VIDEO ARCHIVES WEEK: Buster and Billie (1974)

VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the April 11, 2023 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

Buster Lane (Jan-Michael Vincent) has it all. He’s handsome, popular and engaged to his ravishing high-school sweetheart Margie Hooks (Pamela Sue Martin). He has everything he needs. Except, well, sex. For that he turns to Billie-Jo Truluck (Joan Goodfellow) just like all the other boys in town.

Thing is, Buster falls in love with her. And Billie-Jo falls in love with him. She opens up for the first time and experiences a life she never thought she would ever live. And then Buster’s friends, upset that they can’t have sex with her, rape and kill her. Billie hunts them down, killing two and putting two more in the hospital. He gets out of jail just in time for her funeral, which only his parents attend, and he tears every gorgeous garden in town to shreds to give her the flowers she deserves.

Directed by Daniel Petrie (The Betsy), this was based on real-life events that occurred in writer Ron Turbeville’s South Carolina place of birth. He wrote the story with Ron Batron and the script himself. It’s also the first film of Robert Englund.

Hoyt Axton did the theme song, Sydney Shelton may have directed some of it and oh yeah, this is the first mainstream American movie to have its male star appear completely nude.


VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the January 3, 2023 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

Sometimes, you just don’t get why people like some movies.

And that’s OK.

Video Archives featured two movies directed by Peter Hyams this reason, The Relic and Busting.

I just don’t see the love they’ve bestowed on Hyams. Maybe I’m not the right age, maybe I haven’t seen the right films, but none of it works for me.

And again, that’s fine.

Maybe you’ll find something to like in this movie.

Detectives Michael Keneely (Elliott Gould) and Patrick Farrell (Robert Blake) are cops that excel on the LAPD vice squad. Yet for all the arrests they bring in, they can’t get to the real person behind all the law breaking, Carl Rizzo (Allen Garfield). They still keep after him, but he has his men beat them into oblivion. Yet they keep coming back, even chasing their enemy into the hospital — and out — and finally have a chase between ambulances.

Even when this came out in 1974, the gay bar scenes were called out for homophobic they are. You can imagine how poorly they’ve aged since that time.

The one good thing I can say is that the massage parlor girl that they try to bust was Erin O’Reilly, who played the babysitter who, for some reason, decides to allow The Baby to nurse her. Actually, I really liked Gould and Blake in this. They work well as two cops who realize that life would be simpler if they just didn’t care or even took advantage of their knowledge of the law. But they’re too good to make that change.

I’m not giving up. I’m going to keep on watching movies by Hyams — I love Sudden Death, but I am from Pittsburgh — and hopefully one day I’ll understand.


VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the January 3, 2023 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

I’m writing this at 5 AM and feel very confessional, so here it is: by all rights, Sylvia Kristel was my first girlfriend. By that, I mean to say that I never met her, never spoke with her and never will. But in the mid 80s, in my shyest years, the closest thing I would get to losing my innocence was watching late night Sylvia Kristel movies including EmmanuellePrivate LessonsLady Chatterley’s Lover and Mata Hari. As I watched this film, I was trying to figure out what I saw in her way back then. My options were limited and even in real life, I had such difficulty even speaking to real women. And then I saw her calves in one scene and it unlocked a sense memory in me. Sylvia Kristel, even her name alone, meant something forbidden yet sophisticated. Maybe I wasn’t above the teen sex comedy watching boys in my high school, but perhaps I was also besotten with a much higher class level of crush.

Also known as Es war nicht die Nachtigall in Germany (It Was Not the Nightingale, a reference to the Verona balcony where Kristel acts out a scene from Romeo and Juliet) and Summer Girl, this is really about Pauli (Ekkehardt Belle), who keeps getting close to losing his virginity and continually having it ruined. Like Yvonne (Teri Tordai), who he also speaks to on a train, only to walk back in on her making love; he later learns that she’s his father’s (Jean-Claude Bouillon) new mistress.

