is obviously not remastered and the quality is not as good as the rest of the film. I assume judging by the opening disclaimer that this piece was not in the original release but it quite good and contains an action scene in which Sandokan and his men are ambushed trying to escape the island and must retreat and journey deeper into the jungles. Aside from that, the remastering is gorgeous on this. The label has also released a number of other similar pirate films starring others like Gordon Scott and Robert Woods. If you are a true fan of Lenzi, you should definitely check out some of his other works unrelated to his more widely known horror and gore output.

9
Off-Topic Discussion / Doomsday (Neil Marshall, 2007)
« on: March 31, 2008, 08:02:03 PM »
***I SERIOUSLY DOUBT IT, BUT MIGHT BE SOME POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD***

Just got back from seeing DOOMSDAY and while I liked it, the movie unapologetically rips off big time from ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, MAD MAX, ROAD WARRIOR and a bit from THE WARRIORS but even before the film came out just reading the synopsis gives that much away but not since the Italians raped popular films of their plotlines has there been such blatant plagiarism. The duration of the film I couldn’t get these other movies out of my head. Even certain musical cues are awfully similar to ESCAPE FROM NY. The opening sequence looks almost directly lifted from Carpenter’s film even down to the card displaying the year followed by the word…NOW. There’s even a guy named Carpenter in the film. The lead actress also wears an eye patch for crying out loud (only during the first sequence with her than it’s abandoned). She also has a limited amount of time (48 hours) to get inside the wall and find a cure for the disease before all hell breaks loose.

The characters, the way they look, dress and their actions are all amalgamations of the above mentioned films. The car chase finale rips from Miller’s movies and even manages to recall a bit from ESCAPE in which the remaining heroes traverse an obstacle course of wrecked vehicles (minus the mines). ALIENS is also pilfered with its marines and the vehicles (they look just like the ones seen in the Cameron flick) they travel around in. The virus itself recalls 28 DAYS LATER or even Lenzi’s NIGHTMARE CITY if you want to be more accurate as many of the crazed victims reminded me more of the “zombies” in Lenzi’s classic exploitation opus.

The only thing that comes close to ruining the flick are the action scenes. Numerous times I kept saying to myself, “Please Mr. Cameraman, pull back just a bit so I can see what the hell is going on!” Not only does the camera cling tight to the combatants, but the editing is horrible in these scenes (even the daylight fight scenes) rendering the action mostly incomprehensible.

While a lot of people seemed to complain over the fact that there’s a medieval castle during the second half of the film, considering the film takes place in Europe I don’t see the big deal. The one thing that is odd is that everybody is wearing clothes right out of the ‘Knights of the Round Table’. Who is their tailor? This segment is alluded to earlier in the flick when a tape recorded message from Malcolm McDowall is played. He references Medieval times in his playback. Plus, the medieval social order he and his followers have resorted to is symbolic in a way. He speaks of “shedding their apparel”, starting over so to speak in reference to the state the Reaper Virus has placed mankind or at least Great Britain and portions of Europe.

The only character who gets any real development is Rhona Mitra and even she could be viewed as a rip off because of her similarity to actress Kate Beckinsale whom I initially thought was the star of this movie. She has a cool eyeball that acts as a recorder. She pops it out and tosses it down hallways to see what’s going on. She uses this ability during her first sequence when she has the eye patch. She keeps her orb in her skull the remainder of the picture. It’s a shame the female ROAD WARRIOR cannibal psycho pit fighter didn’t last very long or get more screen time as she was kind of interesting. She does pop up at the end though in some capacity.

There’s lots of gore throughout, too and the cannibalism scene is right extreme and one of the high points. There’s no shortage of the red stuff and I just wish the fights were shot and edited a little better so as to see the movements and who was hitting who. This erratic method of shooting and editing action comes to a head during the final car chase. The main heavy leaps into the car the heroes are driving and you hear all manner of sound effects signaling punches and bones popping but you can’t tell who is hitting who. I couldn’t imagine watching this full screen. There needs to be more HK choreographers on movies like this as they allow scenes to breath and don’t rely on loud sound effects of kicks and punches and rapid fire editing to sell a fight sequence.

