Junesploitation 2022: Blood on Méliès’ Moon (2016)

June 26: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie— is free! We’re excited to tackle a different genre every day, so check back and see what’s next.

Man, Luigi Cozzi. StarcrashContaminationPaganini Horror, Cannon’s Hercules, his remix of GodzillaSinbad of the Seven Seas, the remix remake ripoff weirdness that is Demons 6 De Profundis, The Killer Must Kill Again, writing Four Flies on Grey Velvet and even just being a fan of film and running Argento’s Profondo Rosso store and museum — I just love the man. Like, I wish I could buy him dinner and drinks and just pick his brain for hours about the history of film.

I think this is as close as I’m going to get.

Cozzi originally came up with the idea — or at least the title — for Blood on Méliès’ Moon when he was working for Cannon in the 80s, but had no idea how it could be made. As much as we hate on modern technology, it did make this happen, as the Cozzi said that it was like when he “decided to become a publisher, until then, to publish a book you had to print at least one or two thousand copies. That meant a lot of money and often your storehouses were full of unsold copies. After the advent of digital, you could print even only thirty copies of a book and so I decided to start publishing books and novels.”

Let me try and summarize this absolutely berserk movie.

Inventor Louis Le Prince — a real artist could possibly have been the first person to shoot a movie of any length using a single lens camera and a strip of film; he also disappeared after boarding a train in September of 1890 on his way to demonstrate the camera, but there are theories that he was killed by Edison, disappeared to start a new life and celebrate his homosexuality where he would not be judged, that he committed suicide due to multiple failures or that his brother killed him to get their mother’s will. The case has never been solved — create a device that the Lumière Brothers would eventually call The Cinematographer.

Luigi Cozzi, playing himself, finds a book called The Roaming Universe that was left for him when Barbara (Barbara Magnolfi!) is killed by the statue of the Blood and Black Lace killer within Profondo Rosso’s Argento museum basement, a book that she received during a seance during which an old woman violently puked it into existence.

A man has also sent Cozzi a lamp fashioned after Le Voyage dans la Lune and claims that a shadow version of La Prince in the guise of a masked magician has left the doorway open to a dark dimension that will soon doom our reality using film as his weapon.

It’s a little like La rage du Démon, in that one of Méliès’ movies causes chaos, but it’s also a lot like a conspiracy tract you would have found in the 80s all Xeroxed and left in a payphone booth or a strange YouTube channel that at first you giggle about but then you say, “Well, that makes sense.” It’s baffling and brilliant and corny and silly all at the same time, a messy final message from an auteur who can’t help but be entertaining no matter what he does.

There’s also a trickster named Pierpoljakos (Philippe Beun-Garbe) who takes Cozzi through other dimensions, a severed head that can speak, Cozzi’s wife reacting to him telling her that he has to save the world by just rolling over and going back to sleep, Cozzi in fuzzy pajamas, Ben Cooper level masks, monsters and effects, as well as Lamberto Bava showing off his dad’s book collection, Dario Argento at an autograph signing and a nightmare that has critic Paolo Zelati claim that Cozzi is the Italian Ed Wood, which should upset him, but just ends up making him happy.

There’s also a discussion of the volcano sequence that Cozzi ripped off for Hercules and asks, “Did Cozzi choose the images or did the images choose him?” He also gets to fly on a rocket and when he lands, gets a smile from his own creation, Stella Starr from Starcrash.

This movie reminds me of the Profondo Rosso store itself, a cramped small place with a few books, some DVDs and goofy masks, all standing above a shrine to the genius that is Italian exploitation cinema in the catacombs below. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, it doesn’t have to and it’s wonderful.

I have in my office a Profondo Rosso mug and it’s one of my prized possessions. It’s like some alchemical object, something I hold and hope that the inspiration and madness and love of cinema that Cozzi has always had stays within me. I also am happy to report that when I mentioned his name to Caroline Munro, she lit up and said, “He really is the most wonderful man.”

You can get this movie directly from Profondo Rosso.

Junesploitation 2022: The Quick and the Dead (1995)

June 25: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie— is lethal revenge! We’re excited to tackle a different genre every day, so check back and see what’s next.

Why did I wait so long to see this movie?

Was I worried that it would disappoint me?

Did I need to explore the Italian west first?

I have no idea!

