Drive-In Friday: First Time Directors & Actors Night

The criterion for this Friday’s theme night is simple: all of tonight’s films are by first time directors and actors who didn’t attend, or at the very least, complete their studies through, a theatre arts program.

Sure, we could revisit Kevin Smith’s Clerks and Troy Duffy’s Boondock Saints. But we’ve been there and done that with both of those films, and besides: the casts of both films featured formally trained actors. No, Quentin Tarantino doesn’t make the cut with Reservoir Dogs: while he had no formal schooling beyond his obsessive passion for film and working in a video store, he knew more about filmmaking that the four filmmakers we’re honoring this evening. No, Ridley Scott (Alien) doesn’t make the list either: while not a film school student, he graduated from London’s Royal College of Art and worked his way up the creative chain as a set designer for the BBC before making his debut, 1977’s The Duellists.

No, tonight we’re honoring indie filmmakers Rudy Ray Moore, Tommy Wiseau, Alex Kendrick, and Matty Rich — and while a diverse list, they have a lot more in common than you think. Each of them, along with their actors, possessed little to no film knowledge. But each had big dreams and unique purposes behind their respective films.

So hang up those speakers and lite the coils. Let’s get on with the show and enjoy Dolemite, The Room, Flywheel, and Straight Out of Brooklyn.

Movie 1: Dolemite (1975)

Rudy Ray Moore spent years struggling in the business as a musician, eventually finding his voice as a comedian by portraying a character called Dolemite. But his dreams weren’t over. He wanted to become a star of the silver screen. But even with his urban street cred as a comedian, none of the studios producing films in the then hot blaxploitation genre wanted to hire him or adapt his Dolemite character into a film.

Sure, Moore had a gift for a turn of the phase and rapping a prose, but he couldn’t act. And he had a potbelly and couldn’t fight. He’d never be a “Shaft” as he aspired. Oh, and he had no skills as director, writer, or producer. He didn’t know what a DP was or what a key grip or best boy did on a set. No matter. He spent his own money and took all of his non-industry friends along with him to make a movie.

So, taking the character of Dolemite from his Billboard Top 25 comedy album, 1970’s Eat Out More Often, he crafted a film about a pimp and nightclub owner granted an early prison release to work as an uncover agent to bust up a dope and gun-running ring operated by his old partner, Willie Green.

Is it awful? Yes. Is it Ed Wood-meets-Blaxploitation? Yes. Is it a charming picture overflowing with passion? Oh, absolutely. So much so you end up rooting for Rudy. And for his $100,000 investment in himself, he grossed $12 million during the film’s initial release. How loved is the life and oeuvre of Rudy Ray Moore? They made a movie about him starring Eddie Murphy: Dolemite Is My Name.

You can watch Dolemite as a free-with-ads stream on TubiTv. The VOD channel also carries the Dolemite sequel The Human Tornado, along with Rudy’s later films Petey Wheatstraw (be sure to read Sam’s review) and Disco Godfather.

Movie 2: The Room (2003)

Rudy Ray Moore always intended Dolemite to be an extension of his comedy albums and wanted to people to laugh with him. Tommy Wiseau, on the hand, set out — and failed — to emulate the works of A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof penned by American playwright Tennessee Williams.

Today, Wiseau claims that his celluloid calling-card to the industry, initially intended to a be a “great American drama about love and betrayal,” was actually an intentional “black comedy.” Opinions vary on that assessment of his successful artistic disaster, and do we care? No. We love Tommy Wiseau’s Rudy Ray Moore-esque heart and tenacity in making his dreams come true.

The true beauty behind The Room is that much to the chagrin of Tommy’s harshest late night, D-List celebrity guests-cum-might Internet Warriors and purveyors of cinematic quality, The Room is still playing in theatres and breaking box office records 17 years after its release.

And, like Rudy, Hollywood made a movie about Tommy: 2017’s The Disaster Artist, which went on to win Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards, and earned an Oscar nomination. So who’s laughing now, D-Listers? Who’s laughing now?

Surprisingly, none of the online PPV-VOD services offer streams of The Room, not even a free-with-ads stream on Tubi or Vudu. The free streams on You Tube come and go, so watch it while you can. Vudu does, however, carry Tommy’s two-part sophomore effort, 2018’s Best F(r)iends. The clips from the film abound on You Tube, so search and enjoy!

First 50 cars get coupons for a free Eskimo Pie (2 per car only). Darn freezer’s on the fritz and I don’t want to throw them out.

Movie 3: Flywheel (2003)

This feature film screenwriting, directing, producing, and acting debut from Alex Kendrick is not only my favorite film of this evening’s films: it is also the most technically adept “first” film of the evening. And, unlike Dolemite and The Room, each which had some assemblage of a semi-pro crew and a couple of trained actors on set, none of the cast and crew on Flywheel ever worked behind or in front of a camera. (Sans one actor: Lisa Arnold, a church member who worked in local theatre and did some local commercial work; she plays a news reporter who exposes the lead character’s dishonest business practices.)

Along with this brother, Stephen, Alex Kendrick oversaw the audio-visual ministry as the Associate Pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia; their duties dealt with the recording and distribution of church sermons and other messages of faith. Not exactly what you would call filmmaking. And it’s a job they just picked up and learned along the way.

Now, while Rudy Ray Moore’s and Tommy Wiseau’s goals against their lack of experience to make their debut films were rooted in an earthly quest for fame, Alex Kendrick never aspired to be a screenwriter, director or actor: his filmmaking goal was purely spiritual. His was a quest to expand the audio-visual ministry of Sherwood Church and reach young people and teenagers. And young people and teens love going to the movies.

So with a Tarantino-inspired self-study tenacity and a budget of $20,000, the Kendrick brothers figured out how to write, produce and direct their own screenplay: a simple tale about Jay Austin (Alex Kendrick), a used car salesman with a crisis of faith. And that spiritual crisis has not only negatively affected his business; it’s damaged his marriage and his relationship with his son. And an acquisition of a classic ‘60s Triumph Roadster with a broken transmission flywheel becomes a catalyst to repair his own “spiritual flywheel.”

Once the Kendrick brothers’ film was completed, they released it “roadhouse” style, going from church to church across the state. And the response was overwhelming. So, to answer the demand, they four-walled two local theatres in Tifton and Columbus, Georgia. And the crowds kept coming. And they grossed $37,000. Then a distributor expressed interest. And the film opened across the country. Then it found distribution on faith-based television networks around the world. And it became one of the top-selling Christian films on DVD of all time, selling 300,000 plus copies. And the Kendrick brothers went on to make several more faith-based films (2006’s Facing the Giants, 2008’s Fireproof, 2011’s Courageous, 2015’s War Room, and 2019’s Overcomer)—each with an improved quality and even greater box-office successes. Their second film, Facing the Giants, was made for $100,000 and grossed over $10 million.

Is Flywheel a little rough in spots? Yes. Since neither Kendrick brother made a movie before, they made the usual rookie mistakes that all first-time filmmakers make—even the ones with formal training (and even the ones who have several other films on their resumes)—they forgot to film pick up shots, to create coverage, and inserts (all of the same mistakes Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell* made with their little film about demons that everyone hails today in high praise as a “classic”). So, during the course of the Kendrick brothers’ debut film, you’ll notice a couple of scenes where the film quality changes. But make no mistake: Flywheel is not an Ed Woodian production that induces the guffaws of a Rudy Ray Moore or Tommy Wiseau production. It’s a film with well-drawn, complex characters that shine under the amateur thespians who volunteered their time to the production.

