When two people are brought together from completely different walks of life, it can make for awkward circumstances, especially when they both have their secrets. Sacha (André), an introverted French ex-chef, moves to London to begin his new life as a food critic. Moving into a rented room in a house belonging to Dan (Masheter), a well-respected London stockbroker, the pair are forced into an unlikely friendship. As time goes on and events unfold, Dan attempts to hide his aspirations of becoming a burlesque dancer from the people who perceive him as an alpha male. Despite their differences, can Sacha and Dan become pillars of support in each other’s lives?
Each week, Roger Avery and Quentin Tarantino — joined by Gala Avery — post the Video Archives podcast. From controversial James Bond films to surprising exploitation flicks, they share their thoughts on movies that maybe listeners didn’t know they would love, give awards to their favorites, and of course, rate the quality of the video transfer.
Both worked at the original Video Archives store in Manhattan Beach before becoming filmmakers and the show is great, giving you the idea of what it was like to hang out in the store then as well as be part of watching movies with them now.
Over the next weeks — maybe more — I’ll be going through the films of the first season of this show and how I felt about them. Video Archives has felt like a friend to me as I increase my exercise and walk several miles a day, while also getting me to fill in the blind spots in my film experience. Sure, I can tell you about Bollywood remakes of slashers, but I haven’t seen many Rod Steiger movies.
Each post will also have a link to read more on the Video Archives site, a link to the episode it appeared on and some cool VHS artwork.
I’m so excited that I’ve gotten to learn more about film, I consider this show a master class in film appreciation. How lucky we are to have two incredible movie makers explaining why a scene works, why a movie is worth watching and. exploring their favorites in such a conversational way. I can’t think of any other opportunity like this. And Gala is so much fun, bringing such enthusiasm for not just VHS but movies and life.
Here’s to a great week of movies.
Keep up with the movies we’re watching with this Letterboxd list.
Cauldron Films has outdone themselves with three mind melting Italian blu ray releases. Do you need them? You fucking NEED them. In fact, I’m going to spend the rest of this post explaining to you in great detail why you need these movies.
You can get the bundle of all three from Cauldron.
Off Balance (AKA Phantom of Death) (1988): Ruggero Deodato, how I love you. I love that you somehow convinced a real actor, Michael York, to be in an insane film about a man getting progeria and murdering people left and right. I can get how you got Donald Pleasence. I can even sort of understand how you got Edwige Fenech. But Michael York?
York plays Robert Dominici, a pianist who suffers from that previously mentioned genetic condition that causes him to rapidly age, and by that, I mean that his face starts looking like Klaus Kinski at age 200. To make up for the bad hand he’s been dealt, he starts killing people, including targeting Inspector Datti ‘s (Pleasence) daughter Gloria (Antonella Ponziani).
Deodato would later say, “I did Phantom of Death because it was based on a true element — the idea of growing old. And I got to work with Michael York and Donald Pleasence.” He also threw in that the producer demanded Fenech, who was miscast. This is also one of the few movies where she isn’t dubbed, so you get to hear her real voice.
I have a real weakness for post 1980 giallo so this movie is like the sweetest Galatine milk candies.
This movie was written by Gianfranco Clerici and Vincenzo Mannino in the early 80s and became the start of The New York Ripper. According to Clerici, he and Mannino were offended by how their script was changed, so they kept editing it until giving it to Deodato. Several pieces of what Fulci used are in this movie, including York’s character disguising his voice and taunting the police.
Beyond Giovanni Lombardo Radice and Marino Mase showing up, this movie is notable because Pleasence is pretty much playing Dr. Loomis’ Italian cousin, ranting and raving as he stalks a ninja-like York through the streets of Venice, yelling the word bastard over and over again. All this scene needs is Jack Sayer in his truck, rumbling up smelling of booze and lamenting, “You’re huntin’ it, ain’t ya? Yeah, you’re huntin’ it, all right.”
The new Cauldron Films blu ray release of Off Balance is limited to 1500 copies and the film itself has a 2K restoration from the original negative. Extras include one of the final interviews with Deodato, commentary with film historians Eugenio Ercolani and Troy Howarth, Italian and English trailers, a CD of the Pino Donaggio soundtrack, a double-sided poster, a slipcase with artwork by Eric Adrian Lee and a reversible wrap with alternate artwork.