Simon Moore wrote this movie as a tribute to Sergio Leone and man, it comes through in every scene of the film. He had intended to direct his own script as an independent film and soot in either Spain or Italy when Sony Pictures Entertainment bought the script, got Sharon Stone as the lead and went with Sam Raimi after she was impressed with his work on Army of Darkness. She went so far as to tell the producers that if Raimi did not direct the film, she wouldn’t be in it.

Raimi would blame himself for the film’s failure, sayin “I was very confused after I made that movie. For a number of years I thought, I’m like a dinosaur. I couldn’t change with the material.” That said — it made $47 million on a $35 million budget and time has seen the movie be critically rethought.

The Lady (Stone) has come to the town of Redemption — a place where the only law is John Herod (Gene Hackman) — for a fast-draw single elimination shooting tournament in which no challenge can be refused and the gunfight goes on until a contestant yields or dies.

There are really only four people who can win the contest: The Lady, Herod, a former gangster turned preacher called Cort (Russell Crowe) — Herod’s former right-hand man who abandoned his violent career in favor of a peaceful religious life after Herod forced him to kill a priest — who is given one bullet per battle so he doesn’t shoot his way out of town and The Kid (Leonardo DiCaprio), who just might be the best gunfighter of all time if you listen to what he has to say.

Each of them must battle their way through, however, as Herrod defeats Sergeant Clay Cantrell (Keith David), a killer hired by the town itself to murder him and The Lady kills Eugene Dred after he assaults the saloon owner’s (Pat Hingle) daughter. Afraid that she won’t be able to achieve her mission — which is more than the money in the tournament — she nearly runs away before Doc Wallace (Roberts Blossom, Old Man Marley in Home Alone) hands her her father’s badge and tells her that she must clean up the town. At the same time, Cort must battle Spotted Horse (Jonothon Gill), a man who says that no bullet can kill him.

The flashback that follows — Herod caused her to kill her father (Gary Sinise) — sets up the reason why she must destroy not only the man who murdered her father but destroy his entire town, which won’t be easy.

This is the kind of movie I love so much, packed with actors of true character, like Lance Henriksen as trick shot fighter “Ace” Hanlon, Tobin Bell as Dog Kelly, Sven-Ole Thorsen as “Swede” Gutzon, Evil Dead II writer Scott Spiegel as Gold Teeth Man and Italian western star Woody Strode as Charlie Moonlight. This was Strode’s last role and the movie is dedicated to him.

This movie is full of not only amazing gunfights, incredible dialogue and plenty of tension but a bravura ending — daylight through a shadow! — that literally made me jump out of my seat. It’s also packed with montages and a moment where there are so many extreme zooms and rack focus moments that I was sure that the ghosts of every beloved Italian director had risen from their graves and taken over the film.

Junesploitation 2022: La morte risale a ieri sera (1970)

June 23: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie— is gialo! We’re excited to tackle a different genre every day, so check back and see what’s next.

Death Occurred Last Night (also known as Death Took Place Last Night and Horror Came out of the Fog) was based on the Giorgio Scerbanenco novel Milanesi Ammazzano al Sabato (The Milanese Kill on Saturdays) and was directed by Duccio Tessari, who co-wrote A Fistful of Dollars before making his name with A Pistol for Ringo and The Return of Ringo. More to the interest of those who love black gloves and switchblades, he made The Bloodstained Butterfly and Puzzle. He co-wrote the script with Biagio Proietti, who was also the writer of The Killer Reserved Nine Seats and Fulci’s The Black Cat. Tessari even wrote the lyrics to two of the songs in this movie!

Avanzio Berzaghi (Raf Vallone) has come to Milan to find his runaway daughter and works to solve the case himself — much like an Italy proto-Hardcore — at the very same time that detective Duca Lamberti (Frank Wolff) — a character who also appears in the movies Caliber 9 and Cran d’arrêt — and his partner Mascaranti (Gabriele Tinti, husband of Laura Gemser) investigate the seamier side of the city. They finally find her body in a field, burned beyond all recognition. Now, all Berzaghi has left is seeking out revenge that will never be enough.

The film also shows flashbacks of Berzaghi’s relationship with his daughter Donatella (Gillian Bray), a three-year-old child in the body of a fully grown woman with the needs that go with the physical maturity of a twenty-five-year-old. As she lusts after nearly every man she sees, her father had intended to keep her locked up after the death of his wife, but that plan obviously fails.

