April Movie Thon Day 29: The King of Friday Night (1985)

April 29: Movies with Friday in the Title — TGIF. So pick a Friday movie and share it with everyone. Click the image for our full list of reviews for the month!

The Monarchs — like Eddie and the Cruisers and the Wonders before them — went from Nova Scotia obscurity to a Canadian chart-topping hit, until, as it usually does, it all fell apart. Unlike the Wonders, who never regrouped, and like Eddie and the Cruisers, who eventually did (sort of via the ‘ol Part Duex), the Monarchs reunite for a performance — as the story flashes back to their bygone days of troubled fame.

Hey, what did I know back then: Cannon has their logo on this video-taped spooler and that studio’s rock anthems for the retarded home video rental population: The Apple and Playing for Keeps (okay, the latter is Miramax, but you get the point) worked out okay. Well, not really. But really: this is worse. Way worse. And yes, Incident at Channel Q — which is padded with rock videos spun by a controversial VJ whose TV stations is under seige by the Christian Right — is better. For what’s it’s worth: let that be your critical barometer.

This Canadian television production made its way to U.S. home video shelves for unsuspecting rockers like this writer to rent. So, yeah. There goes another three bucks, wasted, that would have been better spent on a Ron Marchini flick (if only Arctic Warriors had been released to U.S. shores back then) or any Philippines war romp (Hey, did you enjoy our two-part “Philippine War Week” blow out)?

So, yeah. This won seven international awards — including The Banff TV Festival “Best Picture” award?

So, uh. Okay, then.

Courtesy of meps69/eBay. The Cannon U.S./U.K. version is preserved at videocollectoruk.

Well, maybe The King of Friday Night is better than my opinion dictates. “Critics’ opinions are divorced from those of the public,” so it has been said. Look, back in my youthful days of yore, “rock flicks,” for me, were analog horror slabs like Rocktober Blood and Blood Tracks and other “No False Metal” ditties that assured me that I was one Iron Maiden-spin away from eternal damnation (that any member of the public with a lick of common sense or quality, wouldn’t like).

Anyway, this “award winning” production is based on writer John Gray’s hit, Canuck stage play, Rock ‘n’ Roll, which tells the story of the real life, Truro, Nova Scotia, band, the Lincolns. Yes. They are a real band. Sadly, this filmed-stage play doesn’t do their career justice. Perhaps the stage play did. Maybe that theatre piece was a grand production like Broadway’s Jersey Boys*, you know, the one concerned with the career of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. While the Seasons made their Billboard chart bones with “Sherry” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” the Lincolns — well, the Monarchs, had theirs: “The King of Friday Night” topped the Canadian charts. (*Remember that Clint Eastwood brought us the artistically successful, but box office bombing, 2014 film adaptation of that 2005 Tony Award-winning Broadway musical. Maybe if the story of the Lincolns was under the eye of Clint or the group was given the dramatic-treatment of Telstar: The Joe Meek Story, we’d have a more engaging narrative.)

However, like Eddie and the Cruisers, there’s no memorable rockin’ rave-up like “On the Dark Side” (or the Wonders’ “That Thing You Do!”) to hold our interest: just lots of doo-wopin’ and finger snapping and synced dance steps that could be entertaining — but then there’s that pesky, odd special effects-film tinting to the ambitious shot-on-video proceedings that capture cardboard stage-production set dressing back drops. Yes. This wasn’t shot on location, but on television blue-screened sets mixed with theatrical backdrops.

It’s all very odd in a dreamy, French ’60s surrealist kind of way — only not as good as a French ’60s surrealist film, even though Canada’s roots are back in France.

The whole reason for this review — besides it having “Friday” in the title, is to expose you to a well-made, out-the-way You Tube rabbit hole discovery (back in November 2021) of award-winning author A. J. B. Johnston’s micro-documentary companion piece to his book, The Kings of Friday Night: The Lincolns.

You can learn more about the Lincolns with their entry at Nova Scotia Classic Rock. There’s more with these 2018 articles at Saltwire and CVT News. Sadly, according to this CBC News obituary, we lost the Lincolns’ founder, Frank Mackay, in 2019.

Hey, don’t go, yet!

