Don Schain is probably best known for directing his wife Cheri Caffaro in the Ginger trilogy of Ginger, The Abductors and Girls Are For Loving. This is her last film before disappearing from the public eye. As for her one-time husband, he would go on to line produce H.O.T.S. and High School Musical.
Written with Jan-Michael Sherman and Don Buday (KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park), Too Hot to Handle has Caffaro as Samantha Fox, a socialite assassin who has come to the Phillippines on her yacht and proceeds to kill some bad people in wild ways, like suffocating an S&M enthusiast with a plastic bag and shoving a woman into a mudbath complete with electrodes.
She’s being chased by policeman Domingo De La Torres (Aharon Ipalé). and his partner Sanchez (Vic Diaz). Of course, he falls for her and you probably will too. Caffaro isn’t a typical sex symbol, she’s not the best at action scenes but she has some kind of unexplainable charisma that carries this entire movie.
It stars a cast of people that honestly, only someone like me would care about, and it’s made by people just as colorful, a crew of folks that would go on to dominate the film industry after emerging from the Roger Corman film cycle. It’s everything great about Cannonball Run, but both more serious and ridiculous, sometimes within the very same scene.
This is everything I want to watch.
Much like the aforementioned Cannonball Run, as well as Speed Zoneand The Gumball Rally, this movie was inspired by Erwin G. “Cannonball” Baker, who raced across the United States several times and by the race named after him, the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash. This illegal cross-continent road race was started by Car and Driver editor Brock Yates to protest the 55 MPH speed limit.
David Carradine plays Coy “Cannonball” Buckman, who has just been released from serving time for the death of a girl while he was driving drunk. He’s been entered into the illegal Los Angeles to New York City Trans-America Grand Prix in the hopes that he can get his racing career restarted.
That’s because Modern Motors has promised a contract to either him or his arch-rival Cade Redman (Bill McKinney, Deliverance, First Blood). Meanwhile, Coy has to somehow convince his lover/parole officer Linda Maxwell (Veronica Hamel, When Time Ran Out) to allow him to race.
Redman doesn’t have it easy either — his expenses are being paid by Sharma Capri (Judy “The Ozark Nightingale” Canova, who hosted her own national radio show from 1942 to 1955) and client, country singer Perman Waters (Gerrit Graham, amazing as always, just like he is in Terrorvision and Phantom of the Paradise).
Other racers include:
Young lovers Jim Crandell (Robert Carradine, Revenge of the Nerds) and Maryann (Belinda Balaski, every Joe Dante movie), who take her daddy’s Corvette and enter the race
Terry McMillan (Carl Gottlieb, one of the writers of Jaws!), a middle-aged man driving a Chevrolet Blazer
Beutell, who has taken a Lincoln Continental from a kindly old and rich couple and promised to get it to New York City safely
A tricked out van driven by three waitresses — Sandy (Mary Woronov you have my heart), Ginny (stuntwoman Glynn Rubin) and Wendy (Diane Lee Hart, The Giant Spider Invasion)
German driver Wolfe Messer (James Keach, Sunburst) in a De Tomaso Pantera
Zippo (Archie Hahn, who was one of the Juicy Fruits in Phantom of Paradise), who is Coy’s best friend and drives a Pontiac Trans Am just like his buddy.
What Coy doesn’t know is that his brother Bennie (Dick Miller) has bet that he will win and will do anything to ensure that happens, including killing Messer. Meanwhile, McMillan has his car — and mistress Louisa (Louisa Moritz, Myra from Death Race 2000) — flown to the finish line.
Redman kicks Perman — who becomes a big country star when his song about the race takes off — and Sharma out of his car, but in his final battle with Coy, a piece of Perman’s guitar gets stuck in the gas pedal and he dies in a big crash. While all this is going on, Zippo is in the lead, so Bennie sends out a hitman to off him. Coy had put his girl in that car as he felt it was safer — actually it was Zippo who did the drunk driving and Coy covered for his friend — but a major crash ensues and Linda is taken to the hospital by Jim and Maryann.
Terry and Louisa arrive first at the finish line, but Louisa accidentally tells the judges that they flew most of the way. The girls in the van get lost and crash, while Coy makes it to the finish line. Just before he’s about to win, he learns Linda is in the hospital and races off to see her. This leaves his brother to be killed by gangster Lester Marks (Paul Bartel, who also directed the film) and his men (Sylvester Stallone makes a cameo, as does Martin Scorsese, as mafioso).
Jim and Maryann win the race and the $100,000, while Coy gets his racing contract and the girl, and Beutell delivers the now destroyed Lincoln to its owners.
