If you’re the daughter of Frankenstein and you need a serum to make you eternally young, there’s only one man’s whose blood will work. That would be Santo. And that’s all we really need to get this movie rolling, right? Also, to make things even more awesome, Dr. Freda Frankenstein has several monsters in her employ, including the half-human, half-ape Truxon and a very Universal Monsters looking version of her father’s creation that she has named Ursus*.
She also kidnaps Santo’s girlfriend Norma and hypnotizes her into cutting out his eyes with a knife because life is cheap in Mexico and our hero has already turned down the evil woman’s advances.
The five “Champions of Justice” in this film are Blue Demon, Mil Mascaras, Rayo de Jalisco, Fantasma Blanco and Avispon Escarlata. Sure, we’ve seen Blue and Mil before, but let’s get you up to speed on a few of the others.
Rayo de Jalisco started wrestling in 1950 but didn’t find success — and the gimmick that would get him said fame — until the early 60s. Once he put on the black mask, he quickly won both the NWA World Middleweight Championship and Occidente Welterweight Championship. He was named best wrestler of 1963, as well as forming a tag team with Blue Demon, the man who would take his hair 26 years later in Plaza de Toros Monumental (the same arena where Los Brazos lost their masks to Los Villanos).
Fantasma Blanco is actually Coloso Colosseti, who wrestled as El Internacional (he lost that match to Tinieblas), El Enterrador (that hood was lost in ring to The Tempest), Batman, Maskaraman and Tårzan.
As for Avispon Escarlata — the Scarlet Hornet — he was created for this film and echoes the Green Hornet. He’s played by Manuel Leal, the man who is also Tinieblas. He was a bodybuilder who was scouted by Dory Dixon and the Black Shadow for wrestling, yet before that, he was already in movies, playing Frankenstein in Santo y Blue Demon contra los Monstruos and Satan in Las Momias de Guanajuato. As Tinieblas, he shows up in The Champions of Justice — why he was that role in the first in this series and switched in this one is beyond me — as well as The Castle of Mummies of Guanajuato, Macabre Legends of the Colony, El Puño de la Muerte, La Furia de los Karatecas, El Investigador Capulina and Las Momias de San Ángel. The character was originally intended to be the faceless enemy of the man of a thousand faces, Mil Mascaras! Instead, he became a comic book hero — he had his own book for years — and even has a mascot, the Ewok-like creature known as Alushe*.
One of his nicknames is El Gigante Sabio (The Wise Giant) and he even has a column called Pregúntale a Tinieblas (Ask Tinieblas) where people send him questions to answer. Perhaps that’s one of the many reasons why people thought that he and the respected Mexican commentator Dr. Alfonso Morales were the same person. On August 21, 1970 when Tinieblas made his debut, Dr. Morales was not there. They were both tall men, so the joke for years was that they were the same man.
The main story here is that a team of rat-men — yes, the same miniature henchmen from the original, but now looking like rodents — are trying to take over the world for a Mexican superscience villainess in hot pants named Gatussy. I’m not certain if these guys were men who became rats or rats who became men, yet most of the film is about them swarming all over our heroes.
If you have an issue with a movie about cool lucha dudes riding motorcycles and watching their women go-go dance in between fighting miniature rat men, you should really examine your life.
*Alushe was based on a Mayan mythical elf born in the year 1767 in the city of Anahuac in Xibalba, the Mayan version of hell. When he made his debut in 1988, he was already 221 years old. He was also bribed with candy, money and women by Pierroth Jr.’s group Los Boricuas and suddenly became a Puerto Rican rudo for some time before rejoining Tinieblas. A second Alushe debuted shortly afterward and the original became the blue monkey KeMonito entering into a threeway mascot feud with Mije and the dreaded evil dancing Zacarías el Perico. Man, how much better is lucha libre than pro wrestling?
You know, I can’t get enough of luchadors fighting mummies. I really can’t. They could have made hundreds of these movies and I’d watch every single one.
This time around, the evil Count Cagliostro (Tito Novaro, who also directed this movie) and a scientist have succeeded in bringing the mummies of Guanajuato — yes, the same ones from Las Momias de Guanajuato— back to life. Beyond wiring the undead with electronics that allow them to be controlled, they also have an army of karate-chopping little people.
Luckily, humanity has El Rayo de Jalisco (who didn’t appear all that often in movies), Mil Máscaras and Blue Angel* (who would team with Superzan and Tieneblas to fight a very similar set of bad guys in the following year’s El Castillo de las Momias de Guanajuato) are on our side.
Not only does Mil have a convertible, fight mummies in a cape and know tons of attractive women, he lives in the kind of space age seventies apartment that would not be out of place in a giallo. Well done, man of a thousand masks!
