2021 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 11: The Illustrated Man (1969)

11. SKINS & NEEDLES: Body art or body harm? When getting the mark leads to all hell breaking loose.

Beyond Bird with the Crystal Plumage, there’s one movie my mother has already brought up that she hated. And that would be this one.

The book that these stories come from has eighteen of them, but Howard B. Kreitsek and Jack Smight picked these three for the film without ever speaking to that book’s author, Ray Bradbury. The tattooed man who appears in the book’s prologue and epilogue would become this film’s main story and be played by Rod Steiger.

The funny thing is that when Steiger takes off his glove to reveal his entire hand is tattooed, it’s played off as a horrific moment. A half century after this movie was made and nearly every one of my friends has this many tattoos.

Carl the tattooed man meets Willie and uses his skin illustrations to show tales throughout time. The ink came from a mysterious woman named Felicia and at the end of the film, Willie sees his death at the hands of Carl in the only bare patch of skin on the Illustrated Man.

The stories that are told include “The Veldt,” which takes place in the future and has children who study within a virtual version of the African veldt. Soon, the lions will solve this issue of their parents. “The Long Rain” has solar rains* that drive an entire crew to madness in space. And “The Last Night of the World” predates The Mist with parents that must decide if their children should survive the end of the world.

The final story — and its bleak ending — is exactly why my mom hates this movie. The fact that she may have told me all about it when I was a kid may have given me nightmares.

This movie didn’t do well critically or financially. Rod Serling, who would be the expert on adapting short stories to film called it the worst movie ever made.

*Their spaceship is recycled from Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes and Escape from the Planet of the Apes.

KINO LORBER BLU RAY RELEASE: Change of Habit (1969)

I often think about Elvis and what his life would have been like without Colonel Parker and going into the Army and how at one point, you couldn’t show him from the waist up or girls would spontaneously get pregnant and by 1969, The King had been in 31 movies. They made them fast, they made them cheap, but even then they weren’t making as much money. But hey — Parker still got a million a movie, even if the films moved to TV.

Change of Habit was supposed to be a Mary Tyler Moore movie until Elvis came on board, but really, it’s still her movie. She plays Sister Michelle, who along with her fellow future Brides in Christ Irene (Barbara McNair, Mister Tibbs’ wife) and Barbara (Jane Elliot, General Hospital) have been sent to the inner city to work as lay missionaires until completing their vows. So yeah, the whole point of this movie is that even a life in service to God is difficult to comprehend after the potential of being pounded by The King of Rock and Roll. Or Dr. John Carpenter, which makes me laugh every time they say his full name.

Actually, this is the mosy upstanding occupation that Elvis ever had in a movie, but when you consider that he played a shrimp fisherman, a photographer, a water skiing instructor, a frogman, a lifeguard, a helicopter pilot, a rodeo rider, a tour guide and a race car driver three times, well, it’s a living.

That said, Elvis himself was doing pretty well. The comeback special had already been broadcast, the album that it sold was a huge success and he’d just finished recording the two songs that would point to his comeback as a force in American music, “In the Ghetto” and “Suspicious Minds.” His career no longer needed the movies.

Anyways, Change of Habit is a fun time. I mean, nuns and Elvis. You can’t beat that. And Ed Asner shows up as a cop, which is hilarious given his politics, and he and Moore don’t share a scene here but a year later they’d be talking spunk on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

With a trailer and commentary by film historians Howard S. Berger and Nathaniel Thompson, the Kino Lorber blu ray of this movie is a blast. I kind of like that I have an Elvis movie just waiting to watch whenever I need it. Here’s hoping they release some more beyond this, ClambakeFrankie and Johnny, and Elvis: Return to Tupelo.

Love Camp 7 (1969)

“It should be comforting for you to know that you’ll always have a friend, here, at Love Camp 7.”
— The Commandant, making the understatement of the decade

Sam the Bossman, who touched on this ’80s VHS ditty with his three part “Video Nasties” series nails it: there’s just some films that ask for it. And this Lee Frost and Bob Cresse Naziploitation affair — Frost directed and Cresse scripted with Wes Bishop — about two American female officers-agents (the large-breasted, natch, Maria Lease and Kathy Williams) going undercover in a Nazi prison camp — rightfully when straight to the front of the U.K.’s “Section 1” video nasties line.

So, how rough is this film?