Now, if you’re just a movie fan, the faith-based aspect of the film will most likely be a turnoff and you’ll scoff at my praises for Flywheel. However, if you’re a filmmaker or actor and watch with those creative eyes, you’ll understand why this is a special film—probably the greatest first-time film by a group of cinematic novices ever made. Yes—even more so than the Sundance ballyhoo’d final film on this evening’s program.

Flywheel is widely available across all PPV and VOD platforms. But since this a Christian film you probably don’t want to gamble on—and we really want you to watch it—you can sample the film for free in two-parts on Daily Motion: Part 1 and Part 2.

* Bruce Campbell chronicled all of those mistakes in his biography If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor.

Movie 4: Straight Out of Brooklyn

Filmmaker Matty Rich had it all: he had the start of a very promising career in Hollywood as a member of the “New Black Wave” alongside fellow filmmakers Bill Duke, Spike Lee, Mario Van Peebles, and John Singleton.

At the age of 19 Rich took Sundance by storm with Straight Out of Brooklyn, a film that he produced, wrote, directed, shot, edited, and acted in for $450,000 and, like Rudy Ray Moore before him, Rich brought along all of his friends. After winning the 1991 “Special Jury Prize” at the Sundance Film Festival and a 1992 Independent Spirit Award for “Best First Feature,” the film was picked up for distribution by MGM/Samuel Goldwyn Company and grossed over 2.5 million dollars in art-house box office. Rich’s debut was a vibrant, exciting and real story about a young man living in poverty in Brooklyn’s Red Hook housing project who concocts a plan to rob a drug dealer and change the course of his life—and it does: for the worse. It was an absolutely amazing film by a kid one year out of high school that left you feeling that same Kevin Smith-exuberance after watching his independently produced films, Clerks.

Sadly, as in the case with fellow first-filmmakers Troy Duffy (Boondock Saints) and Rob Weiss (Amongst Friends), Matty Rich believed he knew it all and knew it better than everyone else; studio executives couldn’t reason with him. Accepted into New York University’s famed Tisch School of the Arts—from where Spike Lee graduated and previously took Sundance by storm with his debut film, Do the Right Thing—Rich dropped out of the school because of its “racist” policies. And Lee—then the toast of tinsel town—called Rich “ignorant.” Rich countered Lee was a “middle-class third-generation college boy.”

Then the sophomore jinx hit Rich—and it hit hard: Rich’s first major studio-produced film, 1994’s The Inkwell—complete with a professional crew and actors and an $8 million budget—bombed. Chalk up its failure to the studio’s “racism” or Rich’s “ignorance,” but the magic displayed in Straight Out of Brooklyn was gone.

The Inkwell started to go off the rails during its pre-production, with Matty Rich’s university drop out accusing Andover and Stanford University graduate Trey Ellis’s script (based on his best-selling novel optioned by Walt Disney’s Touchstone Pictures) for “not being black enough.” Ellis countered the “screenplay wasn’t stereotypically black enough [for Rich] . . . a Stepin’ Fetchit black minstrel show for white audiences.” (The trials and production tribulations of the production were chronicled in a 1994 article published by Entertainment Weekly.)

And Rich hasn’t made another film since.

While The Inkwell is still widely available as a VOD on all platforms, Straight Out of Brooklyn is not. But we found a 10-part You Tube upload for you to enjoy. It’s a powerful film that, even with its rough edges, is a highly recommended watch.

Hey, if you missed them, be sure to join “The Francis” for our Drive-In Friday: Black & White Night and Drive-In Friday: Heavy Metal Horror Night, along with our Karate Blaxploitation, Musician Slashers, and Movies About Movies nights.

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.

Drive-In Friday: A-List Apocalypse

Oh, how we go on and on about the apocalypse on this site. Especially the films shot in Australia, Italy, and the Philippines. We love it so much that we waxed nostalgic — twice — about Michael Sopkiw’s and Sergio Martino’s 2019: After the Fall of New York (Sam and R.D reviews). We even went Hunter S. Thompson-gonzo (we can’t write any other way; gotta go for broke) and wrote a month of apoc film reviews this past September, which you can revisit with our two-part Atomic Dustbin round up.

But before the low-budget hoards raced out of the lands overseas beyond the rising sun, Hollywood, inspired by the apoc turns of Moses and Ben-Hur himself, Charlton Heston, in Planet of the Apes, The Omega Man and Soylent Green, the apocalypse went mainstream.

So Oliver Reed went “apoc” with Z.P.G, while Yul Brynner starred in The Ultimate Warrior, Sean Connery followed his worldwide fame as James Bond with Zardoz, and the Golden Globe and Oscar-nominated Paul Newman ended the ’70s with Quintet.

So raise ye spiked bats and chains, my warrior hoards and perloin that water, you motherlovers! (Ye must know their cheezy apoc movie quotes or die!) Let’s light up the big screen for the A-List Apocalypse!

A don’t forget to follow the dancing pop corn boxes to our snack bar. I hope you ripped those two-fer-one coupons from the newspaper.

Movie 1: ZPG (1972)

If you’re a bloxploitation fan, you know writer and director Michael Campus for 1973’s classic The Mack, starring Richard Pryor (it bombed, but is considered the best of the genre). But did you know Michael Campus went apoc? Yep, he did. Those crazy Danes purchase the rights to Paul R. Ehrlich’s 1968 worldwide best seller, The Population Bomb, and turn it into a movie. And they managed to hire Oliver Reed of Burnt Offerings and Severed Ties, Gor and Outlaw of Gor. (Now, I must point out, again: Reed was so bad ass with his #1 box office-grossing actor self, that he turned down the role of Quint in Jaws. But now, I must addendum: he accepted two Gor films and Severed Ties?)

Truth be told, while this film has no middle ground and is either loved-loved, or hated-hated (I am of the former), it came out pretty good and is the best of this evening’s quartet of films. And bonus, Geraldine Chaplin — the daughter of Charlie Chaplin — won Best Actress (well deserved) at Spain’s 1972 Sitges Film Festival for her performance in the film.

The film concerns an overpopulated future Earth, whose world government executes those who violate a 30-year ban on having children, so as to balance out the food shortage. And to maintain normalcy, the government develops realistic mechanical babies to satiate the maternal instincts of the world’s 10 billion women. But for Carol — played by Chaplin — a mechanical child won’t do. And she spirals into an obsession to have a real child. (Special Effects artist Derek Meddings — who got his start with Hammer Films, worked with Gerry Anderson on UFO and Space: 1999, along with several James Bond films (our featured reviews all of next month), and designed Pink Floyd’s stage shows — designed the machine babies.)

Are they kidding? No online PPV rental streams? You have to “buy it” for $9.99? Well, if you absolutely must, You Tube has it. Amazon wants $12.99 to buy it? What the hell?

Movie 2: The Ultimate Warrior (1974)

So, Charlton Heston was Moses in The Ten Commandments. And he went apoc with The Omega Man and Soylent Green as “the last man.” And you thought Yul Brynner, who played Ramesses alongside Heston in The Ten Commandments, wasn’t going to jump on the apoc battlewagon to box office gold? (BTW: Check out our “10 Post-Apocalyptic Vehicles” feature.)

“What’s it (yawn) all about?” you ask director Robert Clouse.

Set in a post-civilization New York City in 2012, The Ultimate Warrior depicts the struggles of a small enclave of entitled inhabitants (led by Swedish actor Max Von Sydow of Victory and Judge Dredd) attempting to survive in a compound under endless attacks by the starving hoards outside (led by William Smith of Invasion of the Bee Girls and Grave of the Vampire).

And they need a magnificent seven to help them. But they can only afford one: Carson, played by Yul. For ye is the ultimate, perpetually shirtless, warrior: a man with no name. Well, he has a “name,” but you get the point.

Ugh. No free rips? You’ll have to settle for the PPV via Amazon Prime or Vudu.