Spending the summer at home after being at boarding school, he must deal with his strange family, which includes his doddering grandmother Mimi (Rose Renée Roth), exhibitionist piano-playing Uncle Alex (Peter Berling), lesbian leaning Aunt Miriam (Giesla Hahn) and her latest conquest, the maid Silvana (Christine Glasner).

And oh yes. Andrea (Kristel).

The last time he saw her, she was a girl. Now, she’s definitely grown into a woman with needs much like his. Yet he’s too shy, too worried, too anxious. There’s even a moment where they may get close on a boat — or maybe his best friend Gerhard (Alois Mittermaier) will — that ends up in tragedy.

Pauli is about as unlikeable as a hero as you can get. He nearly assaults one of the maids, mopes about, is convinced that Andrea is frigid and only comes out of his incel shell when he is given a mercy fuck by his father’s lover. To be fair, that scene is great, as they make love on a bed filled with breakfast food and end up covered with it.

In fact, this movie is obsessed with food. Several scenes involve it being in the bed or smeared on someone’s body and the rich family eats like every meal is La Grande Bouffe.

The film was sold on Kristel, who isn’t the lead, but with taglines like “

This is the kind of movie where someone’s dad sleeps with the girl their son loves, where a best friend is killed by the hero and no one ever questions it and where the lead can assault women and even smack Kristel with a tennis ball but hey, we’re supposed to like him because you tell us to. I refuse, the rich snot.

As always, Sylvia Kristel deserved better.

VIDEO ARCHIVES WEEK: Teenager (1974)

VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the August 23, 2022 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

Director Billy Hazelrod (Joe Warfield) wants to make a biker movie in a small town where all of the interactions are real. He wants people to live and breathe their roles, but seeing as how the town already distrusts not just bikers but these Hollywood types, he’s basically setting up a horrible tragedy. Or maybe that’s what he intended all along. Why else would he set a sexual assault scene in a church, surrounded by real worshippers? And why is anyone surprised when they stop kneeling and start attacking the bikers — who they think are real — as the cameras keep rolling?

Sue Bernard (Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!) is the lead actress who starts taking her role too seriously. Andrea Cagan (The Hot Box) is the local girl who gets seduced by the dream factory that has taken over her small town. And John Holmes plays a cop!

The idea of this movie is way more interesting than the film itself. If I write and tell you that an accidental killing in this film becomes part of the movie that is being made within the movie and it’s about art and life intersecting, it comes off that this film is able to turn that storyline into something meaningful. It gets close through it’s very fly on the wall way of being shot. Yet it’s so talky that it feels like it will take a long time to get there. If made by a better filmmaker, it may have.

Speaking of those filmmakers, this was directed and co-written (with Earl Jay) by Gerald Sindell, who also made H.O.T.S., a movie that was on cable seemingly non-stop in the middle of the masturbatory night in my teenage years.

You can watch this on YouTube.


VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the July 19, 2022 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

As a kid, I was obsessed with seeing Dark Star. This film, which combined the talents of John Carpenter, Dan O’Bannon, Ron Cobb, Greg Jein and Bob Greenberg, was constantly in the pages of Starlog.

When I finally saw it — it played theaters until 1980 and then I was able to rent it when I got older — it didn’t live up to what I wanted it to be. Now, watching it as an old man instead of a kid just starting his life, I get it. It finally makes sense to me: even a job in space is totally going to suck, no matter how fantastic the worlds we get to travel to.

Twenty years into their mission to destroy unstable planets with Thermostellar Triggering Devices so that these worlds don’t threaten future colonization of other planets, the crew of the Dark Star has all gone insane. Or dead, as Commander Powell — voiced by Carpenter — is just a voice from cryostorage.