Well, our Commandant (Bob Cresse) personally greets his prisoners in his office, while the women strip, are hoisted on to a table, and a female doctor slips on a glove for an “examination” — but don’t worry: it all stops just before it goes into full-on porn territory. To Frost and Creese’s credit: There is an actual story here, with plot and character development, the set design and costuming is solid, and, unlike its exploitation-offsprings, while it’s rough, Love Camp 7 isn’t rough for roughness sake. It truly is the best made — excluding Isla, She-Wolf of the SS — of the Nazisplotation films, even with its cinematographic weakness.

Yeah, I know Dr. Dalton, opinions vary down at the ol’ Cinema Road House, but the celluloid proceedings here are, still, more laughable than despairing, not all that horrifying, and utterly forgettable. Love Camp 7 was, however, a movie of its time — a time when the major studio mainstream films Valley of the Dolls (1967), Midnight Cowboy (1969), and Shampoo (1975) were slapped with X-ratings for their content about drug-pushing housewives, New York sex hustlers, and sexually-aggressive hairdressers.

So, yes, in the context against those films — which, watching these years later, are so not X-rated (to my eyes, anyway) — Love Camp 7 certainly deserves the 24th letter-branding, but when watched against the films from the ’70s “Golden Age of Porn” — films wholly deserving of their X-ratings — this Nazisplotation debut is tame in comparison. When you claim your movie is based in fact — and sadly, Jewish women were subjected to real life horrors in German interment camps and that is what makes the genre offense, on whole — you get, as Sam pointed out, what you asked for: a U.K. scarlet letter.

Spreading a woman in an eagle positions to play up your X-rating? Geeze-a-lou, Market Video.

As with all of the films released in its wake, the women — two WAC Lieutenants who dually work as spies, but also to attempt a rescue of a female inmate: a captured aero-engineer with information regarding a cutting edge jet engine — come to discover the female inmates (in perpetual full-frontal nudity) serve as sex slaves for German officers, subjugated to various experiments, bondage, torture, and rape.

Amid the cast, keep your eyes open for exploitation stalwart Bruce Kimball . . . wow, Bruce Kimball . . . he goes back to Run, Angel, Run! (1969), Al Adamson’s Brain of Blood (1971) and Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971), and Moonshine County Express (1977). He eventually hit the mainstream with the box office hit Rollercoaster (1977), along with appearances on TV’s CHiPs and B.J and the Bear. (Uh, yeah, we’re pretty big Bruce Kimball fans around here.)

Love Camp 7 rightfully earned its cult classic status in the exploitation realms for inspiring two, very hot genres in the drive-in and grindhouse cinema ’70s: women-in-prison flicks and Nazisploitation films.

The former genre — which dates to the rock ‘n’ roll bad girl romps Reform School Girl (1957) and High School Hellcats (1958), flourished in the ’70s courtesy of Lee Frost’s own hit, Chain Gang Women (1971), and the Pam Grier-starring hits Women in Cages (1971) and The Big Bird Cage (1972), and then continued into the VHS ’80s with the Wendy O. Williams-starring Reform School Girls (1986) and the Grim Reaper song-fronted (“Lust for Freedom,” “Rock You to Hell“) Lust for Freedom (1987) — could be a B&S theme week in itself.

The latter genre began with this first, iconic film in the Nazisploitation cycle of films centered around WWII concentration camps populated by incarcerated women. The genre achieved its nadir — or zenith, depending one’s perspective — with Love Camp 7 actor David F. Friedman producing the superior Isla: She-Wolf of the SS (1974), which starred the divine Dyanne Thorne (Point of Terror) that led to a series of Thorne-starring sequels. That birthed the Mario Caiano-directed and Sirpa Lane-starring (The Beast in Space) not-a-sequel Nazi Love Camp 27 (1977) and the (recently reviewed; look for it) fellow U.K. nasty, Gestapo’s Last Orgy (1977). In fact, many films released in the backwash of Love Camp 7 each had titles or alternate titles deploying the verbiage of “Love” or “Camp.”

Director Lee Frost amassed 30-plus directing credits in his career; his most “commercial” achievement — again, depending one’s perspective regarding nadirs and zeniths — was his genre-pollination of the Blaxploitation and Nazisploitation genres with The Black Getaspo (1975) and more so with the Warren Oates hicksploitation romp Dixie Dynamite (1976). However, if you’re a loyal hound of the video fringe, you’ve picked up Frost’s (we’ll always watch William Smith) bikesplotation slopper Chrome and Hot Leather (1971), and the cheapjack Frankenstein-inspired rip The Thing with Two Heads (1972).

