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Arizona Colt
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« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2007, 03:11:12 PM »

MANDINGO- 1975

Ken Norton, Perry King, James Mason, Susan George, Paul Benedict

The granddaddy of the race-hate genre about slavery in the deep south during the civil War. Norton is a slave who is sold to the Falconhurst plantation where he is to be used as a worker and for breeding more slaves. Perry King is Mason's son who is a cripple. He is to be married to Susan George's character but cannot get along with her but instead falls in love with one of his nubian bed wenches as they called them. George, in turn, seduces Norton into a relationship with her. Everything ends badly for all the characters culminating in a downer ending where Norton is forced in a cauldron of boiling water then continuously stabbed with a pitchfork.

Norton, whose main claim to fame would be defeating Muhammed Ali in 1973 breaking Ali's jaw in the first round only for Ali to go the full duration of the
fight, is fine in the part. His acting isn't good but he has a presence that suits the film fine. Besides, NOrton is surrounded by some fine company.
It's quite shocking to see James Mason relieving his rheumatism by using little black boys as foot stools. Also the language used by the caucasian cast
members is most incendiary.

Mason is very convincing as the slave breeding patriarch of the Falconhurst plantation. Another shocker is seeing Benedict, who was Mr. Bentley at the time on the hit TV show THE JEFFERSONS, as a slave trader.

There are a handful of scenes that riled quite a few people back in 75 and still packs a qallop today. One particularly disturbing sequence involves a
hanging of a runaway slave. The aforementioned cauldron scene is another.

Susan George, who is, IMO, a most underrated actress, is also very good in her role. Her somewhat graphic sex scene with Norton curiously mirrors the "sex" scene in STRAW DOGS.

One of the most shocking aspects of this film is that it was a major studio production. Paramount was very brave to attempt a film like this and they REALLY crossed the line with the twice as trashy sequel DRUM.

I read an interview with the editor of MANDINGO who said when he was putting the trailer together, he was horrified at what he was seeing. Never before had a major studio movie went so far. The poster was also a bit blasphemous with its GONE WITH THE WIND art decor showcasing Norton with George in a passionate embrace.

Directed by Richard Fleisher who also helmed 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA and co-directed TORA! TORA! TORA! with Kinji Fukasaku. Even with all the sordid and graphic scenes of humiliation, Fleisher handles the proceedings very well. The film was a huge hit in 1975 which paved the way for its more grindhouse fashioned sequel the following year.



Paramount released MANDINGO to tape in the mid 80s. It has yet to have a legit US release to DVD. A cut spanish DVD was released last year. There is an uncut dupe floating around in trade circles as well as dupes of the VHS release.

Paramount also produced a blaxploitation western starring Fred Williamson, Durville Martin (the villain in DOLEMITE) and Don Pedro Colley called THE LEGEND OF NI**ER CHARLEY (1972). That film follows similar territory that MANDINGO explored and its sequel trampled on. An extremely rare movie to come by, the only print known is an edited TV version that oddly enough, leaves all or most of the condescending dialog towards the African American cast members intact. SOUL OF NI**ER CHARLEY followed.

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« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2007, 03:13:50 PM »

DRUM- 1976

Ken Norton, Warren Oates, Yaphett Kotto, Pam Grier, Cheryl Rainbeau Smith, John Colicos, Royal Dano

The extremely offensive sequel to MANDINGO follows Norton again in the title role of Drum, whose white mother sold him at a young age to protect him. He grows up and ends up at the sadistic slave house of a homosexual French slave trader played by John Colicos. Drum meets up with Blaze (Kotto) and the two form a rocky friendship. After spurning the flaming Frenchie's advances, Drum is sold to slave breeder Mr. Hammond (Oates). After several misadventures at the house, the slaves plan a revolt and during the finale, there's a bloody and violent attack on the mansion involving lots of squibs, rape and people set on fire. The cavalry rides in after everything goes up in a fiery explosion and shoots down the remaining slaves. Drum, however, is still alive.

Norton's acting is pretty much the same as before although he gets some humorous lines and his non-acting curiously fits the film anyways. One funny scene involves a conversation with Warren Oates. Drum constantly says "yes, sir" and "no, sir", to which Hammond replies..."Drum, you're not speakin' ni**erish enough. You sure you aint had no education?...It's yes, master."...then Drum retorts..."Yes sir, master".

