The film noir and Blaxploitation genres meet in MGM’s follow up to 1971’s Shaft (along with 1972’s Cool Breeze and Hitman), which plays as a more action-packed version of Clint Eastwood’s better known radio romp, 1971’s Play Misty for Me—with a dose of karate.
Instead of a bad mother private eye, Frankie J. Parker (Calvin Lockhart of the box office bomb Myra Breckinridge and Amicus Pictures’ Blaxploitation-werewolf flick The Beast Must Die) is a Los Angeles soul radio disc jockey with martial arts skills, courtesy of a school operated by his best friend, Charles Atkins (Jim Kelly in his film debut, on his way to Enter the Dragon with Bruce Lee and lead roles in Black Belt Jones and Three the Hard Way).
As with all of the smooth talkin’, womanizing jocks, Frankie J. cools his heels after his shows in a nightclub owned by another one of his friends, ex-football player Tank Robinson (Rockne Tarkington of Black Samson, Black Starlet, and The Ice Pirates). And Frankie J. meets the ubiquitous, newly arrived-in-town femme fatale Melinda (Vonetta McGee of Hammer with Fred Williamson, Blackula, Shaft in Africa, and Detroit 9000). And she’s the ex-squeeze of a Chicago gangster. And she has a damning tape recording that can take down the operation. And she’s stupid enough to think that Ross Hagan (Alienator) won’t track her down. And she ends up dead in Frankie’s apartment. And it turns out Tank is involved with the mob. And the thugs kidnap Frankie’s girlfriend Terry (Rosalind Cash of The Omega Man and Tales from the Hood) for the tape.
Does Frankie J. recruit Jim Kelly and his karate students to go “Shaft” on their asses and save Terry? You bet. And it’s awesome—snake-filled cage and all.
You also known Lockhart from his appearance as Silky Slim in 1974’s Uptown Saturday Night and 1975’s Let’s Do It Again with Billy Cosby, and his late ‘70s appearances on episodes of TV’s Good Times and Starsky and Hutch.
Then again, maybe you don’t. But that’s how I remember the late Calvin Lockhart the most. You dig?
And you can dig it, through Amazon Prime. In addition to the trailer, you can watch two more clips from the film courtesy of You Tube HERE and HERE.
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.
You have to admire a movie that was originally filmed five years earlier under the titles Armageddon 1975 and Doomsday Plus Seven before the money stopped rolling in. The rights got sold, a new ending was filmed with totally different actors and plenty of padding got thrown in to make this — along with NASA stock footage and special effects taken from other movies.
Hell, the Astra, the main ship in this, changes its look every few minutes.
Original director Herbert J. Leder also made Fiend Without a Face. The fixed up footage came from Lee Sholem, who directed more than 1,300 episodes of television, as well as the movie Superman and the Mole Men.
Ruta Lee, who was one of the Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, stars in this. She’s joined by Mala Powers (who ran the estate of acting teacher Michael Chekov after his death), Grant Williams (The Incredible Shrinking Man), Henry Wilcoxon (the bishop in Caddyshack), former Tarzan Denny Miller, M*A*S*H* star Mike Farrell and Bobby Van, who hosted eight-year-old Sam’s favorite game show, Make Me Laugh.
You think the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey didn’t make sense? At least it didn’t abruptly end after wiping out most of the cast off-screen and Venusians try to explain the entire movie away via a voice-over.
In case you thought So Sweet, So Dead wasn’t an amazing title, this movie also has the alternate titles Rivelazioni di un Maniaco Sessuale al Capo Della Squadra Mobile (Revelations of a Sex Maniac to the Leader of the Mobile Team), The Slasher is a Sex Maniac and Penetration, which was used for a U.S. re-edit that also has x-rated scenes courtesy of Deep Throat’s Harry Reems and Tina Russell.
Director Roberto Bianchi Montero bounced around from genre to genre, like the spaghetti westerns Seven Pistols for a Gringo and The Last Tomahawk to peblum (Tharus Son of Attila) and horror (The Island Monster, which starred Boris Karloff).