A cross between giallo and poliziottecschi — each of the two storylines takes each of the genre to heart and then meet at the end — this is a film that doesn’t take its cues from Argento — it was made the same year as The Bird With the Crystal Plumage — and emerges as a unique take on the form with an even more unique soundtrack by Gianni Ferrio which doesn’t sound like any other giallo score — it doesn’t sound like any other music from a film at all — and often puts people off on this movie. Not me.

Speaking of Bird, Lamberti’s wife is played by Eva Renzi, who is so important to Argento’s film. She’s incredible here, not just the most fashionable person in the movie, but her relationship with her policeman husband is one of equal standing.

Want to discover some more giallo? Check out my list of three hundred plus psychosexual murder movies right here.

Junesploitation 2022: Personal Vendetta (1995)

June 22: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie— is lethal ladies! We’re excited to tackle a different genre every day, so check back and see what’s next.

I’ve become kind of fascinated by the movies that Mimi Lesseos made, as she didn’t just act in them, she wrote and produced them, so they have the air of a vanity project but I can’t fault that because they’re all entertaining and wonderfully strange. Start with Pushed to the Limit and then come here.

Bonnie Blackwell (Lesseos) has been abused for years by her husband Zach (a scenery chewing and frothing at the mouth Timothy Bottoms) when she’s saved by the police and decides to train to be a cop instead of remaining a victim.

Sgt. Bill Starr, one of the cops that saved her — a harrowing scene where her husband repeatedly slams her face into a steering wheel until her forehead splits open and sprays blood — gets her into the police academy, a moment that has a jaunty song on the soundtrack that’s nearly a full spinning turn away from the dark tone that’s been the majority of this movie. It’s in no way an easy experience, as she’s put through a whole new level of hell as no one takes it easy on her, including hand to hand instructor Geno LeBell (Frank “The Tank” Trejo, a first generation student of American kenpo karate founder Ed Parker) whose name betrays Lesseos’ pro wrestling origins, as he’s named after “Judo” Gene LeBelle, a man who shows up in nearly every pro wrestling scene in every pre-WWE era movie.

Things move fast — Bonnie gets paired with a veteran cop named John Beaudet, they fall in love, she visits prison to tell her husband he’s going to be her ex-husband, he breaks out, her mentor is killed — and our heroine faces off with her husband, who we suddenly learn is involved in human trafficking, selling off Vietnamese/American teens as mail order brides.

Director Stephen Lieb also made L.A. Task Force (L.A’s most beautiful women are being killed by a maniac), Deadly Eyes (phone sex workers are being killed by a Jack the Ripper copycat) and Blind Vengeance (martial arts teacher falls for a student who is the ex-girlfriend of another fight master). You may read that list of movies and say, “What junk!” and you can’t find me to answer, as I’m hunting them down to watch them in my magical movie basement.

You can watch this on Tubi.

JUNESPOLITATION 2022: Lung Hing Foo Dai (1986)

June 21: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie— is Jackie Chan! We’re excited to tackle a different genre every day, so check back and see what’s next.

Jackie Chan nearly died to make this movie for you. It wasn’t even something wild. He jumped from a tree to a ledge, the branch snapped and he cracked his skull. Most people would hide that this happened. Jackie put it in the bloopers at the end, a trick her learned from Burt Reynolds, except that instead of Burt laughing it up with his co-stars, we see people freaking out that the star of the movie just smacked his head off a rock and part of his skull went into his brain, leaving a permanent hole in his head that he now fills with a plastic plug.

Jackie plays Jackie, known as the Asian Hawk, but really just Jackie playing Indiana Jones if Indiana Jones did some of the most ill-advised stunts you’ve ever seen. He was once a singer in a band called The Losers with Alan (Alan Tam) and Lorelei (Rosamund Kwan). The band was also a love triangle and like a three-member Fleetwood Mac in Hong Kong without lyrics like “I’ll follow you down till the sound of my voice will haunt you.”

Jackie has reinvented himself as a treasure hunter, Alan is a rock star and Lorelei is a fashion designer. He’s forgotten them both — as much as he can — as he steals the sword of the Armor of God from an African tribe and sells it to May Bannon (Lola Forner, Miss Spain 1979 who is also in Project A and Meals on Wheels as well as White Apache and Scalps, two Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso movies that were made back to back), the daughter of the super-rich collector Count Bannon, a man who has most of the Armor.

Alan comes into the picture again as a cult of devil worshippers wants the Armor so that they can take over the world. He knows that Jackie is the one person who can help him and together, they visit the Count and try to steal the pieces that he has. The story of losing his girlfriend gets to the Count, who allows him to take his pieces to the cult, as long as his daughter is in charge of the mission.

