EDITOR’S NOTE: This has been on the site before — it’s a Joe D’Amato movie, so just expect that — and the last time was on December 12, 2021.

The assistant director of Johnny Got His Gun, as well as the director of Big Bad MamaLone Wolf McQuaid and Eye for an Eye, Steve Carver directed this exploitation roughie, where slave girls become gladiators and rise against their masters. But hey — it has Pam Grier in it! And you know why it’s probably so sleazy? I blame the director of cinematography — Joe D’Amato!

Actually, in Italy, they said that this movie was made by Michael Wotruba. You know who that is? That’s right, the same man who is Joe D’Amato, Aristide Massaccesi. In the book Erotismo, orrore e pornografia secondo Joe D’Amato, the man of many names said that Italian producer Franco Gaudenzi didn’t trust Carver, who was sent by Roger Corman, so he sent D’Amato to help as needed. Carver did the talking, D’Amato did the action and we have a movie.

Speaking of Corman, he offered this movie to Martin Scorsese after Boxcar Bertha. Let that rest in your brain for a bit. Instead of making Mean Streets, Scorsese would have been working with Raf Donato. Or David Hills. Or maybe Boy Tan Bien.

In the time after Spartacus, in the ancient Roman town of Brundusium, a group of slave girls is sold to Timarchus (Daniele Vargas, Eyeball), a promoter who puts together the fights in the Colosseum. After the girls engage in a fight, she gets a big idea: make them fight to the death.

That’s when Mamawi (Pam Grier) and Bodicia (Margaret Markov) — who had just teamed up in Black Mama, White Mama — decide to team up again and get out alive. Rosalba Neri (Lady Frankenstein herself!, as well as Lucifera: Demon Lover and Amuck!) is in this too!

Markov met her husband, producer Mark Damon, while making this movie, but couldn’t date until production was over, as director Steve Carver had made a rule regarding cast and crew intermingling.

Your enjoyment of this will depend on how much you enjoy watching women battle as gladiators. I wrote that a while ago and come on, everybody loves that. They didn’ call this movie Naked Warriors for nothing.

NEW WORLD PICTURES MONTH: Submersion of Japan (1974)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally on the site on April 20, 2022.

The highest grossing film in Japan in 1973 and 1974, Submersion of Japan or Japan Sinks! was also a big deal in the U.S. Roger Corman bought the rights as part of New World Pictures and made a remix where he cut out lots of footage, added new sequences directed by Andrew Meyer (Night of the Cobra Woman) and added Lorne Greene as an ambassador at the United Nations as well as appearances by Rhonda Leigh Hopkins (Summer School Teachers), John Fujioka (Shinyuki from American Ninja), Marvin Miller (who was a narrator in several movies), Susan Sennett (Candy from The Candy Snatchers), Ralph James (Sixpack Annie), Phil Roth, Cliff Pellow and Joe Dante.

Now called Tidal Wave, it came out in May of 1975, while New World also released an uncut subtitled version called Submersion of Japan in America.

If you remember when we discussed Nosutoradamusu no daiyogen, Japan was in disaster mania, predicting the end of the world at every turn. This movie was inspired by Nippon chinbotsu by Sakyô Komatsu, the same author of Virus: The EndBye Bye JupiterDisappearance of the Capital and Time of the Apes. Of all his work, Komatsu’s sinking story was so popular that it became a TV series in 1974 and was remade in 2006 as Doomsday: The Sinking of Japan, then remade again as the 2020 TV mini-series Japan Sinks 2020, which was so big that it played theaters and spun off another series, Japan Sinks: People of Hope.

There was even a 2006 parody, Nihon igai zenbu chinbotsu, which means The World Sinks Except Japan.

This was no cheap picture. Director Shirô Moritani has been second unit on Yojimbo while writer Shinobu Hashimoto was behind RashomonSeven SamuraiThe Hidden Fortress and Throne of Blood amongst many other movies, as well as the director of Lake of Illusions, Minami no kaze to nami and I Want to Be a Shellfish.

Two hundred million years ago, what we know as the Earth was a single continent that split up over the years. At one point, Japan was part of the continent of Asia. But now? If you read the title, spoiler, Japan is going to sink. The first people to find out are geophysicist Dr. Tadokoro (Keiju Kobayashi, whose roles in comedies defined what post-war Japan saw as the ideal salaryman) and Onodera Toshio (Hiroshi Fujioka, the original Kamen Rider) take their submarine Wadatsumi-1 to the Ogasawara Islands. How bad is it? Well, the land mass that makes up the islands of Japan itself are about to collapse into a trench.

While Onodera is falling for Abe Reiko (Ayumi Ishida), volcanos start to erupt and earthquakes break out with more frequency. A rich businessman named Mr. Watari (Shōgo Shimada) pays for a series of expeditions to discover if Japan can be saved. But just like our climate, it’s already too late. Unlike our crisis, Japan has three choices: form a new country, seek a home in other countries or accept the end of the country and die.