This movie has a great pedigree in spite of all that sleaze, as star Farley Granger appeared in two movies by Alfred Hitchcock: Rope and Strangers on a Train.
Someone is killing the rich and adulterous wives of Rome. First, he or she takes photos of them as they do some crab fishing in the Dead Sea — so to speak — and then he kills them. The images of their trysts are laid next to their bodies with the faces of the men scratched out. And Siskel and Ebert thought slashers were anti-woman! They would have lost their minds in 1972 Italy!
The rich society wives don’t stop sleeping around — neither do their husbands but the killer wants nothing to do with punishing them –and even discuss the crimes while getting their nails done in the nude. Such is the world of So Sweet, So Dead. It’s also a place filled with opulent homes, awesome fashions, squeaky horns, dance parties and a killer named the Avenger that completely was influenced by the look of the murderer in Blood and Black Lace.
Originally known as L’etrusco Uccide Ancora (The Etruscan Kills Again), this film comes to us from Armando Crispino, who made the quite enjoyable Autopsy and the fabulously named Frankenstein Italian Style. It’s based on a novel by Bryan Edgar Wallace, the son of the man who gave inspiration to both the krimi and giallo genres.
It was released in Germany as Das Geheimnis des Gelben Grabes (Mystery of the Gold Diggers), in France as Overtime and as El Dios de la Muerte Asesina Otra Vez (The Death God Kills Again) in Spain.
Two young folks are looking for a place to load the clown in the cannon, but while they’re aardvarking they are murdered within an Etruscan tomb. Oh, if only that tomb hadn’t recently been violated by Professor Porter (Alex Cord, Chosen Survivors) and his team of archaeologists!
Because of how the bodies are positioned, it seems as if they were sacrificed to the ancient Etruscan god Tuchulcha. The bodies soon pile up, but soon, as the title says, the dead seem to be alive. This is a giallo, but more on the supernatural side of the genre. If you’re looking for a movie that makes sense, you know — you’re watching the wrong kind of movies.
Samantha Eggar (Demonoid) shows up as Cord’s ex-wife, as does John Marley (who woke up with a horse’s head in his bed in The Godfather) as her rich new husband, as well as Wendi D’Olive from The Bloodstained Butterfly. Riz Ortolani makes it all better with his soundtrack, too.
The nice thing for non-hardcore fans of giallo is that this movie has the actual dialogue by the original actors, so it doesn’t suffer from a bad dubbing. It also has plenty of great locations and 70’s fashion, which makes it feel pretty fun once it gets past its initial slow going.
Italy and Denmark unite for a film made in the wake of Dario Argento’s landmark The Bird With the Crystal Plumage. Just look — there are crimes right in the title and some vaguely associated animal name! Actually, a black cat does kill some people in this, so the name makes sense.
Originally titled Sette Scialli di Seta Gialla (Seven Shawls of Yellow Silk), this movie was written and directed by Sergio Pastore.
Several fashion models are killed by a murderer — think Blood and Black Lace — by a black cat that has been alerted to them by gifted shawls laced with chemicals. Such a strange way to kill someone, but hey — we’re in the psychosexual world of the giallo, so why worry?
Paola, the first victim, had been dating Peter Oliver (Anthony Steffen, who was Django in Django the Bastard and also shows up in Play Moteland The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave), a blind composer who believes that he’s heard the killer. He and his butler (Umberto Raho, Enter the Devil) are on the case, tracking the cat down to its owner, who is killed before she can reveal who has been taking care of her cat.
Much like the aforementioned — and superior — Bava film, Francoise (Sylva Koscina, Steve Reeves love interest in Hercules and Hercules Unchained; she’s also in Bava’s Lisa and the Devil) was killing the models to cover up another killing. That’s because Paola was sleeping with her husband and certainly had to pay.
So yeah. The movie is a Bava retread with a lead character taken from another giallo, Bava’s The Cat O’Nine Tails. And the killer’s method comes from Bela Lugosi and The Devil Bat. It’s still fun — the fashions are inordinately loud, the zooms are wild and the music is out of control. There’s a vicious shower kill than leaves nothing to the imagination. And it’s still better than anything out there today and let’s face it — 90% of all giallo pales in comparison to masters of the form Bava and Argento.
