Mill Creek Through the Decades: 1970s Collection: The Last Detail (1973)

Navy lifers Signalman First Class Billy “Badass” Buddusky (Jack Nicholson) and Gunner’s Mate First Class Richard “Mule” Mulhall (Otis Young) have been given orders they’re not happy with: escorting Seaman Larry Meadows (Randy Quaid) to Portsmouth Naval Prison so he can serve eight years in the brig for stealing $40 from a charity fund.

They have a week to get him from Virginia to Maine and if they fail, they will be kicked out of the Navy, losing all of their benefits, pay and pension.

A funny thing happens. They end up liking the kid and decide to show him a good time before giving him over to serve his sentence. What follows are several episodes in their journey, like Meadows trying to see his mother one last time, ice skating, a bar brawl, an encounter with Buddhists at a party, paying (twice) for Meadows first sexual experience and finally taking him in.

With a cast that includes Nancy Allen, Gilda Radner, Luana Anders, Clifton James (Cool Hand Luke and Sheriff J.W. Pepper in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun), Carol Kane and Michael Moriarty, I’m left wondering, did I cast this movie?

When Robert Towne wrote the script, he ended up facing a Hollywood that didn’t understand all of the profanity. Then again, there were 342 f words in the first five minutes. Once Jack Nicholson became a star, it became easier to get made, and the actor brought director Hal Ashby on board. The production stalled for a year and a half while the star made The King of Marvin Gardens, with Columbia Pictures’ Peter Guber wanting the team to move on and make it with Burt Reynolds, Jim Brown and David Cassidy. Luckily, everyone — including producer Gerry Ayres — stuck together, even when Ashby had a marijuana bust in Canada. Sadly, the script had been written for Nicholson and Rupert Crosse, who died from cancer before the movie could be made.

Still, Columbia was unhappy with how long the movie took to edit and how much profanity remained in the final cut. They wanted 26 lines to be cut and at the end, there were 65 uses of the f word, breaking records for swearing. Ashby talked Columbia into previewing the movie for a real audience to see how they would react and they loved it. And then when Nicholson won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival, they finally did a limited release of the film.

The actor said, “I like the idea of winning at Cannes with The Last Detail, but not getting our own Academy Award hurt real bad. I did it in that movie, that was my best role.”

Through the Decades: 1970s Collection is new from Mill Creek. It also has A Walk In the Spring Rain, DollarsFun With Dick and JaneThe Owl and PussycatFor Pete’s Sake, The Anderson TapesThe HorsemenThe Stone KillerBrother John and Gumshoe. You can learn more on their site and order it from Deep Discount.

JESS FRANCO MONTH: Los ojos siniestros del doctor Orloff (1973)

Melissa (Montserrat Prous) is paralyzed and has also been dealing with nightmares of a man (Franco) who may be her father. Is she going insane? Or does she just need a new doctor’s help? Well, seeing as how this movie is called The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff, I’d say that Dr. Orloff (William Berger) is the villain of this piece.

I mean, seeing as how he quickly tells Melissa that her entire family is bonkers and that he was in love with her mother — also named Melissa — and had a daughter — also also named Melissa — and that he knows that original Melissa’s dad was killed by a perfect crime, which seems like strange bedside manner.

And yet at night, Melissa can walk. And kill. And continue losing her sanity.

Franco made this movie so many times that I get confused, but you know, I kind of enjoy being dumbfounded by his movies, like how this revenge plot by Orloff is so needlessly complicated and that he goes all movie serial villain and has two long speeches where he explains what he’s going to do. And you know, that’s the mark of a bad guy who cares.

Mill Creek Through the Decades: 1970s Collection: The Stone Killer (1973)

Between The Mechanic, this movie and Death Wish, Michael Winner and Charles Bronson were firing on all cylinders in the early 70s*. Based on A Complete State of Death by John Gardner — a book with a message that was, of course, made into a Michael Winner movie — there are so many car crashes at the end of the film that Hertz Rental came back in a huff to reclaim their cars, met by an angry Winner who yelled, “You should be glad we’re crashing your fucking awful cars. You’ll be able to write them off completely and get nice new ones.”

I love the reviews for this movie, that mostly say things like, “I don’t want to admit that I like a Michael Winner movie.”

Back in 1931, an event called The Night of Sicilian Vespers saw the murder of several mob leaders and Al Vescari (Martin Balsam) hasn’t forgotten. He sets up a plan to get revenge forty years or more later by killing off every Italian and Jewish leader across the country by using “stone killers,” or non-mob-affiliated hitmen. His plan? Hire Vietnam vets to do the work.