DOOMSDAY is generally a fun movie if you don’t mind all the obvious pilfering, ripping off, homage whatever you want to call it. For me this goes a bit beyond homage. Considering what Marshall did before this, it is kind of perplexing that he would do such a movie as his big Hollywood debut and not go for something more original and eye catching. It’s definitely trashy fun that although rips from other more well known movies, the “stink” of more exploitative films from the likes of Lenzi and Mattei seem to be in the air as well. Listening to a Marshall commentary track will be interesting.

***ADDENDUM***

I remember LA mentioning he was an editing assistant on this film. It would be extremely gratifying to hear some stories working on this movie and what sequences he handled on this picture. Hopefully none of the fight scenes!  :)

10
The Colossus of Rhodes / Leone and ROMULUS & REMUS
« on: November 22, 2007, 07:36:27 PM »
I got a DVD-R of ROMULUS & REMUS yesterday and it has quite a pedigree behind the scenes in addition to being directed by Sergio Corbucci. Among the many writers for the film are Luciano Martino, Ducio Tessari, Corbucci and Sergio Leone. Steve Reeves and Gordon Scott star together in this one. The Paramount(!) logo appears at the beginning of the widescreen print of this film.

11
Off-Topic Discussion / BLAXPLOITATION FILMS
« on: June 13, 2007, 04:35:21 AM »
BLAXPLOITATION MOVIES--DIG IT

During the 70s a surge of films populated by predominantly African American actors, were hugely successful throughout the decade. Actors who, before the 70s, never really got a chance to shine were now getting that shot at the big time and produced a plethora of movies and popularity that, like the kung fu film imports of the time, never make as big an impact as they did during this time period.

Football player Jim Brown was probably the first black actor to attain respectable roles in big studio movies beginning with ICE STATION ZERO. Followed by other films such as THE DIRTY DOZEN, 100 RIFLES and I ESCAPED FROM DEVIL'S ISLAND, a film that was originally to have been a much bigger endeavor.

Arguably the most popular of the blaxploitation actors would be another former football player Fred "the Hammer" Williamson.He would appear in dozens of black action movies as well as creating his own production company through which he would even direct some of the films he starred in. The name of his company best described many of the movies he directed--Po Boy Productions. Some of these included MEAN JOHNNY BARROWS, DEATH JOURNEY and the very dismal ONE DOWN, TWO TO GO.

Williamson starred in 1972s HAMMER. A fairly routine effort bolstered by a performance by lead heavy William Smith, a former weight lifter and major bad ass who, according to Williamson, was the toughest man he ever met. After HAMMER, Williamson would star in a film he would become synonomous with. 1972s BLACK CAESAR directed by Larry Cohen who also directed the black movie BONE with Yaphett Kotto.

Cohen, like many of the other directors of blaxploitation, was a caucasian. He also directed the follow-up to BLACK CAESAR, HELL UP IN HARLEM (1973). BLACK CAESAR was basically a re-telling of the Julius Caesar story whereby Williamson rises to the top in the criminal underworld taking on the mob and becoming a big boss in the process only to be toppled and eventually killed from an unlikely band of hoodlums from the gutter at the end. The film had two different endings. One in which Williamson lives and the original downbeat finish. After this, Williamson had a policy in his films, he would win all his fights, get the girl and lives at the end. He and Cohen had a parting of ways that wasn't on the best of terms but they mended long enough to do the blaxploitation throwback from 1996 entitled ORIGINAL GANGSTAS.