You have to love a movie that starts with a mechanical digger tearing a man’s head clean off his body before female voices singing the film’s Ennio Morricone composed theme over blood red title cards.
An unsolved case of kidnapping and murder has led to a serious of seemingly unconnected deaths that Inspector Peretti (Hilton) must put together. All he has to go by is a drawing that a little girl made, but giallo films have been solved with less clues.
While this movie stays more on the police side of the equation than many giallo, it still has some kill scenes that stand out, such as a grisly circular saw murder.
Marilù Tolo — the only woman that fashion designer Valentino claims that he ever loved — is in this. Former roommate of Keith Richards and star of Jess Franco films William Berger also appears, as does Patty Shepard (one of the queens of Spanish horror; she was Hannah Queen of the Vampires, the vampire woman in the Paul Naschy film La Noche de Walpurgisand also shows up in Slugsand Edge of the Axe), Piero Lulli (Kill, Baby, Kill), Helga Liné (The Vampires Night Orgy), Corrado Gaipa (Don Tommasino in The Godfather), Dana Ghia (The Night Child) and Lara Wendel, who shows up in everything from The Perfume of the Lady in Black to Tenebre, Ghosthouse and Zombie 5: Killing Birds.
This film was written by Roberto Leoni, who also wrote Sergio Martino’s Casablanca Express and Jodoworsky’s Santa Sangre. The end of this all feels more Agatha Christie than Argento, but that’s fine. It’s certainly a different feel for the genre.
A combination giallo and spaghetti western? Sure. We can do that.
Mario Bianchi directed Satan’s Baby Doll and the mondo Africa Sexy before using the pen named Nicholas Moore, Tony Yanker and Martin White to make adult films.
Known in Italy as Hai Sbagliato… Dovevi Uccidermi Subito! (You Were Wrong…You Had to Kill Me Immediately!), this is all about federal agent Alan Fields, who is working undercover as Jonathan Pinkerton, acting as an employee of Lloyds of London to get to the bottom of a bank heist gone wrong, as two of the criminals are dead and the third has taken the money and their lives.
He’s played by Robert Woods, who was in all manner of Italian films like The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff, Lucifera Demon Lover and His Name Was Sam Walbash, But They Call Him Amen.
With a title like that, you might be forgiven if you expect The Devil Within Her or The Devil In Ms. Jones style antics here. Instead, this is a slightly erotic gothic romance.
In his book Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1970-1979, Roger Curti spoke to the cast and they really can’t get any of their facts straight. Rosalba Neri (Lady Frankenstein herself!) claimed that director Paolo Lombardo “couldn’t stay awake for more than two hours” and “looked as if he was near his end, from the way he walked and moved around. I think he must have been very ill…” That said, Lombardo was only 31 at the time that he made this movie.
To top that, Robert Woods (Kill the Poker Player) — who plays Helmuth in this film — claims that he was hired to finish the film and received no credit. While assistant director Marco Masi was adamant that Woods didn’t direct any of the film, he can’t remember anything about making it.
Edmund Purdom (Pieces) is also in here — as Satan — so if you’re trying to fill out your Edmund Purdom Letterboxd list like I am, you’re in luck.
Rosalba Neri’s is Helga, who takes her two girlfriends to visit a remote European castle that is supposedly owned by Satan himself. After she sees a painting that resembles her, she starts having visions of maniacs living in caves, vampires, the inquisition and a hooded swordsman who can vanish at will.
You’d think an Italian erotic horror film with Satan, zombies and Ms. Neri wouldn’t induce slumber. But man, how wrong you would be.
It’s time for more cheap n’ scary—yet creative—fun with another Indonesian horror film with its roots nourished in the horror films of the West—with Muslim and Hindi religious beliefs substituted for the usual Christianity-based horror themes. However, while American horror films are mostly blood and gore for the sake of blood and gore, Indonesian horror films carry a deeper religious message regarding the folly of abandoning one’s longstanding traditions and beliefs.