Detective Lou Torrey (Bronson) is a New York cop who figures out that a killing is an inside job after taking a witness to Los Angeles and having him killed nearly on arrival. He starts to look deeper and begins to discover exactly what’s going on, but is it too late to stop the plan?

Released in the wake of Dirty Harry, this was sold with the tagline “Take away his badge and he’d top the Ten Most Wanted list!” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I worry about the militarization of our police force and the issues of police brutality, but when it comes to movies, I’m all about cops breaking the rules and getting the job done. That said, Bronson’s character is incredibly open about the “white walls” of society and rebuking racism on the force.

This has a great supporting cast, including David Sheiner (Oscar’s accountant and poker buddy in The Odd Couple), Norman Fell (as the leader of the police force; he’d reunite with one of the younger cops in this, John Ritter, on Three’s Company), Ralph Waite (who was John Walton Sr. on The Waltons and ran against Sonny Bono once and his wife twice for a seat in the California senate), Paul Koslo (who told Shock Cinema “My first day on the set, I sat in his (Bronson’s) chair. The first joke I ever told him was “Hey, Charlie, did you hear the one about the Polish actor?” He said, “No, what?” I said, “Charles Buchinsky!” “Do you think that’s funny?!” Being Polish myself, I thought it was hilarious, but it went over like a lead balloon with Charlie. He’s really Polish, that guy!”), Stuart Margolin (The Rockford Files) and Jack Colvin (who would go on to be one of my most hated characters ever, Jack MgGee, the man who ruined Dr. David Bruce Banner’s life on The Incredible Hulk).

If you’re someone that’s only seen movies from this century and need a warning on your movies, here’s one: this is a Michael Winner movie. Go in with that knowledge.

*Before this, they’d make Chato’s Land and also made Death Wish 2 and Death Wish 3 together.

Through the Decades: 1970s Collection is new from Mill Creek. It also has A Walk In the Spring Rain, DollarsFun With Dick and JaneThe Owl and PussycatFor Pete’s Sake, The Anderson TapesThe Horsemen, Brother John, Gumshoe and The Last Detail. You can learn more on their site and order it from Deep Discount.

JESS FRANCO MONTH: A Virgin Among the Living Dead (1973)

Originally filmed as La nuit des étoiles filantes (The Night of the Shooting Stars), Jess Franco felt that this movie was one of his favorites and he even appears as Basilio, a man who wanders the movie speaking to a chicken’s head, and his wife Nicole Guettard is also on hand as a nurse.

But then, remixes started happening that had nothing to do with the original work Franco created.

It was released twice — as Christina, Princess of Eroticism in 1973 and in Italy in 1978 as The Erotic Dreams of Christine, both versions cwith  porn inserts directed by Pierre Querut — before Jean Rollin was hired to shoot zombie footage, the porn inserts removed and a new title A Virgin Among the Living Dead.

Christina von Blanc (The Dead Are Alive) is Christina Benson, who has come to Europe for the reading of her father’s (Paul Muller, a Franco regular) will. Soon learning that her relatives — like Howard Vernon as Uncle Howard — are all the living dead, she sees them as a way to avoid her loneliness and invites them to stay. But her father committed suicide, so the Queen of the Night (Anne Libert, The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein) owns his soul forever unless she can save him.

You know how Lisa and the Devil has another world that takes over our own? Franco does that here but, being Franco, it’s filled with zooms, nudity and a gigantic phallus that all live in their own world, a place where things like logic, pace and common sense are cast aside much like the clothing of his actresses.

We should all commit to the joys of walking into the ghostly swamp.

You can watch this on Kino Cult.

A Virgin Among the Living Dead is also on the ARROW PLAYER. Head over to ARROW to start your 30-day free trial. Subscriptions are available for $4.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly. ARROW is available in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland on the following Apps/devices: Roku (all Roku sticks, boxes, devices, etc), Apple TV & iOS devices, Android TV and mobile devices, Fire TV (all Amazon Fire TV Sticks, boxes, etc), and on all web browsers at https://www.arrow-player.com.

Golgo 13 (1973)

Filmed almost entirely in the Imperial State of Iran, with an almost entirely Persian supporting cast, the first live action adventure of Duke Togo — Golgo 13 — stars Ken Takakura, considered the Clint Eastwood of Japanese film.

The world’s best killer, Golgo 13 has been recruited to kill Max Boa, who leads a worldwide crime syndicate responsible for most of the drugs, weapons and human trafficking everywhere. This takes him to the Middle East and as you may — or may not — know, Golgo 13 never fails an assignment. He also has a samurai code about his assignments, only meeting clients once and only doing one job for them. They must also be honest about why they’ve hired him and no double-crosses will be forgotten or forgiven.