Williamson had a lot of charisma in his movies and filled them with witty banter and lots of swooning white girls. The one near constant trait in all the black action movies was the "impotence" of the white man and the dominance of the white women by the black heroes. This went over well with the black male audiences but reportedly, many of the black females going to these movies hated seeing that. This was probably a sentiment shared by many a white viewer who refused to accept such a story conceit but then, these movies were not made for the white audiences. These movies didn't exclude them, they simply were a chance to give the black audiences to have their own heroes to (finally) root for and identify with.

One of the most controversial views of the blaxploitation movies was that although they were directed by white men (most of the time) and starred black actors, the films themselves still glorified racism. Many viewers were disturbed by this. Even though after years of being thought of as second class citizens, they were finally getting widespread notoriety in film, the consensus of many was that these movies glorified the notion that all black audiences wanted to see was brutal acts of violence and could not comprehend a more subdued or serious cinematic experience. This perpetuated the idea that black actors could and would not be taken seriously. Now, there were those who thought that instead of helping the black movement in film was, in actuality, hurting it instead.

Many of the films were made by American International Pictures. The big studios got in on the act after they saw how profitable these movies were. These movies were all very low budget (some moreso than others) and absolutely filled with violence. Again, that's what the producers assumed that's what the intended audience wanted. Lots of mindless and often bloody violence filled with all manner of jive talking vigilantes.

This was never more apparent than in one of the best examples of the genre and one of my personal favorites. Jonathan Kaplan's TRUCK TURNER (see review in RANDOM REVIEWS OF GENRE CINEMA thread) starring Isaac Hayes. Here, Hayes plays a skip tracer, or bounty hunter who, along with his partner, bust a drug pusher. This brings down some even bigger fish who all want Turner dead along with anybody close to him. Nichelle Nichols (Uhura from STAR TREK) plays the ringleader of a prostitute ring in one of the most amazingly raunchy and foul mouthed roles you'll ever see. The violence level is extremely high and bloody. Yaphett Kotto is very good as the main villain. He employs all manner of flamboyantly dressed pimps and hitmen to take out Turner. A bloody and violent shoot out in a hospital brings the film to a close.

Hayes also starred in the only Italian-blaxploitation hybrid, TOUGH GUYS starring Fred Williamson as the main villain. Being a Dino de Laurentiis production, you'd expect some big set pieces but you get nothing. Some spaghetti western vets are on hand and Hayes is totally wasted. None of the hip one liners or charisma are on hand. What makes it an even bigger disappointment is that Duccio Tessari (A PISTOL FOR RINGO) directs. Apparently, the Italians did not know how to approach the material. It's a true shame that there was never a TRUCK TURNER 2.

Around 1973 a black actress named Pam Grier would shake up the blaxploitation world with a double punch of classics from the great exploitation director Jack Hill (SPIDER BABY, SWITCHBLADE SISTERS). The films were COFFY and FOXY BROWN. Before these two, Grier had appeared in several movies already including SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM!, the filipino lensed THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE and BLACK MAMA, WHITE MAMA also starring Margaret Markov. It wasn't until COFFY that grier really got hot. Here, she plays a nurse by day, shotgun packin' vigilante by night out to snuff out the drug pushers who killed her sister. Thalmus Rasthula is on hand as a pimp and the always reliable Sid Haig is here as a nasty villain. The violence level is extremely high here and the tone is very serious. Hong Kong's Shaw Brothers even did their own version of COFFY in 1976 topping it in violence and sleaze entitled THE SEXY KILLER.

1974s FOXY BROWN was just as nasty and violent as its predecessor but there was a playfulness and sarcastic aura about this film that aleviates the general uneasiness of COFFY. FOXY BROWN is also much better remembered than the previous film although COFFY is better made and also preferred by its director. FOXY is about Grier avenging the murder of her cop boyfriend by infiltrating the crime ring and even aligning with a local branch of Black Panther-like vigilantes to take out the villains. Grier's character is brutally beaten, raped and forcefully shot up with drugs. she comes back with a vengeance at the end culminating in a shockingly memorable final moment that involves a "pickle jar". If ever there was a film to see in this genre, this is a good place to start.