Oates appears to be having the time of his life constantly surrounded by naked women. He gets some of the most outlandishly offensive lines you will ever hear. I'm sure it's all genuine talk for the time, but nearly half the films dialog scenes will have you shaking your head in disbelief. I wonder what Oates thought of this film after it was finished?

There is more of an accent on comedy (or black comedy depending on your perspective) this time around although the movie does not skimp on the sleazy elements at all. One of the funniest bits involves Fiona Lewis interrupting Oates and Pam Grier in bed. Another has Hammonds sex obssessed daughter constantly grabbing the slaves in their private regions and forcing them into sexual contact with her. The resulting scene where she is discovered by her father is a hoot.

Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith who displays her assets here, would go on to become a porn star but her career would end tragically when she would take her own life in the early 90s. Her character is a highlight in the film.

Kotto is good as well as the dignified slave Blaze who wants nothing more than to be free. His character is one of the few serious roles in the picture.

John Colicos, who in 1978 would play Baltar in the then most expensive show on television BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, is hilarious as the homo slaver. His accent slips every once and a while. He has a preoccupation with castration of his slaves when they become unruly. During the explosively violent finale, he gets first hand knowledge of the procedure.

Pam Grier is hardly in the movie at all. She has a few scenes but she is good enough in these few bits that her fate is most saddening. Grier thought that
this movie would open up more serious roles for her only they didn't come.

Steve Carver directs. Carver also directed IMO, Chuck Norris' best movie, LONE WOLF MCQUADE (1983) which had the best spaghetti western soundtrack that was never in a spaghetti western. He also directed BIG BAD MAMA for Roger Corman starring Angie Dickensen, Tom Skerritt and William Shatner.



DRUM's poster was the real deal with its tagline--'MANDINGO lit the fuse...DRUM is the explosion!' DRUM was re-released at a film festival a few years back
and caused quite a stir. It's highly doubtful that MANDINGO or DRUM will ever receive a legit release stateside. There is a british DVD of DRUM available but
this is not an authorized release. DRUM was, like its predecessor, financed through Paramount Studios.

Both films are well worth checking out for curiosity seekers interested in the daring and aggressive style of 70s moviemaking. A time in movies that will
never be repeated.

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« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2007, 03:08:12 PM »

DARK, THE- 1979

William Devane, Kathy Lee Crosby, Richard Jaekal, Keenan Wynn, Casey Kasem

A visit by a not-so-friendly alien puts LA in a panic as bodies turn up with their heads torn off. William Devane along with a reporter (Crosby) try to stop the creature which also disentegrates people with laser beams from its eyes. A final battle ensues with the creature surrounded by about 50 cops in an abandoned building where the film veers into STAR WARS territory.

A silly but nonetheless spooky horror movie that was initially began by Tobe Hooper. He directed two days and was replaced by director John "Bud" Cardos. The original script was about an insane killer that was kept locked up in an attic. He escapes and goes about decapitating his victims. After filming had already began, producer Montoro decided to change the killer to an outer space monster since STAR WARS had proven such a huge moneymaking commodity. Unfortunately, this movie was unable to find an audience and it wasn't long before it was playing on television as the ABC MOVIE OF THE WEEK.

There is also a psychic character played by an actress whose name I don't remember. She sees the killings before they happen. Later on, the alien pays her a visit in one of her mirrors(!) and destroys the inside of her house.

Jaekal plays the detective on the case and as usual, Jaekal gives his all in the role. He can be seen in numerous american westerns (CHISUM) as well as sci-fi (THE GREEN SLIME), action (WALKING TALL 2) and more horror (GRIZZLY).

Casey Kasem plays the coroner who is baffled at the circumstances surrounding the victims. He even speaks his famous line from American Top 40--"Keep reaching for the stars."!

It's not quite known why Hooper was let go so early into the filming, although an argument between Hooper and notoriously shady producer Montoro over the films direction is hinted at.Devane is very good here. His character is coping with the divorce of his wife and the neglection of his daughter.

