Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Exhumed Films Present Legends OF Italian Horror


  On July 31st Exhumed Films will present a special program titled Masters Of Italian Horror at the International House Theater in Philadelphia, PA. starting at 12:00 noon.
  Featuring 35mm (!) prints of  SUSPIRIA (1977), Umberto Lenzi's EYEBALL (1975), Fulci's THE BLACK CAT (1981), Bava's BARON BLOOD (1972) and lastly Sergio Martino's violent giallo TORSO from 1973.
   Being a U.S. print you will see the infamous "breathing flesh" title card on SUSPIRIA card that was added by the American distributor. Fun Stuff ! -and I hope to make it up someday to one of their screening festivals.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Happy Birthday Jim Kelly

 "The Cool Master of King-Fu and Karate !"

Tagline from BLACK SAMURAI 1977

     A very special birthday wish and remembrance needs to go out today for Jim Kelly who was born on this day in 1946. In a decade that spawned more then it's share of cinema bad-asses, Jim Kelly was one of the 70's baddest.
    Winner of many karate championships, he became the first African American martial arts movie star and initially rose to prominence as Williams in the Bruce Lee classic ENTER THE DRAGON from 1973. In 1974 he starred as the title character in BLACK BELT JONES, kicked ass alongside Fred Williamson and Jim Brown in Gordon Park's THREE THE HARD WAY and appeared  with Joe Don Baker in GOLDEN NEEDLES. In 1977 there was Al Adamson's BLACK SAMURAI and the blacksploitation western TAKE A HARD RIDE FROM 1975.
    At 6' 2" with his trademark afro and sideburns he made a striking presence in his films and was able to convey an aura "don't mess with me" attitude without saying a word.
    He would later become a professional tennis player and passed away in 2013 much too young  from cancer at the age of 67.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

DILLINGER 1973 on Blu


     More Warren Oates on Blu-ray (always a good thing !) as Arrow has just unleashed John Milius's bullet spraying 1973 period crime drama DILLINGER on a BD/DVD combo pack. Featuring an outstanding lead performance by the great & god-like Oates (who looks uncannily like the historical Dillinger) along with a cast of character actors that should bring a smile to fans of cinema including Geoffrey Lewis, Harry Dean Stanton, Steve Kanaly, John P. Ryan, John Martino, Roy Jenson & Frank McRae. Michelle Phillips and Cloris Leachman round out the female leads with John Ford & Sam Peckinpah favorite Ben Johnson playing Melvin Purvis and a young Richard Dreyfuss showing up as Baby Face Nelson.

    Shot in Arizona and Oklahoma, Milius (in his directorial debut) shows a wonderful eye for period detail and makes great use of existing locations that evoke the classic FSA photographs of depression era America. Milius stages several brutal and bloody shoot-outs with victims twitching after being riddled with bullets. Unlike BONNIE AND CLYDE (which it sometimes as been compared to) that channeled French New Wave, Milius invokes John Ford's Americana and being a huge firearms aficionado (much like Peckinpah in his films) he strives for realism in the film's gun play as we see the recoil of the guns in the actors hands and the unflinching effect bullets have tearing into a human body.
    Even though it's titled DILLINGER a significant portion of the screenplay (by Milius) revolves around Johnson's Pervis character and his pursuit of various criminals of the same era and although Milius plays very fast and loose with historical fact it all works together beautifully. A natty Geoffrey Lewis is especially wonderful as John Dillinger's right hand man Harry Peirpont.
   Arrow's disc beautifully captures the dusty look of the film which was shot mostly in muted colors that replicate the dust bowl look of rural 1930's America, along with a nice punchy mono soundtrack (wait till you hear those shotguns !). Also included is an informative commentary by author Stephen Prince, interviews with cinematographer Jules Brenner, producer Lawrence Gordon and composer Berry De Vorzon along with a trailer and still gallery.