Grier would also appear in BUCKTOWN with Fred Williamson, Tony King and Carl Weathers although her role here is diminished to damsel in distress about a black man who comes to a small southern town to take over his dead brothers bar only to find trouble with the racist law in the town. He enlists the help of some of his gang friends from the city to get rid of the racists. After the black gangsters eliminate them, they decide to stay in the town and ultimately become worse than the racial discriminators ever were. Now, Williamson has to take out his friends.

12
Off-Topic Discussion / D-WAR is FINALLY coming out.
« on: June 05, 2007, 03:12:31 PM »
The trailer looks great. There's a new one now.

http://www.fangoria.com/news_article.php?id=4376

13
Other Films / SHANGO aka LA PISTOLA INFALLIBILE
« on: June 02, 2007, 12:56:56 PM »
SHANGO- 1970

Anthony Steffen, Eduardo Fajardo

A Confederate Major is after a cache of Union gold to get the war started back again. Only a prisoner of war, Shango (Steffen) knows where it is located. A Mexican bandit gang is also after the money and the Major and the Bandit leader form an uneasy alliance to get the loot. Shango turns up missing and the villains take over a small Mexican village until they hand over Shango.

I had heard that this was a good movie but after watching it, IMO, that is not the case. There seems to be a problem in the dubbing or the script changed midway through. Initially, the Major was using Shango to get the money. Then later, he wants him dead and the money is never mentioned again nor is it ever found.

Also, Steffen, in this film, has got to be one of the weakest heroes ever in the genre. He spends the bulk of the film either being captured or escaping only to be caught again moments later. When he does get into the action, it consists of him unloading a gun (which seems to hold hundreds of bullets at a time) into the bad guys. This grows tiresome after the first few times as it loses its dramatic effect. And even then, these scenes are shot very lazily. You see Steffen fire rapidly then cut to about six or more guys spinning, twirling then hitting the ground. There's even one scene where Steffen fires straight ahead only to have a handful of guys fall from trees!

Fajardo is about as evil as can be but he cannot carry the film when the scenes where he guns down women, children and old folks are photographed to the point where they have no impact.

After buying the vastly superior W DJANGO! and seeing Mulargia's name, I got worried. I had confused his name with giallo ace Emilio Muraglia. Apparently, W DJANGO! (a very fun movie and Steffen's best performance I've seen) was a fluke because this film is as bad as BROTHER OUTLAW. But then, I've only seen 3 of his films now.

The print here from the Franco Cleef disc is apparently from a german DVD (as the title is in german) that didn't have an english track. The picture quality is very good and the sound is fine but probably utilized from a VHS tape. Still, it's nice to be able to see an obscure title in such nice quality even if the film isn't that great. Completists will definitely want to check it out.

Steffen also co-wrote the script with director Eduardo Mulargia who also directed the terrible BROTHER OUTLAW with Tony Kendall.

14
Sergio Leone News / LEONE ANTHOLOGY 8 DISC SET also separately
« on: May 31, 2007, 12:42:46 PM »
I remember a discussion on DUCK YOU SUCKER not having the original mono on the upcoming sp edition but it is in fact on there. If this has already been mentioned or discussed, I apologize.

Here is a link to the ANTHOLOGY SET. The single two disc editions are also available.

http://xploitedcinema.com/catalog/sergio-leone-anthology-p-11912.html

15
Off-Topic Discussion / ITALIAN PEPLUMS AND FUSTO MOVIES
« on: May 30, 2007, 04:36:20 AM »
In 1959 the film THE LABORS OF HERCULES starring American born bodybuilder Steve Reeves would start an avalanche of muscleman movies that would enjoy a somewhat brief run from 1960 until 1964 when the genre was supplanted by the onslaught of the Italian Westerns. This film was a huge success both in Italy and abroad and detailed the trials of Hercules and his friend Jason and their search for the Golden Fleece. One of Herc's jobs is to rid frightened villagers of the Bull of Crete as well as take on a villainous monarch. The character of Jason gets a lot of screen time himself and even battles a giant dinosaur-like creature that (at least in the American release) has the same roar found in the Japanese Godzilla movies.