A throw-down-the-apoc-gauntlet challenge to Sam: How is it that you ragged on Mitch Gaylord in American Tiger in our Drive-In Friday grand opening — and have yet to review fellow gymast Kurt Thomas in Gymkata? Must it always be about your man-love of Sergio Martino? (Geeze, no wonder Pittsburgh’s having a T.P shortage; and we thought it was the Coronavirus straining the T.P supply chains.) How’s about showing Robert Clouse of Enter the Dragon fame — and Jim Kelly’s Black Belt Jones and Golden Needles — some love?

Gymkata, Samuel. Gymkata. Isn’t “gymkata” sort of kind of like wrestling?

Our location out in Allison Park–if you feel like making the drive–will feature No Blade of Grass, Chosen Survivors, Ravagers, and Damnation Alley. But there’s no swap shop this Sunday at Allison Park. Gotta bush hog the lot and patch some parking lot potholes. Damn those city ordinaces and inspectors.

Movie 3: Zardoz (1974)

What in the hell? John Boorman ignited hicksploitation cinema with 1972’s Deliverance (read our “The Top 70 Good ‘Ol Boys Film List” round up of our month-long review of backwoods epics) and decided a movie with Sean Connery ditching the toupee, slapping on a pair of speedos, wearing a pair of bullet belts across his chest, and slipping into a some kneehigh red boots — and, oh, a floating giant stone head spouting lines about man’s evil penis spreading his seeds on the Earth — was the way to follow up a box office blockbuster?

What’s it all about? Uh, in a post-apocalyptic world where “Brutals,” aka barbarians, worship a stone god called “Zardoz” set forth by the elitist “Eternals,” everyone fights against death and hope for an eternal life.

And how is it that they are smart enough to building an electromagnetic stone head that spits out supplies to the barbarians, but not wipe the crud off of the cover of an old story book — which they based their society on? (The “plot twist” must be seen to be believed . . . dude, not that Star Trek: The Motion Picture V’ger non-sense again. WTF!)

Yeah, this deserved being singled out in our “Ten WTF Movies” feature: for Zardoz is the definition of “WTF” more than any other movie. Well, at least until Paul Newman did Quintet.

Ack. There’s no freebies on Zardoz? You’ll have to settle for a PPV on Amazon Prime or Vudu.

Movie 4: Quintet (1979)

And you thought John Boorman’s Zardoz was a mindfuck (or bore; opinions vary).

Welcome to the apoc-world of Robert Altman. Yes, the five-time Oscar-nominated director of M.A.S.H and Nashville fame went apoc. According to a then report in Variety, 20th Century Fox President Alan Ladd Jr. told the industry trade paper that Altman was not given final cut on what he termed “a complicated picture.”

That’s putting it mildly, Mr. Ladd.

Of course, we all know a quintet is a group containing five members. And that the geometric pattern of a pentagon (as you see in the theatrical one-sheet) has five sides. And dices (aka, a hexahedron) have six sides.

Okay, that’s the easy part. Now comes the hard part.

Remember our passionate rants during our “Fucked Up Futures Week” and “Deadly Game Show Week” tributes about “Human Death Sports,” which we consolidated in our review of the The 10th Victim?

Well, take The 10th Victim and eliminate five players. And take them out of the world stage and toss them in a makeshift casino during a future, world ice age where bored humans play “Quintet,” a fight for the survival of the fittest — with human game pieces. And those who are “killed” in the game are executed in real life. (Connect Four with a knife or Monopoly with a 45-revolver, anyone? Wanna try for the “funny bone” in Operation with a 10,000 volt hookup?)

Paul Newman is a seal hunter, Essex, who impersonates someone named Redstone, and gets “entered” into the game (a similar plotline used in Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1975 noir The Passenger starring Jack Nicholson). And Ingmar Bergman’s muse, Swedish actress Bibi Anderson, shows up as Ambrosia, the games crucial “sixth man.” So, uh, why didn’t they title the movie “The Sixth Man” instead of Quintet?

Your guess is as good as ours. Somewhere in the frames, Altman is being profound . . . about something.

You can watch a very clean rip of Quintet for free on You Tube.

Hey! Don’t fear the reaper. Come and take our hand and let us show you a whole list of end-of-the-world flicks with our Atomic Dust Bin round-ups, full of helpful tips on how tough out COVID-19. For there’s no paper for the loo. So you better bring your shovels to dig your own dunnys (Aussie apoc-speak; gotta keep the theme rollin’).

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and B&S Movies, and learn more about his work on Facebook.

Brillant cut of the first five Phantasm films to Blue Oyster Cult’s 1976 classic, “Don’t Fear the Reaper.”

Drive-In Friday: Roger Braden

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Roger Braden runs the Facebook group Valley Nightmares, which is all about the history of the films that played at the drive-ins and theaters in his home state of Kentucky. Besides that, he loves metal as much as I do and brings kick ass moonshine to the drive-in. He’s one of my favorite people to watch movies with, so I’m so happy he’s decided to share his drive-in picks with us.

Some of my earliest memories are of going to the Drive In with my parents, and a lot of those times friends from school or the neighborhood were there with their families as well. We were pretty much able to run wild, go to the playgrounds, walk the lot, just hang out and be kids. But when a feature was about to begin we knew to be back to our vehicle to watch whatever movie was up next. Westerns, car movies, comedies and war movies were the usual menu. First time I saw True Grit, Patton, Vanishing Point and so many others was at the Drive In as a kid. Then being in my mid teens in the late 1970’s and then progressing through the 1980’s meant turning up the Drive In experience a notch or two. We still ran wild in the lot, met up with friends and usually had a chick or two that wanted to get on the swing set and be pushed higher and higher. But unless we were parked in the back of the lot, when the next feature was going to start we were at our spot and ready for it.

When the fantastic folks at B & S About Movies mentioned doing this every Friday, I started writing down flicks and then working out what my Friday Night at the Drive In would look like. I had a lot of combinations, but this was the one I dug the most. All four are from the 1970’s, that three of the four are “PG” rated just helps my argument that the 70’s was one of the best decades for movies ever.

I’ve got to get the night started with 1976’s Grizzly from Louisville’s William Girdler. Suspenseful, fast paced, awesome scenery and for a “PG” rated film it has a fair amount of blood and gore. The scenes with the Grizzly look great too. When the Grizzly squares up on a helicopter, it still makes my jaw drop even though I know how it was done.

They didn’t call this one “Jaws on Land” by accident and it’s my favorite Girdler film.

Right from the very start with it’s documentary style opening, 1977’s Shock Waves draws you into it’s story of an elite Nazi Deathcorp that was unleashed at the end of World War 2 that were never captured or killed. Flash forward to the 1970’s where a group of tourists end up shipwrecked on a seemingly deserted island only to discover the former Nazi Commander (Peter Cushing) of that Deathcorp and the secret he’s been hiding all these years. The Nazi Deathcorp are still one of the best villians, visually and with their brutality, as they stalk the tourists on land and from underwater! Violent, but not gory, fast paced and an almost non-stop sense of dread power this “PG” rated film into one of my all time favorites.

Two couples (Peter Fonda, Warren Oats, Loretta Swit, Lara Parker) take a road trip vacation in a brand new RV (Look, it has one of those microwaves in it!) and on their very first night, in the middle of nowhwere, witness a Satanic sacrifice. And from then on it’s an almost non stop flight or fight movie as our couples try to report what they saw and just try to escape the Satanists who are trying to silence them. Race with the Devil , from 1975 and “PG” rated as well, is action packed, tense, suspensful and has plenty of shocks and surprises along the way that all lead up to one of the best “downer” endings to a Horror film still.