The cult knows they are coming, so they brainwash Lorelei, who does the same to Alan, assembling the full Armor of God. Jackie saves them by batting four Amazons in high heels — Cynthia Rothrock was going to play one of them but the schedule changed due to Jackie’s injury —  and the entire cult — who have already machine gunned an entire room of people in the movie just to show how serious they are — while wearing a vest covered with dynamite, then base jumping — Jackie actually dove from an airplane for this which is even crazier — onto a hot air balloon as the Armor is forever trapped in a cave-in.

This is actually the first Armour of God movie but was released as the second in the U.S. because, well, Miramax just did whatever they wanted. The Golden Harvest Hong Kong release is nine minutes longer than the version they released.

To explain it, I’ll just share this comment from Terry Thorne: “This is the first Armour Of God, which was released straight to video as Operation Condor 2: The Armour Of God in the US. The second one was Operation Condor: Armour of God 2, but had a theatrical release in the US as Operation Condor, so the sequel became the first one and the original became the prequel and the titles were flipped.”

Jackie Chan. Treasure. Amazon devil worshippers. Crazy flashbacks to the darkest of ages. A car that turns into a mini car designed just for Jackie. Yeah, this really has so much to love and was followed by 1991’s Operation Condor which has Jackie looking for Nazi gold and 2012’s Chinese Zodiac which sends him on the hunt for twelve treasures.

JUNESPOLITATION 2022: Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)

June 20: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie— is regional horror! We’re excited to tackle a different genre every day, so check back and see what’s next.

When I first saw Death Bed in the wild — 1989, I think, and at a Uni-Mart convenience store back in those magical days when every single retailer was renting VHS — I know that I wasn’t ready for it. I remember a friend showing me and laughing about it, saying that it had to be bad. I had not yet arrived at the place where I believe that there is no such thing as so bad it’s good. Today, I don’t feel right laughing at a movie because of its faults. I’d rather celebrate them and enjoy how happy they make me.

I’m glad I waited to watch this movie.

There’s no reason why Death Bed is as good as it is. It was shot between 1972 and 1977 for $30,000 around the Gar Wood mansion on Keelson Island in Detroit. Built in 1924 by designer, industrialist, inventor of the hydraulic lift and the modern garbage truck, and champion speedboat racer GarWood, this 43-room mansion had — at one time — the world’s largest pipe organ and a basement swimming pool. By the late 60s, it was a counter-culture commune thanks to Mark Hoover, who moved into the mansion after 15 years of it being vacant. He threw rent parties where the house band Stonefront would often jam with Joe Cocker, Van Morrison, Johnny and Edgar Winter, Rick Derringer and Leon Russell. By the next decade, a riotous party by the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, a drug bust and a lightning strike-assisted fire destroyed what was left of the once impressive manor.

Anyways, how do we get a bed that eats people?

Centuries ago, a demon fell in love with a woman and created the bed upon which they would consummate their love. Yet human bodies weren’t made for demonic lovemaking and she died, causing him to weep tears of blood which gave life to the bed. Every ten years, the demon awakens and the bed is able to satisfy its hunger by eating a human. Only one person — artist Aubrey Beardsley — has been spared, if you can call it that, by being trapped forever inside a painting that must watch the bed forever.

Beardsley is, of course, a real artist who was a leading figure in the aesthetic movement along with Oscar Wilde and James McNeill Whistler. He was also a significant member of the Art Nouveau despite dying at just 25 years old from tuberculosis. He would once say, “I have one aim—the grotesque. If I am not grotesque, I am nothing.” He was also rumored to have father a stillborn child with his sister, which there’s no proof of, but there is plenty of evidence of his genius work as an erotic artist. His work is so incendiary that it was still causing raids and obscenity charges seventy years after his death.

Wait — this is a regional horror movie?

The story is broken into meals for the bed, such as Breakfast, a time when a young couple trespasses into the mansion and use the bed for their own desires. As they start their horizontal dance, the bed does what it does and devours them as the artist makes fun of it. In response, the bed telekinetically tears the house apart and blows my mind mere minutes into this movie.