Other actors who show up for the madness are John Herzfeld (who was in Cobra and wrote and directed the films Escape Plan: The Extractors and 2 Days In the Valley), Patrick Wright (Wicked Wicked, Caged Heat, Graduation Day), future directors and at the time Corman assistants/editors Allan Arkush (Rock ‘n Roll High School) and Joe Dante (more movies than I can name, all of them wonderful), Roger Corman himself as a District Attorney, Jonathan Kaplan (director of White Line Fever, The Accused and The Student Teachers), Aron Kincaid (who was the voice of the Iron Sheik and Bobby Heenan on Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling and Killer Croc on Batman: The Animated Series), Joseph McBride (writer of Rock ‘n Roll High School), Read Morgan (The Car), John Alderman (New Year’s Evil) and even superproducer Don Simpson, who co-write the movie with Bartel. This movie is what happens when everyone working for Corman at the time all gets together so the budget can have extras.
Paul Bartel did not enjoy making this film because he felt he was being typecast as an action director. But after he only made $5,000 after spending a year of his life making Death Race 2000, it was the only kind of movie people wanted from him. “Corman had drummed into me the idea that if Death Race 2000 had been harder and more real it would have been more popular. Like a fool, I believed him.”
Bartel wasn’t a fan of cars and racing, so he loaded the movie with cameos and character gimmicks. His favorite scene was when he plays the piano and sings while two gangsters beat up Dick Miller. And the end is pretty rough for a movie that’s so funny, so star David Carradine tried to talk to Bartel about how disturbing he intended it to be.
When Joe Bob Briggs did his How Rednecks Saved Hollywood show, he mentioned that this movie destroys Cannonball Run. As always, he was right.
Finally, an episode of Night Gallery you can savor, as “Pickman’s Model” is one of the better stories that the show would present. Sure, you have to deal with a middling story in the, well, middle, and the Jack Laird blackout segment is predictable flotsam and jetsam, but when you have an opening this strong, that’s why you stay with this show.
Remarkably, Laird would direct the first segment from a script by Alvin Sapinsley. Based on the H.P. Lovecraft story, this is about Richard Upton Pickman (Bradford Dillman), a painting teacher at a women’s college. Somehow, he keeps his job despite all of his work being so horrific it nearly causes people to pass out. Mavis Goldsmith (Louise Sorel) becomes obsessed with him, despite him trying to remain apart from her. As she tracks him down, she discovers that the creatures in his paintings are horribly real, thanks to special effects by Leonard Engelman and John Chambers, who used the original mold for the Creature from the Black Lagoon to make their monster. Another tie to monster films is that Mavis lives in the same studio backlot house that was once home to the Munsters.
For someone so devoted to humorous vanilla horror, the fact that Laird made more than one Lovecraft story on this show is slightly perplexing. Maybe people really aren’t all good or bad; there are shades of everything.
“The Dear Departed” was directed by Jeff Corey and written by host Rod Serling. Based on a Alice-Mary Schnirring story, it’s about two spiritualist con artists — Mark Bennett (Steve Lawrence) and Joe (Harvey Lembeck) — and the affair Mark is having with his partner’s wife Angela (Maureen Arthur). Once Joe is hit by a bus, their act becomes legitimate, to Mark’s horror.
“An Act of Chivalry” is the absolute nadir of this show, if “Pickman’s” is near the height. Just the dumbest of sight gags and something that denigrates this show to a degree that emotionally bothers me. About the only nice thing you can say is that at least future Electra Woman Deidre Hall is in it.
Ah Night Gallery. Often you are the peak and the valley at the same time.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This movie has been on the site twice before — on March 20, 2018 and July 19, 2022 — but hey, you should watch it again.
According to Larry Cohen, God is one of the most violent characters in literature. Take that insight, toss in some Chariots of the Gods, a little police procedural and a gradually involving drama that ends up taking over the life of the hero and you have God Told Me To.
New York City in the 1970s. It’s a horrible place to be. And now, with a gunman atop a water tower shooting into a crowd below, it’s a deadly place. 15 pedestrians are already dead before Detective Peter Nicholas (Tony Lo Bianco, The French Connection, TV’s Law & Order) climbs the tower to speak with him. Tony’s skilled at getting crazy people to back down and his technique is to communicate with them. He tells the killer everything — his age, what he’s doing, even the fact that he’s a devout Catholic — in the hopes that he can stop his rampage. Then, the killer looks Tony in the eye and says, “God told me to,” before he leaps to his death.
Attack after attack follows, all seemingly unconnected except for those words: “God told me to.”