How accurate are the various, bargain-DVD imprints marketing Satan’s Slaves as an Indonesian version of Don Coscarelli’s cult horror hit, Phantasm?
If you go into this expecting an Asian-inspired Angus Scrimm-cum-Leàk crypt keeper guiding an army of dwarfs and flying cutlery guarding a dimensional portal with a Lady in Lavender sidekick, you’ll be disappointed. There are, however, moments of visual déjà vu with the film’s teen protagonist riding a motorcycle through a cemetery and there’s a fortune teller that knows more than she’s telling, and . . . that’s about it.
The more expansive similarities are of the narrative persuasion: Phantasm’s Mike and Satan’s Slaves Tommy are both teenagers dealing with the death of a parent and the resulting fears regarding death and dealing with loss and abandonment issues that leave them tangled in a psychological web.
As with its American antecedent, a teenager, Tommy, and his sister (instead of a “Jody”) deal with the death of their mother; their affluent-materialistic family, unable to cope with the loss, completely abandoned their already lackadaisical religious beliefs. As result, Tommy delves into black magic and searches for solace with Darminah, a fortune teller he recognized attending his mother’s funeral. Once Daraminah works her way into the family’s good graces as the family’s maid, Tommy’s friends and family members suffer violent, Omen-styled deaths and the Salem’s Lot-reminiscent shrouded ghosts and reanimated zombie-vampires appear.
Is this Indonesian horror entry worth the watch? It depends on a horror buff’s opinion.
Did Bach Ke Zara (2008) deliver on its reputation as Indonesian remake of Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead (1981)? What are your feelings about Mystics in Bali (1981; The Leàk), its Taiwanese remake, The Witch with the Flying Head (1982; Fei tou mo nu), and the Chinese-inversion, The Corpse Master (1986; Jiang shi shao ye)—all which are rooted in the 1967 Russian film, Viy, based on the Nikolai Gogol tale?
While this Mill Creek reissue of Satan’s Slaves—as part of their Pure Terror 50 Movie Pack—is a minor curiosity for U.S audiences, it was a major, influential hit in its homeland and Japan. Sources place the domestic release of the film at 1980, but it seems to be more likely released in 1982; international distribution outside of the Pacific Rim countries didn’t occur until 1987.
John Hollingsworth Morse was a noted film and television director responsible for an eclectic variety of U.S television series from the 1950s through 1980s, starting with the Star Wars precursor, Rocky Jones: Space Ranger, and the still-in-runs Adam-12,The Dukes of Hazzard, and McHale’s Navy. Whenever you watch old World War II film clips—especially the Battle of Normandy—chances are Morse was on the film crew that captured those images.
It was during his time working in U.S television that Morse met a young actor who recently broke into the business and had a few small roles in a few films and since forgotten U.S television series. And he saw something special in that actor.
By the late ‘60s, screenwriter John C. Higgins was in the business almost 40 years and ready to retire. He quickly became a go-to talent in the film noir and murder mystery genre (precursors to Italian Giallo), most notably the Spencer Tracy vehicle Murder Man (1935) and The Black Sheep (1956), starring noted Sherlock Holmes actor, Basil Rathbone. Moving into science fiction, Higgins worked on the reimaging-rewrites of Daniel Defoe’s 1719 classic literary tale as Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964), and an early, shot-in-Philippines Burt Reynolds action film, Impasse (1969).
So, you’ve been cast in your first leading-man role crafted by two respected filmmakers backed by one of the biggest film studios in the world—responsible for The Defiant Ones, High Noon, and 12 Angry Men—United Artists. This film is going to be a box-office smash. Your film is going to be a bigger hit than the film it’s emulating, one that reignited the horror genre: Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1969). You’ll even predate The Exorcist and The Omen. . .
Not when you’ve stepped into The Twilight Zone. In the plot-twisty Rod Sterling universe, the studio is unimpressed with the lackluster end result of the film.