They only have ten months to decide and as many countries offer to help, I’m reminded that as much as I love Japan, it’s an incredibly racist country. Even in a fictional story, South Korea, China and Taiwan refuse to help them. By the end, as the country sinks into the sea, more than half the population remains to go down with the ship. And our hero and heroine? They’re separated a world away from one another.

You know who is in this? Turkish born actor Andrew Hughes, a businessman based in Tokyo as an import-export businessman who shows up in so many Japanese films from the late 1950s to the mid-1980s, usually in minor roles but even playing Hitler in The Crazy Adventure. The Japanese prime minister is played by Nobuo Nakamura, who was in Kurosawa’s films, but the really interesting actor is the man playing the driver of the Japanese leader. He’s played by Haruo Nakajima, who played Godzilla from 1954’s original film to 1972’s Godzilla vs. Gigan. After this role, he went to work in Toho’s bowling alley. I wish I was making that up.

This movie has some amazing alternate titles, such as Panic Over Tokyo (West Germany and I’m shocked that Frankenstein was not involved, as his name was on every Toho Godzilla movie released there), The Fall of Japan (Belgium), Death in the Rising Sun (Portugal knows how to name a movie), The Sun Does Not Rise Over the Island (Czechoslovakia), Planet Earth Year Zero (Italy), S.O.S. The Earth Is Sinking (Sweden) and The End of the World (Turkey).

Roger Ebert nominated this movie for The 50 Worst Films of All Time–and How They Got That Way by Harry Medved and Randy Dreyfuss. He said, “The movie never ends, but if you wait long enough it gets to a point where it’s over.”

As for the Japanese version of the film — which lends its special effects to the aforementioned Toho Nostradamus movie — I really liked that unlike so many disaster films, the actual socioeconomic problems that the world would face get explained and shown. There’s no shortage of waves crushing everything in their way, but at least we learn something.

You can watch the original Japanese version of this movie at the Internet Archive.

JESS FRANCO MONTH: Yuka (The Lustful Amazons) (1974)

Pygar (Robert Woods) recounts the story of his journey to Antigua — and The Lustful Amazons of the title — to Karzan (Wal Davis; if you’re watching the French version, he’s Maciste). He also tells the young adventurer that there’s a fortune in gold for the taking, but it’s all a ruse, as Pygar and the Amazon Queen (Alice Arno) are working together in the hopes that Karzan can be put out to stud. Once they get back to Antigua, Maciste is taken by the women and Pygar and Yuka (Lina Romay) go into business for themselves and take the gold.

Also known as Amazon TempleMaciste contre la reine des AmazonesYukaMädchen, die sich lieben lassen and Karzan contro le donne dal seno nudo, this is not Les Gloutonnes, a very similar film that uses much of the same footage and also places Howard Vernon into the narrative as Cagliostro.

Pygar is forced to have sex with Kali Hansa — oh the humanity! — while Alice Arno spanks him — the horror! — while Maciste sleeps with thirty plus Amazons, some of which do not survive his lovemaking abilities. Also: a werewolf shows up. Also also: the actress playing Marcia, Chantal Broque, is Alice Arno’s younger sister.

You can wonder why Franco was making a Tarzan ripoff — or peplum movie depending on the version you see — at this late date, but really, it was all about the naked Amazons.

JESS FRANCO MONTH: Les Gloutonnes (1974)

This is not Maciste contre la reine des Amazones even though they have most of the same cast and crew. It is kind of a sequel or a spiritual one or inspired by or however you want to tie these together, as  well as to the overall larger Jess Franco Cinematic Universe as Howard Vernon appears as Cagliostro (from La maldición de Frankenstein and also that same movie was repeated as cut and paste footage for Dr. Wong’s Virtual Hell) and Wal Davis also is Maciste again.

The women of this are from Atlantis and they’re led by Alice Arno (Eugénie de Sade) and have Pamela Stanford (Convoi de filles) and, of course, Lina Romay amongst their number. They’re threatened by a blind witch named Parka (Kali Hansa, The Night of the Sorcerers) who has brought along Caronte (Robert Woods) to help her.

It really feels like three different movies are at work here and that’s because it seems like there were three different shooting sequences, all united through later editing. The most basic is Maciste’s adventures on the post-Atlantis island and his love affairs and battles. Then there’s Arno dreaming of being an Atlantean queen. And further still would be the Howard Vernon footage. The last two of these were shot nearly six months later, so if nothing adds up, well, you’re probably so far into Jess Franco’s world by now that you won’t notice, although you may wonder if someone cut these movie drugs with a little Jean Rollin, what with all the beach footage and scenes of women staring out into the ether.

What is it about Franco that makes his devotees study and attempt to make sense of his output? There are so many poor direct to streaming films and directors who also had similar output, yet here I remain in my second month of nearly being obsessed with his movies and trying to make connections between them and I find the greatest satisfaction in doing so.

