Monday, April 27, 2009

Bare Knuckles (1977)

Directed by Don Edmonds.

Starring Robert Viharo and Gloria Hendry.


Pretty much a perfect trailer. I haven't seen this film so I can't comment on its quality but this type of clip is what this site is all about. It's so perfectly of its time that it could have been one of those fake trailers as seen on Tarantino's "Grindhouse" film.

Don Edmonds is the guy who directed the notorious "Ilsa" films: "Ilsa, She Wolf Of The SS" and "Ilsa, Harem Keeper Of The Oil Shieks", so you know that exploitation cinema is his stock-in-trade.

Gloria Hendry, of course, was a big star in some of the biggest and best blaxploitation films of the 70's such as "Black Caesar" (with Fred Williamson), its sequel "Hell Up In Harlem" and "Black Belt Jones (with Jim Kelly).

Anyways, enjoy. This is what it's all about.

Endgame (1983)

Full Movie

Directed by Joe D'Amato.

Starring Al Cliver, Laura Gemser, George Eastman and Gordon Mitchell.


More Mad Max inspired madness from Italy. The wildly prolific D'Amato (Antropophagus, Buio Omega) helmed this one and he brought back favourite George Eastman and Lucio Fulci regular Al Cliver (Zombie, The Beyond, The Black Cat).

Also look for spaghetti western and peplum star Gordon Mitchell.

This is not the best example of the genre - nods would go out to Enzo G. Castellari's "1990: Bronx Warriors" and Sergio Martino's "2019: After The Fall Of New York", but it's a great little diversion and at least on par with Fulci's similar "The New Gladiators".

My Letterboxd Review:

I can think of at least 5 Italian post-apocalyptic films that are better than Endgame, but the genre is so inherently entertaining and crazy that even the mediocre ones are worth seeing. All you need to see on the screen are a good rock quarry location, eyepatches, steel-plated shinpads, fingerless gloves, George Eastman and plenty of mannequins thrown under cars. Endgame has all of this and the eternally depressing Al Cliver in a rare leading role. Average for the genre but the pre-Running Man scenario is fun and the dubbing is typically hilarious, especially for Eastman's character.

Absurd (1981) aka Antropophagus 2 aka Monster Hunter

Directed by Joe D'Amato.

Starring George Eastman and Edmund Purdom.


Veteran Italian director D'Amato directed this, although in the English speaking prints he went under the pseudonym Peter Newton, which was a common practice back then. American distributors were wary that their drive-in audiences wouldn't give European films a chance so many Italian and Spanish names were Anglicized along the way (D'Amato probably used more pseudonyms over the years than any other director in history!)

This is D'Amato's follow up to his notorious Antropophagus from 1980 (D'Amato was credited with directing 9 films in 1980 alone!) and it is as much of a gorefest as the first one.

George Eastman (Rabid Dogs, 1990: Bronx Warriors, Baba Yaga) returns from the first film to play the psycho and he hacks and chops his way through this grindfest. He also wrote the screenplay. Edmund Purdom (Pieces, The Fifth Cord), who just passed away on New Years Day of this year, plays a small role as well.

Not surprisingly, this was on the list of banned films in the UK during the 80's making it a so-called "Video Nasty".

This film has not officially been released on DVD yet so good luck finding it without spending some bucks for the Monster Hunter on Wizard Video edition on Ebay for the VHS.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964)

Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis.

Starring Connie Mason and William Kerwin.


H.G. Lewis' best film in my opinion and one that doesn't get old. I've had that banjo song in my head ever since I first saw this movie on late night cable TV.

Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966)

Directed by Don Sharp.

Starring Christopher Lee.


One of my favourite Hammer Horror films thanks to a nasty and memorable performance by the classy Christopher Lee. He is just so convincingly evil that he more than makes up for a somewhat lackluster plot and lack of atmosphere.

The only more menacing character I can think of is Spencer Tracy's take on Dr. Jeckyll in the 1941 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (make sure to check that one out, even if you're not a fan of older horror films.)