Three women discover the bed: Suzan (Julie Ritter, who went on to become a composer), Diane (Demene Hall) and Sharon (Rosa Luxemburg). Minutes after disrobing on the cursed mattress, Suzan is swallowed in the Lunch part of the story, soon to be followed by Diane. Only Sharon survives because her eyes remind the bed of the woman whose death created it. She’s also saved in the Dinner chapter by her brother, whose hands are eaten when he tries to stab the bed. He sits there, his flesh and blood digits replaced with crumbling skeletal fingers.

Finally, as the demon goes back to sleep, the artist reaches out to the mind of Suzan and helps her complete a ritual that will destroy the bed. It teleports it from its room and revives the dead mother of the bed at the cost of Suzan’s life. The mother and Suzan’s brother immediately do what you think they should — have sex on the evil bed — which sets it on fire and allows the artist to die.

Me telling you all of this should in no way spoil anything for you in a movie where we watch amber liquid dissolve body parts, a bed eat an apple, an orgy turn into an orgy of death and strange voiceovers in the place of dialogue. It’s also a movie where a bed drinks Pepto Bismol.

Creator George Barry — originally only his name was on the film — didn’t even release the movie other than showing it to a Los Angeles-based distributor to hopefully release the film on VHS in the UK. The distributor offered to pay Barry $1000 for a VHS release if he could supply them with a print of the film, complete with credits. Those credits would have cost $3000, so Barry declined and got his print back.

That’s how a British VHS label called Portland got the film, which they released as a bootleg. I have no idea how a copy ended up in a gas station in a southwestern PA mill town. Yet another mystery!

Somehow, Barry was making this movie in the woods at the same time as Royal Oak, MI — they shared the same hometown — horror icon Sam Raimi was making Within the Woods, which was the proof of concept for Evil Dead.

In 2014, Gwenyfar Rohler and Jock Brandis (who was a gaffer, did special effects and played the minister; he also worked on Serial MomBlue Velvet and four Cronenberg movies) created a two-act play that starts with how the movie was made and then has an on-stage adaption of the movie.

Barry sadly never made another movie and opened a bookstore instead.

What he did create is an absolutely deranged piece of film that would in no way pass through a Hollywood so-called idea factory. That’s why regional horror is such a vast resource, a place where anything can happen, plot is fluid and magic is everywhere.

Here’s one more insane Michigan regional classic to check out: The Carrier.

You can download this film at the Internet Archive.

Junesploitation 2022: Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity (1987)

June 19: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie — is free! We’re excited to tackle a different genre every day, so check back and see what’s next.

Daria (Elizabeth Kaitan, Vice Academy 3, 4, 5 and 6) and Tisa (Cindy Beal) have escaped from a space prison and made their way to a planet that only has two robots — Vak and Krel — and the scar-faced Zed (Don Scribner). They’re soon joined by Rik (Carl Horner) and his sister Shala (Brinke Stevens) for dinner, which soon becomes The Most Dangerous Game in space, with Zed hunting them down when he isn’t trying to assault them.

Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity was cited by Senator Jesse Helms, who had voters complain they had seen the movie on cable, and he wanted the rights to block objectionable cable content as part of the Cable Act of 1992. Luckily, that never happened.

Director and writer Ken Dixon also made The Erotic Adventures of Robinson CrusoeThe Best of Sex and ViolenceFamous T&AFilmgore and Zombiethon. He originally had Ginger Lynn playing Daria, which is ironic as Kaitan also became a lead in the Vice Academy series when Lynn’s Holly character went to jail.

It’s got a great title and Brinke Stevens. Sometimes that’s all you need.

You can watch this on Tubi.

JUNESPOLITATION 2022: Sinbad of the Seven Seas (1989)

June 18: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie— is Cannon! We’re excited to tackle a different genre every day, so check back and see what’s next.

To read my five-part interview with The Cannon FIlm Guide author Austin Trunick, click here.

To catch up on the 145 — so far! — Cannon reviews on the site, check out the Letterboxd list.

If there was ever a movie that checked off nearly everything that I’m looking for in a movie, it would be this, which is an even better sequel to Luigi’s Cozzi’s Hercules than The Aventures of Hercules.

I knew that I would love it from the moment it started with an image of Edgar Allen Poe and the claim that it was based on his story The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade, even though that’s complete bullshit. God bless the filmmakers of my people. I mean, both stories have a hot air balloon, so I guess that’s good enough.