Lieutenant Doolittle dreams of surfing. Sergeant Pinback — O’Bannon — claims to be Bill Frug, a liquid fuel specialist, and says that the real Pinback is dead. Corporal Boiler has grown obsessed with his mustache. And Talby just watches the universe go by. None of them will be able to escape the crushing ennui of this voyage or a ship that is falling apart, filled with talking bombs that have learned Cartesian doubt.

In the end, all you can do is surf out into nothingness and burn out instead of fading away.

This started as a 45-minute 16mm student project with a six grand budget, but to get it in theaters, it needed more footage and to be pushed to 35mm to get in theaters. John Landis got the filmmakers in touch with Jack H. Harris, who padded the film some more. O’Bannon would later say that somehow “the world’s most impressive student film and it became the world’s least impressive professional film.”

Beyond writing and starring in the movie, O’Bannon also designed several of the film’s special effects, including one of the first usages of hyperspace in a movie. The influence of this movie goes beyond that, as O’Bannon would use the sequences with the evil ball to write Alien and the British show Red Dwarf would take the ball — pun unintended — and run with an entire series based on the themes of this movie.

As for influences on the movie, Phillip K. Dick’s idea of frozen dead people communicating from beyond definitely informs the commander. O’Bannon would later adapt We Can Remember It For You Wholesale and Second Variety as Total Recall and Screamers. Plus, while I don’t want to give away the ending, but it’s the exact same way that Ray Bradbury’s Kaleidoscope wraps up.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Blazing Saddles (1974)

I’m certain as soon as I post this that I’ll get comments like “They could never make that movie today,” in a very smug way, but the point is, they already made it, you can still find it and no one is trying to take it from you. I kind of love that for all the profanity, flatulence and racist words thrown around in this movie, execs were just as upset that a horse gets punched.

The idea for Blazing Saddles came from Tex-X, a script that Andrew Bergman (Big TroubleStriptease) planned on writing himself, with Alan Arkin directing and James Earl Jones as the sheriff. Mel Brooks bought it and despire not working with other writers since Your Show of Shows created a writer’s room with himself, Bergman, Richard Pryor, Alan Unger and Norman Steinberg. They worked under a sign that said, “Please do not write a polite script.”

The plot starts just like any Western you’ve seen: a new railroad will be redirected through Rock Ridge, making the town finally worth something, so territorial attorney general Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) sends his men, led by Taggart (Slim Pickens) to force the residents out. He starts by shooting the sheriff and Governor William J. Le Petomane (Mel Brooks in one of many roles in this) is coerced by Lamarr to hire a sheriff named Bart (Cleavon Little) in the hopes that the town won’t have anything to do with a black man. Yet Bart was about to be killed for beating up Taggart, so maybe Lamarr is hastening his own defeat.

With help from the Waco Kid (Gene Wilder), he soon wins over the town — future Higgins John Hillerman is one of them — and defeats the super strong Mongo (Alex Karras) and charms his would-be seducer Lili Von Shtupp (Madeline Kahn). Actually, he’s such a good person that he lets those two villains join him.

Of course everything works out well, but the idea that somehow the movie is on a lot next to Buddy Bizarre’s (Dom DeLuise) musical and the movies turn into a fistfight that ends when Lamarr runs into Mann’s Chinese Theater to see the end of his own movie. It’s an audacious close to a movie that’s equally willing to be incredibly smart and wonderfully stupid.

Casting was a big problem. Pryor was Brooks’ original Sheriff Bart, but the studio worried about his drug use and wouldn’t approve him as he was uninsurable. Brooks also wanted John Wayne for the Waco Kid, but the Western star turned down the movie for being too blue and his replacement, Gig Young, passed out from alcohol withdrawl.

A television pilot titled Black Bart was produced for CBS based on Bergman’s original story with Louis Gossett Jr. as Bart and Steve Landesberg as sidekick Reb Jordan. Bergman was listed as the sole creator and the show was made just to ensure that Warner Bros. had the movie rights to make sequels. It only aired one contractually obligated time on April 4, 1975.