Writer Bob Cresse — best know for his ’60s “Mondo” films and exploitation pieces, such as Mondo Bizarro (1966), produced with Lee Frost and Freidman — faded from the “mainstream” business after Love Camp 7. As the “Golden Age of Porn” matured, they each moved into the lucrative adult film realms, but Frost returned to the mainstream, somewhat, with the Jack Starrett-directed and Peter Fonda-starring drive-in hit, Race with the Devil (1975).

Shot in muddy-to-grainy 35-mm — that looks like it’s 16-mm, which isn’t a good sign — and burdened by obvious stock shots, narrative-threading voice overs, dialog by actors not seen-on-screen (Who’s talking; Where are they?), wide shots with no coverage; no medium shots or close-ups or reverses, you’re left thinking your watching a Larry Buchanan (Mistress of the Apes, Down on Us) production. And those English-accented Germans — ugh — are straight out of a Hogan’s Heroes episode.

X? It’s really not that nasty; Eli Roth and his 2003–2009 “torture porn” minions and the New French Extremity scene made a lot worse.

Due to the trailer’s content, you can only view it upon an account sign-in at Grindhouse Theatre’s You Tube portal. You can free stream the full film of Love Camp 7 at the Full Moon Archive (Thank you, Mr. Band, the VHS ’80s wouldn’t have been the same without you!), but it is also readily available on various pay-streaming platforms. You can learn more about Love Camp 7 as part of the insightful genre documentary Fascism on a Thread: The Strange Story of Nazisploitation Cinema (2020).

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.

Grimms Märchen von lüsternen Pärchen (1969)

Also known as The New Adventures of Snow White, this sex farce is part of the career downward trajectory of Rolf Thiele, who had once been a mainstream director, but increasingly found himself making lower-budget sex comedies. It’s all about Snow White (Marie Liljedahl, who was Eugenie in Eugenie…The Story of Her Journey into Perversion), Cinderella (Eva Rueber-Staier, who was General Gogol’s assistant Rublevitch in the films The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy) and Sleeping Beauty having a series of adult adventures.

There’s also a dude in a bear suit.

As for the evil queen, she’s played by Ingrid van Bergen, who famously shot her lover dead in 1977 and was released five years later to continue being a star. She also was in the Edgar Wallace adaption The Avenger and The Vampire Happening.

A section 3 video nasty, this is a pretty tame film other than the scene where one of Cinderella’s wicked stepsisters literally slices her heel off to fit it into the glass slipper. Wow. That even took me a second to get over. Well done, silly sex comedy from 1969.

Angel, Angel, Down We Go (1969), aka Cult of the Damned (1970)

Poet, novelist, playwright and screenwriter Robert Thom is someone the B&S About Movies crowd knows best for Roger Corman’s quest to beat Rollerball to the theaters, with an adaptation (which Charles B. Griffith* doctored) of Ib Melchoir’s short story “The Racer” as Death Race 2000 (1975). Thom’s Hollywood (or is that Hollyweird) resume goes back a bit further, with the “teensploitation” screenplays for All the Fine Young Cannibals and an adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s The Subterraneans (both 1960). His screenwriting debut, Complusion (1959) — in which he was rewritten and not credited — was based on the infamous Leopold and Loeb murders and starred Orson Wells. (For Don Kirshner, he’d write the 1975, Kim Milford-starring Song of the Succubus.)

Thom’s next teen-oriented romp was the more “hep” counterculture-rock flick Wild in the Streets (1968), based on his short story “The Day It All Happened, Baby!”. When that American International Pictures’ $700,000-budgeted project cleared $4 million in drive-in receipts, Thom was given an opportunity to direct his first film, which he also wrote — and is the film we’re reviewing today: Angel, Angel, Down We Go.

Is it a counterculture drama . . . or a horror flick? Hey, whatever AIP – American International Pictures needs it to be to make a buck.

As with Wild in the Streets, Thom’s sole directing credit centers around a disillusioned rock star; its genesis was an unproduced stage-play of the same name written as a vehicle for his then wife, Janice Rule (better known for her ’70s guest-starring TV work than her films), who later became the wife of Ben Gazzara (The Neptune Factor, Road House).

By the time the script made it to the big screen, five-time Academy Award nominated and winning actress Jennifer Jones (won for 1944’s The Song of Bernadette) was cast as the affluent Mrs. Astrid Steele, the downtrodden wife of an airline magnate (think a gay Howard Hughes) and mother of the overweight and emotionally troubled Tara (folk musician, Broadway musical actress, and ’70s TV actress Holly Near in her feature film debut; she was Barbara Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse-Five) who becomes involved with Bogart Peter Stuyvesant, a charismatic rock star who takes advantage of the Steele family’s damaged emotional state to integrate himself and his Manson-like clique into their lives.