Top Line (AKA Alien Termintor) (1988): Man, was Nello Rossati dating Franco Nero’s daughter or something? Not only did he get him into this movie, but a year later he would be the person — well, his pseudonym Ted Archer did, but you get the point — to finally get him to come back to his most famous role in Django Strikes Again. He also made the giallo La gatta in calore(assistant directed by Lamberto Bava and shot by Aristide Massaccesi!), a Napoleon-sploitation film called Bona parte di Paolina, a sex comedy called The Sensuous Nurse with Ursula Andress and Jack Palance, the poliziotteschi Don’t Touch the Children!, another sex comedy called Io zombo, tu zombi, lei zomba about four zombies running a hotel, a giallo-esque film named Le mani di una donna sola in which a lesbian countess seduces married women until insane asylum escapees chop her hands off, and an I Spit On Your Grave revengeomatic called Fuga scabrosamente pericolosa that stars Andy Sidaris villain Rodrigo Obregón.
Needless to say, I’m a fan.
Ted Angelo (Nero) starts the movie off literally telling a woman that he’s too tired to make love. Is this the great hero of Italian cinema? He seems exhausted throughout but it works; he’s a writer fallen on hard times and harder drinking. He’s supposed to be writing a book on pre-Columbian civilizations, but he’s falling deeper and deeper into depression and drunken days to the point that he’s fired by his publisher — and ex-wife — Maureen De Havilland (Miss World 1977 Mary Stävin, who by this point had already appeared in Adam Ant’s “Strip” video, Octopussyand A View to a Kill, as well as releasing the exercise album Shape Up and Dance with footballer George Best).
It seems like Ted’s luck is changing when he’s shown a ton of writings that came from a shipwreck of Spanish conquistadores. Except that the ship isn’t on the bottom of the ocean. It’s in a cave. And maybe that luck’s bad, because everyone connected with the ship, like art dealer Alonso Quintero (Willian Berger) is dying under mysterious circumstances. And oh yeah. That shipwreck in a cave is also inside a UFO.
The only real good luck that Ted gets is when an art historian and friend of Quintero named June (Deborah Barrymore, who is not related to Drew, but is instead of the daughter of Roger Moore and Italian actress Luisa Mattioli) helps him out.
What follows is a delirious descent into madness to the point that if you told me this was all a drug trip, I’d believe you. First, Ted is almost run over by former Nazi Heinrich Holzmann (George Kennedy, who is only in the movie for this one scene), then the camera crew he hires ends up being CIA spooks who want to murder him, then the KGB gets involved and then things get really weird.
Ted gets the idea that Maureen has the kind of connections that can save him and June. As they wait for her, a cyborg Rodrigo Obregón attacks them and only stops when he’s hit by a bull. He gets torn apart and sounds like he’s trying to say the words to “Humpty Dumpty” and man, I literallyjumped aout of my chair in the middle of the night I was so excited. He looks like Johnny Craig drew him!
Somehow, the movie then decides to top itself as another Rodrigo Obregón cyborg that looks exactly the same shows up with Maureen, who removes her skin to show us that she’s one of the aliens that have been on Earth for twelve thousand years and now are in control of most countries and multinational corporations.
At this point, is there any hope for any of us?
Yes, this is a movie where a gorgeous Swedish woman takes off all of her epidermis — of course we see her breasts, this is an Italian movie — to reveal that she’s a lizard alien that fulfills the worries of David Icke, then she vomits slime all over herself and tries to kill Franco Nero with her giant tongue.
If you told me this was an actual alien, I would believe you.
The first few times I’ve tried to watch this, I couldn’t get into it. It was too slow and felt too downbeat with Nero’s character feeling hopeless. So don’t be like me. I beg you, stick with this for an hour. Just an hour, because it’s not bad. I mean, yes, Franco Nero survives a car chase by throwing eggs, but it’s just slow, not badly made.
But the last thirty minutes make it all worth it.
When you get there, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
This is a movie all about the foreplay and then when it’s time to get to the actual sex, it’s the weirdest and best Penthouse Forum sex you’ve ever had and you feel like there’s no way that it happened and no one will ever believe you.
Also: Franco Nero screams almost every line and I respect that.
Also also: This is like a budget They Live by people who never saw that movie.
Also also also: This ends with Franco Nero living in a Cannibal Holocaustparadise and a song that sounds like something Disney characters would sing to.
The new Cauldron Films blu ray release of Top Line is limited to 1500 copies and the film itself has a 2K restoration from the original negative. Extras include interviews with Nero and Ercolani, a featurette on the alien theories of the film by parapolitics researcher Robert Skvarla and an in-depth audio commentary by film historian Eric Zaldivar including audio interviews from cast members, Deborah Moore and Robert Redcross, as well as additional insight on Italian cult films with actors Brett Halsey and Richard Harrison. There’s also a booklet, a double-sided poster and a high quality slipcase with artwork by Ghanaian artist Farika in conjunction with Deadly Prey Gallery.