Devane is also excellent in the cool and underrated action suspenser ROLLING THUNDER (1977) also starring Tommy Lee Jones and James Best (Rosco from DUKES OF HAZZARD) as one very nasty villain.

Crosby is fine as the spunky reporter who also provides a love interest for Devane. Crosby is probably best remembered from the THAT'S INCREDIBLE! TV program but she also played the original WONDER WOMAN in one of two pilot movies before Linda Carter took over. Here, Crosby wore a short skirt and the costume was a bit different than the one made famous by the voluptuous Carter.

Cardos also directed the superb Nature-Gone-Amuck movie KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS (1977) starring William Shatner, grindhouse hottie Tiffany Bolling and Woody Strode.



With the films fascinating pedigree, the troubled production behind the scenes shows through in the finished product. There are long stretches between the action scenes. Even though the dialog is good, and time is spent on the characters, impatient viewers may grow weary of this. Also, the shift from the head tearing crazy man to the laser beam emitting werewolf-like alien makes for a slightly jarring transition.

There are several really nice scenes. One includes the sole head ripping involving a tough guy in a bar who balks at the talk of an inhuman killer on the loose only to lose his noggin shortly thereafter. His body even walks a few steps before falling over. The first kill scene during the opening of the movie involving, believe it or not, Paris Hiltonís mother(!) is very well done. The scene with the psychic in her home when she sees the image of the creature in her mirror is nice. The finale is fairly exciting as the alien blasts scores of cops to kingdom come. Only the monsters destruction seems a bit rushed.

The soundtrack is very spooky and eerie. When I first saw the film on TV back in 1980 or '81 it gave me the creeps. Some cues are borrowed from the original TWILIGHT ZONE show. The cue can be heard on the episode BACK THERE and TO SERVE MAN as well as several others.

Amazingly, this was a Dick Clark(!) production. That might explain Casey Kasem's participation.

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« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2007, 03:12:19 PM »

WALKING TALL- 1973

JOE DON BAKER, FELTON PERRY, BRUCE GLOVER, GENE EVANS

Buford Pusser, a former wrestler, along with his family, moves back to his boyhood town. There, he finds drugs, prostitution and corrupt law officials. He decides to run for sheriff and wins. Pusser then goes on a crusade to rid the town of its criminal elements...including the corrupt lawmen and judges. Trying to take down the crime syndicate turns into a bloody quest for revenge as Buford is shot, stabbed and beaten multiple times. His refusal to back off results in the brutal murder of his wife.

Baker's most memorable role and he's intense as all hell commanding your attention in every scene he's in. Most notable is his apparent slow descent into madness as his attempts at ridding his town of crime slowly becomes his search for vengeance. Both sides constantly one up each other. The vicious crooks sneak attack Pusser and his family at every turn and Pusser returns the favor in kind. Some of the most brutal and bloody encounters ever caught on film. The movie's sadistically violent tone is heightened by a foreshadowed, but still shocking attack on Pusser and his wife during the conclusion. Although Pusser, his face shattered by gunfire, manages one final act of retribution, the film ends with the fact that some of them got away.

It's here, during the closing moments, after everything Pusser has done for the town, that the townspeople finally band together and burn the remains of the bar to the ground.

A huge box office hit and one of the greatest drive-in movies ever made. Its success guaranteed a sequel would follow. For some reason or another, Baker did not return for the second film. Supposedly, the real Buford Pusser was going to play himself, but he died under mysterious circumstances in a car accident shortly before filming was to begin. Instead, the imposing Bo Svenson took over. Although the second film tones down the violence, Svenson makes the role his own and especially shines in the third film which returns to the bloody shenanigans of the first film.



Baker can also be seen in 1969's GUNS OF THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN playing a one armed gunslinger. His role here is memorable only his death scene is a bit abrupt. He's also in the film WELCOME HOME SOLDIER BOYS (1971), about a group of Nam vets going on a killing spree in their hometown. One of a handful of violent action pictures made as a response to the Vietnam War.

Lief Garrett, who plays Pusser's young son, also appears along with Gene Evans, in 1974's DEVIL TIMES FIVE about a group of vacationers at a getaway in a snow bound estate who find five kids lost in the snow. It turns out the kids are from an insane asylum and they go about killing off the cast of adults in gory ways including a nifty piranha's-in-the-bathtub bit. He would later go on to a brief career on the disco charts.