So, for his rock star, Thom cast . . . well, remember how Ben Affleck and Jennifer Aniston experienced a career boost based on their marriages? Such was the case of struggling Ohio-to-New York-based rock singer Jordan Christopher.

After his unsuccessful years as the leader of the doo-wop-inspired the Fascinations in the early ’60s (they recorded a few singles; here and here), Christopher came to join New York’s the Wild Ones, which replaced Joey Dee and the Starlighters¹ (of which Joe Pesci was once a member; without Pesci, they starred in Hey, Let’s Twist!) as the house band at New York’s famed Peppermint Lounge (where that movie was filmed). After that successful residency, the Wild Ones booked the same gig at the more chichi club, Arthur, operated by Richard Burton’s soon-to-be ex-wife Sybil Williams, aka Burton; Burton owned the club.

As with Ben and Jen after her, Sybil found her fame via her marriage to Richard Burton, who was a huge screen star at the time. And when Sybil came to become involved with — and within a month of the band’s residency, married — Jordan Christopher, his “star” began to rise, as well. Thanks to the pre-Internet gossip press and scandal sheets of the day, not only did Arthur transform into a “hot” club that decimated the Peppermint Lounge out of existence, Jordan Christopher’s the Wild Ones signed a record deal with United Artists Records to release the live-recorded The Arthur Sound (that’s Christopher at cover right; that’s Sybil hoisted on the band’s shoulders).

However, after that lone album, and his “image” hotter than ever, Christopher left the Wild Ones to become a “star” in Hollywood. An accomplished stage actor in minor productions back in New York, Christopher booked supporting roles in the forgotten late ’60s flicks The Fat Spy (a really awful “beach movie”; the worst of the pack, which featured the Wild Ones), Return of the Seven (the awful nobody-wanted-it bomb-sequel to western classic The Magnificent Seven), and The Tree (a kidnap drama). Angel, Angel, Down We Go, his fourth film, was Christopher’s leading man debut. In addition to recording the soundtrack to the film, UA signed Christopher as a solo artist for the album Has the Knack; without Christopher, the Wild Ones recorded the first, original version of “Wild Thing,” which was penned by Chip Taylor (brother of actor Jon Voight) specifically for the band (the Troggs version is the one you know).

The novelization/image WonderBook eBay.

So, since you probably never heard of Jordan Christopher, you have probably guessed the fame-cum-career by marriage and connection to the Richard Burton dynasty doesn’t not a solo career or a hit film make.

As with any of today’s cable TV-cum-Internet social media influencers, Jordan Christopher’s Kardashianesque fame, well . . . down, down it went, as the all-important Los Angeles Times and New York Times referred to his leading-man debut film Angel, Angel, Down We Go as “a pretentious mess” and “an unmitigated financial disaster,” respectively; the NY Times’ review was titled “The dime-store way to make a movie and money.”

Actress Holly Near, already Rubensque (think of a ’60s Ricki Lake of Hairspray; chunky-cute), put on even more weight for her debut film role, had hoped the film would transition her out of stage work, referred to the film as “it was trash.” She left film at that point and retreated into stage and limited TV guest-star work.. And it’s no loss, for Near’s no prize in the acting department; her binge eating scene at the coming-out party is still cringe-inducing; she even gorges on the scenery throughout. The gist behind party: Near’s Tara Steele turned 18 and returns from boarding school; her parents hired Bogart Peter Stuyvesant and the Rabbit Habbit to play the party . . . and Tara falls in love.

While Christopher never publicly spoke of the film, he retreated into stage work as an actor and theatre operator — not appearing on the big screen again until Star 80 and Brainstorm (both 1983). Truth be told, Christopher’s departure into theatre was no big loss to Hollywood, either; he’s simple awful in both films marking his return — and truly annoying as a childish/horny, unrealistic “scientist” in the latter. And he’s pure ham — by lack of a thespian skill set, not an acting choice — here, and you see why the undercarded Roddy McDowell, and not Christopher, had the career.

As for Robert Thom, who actually was a decent writer in the low-budget realms, came to write the ’70 gangster romps Bloody Mama and Crazy Mama for Roger Corman — but he never directed another film.

More bogus bands to be had with our “Ten Bands Made Up for Movies” featurette.