There’s a stabbing in a supermarket. A cop (Andy Kaufman!) shooting into the St. Patrick’s Day crowd (there were no permits for this scene, which blows my mind. Also, while Cohen was organizing the crew to set up the shot, Kaufman antagonized the crowd by making faces, leading to people jumping the barricades to fight him, requiring Cohen to get in between the actor/comedian/force of nature and angry New Yorkers). And a man who kills his wife and children because God has always asked people to sacrifice their children since Abraham. This sends Tony over the edge and he attacks the man.
One of the killers says that his orders came from Bernard Phillips. Tony visits the address but is attacked by Phillips’ knife-wielding mother. She falls down the stairs as Tony dodges her attack and before she dies, she tells him that she was a virgin who was taken by aliens and given a pregnancy without taking her virginity, much like the conception of Jesus.
When Tony brings this information to his superiors, they tell him to put a lid on it. There’s no need for more religious panic. He leaks the story to the press anyway with the expected results.
That’s when Tony meets Bernard Phillips’ cult, who he contacts and controls with his psychic powers. He tells them when each murder will happen and now wants Tony to join them. Instead, Tony asks about Phillips’ mother, which causes a follower to drop dead. Another tries to kill him by pushing him in front of a subway train, but Tony defeats him and uses the man to come to Phillips’ underground lair. That follower — upset that he has come so close to his god — decapitates himself.
Upon meeting the glowing, ethereal and hermaphroditic Phillips, Tony realizes that the self-styled god cannot and will not kill him. Therefore, Tony realizes that he is special and has a purpose. Tony’s girlfriend and wife (look, it was the 70’s) come together to try and save him, but numerous revelations come out — Tony’s estranged wife had numerous pregnancies that her husband seemed to will into stillbirth, afraid of what his children would become.
Tony finds his adoption records, finally meeting his birth mother, who gave up her child — another divine birth — after being impregnated by an orb of light at the 1941 Worlds Fair. The footage accompanying this scene is digitally manipulated stock footage from Space:1999! This meeting nearly gives both a nervous breakdown and ruins Tony’s sense of self.
Tony decides to meet his brother/sister one more time and learns the truth: they are alien messiahs, children of an entity of light. Tony’s human side is dominant while Phillips is more like the alien that gave them life. Phillips reveals his true sex — a mixture of sex organs on his side and asks his brother to impregnate him so that they can create new life. Tony refuses and attacks his sibling, who retaliates by bringing the building down on both of them.
Only Tony survives and he is arrested for the murder of Phillips. As the police lead him away, a reporter asks him why he committed the crime. He answers simply, “God told me to.”
God Told Me To did not do well upon original release, but time has proven to be quite kind. Watching it forty plus years later, I was amazed by how prescient it is, with killers opening fire for no reason, with the schism between sexes being seen as divine and a public and leaders who are ill-equipped to deal with a true crisis of faith in their midst. It’s a brutal little film and a real triumph in the way that it starts as a simple police story and unravels not just the plot but the way the main character perceives himself. Even his multiple times a day shows of Catholic worship cannot protect him from the knowledge that he very well could be the Messiah — but not in the way that anyone expected.
Candy Morgan (Claudia Jennings, Playboy Playmate of the Month for November 1969 and Playmate of the Year for 1970 and quite literally the most perfect actress for movies just like this) busts out of prison and goes right back to robbing banks with sticks of lit dynamite. She inspires Ellie-Jo Turner (Jocelyn Jones, Tourist Trap), a bank teller who has just been fired for lateness and total lack of character, who joins up. Wearing tight outfits and waving around them lit sticks of TNT, they spread mayhem everywhere.
Director Michael Pressman also directed Some Kind of Hero, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, Doctor Detroit and numerous episodes of Law and Order: SVU. Mark Rosin (Chatterbox) wrote the script from a story by Peter Macgregor-Scott, who would go on to produce Revenge of the Nerds and Batman and Robin amongst many other movies.
The best part of this movie is that it’s really about the friendship between the two women and how they aren’t getting back at banks for any reason. They just need money and are willing to take it. Sure, there’s a guy named Slim (John Crawford, who once dated Sharon Tate’s sister Debra, as well being one of the original Mousekateers and playing Chuck Connors’ son on The Rifleman. He also had four Top 40 singles, reaching #8 with “Cindy’s Birthday” and #12 with “Rumors”) that joins up with them and falls in love with Ellie Jo, but these ladies are the main focus.
This film is also known as Dynamite Women, in case the poster misleads you. Sadly, the queen of the B movies, Claudia Jennings, wouldn’t live to see her thirtieth birthday.