We all know this one. and if you don’t, stop reading this, and go watch Phantasm right now! My best description of this movie… it’s a fucking nightmare. The only “R” rated film of the night, 1979’s Phantasm is a classic whose style, visuals, story and blending of genres takes the film to the next level. Add to that a villian who became an icon, The Tall Man, with his legion of small hooded dwarfs determined to hide the secret of their existence cemented the films legacy as one of the best Horror films of the last 40 plus years.

I’ve always believed that the final feature of the night at the Drive In should be as stong, if not stronger, than the films that came before it. That’s what you’re taking home with you, especially with Horror films. There’s nothing like getting home just before the sun comes up and then hearing every creak and noise a house makes while you’re hoping to crash out for a few hours.

All of these films are on disc or stream at various sites. Many thanks to B & S About Movies!

Drive-In Friday: Musician Slashers Night

We, the celluloid thoughtful folks at B&S About Movies, with our vast end-of-the-world apoc-movie knowledge (as seen in our Atomic Dustbin roundup) know this recent Coronavirus lockdown is a trying time for all of us movie lovers. So we’ve decided to open up the B&S About Movies Drive-In where, each Friday afternoon at 11 AM (the Grand Opening was on March 13 . . . Friday the 13th!) we’ll feature four movies to get you through the viral outbreak—but rot your brain cells on bad films in the process.

This week, we’ll enjoy the acting horrors of ‘60s teen idols Fabian Forte and Frankie Avalon, ‘60s traditional music archivist Tiny Tim, and ‘80s Canadian god of thunder, Jon Mikl Thor—as they each eek out a living in the slasher ‘80s.

And as always: Make sure to drive with your parking lights on and clean up after yourself. And don’t forget to try our snack bar, which will remain open until the last feature starts.

Movie 1: Blood Harvest (1987)

God bless you, Bill Rebane (featured in Drive-In Asylum #17, which we reviewed), ye god of Drive-In fodder. You gave us The Alpha Incident, The Demons of Ludlow, and The Game. And you gave us Tiny Tim in his only acting role.

What’s it all about? A girl arrives home from college and runs afoul of a clown-suited Tiny Tim as the mentally-distributed clown “The Magnificent Mervo” killing by hook or by crook. You can watch Blood Harvest for free on TubiTV.

Movie 2: Zombie Nightmare (1987)

We reviewed Jon Mikl Thor in his big screen debut with Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare as part of our “No False Metal” movies week (well, actually, he made his debut with an in-joke support role in the Canadian Police Academy knockoff, 1986’s Recruits). And we also reviewed the thespin’ of Batman’s Adam West in One Dark Night and Omega Cop, so it’s inevitable, in the B&S About Movies universe, that they’d do a movie together.

So while you may have come for the Thor as the voodoo witch-revived zombie of these proceedings, you’ll end up staying for the metal of the film’s far superior soundtrack featuring Girlschool (“Future Flash” and “C’mon Let Go”), Motörhead (“Ace of Spades”), and Virgin Steele (“We Rule the Night”). Thor, of course, with his Thorkestra, composed the movie’s score. Someone recreated the soundtrack track-by-track on You Tube.

Oh, almost forgot! And who’s the dickhead punk who set this zombie revenge mess in motion? Friggin’ Shawn Levy, the producer behind 2016’s Arrival, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. He most recently produced the hit Netflix original series Stranger Things.

Shawn’s bitchy girlfriend: Tia Carrere—yes, Cassandra Wong, the smokin’ hot bassist-frontwoman of Crucial Taunt from Wayne’s World—in her film debut. And what’s Adam West do? He chops on a cigar from behind a desk and barks orders at Detective Frank Sorrell, aka Frank Dietz, from Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare, Black Roses, and The Jitters (those three films, along with Zombie Nightmare, were written by John Fasano). Oh, and did you know that Frank Dietz is a screenwriter these days? We just reviewed his latest film, the rom-com (rom-com?) I Hate Kids.

How is it that we have not given Zombie Nightmare a full review proper, Sam? Honestly, what we’ve said here is more than enough. Sorry, only the MST3K riffed-version is available. You can watch it for free on TubiTV.

But wait . . . there is more to be said about Zombie Nightmare! The Master Cylinder blog not only reviewed Zombie Nightmare proper, but also offers production insights from director-writer John Fasano and star Jon Mikl Thor.

See you under tent, Sunday. I’m selling comics, old movie posters, and VHS tapes at the Flea Market. Okay, let me go bush-hog the lot.

Movie 3: Kiss Daddy Goodbye (1981)

Did you know Fabian (Forte, of the moonshiner-becomes-a-stock car racer romp Fireball 500 and the Mario Bava Euro-spy comedy Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs*) made a movie with Marilyn Burns from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

Did you ever wonder what the ‘80s comedy Weekend At Bernie’s would be like if it was made as a horror film? Well, wonder no more. Two kids—check that, psychic kids—keep their murdered dad “alive” so that the authorities (Marilyn Chambers) don’t put them in an orphanage. Is Fabian the killer dad? Nope, he’s the sheriff on the case. You can watch a free VHS rip on You Tube.

Movie 4: Blood Song (1982)

So you’re a noted television director and producer—responsible for everything from the ‘60s skit comedy show Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, the ‘70s series Columbo and The Six Million Dollar Man, and bought us Jan Michael Vincent in Airwolf—and now you’re facing the onslaught of the slasher ‘80s. What do you do?

Well, if you’re Alan J. Levi, you work those television contacts and hire the uber-hot Diane Alder from NBC-TV’s Hello, Larry, aka Donna Wilkes (1978’s Jaws 2, 1980’s Schizoid, 1988’s Grotesque) to play a crippled young woman stalked by a hatchet-wielding psychopath from whom she once received a blood transfusion. And, get this: Niels Rasmussen who, if we believe the IMDb, was not only the editor on Blood Song, but he also directed the American-recycled Asian slopfest, The Serpent Warriors (aka Calamity of Snakes).

And who’s the Peter Pan whistling his “Blood Song” on his flute and wants his blood back? Frankie Avalon! You can watch the full movie for free on You Tube. What? Frankie made a Euro-spy romp, too? Yep, he did: Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine*.

Anybody out there know a good Bush-hog repair man? Looks like I burnt another flux-capacitor and the warp-inversion coils need a good back flush. That grass is gettin’ pretty high.

* April was “James Bond Month,” were we reviewed all manner of ’60s and ’70s spy flicks—including Eurospy films.

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.

DRIVE-IN FRIDAY: Eddie Harrison

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eddie Harrison has been a critic in print for The List magazine since 2003, and as a broadcaster for the BBC for the same period. He writes his own personal blog at film-authority.com. Here are his picks for a four-movie drive-in night of cinematic excess.

MOVIE 1: Highway Racer

Italian movies of the 70’s are coming of a staging post for cinema lovers; more than just imitations of American products, the best of them have a life of their own and style to burn. As kids, we get Hitchcock, and then graduate to Bava and Argento, Italy had something of a political upheaval in the 1970’s, and when they came to get inspiration from Dirty Harry and the Godfather, they came up with the Poliziotteschi, or Euro-crime genre with hard cops, sleazy villains and so much action that they shame the very films they copy.

Maurizio Merli was a giant of the genre, and his Inspector Betti trilogy (Violent Rome, Violent Naples, A Special Cop in Action) are the jewels of the crown of 70’s action cinema. Merli was an indomitable man, hirsute, virile, a perfect centre for an action movie. Here he teams up with director Marino Giolami for a take-no-prisoners cops and robbers movie that makes a virtue of their access-all-areas to Rome to enable some thrilling car chases.