And Jennifer Jones, starring here as a former porn actress whose mainstream Hollywood “movie star” career is on the skids, playing up an overtly, sexed-up homage to Gloria Swanson’s Norma Desmond in the noir classic, Sunset Boulevard (1950), well, just what was she thinking? Jennifer couldn’t have possibly been hoping for a repeat on the lessons of social obscenity with Madame Bovary (1949), in which she starred? Doing an AIP grindhouse flick is a long, hard fall for Jones — who was long-time married to David O. Selnick, the producer who gave us the original King Kong**. Sadly, this was Jones’s first film after her much-publicized suicide attempt; then, later, her daughter committed suicide by jumping from a 20-story window.

To see an Oscar-caliber actress quoting the likes of . . . “I made thirty stag films and never faked an orgasm,” “In my heart of hearts, I’m a sexual clam,” “Do you want me, or do you want my daughter?,” and “You’re a bloody, sadistic dyke” . . . you’re sorry and embarrassed for her. So, with the one-two punch of her performance slammed by critics, and her daughter’s later suicide, one can see why Jones walked away from the biz, only to return one more time in Irwin Allen’s The Towering Inferno (1974). And, in the end, out of her mere 26 films, Angel, Angel, Down We Go is the one film of her’s that trash cinema lovers care about because, well, video fringe fandom is all about the trashy.

Meanwhile, American International Pictures wasn’t about to flush $2 million down the toilet. So, courtesy of Jordan Christopher’s Manson-like rocker, and with Charles Manson all over the press as result of the Tate-LaBianca Murders of August 8-9, 1969 (which fueled Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood), AIP retitled and reissued the film as Cult of the Damned on a double bill with the first entry in Hammer Studios’ “Karnstein Trilogy,” The Vampire Lovers. And the Los Angeles Times slammed it, again, as “a terrible piece of trash.”

As the Los Angeles Times’ review stated in their negative review of this tale centered around the overweight debutante daughter of a wealthy couple who falls in with a tripped out, skydiving-addicted rock star and his reactionary clan, “. . . it can never be said to bore.” Hey, we never said bad films can’t be entertaining . . . well, except the ones with Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Lopez, for the two-Jens — that’s just movie hell in a hand basket (and their bitching when they’re not “nominated” come awards season, doesn’t endear them to anyone; at least Holly Near has reality on her side).

The Barry Mann-produced soundtrack/image Discogs.

Valley of the Dolls (1967), the trashy, celluloid doppelganger to Angel, Angel, Down We Go, is in no way a good movie nor a classic; however, that Patty Duke-starrer is an undeniable guilty pleasure. And Angel, Angel, Down We Go so wants to be that Jacqueline Susann-adapted flick, but only ends up being even abysmal-trashier than the Roger Ebert-written and Russ Meyer-directed ripoff sequel Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970). And let’s not forget: Susann called the adaptation of her own book, “a piece of shit.” So that gives you a good idea on the low-grade, non-quality of Robert Thom’s sole directing effort. I’d even take the critical comparison a wee-bit lower, down to Peter Carpenter’s trashy, sexually-manipulating lounge singer in Point of Terror (1971). (If Christopher didn’t star here, Carpenter could have filled the role, admirably; hey, anything to bring back that red-fringe Elvis get-up, Peter! We recently honored Peter with a two-fer review-career blowout with Vixen! and Love Me Like I Do.)

Then again, if you’re into these counterculture LSD flicks of yore and enjoy the whacked-out realities of Skidoo (1968), The Phynx (1970), or the “fucked up future” of Gas-s-s (1970), then there’s something in the frames of this symbolism feast of the stoned senses. For lost . . . somewhere . . . in the frames is a statement on the nihilism of wealth and celebrity. But my inner being tells me even Kant and Nietzsche would reject Robert Thom’s tales as poppycock . . . once the house maid is exposed as a lesbian and the husband’s bisexuality come to light (he’s shower be-boppin’ the butler). And never in the writings of those metaphysical thinkers, did they ever dream up the Machiavellian likes of the Rabbit Habbit, a band which features Lou Rawls (in his feature film debut) and Roddy McDowall . . . with McDowall’s Santoro spewing his nihilistic sociopolitical ejaculate over his love for carrots. Yes, Cornelius is “turned on” by veggies. Read into that as you may, you dirty bird.

Jim? Is that you? Nope, that’s Bogart Peter Stuyvesant! Bogie, Bogie, Bogie. . . .

In the end, both the counterculture hippie masses, as well as the conservative masses (aka my parents, who got dressed up for dinner and a movie to see Valley of the Dolls, as parents did in the ’60s; mom loved the book, but HATED the movie), rejected Robert Thom’s attempt to graft the teachings of Kant and Nietzsche into the taboo-intellectual visuals of Pier Paolo Pasolini*˟. An allegorical work on the level of Pasolini’s underbelly tale of pimps and thieves in Accatone (1961) and his bourgeoisie-supernatural thriller Teorema (1968), Robert Thom’s lone directing effort, is not; it’s as inept as an inept high school production of a Tennessee Williams play.