The film was very popular and a sequel was quickly made. Entitled HERCULES & THE QUEEN OF LYDIA in Italy, Steve Reeves returned for the sequel but not for any subsequent mythological strongman movies. The film was called HERCULES UNCHAINED for its US debut. Reeve's did appear in numerous gladiator movies and similar peplum style movies like SANDOKAN THE GREAT directed by the great Umberto Lenzi.

The peplums, or fusto movies were generally based on biblical or historical accounts and most often times mythological adventures. Sometimes there would be a melding of the historical with the fantasy elements but always these movies had the same ingredients--(mostly) American or Italian bodybuilders in the heroic roles, lavish sets, beautiful scantily clad damsels in distress as well as evil scantily clad sorceress' that would use their charms or magic to lure the heroes to their doom and lots of fights.

Most of the films were low budget, but made good use of the limited funds with the spectacle. The monetary limitations would be painfully obvious in the films that featured monsters or magical creatures. Even still, these entries possessed a sense of child-like wonder that makes them the most memorable of the genre.

There were at least 20 movies in Italy that utilized the Hercules character. There were also a series of films featuring a classic Italian folk hero Maciste. Over two dozen Maciste movies were produced during this time. Also the mythological characters of Ursus, Goliath and Samson had their own series of films as well. These featured such actors as Reg Park, Mickey Hargitay, Kirk Morris, Gordon Scott, Brad Harris, Mark Forrest, Alan Steel, Gordon Mitchell, Richard Harrison and my favorite actor fron the peplums, Dan Vadis.

When one of the Maciste movies would be exported to American shores, the title was always changed. The American distributors assumed that audiences would not know who Maciste was and therefore changed the name and the same goes for the dubbing. Here are some examples--

MACISTE IN THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS-- US title: SON OF SAMSON
MACISTE IN THE LAND OF THE CYCLOPS-- US title: ATLAS IN THE LAND OF THE CYCLOPS
MACISTE AT THE COURT OF THE GREAT KHAN-- US title: SAMSON & THE 7 MIRACLES OF THE WORLD
MACISTE IN HELL-- US title: THE WITCH'S CURSE
MACISTE VS THE MONSTERS-- US title: FIRE MONSTERS AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES
ZORRO VS MACISTE-- US title: SAMSON & THE SLAVE QUEEN
MACISTE VS THE MONGOLS-- US title: HERCULES AGAINST THE MONGOLS
MACISTE IN GENGHIS KHAN'S HELL-- US title: HECULES VS THE BARBARIANS

American muscleman Mark Forrest played Maciste more than the other actors and he was one of the most popular. Outside of Reeves and Vadis, he was one of the best peplum stars I saw on Saturday Afternoon movies. It was a double feature of HERCULES AGAINST THE MONGOLS and its sequel HERCULES VS THE BARBARIANS. There were no monsters but lots of action. I don't remember much of either film other than Forrest ripping a huge tree from the ground and smashing the villains with it. Also I remember the main bad guy with his Mongolian looks and dress.

Forrest also starred in one of the most popular peplums THE REVENGE OF HERCULES aka GOLIATH AGAINST THE DRAGON. Released by AIP, new scenes utilizing a stop motion animated dragon replaced a mock up dragon in the Italian version. There is also a scene where Goliath goes to Hades to capture a magical stone and battles with a fire breathing 3 headed dog as well a giant bat creature. Broderick Crawford played the main bad guy. There is also lots of fights, feats of strength and an execution of a slave by being trampled by an elephant.

After the peplums finished their run, Forrest retired to become an opera singer(!) who still teaches today in LA among also being a fitness trainer.