“What in the hell is this crap?” chomps the film executive on his cigar. “I wanted Rosemary’s Baby and I got Ed Wood with an oil painting,” storms the executive out of the theatre with Louise, his gum-snapping “secretary” in hip-sashaying pursuit. “I’m going to lunch. And put all of my calls on hold for the rest of the day.”
“Yes, Mr. Weinstein,” high-pitches Louise.
“Kid, you’ve got a lot of nerve pulling that crap, making jokes about me,” Mr. Weinstein snaps at this burgeoning screenwriter. “Your never-was writing career is finished.”
“Gulp,” goes my throat.
“So, Mr. Weinstein, what about—.”
“Thank god we shot on the cheap for slave wages in the Philippines,” the executive grumbles to himself. “Just have them dump it into the Drive-Ins, Louise.”
And with the stroke of a pen, the studio works up some garish artwork and dumps the film into the American Drive-In circuit on a double-bill with another shot-in-Philippines masterpiece: Superbeast (1972).
“What the hell?” shouts Tom Selleck at the first sight of the poster. “This isn’t what . . . the script was . . . but I. . . .”
I know Tom, ain’t it a kick in the head?
What was intended as a Tom Selleck-starring vehicle instead becomes a showcase for Vic Dias, the requisite evil-jolly fat man of Filipino cinema who starred in over 100 films, most notably: the female-in-prison flicks The Big Bird Cage (1972) and Black Mama, White Mama (1973). So with Daughters of Satan and Superbeast, Vic got his first unintended double billing.
So, while Magnum’s future partner and spin-off sidekick, Gerald McRaney, aped Norman Bates in his first leading-man role in Night of Bloody Horror, ‘ol Tom found himself in what is best described as an extended episode of The Twilight Zone. And to keep things interesting: the filmmakers stunk-up the joint with red herrings by ripping off an Amicus Studio picture, which were rip-offs of Hammer Gothic-mystery tales. And to annoy us: they’ve added a screeching déjà vu soundtrack. Oh, no. This is Night of Bloody Horror all over again; they stole the soundtrack from another sci-fi/horror film. And to really piss us off: they made their pseudo-Spanish Giallo picture in Manila because they were too cheap to shoot in Madrid and let the maestro, Paul Naschy, shoot it.
“Bla, bla, bla. I’m going to the IMDb for a synopsis,” you scoff.
Tom Selleck stars as James Robertson, a Manila-based antiquities dealer who specializes in unusual and unique art works and can’t explain his fascination with an old, gory oil painting depicting a trio of witches being burned at the stake.
“So, can I see the ‘ancient tapestry’ that you think you have?” smarmy Tom says to piss off the curator of Treasures of the Orient and release the curse.
“Oh, most honorable Magnum, let me show you this painting.”
“What? You’re joking. This is a really shitty knock off of Spanish colonial-era art . . . but that one witch looks like my wife, Chris, who looks like Barra Grant who appeared on episodes of TV’s Gunsmoke and Barnaby Jones,” ponders Tom.
So what do you do, Tom? Get the hell out of the creepy shop and hop the first plane out of Manila?
These people are more clueless than the cast of a Paul Naschy movie (watch People Who Own the Dark and you’ll see what I mean).
So Chris stops wearing the crucifix Tom gave her for her birthday and, if she’s smart, she’s contemplating divorce because, well, Tom’s “eye” for art obviously ain’t paying the bills. I mean, what’s with the Marsha Brady wardrobe fashioned from of ugly curtains and wallpaper? No wonder Chris is stressed and hallucinating wispy, disembodied voices calling “Damien” to her in bed.
No, wait. That’s The Omen, and it wasn’t even made yet. That’s right; these ghosts are calling out “Christina” to her. So Tom takes down the painting and . . . yeah, right.
“Why are you being so bitchy, more than usual, Chris?” scowls Tom. “And why did you stop wearing the crucifix?”
“Your mother sucks cock in hell,” spews Chris.
“Wow, should I go to the drugstore and get you something for your PMS?” whimpers Tom, wiping away the pea soup from his face. “And sweetie, quit auditioning for that role in The Exorcist. I love you, but it’s not going to happen. You’re not as good Anissa Jones from Family Affair and she didn’t get it. And this film ain’t that good, either.”