I just remembered another ’80s rockin’ doo-wop’er made by the guy who made our October 2020 “Slasher Month” entry, Don’t Go in the House (1979), itself a “U.K. Section 2 Video Nasty” entry.

No. This is a true story from the days of incessant HBO replay: After riding the ’80s Slasher wave surfed by John Carpenter and Sean S. Cunningham with his own, twisted in version of Hitchcock’s Psycho, Manhattan writer-director Joseph Ellison, for his second — and what would be his final — effort, decided to reminisce his rock ‘n’ roll roots with Joey (1986): a tale about an ’80s rockin’ teen (per the soundtrack, he’s into Scandal, E.L.O, the Polecats, and the Ramones; there’s an Elvis Costello poster on the wall) at odds with his washed-up, ’50s rocker dad (per the soundtrack, “real music” is the Ad Libs, the Cleftones, the Coasters, the Devotions, the Duprees, the Elegants, the Limelights, and the Skyliners). They finally discover common ground when Joey, Jr. helps Joey, Sr. regroup his old band, Yesterday’s Today, for a retread of their big hit, “Moonlight Love,” which isn’t that bad of a faux-hit — but it’s still no “On the Dark Side” or “That Thing You Do” to wow you to doo-wop your sweet bippy into a 23 Skidoo.

So, if you have a doo-wop hankerin’, there’s your double feature: The King of Friday Night and Joey. Yes, Joey is the better movie, courtesy of solid performances by Neill Barry (from the awesome O.C and Stiggs) and James Quinn (who reminds of James Remar — and should have done more films) in the Jr. and Sr. roles. Hey, make it a triple: Martin Davidson, who directed Eddie and the Cruisers, returned the genre with Armand Assante as a washed-up doo-wop’er wallowing in the past in Looking for an Echo (2000).

There’s no rips of The King of Friday Night, but there’s a ten-part rip of Joey on You Tube.

As you can see from the banner, above, there’s more rock flicks to be had with our three-part “Rock ‘n’ Roll Week” series. And there’s more shot-on-video films to be discovered under our SOV tag.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies (links to a truncated teaser-listing of his reviews).

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 29: Watch the series: Friday (1995, 2000, 2002)

Ice Cube and DJ Pooh felt that movies only showed the dark side of the urban experience. Cube had the vision of making a “hood classic” that would be rewatched over and over again and based much of the script — only the third he had written — on his life. They got New Line interested in the film — the studio had made House Party — and Cube hired video direct F. Gary Grey.

His only worry? Doing comedy when up until then, he was considered a dangerous thug.

Grey said, “Ice Cube was the toughest man in America, and when you take someone (who) delivers hard-hitting social issues in hardcore gangsta rap, and who has a hardcore view on politics, you would never think comedy.”

Friday (1995): Craig Jones (Ice Cube) just got fired on his day off (this actually happened to one of Cube’s cousins), giving him the entire Friday to spend with his best friend, Smokey (Chris Tucker, a comedian whose first audition didn’t go well but who trained, came back and won the part). They smoke Smokey’s stash — $200 worth of weed — and if they can’t pay Big Worm (Faizon Love) by 10 p.m., they’re dead.

The episodic movie finds Craig and Smokey trying to get that money, whether through borrowing, begging or stealing. They also run into Deebo (Tiny Lister Jr.), a gigantic maniac who forces Smokey to break into a house, after which he steals the money that Smokey has ripped off.

Friday seems like a modern day take on Cheech and Chong in the best of ways, while keeping more focus. It also has time for plenty of great cameos, like the sadly long gone Bernie Mac as a preacher, John Witherspoon as Craig’s father, Regina King as his sister and DJ Pooh as Red.

Shot in Grey’s actual home block in the homes of his friends, you can even see some members of the neighborhood show up that refused to move from the spot they were in. Grey just filmed around them as well as he could. Additionally, the cast and crew not to wear anything red during filming, as 126th Street between Halldale and Normandie was Crips territory.

Friday made more than eight times what it cost to make. Ice Cube and DJ Pooh had the right idea.

Next Friday (2000): Written by Ice Cube and directed by Steve Carr, who also worked with Cube on Are We There Yet?Next Friday made $60 million off an $11 million budget, defying critics who hated the films — again, much lilke Cheech and Chong.