Marli plays Marco Palma, a cop with a drive for nailing the bad guys. They’ve got souped-up motors, so Palma harasses his boss until he gets the same, a Ferrari 250 GTE specially modified to level the playing field. Palma makes Vin Diesel in the Fast and Furious movies looks like a novice; he lives, breathes and loves cars, but only as a method of bringing down his enemy. Indeed, the climax of the film makes it clear that there’s a code of conduct between the hunter and the pursued, and the whole film is a chess match between the two.

The stunts here have no CGI to soften the edges; taking inspiration from real police pursuits, Giolami uses the same locations and even cars to replicate the action, and isn’t averse to grandstanding; flinging cars on their roofs as they tumble down Rome’s Spanish Steps tourist attraction, there’s plenty of bang for your buck here.  Highway Racer has been a hard movie to track down and only has a couple of English language reviews to date; if you get a chance, see it; this really is one special cop, and the action is highly impressive.

MOVIE 2: Magic

Magic is an odd bird indeed; Sir Richard Attenborough directs, but as a gun for hire, an unusual position for a man for whom most film ventures were long gestated and fit firmly under the heading ‘passion project’. This was a horror film, adapted by scribe William Goldman from his own book, and allowing Attenborough to make some coin in between A Bridge Too Far and Gandhi.  Genre pieces, modern day settings, Hitchcock-ian tension; these are all things untypical of the director’s work, but what’s remarkable about Magic is that he does them all pretty well.

Part of the appeal was undoubtedly the chance to work again with Anthony Hopkins, something of a muse for Attenborough. Hopkins plays Corky, a ventriloquist who has re-invented himself with a new, blue repertoire of gags which bring him to a new audience. Corky is hot, and his agent (a peerless Burgess Meredith, riding high post-Rocky) is keen to get him into some big-time gigs. But Corky is more interested in his old sweetheart Peggy (Ann Margaret) and heads off to her back-woods guest-house where she ekes out an abusive relationship with her partner Duke (Ed Lauter). Peggy is wowed by Corky, but he’s got a secret; his dummy, Fats, wants to call the shots, and when work and personal relationships turn sour, the doll seems to be able to manipulate events to sinister ends.

Magic did well, finding an audience and getting Hopkins a BAFTA nomination, but wasn’t a horror game-changer in the way that the same year’s Halloween was. Nevertheless, there’s lots to enjoy here, even if large chunks of Goldman’s prose fell by the wayside, notably the novel’s long and beautifully imagined history of Corky’s relationship with his mentor, only seen in one scene here. But there are still some terrific scenes, notably when Meredith unexpectedly drops by Corky’s house and challenges him to sit for five minutes without Corky taking over. Some critics found that Hopkins lacked the vulgarity to play a vaudevillian, but in this scene, the Welsh actor nails the split in Corky’s personality, a bitterness and cruelty instilled by the business sitting uneasily with a desire to be loved and respected.

Magic might have been little more that a prestige time-passer for all concerned, but as a movie, there’s a haunting strength. Magic deals with the deals we make with ourselves, rather than the devil per se, and perhaps the lack of a supernatural dénouement alienated genre fans. But not all horror comes from outside, and Magic is one of the few showbiz film that explore the darkness inside a performers head; a pumped-up B movie perhaps, but one that reaches a level of intelligence and intensity that few prestige pictures can reach.

MOVIE 3: Zoltan Hound of Dracula

Also known as Dracula’s Dog, Zoltan Hound of Dracula has a title that’s easy to love; sure, you’re the ultimate incarnation of evil, but why shouldn’t you want a pet too? There was a well-documented wave of interest in Dracula in the late 1970’s, from disco Dracula in Love at First Bite to John Badham’s prestige revamp with Frank Langella. But at the shallow end of the pull, we find Albert Band directing Oscar-winner Jose Ferrer, Michael Pataki and the brilliantly named B-movie specialist Roger Pancake. What’s not to like here?

The boring bit of any review is sometimes the plot-summary, but writer Frank Ray Perilli makes sure that the synopsis is a riot by the sheer veracity of his research into foreign-sounding names. Jose Ferrer plays Inspector Vaclav Banco, a Van Helsing in a polo-neck, and he’s on the trail of Count Dracula, played by Tarantino fave Michael Pataki. But to set all this in motion, we first have to see the Romanian army accidentally exhume Dracula’s dog Zoltan, who in-turn exhumes his master, not Dracula himself, but crypt-keeper, innkeeper and dog-keeper Veidt Smit, played by Salem’s Lot’s Reggie Nalder. Everyone seems to agree that this is quite enough of that storyline for a bit, and we reverse back 300 years to see how the original Dracula (Michael Pataki) bit a unwary dog who had eaten his dinner; for the petulant act, Zoltan becomes a loyal servant of the vampire. This back-story dispensed with, we shift back to 1978 and the modern Dracula family, with modern-day descendant (also Pataki), wife, two kids and puppies crammed into a Winnebago and enjoying a National Lampoon-style vacation. Zoltan and Smit mail themselves to the U.S and emerge to track down their relatives without even considering a subscription to a genealogy website.

U.S. cineastes often imagine the BBC as some kind of august institution, but the Beeb were never above broadcasting such outré fare as Zoltan Hound of Dracula to bemused customers such as myself. ‘There’s more to this legend than meets…the throat!’ was the desperate sounding tagline, but there’s little gore or even action here, Band seems to have a full time job explaining how Dracula has a dog, why Dracula’s not with his dog, why Dracula’s dog is chasing down his family tree and a number of other contrivances, but ultimately this all goes in a reassuringly familiar direction; the imdb lists the Winnebago as the single most expensive element in the film, which in retrospect, feels just about right.

MOVIE 4: New Seekers: Live at the Royal Albert Hall

In music-hall times, it was understood that the final act should be a bad one, to make sure that the hall was emptied and could be cleaned before the next round of performances began. I’m not sure exactly what kind of audience would be left after a triple-header of Highway Racer, Magic and Zoltan Hound of Dracula, but I’d imagine some tenacious characters indeed, so what better way to clear the desks than British songbirds and blokes The New Seekers and their fabled concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

The New Seekers are something to behold. Dressed in curtains, wide of lapel and enormous of bell-bottom, they’re a wholesome alternative to glam rock and glitter, warbling such head-in-the-sand old-time sentiments as I’d Like To Teach the World to Sing, Good Old Fashioned Music, and the aptly titled Never Ending Song of Love. With astonishing laboured patter, they diversify into arch comedy songs (I’m a Nut, When I Was Small) that boggle the mind; the tracking on my VHS copy also adds a discordant, David Lynchian twang which renders any attempt at musicianship hopeless.

I’ve used this film to clear people out of flats at parties; whatever one thinks of the New Seekers, and I kind of dig their bubble-gum sentiments in a Bobby Sherman kind of way, this is a record of truly bizarre musicianship, sentiment and clothes that should be compulsory viewing for anyone who despairs of the music or fashions of today. Things have been worse, much worse, and the new Seekers live performance arguably marks the zenith or nadir of popular culture as we know and understand it today.

Drive-In Friday: Karate Blaxploitation

If I had a video store, there’d inevitably be a martial arts section. And that section would be next to the Blaxploitation section. And the shelf-transition between those two sections would feature a “Karate Blaxploitation” sub-genre shelf.

Sure, you’d find all the obvious films in there and you’d probably go looking for Black Belt Jones (shot by Kent Wakeford, who worked with Eric Roberts on Power 98; our debut review for “Radio Week” that ran March 15 to 21) or Black Samurai starring Jim Kelly of Enter the Dragon fame. You may even look for Kelly’s Three the Hard Way or Golden Needles.

But we aren’t throwin’ back to the video ‘80s. This Friday feature is all about the Drive-Ins of the ‘70s. And we need to go deeper than a Jim Kelly theme night for our Friday’s “Karate Blaxploitation” night at B&S About Movies. (Be sure to check out our “Radio Week” review of 1972’s Melinda, which features plenty of karate courtesy of Jim Kelly.)