Austin Trunick, writer of The Cannon Film Guide, broke down how this film came to be in a series of tweets, explaining how a couple weeks into the shoot for Hercules in the summer of ’82, Menahem Golan was so happy with Cozzi’s rushes that he asked him to come up with another movie. Cozzi pitched Sinbad and Ferrigno — who had not yet been through the weirdness that saw a reshoot for Seven Magnificent Gladiators turn into The Aventures of Hercules. Yes, Cannon made a movie that everyone in the cast and crew other than Lou and his wife knew was a sequel and not a reshoot. That’s some Badfinger level kayfabe.

After making those three movies, Cozzi finally wrote Sinbad, but Cannon’s Italian division — unlike its American side — could only make one movie at a time. The Assisi Underground was their movie of the year, so Cozzi waited until Dario Argento asked him to work on Phenomena.

Meanwhile, Cannon’s Italian officer finally decided that instead of making a movie, this would make a great Italian kids TV show. They hired Enzo Castellari( 1990: The Bronx WarriorsStreet LawKeoma)  to direct, padded out the script to four hour-long episodes and shot as much as they could, seeing as how it was 1986, the year Cannon made hundreds of movies and suddenly had to start cutting budgets. I mean — couldn’t they have floated over the ship from Pirates — it was docked at Cannes for years — and saved even more?

Cannon hated what they had in the can and thought it was unreleasable. Have you seen Italian movies? I can only imagine what they saw, because the footage here looks really classy for the most part.

A year later, Cozzi cast Cannon exec John Thompson in Argento’s TV series Turno di Notte and Thompson revealed the fate of Sinbad. He had an offer: instead of letting that movie just sit there, what if he fixed it? Cozzi said that they could make a movie, Menahem agreed and with a fraction of the film’s budget, he shot a The Princess Bride opening with his daughter and Daria Nicolodi in his apartment, added some special effects and a voiceover, and somehow put it all together.

As for Castellari, he had no idea that Cannon and Cozzi turned his footage into a movie until he saw it in an Italian video store shelf in the early 1990s. He rented the movie but wasn’t able to finish watching it.

It’s amazing that the film that resulted is as good as it is.

Daria plays a mother reading a bedtime story to her daughter and prepare yourself for Italian to English dubbing. She tells her of how Jaffar (John Steiner) has taken over the city of Basra from its kindly caliph (Donald Hodson). He’s put Princess Alina (Alessandra Martines) into captivity until she agrees to marry him instead of Prince Ali (Roland Wybenga) and you know, normally I wouldn’t ask if they were brother and sister but this is an Italian movie.

Sinbad (Ferrigno) and his crew — which includes Ali, Japanese (or Chinese but definitely Asian because he quotes Confucius and dressed in kabuki gear) warrior Cantu (Haruhiko Yamanouchi), the small Poochie (Cork Hubbert), the cook (Cannon utility fielder Yehuda Efroni) and a viking (Ennio Girolami) — sail on in to town and are captured by the soldiers they once called friends.

What follows are a series of episodic moments — which makes sense, seeing as how these were all going to be episodes of the TV show — like Hercules tying snakes into a ladder to escape a trap, an attack by the undead Legion of Darkness, a battle with rock monsters, Amazons that act like sirens and nearly kill the entire crew before Sinbad exposes the true nature of Queen Farida (Melonee Rodgers), the Ghost King and Knights of the Isle of the Dead, a Swamp Thing looking beast known as the Lord of Darkness and finally a battle between a good and evil Sinbad that uses the same laser effects that Cozzi throws into all of his movies and we’re all the better for it.

Man, there’s so much more, like Hercules meeting his true love Kira (Stefania Girolami Goodwin) and escaping the Isle of the Dead by inflating a hot air balloon by blowing into it like he’s Jon Milk Thor. There’s also a great villainess by the name of Soukra who is played by the muscle-bound Teagan Clive, who we all know as the Alienator.

This movie is non-stop fun, featuring scenes where Ferrigno bursts out of chains, throws dudes into alligator-filled pits, fights himself, defeats a laser trap, beats up numerous monsters and rips out a zombie’s heart, which has a face on it, and squeezes it while it screams.

Sinbad was intended to be a kid TV show, remember, so you may be surprised to know that this is an Italian movie through and through with blood, guts, impaling and all sorts of muck. It also looks like the cast is having an absolute blast filming it with everyone going over the top. I’d love to have had this be a full series, just like how Yor Hunter from the Future has even more Yor once you track down that miniseries.

You can listen to The Cannon Canon episode about Sinbad of the Seven Seas right here.