When Deebo escapes from prison to get revenge on Craig, Craig’s father Willie moves him to Rancho Cucamonga to live with his uncle Elroy (Don D.C. Curry), who has just won the lottery, and cousin Day-Day (Mike Epps). Day-Day makes a decent replacement for Smoky, as Chris Tucker didn’t come back for the second movie as he became a born again Christian.

Beyond dealing with the threat of an escaped Deebo, now Craig and Day-Day must avoid baby mamas, a gang called the Jokers and try to keep Day-Day’s record store job. While the move to the suburbs offers some fun joke, Tucker’s prescence is definitely missed. Then again, I find myself loving that Ice Cube is so loveable in these films, particularly after albums like “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted” in which he unleashed venomous hatred on nearly every ethnicity and human being within the reach of his booming voice.

Friday After Next (2002): Written by Ice Cube and directed by Marcus Raboy, the third Friday movie again was rejected by critics and embraced by the audience that it was made for. It starts on Christmas Eve as a thief breaks into the home of Craig (Cube) and Day-Day (Mike Epps), stealing everything they’ve bought for their family and friends. Also — the rent is due and if they don’t get it soon, their landlady is going to unleash her just released from jail son Damon (Terry Crews) on them and in a violently loving fashion, if you get what I’m saying.

The setting in this sequel moves from the suburbs to a strip mall, a place where their fathers — Willie (John Witherspoon) and Elroy (Don D.C. Curry) — have started a BBQ place so good you’ll slap your mother. It’s also where Money Mike (Katt Williams) and his main girl Donna (K.D. Aubert) have started the store Pimps and Hoes.

Obviously, by the third movie you’re just hoping for more hangout time with the leads and less expecting a groundbreaking effort. That said, this is a goofball bit of harmless fun, a good holiday movie to throw on if you’re sick of the same films every December and makes me hope that we get one more of these movies.

Somehow, I never saw a single one of these movies before, but I must confess, they made a nice break this week, a breezy bit of fun and light laughs in the midst of dark times.


We’re almost done!

April 29: Movies with Friday in the Title — TGIF. So pick a Friday movie and share it with everyone.

Here’s what you can watch today:

Friday the 13th (1980): Oh, good Lord! …So young…So pretty. Oh, what monster could have done this?

Friday the 13th Part II (1981): Take the look of the Phantom of The Town that Dreaded Sundown, two murders shot for shot from Mario Bava’s A Bay of Blood and you get a big hit.

Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter (1984): This Joe Zito film is really everything that people think of when they think of a Jason movie. It’s also pretty great.

What are you watching?

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 28: Catchfire (1990)

This Alan Smithee-directed film really belongs to Dennis Hopper, who had a rough time for a variety of reasons. There were issues between Jodie Foster and Hopper from the first day of shooting, as Foster yelled “cut” which angered the directing side of Hopper.

She may have been upset by the shower scene, which is pretty gratuitous and she assumed would be edited. It isn’t. Neither is the long scene where she’s wearing lingerie that is more Frederick’s than Victoria’s.

A few years later, Foster generalized a bad experience she had on a movie by saying, “I worked with an actor-director who was a major pain. It was very difficult for me. Very difficult.”

This was that movie.

A crime thriller in which Foster plays an artist named Anne Benton who makes art signs — which were made for the movie by Jenny Holzer and say things like “Murder has its sexual side” — and falls asleep at the wheel and a hitman named Milo (Hopper) kidnaps her instead of killing her and she goes all Patty Hearst.

Was this movie made for me?

Well, it is a mess.

Vestron, who was makin actual movies in theaters before going out of business, took over the edit. And Hopper got angry: “They had taken an hour out of my movie, and they’d taken a half-hour of stuff I’d taken out of the movie and put it in. Then they took all my music out and threw it away. They put in great violin love themes beside Jodie and me — this is a hit man and an artist, and it’s certainly not a violin romance. This is not a film by Dennis Hopper. This is not directed by Dennis Hopper. This is directed by some idiots at Vestron.”

I mean, I love it. How can you not love a movie where Dennis Hopper and Jodie Foster make out on a bed of pink Hostess Sno Balls?

In the article “Abuse of Power,” writer Chris Randle spoke with this film’s original screenwriter, Ann Louise Bardach, who said, “He (Hopper) directed me to make a really tight, taut thriller and in the end what he shot was a…vaudevillian caper. Working with Dennis was completely insane.”