The only real stand out of the film is Jordan Christopher (by singing, not acting) cloning a shirtless and leather pant Jim Morrison — with a touch of Iggy Pop — as our ersatz rocker belting the Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil-penned tunes (as part of Don Kirshner’s house of hits, they supplied tunes to the Monkees˟*) “Angel Angel Down We Go,” “The Fat Song,” “Hey Hey Hey and a Hi Ho,” “Lady Lady,” “Mother Lover,” and “Revelation,” which are actually pretty good tunes. Oddly enough, Lou Rawls — who reached his own solo career highs with the Top 40 ’70s hits “Lady Love” and “You’re Gonna Miss My Love,” doesn’t sing in the film.

L – R: Roddy McDowall, Jennifer Jones, Davey Davison (seated/back), Holly Near (on the spit), Jordan Christopher, and Lou Rawls — bringin’ on the pretentious symbolism.

If you read our recent review for Breaking News in Yuba County, you know that on October 7, 2020, four decades after the imprint’s closure, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer reactivated the AIP-imprint to release digital and limited theatrical releases (MGM will handle streaming while United Artists will handle the theatrical end). The studio was founded by James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff and all AIP releases followed the ARKOFF formula:

Action (exciting, entertaining drama)
Revolution (novel or controversial themes and ideas)
Killing (a modicum of violence)
Oratory (notable dialogue and speeches)
Fantasy (acted-out fantasies common to the audience)
Fornication (sex appeal for young adults)

So, yeah, Angel, Angel, Down We Go is a bizarre pint of an ARKOFF-crafted microbrew (bubblin’ with images of Near’s face on a guerilla, and then a lion, as part of a trip and its “message”), a libation of choice that we gulp with glee at B&S About Movies. You know us, with our celluloid schadenfreude of the Sexette (1978)˟˟ and Myna Breckenridge (1970) variety (both spiritual, washed-up actor sloppers), for that is what it’s all about, out on the video brewin’ fringes. So pair Angel, Angel, Down We Go with Robert Thom’s rock “prequel” Wild in the Streets and Mick Jagger’s decadent rock star turn in Performance (1970), toss back an ARKOFF, and pop open a bag of salty American International Psychedelic Trash Nuggets. Yum.

You can stream Angel, Angel, Down We Go on You Tube. For a cleaner, commercial-free stream, we found a PPV copy on Vudu.

* Charles B. Griffith gave us the redneck romps Eat My Dust! and Smokey Bites the Dust; went “Jaws” with Up from the Depths and, as an actor, appeared in Hollywood Boulevard. Check out our “Top 70 Good Ol’ Boys Film List” feature with more hicksploitation-cum-redneck reviews.

** Join us for our “Kaiju Day” and “Son of Kaiju Day” review recaps as we pay homage to all manner of Kong and Godzilla movies to celebrate the release of 2021’s Kong vs. Godzilla.

*˟ We discuss Pasolini’s work in our review of the 2020 documentary Fascism on a Thread: The Strange Story of Nazisploitation Cinema.

˟* We discussion Don Kirshner’s film production career in our “Exploring: The Movies of Don Kirshner” featurette.

˟˟ Check out our “Box Office Failure” week of film reviews.

¹ Felix Cavaliere, later of the Young Rascals and the Rascals, got his start with Joey Dee & the Starlighters. He, along with Gene Conrish, have recently reactivated the Rascals (then, as with all other tours, got COVID derailed); after his stint with Joey Dee, Cavaliere formed the Young Rascals with Gene Cornish, Eddie Brigati, and Dino Danelli.

After the Rascals collapsed, they morphed into the harder rocking Bulldog, with Gene Cornish and Dino Danelli at the helm. After Bulldog’s two albums in the early ‘70s, Cornish and Danelli teamed with Wally Bryson, from the early ‘70s “power-pop” pioneers the Raspberries (also out of the same Akron, Ohio, scene as Jordan Christopher), to form Fotomaker, which issued three albums in the late, new-wave ‘70s: Fotomaker, Vis-à-vis, and Transfer Station. A Cars or Knack-like success for Fotomaker was not meant to be, even with their great, debut single, “Where Have You Been All My Life.”

While Fotomaker was going on, Felix Cavaliere — who once played with Joey Dee, mind you — formed Treasure, a harder AOR band that issued an album in 1977 — and featured Vinnie “Vincent” Cusano, later of Kiss, on lead guitar.