Someone I know who claims to know the Pusser family said that Buford only rebelled against the criminals when they refused to continue paying him bribe money.

WALKING TALL would also garner TV movie and a short lived TV show in which Svenson also took part. A really bad remake would surface in 2004 that attempted to make a mockery of the original.

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« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2007, 03:23:48 PM »

I remember seeing Walking Tall in the theater.  A family friend had taken me and my brother.  It was probably the first R rated film I had seen.  I was 10 or 11.  I remember feeling anxious and looking down on some of those scenes.  During its run, it was quite a phenomenon at the box office.  Shortly after Walking Tall, I had a family member take me to an art theater for a double feature of Deliverance and A Clockwork Orange.  I was about the same age.  I remember the theater owner tried to discourage the person I was with from taking me in.  Needless to say, I really got an eyefull with those films as well.

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« Reply #20 on: May 22, 2007, 03:35:40 PM »

If only I could have seen WALKING TALL in a theater. That's one of those films I was forbidden to see by my mother. Although when we moved to NC, we used to frequent these two drive-ins. The only things I was allowed to see were the kung fu triple bills. If ever there were any horror or seriously violent action, I couldn't watch. So, who knows, I may have subconsciously seen WALKING TALL in the drive-in without knowing it!

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« Reply #21 on: May 22, 2007, 03:52:16 PM »

Joe Don Baker is MITCHELL!

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« Reply #22 on: May 22, 2007, 10:04:07 PM »

AC, I must tell you.  I read your reviews on Mandingo and Drum.  I never saw Drum.  I did see Mandingo in the theater as a matinee in an urban theater.  I was just a bit older...maybe 14 or so.  The theater wasn't that full for a middle of the week matinee.  A lot of the other customers were African American.  I only remember some of the scenes in that film.  I always wanted to rent it just to see my difference in perception of the film from then to whenever.  When something happened which was violent or derogatory, you should of heard the shouts to the screen.  It was another memorable theater experience from back in the day.    

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« Reply #23 on: May 22, 2007, 10:13:57 PM »

Another great Mandingo-style movie: The Klansmen with Lee Marvin.

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« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2007, 06:17:45 AM »

Another great Mandingo-style movie: The Klansmen with Lee Marvin.

...and Richard Burton, Cameron Mitchell, Lola Falona and OJ Simpson as a killer snuffing out the Klan. An uncut German DVD is available. Pretty awful movie. Marvin and Burton were drunk the entire shoot.

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« Reply #25 on: May 23, 2007, 06:18:22 AM »

Joe Don Baker is MITCHELL!

I assume then you have the MST3K disc?

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« Reply #26 on: May 23, 2007, 06:28:50 AM »

...and Richard Burton, Cameron Mitchell, Lola Falona and OJ Simpson as a killer snuffing out the Klan. An uncut German DVD is available. Pretty awful movie. Marvin and Burton were drunk the entire shoot.
   High camp. Marvin and Burton DRUNK!!! I find that hard to believe. Wonder what Hopkins and O'Toole were doing. Grin

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« Reply #27 on: May 23, 2007, 07:22:26 AM »

I assume then you have the MST3K disc?

Damn right  Afro

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« Reply #28 on: May 23, 2007, 02:57:15 PM »

AC, I must tell you.  I read your reviews on Mandingo and Drum.  I never saw Drum.  I did see Mandingo in the theater as a matinee in an urban theater.  I was just a bit older...maybe 14 or so.  The theater wasn't that full for a middle of the week matinee.  A lot of the other customers were African American.  I only remember some of the scenes in that film.  I always wanted to rent it just to see my difference in perception of the film from then to whenever.  When something happened which was violent or derogatory, you should of heard the shouts to the screen.  It was another memorable theater experience from back in the day.    

Noodles, DRUM is a bit different from MANDINGO. It's way over the top and really pushes its exploitation buttons. Seeing Baltar from BATTLESTAR GALACTICA trying to get inside Norton's back door is hilarious. There's so many zany moments in this one. During the final 15 minutes it all turns into a siege movie complete with squibs, rape, explosions, immolation and angry slaves hacking white folks to death with sharp implements. Warren Oates performance is worth the price of admission alone.