The Last Match (1991): Often, I refer to movies as having an all-star cast, which is really a misnomer. After all, what I consider A-list talent certainly does not fit the rest of the world. The Last Match, however, has the very definition of what I consider an all-star cast. Let’s take a look at the lineup:
Ernest Borgnine: Amongst the 211 credits Mr. Borgnine amassed on his IMDB list, none other have him leading a football team against an unnamed Caribbean island to save his assistant coach’s little girl. He was, however, in four Dirty Dozen movies and The Wild Bunch, not to mention playing Coach Vince Lombardi in a TV movie. One assumes that he took this role to get away from his wife Tova and her incessant cosmetics shilling.
Charles Napier: As the American consul in this movie, Napier cuts a familiar path, which he set after appearing in the monster hit Rambo: First Blood Part II. For him, it was either playing bureaucrats or cops, thankless roles that he always brought a little something extra to. The exception to his typecasting is when he played Baxter Wolfe, the man who rocks Susan Lakes’ loins in the beyond essential Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
Henry Silva: If you need a dependable jerk and you have the budget of, well, an Italian movie about a football team that also does military operations, call Mr. Silva. He admirably performed the role of the heel — or antihero at other times in movies like Megaforce, Battle of the Godfathers, Cry of a Prostitute (in which he plays the Yojimbo role but in a mafia film; he also pushes Barbara Bouchet’s face inside a dead pig’s carcass while making love to her and he’s the good guy), Escape from the Bronx and so many more movies.
Martin Balsam: Perhaps best known for Psycho, Balsam shows up in all manner of movies that keep me up at 4 AM on nights when I know work will come sooner than I fear. He’s so interested in acting up a storm in this movie that he is visibly reading off cue cards.
They’ve all joined up for a movie that finds the coach’s daughter get Midnight Express-ed as drugs are thrown in her bag at the airport on the way home from a vacation with her hapless jerk of a boyfriend. At least he’s smart enough to call assistant coach Cliff Gaylor (Oliver Tobias), the father of the daughter whose life he has just ruined. And luckily for this film, Tobias was in a movie called Operation Nam nearly a decade before, which meant that they could recycle footage of him in combat. He also was The Stud and serviced Joan Collins, so he has my eternal jealousy going for him, too.
Who could dream up a movie like this? Oh, only Larry Ludman, but we see through that fake name and know that it’s Fabrizio De Angelis steering this ship, the maker of beloved trash such as Killer Crocodile, five Karate Warrior movies and three Thunder movies that star the beloved Mark Gregory as a stiff legged Native American warrior who pretty much cosplays as Rambo. And don’t forget — this is the man who produced Zombi, The House by the Cemetery, The Beyond and New York Ripper!
In this outing, he’s relying on Cannibal Holocaust scribe Gianfranco Clerici and House on the Edge of the Park writer Vincenzo Mannino to get the job done. For some reason, despite this being an Italian exploitation movie, we never see the coach’s daughter in jail. Instead, we’re treated to what seems like Borgnine in a totally different movie than everyone else, barking orders into his headphones as if he was commanding the team in a playoff game.
To make matters even more psychotic, the football players show up in full uniform instead of, you know, commando gear. One wonders, by showing up in such conspicuous costumes, how could they avoid an international incident? This is my lesson to you, if you’re a nascent Italian scumtastic cinema viewer: shut off your brain, because these movies don’t have plot holes. They’d have to have actual plots for that to be possible.
I say this with the fondest of feelings, because you haven’t lived until you witness a football player dropkick a grenade into a helicopter. Supposedly this was written by Gary Kent for Bo Svenson, who sold the script to De Angelis unbeknownst to the stuntman until years later. It was originally about a soccer team!
Former Buffalo Bills QB Jim Kelly* is in this, which amuses me to no end, as does the ending, where — spoiler warning — Borgnine coaches the team from beyond the grave!
You know how conservative folks have quit watching the NFL as of late? This is the movie to bring ‘em back, a film where the offensive line has fully automatic machine guns and refuses to kneel for anything. No matter what your politics, I think we can all agree on one thing: no matter how dumb an idea seems, Italian cinema always tries to pull it off.
*Other pros include Florida State and arena football player Bart Schuchts and USFL player Mark Rush, as well as Dolphins Jim Jensen, Mike Kozlowsky, Elmer Bailey and Jim Kiick. It’s kind of astounding that at one point, these players could just end up in a movie without the NFL knowing. This would never happen today.