As for the troublesome moments, Burton Gilliam. who played a henchman named Lyle, couldn’t say the word to Little, who pulled him aside and said, “If I thought you would say those words to me in any other situation we’d go to fist city, but this is all fun. Don’t worry about it.” And Brooks has said that he wrote the movie to fight back at “white corruption, racism and Bible-thumping bigotry.” The same people who argue that you couldn’t make this today are the same ones that saw Joe as the hero of that movie and were cheering on Archie Bunker.


EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally on the site on August 7, 2019.

Steve Carver originally intended to get involved in the worlds of cartooning, commercial art and animation before becoming a cameraman for ABC’s Wide World of Sports, shooting St. Louis Cardinals baseball games before he made thirty documentaries while teaching college at the same time.

One of those documentaries got him into the American Film Institute, where he studied under George Stevens, Alfred Hitchcock, Charlton Heston and Gregory Peck, as wel as the opportunity to be the assistant director on Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun.

Carver’s final AFI project was a short based on Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, which brought him to the attention of Roger Corman. He edited 150 trailers for the producer and directed The Arena — which has Joe D’Amoto as director of cinematography — before this film. He’d go on to make two Chuck Norris films, Lone Wolf McQuade and An Eye for An Eye before leaving film for the world of photography, pining for the more fun days of working with Corman.

Texas, 1932. Wilma McClatchie (Angie Dickinson) has taken over her dead man’s bootlegging still but gets caught by the law. Forced to hand over all her money and even her wedding ring to the sheriff, she decides that she and her daughters Polly (Robbie Lee, Lace from Switchblade Sisters and eventually the voice of Twink on Rainbow Brite; she’s also the goddaughter of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans) and Billy Jean (Susan Sennett, The Candy Snatchers and wife of Graham Nash) are going to live a life of crime.

While Wilma is at a bank trying to pass a fake check, the girls end up helping Fred Diller (Tom Skerritt) as he knocks over the joint. He and Wilma soon become lovers, but that doesn’t last long before she’s bedding gambler William J. Baxter (William Shatner) and he starts sleeping with both of her daughters, sometimes at the same time because Roger Corman produced this.

After kidnapping and ransoming the daughter of a millionaire, federal agents and the police finally track down the gang. Baxter gets cuffed and the girls escape while Diller defends them with a hail of Thompson submachine gun fire. But as they drive away, Wilma dies, her bloody arm dragging against the left side of the car as it speeds away.

Well, or so you’d think, as there was a sequel.

I learned so much about so-called bad movies from the Medved brothers. In their 1986 tome Son of the Golden Turkey Awards, they nominated Dickinson’s role in this film as “The Most Embarrassing Nude Scene in Hollywood History.” Now that I’m older and wiser, I can say that these guys must have been embarrassed themselves as they actually enjoyed this trash. I hate the idea of guilty pleasures; just like what you like.

Oddly enough, Jerry Garcia performed most of the guitar and banjo music in the movie. And if you’re looking for fun actors, Sally Kirkland, Dick Miller and Royal Dano all show up. It’s not the best movie you’ve ever seen, but it’s filled with sin, skin and bullets. What else were you hoping for?

You can watch this on Tubi.

NEW WORLD PICTURES MONTH: Cockfighter (1974)

The democratic nature of exploitation films means that everyone will be exploited and also everyone will be seen. Blacksploitation allowed black actors to star for often the first time ever in films and be seen as heroes while also appearing in movies that often glorify the worst parts of the black experience. In the same way, drive-in and grindhouse films allow groups of geographic audiences — like southern folks who often only saw themselves as dangerous rednecks — being given the chance to be heroes, often in regional films like Charles B. Pierce’s The Town That Dreaded Sundown and The Legend of Boggy Creek which gave Texarkana drive-in audiences a film that showed real stories, legends and people from their own small corner of the universe, a place that Hollywood would rarely if ever portray.