As for his name, it supposedly was his nickname in a West German workcamp that references Golgotha, the skull place on which Jesus Christ was crucified as well as the thirteenth disciple, Judas. His logo has a skeleton wearing a crown of thorns, so that seems to make sense.

For as wild as the series gets, this movie is pretty basic. I mean, it’s solid, but I expect more lunacy out of Golgo 13. Luckily, the anime movies get it exactly right.

CURTIS HARRINGTON WEEK: The Killing Kind (1973)

Terry (John Savage, The Deer Hunter) was forced to participate in a gang assault and served two years in prison, losing his sanity. His mother Thelma (Ann Sothern, so many roles, but also the titular voice of My Mother the Car) runs a boarding house for old women who all gossip about the strange nature of their relationship; if you didn’t know the truth, you would think they were a married couple, not a son and his mother.

Thelma wishes that the victim of the assault, Tina (Sue Bernard, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!) was dead. So Terry runs her off the road. He hears how his attorney Rhea Benson (Ruth Roman, whose slate of movies in the early 70s was absolutely wild between this, The Baby and Impulse) didn’t protect him enough, so he kills her too. He even kills new tenant Lori (Cindy Williams, who was commuting between the set of this film and The Conversation) and they move the body out in full view of their suspicious neighbor Lori (Luana Anders, Night Tide).

Speaking of that librarian next door, that same character shows up in 1980s The Attic, which was also written by Tony Crechales and George Edwards.

Also, to those that worry about cat murder, yes — a cat does die in this. It was a real cat in that scene, but it was sedated by a vet. The one in the dumpster is an actual euthanized cat, but it was not killed for this production.

Sadly, this movie had poor distribution and was lost for a few years. How exciting is it that we live in a world where films get found and we can find them ourselves so easily?

You can watch this on Tubi.

CURTIS HARRINGTON WEEK: The Cat Creature (1973)

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve added some things to this article, which originally appeared on our site on May 22, 2020.  

Originally airing December 11, 1973 on ABC, this Curtis Harrington-directed, Robert Bloch-written take on Cat People was originally planned as a starring vehicle for Diahann Carroll. However, her ABC contract ended and the film needed to be rewritten.

It’s such a tribute to Cat People that Kent Smith, who starred in that film and its sequel, The Curse of the Cat People, appears.

Smith plays an appraiser who finds a sarcophagus in a house that he is surveying. Inside is a mummy wearing a solid gold cat’s head amulet that has a curse attached to it. Just then, he’s killed by a cat creature and a thief played by Keye Luke steals the amulet.

David Hedison — who played Felix Leiter to two different James Bonds — is a cop on his trail. Showing up for support are Meredith Baxter as a salesgirl,  John Carradine as a hotel clerk and Stuart Whitman as a police lieutenant.

Gale Sondergaard, who played Universal’s Spider Woman in two films*, is also here as an occult bookstore owner named Hester Black. It was one of the first movies that she had made since 1949, thanks to the blacklist and her support of her husband Herbert Biberman.

The day after shooting wrapped, she was called back for some closeups. It was all a ruse When she arrived on the set in makeup and costume, Charlton Heston presented her with an Academy gold statuette to replace one that she had won for 1936’s Anthony Adverse.

*Sherlock Holmes and the Spider Woman and The Spider Woman Strikes Back.

Want to check this out for yourself? Here it is on YouTube:

Blackenstein (1973)

Look, this movie is horrible, but when I’m happy that it exists. That sentence could pretty much sum up nearly every movie that I write about on this site, right?

Writer and producer Frank R. Saletri had also planned Black the Ripper and while I’m confessing, I will say that I would totally watch that movie and probably love it. He also wrote Sherlock Holmes in the Adventures of the Werewolf of the Baskervilles and Sherlock Holmes in the Adventures of the Golden Vampire, movies that were supposed to star Alice Cooper as the man who lives at 221B Baker Street. However, he was killed gangland style in his home, a place where Bela Lugosi once slept. Probably in a coffin.

Doctor Stein (John Hart, who replaced Clayton Moore for one season in a Coy and Vance trick and we all know that that never works) has recently won a Nobel Prize for solving the DNA genetic code, which means that he can put body parts back on someone or make people look young. These things will come in handy, as Eddie Turner stepped on a land min back in the rice paddies of Da Nang and ended up coming back a torso.