*According to Cool Ass Cinema, Blue Angel was bodybuilderOrlando Hernandez. The character was created by producer Rogelio Agrasánchez Sr. as a replacement for Blue Demon.
The CBS Movie of the Week on September 19, 1972, The Woman Hunter has what I consider an all-star cast, what with Barbara Eden in the lead, alongside Stuart Whitman, Larry Storch and Robert Vaughn. Like I said — it’s what I say is an all-star cast.
Dina Hunter (Eden) has two things that most giallo heroines do: lots of money and plenty of potential mental problems. So when she survives a fender bender and decides to go to Mexico with her husband (Vaughn), who is surprised that the artist she hired to paint her portrait (Whitman) just might be a jewel thief and murderer?
This was written by written by Brian Clemens (Captain Kronos, And Soon the Darkness) and Tony Williamson (Adam Adamant Lives!, The Avengers), with this being Clemens first U.S. work and Williamson’s only script made over here. It’s directed by Bernard L. Kowalski, who stepped in for John Peyser (The Centerfold Girls). I assume that everyone enjoyed shooting this on location in Acapulco.
Thanks for joining us as we wrap up our second day of our three-day tribute to all things Bernard L. Kowalski!
He had to go through Roger Corman with Hot Car Girl, Attack of the Giant Leeches, and Night of the Blood Beast, then do TV series for the rest of the ’60s to get his shot at the major studio brass ring with Krakatoa: East of Java and Stiletto. But both of those films — as well as the David Janssen-starring western Macho Callahan — flopped at the box office, so it was back to TV for Bernard L. Kowalski. However, instead of the TV series of the ’60s, he now was in the TV movie business, in which he gave us Terror in the Sky, Black Noon, and Women in Chains. For his fourth TV movie, Kowalksi directed this script by TV series and TV movie scribeHoward Rodman (best known for the series Route 66 and the later Harry O, also the TV sci-fi flicks Exo-Man and the first Six Million Dollar Man TV movie). Was this a TV movie pilot film? Yep, you bet.
If you spent any time in front of the TV watching reruns of series from the ’60s and ’70s, and even into the ’90s, you’ll notice character actors Robert Hooks and Steven Brooks as our two cops who quit the police department to become private detectives — and come to hunt down a serial killer who has eluded the law for years. And they’re against the clock because notable western character actor Walter Brennan (John Wayne’s Rio Bravo) is out for vigilante justice to avenge the murder of a family member by the killer. And the always welcomed character actor-ness of Neville Brand as a racist, small town sheriff isn’t helping matters.
Yep, that is Richard Dreyfuss (Two Bernard L. Kolwaski flicks with future Jaws stars? Roy Scheider was in Stiletto, remember?) starting out his career. And that is the voice of the devil, Mercedes “Pazuzu” McCambridge, from The Exorcist. (Plot spoiler: she’s the killer and she’s off-the-hinges-great here; not that you don’t see that plot twist coming.) Also be on the lookout for Oscar actors Anne Revere (Supporting Actress winner for National Velvet) and her “sister” Catherine Burns (Supporting Actress nominee for Last Summer). Shelley Fabares, who did her share of car racing and Elvis flicks*, is the town’s pretty librarian girlfriend of Brooks that’s caught the creepy eye of Brand.
You can watch Two for the Money on You Tube. Grey market DVDs are easily available. It’s not that bad of TV movie thriller. Definitely not engaging TV series material in the manner of say, Starsky and Hutch (gotta go watch The Supercops from 1974 with my youth-buddy, Ron Leibman), but a serviceable TV flick, none the less.
* Of course we did all off the King’s — well, all three — racing flicks. What ensuing, trope-laden cliched movie site did you think your were surfing, here? Check out our “Drive-In Friday: Elvis Racing Nite” feature.
The ABC Movie of the Week for January 25, 1972, Women In Chains brings Ida Lupino to TV for her first made-for-TV movie, as well as bringing her back to the WIP genre that she made such a mark on with 1955’s Women’s Prison.
She plays prison guard Claire Tyson (Ida Lupino), a woman who can get away with anything that she wants to, as long as its within the prison walls. Parole officer Sandra Parker (Lois Nettleton, who was on the TV series form of In the Heat of the Night) gets the idea to make herself over as junkie Sally Porter to the protests of Assistant District Attorney Helen Anderson (Penny Fuller).
Helen is the only one who knows about this undercover work, but when she’s shot and killed by the boyfriend of one of her cases our heroine is stuck in the big house. Her goal is to save an innocent girl named Lemina (Belinda Montgomery, Dooger Hauser’s mom) but she runs into Tyson’s henchwoman Leila (BarBara Luna, who was in the “Mirror, Mirror” episode of the original Star Trek). After asking so many questions, the word comes down. Helen/Sally is going to get killed, so she makes a daring escape that brings her directly into physical combat with Tyson.