The two of the films on the schedule star a smooth ass-kicker by the name of Warhawk Tanzania. And after his work in Force Four and Devil’s Express, he vanished into the eastern red sunset. What happened to the man who was born Warren Hawkins? No one knows; is he dead or alive? But the last word was that he was a businessman in residing in Brooklyn, New Work. What we do know is that Tanzania was a practitioner of the “Nisei Goju-Ryu” karate method, a martial art form developed by Hanshi Frank Ruiz, who served as the fight director on both of Tanzania’s films—and one more, as you’ll soon see.

And don’t forget: Junior’s always hungry, so stop by the snack bar.

Movie 1: Force Four (1975)

The tale is a simple one: A jive-cool New York crime lord’s prized African artifact—a mystical voodoo doll—is stolen. And he wants it back. So he hires an all-black squad of martial artists to retrieve it at all costs, because, well, “it can’t fall into the wrong hands.”

The awfulness of this kung-fu battle begins with acting by graduates of the Ed Wood Thespian Academy, and goes downhill from there . . . with inept fight chorography, out-of-sync dubbing, and sound effects more ludicrous than all of the “punches” and “blows” in all Asian Kung-fu flicks combined. Basically, all the things you want in a Drive-In Kung fu marathon. Is this just inept or a homage to the films from the Orient? You decide.

Also known as Black Force, this big screen debut of Tanzania also served as the second and final movie of director Michael Fink, who made his debut with Velvet Smooth. And in a twist only a B&S About Movies reader can appreciate: Fink went on to become an acclaimed visual effects supervisor, choreographing the fight scenes in Stallone’s Tango & Cash and Mel Gibson’s Golden Globe and Oscar-winning Braveheart.

You can watch Force Four for free on TubiTV.

Movie 2: Velvet Smooth (1976)

First, there was the black Kung fu fightin’ babes you know and love: Pam Grier (Jackie Brown) in Coffy, Foxy Brown, and Friday Foster, and Tamara Jones in Cleopatra Jones. But not too many remember Johnnie Hill in her one and only film as Velvet Smooth.

‘Ol Vel is a detective-for-hire contracted by another inner city crime lord, the arrogantly named King Lathrop, who wants to know who’s muscling-in on his turf. Of course, King double crosses Vel, so she brings on the whoop-ass. What did you think was going to happen?

This debut feature by Michael Fink is the second installment of the unofficial “Nisei Goju-Ryu” karate trilogy, since all three films utilize the martial arts form developed by Hanshi Frank Ruiz.

You can watch Velvet Smooth on Daily Motion HERE and HERE or on You Tube.

Sorry. No Swap Shop this Sunday. All day Karate exhibition fights under the Big Top!

Movie 3: Devil’s Express (1976)

Warhawk Tanzania is back for the final film in the “Nisei Goju-Ryu” trilogy that made the VHS ‘80s rounds as Gang Wars. He’s Luke, a New York martial arts sensei who takes Rodan, his ne’er-do-well, drug-dealing student to China to complete his training. And while exploring an ancient cave, Rodan finds an amulet. And he takes it home. And the demon guardian of the amulet comes to New York retrieve the trinket. And only Tanzania can stop the . . . well, you thought the xenomorphs in the Alien knock-offs of the ’80s were inept. . . .

While director Barry Rosen finished his directing career with his second and final film, the bouncing teen-driven T&A flick The Yum Yum Girls (1976), he went onto produce the highly rated UHF-TV ‘90s syndicated series Highlander and Zorro. (We explore some of those T&A Drive-In flicks with our review of Crown International Pictures’ Van Nuys Blvd.)

You can watch Devil’s Express for free on You Tube.

Movie 4: The Black Dragon’s Revenge (1975)

Martial arts legend Ron van Clief received top billing in his fourth film, a tale about three rival karate street gangs (is there any other kind in New York) searching for a lost “finger fighting” manual written by the master himself: the late Bruce Lee. Does Ron sport a fro and sideburns that makes Jim Kelly jealous? You bet!

Unknown in the United States, outside of the most discriminating martial arts connoisseur, director Chun-Ku Lu is a respected, major star in China and the Pacific Rim territories with 80-odd credits as a writer, actor, and director. After retiring from the business in the late ‘90s, he’s back with a new film as a director: 2018’s This Life, I am a flower pot.

And Ron “The Black Dragon” van Clief is still going strong at the age of 77 and is currently filming Snow Black. His most recently released film was 2018’s retro-romp, Hot Lead Hot Fury (trailer; You Tube).

Do Sam and I need to write and direct a Kung fu blowout starring the 91-year old Leo Fong, who currently working on Pact of Vengenance, and Ron van Clief? If only we had the money and the connections . . . if only.

You can watch Black Dragon’s Revenge on You Tube.

Want to share your four films and the reasons why? It’s easy! Just write to bandsaboutmovies@gmail.com. We’ll get in touch and share your festival with the world. We’ll even make you the “owner” of a theatre and design your custom marquee for your reviews.

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.

DRIVE-IN FRIDAY: Guest curator Paul Andolina

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul Andolina is our next drive-in currator. You can check out his blogs Wrestling with Film and Is the Dad Alive? for more.

It’s late September, the air is starting to get a bit colder than usual, and the leaves will soon be dropping, you are headed to the drive-in at the old quarry with your sweetheart. You’ve heard that tonight will be an extra special night with four films back to back specifically chosen by a guest programmer. You will not know what they are until they begin to play, the only clue, they will all center around horrible discoveries, ones that mankind may not be ready to deal with.

MOVIE 1: Spring (Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, 2014): A young grieving male, Evan, travels to Italy for a change of scenery and meets a mysterious and beautiful young woman, Louise. A seemingly innocent tryst turns into a horrifying discovery.

You can watch this on Tubi.


MOVIE 2: Il mistero di Lovecraft- Road to L (Federico Greco, 2005): Was Lovecraft inspired to write one of his stories by the folk tales of the Po Delta in Northern Italy? A group of filmmakers makes the trek to Italy to find out whether Lovecraft had ties to Italy but uncover a terrifying truth in a small town named Loreo.

You can watch this on YouTube.


MOVIE 3: Black Mountain Side (Nick Szostakiwskyj, 2016): Archaeologists in the Canadian wilds discover a strange structure that seems to be having adverse effects on the crew, who are now being haunted by hallucination. Will they make it out of the wilderness to talk about what they have witnessed?

You can watch this on Tubi.


MOVIE 4: The Corridor (Evan Kelly, 2010): A group of friends having a reunion at a snowy cabin stumble upon a strange corridor in the wood. It begins to slowly drive them mad, leading to a weekend that they may never escape.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime.

Do you want to share your dream drive-in evening with the world? Just comment below or email us at bandsaboutmovies@gmail.com.

DRIVE-IN FRIDAY: Sean Mitus

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks to Sean Mitus for sharing his drive-in night. He’s a big fan of the Mahoning Drive-In, so it was great to have him share these with us.

MOVIE 1: Bay of Blood (1971, Mario Bava): Bay of Blood is the often-imitated Bava proto-slasher often imitated (spear through the couple in bed scene stolen for F13, anyone). Directed by the master, Mario Bava.


MOVIE 2: Buio Omega / Beyond the Darkness (Joe D’Amato, 1979):  for the sheer creep factor. No hiding who the killer might be; just pure “what will he do next”. It even has the weird twinning later seen in Cemetery Man.


MOVIE 3: Dead Alive (Peter Jackson, 1992): Dead Alive is pure fun for horror geeks! More blood and guts than most zombie movies. The lead is subjected to far worse than Job for the love of his life. Plus you have a kung-fu priest!

