Monday, September 23, 2013

MIDNIGHT SHOWS & BONUS HITS - VINTAGE TORONTO MOVIE ADS

Here are a few terrific movie ads clipped out of the Toronto Star that highlight just some of the amazing stuff that played local cinemas and drive-in's during the '70s and '80s.  I hope you enjoy them.
July 11th, 1974.
April 29th, 1978.
October 16th, 1981.
October 3rd, 1980.
November 15th, 1974.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

TWO RODE TOGETHER - DVD REVIEW


On a recent trip to Melbourne, Australia, I found this at a K-Mart (yes, K-mart still exists in Australia) amongst all the usual new release DVDs.  It was a great find knowing full well that TWO RODE TOGETHER (1961) is one of the few John Ford films still not available on DVD or Blu-Ray in North America.  It’s a damn shame too.

James Stewart stars as Guthrie McCabe, a corrupt US Marshall who is hired by the US Army along with his friend, Lieutenant Jim Gary (Richard Widmark) to help the people of Fort Grant to free some captives, which have been held by the Comanche for a number of years.  Through some tense negotiations with the Comanche leader Quanah Parker (Harry Brandon), they manage to get a young man and Elena (Linda Cristal), the current wife of warrior Stone Calf (Woody Strode) back to “civilized” society, but the people of Fort Grant soon realize their troubles are far from over.

Dismissed by Ford himself, TWO RODE TOGETHER never seemed to get the respect it so truly deserves.  Exploring similar themes from Ford’s earlier and, arguably, best film The SEARCHERS (1956), TWO RODE TOGETHER doesn’t have the scope, the beauty or even inherent anger of his earlier masterpiece, but Stewart and Widmark give it their all and deliver absolutely first-rate performances.  The now infamous scene of Stewart and Widmark sitting on a riverbank having a casual discussion (for almost 10 minutes in one static shot without a edit) is amazing in its simplicity, but quite daring in its execution and a terrific showcase of their talent.  Like many of his roles in Anthony Mann’s westerns, Stewart once again adds a level of intensity to his role as McCabe, which is nicely complemented by Widmark’s more understanding and humane approach to the situation these two men are confronted with.  Special mention should also go to Annelle Hayes as Belle Aragon, the owner of the saloon and brothel where McCabe is first seen, her tough-as-nails character is more influential on McCabe than first thought; it’s too bad she doesn’t have more screen time.

Sony Pictures have released TWO RODE TOGETHER in a nice 1.85:1 widescreen version that is also enhanced for 16x9.  English, French, German, Italian and Spanish language options are included with optional subtitle options in 17 different languages including English captions for the hearing impaired.  No extras are included, not even a trailer.  This very same version (with a different cover) was also released in the UK and you can order here.

Friday, September 13, 2013

"BLOODY SWEAT" - DVD REVIEW of CRIMEBUSTERS


That’s the English translation of the German DVD for Michele Massimo Tarantini’s Poliziotti Violenti (1976), his first and best poliziesco.  Henry Silva stars as disgruntled army officer Michele Altieri who inadvertently pairs up with Paolo Tosi, a hotshot cop played by crime film veteran Antonio Sabato.  The main crux of the story involves their search for a shipment of “experimental” military machine guns, which have gone missing in the Roman underworld.  Like most of these films, the plot occasionally takes a backseat in order for Altieri to flex his muscles against would-be kidnappers and purse-snatchers, typical staples of poliziesco.  Even though this is one of Silva’s rare good guy roles, he doesn’t take too well to authority and still gets to engage in plenty of action as he and Tosi uncover an international gunrunning operation, which is merely “one tentacle of the octopus”.

Most Italocrime enthusiasts would probably recognize this film under its original English export title CRIMEBUSTERS, which was released on American VHS by Mogul Video in 1987.  This was one of their better-looking releases that featured a decent, albeit somewhat dark transfer.  Here is the synopsis taken verbatim from the CRIMEBUSTERS VHS tape (Catalog #1025):



CRIMEBUSTERS… a movie packed with non-stop action, political intrigue and horrific violence.  Set in a terrorist torn Latin country, the head of a paratroop training team wages a one man battle to unravel the illegal activities of a multi-national armaments company.
Is the company supplying terrorist squads?  As the investigation evolves blackmail, political manipulation and murder emerge as the film builds towards its stunning climax.  A story of kidnapping, espionage and government deceit.”

The first DVD from Italy courtesy of Alan Young Pictures only featured an Italian language option, but Eyecatcher Movies out of Germany also released this with the choice of German, Italian and English language options.  Extras are rather sparse, but the attractive transfer, which is also enhanced for 16x9, more than makes up for that.  The only extras to speak of are a handful of trailers for numerous crime flicks including one for Poliziotti Violenti.  For some strange reason, the alternate German title is Die Ratten von Milano even though the film takes place in Rome.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

COGS, SPOOLS & 1/2" TAPE #1 - The CURSE OF THE ALPHA STONE VHS REVIEW


This will be a regular feature looking at long, lost VHS tapes.  Let’s start with a real doozy, United Home Video’s The CURSE OF THE ALPHA STONE (1972).  Here is the synopsis from the VHS (Catalogue #1023) released in 1986:

A young college professor stumbles onto an ancient formula which he believes will create the legendary, “Alpha Stone”, believed by mystics to contain the secret of life.  A series of experiments which couple modern science with ancient mysticism result in its creation.  The professor experiments on a young student who as a result is transformed into a lusting maniac, preying on the helpless bodies of nubile young virgins.

That’s pretty much the general plot of this loopy sexploitation effort from director Stewart Malleon who, according to my research, hasn’t done much else.  What the back of United Home Video’s VHS tape neglects to mention is just how bizarre the film truly is. 

Jim Scotlin is Abe Adams, the genius professor/alchemist who manages to extract the secret of the Alpha Stone (basically a yellow glowing rock), which he creates in his homemade laboratory.  Although it may contain “the secret of life”, he decides to utilize its supposedly infinite power and get laid instead, which appears to be his sole motivation.  Whether this is a side effect or his primary goal is never made clear, but it’s quite obvious that he or anyone else that comes in contact with it begins to suffer from an overactive libido.  When he initially uses a young gay man as a test subject, the power of the Alpha Stone not only turns him into a serial rapist, but also turns him “straight” as well!  Then, in another scene, Abe’s maid is suddenly attracted to her vacuum cleaner, while a multitude of women from the college campus pass through Abe’s bedroom including sexploitation starlet Sandy Carey.  Of course, it all goes horribly wrong during the abrupt ending when Abe’s overgrown member proves to be too much for one of the women.

Although filmed in 1972, this apparently never played theatrically and only surfaced on VHS when home video entrepreneur Jeff Hogue released this through United Home Video as part of a “9 film package for United Entertainment” which also included William Girdler’s ASYLUM OF SATAN (1972) and Pat Patterson’s DR. GORE (1973).  Check out John Wooley’s excellent interview (“The wild, wild world of exploitation”) with Hogue in Fangoria #61 for more on this low-budget distributor.

Not easy to find, Something Weird Video also released this on DVD-R, but this is also out of print, so check Ebay or Amazon.