Written by Rita Lakin (who wrote 464 episodes, eight movies of the week and two miniseries in her career, as well as the Gladdy Gold Mystery book series) and directed by Bernard L. Kowalski (Night of the Blood Beast, Sssssss), don’t go into this movie expecting the normal WIP hallmarks. After all, this aired on broadcast TV. That doesn’t make this a bad film, however.
Hikmet Labib Avedis may not be considered one of the best directors of all time, but he should be known as one of the most entertaining. Throughout his films, I’m never anything but into the story and wondering what happens next.
Take The Stepmother, a film which prefigures the adult world of today by presenting the story of, well, exactly what you think a stepmother is going to do. Just take a look at the tagline: “She forced her husband’s son to commit the ultimate sin!”
Architect Frank Delgado (Alejandro Rey, TerrorVision) returns home to find the car of his client Alan Richmond (Mike Kulcsar, Raise the Titanic!) in the driveway. Thinking that his wife Margo (Katherine Justice) is having an affair, he follows the man home and strangles him, then buries him at the beach.
But now, he’s taken a whole group of people — his business partner Dick (Larry Linville!) and his wife Sonya (Marlene Schmidt, Miss Universe 1961, who was also Avedis’ wife), as well as porn director Goof (David Garfield) and his wife Rita (Claudia Jennings! — to the home of the man he just killed.
Of course, all manner of shenanigans ensue, but the movie never goes as far as you’d expect a 70s exploitation movie to go. Trust me, Avedis would eventually find his way to better work, but hey, we should all be so lucky to watch Claudia Jennings in a movie.
Despite this being a drive-in film, composer Sammy Fain and lyricist Paul Francis Webster were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Strange Are the Ways of Love.”
Not to be confused (and it is) with the Wheels on Fire drag-doc made in Australia, this U.S. documentary focuses on the lives of five major drag racers of the era: Don Garlits, Don Prudhomme (Snake & Mongoose), Shirley Muldowney (Heart Like a Wheel), Richard Tharp and Billy Meyer, as they are each followed through a complete drag racing season. Yep. This is reality TV before Robert Kardashian had his first kid (I think; too lazy to check K-Dash B-Days), the very same kids who unleashed the ubiquitously-hated broadcasting format.
Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen were gods to us kids in the ’70s. When the ABC Wild World of Sports held one of Prudhomme and McEwen’s drag or funny car races on a Saturday afternoon, the neighborhood streets cleared and everyone sat in front of the TV. The Snake and Mongoose were matched pnly by Richard Petty and Evel Knievel. They were the “Muhammad Ali” of racing. Everyone loved them.
As with the oft-confused Wheels on Fire, there’s no online streams of this lost, classic drag racing film. It was on You Tube in several parts, but was removed. Only this 10:00 minute clip is available, which we’re posting in lieu of an official trailer (and don’t be surprised if this clip also vanishes to grey screen). The now out-of-print DVDs are available in the online marketplace from time to time (and, as you can see, it’s impossible to find a decent theatrical one-sheet). The NHRA web platform and their upper-tier cable channel rerun it from time to time.
We featured this film as part of our “Drive-In Friday” tribute to drag racing documentaries.
About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.
Editor’s Note: This review ran on December 12, 2020. We’re bringing it back for our tribute week to the funny cars and rails of drag racing of the ’60s and ’70s
“(A) versatile and underrated B-movie Renaissance man.” — IMDb, about actor-director John “Bud” Carlos.
That’s the understatement of the century, ye IMDb database scribe. Look at that short — but hit-packed director’s resume: Kingdom of the Spiders (we need to review that one!), The Dark! The Day Time Ended! Mutant! Gor II: Outlaw of Gor! (well, they’re hits for the B&S About Movies crowd). Then there’s Bud’s cable and VHS potboilers that star friggin’ Ernest Borginine, Robert Vaughn, Oliver Reed, and Herbert Lom in the sam friggin’ movie: Skeleton Coast (1988), and Act of Piracy (1988) with Gary Busey and Ray Sharkey kicking ass. Then there’s Bud’s acting resume with Al Adamson and the films Hells Angels on Wheels (1967), Psych-Out (1968), The Road Hustlers (1968), The Savage Seven (1968), Killers Three (1968; starring Merle Haggard and a very young Lane Caudell of 2020’s Getaway), Blood of Dracula’s Castle (1969), Satan’s Sadists (1969), Five Bloody Graves (1969), and Hell’s Bloody Devils (1970).