“. . . Hey, what’s that fish smell? Tom’s face scrunches. “Who are all these random strangers that suddenly seem to know me? Why are they chasing me in the streets? Who killed the shop keeper that sold me the painting? Who killed my shrink that was well-versed in Filipino folklore?”
Screenwriters call them “red herrings,” Tom. It has something to do with the painting. Get rid of it.
“Hey, that new friend of my wife’s, she looks like Tani Guthrie from TV’s Adam 12, Cannon, Dragnet and Emergency who also got kidnapped by a demon-slave cult in The Thirsty Dead that shot down the street from our set—and she looks like one of the witches in the painting.”
Tom, buddy. She is of the witches. Get rid of the painting. Screw Chris. Take it out back and burn the damned thing. Save yourself. She’s not “Chris.”
“No, I like it. It’s kitschy. The fact that the painting’s images mystically change and it seems as if the invisible hand of Satan is ‘painting’ it doesn’t bother me.”
“Tom, your wife, who’s not a dog person, befriended a random dog; the dog hates you—and the very same dog that was in the painting disappeared from the painting,” I yell at the TV. “You’re a friggin’ idiot, Magnum!”
Did Paul Naschy write this movie? Someone call Alaric de Marnac and “morning star” Tom out of his misery (obscure Horror Rises from the Tomb reference, sorry).
So, for those of you keeping track: we got two pissed off witches in the revenge-queue. We got the dog. We need one more witch to complete the painting. I wonder who the executioner will be. . . .
“Hey, how come the new housekeeper my wife just hired looks like one of the women in the painting?” says the deserves-a-Gerald McRaney-cranium-chop victim (obscure Night of Bloody Horror reference, sorry).
Oh, look she’s brandishing the ostentatious ceremonial dagger—the same prop from the very promising Amando de Ossorio-boob-fest-sacrifice-over-a-bed-of-spikes prologue.
You’re hired. No windows required. Start in the bathrooms.
Then Tom goes outside to check on some strange noises—only to be attacked. Or was he? Oh, shit. It’s that dues ex machina, dream-within-dream-enigma-wrapped-in-a-riddle screenwriter crap again. Hey, be thankful Tom didn’t have a cheap Gerald McRaney, swirly-spiral optical-effect backdrop to show us he’s going off the deep end. What? No Paul Naschy-cum-George Romero out-of-left-field zombies just for the hell of it?
Come on, Magnum. Get your shit together. Do we need to call Michael Knight to program it into KITT and solve this case? I mean, come on, dude. Look at that painting over there. You’re a dead ringer for the infamous Spanish Inquisition witch hunter, Sir Diego Roberson. Don’t you remember that he gave the ‘ol “Alaric de Marnac”-curse to you and your descendants before you struck the match?
And that, boys and girls, is the story of the painting of the three witches from the infamous 16th century Duarte Coven, who, along with their dog, Nicodemus, the Hound of Hell, were burned at the stake in 1592 in Spain. Why were we in Manila in South East Asia: again, because it was cheaper than shooting in Spain.
“And what’s the moral of the story?” Gabe Kaplan asks the Sweathogs.
“What? Where?” Big Surprise. Bud from Urban Cowboy is stumped. The true sign of an idiot: dump Madolyn Smith for Sissy.
“Ooh! Ooh! Mr. Kotter!” calls out Horseshack, “The moral of the story is that stupid Americans shouldn’t be moving into creepy houses in Manila like some half-assed American-not-yet-made-remake of a J-Horror film shot in an Asian-less Japan with blue eyed-blonde hair American TV actresses.”
“Wow, there, Mr. Kaw-ter. Life sure was rough for future ‘80s TV detectives,” says Freddy “Boom Boom” Washington.
Case solved and class dismissed. Now get the hell out of here and go bother Mr. Woodman.
Author’s Note: This review was previously posted on July 20, 2019, and was reposted as part of our January 2020 “Satan Week.” You can watch the full movie for free on You Tube.
About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook. He also writes for B&S Movies.