Eat My Dust perfectly fits the cultural zeitgeist at the end of the 70s, which matches the end of the 60s, as culture looked toward southern influences and maybe never stopped. During the 1970-71 season, CBS famously canceled all of its rural programming — Mayberry R.F.D., The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction and Green Acres — despite it being highly rated but not as appealing to those that bought commercials. Ironically, by 1979, the network would return to the same shows it turned its back on when The Dukes of Hazzard became a ratings success.
Star Ron Howard had written a comedy with his dad Rance called Tis the Season. He already half the budget and if Corman put up the rest, he’d be in this movie and direct and star in another, which ended up being Grand Theft Auto.
Charles B. Griffith, who directed and wrote the movie, suggested the title as a joke. He’d know about car films, as he wrote Death Race 2000.
Hoover Niebold (Howard) is the son of the sheriff who is in love with Darlene (Christopher Norris, yes that’s her name) but she’s really in love with the car owned by Bubba Jones (Dave Madden). Hoover steals it and that’s pretty much the movie. All the Howards — including Clint — are in this and it’s more episodic humor than an actual narrative, but that’s perfect for what the kind of movie it is. This is meant to play drive-ins and be just enough entertainment but not enough distraction for what the drive-in is really all about to younger audiences.
But yeah — back to my point. Hollywood will always return to being inspired by and courting southern audiences and those that want to be part of what that audience is all about.
As you may have learned by now, I absolutely love movies that are based on true stories that aren’t really true. This is yet another, directed by Michael Miller, who also brought us National Lampoon’s Class Reunion, a slasher spoof written by John Hughes, the martial arts/slasher Chuck Norris-starring Silent Rage and the TV movies A Crime of Innocence, Danielle Steele’s Daddy and Roses Are for the Rich, a movie that would fit right into our redneck week, as Lisa Hartman plays an Appalachian widow who vows to destroy Bruce Dern, the man who got her husband killed.
Dinah Hunter (Yvette Mimieux, The Time Machine, Snowbeast) is an ad exec in LA who has just about had it. She quits her job after arguing with a client and leaves for NYC after catching her man having some aggressive cuddling in the swimming pool with another woman.
As she drives across our great nation, Dinah picks up Bobby Ray (Robert Carradine, Revenge of the Nerds) and his pregnant girlfriend Lola (Nancy Lee Noble, Honey Pot from She-Devils on Wheels). They end up robbing her for everything she’s got, so she walks to a bar and asks to use the phone. This being a 1970’s drive-in movie, the bartender (character actor Britt Leach, who was in the Jerry Lewis comeback movie Hardly Working that I endured as a child, as well as The Last Starfighter and Silent Night, Deadly Night) ends up assaulting her and then calls the cops when she defends herself. This isn’t the big city — the police believe the local, not her.
Dinah ends up in Jackson County jail — go figure, with a title like that — right next to Blake (Tommy Lee Jones), who awaiting extradition to Texas on a murder charge. Seeing as how Dinah has no ID, she has to wait until someone gets back to her from New York or Los Angeles. Deputy Hobie can’t even deal with her being in a cell for one night before he too attacks her, but she ends up killing him with a wooden stool and Blake helps her escape by stealing the keys. Sheriff Dempsey (Severn Darden, an original member of Second City and Kulp in the Planet of the Apes films) chases after them before running into a drunk driver in an accident that kills both of them.
Blake and Dinah go on the road, chased by the cops after being charged for Hobie’s death. She wants to turn herself in as she still believes in the law, even after everything. He lets her know that every small town cop is corrupt and that no one will believe that she acted in self-defense.
The police finally catch them during a parade in Fallsburg, gunning down Blake in the street, with him bleeding out all over the American flag. We’re left watching our heroine in the back of a cop car, going back to jail for what presumably is more hell on earth. And that’s it — were you expecting a happy ending from a 1970’s Roger Corman deep fried crime movie?
Jackson County Jail was written by Donald E. Stewart, who would go on to win an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for the movie Missing. He also wrote the films Deathsport, The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger and the TV movie Death of a Centerfold – The Dorothy Stratten Story.
Roger Corman would remake this movie in 1997 as Macon County Jail with Ally Sheedy and David Carradine as the leads and Charles Napier as the sheriff.
I was telling someone who doesn’t watch movies like I do — well, that could be just about anyone — that this film has a cast packed with stars. That’s when I realized that Hollywood Boulevard has a cast that is all famous to me and probably me alone. I don’t care. These are my people. Join me as I celebrate them.