Junesploitation 2022: Nonostante le apparenze… e purchè la nazione non lo sappia… all’onorevole piacciono le donne (1972)

June 17: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie— is Lucio Fulci! We’re excited to tackle a different genre every day, so check back and see what’s next. 

As you watch the films of Lucio Fulci, it’s important to realize that made comedies, peplum and westerns long before he became known as the Godfather of Gore. Even his first forays into giallo, both before Argento (Perversion Story) and after (A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Don’t Torture a Duckling) may have bursts of violence and disquieting bloodshed, but Fulci was primarily a journeyman when Enzo G. Castellari dropped out of directing Zombi and Fulci stepped in.

An example of commedia sexy all’italiana, or sex comedy Italian style, this film remembers to include the requisite nudity and sexual situations while keeping the social criticism front and center, unlike other films in this subgenre of commedia all’italiana. Sure, so many of those movies are about the rich, but this film takes aim at those in power and how they still have very basic sexual lusts. Or, in the instance of this film’s lead, Senator Gianni Puppis (Lando Buzzanca, who was in a lot of movies much the same as this), abundant and near-insane levels of libido-enraged fervor.

Puppis is next in line to be President of the Senate, yet he starts the film by grasping the rear end of the female president of the Republic of Urania. No one notices, as they were inside a huge crowd, but he’s devastated by the fact that he can’t control his need to touch her.

Someone did notice. Father Lucian (Renzo Palmer) somehow gets photographic evidence and begins to blackmail Puppis, yet he refuses to pay as there’s no way that he could have done this. And then, that night, he dreams of a nude woman (Eva Czamerys, who between this, Our Lady of Lust and The Weapon, the Hour, the Motive had to have really upset the Roman Catholic church)  beckoning him from the circular plaza of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican.

But wait — isn’t Puppis gay — an editor at a TV station confirms this — and dating his personal chauffeur Carmelino (Aldo Puglisi)? Then why is he blacking out and getting back to reality just in time to learn that he has his hands on a keister?

After paying off Father Lucian, Puppis is sent to a German psychologist and a spiritual retreat that will keep his Roman hands away from the culo of the assembled ladies who not vote for him if they know what’s going on inside his head. After an encounter where Puppis rubs the bahootie of a Scottish man in a kilt, he gets so drunk that he must be waited on at the monastery by a series of nurses who are nuns, which trust me as an Italian male is the absolute double whammy of fantasy.

Meanwhile, the other senators are trying to learn just where Puppis has gone off to and the Italian Army is planning a coup because the Days of Lead don’t stop for sex comedies. The Senate is bugging Puppis, but the army is bugging the senate and a secret Vatican cabal — the Masonic P2? — led by Cardinal Maravigili (Lionel Stander) — is bugging everyone.

Puppis owes any political success to he has made deals with both the Vatican and the army and Maravigili has been manipulating him to the most powerful office in the country, tolerating his homosexuality as that is less of a scandal than what’s happening now. The sociopathic holy man then decides that Puppis must be killed.

That night, Puppis has a dream about the nuns and the Garden of Eden where he goes wild, like  Howard Stern in the 1980s or John Stagliano in Brazil. He then tries to assault Father Schirer (Francis Blanche) in his sleep, yet when he awakes he claims he’s cured. He’s not: he really did get to know all of those nuns as Biblically as he could.

All Hell has broken loose. Father Schirer has a heart attack when he’s convinced Maravigili knows that he’s failed. Puppis goes to a party with that very same holy leader and ends up s‘envoyer en l’air — I apologize for my conjugation, I never took the language — with the French ambassador’s wife (Anita Strindberg, who was also in Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key amongst many others) and engaging in an erotic mutual flagellation session with the only nun that he hasn’t yet gone heels to Jesus with, Sister Hildergardt (Laura Antonelli). As the secret church police arrive, they high tail it the hell out of there.

Finally, in a moment much like I imagine all U.S. Presidents go through when they show them who really committed every assassination and get to see inside the real Area 51, Don Gesualdo (Corrado Gaipa) shows Puppis statues of all the future saints — all people who have been killed to get him into a position of power given the kind of treatment that Vincent Price did when he played Professor Henry Jarrod. As the new President kneels in front of a statue of Sister Hildegarde and accepts his new role — his closest competitor dies in a plane crash — someone turns the channel to a game show.