However, she did concede a point: “He had a beautiful eye. Dennis was not a narrative artist, he was a visual artist.”

So when a writer’s strike happenen, Alex Cox — yes, the man who made Repo Man — came on set to write when needed and play the ghost of D. H. Lawrence.

Did I mention this is a movie made for weird people like me?


Back to Anne happening to watch a mafia hit supervised by Leo Carelli (Joe Pesci, who asked for his name to be removed from this movie), who spots her. So even through our heroine gets to the police first, Greek (Tony Sirico) and Pinella (John Turturro) are able to track her down and kill her boyfriend (Charlie Sheen) just as he eats an entire frozen pizza directly out of the box.

FBI agent Pauling (Fred Ward) has been after these mobsters forever and wants to palce Anne in Witness Protection Program, but when she sees Carelli’s lawyer John Luponi (Dean Stockwell) at the police station, she goes on the run. To make sure she stays quiet, mob boss Lino Avoca (Vincent Price, who introduced Hopper to art when he was blackballed from Hollywood in the late 50s to eary 60s; this is one of his last roles) hires Milo to kill Anne.

All it takes are some dirty Polaroids of her — yes, that was Charlie Sheen — to have him fall in love.

Anne runs to Seattle and becomes a copywriter, which allows Milo to find her when a line from one of her art installations shows up in a lipstick ad: “Protect me…from what I want.” He tracks her down and promises to protect her if she does everything he asks. After all, by saving her, he’s doomed himself.

The cast of this is more than enough reason to watch. How about Dean Stockwell, Julie Adams (who was also in Hopper’s The Last Movie), Tony “Paulie Walnuts” Sirico, Helena Kallianiotes from Kansas City Bomber, Sy Richardson (who wrote Posse), Catherine Keener, Toni Basil and Bob Dylan wearing shin guards as he makes an art installation.

Hopper’s version is called Backtrack and has a longer ending but is in no way easier to understand.

This movie does, however, have a scene where Hopper plays saxophone and gets so upset that he repeatedly throws it at a plexiglass window and that’s what I want out movies. It also has Foster saving a lamb a year before she’d tell that story in a movie that she doesn’t want to forget about.

Hopper also brings a burrito to a gun fight.

Like I said, this movie is for me.

You can watch Hopper’s version on Tubi.

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 28: Ghost Fever (1987)

Sherman Hemsley from The Jeffersons is Buford Washington. Luis Ávalos from The Electric Company is Benny Alvarez. And they’re Greendale County, GA — yes, a black man and a Latino in the South! — police officers sent to serve an eviction notice to a plantation when the ghosts of the former slavemaster that owned the house, Andrew Lee (Monogram Pictures star Myron Healey), and one of his slaves named Jethro (also Hemsley), defend the home from beyond. Yes, a black man and his owner working together!

There’s also a torture room that neither Lee nor Jethro know about. That’s because it was the super racist grandfather vampire who did it all and his granddaughters — Linda (Deborah Benson) and Lisa (Diana Brookes) — need help.  Cue the scary music, bring in Madame St. Esprit (Jennifer Rhodes) and the ill-fated seance. Meanwhile, zombies pop up and Buford has to win the house from the bank in a boxing match against Joe Fraizer.  Smoking Joe isn’t the only combat sports veteran in this, as former pro wrestler Pepper Gomez is in the cast.

Then, the ghosts kill Benny and Buford, keeping the house — and the girls — all for themselves. If this seems like a narrative shift in a slapstick comedy, then you’re correct.

Screenwriter Oscar Brodney hadn’t written a movie in 16 years before this, but he did write Harvey, which does not translate into making this movie a success. The Alan Smithee credited for this film is really Lee Madden, who made Hell’s Angels ’69, The ManhandlersAngel UnchainedThe Night God Screamed and Night Creature. He hadn’t made a movie in eight years, but that could be because he was busy making commercials for car lots.

This was filmed in 1985 but not released until 1987 due to extensive re-shooting and re-editing, resulting in Madden demanding that his name be removed from the credits. It was produced by Hemsley and he lost most of the money he’d made in his career on this.