Thanks Sean. Do you want to share your movies? Comment below or write to us at bandsaboutmovies@gmail.com

Drive-In Friday: Heavy Metal Horror Night

I came to B&S About Movies, the website, after I listened to B&S About Movies, the podcast. And long before I became a writer at B&S About Movies, Sam expressed his love of horror films and heavy metal music with his first “theme week” in 2017: “No False Metal.” So, for this Drive-In Friday, we’ll pay tribute to that first theme week with a “Heavy Metal Horror Night” under the moonlight.

What is “Heavy Metal Horror,” you ask? Is it the same as the “metalsploitation” moniker I’ve seen critics use?

Yep.

At the same time those direct-to-video “boobs and blades” knock-offs of John Carpenter’s Halloween started flying off the video store shelves, a new form of heavy metal birthed in Britain in the late seventies—dubbed by Sounds magazine as “The New Wave of British Heavy Metal” (NWOBHM).

Featuring the violent, religious mania and bloody lyrics composed by the likes of Venom and Iron Maiden, complete with the requisite Satanic imagery on the album covers, slasher films and heavy metal music were a match made in hell: the music coming out of England was, in fact, Giallo musicals. This music-inspired slasher sub-genre even got its own name: metalsploitation, which featured other beloved so-bad-they’re-good bloody analog tales showcasing the exploitive titles of Black Roses, Shock ’em Dead, Terror on Tour, Rock ’n’ Roll Nightmare, and Hard Rock Zombies. The genre peaked—and quickly burnt out—when the major studios took a slice of the metalsploitation pie with 1986’s big-budgeted Trick or Treat.

So flash those horns and let’s get the reels a-rollin’ with Monster Dog, Blood Tracks, Terror on Tour, and Rocktober Blood . . . and a surprise wildcard, so I hope you tore that coupon out of the paper to redeem it.

And don’t forget: Movies and Mosquitoes go better with a Pepsi!

Movie 1: Monster Dog (1984)

The director of this heavy metal werewolf romp is Claudio Fragrasso. We talk about him alot on this site. He made what schlock film critics cite as the “worst sequel of all time”: Troll 2. With Rossella Drudi, Fragrasso co-wrote for Bruno Mattei, the films The Other Hell, Rats: Night of Terror, Robowar, Shocking Dark, and Zombi 3. Then there are the films he co-directed or directed, such as Beyond Darkness, Night Killer, and Scalps.

And this.

So, before Alice Cooper appeared in John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness and Wayne’s World—and after he made his big screen debut in Sextette and followed up with a bigger part in Roadie (his best work; alongside Meatloaf) and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (and you thought Troll 2 was bad)—he was without a recording contract and broke.

So he took this gig, starring as the world-famous Vince Raven, who takes his band to his childhood home for rest, relaxation, and a video shoot—in the remote wilds of Spain, natch. And there’s wild dogs and bad dreams and a hostage crisis and videos for Alice’s tunes “Identity Crisis” and “See Me in the Mirror.”

It’s awful. It’s crazy and it makes no sense. And we love it.

You can watch the full movie for free on TubiTv.

Movie 2: Blood Tracks (1985)

Sam pitches this movie perfectly in his review: The Hills Have Eyes set at a ski-lodge. I’ll take it one step further: Take Alice Cooper’s Monster Dog, remove the werewolf, and insert an axe-wielding maniac.

Yep. Instead of Alice Cooper as Vince Raven, we have another band—in this case, real-life Swedish hair metal band Easy Action, as the faux Solid Gold—going to a remote location to shoot a rock video.

Yep. They’re dispatched by axe, by sword . . . and bye-bye Swedish rockers, for we so wish you were Swiss rocker Krokus.

You can watch the full Movie for free on You Tube.

Out at our Allison Park location, we’re showing Hard Rock Zombies (reviewed below), Black Roses, Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare, and Trick or Treat.

Movie 3: Terror on Tour (1980)

In our review of 1971’s psycho-slasher Point of Terror, we discussed the resume of trash filmmaker Don Edmonds and his works with Dyanne Thorne. Together, they made two of the ‘70s trashiest Drive-In fests that became ‘80s video rental de rigueur: Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (1975) and Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks (1976).

And this movie needed a dose of Dyanne. Badly.

Anyway, the “terror” is the bargain-basement KISS clone the Clowns, who dress in black leotards, wigs and Phantom of the Opera-styled half-masks. And someone is dressing up as one of the Clowns and killing their fans. And what in the hell is the “Soup Nazi” from Seinfeld doing here? Hey, starting his acting career.

Oh, the Clowns are actually the Rockford, Illinois, band the Names. Yes, they did gigs back in the day with Cheap Trick. And Chip Greenman, the drummer in the Names, sat on the drum kit with the Cheap Trick precursor, Fuse, which featured Rick Nielsen and Tom Peterson. And when Rick and Tom put together a “new band,” Chip turned down their invitation to join, instead signing on the dotted line with the Names.

Chip got to star in this movie as the consolation prize. And he can’t act. And neither can the rest of the Names.

You can watch the full movie for free on You Tube.

Movie 4: Rocktober Blood (1984)

Oh, dear lord Satan. How Sam and I (especially me) go on and on about this pinnacle-mixture of heavy metal and horror. Sam did a pretty good job in chronicling the exploits of Billy Eye Harper (review), but I had to go and take another crack at it (review). And then we examined the never-made sequel, Rocktober Blood 2: Billy’s Revenge.

See, we told you we love Billy Eye Harper around here. We even review never-made-movies about him.

The short of it: Billy Eye Harper and his band Head Mistress are recording music for their annual October Rocktober Blood tour and—it seems—Billy has a psychotic break, murders members of his crew, a few record executives, and fails in his attempt to murder his co-vocalist, Lynn Starling.

Of course, as the poster’s tagline teases: Billy returns from the dead to kill—and rock again. The music of Head Mistress (You Tube soundtrack playlist)—provided by the L.A band Sorcery (of Stunt Rock fame)—is excellent, even more so that the actually movie. Oh, and Billy’s “voice” is the late Nigel Benjamin of the post-Mott the Hoople band, Mott.

And did you know that Billy Eye Harper, aka actor Trey Loren, aka Tracy Sebastian, is responsible for bringing AC/DC: Let There Be Rock to the big screen? True story . . . and we’ll get into that with our review on that film, which broke AC/DC in America, tomorrow at 11 AM.

You can watch the full movie for free on You Tube.

Movie 5: Showing exclusively at our Allison Park location is Hard Rock Zombies (1984)

What in the hell is up with this movie?

How in the hell did Krishna Shah, a double-graduate of Yale and UCLA, come to hook up with E.J Curse of the Gene Simmons-produced L.A. band Silent Rage (and formed Dead Flowers with ex-Guns N’ Roses Gilby Clarke) and ‘80s metal songsmith Paul Sabu to make a movie, about . . . a small time rock band, Holy Moses, who stumbles into a creepy, small town that Adolf Hitler is using to launch the Fourth Reich—all with the help of werewolves, murderous dwarfs, a hot blonde hitchhiker with a penchant for hand chopping, and medieval songs that resurrect the dead? Yeah, I know that’s a run-on sentence, but I need it to describe this . . . movie!

Trivia Alert: This was shot back-to-back with Krishna Shah’s T&A epic, American Drive-In (1985) . . . and Hard Rock Zombies is the movie playing in the Drive-In of that movie. Oh, and Emily Longstreth from American Drive-In, also starred in the Alien knock-off Star Crystal and the apoc-romp Wired to Kill. And Shah’s co-producer, Sigurjon Sighvatsson, produced Steven Dorff’s grunge flick S.F.W. (1994; reviewed on April 5th, in remembrance of Kurt).