The Vault of Horror (1973)

Directed by Roy Ward Baker.

Starring Dawn Addams and Michael Craig.


A top-notch anthology from Amicus studios, following up their succesful Tales From The Crypt release from the previous year. In fact, you can get both on one DVD and they make for a good night viewing back to back.

The two of them were easily the best horror anthologies until Creepshow came along in the 80's.

Shake 'n Bake Commercial (1972)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Student Bodies (1981)

Directed by Mickey Rose.

Starring Kristen Riter and Richard Belzer.


Probably the first outright horror parody, pre-dating stuff like Scream and Scary Movie by a decade and a half.

By the trailer, you can see that this was inspired by the previous years "Airplane". Mickey Rose, who wrote and directed, was once part of Woody Allen's team and co-wrote many of the early screwball comedies of Allen's career.

The parallels to today are striking. We are now seeing a slasher renaissance in Hollywood and soon enough we will be seeing the parody films in their wake. Student Bodies was released in reaction to the major success of films like Halloween and Friday The 13th from the first slasher wave.

The next Scary Movie is probably already on it's way.

This movie also features a scene that is strikingly similar to the opening of the first Scream film. It's probably no coincidence.

Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

Directed by J. Lee Thompson.

Starring Melissa Sue Anderson and Glenn Ford.


A classic Canadian slasher with one of the most memorable posters of the 80's. The producers of this movie were also responsible for the other giant of Canadian slasher films, My Bloody Valentine from the same year.

A fine example of "Canuxploitation".

The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Directed by Dan O'Bannon.

Starring Clu Gulager and James Karen.


Self-explanatory. If you're reading this site, you've already seen this movie a hundred times.

This is a staple of the 80's video rental days and this spent a lot of time in my VCR as a kid. Plus, it's a hell of a trailer.

Witchery (1988)

Clip: Linda Blair vs David Hasselhoff

Directed by Fabrizio Laurenti.

Starring Linda Blair and David Hasselhoff.


Linda Blair and the Hoff in an 80's Italian horror movie? That is the very definition of must-see.

In fact, director Laurenti even managed to convince Blair to do an Exorcist style possession scene which puts this film over the top. Witchery also recycles a few old Suspiria themes with the witch angle but also with the shimmering medallion that seems to hypnotize people. This trailer makes the film seem more brutal and violent than it really feels when you watch the full-length but it will definitely please gore hounds as well.

I recommend this film as the finale in an all-Linda Blair 80's weekend. Start with Hell Night, then Savage Streets and finally, the all-mighty Witchery.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Penitentiary (1979)

Directed by Jamaa Fanaka.

Starring Leon Isaac Kennedy.


This film seems to split people down the middle: they either love it or detest it. I'm in the former and I think it belongs on any list of tragically underrated films. There is so much grit coming at you that you'll be chiseling it off your shoulders for weeks.

This is some real low-budget fare but it's worth the ticket if you like prison films.

My Letterboxd Review:

Takes the word GREASY to a new, terrifying level. This is a pure sleazefest with a little boxing thrown in to exploit Rocky. And it works.

Black Shampoo (1976)

Directed by Greydon Clark.

Starring Gary Allen, Kelly Beau and Jack Meoff!!!


This was Greydon Clark's first movie and it comes a bit late in the blaxploitation cycle and is largely forgotten nowadays. Clark would go on to direct the awesome 80's videogame movie called Joysticks in 1983.

Black Shampoo is definitely in the "Shaft" and "Slaughter" school of blaxploitation movies but it sort of veers into Jack Hill-esque ridiculousness. Highly recommended. It's available from VCI Video on DVD.

The Cheerleaders (1973)

Directed by Paul Glickler.

Starring Stephanie Fondue, Denise Dillaway and Jovita Bush.


Mid-70's sex comedy that spawned two sequels, including the Jack Hill (Coffy) directed Swinging Cheerleaders in 74.

What is hilarious about this trailer is that the last minute or so is just a flagrant succession of butt shots. This is the type of film Clark Griswold probably watched while going to college in the 70's.