After entering the annals of Bikerdom with his third acting gig in Hells Angels on Wheels (he had support roles in 1965’s Deadwood ’76 and Run Home, Slow), and paying attention on all of those Al Adamson sets and Roger Corman AIP productions, Bud Carlos transistion behind the lens for the blaxploitation-spaghetti western (Uh, oh. Here we go again with the genre mixin’: Hey! Harry Hope and Harry Tampa of Smokey and the Judge and Nocturna fame, hiya!) with The Red, White, and the Blue, aka Soul Soldier (1970).
And the burgeoning, becoming “hot” and “trendy” drag racing genre was next on Bud’s resume with the youth-oriented (as were all of the ’60s racin’ flicks that simply substituted asphalt for sand) action-drama starring John Davis Chandler?
Seriously? The dude is iconic in a Richard Lynch-amazing kind of way.
Now do you know him?
Let’s not even get into his extensive ’60s and ’70s television resume . . . just look at the movies: John Frankeheimer’s The Young Savages (1961; a more violent The Blackboard Jungle, if you will) with Burt Lancaster. Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973) with Kris Kristofferson, James Coburn, and Richard Jaeckel. Clint Eastwood’s The Outlaw Josie Wales (1976). Across 100-plus credits, JDC was everywhere, and he was nowhere. No truer “dark man” actor was he.
Here, John Davis Chandler stars alongside Jeremy Slate (Do we really need to get into is resume?) and beach-snow flick bunny mainstay Deborah Walley in this not-a-Frankie-Avalon-Fabian racing flick that stars Mark Slade alongside (as you can see by the drive-in flyer, above) the nation’s top drag racers. (Mark has too many ’60s and ’70s TV series to mention, but by 1967, starred for three years on The High Chaparral; before that, the McHale’s Navy rip, The Wackiest Ship in the Army; he got his start as co-star on Gomer Pyle: USMC.)
Drag Racer is simple tale: Mark Slade is a young man who dreams of tearin’ down the quarter mile with the big dogs that, while it has (it must have) romance, there very little of that dramatic yakity-yak that bogged down the likes of Red Line 7000, Thunder Alley, and The Wild Racers. As with David Cronenberg’s lone non-horror film, Fast Company, Drag Racer is about gritty realism that puts the actors into the pits to mix it up with the real racers (Bill Schultz, John Lombardo, Norm Wilcox, and Larry Dixon) at famed West Coast racetracks Irwindale Raceway, Lions Drag Strip, and Orange County Int’l Raceway.
Is the acting a bit rough in spots? Is the editing and cinematography amateurish? Sure. (It adds to the film’s realistic, documentary quality.) This is one of those films that was once embraced by UHF-TV in the early ’70s (watched it twice), temporarily embraced on VHS (watched it once), then jettisoned. Considering Bud Carlos’s pedigree, this one — is in desperate need — of a full restoration (and not just a rip n’ burn) to DVD. Hint! Kino Lorber, Arrow Video?
This is a classic must-watch for racing fans — even with a muddy, washed-out blurred print. It really is one of the best drag flicks out there. And whadda ya’ know: You Tube comes through again — and with a VHS and not a TV rip! Sweet!
In 1971, at the height of the Vietnam War, Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland did more than just become part of an anti-war comedy tour across Southeast Asia. They also reached out directly to enlisted soldiers who were critical of the war.
The documentary of this tour, F.T.A., shows the tour as it goes to Hawaii, The Philippines, Okinawa and Japan. It was directed by Francine Parker, who was only the eleventh woman to join the Director’s Guild.
In addition to Fonda and Sutherland, Paul Mooney, Peter Boyle, Steve Jaffe, Holly Near (The Magical Garden of Stanley Sweetheart), Pamela Donegan, Len Chandler, Michael Alaimo (Mr. Mom), Rita Martinson and Yale Zimmerson all appear.
While the tour was a success, the film was incredibly controversial and opened the same week that Fonda made her trip to Hanoi. Within a week of release, American-International Pictures withdrew it from circulation, with Parker saying that this was the result of “calls were made from high up in Washington, possibly from the Nixon White House, and the film just disappeared.” David Ziegler, whose documentary Sir! No Sir! appears on the blu ray of this movie and was part of the team that helped restore F.T.A. said, “There’s no proof, but I can’t think of another reasonable explanation for Sam Arkoff, a man who knew how to wring every penny out of a film, yanking one starring Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland from theaters at a big loss (and, apparently, destroying all of the prints, since none were ever found).”
Now, the film has now been fully restored by IndieCollect in 4K and is available from Kino Lorber, along with a new introduction by Fonda, a 2005 interview with the actress, the documentary Sir! No Sir! and a booklet with essays by historians David Cortight and Mark Shiel.
Regardless of your politics, this is a piece of history that I feel that everyone should watch.