The new Cauldron Films blu ray release of The Last Match is limited to 1500 copies and the film itself has a 2K restoration from the original negative. Extras include an interview with special effects artist Roberto Ricci; American Actors in a Declining Italian Cinema, a minidoc by EUROCRIME! director Mike Malloy; Understanding the Cobra, a video essay by Italian film expert Eugenio Ercolani and commentary by Italian exploitation movie critic Michael A. Martinez. You also get a trailer, an image gallery, a booklet with writings from Jacob Knight and David Zuzelo, a double-sided poster, a high quality slipcase featuring original artwork and a reversible Blu-ray wrap with alternate artwork.
Velvet Jesus, the gripping semi-autobiographical story of a man’s desperate journey to discover the truth about his past, will release Tuesday, May 9 globally from Breaking Glass Pictures.
The movie, starring Ernest Harden Jr from the acclaimed new film Sweetwater, is directed by Anthony Bawn and Spencer Bollins.
“Velvet Jesus has elements of my real-life journey,“ said writer and executive producer Charles McWells, who wrote the successful stage play version of Velvet Jesus a few years ago. “But I think this new story is much harder hitting because it takes us to the unseen side of the #MeToo movement for men.”
The gut-wrenching story tells of a 30-year-old African American man, Carl (Jensen Atwood) who is forced to deal with the echoes of his past. In an attempt to silence the emotional demons that have haunted him his entire life, he decides to confront the man who he holds responsible for his torment. Though given his diminished mental state, can it be trusted that Vernon Chambers (Ernest Harden, Jr.) really did what Carl accused him of, or is it all a figment of Carl’s confused imagination? And if he did, what is the price Vernon should pay for robbing Carl of his childhood?
Collins states, “I remember when Charles brought me this project. I was excited because it was based on a subject that we very seldom talk about especially in the Black community and most certainly among Black men. Even though statistics show that every one in six Black men has been sexually assaulted and I am one of those six. It’s always been a dirty secret. The #MeToo movement gave us permission to talk about it amongst women.”
“But it’s never been something that we can talk about amongst men (more specifically not Black men). It’s not something that we openly talk about, but it is something that happens to men, as well as women. A lot of Black men have experienced this, but we don’t talk about it because of the stigma attached and the notion that everyone will assume that if you’re a straight person, you’re gay and if you’re gay, you like it. So, when Charles McWells gave me the opportunity to tell this story in a different way, I jumped at the opportunity to do it.”
Jensen Atwood and Melvin Ward also star in Velvet Jesus, hitting digital platforms in US, Canada, Australian, New Zealand, UK and more.
Forbidden Arsenal AKA In the Line of Duty 6: Forbidden Arsenal
Yes, Madam ’92: A Serious Shock AKA Death Triangle
Yes Madam 5 (how did they get to five? Well, would it help if it were also called Red Force5?)
This set has near-perfect versions of each of the films, along with Cantonese and multiple English dubs, as well as an amazing book that gives you so much knowledge on the series. Plus, you get two gorgeous posters and it’s all in a great box covered with striking artwork.
Here are the movies in this set:
In the Line of Duty: Yes Madam: Chicks with kicks! When gangsters murder her friend, Inspector Ng (Michelle Yeoh) is drawn into a deadly search for the men who did it. Just as well she’s got backup from British supercop Carrie Morris (Cynthia Rothrock).
In the Line of Duty II: Royal Warriors: Returning from her holiday in Japan, Inspector Yip (Michelle Yeoh) foils a daring mid-air rescue of a gangster being returned to Hong Kong for trial. But Inspector Yip needs to watch her back: that gangster has friends.
In the Line of Duty III: How do you top the first two In The Line of Duty films? Easy… bigger explosions, wilder fights and even crazier stunts! This time, two Japanese thieves have fled to Hong Kong with a tough J-cop (Cynthia Khan) hot on their heels. It’s up to Hong Kong’s finest to stop the villains before too much damage is done!
In the Line of Duty IV: The fourth (and for some fans… the best) of the In the Line of Duty series, sees the return of Cynthia Kahn as Inspector Yeung. This time, she’s on the trail of some ruthless international drug dealers, ably assisted by Donnie Yen and Michael Wong.
For all the hype and praise people give to John Wick — and those movies are awesome — Hong Kong was doing the same thing decades ago. This set is a near-perfect way for you to get into some wild action that’s guaranteed to blow your mind.