Based on Cockfighter by Charles Willeford, who also wrote the script, this was directed by Monte Hellman, who had already made Two-Lane Blacktop with Warren Oates, who plays Frank Mansfield. When we first meet the mute lead, he’s slicing a chicken’s beak so that it appears weak; sadly this actually makes it weak and causes him to lose a major match which costs him his trailer, his money and his woman.

Frank could settle down, stay back on the family farm, make Mary Elizabeth (Patricia Pearcy) an honest woman and just live a life of planned nothingness. But that’s not for him. There’s something else, the draw of putting roosters into the ring, the chance to win everything and lose it all. His goal has put tunnel vision on him, forcing him to never speak until he succeeds yet he has no idea what that success is. His life is just drifting and moving toward an endless nothingness yet if he can make some money along the way, raising his birds knowing that all his work will still mean that they’ll eventually be destroyed in front of him. And yet at the end, he’s willing to sacrifice even his finest fighter to cause a woman to smile, a woman who walks away and doesn’t care one bit.

Warren Oates remains the same stoic heading toward destruction and yet being the resolute person he’s been in nearly every movie I’ve seen him in. Never compromise, even in the face of the end.

Cockfighter just by its title is the kind of movie that people are going to skip and yeah, it’s pretty much an entire movie of roosters killing one another. Yet just as much as Cannibal Holocaust is about more than a turtle getting killed — a boa constrictor, a tarantula, a young pig and two squirrel monkeys also are murdered — but also about inhumanity, this movie tries to break free of that and say something about a life that was — and is — rarely shown.

Much like blacksploitation, I feel like my Yankee upbringing keeps me from fully understanding this experience. I reached out to my friend — and amazing writer, seriously, join his Patreon — Raven Mack for some insight, as he’s from Virginia and knows more than a few things.

B&S About Movies: Maybe I just don’t get Cockfighter and never will. I’ve been raised to not be into animal violence yet I know that we consume animals and never consider all that goes into making them ready for my food.

Raven Mack: Cockfighting is not out in the open, but I did live near a pretty major ring that got busted. I’d heard about it a lot, but never seen it in person, though I’m familiar with guys who were quite obviously raising fighting roosters. You can tell because each rooster is chained up in its own house, and the chains don’t reach the next house. So there’ll be a yard with like 50 little wooden doghouse looking structures, but each one has a rooster in it, chained by its leg to the side of the house.

B&S: I love the drive-in era stuff because it’s so specific for non-urban audiences with racing and country-specific films.

Raven Mack: Cockfighter is one of my all-time favorite movies, not so much because of the cockfighting but because of how country it is, and how Warren Oates just kills it man. Definitely in my top 5 all-time movies personally, and I actually get mad when people talk about Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia as his greatest thing. Two-Lane Blacktop/Cockfighter is dream double feature in the Raven Mack Drive-In.

B&S: Was the drive-in part of your childhood?

Raven Mack: Yeah, my dad worked as a painter for this dude who lived just beyond the drive-in in Farmville. They’d be playing poker inside and us kids would be fighting and wrestling and shit in the yard watching the movies across the way. They had occasional porn late night and the grown folks would make us all go inside and stay in the living room, but me and this other kid would sneak into the kitchen to peek.

Also with the drive-in being part of my childhood, down near where I grew up, there was still a Keysville Drive-in that was for sale at the start of the pandemic. I actually had a half-brained notion of trying to get financing to buy it. But the pandemic period of them playing non-new release movies was temporary, and I’d be miserable if I was working four nights around the weekend every week just to show another fuckin’ superhero movie. It would’ve been hell, so I’m thankful the universe trickstered me in the right direction.