Oddly enough, Hemsley was super into prog rock and allegedly worked with Yes’s Jon Anderson on a funk-rock opera by the name of Festival Of Dreams about the “spiritual qualities of the number 7.” Daevid Allen from Soft Machine and GONG claimed that Hemsley had an LSD lab in his basement and had a room named the “Flying Teapot room,” named for the GONG song, with “…darkened windows and “Flying Teapot” is playing on a tape loop over and over again. There were also three really dumb-looking, very voluptuous Southern gals stoned and wobbling around naked. They were obviously there for the guys to play around with.

They used to call PCP Sherman Hemsley because it made people rude, just like his character. I believe that maybe he was making it!

Here’s the man dancing to Nektar’s “Show Me the Way.”

Let’s therefore forget this movie and enjoy the magical world we live in, where Yes and George Jefferson make music together.

You can watch this on YouTube.

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 28: Death of a Gunfighter (1969)

Death of a Gunfighter was originally directed by Robert Totten, who directed the original The Quick and the Dead, as well as plenty of TV like Gunsmoke and Mystery In Dracula’s Castle. Despite a year of work, he couldn’t get along with star Richard Widmark and lost that battle, getting replaced by Don Siegel (Invasion of the Body SnatchersDirty Harry and John Wayne’s last movie, The Shootist).

Siegel had been the original choice to direct, but was overworked, according to the Chicago Tribune. However, in Siegel’s memoirs, he wrote that Widmark pushed from day one to get Totten kicked off the film and replaced by the unwilling Siegel. Finally, three and a half weeks into making the movie, Widmark got Universal boss Lew Wasserman to personally get involved.

When Siegel looked at Totten’s footage, he thought it was great and even made sure his own footage matched. In fact, he didn’t reshoot a single scene, only finishing off the film’s opening and closing sequences, as well as some pick-up shots. In the end, he didn’t think he had done enough work to take directing credit.

However, Totten wanted nothing to do with the film. Siegel didn’t want his name on the film, which upset Widmark even more. Finally, an agreement was made with the Directors Guild of America for the pseudonym Alan Smithee to be used.

In fact, this was the first Alan Smithee-directed film.

Here’s where it gets weird: critics loved the film and the new director. The New York Times claimed that it had sharp direction and that Smithee “has an adroit facility for scanning faces and extracting sharp background detail.” Roger Ebert said that it was “an extraordinary western by director Allen Smithee, a name I’m not familiar with, allows his story to unfold naturally.” I wonder if Ebert was aware what was going on and was having fun with his review. I’d like to think so.

Based on Death of a Gunfighter by Lewis B. Patten, this movie feels like Hollywood realizing that some of the better Westerns were coming from other countries, mostly Italy, at this point. Marshall Frank Patch (Widmark) is an Old West-style lawman in Cottonwood Springs, Texas, a town determined to be modern and, as such, conveniently forget its numerous sins and just whitewash the past.

“What would happen,” the mayor says, “if an Eastern businessman came to town and saw old Patch there, wearing that shirt he probably hasn’t washed in a week?”

Patch shoots a drunk in self-defense, which the town leaders use as a way to get him out. Knowing that the town is about to murder him with their own gunfighters — he knows too much — the old lawman settles his affairs, including marrying brothel owner Claire Quintana (Lena Horne), an interracial relationship that is a fact of life, something bold for 1969.

This is a film rich with character actors that I love — Carroll O’Connor, Royal Dano, John Saxon — and a town unlike many other Westerns, one made up of all races, a place where a lone car causes worry, where the trains must get ever closer, where the past — and Patch — must die to move progress ever forward, no matter what.


Who is Alan Smithee?

Created in 1968 and used until it was formally discontinued in 2000, there is no Alan Smithee. Instead, it was the pseudonym used by members of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) when they were dissatisfied with the final product. In order to use the name, it had to be voted on to the satisfaction of a guild panel that they had not been able to exercise creative control over a film. The director was also required by guild rules not to discuss the circumstances leading to the movie or even to acknowledge being the project’s director.