That long title translates to The Senator Likes Women… Despite Appearances and Provided the Nation Doesn’t Know and that’s why The Eroticist was also called The Senator Likes Women. It’s a wild movie — not all of the comedy may translate, but Fulci’s bile against religion sure does. He came up with the story with Sandro Continenza (The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue) and the script was by Ottavio Jemma. Plus, it looks pretty great — Sergio D’Offizi who did Cannibal Holocaust and House at the Edge of the Park, not to mention The Washing Machine and Thunder 2 and 3 was the cinematographer.

Obviously, this movie was banned and censored beyond belief.

Want to see more Fulci? Check out my Ten Fulci films article or the Fulci Letterboxd list.

Junesploitation 2022: Miami Golem (1985)

June 16: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie— is 80s action! We’re excited to tackle a different genre every day, so check back and see what’s next.

I have no idea what genre this movie is and I’ll bet it has no idea either. It is an example of one of my favorite microgenre: Italian filmmakers in America, further subset Italian filmmakers in Florida*.

Alberto De Martino doesn’t get mentioned in the same conversation as Argento or Fulci. He’s not even in the Lenzi, Martino or Deodato world either. But he did direct The Antichrist and Holocaust 2000, two examples of the Xerox 70s occult boom that I have a particular fondness for. And he also made the shot in Canada poliziotteschi/giallo hybrid Strange Shadows In an Empty Room, which is a movie more people should watch and the downright weird superhero film The Pumaman. Also — and how can I forget this — he made the wildest Eurospy movie, Operation Kid Brother, which uses Sean Connery’s kid brother and everyone else that has ever been in a Bond film, daring Cubby Brocoli to repeat the violence — and yes, murder allegedly — that he unleashed on Ted Healy.

For as oddball and quite frankly daffy as Miami Golem is, it has quite a pedigree when it comes to who wrote it: Gianfranco Clerici (The New York Ripper, Cannibal Holocaust) and Vincenzo Mannino (House on the Edge of the ParkMurder Rock).

De Martino was also smart to cast David Warbeck and Laura Trotter as the leads. If I had my way, this would say “The stars of The Beyond and Nightmare City are back together for the first time!”

Warbeck is Craig Milford, a local reporter sent to a college — let’s assume it’s the University of Miami — to interview a professor cloning a cell from DNA that was found inside a meteorite. This seems like the worst of ideas, but you know how movie science works. As Milford leaves, gunmen break in, kill everyone and take the alien cells. They start erasing anyone who knows anything about the experiment and as that includes Milford, he goes on the run.

Somehow, Milford becomes our backwoods planet’s only savior as telekinetic businessman Anderson (John Ireland, who was in great stuff like Spartacus and Red River but I know him as King Arthur from Waxwork II: Lost in Time) wants to use that alien DNA, which is already growing into a quite honestly freaking me out looking alien fetus. He has help from another psychic extraterrestrial, Joanna Fitzgerald (Trotter), who he of course is going to do some reading under the covers with just as my wife walks in, angrily looks at the TV and says, “Why does this happen all the time in Italian movies?” and “That woman’s body hair is upsetting.”

The aliens left a message on the videotape for Milford that the alien baby is bad, baby, and we’re going to have to do something about it. That means that we’re going to watch Milford get launched around a room by a tentacled fetus, which I had no idea just how much I’d love. Also, by aliens, I mean that they are ghosts and one of them is just a big giant hand.

Between the score by Detto Mariano that approximates Harold Faltermeyer’s “Axel F” and Jan Hammer’s synth beats**, this movie’s title — and alternative version Miami Horror — are supposed to make us think Crockett and Tubbs. De Martino going by the name Martin Herbert is also supposed to fool us into thinking this is an American movie. Thankfully, it is deliriously Italian, filled with swamp boats, assassins and conspiracy. It makes a great double feature for the similarly goofball UFO quasi-gialo Eyes Behind the Stars.

Compounding the fact that this is an action movie is that the poster has three helicopters and an airboat all racing away from a gigantic explosion while Werbeck holds a revolver and a woman who is not in this movie in any way wears an outfit that Vampirella would think is kind of uncomfortable.

Also: Werbeck shoots a helicopter out of the air with a handgun, the kind of lunacy that only Jack Nicholson in whiteface gets away with.

*Further Italy via Miami examples include: Miami SupercopsCut and RunAmerican RickshawCruel JawsSuper FuzzAladdin and Nightmare Beach.

**The ripoff music in this movie was ironically reused — ripped off — for The Killer is Still Among Us.