Things go well, but Stein’s assistant Malcomb falls for Eddie’s woman Dr. Winifred Walker and so he sabotages the surgery, turning our hero into a cannibal Frankenstein with a huge afro. So how do you stop an out of control black Frankenstein’s monster? You just have some police dogs tear him apart.

At least they used the original Universal lab equipment.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Brother of the Wind (1973)

A mountain man named Sam Monroe (Dick Robinson, who also directed this movie*, voiced by Leon Ames) saves four wolf cubs after their mother dies. Somehow, against the odds, they form a pack and protect one another. Thirty other animals appear in this movie, all handled by Robinson.

Written by John C. Champion (Zero Hour!) and John C. Mahon (who produced Chariots of the Gods), you may wonder, “Why would Sam care about this movie, much less write it up for me to read about?”

Because this is a Sun International Picture.

This was four-walled into theaters, taking the kind of movies that they felt the American public wasn’t getting — which would be wildlife pictures and the kind of UFO and conspiracy shows that are now on basic cable, but in theaters and drive-ins — and selling it directly to them. Toklat came before this and is incredibly similar, with Robinson tracking a bear that he knew as a cub with Ames doing the voiceover.

Later known as Sunn Classics and Schick/Sunn Classics, the ultimate expression of their outdoorsman against the odds movies would be The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams

*Robinson also made or worked on the similar movies Birth of a Legend, Cougar CountryToklatMountain CharlieBuffalo RiderThe Rogue and the Grizzly and did the animal sequences for Sasquatch: The Legend of Bigfoot.

Terminal Island (1973)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jason Kleeberg is the host, writer, producer, and editor of the Force Five Podcast. In addition to being a podcaster, he’s a Blacklist screenwriter (The Gumshoe, Powerbomb, Anglerfish), filmmaker (Clarks), and Telly Award winner (2005) from the San Francisco Bay Area. He’s also an avid physical media collector. When Jason isn’t watching movies, he’s spending time with my wife, son and Xbox — not always in that particular order. This article originally ran on the Force Five site.

Terminal Island (1973)

Directed by Stephanie Rothman

Written by James Barnett, Charles S. Swartz and Stephanie Rothman

Starring Don Marshall, Phyllis Davis, Tom Selleck, Barbara Lee, and a shit load of denim

California has abolished the death penalty so they chuck all of their worst prisoners onto an island called San Bruno and let them do whatever they want there. The small group of prisoners has split into two factions – one that keeps women as sex slaves, and one that milks goats and has Tom Selleck.

Terminal Island is a slice of pure, 70’s exploitation trash. Directed by Stephanie Rothman, it’s less of a women in prison film and more Lord of the Flies. The story starts as a woman named Carmen Simms is dumped onto the island. She’s the audience surrogate, introducing us to the horrors she’s about to encounter as she’s immediately taken into the camp run by Bobby and Monk. There are a few other women there, but they are used as sex slaves, only there to serve the men…so much so that there’s a literal schedule each night for who each woman is assigned to “service”. AJ, a more liberal prisoner, has started his own society with a few other refugees. One night they free the women, leading to an all-out war between the two factions when Bobby and Monk realize their slaves are gone.

This film checks all of the exploitation boxes – the tough talking black guy, the creepy white chauvinist pig who tries to sexually assault someone every thirty minutes, blood that looks like the brightest candy red nail polish you can buy at Sephora, and killer dialogue like “Are you calling me a liar?” “I’d never call you that…I’d call you DEAD.” It’s quite a bit of fun, and although the typical lulls in between the action that were necessary to pad the run-time for low budget flicks are still here, they’re never really boring enough to allow you to get lost in your phone before the next battle begins.

One standout scene includes a woman getting revenge on the creepy rapey guy as she acts like she’s going to seduce him, puts honey on his dick and ass, and then smacks a beehive as he runs away in a panic. It’s like something straight out of an Austin Powers film. Speaking of dumb decisions, another scene has our bad guys pent up in a small hut, shooting at the heroes out of a small crack in the structure. Conventional wisdom says that it would have been easy to just fan out and run around to the other side of the hut, since the shooting radius was very small…but instead, our heroes send a person down straight into the line of fire…and once he’s dead, they send the next one down the same way…and once she’s dead, they send another one down the same way, like lemmings to the slaughter.

Terminal Island is a fun prison faction flick. If you like films like Ray Liotta’s No Escape or even Escape from New York, you’ll probably like this enough. It’s cheesy and the music sounds like it was peeled off of the floor of a 1970’s Times Square jerk theater, but the dialogue is fun, the violence is bloody, and the nudity is plentiful.