Raven also added:

One reason I’m drawn to this movie, and the idea of cockfighting, is chicken watching. I used to have a decent sized flock, and my girlfriend has a large flock with a wide array of types. Just sitting there in the yard after having tossed scratch out and watching the chickens is very much like watching fish in a tank, which they say is therapeutic for you. I call it a ground murmuration the way the collective moves in weird, disjointed ways, but smoothly somehow. But also, you can’t have too many roosters. Roosters are natural born assholes, or perhaps more likely it’s the result of domestication, and they’re actual natural instincts turn them into paranoid, quick to fight assholes. Whenever there’s been too many roosters in the flock, either back in the day at my old house, or at my girlfriend’s, they end up having to be culled anyways, which I can do as “humanely” as possible, but is always gory, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing, because just axing a chicken head off causes the body to have nervous reactions and it bounces all over the place quite disturbingly. But I used to joke about wanting to start an organic cockfighting ring, because roosters just wanna fight each other, and the way they fly at each other, with their legs dropkicking at each other in air… it’s really a bizarre scene, and about as close as your average dilapidated compound gets to a Renaissance painting scene. Of course, people have to make it worse, and actual cockfighting involves tying sharpened gaffes to the rooster’s legs.

Nonetheless, this movie gets at the slow boil of the better side of rural life, of course with those climactic moments of stubborn, contrarian conflict. Oates’ character is a great embodiment of that, refusing to speak just because he didn’t win the little Cockfighter of the Year award. It’s also an incredibly artsy film for an exploitation era flick in terms of how the cockfighting scenes were shot. Of course, that’s an outlaw practice now, so the film will only survive on the margins of Tubi. But it is one of my all-time favorites, signified by actually getting it on DVD in the past few years, because I hate trying to figure out where the hell some things are streaming (if they even are), so I can always have it available, in my milk crate full of absolute classics.

You can watch this on Tubi.

NEW WORLD PICTURES MONTH: Down and Dirty Duck (1974)

Charles Swenson worked on The Point and 200 Motels before this movie, which came into being once Fritz the Cat was such a success. It has the voices of former Turtles members Mark Volman (Flo) as Duck and Howard Kaylan (Eddie) as Willard Isenbaum, an insurance salesman whose brain is filled to overflowing with sexual fantasies.

He’s sent out to check on the insurance claim of an older woman who believes that she will be killed by a bomb that will be delivered by a wizard on Tuesday. As she dies of a heart attack, she gives Willard her duck and they go on a wild series of adentures.

Producer Jerry D. Good pitched the film to Flo and Eddie and production company Murakami-Wolf — who would go on to make Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — prepped to make the movie while Swenson worked on the escript. He wanted to call it Cheap! because it might have been released as Roger Corman’s Cheap! Swenson and studio owner Bill Wolf did most of the animation themselves.

The funniest thing about this film is that because the film was X-rated, The New York Times refused to run ads, despite the ad having a positive review from The New York Times. Making that even more humorous was that the movie was never submitted to the Motion Picture Association Of America and that X rating was just for publicity.

The animation looks really cheap, the story just goes on to anywhere and everywhere, and the credits claim that parts of the story came from people that Swenson encountered during the making of the film. I did, however, love the robotic cop with a John Wayne voice that was played by Robert Ridgely, who would go on to be a voice in The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat.

NEW WORLD PICTURES MONTH: Tender Loving Care (1976)

Director and writer Don Edmonds (of course, you know him from Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS) made this shot in a week and a day film that may have been distributed by New World but has nothing to do with their nurse films. Actually, Corman released it through Filmgroup.

This stars Donna Young (The Naughty Stewardesses), Marilyn Joi (Cleopatra Schwartz!) and Lauren Simon as the nurses, but unlike those Corman nurses films, these three girls have barely any social issues to solve and instead have to avoid Buck Flower as a horrifying sex offender, heal boxer John Daniels and handle Albert Cole’s mobster.

This movie will make you yearn for the subtlety of The Young Nurses. It’s violently not good, but I guess it had the kind of title and frequent nudity that it took to get on screens in 1974.