Many of these stars were either previously, or soon to be part of Mae West's Revue. These included Gordon Mitchell, Dan Vadis and Mickey Hargitay who would end up marrying pin-up queen Jayne Mansfield. Hargitay would appear in one fusto along with his wife. That film is the hugely enjoyable THE LOVES OF HERCULES aka HERCULES VS THE HYDRA. Here, Herc battles a giant hydraulically controlled multi headed Hydra, an Ape creature in a cave and the inevitable evil queen who places a spell on Hercules' love interest.

Hargitay would go on to appear in numerous Italian genres including the Spy films and Giallo's and an occassional straight horror picture like THE BLOODY PIT OF HORROR where he played the Crimson Executioner.

Gordon Mitchell was one of the few fusto stars who made a successful transition to the Italian western movies where he found work as a villain. Having participated in over 200 movies of various genres, Mitchell passed away a couple of years ago. He appeared in numerous peplums that were watchable entries such as THE GIANT OF METROPOLIS, some so-bad-it's-good entries like ATLAS IN THE LAND OF THE CYCLOPS and some horrible, nearly unwatchable dreck like VULCAN, SON OF JUPITER.

Former Mr. Universe Reg Park was notable for appearing in some of the finer examples of the genre like Mario Bava's HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (1962) which also starred Christopher Lee as an undead sorcerer who lures Hercules to Hades where he does battle with zombies and other assorted terrors and traps. In America, Lee was marketed as playing a vampire since his DRACULA pictures were doing brisk business. Park was also in HERCULES & THE CAPTIVE WOMEN where he did battle with an Atlantean army of female warriors and a lizard monster in a cave.

Kirk Morris, one of a handful of Italian born actors to portray super strong heroes, appeared in THE WITCH'S CURSE from 1962. An obvious take off on the much better Mario Bava directed HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD. Morris also appeared in the action packed entry HERCULES CHALLENGES SAMSON aka HERCULES, SAMSON & ULYSSES. There's a great sequence where the two strongmen do battle among the ruins of an old temple. A sea monster (which looks a bit like a macro enlarged seal) also figures into the proceedings. He also appeared in an odd but fun entry, THE CONQUERER OF ATLANTIS. Morris would also appear as Ringo in the Italian western musical RITA OF THE WEST.

Dan Vadis was probably the most successful of the fusto stars from the 60s. He not only made the transition into the spaghetti westerns but also had a successful career in US productions. Most notably Clint Eastwood movies like EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE, ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN, THE GAUNTLET, BRONCO BILLY and HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER. I first saw Vadis in the third chapter of the TEN GLADIATOR series. The first film was called appropriately enough, THE TEN GLADIATORS aka TEN DESPERATE MEN.

The film dealt with Vadis, along with nine compatriots, leading a revolt against Emperor Nero. The second film was called SPARTACUS & THE TEN GLADIATORS and starred vadis again leading his group against the ringleaders of brutal gladiatorial games. The third, TRIUMPH OF THE TEN GLADIATORS was more lighter in tone than the other two. Here, Vadis and his gang of grapplers take part in a futile mission to kidnap a queen. All three are from 1964 and feature lots of fights and abundant action. Future spaghetti western director Giancarlo Parolini directed the trilogy.

Vadis also played Hercules in the 1964 film THE TRIUMPH OF HERCULES aka HERCULES VS THE GIANT WARRIORS. Here, Hercules is bewitched by an evil sorceress who desires his companionship only she must get his love interest out of the way first. Hercules does battle with the villains army of bronze automatons on several occassions as well becoming a villain for a brief stint and destroying a village. Herc is then stripped of his strength by Zeus and at the end he must try to save his lady love from a spiked contraption until Zeus finally gives him his strength back at the last minute. The closing moments see Herc's girlfriend dangling over the edge of a cliff above the ocean. The sorceress changes her appearance to look like the girlfriend but Hercules sees through this disguise and shockingly drops her to the craggy rocks below. His woman rescued and his strength returned, all is right with the world.

Vadis would die in 1987 after ingesting a toxic substance.

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