One of the movies that we’ll cover today, Death of a Gunfighter, was the reason why Smithee was invented. Actor Richard Widmark was unhappy with director Robert Totten and wanted him replaced with the director he wanted in the first place, Don Siegel. Siegel believed that he had spent 9 to 10 days filming, while Totten had spent 25 days. Each had roughly an equal amount of footage in the final edit, but Siegel stated that Widmark had effectively been in charge the entire time, so he didn’t want the credit. Totten refused to take credit in his place. The DGA panel agreed that the film did not represent either director’s creative vision — the DGA believes in the auteur theory that the director is the singiular creative voice behind a movie — so the name Alan Smithee took their place.

After a few decades, people started catching on and some directors violated the embargo on discussing their use of the name. In 1997, the An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn was made, a movie in which Alan Smithee (Eric Idle) can’t take his name off a movie because he will have to still have his name on it. It was directed by Arthur Hiller and ironically, he used the Alan Smithee title because Joe Eszterhas had too heavy of a hand.

April 28: Alan Smithee — IMDB has 115 movies credited to the Alan Smithee pseudonym, which was created by the Directors Guild of America for use when a director doesn’t want their name on a movie.

Here are some movies to get you started:

Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983): One of the few times an assistant director is listed as Alan Smithee, due to Anderson House being upset over the death of Vic Morrow and two child actors.

Bloodsucking Pharaohs In Pittsburgh (1991): Director and co-writer Dean Tschetter’s name was listed as Alan Smithee to indicate his dissatisfaction with the final film.

Stitches (1985): Rod Holcomb was unhappy with this and asked for his name to be taken off of it.

Appointment with Fear (1985): Directed by Ramsey Thomas for Moustapha Akkad — who was the producer behind Halloween — as Deadly Presence. After Akkad saw the director’s cut, he fired director Thomas and re-shot a considerable amount of new footage and re-edited the movie himself. Thomas declined to be credited as director.

The Birds II: Land’s End (1994): This is not the first — or the last — sequel that Rick Rosenthal would make, what with being part of the best Halloween sequel and the worst. He made sure his name was not on this movie, as Alan Smithee is credited.

Hellraiser: Bloodline (1986): Kevin Yagher left the production after Miramax demanded new scenes be shot. The new scenes and re-shoots changed several characters’ relationships, gave the film a happy ending, introduced Pinhead earlier and cut 25 minutes of the director’s cut — so many changes that he was able to use the Alan Smithee credit.

Dune (1984): David Lynch refuses to have anything to do with this movie. A television version was aired in 1988 that replaced the opening monologue with a much longer description of the setting that used concept art stills. Lynch disavowed this version and used Alan Smithee as his credit. For the extended and television versions, Lynch used the credit Judas Booth — a combination of Judas Iscariot and John Wilkes Booth — for his screenwriting credit.

What are you watching today?

April Ghouls Drive-In Monster-Rama Primer: Evil Dead II (1987)

April Ghouls Drive-In Monster-Rama is back at The Riverside Drive-In Theatre in Vandergrift, PA on April 29 and 30, 2022.

This Back to the 80s Weekend is going to be amazing!

The features for Friday, April 29 are Halloween 2Terror TrainMidnight and Effects.

Saturday, April 30 has Evil Dead 2Re-AnimatorDr. Butcher MD and Zombie 3.

Admission is still only $10 per person each night (children 12 and under free with adult) and overnight camping is available (breakfast included) for an additional $10 per person.

You can buy tickets at the show or use these links:

There is also a limited edition shirt available at the event.

To whoever owned Prime Time Video, I am sorry that I bootlegged this VHS from your store in 1989 or so, because I was renting it so much that I wanted to watch it every single day. It was years until I saw Evil Dead and this movie formed so much of what I wanted out of movies. A camera that flew through walls, actors willing to destroy themselves to entertain you and geysers of bottomless buckets of gore.

Dino De Laurentiis put up the money and asked that the film be similar to its predecessor. Director Sam Raimi and writer Scott Spiegel must have thought, “We’ll show him,” and totally remade the first movie but whereas that one had no budget and felt like some maniacs in the woods near Detroit, this had a budget and felt like, yeah, some maniacs in the woods near Detroit.

This one replays the first one in like five minutes: Ash Williams (the returning Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend Linda head to a cabin for the weekend, but instead of romance, they find the tapes of archaeologist Raymond Knowby and the words from Necronomicon Ex-Mortis that bring demons to their little lovers’ log cabin. Linda gets possessed, Ash decapitates her with a shovel and then proceeds to go bonkers for most of the movie.