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« Reply #29 on: May 23, 2007, 03:14:08 PM »

BLACK CHRISTMAS- 1974
Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder, John Saxon, Keir Dullea                                       

During the holidays, a sorority house full of young girls receive obscene and threatening phone calls from an unknown assailant. Once one of the girls disappears and the calls escalate, it's discovered a psychotic killer is on the loose. The girls are dwindled down to one and in a then terrifying twist, it is discovered that the calls are coming from inside the house. After the last girl supposedly kills the "killer", a final shocker of a twist is revealed.

One of the greatest horror pictures ever made unjustly overshadowed by HALLOWEEN which came out four years later. After BLACK CHRISTMAS was a success in Canada, director Bob Clark was approached to do a sequel. The script was written but Clark passed on it. He gave it to a young John Carpenter and told him to do it. Carpenter in turn took the script and tweaked it slightly and what was originally to be BLACK CHRISTMAS 2 became HALLOWEEN.

Seeing the movie today it still retains its power to be as scary a horror movie as you're ever likely to see. It was even cancelled from a Halloween showing on NBC for being too terrifying. For all its scenes of suspense and impending horror, there is no gore save for a brief bit of blood. It all owes to Clark's masterful handling of the material that the film succeeds on many levels.

The music is VERY unsettling and creepy. Probably the single most nerve shattering aspect of the film are the sinister phone calls the girls receive. At first, the calls sound like simple pranks. They soon become very sexual and at times sound as if more than one person is on the phone. Through the calls, you learn clues about the killer and who he is and possibly, what his motivations may be. Another great touch is that aside from a shot of an eye through a cracked door, you never see the killer. In fact, by the end, you learn the killer is still on the loose in the attic after the cops have left the last survivor alone in the house sedated after her ordeal.

Amidst all the seriousness, there is a certain amount of humor that is quite hilarious. Whether it be dirty posters on the wall, the drunken house mother or the foul mouthed, free spirited and likewise drunken Barbara played perfectly by Margot Kidder. According to John Saxon who plays another cop role here, Margot was, in person, very much like the character she played in the film.

Saxon, whose credits span a couple hundred movies and TV shows, frequently played policemen during the 70s and 80s. He replaced another famous actor at the last minute whose name escapes me at the moment. Right after Saxon got off the plane in Canada, he began shooting his first scenes.

All the performances here are good especially Kidder. Several red herrings are thrown in for good measure. The film was a big hit in its native Canada but only a minor success in America where the film was perceived as too real. Several serial slayings were prominent in the news at the time and possibly kept audiences away. It was re-released on a few occassions here. It was known as SILENT NIGHT, EVIL NIGHT and A STRANGER IN THE HOUSE. The latter title is what I saw it under one evening on HBO years ago.





In 2004 pre-production began on a remake of BLACK CHRISTMAS which had original director Bob Clark on board as an Executive Producer. The film, which captured a nice moody atmosphere and had several nods to the original even having one of the sorority girls play the house mother in the remake. The gore is piled high in the '05 version and a seriously twisted mean streak is implemented for the new film. It's okay but not a patch on the original.

Director Clark got his start directing several classic horror films all of which are set for remakes. His first, CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS is a wonderfully macabre zombie picture with much spooky ambience and convincing zombie make-up by star Alan Ormsby. Next was DEATHDREAM, a take on the short story, 'The Monkey's Paw'. This spooktacularly creepy terror tale featured early work by a young Tom Savini. Clark would also direct one of the best remembered comedies of the 80s, PORKY'S which is also set for a remake by shock jock Howard Stern. But clark will forever be remembered for one film in particular, the delightfully personal movie A CHRISTMAS STORY. What other movie in history gets its own 24 hour marathon?

Sadly, Clark and his son would be killed in an auto accident earlier this year by a drunk driver. Whether or not the planned CHILDREN...remake will forge ahead is unknown. Hopefully not. One of Clark's last interviews can be seen on the new DVD documentary GOING TO PIECES: THE RISE & FALL OF THE SLASHER FILM.

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