May 1: Take a dive deep into the films of a master with Molto Argento. A killer collection of murderous masterpieces, Molto Argento is a season of slick and stylish films from maestro Dario Argento. Featuring all of his very best films, including the absolutely untouchable first two films in his Three Mothers trilogy, and all of his standalone classics like Tenebrae, Deep Red and Phenomena, as well as team-ups with Lamberto Bava and George A. Romero; Molto Argento is a collection full of terrifying, nerves-splitting set pieces, brain-boggling whodunits, unforgettable lighting, astonishing camera moves and soundtracks that will take your roof off.
May 5: Psychotronic is a collection of far-out films all listed in Michael Weldon’s cult guide to the wildest movies ever made, and the film guide that Quentin Tarantino swears by, The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film. Described by Weldon as “(films) traditionally ignored or ridiculed by mainstream critics at the time of their release: horror, exploitation, action, science fiction, and movies that used to play in drive-ins or inner city grindhouses”, this is where you will find all our wildest, coolest stuff, such as Something Weird, The Crazies and The Baby.
There are also more Paul Joyce documentaries, including Mantrap: Straw Dogs: The Final Cut and Motion and Emotion: The Films of Wim Wenders, as well as two 60s films, Big Time Gambling Boss and A Woman Kills.
May 19: Masters of Horror offers nine directors whose game-changing work in the genre earned them that title (and a spot directing an episode of the legendary 2005 television show of the same name). Featuring cult classics from the likes of Dario Argento, George A. Romero, Lucio Fulci, Takashi Miike, Don Coscarelli, Stuart Gordon, John Landis, Lucky McKee and John McNaughton, these Masters unite for a collection showcasing their most absolutely must-see films, including Audition, Don’t Torture a Duckling and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.
May 22: Adam Cesare Selects: Adam Cesare is the Bram Stoker Award-Winning author of the young adult slasher novel Clown in a Cornfield and its sequels Clown in a Cornfield 2: Frendo Lives and the upcoming Clown in a Cornfield 3. Movies include The Stylist, The Craziesand Dark August.
May 26: Ghostly Goings-On is filled with haunting supernatural tales that will give you goosebumps and send shivers up your spine. There’s not a bedsheet with eye holes cut in it in sight, just ethereal apparitions and pulse-pounding phantoms dead set on ensuring you don’t get a wink of sleep tonight. Movies like Scared Stiff, 8-bit Ghost Hop and Lady Morgan’s Vengeance are part of this series.
Head over to ARROW to start watching now. Subscriptions are available for $6.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly. ARROW is available in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland on the following Apps/devices: Roku (all Roku sticks, boxes, devices, etc), Apple TV & iOS devices, Samsung TVs, Android TV and mobile devices, Fire TV (all Amazon Fire TV Sticks, boxes, etc), and on all web browsers at https://www.arrow-player.com.
Really easy. Just pour alcohol together over ice, then top with cranberry juice.
Admission is still only $15 per person each night (children 12 and under free with adult) and overnight camping is available (breakfast included) for an additional $15 per person. You can buy tickets at the show or use these links:
May 12: Huesera: The Bone Woman: Valeria, a young woman expecting her first child, becomes cursed by a sinister entity. Plunged into a terrifying and dangerous world, a group of witches emerges as her only hope for safety and salvation, but not without grave risk.
May 15: The Babadook, The Devil’s Doorway
May 19:Consecration: After the suspicious death of her brother, a priest, Grace (Malone) goes to the Mount Saviour Convent in Scotland to find out what really happened with the help of Father Romero (Huston). But she soon comes to distrust the account of the Church as she uncovers murder, sacrilege, and a disturbing truth about her own shadowy past that brings long-buried trauma to the surface.
May 22: In Their Skin
May 26: Influencer: While struggling on a solo backpacking trip in Thailand, social media influencer Madison meets CW, who travels with ease and shows her a more uninhibited way of living. But CW’s interest in her takes a darker turn.
There are three Last Drive-In episodes coming:
May 5: Cinco de Mayo!
May 12: Mama’s Day!
May 19: Dysfunctional Family Jubilee!
There are also three episodes of Slasher and the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards.
Don’t have Shudder? Plans start at under $5 a month and you can get the first week free when you visit Shudder.
The 10th Old School Kung Fu Fest: Sword Fighting Heroes Edition! is coming soon, with in-person screenings at Metrograph in New York and remotely on SVOD via Metrograph At Home from April 21-30, 2023. The festival includes US premieres of The King of Wuxia, The Swordsman of All Swordsmenand Night Orchid.
Check out the trailer!
Screening on Metrograph at Home (Svod)- (April 21 – May 4)