Most of the movie is Campbell battling himself, his own hand — and later body — turning against him. It’s the kind of movie where a man can chainsaw off his on hand and then make a chainsaw appendage, say “Groovy” and it’s somehow — even years and years later — cool.

Spiegel and Raimi wrote most of the film in a house in Silver Lake that they shared with the Coen brothers, Frances McDormand, Kathy Bates and Holly Hunter, who the character of Bobby Jo is inspired by.

I’m looking forward to seeing this at the drive-in this weekend if only to feel the sheer joy I once had watching this. I’ve never seen it surrounded by others and can’t wait to see how others react to it. I know that it’s gone from a small movie to an accepted classic in the years since I watched it every day, but it’s still that movie I copied all those many, many years ago.

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 27: Battle Fever J (1979)

Battle Fever J was a co-production of Toei Company and Marvel Comics, inspired by Captain America and the third series in the Super Sentai series that would eventually come to America as the Power Rangers.

General Kurama has put together four young agents who have traveled the world to be trained. Along with FBI agent Diane Martin, whose father was murdered by the evil Egos, the team becomes Battle Fever J, kind of like a Japanese superhero show version of the Avengers. They are Battle France, Battle Cossack, Battle Kenya, Battle Japan and Miss America, backed up by their secret weapon Battle Fever Robo.

As for Egos, well, he works for a god named Satan Egos and has a series of monsters that he uses against the heroes, such as Death Mask Monster, Umbrella Monster, Psychokinesis Monster, Sports Monster, Anicent Fish Monster and Cicada Killer Monster.

At some point, Diane gets injured by the Dracula Monster and moves back home to the United States and is replaced by María Nagisa, another FBI agent trained by Diane’s father. She becomes Miss America II.

To prove that this is a Japanese show, death is a fact of life. Battle Cossack is killed in battle and replaced by his friend Makoto Jin, a silent cowboy who carries a trumpet into battle that he uses to taunt his enemies.

Across 52 episodes and a movie version of episode 5, the team battled evil and was popular not just in Japan but also in Hawaii. I love that Marvel has this property and doesn’t use it. Kind of like Toei’s Supaidāman show, which comes from a world where motorcycle racer Takuya Yamashiro takes the part of Peter Parker and gets his own flying car, the Spider Machine GP-7, and a giant robot named Leopardon.

You can watch this on YouTube.

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 27: Darna (1991)

I wrote about Bruka: Queen of Evil, which this movie is related to. For example, one of Darna’s villains is her former friend Valentina, who becomes the snake-haired Serpina. That character inspired Bruka.

But who is Darna?

Darna is a Filipino superheroine created by writer Mars Ravelo and artist Nestor Redondo. It’s tempting, with her costume, to call her a Wonder Woman clone. She’s really a deceased extraterrestrial warrior who uses the body of an Earth woman named Narda to rescue those who can’t fend for themselves.

Fourteen different actresses have played her over 21 movies and TV shows, starting with Rosa del Rosario. The character is so famous that she’s even appeared in several ballet performances.

The 1991 version of the character was directed by Joel Lamangan and written by Frank Rivera. Darna is played by Nanette Medved. The origin is changed here so that Narda is granted a magical stone by an angel that can transform her into Darna. The enemy takes the form of a satanic conspiracy created by philanthropist Domino Lipolico and his henchwomen, the aforementioned snake goddess Valentina and the batwoman Impakta.

Where the world looks at Darna and sees Wonder Woman, you may watch this movie and see a lot of the plot of Superman with Narda leaving her small town to become a big city reporter, glasses as a disguise and all.

Valentina is over the top, which is great, as she’s played by Pilar Pilapil and seems to be a high fashion disco villainess with an anthropomorphic snake named Vibora that must be seen to be believed. As for Impakta (Bing Loyzaga), she uses a teddy bear to lure a child to her doom and kills the kid. Filipino superhero action has no idea how to pull a punch.

In How the World Remade Hollywood, author Ed Glaser suggests something pretty incredible: while in the 70s, 80s and 90s Darna looked to Diana Prince for inspiration, our Wonder Woman started to seemingly look to her Filipino sister for costume advice and finally decided to leave behind the invisible plane and learn how to fly on her own.

You can watch this on YouTube.