Dino Danelli ended up in Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul — playing alongside ex-Plasmatics bassist, Jean Beauvior. After the Raspberries, and before Fotomaker, Wally Bryson formed the hard-rock outfit Tattoo with Thom Mooney from Todd Rundgren’s the Nazz, which put out one album in 1976 on Prodigal Records (a Motown subsidiary). Thom also did time in Fuse with Rick Neilson and Tom Petersson, both later of Cheap Trick. And, the drummer in Fuse was Chip Greenman; he ended up in the Names, which doubled as faux “No False Metal” rockers the Clowns in Terror on Tour. And, of course, Cheap Trick came to be known via their first soundtrack effort, Over the Edge.

Don’t forget! We are deep into our third “Rock ‘n’ Roll Week” blowout. Yes, we’ve done this twice before, and you can catch up with our “Rock ‘n’ Roll Week” Round-Ups 1 and 2 with their full listings of all the rock flicks we’ve watched.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

The Castle of Fu Manchu (1969)

Jess Franco, come on back to our site!

Man, Christopher Lee may rival Donald Pleasence for not being able to say no — I say this with full knowledge that the former turned from Halloween while the latter said yes to that series more than he should have — and here he played Sax Rohmer’s “yellow peril” character of Fu Manchu, who is joined by his just as sadistic daughter Lin Tang. She’s played by Tsai Chin, who was a Bond girl twice in You Only Live Twice and Casino Royale, topped the music charts with “The Ding Dong Song” and played Auntie Lindo in The Joy Luck Club.

Rosalba Neri is also in this and you know, as bad as this movie might be, Rosalba Neri is in it. You should be so lucky as to get to spend 92 minutes with her.

This is the fifth and final time that Sir Lee played Fu Manchu, if you can believe that. Also starring in this movie is plenty of pilfered footage, including the entire opening effects coming from A Night to Remember and the dam bursting being taken from Campbell’s Kingdom.

There’s lots of fog, which I appreciate, and a plot about freezing the oceans, which I am also totally down with. Man, is Fu Manchu the good guy?

Blind Beast (1969)

A blind sculptor and his captive muse are at the center of this Edogawa Rampo adaption, directed by Yasuzō Masumura (Giants and Toys, Irezumi). This movie looks like the inside of a maniac’s dream after they’ve done days and days of psychedelics and I couldn’t be more excited to have watched this.

Aki works as an artist’s model, but she’s never been hired like this before. She’s been kidnapped and taken to a warehouse filled with gigantic female body parts like eyes, legs, lips and breasts as well as two huge male and female figures. There, Michio tells her that he plans on using her to sculpt his most perfect version of the female body.

At first, she wants to escape, but she slowly comes to obsess over her captor as much as he does her. However, his mother, who has helped him to this point, may keep their strange romance from achieving its perfect flower.

Make no mistake — this is a dark and strange movie for grownups. But if you’ve ready for the challenge, it will reward you with an eerie story and some incredible visual scenes.

The Arrow Video blu ray of Blind Beast has new commentary by Asian cinema scholar Earl Jackson, a new introduction by Japanese cinema expert Tony Rayns and Blind Beast: Masumura the Supersensualist, a brand new visual essay by Japanese literature and visual studies scholar Seth Jacobowitz. You can order it directly from Arrow.

Mil Máscaras (1969)

Mil Máscaras means Thousand Masks and the man behind those multiple faces became one of the most recognizable wrestlers in the entire world as well as the star of twenty movies.

The character of Mil Mascaras was announced before he even wrestled in the ring, with the character created by “El Rey Midas de la Lucha Libre” Valente Perez. Perez was the publisher of Lucha Libre magazine and also came up with Tinieblas.

Mil is one of the first lucha stars to wrestle in the U.S. — he was the first masked wrestler to appear in Madison Square Garden after the ban on masked wrestlers was lifted — and Japan, where he became a major star in All Japan Pro Wrestling, often teaming with his brother Dos Caras.

Yet Mil Máscaras was created specifically to be a movie star. This suited producer Luis Enrique Vergara well, as Santo had argued for more money and Blue Demon was injured. The lucha movies were making money, so Vergara got a new star out of Mil.

Taking a page — many pages to be fair — out of Doc Savage, Mil gets an origin story that finds him as an infant found clutched in his dead mother’s arms at the end of World War II. Scientists adopt him and put him through a brutal series of physical trials and mental lessons to create a superhuman that can make the world a better place.