 All the above screen caps are from the Arrow Blu-Ray      

Thursday, April 28, 2016

DOLEMITE 1975 On Blu - Ray

     Kicking off their series of Rudy Ray Moore releases Vinegar Syndrome has unleashed DOLEMITE on a Blu-ray/DVD combo package. A former R&B singer and nightclub entertainer/comedian, Moore in the early 70's released a series of raunchy albums featuring a character named "Dolemite" with Rudy reciting explicit stream of conscious rhymes with jazz/R&B background music.
   DOLEMITE kicked off a series of films (all starring and co-produced/written by Moore) that in the past couple of decades have achieved a legendary cult status among fans of 70's exploitation cinema.  Although labeled with the "blacksploitation" genre tag (which at their core base they are) Rudy's films seem to exist in world unto themselves. Filled with hilarious dialogue, wooden acting, inept kung-fu and head scratching editing all the while with Moore's outrageous personalty and entertainingly inflated ego front and center.

    Referred to by everybody as simply "Dolemite", Moore here plays the title character as a wrongly accused and set up nightclub owner/pimp who's freed from jail to clean up his old neighborhood by the prison warden (who appears to be in charge of the entire police investigation). Helped out by his head madam "Queen Bee" (Moore regular Lady Reed) and a gang of "expert kung-fu ladies" referred to as "The Dolemite Girls" he butts heads with new neighborhood boss "Big Willie" (director D'Urville Martin) along with passels of corrupt politicians, police and a militant local minister. As Dolemite says -"gonna clean out all those rat soup eatin' motherf*#%ers !!"

    Filled with long stretches of rambling dialogue (that do nothing to move the threadbare plot along), seemingly random scenes strung together and more big ol' 70's Cadillac cars then you can shake a stick at - all of which is punctuated by brief flashes of blood and bare skin (more of which is shown in the accompanying trailer included on the disc). DOLEMITE arrives on Blu from Vinegar in beautiful new 1.85 transfer taken from a 35mm negative which is eons ahead of the semi-legit transfers we've seen before. Also included is a passel of extras including now & then photos from the films L.A. locations, making of documentary, trailers, commentary by Rudy Ray Moore biographer Mark Jason Murray plus an open frame version complete with visible boom mikes.
    Also on schedule from Vinegar if the form of more Rudy Ray Moore goodliness is THE HUMAN TORNADO (May), PETEY WHEATSTRAW : THE DEVIL'S SON-IN-LAW (June) and the truly amazing DISCO GODFATHER in July.

All above screen captures are from the Vinegar Syndrome DVD


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Spanish Horror Triple Feature in 35mm !


    Exhumed Films has something pretty cool coming up in Philadelphia on Feb. 12 at 7:30 as they kick their 2016 season with a Spanish Horror triple feature.  The lineup (all on 35mm) comprises the Blind Dead's third outing with HORROR ON THE ZOMBIES (aka THE GHOST GALLEON) and two excellent Paul Naschy vehicles including the excellent gaillo influenced THE HOUSE OF PSYCHOTIC WOMEN (aka BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL) and NIGHT OF THE HOWLING BEAST (aka THE WEREWOLF AND THE YETI) in which his werewolf alter ego Waldemar Daninsky encounters lesbian vampires, bandits and an evil sadistic sorceress (plus of course a Yeti).

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Happy (Belated) Birthday Caroline Munro !!


     A bit late with this, but a very Happy Birthday to the very sexy and talented Caroline Monro. She was born on Jan. 16 1949 in Windsor, England and in the late 60's she moved to London and became a top fashion magazine cover girl and appeared in numerous print ads as well.
    Movies soon beckoned and she appeared in in a couple of the better later period Hammer's including the very good swashbuckler/vampire hunter hybrid CAPTAIN KRONOS - VAMPIRE HUNTER and the unfairly maligned DRACULA A.D. 1972. She turned down several other Hammer roles including DR. JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE and the unmade VAMPIRELLA because she refused to do the required nudity.
    She was also a "Bond Girl" in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, my favorite Sinbad film with THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (as a young teenage male who saw this at the theatre in 1973, I can attest that she almost made me forgot about Harryhausen's fantastic creatures), the mind bogglingly entertaining STARCRASH and the grim & downbeat grindhouse classic MANIAC where somewhat unbelievably she was a romantic interest for a crazed homicidal Joe Spinell !
    Caroline shows up frequently at fan conventions and is truly one of the nicest people you can ever hope to meet (and still looks very beautiful).