You can watch the full movie for free on You Tube. Hell, ya! The full soundtrack for Hard Rock Zombies is on You Tube, courtesy of Paul Sabu! “Oh, Cassie!”

Don’t forget to hang up the speakers and please use our trash receptacles on the way out. Don’t throw your trash on the grounds. Thank you! And tickets are still available for the Kix, Bang Tango, and Thor show under the Big Top on Sunday. Bring your VHS tapes and albums, as all three bands are doin’ a meet-and-greet after the show.

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.

Drive-In Friday: Black & White Night

For this week’s installment of our weekly (at 11 AM) Drive-In Friday feature, we’re kickin’ it old school out ‘ere in the sticks amid the aroma of mosquito coils and heat-carouseled hotdogs — and probably cow and horse poo from the farm on the otherside of our lot’s treeline. Now if yer one of those folks who “don’t do black & white movies, they depress me,” then you just keep on drivin’ into the big city and spelunk that air-conditioned 28-screen behemoth selling the $5.00 (tiny) boxes of Snowcaps (they’re a $1.79 — and bigger — on the candy isle at the registers where I grocery shop).

I dated two women who hated black & white movies (those relationships didn’t last long, natch). My cousin? She refused to watch anything “that’s not in color.” Me? A great movie is a great movie, color be damned. And long before Crown International Pictures and Roger Corman began pumping out B-Movie fodder for the big screens under the stars, these are the movies you necked to your girlfriend by on the nights the “submarine races” were cancelled.

So, let’s hook up that speaker on the window and fire up that mosquito coil and, like the marquee states, get ready for a night of comedy with No Time for Sergeants, drama with Marty, and lose it over Barbara Stanwyck (Scha-wing!) in the suspenseful film noirs Double Indemity and Sorry, Wrong Number.

Movie 1: No Time for Sergeants (1958)

Before there was Bill Murray’s 1981 military comedy Stripes, there was CBS-TV’s ’60s series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. And before that there was No Time for Sergeants.

Before you became familar with Andy Griffith as Sheriff Andy Taylor from the syndicated TV reruns of The Andy Griffith Show and as lawyer Ben Matlock on Matlock, you may have known him as Harry Broderick, the junk man astronaut from Salvage 1.

But before all of that, Andy Griffith was a stand up comedian-monologist that wowed audiences with humorous, long-winded stories, such as “What it Was, Was Football.” As with most comedians (see Jerry Seinfeld for a modern context), Griffith made the transition to acting and won across-the-board acclaim for his turn on the stage, television, and film versions of No Time for Sergeants. He starred as Will Stockdale, a country bumpkin drafted into the Air Force too daft to realize he drives everyone crazy — especially his beloved Sergeant King. And the fact Will keeps falling into buckets of poo (the iconic “toilet salute” scene) and keeps coming out like roses only makes Sgt. King crazier.

Griffith’s co-star/comedic foil is Nick Adams, who went from the highs of Rebel Without a Cause with James Dean, to the lows of working on the B-flicks Frankenstein Conquers the World and Godzilla vs. Monster Zero. He also starred in 1965’s Die, Monster, Die, which is a (very) loose adapatation of H.P Lovecraft’s short story “Colour Out of Space” (we recently reviewed the new Nicolas Cage version Color Out of Space).

Movie 2: Marty (1955)

“You don’t like her, my mother don’t like her, she’s a dog and I’m a fat, ugly man!” exclaims Marty to his best friend, Angie, a gangly guy who pines for women way out of his own league.

Now if this sounds alot like Jackie Gleason’s CBS-TV series The Honeymooners, which begat that network’s series King of Queens, which begat Mike and Molly, then it probably is. Did you ever see John Candy as the lonely bachelor cop in 1991’s Only the Lonely alongside Ally Sheedy? That’s where Marty takes all of it’s cues and Mike and Molly pinched its plot.

The “dog” Marty speaks of is Claire (Gene Kelly’s then wife, Besty Blair): a plain Bronx school teacher that our middle-aged butcher meets at the Stardust Ballroom — where she’s humilated by a blind date that ditched her. A sweet, clumsy romance that his doting mother and sexually immature buddies try to discourage, blossoms against all odds.

While you may not know of this deep slice of celluoid set on the streets of New York, you know of the film’s screenwriter: playwright Paddy Chayefsky. He’s best known to fans of ’70s and ’80s cinema for the award-winning films Network (1976; “I am mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”) and the sci-fi feature Altered States (1980; the film debut of William Hurt, aka Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, from the Captain America/Avengers/Black Widow film arc).

The 1953 teleplay of “Marty” on which the film is based aired as part of the NBC-TV Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse and starred Rod Steiger (American Gothic, The Amityville Horror, Mars Attacks, and Stallone’s The Specialist) in the title role.

And do we have to tell you that Ernest Borgnine was “Cabby” in Escape from New York? Really, do we? (He talks about that role on You Tube.)

Three-for-one watermelons and cantaloupes! Ten ears of corn for $2.00!
B&S About Movies 2-4-1 DVD and VHS movie sale blowout this Sunday.

Movie 3: Double Indemity (1944)

“That’s a honey of an anklet you got there, Ms. Dietrichson,” salivates the nebbishly dashing Walter Neff, an insurance salesman.

Poor bastard; he didn’t stand a chance.

Now, in today’s #metoo movement, Ms. Dietrichson would be on the phone to the insurance company to report Neff to his superiors. He’d be fired, slandered on social media, become an alcoholic, and slither around on rock bottom until his eventual self-demise.

But this is a James M. Cain novella-based film and back then, a comment about a woman’s anklet triggered a femme fatale chain-of-events from which a man could never recover. And in this case: a rich, seductive housewife romances an insurance salesman into a murder/insurance fraud scheme of her husband, which arouses the suspicions of an insurance investigator played by Edward G. Robison — who you know as Saul “the Book” from the apoc-romp Soylent Green.

Do we really have to tell you who Fred MacMurray is? Ugh. Yes, he’s the old guy from all of those Antenna TV reruns of My Three Sons, you know, the “Uncle Charlie, where’s Chip and Ernie?” show. But before his TV career, Freddie starred in hit-after-hit movie, including this film noir ranked No. 38 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 best American films of all time.

Study this film, ye potential filmmaker. It’s the gold standard.

Movie 4: Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)

Sigh. Barbara Stanwyck. The art of flashbacks to tell a story. Long tracking shots out of windows, over roof tops, across exterior walls and through windows — without bogus CGI After Effects digital stitching. In other words: “real oners.” Dark lighting. Moody shadows. Swirling cameras. And Barbara Stanwyck. Schwing for all of it, not just her.

She stars as Leona Stevenson, the spoiled, bedridden daughter of a wealthy businessman that — in the days before cellphones, where operators used patchcords in a circuit board to patch phone calls to various parties — hears a murder plot on a crossed phoneline. The twist: the plot is to murder her. And the murderer is her lover, played by Burt Lancaster, a slimy-yet-dashing businessman-cum-drug dealer (toned down for the movie).

If you’re interested in screenwriting and filmmaking, this is the film you study again and again. And again. Simply magnificent.

And you thought we were all about Sergio Martino and Fred Olen Ray movies at B&S About Movies? Don’t forget: hang up your speakers and please, use the trash recepticles on your way out. We’ll see you next Friday under the stars.

Sadly, there’s no free online streams available to share with you. However, because of each of the film’s “classic status,” they’re commercially available on all of the streaming services — You Tube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, and Vudu for less than $5.00 (cheaper than a box of multiplex Snowcaps!) — and DVDs are easily obtainable at your local public library. Happy viewing!

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.