Candice Rialson, the inspiration for Bridget Fonda’s character in Jackie Brown, stars as Candy Wednesday, new in town and ready to be a big star. She gets an agent named Walter Paisley (Dick Miller, with the same name as his character in A Bucket of Blood) who can’t get her any work until she gets mixed up in a bank robbery.
Those of you who read the site know that I watched this movie specifically because Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov are in it. What kept me around was the fact that this movie is basically making fun of every Corman movie of this era, with the three girls formula and a script pretty much taken from the Bela Lugosi movie The Death Kiss.
Seeing as how this was directed by Allan Arkush and Joe Dante, there are a ton of inside jokes. Bartel’s director character, Eric Von Leppe, is the name of Boris Karloff’s character from The Terror. John Kramer’s character, Duke Mantee, is named for Bogart’s character in The Petrified Forest. Tara Strohmeier’s Jill McBain is named for Claudia Cardinale’s character in Once Upon a Time in the West. You also have a movie named Machete Maidens, as well as almost every Corman director showing up in cameos, plus Forrest J. Ackerman and Robby the Robot popping up.
This movie was the result of a bet between producer Jon Davison and Roger Corman. Davison believed that he could make the cheapest New World Pictures movie ever, so he was given $60,000 and ten days.
The Godfather of Mexican independent cinema, Arturo Ripstein got his start working for Luis Buñuel and this film has a very similar feel to that director’s work.
Before World War II begins, Romanian count Liviu (Peter O’Toole) and countess Julia (Charlotte Rampling) have set up an Art Deco tent on a deserted island in the hopes of escaping their past and the war. All of their servants have come along and all of the conveniences of their palatial home, but before long, their friends start to arrive and take most of the servants and kill every animal that is near the island. They leave Liviu and Julia without supplies and without anyone else but Larson (Max von Sydow) and their servant Eusebio (Jorge Luke). There are no supplies coming but there is a war simmering between the three men and the one available woman.
Irish writer H.A.L. Craig was a contributor to the recut Lisa and the Devil known by the name House ofExorcism. He wrote the script along with Ripstein and José Emilio Pacheco. This was re-released with more sex scenes as The Far Side of Paradise and The Other Side of Paradise.
I discovered this movie thanks to Joe Bob Briggs’ How Rednecks Saved Hollywood presentation. The clips he showed were absolutely astounding and there was no way that the actual movie could live up to his speech about the film, right? Nope. This is one sordid piece of scummy moviemaking that does all that and more.
Director Gus Trikonis started his career as a dancer in West Side Story, playing Indio, a member of the Sharks. His directing work for Roger Corman’s New World Pictures led to Corman claiming he was one of the best young directors that he had worked with. His films run the gamut of hicksploitation, from The Side Hackersto The Swinging Barmaids, Supercock, The Evil, Moonshine County Express and the movie based on the Johnny Paycheck sung and David Allen Coe written song Take This Job and Shove It. He was also married to Goldie Hawn for awhile.
Monica Gayle (The Stewardesses, Switchblade Sisters) stars as Jamie, the Nashville Girl of the title (the film also played under the titles New Girl In Town and Country Music Daughter in an attempt to convince people it had something to do with the Loretta Lynn bio Coal Miner’s Daughter). She’ll do anything to make it in Nashville after leaving town when she’s assaulted by a boyfriend and abused by her father. It doesn’t get any better in music city, trust me.
Somehow this movie goes from jailbait in trouble to massage parlor receptionist to women in prison to young girl getting pawed by every man in town in very short order, ending with her under the thrall and ownership of big time country star Jeb (Glenn Corbett of TV’s Route 66) and enduring the attentions of Kelly (Roger Davis, TV’s Dark Shadows, as well as Rubyand Killer Bees).
Judith Roberts shows up as Jeb’s long-suffering wife. She’d go on to star in things like Orange Is the New Black, but we know her best as Mary Shaw in Dead Silence.
Singer Johnny Rodriguez and songwriters Rory Bourke, Gene Dobbins, and John Wills all show up here and contribute music. None of this makes Nashville look like a great city to live in or be a rising female artist. There are more #metoo moments in five minutes of this movie than in pretty much everything Hollywood will release this year. It gets to the point that you honestly worry about Monica Gayle’s personal mental health. She might change her name to Melody Mason and get a whole new life story, but she can never escape the past that got her here.
Somehow, there’s a novel version of this movie that has even more sex in it. It’s written by Gary Friedrich, who co-created Ghost Rider. So there’s that.
You can watch this on Tubi or go all out and grab the Scorpion Releasing blu ray from Ronin Flix.