While this movie was shot in black and white and may seem pretty plain when compared to the wilder lucha stories to come, everything has to start somewhere. Mil has some really fun matches in this and there’s lots of great rock and roll for the kids to twist away the night to.

While there are many that decry Mil for being selfish in the ring, he remains a major star years after being named Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s most popular wrestler in 1975. No less of an expert than the original Tiger Mask, Satoru Sayama, said ” If it weren’t for Mil Máscaras, there would be no Jushin Liger, no Último Dragón or the Great Sasuke today.”

Note: Information for this article came from Luchawiki.

Las Luchadoras vs. el Robot Asesino (1969)

You know, Gaby (Regina Torne) is great.  Across two movies — Las Luchadoras contra El Medico Asesino and Las Luchadoras contra La Momia  — we’ve watched Gloria Venus and Golden Rubi battle evil doctors and an Aztec mummy, but now we have an evil doctor kidnapping the world’s smartest scientists and also creating a trenchcoat wearing killer who looks like he’s made out of the finest rubber than Senor Benjamin Cooper makes.

Sure, we’ve seen it before as “Return of the Cybernauts” on The Avengers, but have we see it with wrestling women and a half-ape, half-zombie, half-man named Carfax? And then, how about if we put that monsters head into a female wrestler and change her named from Berthe to Black Electra?

As was the custom at the time, there are two cuts of this movie. There was another “sexy” version with nudity that was intended for the U.S. titled El Asesino Loco y el Sexo (Sex and the Mad Killer).  The clean and filthy versions both went unreleased up here.

Director René Cardona was on a quest to make the perfect luchadora against scientists movie and damn if he didn’t succeed more than once. If you want the best realitization of his quixotic quest, I would recommend Night of the Bloody Apes, which features a heroine who dresses like a demon, a monkey/human killer that rips off faces and legitimate footage of an open heart surgery.

He also made the lucha movies La Mujer MurcielagoNeutron Traps the Invisible Killers, Las Luchadoras contra El Medico Asesino, Las Luchadoras contra La MomiaSanto vs. the StranglerSanto vs. the Ghost of the StranglerLas Lobas del RingLas Mujeres PanterasThe Treasure of MontezumaSanto in the Treasure of DraculaSanto vs. Capulina, Operation 67Santo vs. the Riders of Terror, Santo in the Vengeance of the Mummy and Santo vs. the Head Hunters.

You can watch this on YouTube.

The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969)

I never went to a real college per se — I went to art school and then got my degree as quickly as I could from a university in the city, so I have no idea what it’s like to have a campus quad or fellow students into the same things that I’m into. I just live through the movie students of Medfield College, as seen in everything from The Absent-Minded Professor and Son of Flubber to this movie and its sequels Now You See Him, Now You Don’t and The Strongest Man in the WorldThe Shaggy D.A. also takes place in the same town.

Medfield College is named after the town of Medfield, Massachusetts, a place that Walt Disney would visit from time to time, landing his place on a private airstrip. Their middle school has a quote from Disney written in its cornerstone: “Our greatest natural resource is in the minds of our children.”

I always wondered why people disagreed so much with John Carpenter about casting Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken. I always say that your cultural experience is based off when you first experience it and didn’t realize that in myself. If I’d only known Russell from these Disney movies, I’d never see him as grizzled.

Dexter Reilly (Russell) attends the aforementioned Medfield College, a college with such a limited endowment that they can’t even afford a computer. To be fair, an HP 3000 sold for $95,000 in 1972, which is about $567,000 in today’s money.

The students get a wealthy businessman — criminal — named A.J. Arno (Cesar Romero) to donate an old computer to the college. What they get is one of his old gambling computers, which leads to all manner of problems when it quickly breaks down.

As Dexter goes to get a new part during a thunderstorm, a shock transforms him into a human computer that can do math better than anyone else, read and remember any book and speak any language within seconds. This takes Dexter from kindly friend to all to a robot, but the school is happy because they’re finally making money.

Reilly goes on a roll, leads Medfield’s team in victories against other schools on a TV quiz show. However, the word applejack unlocks all of Arno’s gambling info, so the criminal and his gang — featuring Kurt’s real-life father Bing — kidnap him. As his friends rescue him, a blow to the head turns off his computer brain, but the other team members rally to win $100,000 for the school.

Director Robert Butler may have worked in TV — and Disney films — throughout his career, but he also directed TurbulenceUp the Creek and Night of the Juggler. Writer Joseph L. McEveety also scripted The Barefoot ExecutiveSuperdad, the two Dexter sequels, Hot Lead and Cold Feet and No Deposit, No Return.