JESS FRANCO MONTH: Celestine Maid at Your Service (1974)

Based on the Octave Mirbeau novel Le Journal dune femme de chambre (Diary of a Chambermaid), this movie begins with Celestine (of course, Lina Romay) escaping a brothel as the police close in and end up in the country home of one of their clients, Comte de la Fraguette and, as you can imagine, they end up converting the entire home to the pleasures of, well, pleasure. Some of those folks are men, including Howard Vernon as a horny old man — go figure — and some are women, such as Franco regulars Catherine Laferriere, Pamela Stanford and Monica Swinn, a survivor of so many of Franco’s prison films.

That said, if you can get past all the lovemaking, the acts of darkness, the corking of onions, the schnoodlypooping, the unicorn pondering, the biblical knowledge seeking and the locking of legs and swapping gravy, you will discover that there’s a point in this: Celestine is here amongst the rich and pampered to preach her truth of living free.

There’s a review in Time Out of this movie that states, “An object lesson in how potentially liberating material can be manhandled into heavy-handed voyeurism treading an unresolved line between the Pasolini-inspired bawdy romp and Buñuelian subversion.”

This is someone that watched Lina Romay embodying a comedic ideal while at once being an object of sheer desire, a person that has no idea of what fun is and wanted to impress you because they read about Salo in a book.

Forget that.

I don’t think even Celestine could bonk said writer into being able to have a moment’s fun.

ARROW BLU RAY RELEASE: The Executioner Collection: The Executioner II: Karate Inferno (1974)

This sequel came out the same year as The Executioner and brings back Takeshi Hayato (Makoto Sato), Ichiro Sakura (Eiji Gō), Arashiyama (Ryô Ikebe), Emi (Yutaka Nakajima) and ninja bad guy working on the side of good Ryuichi Koga (Sonny Chiba) for another mission.

First, they have to find Koga, who is now a paratrooper — or the Rangers Unit of the Self Defence Forces — and then they’re off to retrieve the stolen Jewel of the Pharaohs and a rich heiress, but they discover that the jewel they’ve retrieved is a fake. And when Koga gets shorted on his pay, he decides to steal the jewel for himself.

This time around, the bickering between the three heroes — well, they’re not all that virtuous but are the heroes we have — is filled with comedy, like a scene where Koga is climbing up into a high rise and a well-endowed woman opens her window and her bosom falls directly onto his head and another where Sakura gets set on fire and Koga urinates the flames out. Then again, this is a Sonny Chiba movie, so he does get to rip a man’s heart right out of his chest and show it to him before he dies.

The Executioner II: Karate Inferno is also directed by Teruo Ishii, who wasn’t a fan of making action movies like this. To see what he liked making, track down Horrors of Malformed Men and Shogun’s Joy of Torture.

While not as well made as The Executioner, everyone seems to enjoy their roles and the silly near-Three Stooges antics between the heroes. I wish Toei had made even more of this series.

The Arrow Video release of The Executioner Collection has high definition blu ray presentations of both movies, along with brand new audio commentary by Chris Poggiali and Marc Walkow; Sonny Chiba, Karate King, a 30-minute featurette on the legendary Sonny Chiba, featuring Grady Hendrix, Tom Mes, Chris Poggiali, Marco Joachim and Seiji Anno from the band Guitar Wolf; trailers; image galleries; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Lucas Peverill and an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films by Mark Schilling. You can get it from MVD.

You can also stream this movie on the Arrow player. Visit 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

ARROW BLU RAY RELEASE: The Executioner Collection: The Executioner (1974)

Three men have come together to destroy a drug cartel: Hayabusa (Makoto Sato), Aikido master and pervert Sakura (Eiji Gō) and Koga Ninja school descendent Ryuichi Koga (Sonny Chiba), the master of the Hell Fist. Guided by disgraced cop Arashiyama (Ryo Ikebe) and Emi (Yutaka Nakajima), they have to stay together long enough to stop druglord Mario Mizuhara (Masahiko Tsugawa).

By destroy them, I mean the last thirty minutes of this movie is one big fistfight, broken up by a car chase, then more kicking and punching. Chiba may not be the flashiest or most acrobatic martial artist, but he’s the roughest. I mean, why else would they call him the meanest man alive? Also, he’s Lucio Fulci’s favorite fighter, obviously, because he can smack someone in the head so hard their eyeball flies out of their head. He goes that one better by punching a man in the chest and pulling out one of his ribs.

This movie is absolutely hilarious, a sleazy mix of violence, nudity, wild costumes, sex and a double mannequin suicide plunge at the end that outdoes anything in Italian cinema, the world’s biggest importer of wooden dummies for the end of giallo films.

Teruo Ishii supposedly hated making kung fu and action movies — I mean, the guy did make Shogun’s Joy Of Torture so I think there’s where his heart lies — that he made this parody so that Toei would ask him to make another. No matter. This movie is a total blast.

The Arrow Video release of The Executioner Collection has high definition blu ray presentations of both movies, along with brand new audio commentary by Chris Poggiali and Marc Walkow; Sonny Chiba, Karate King, a 30-minute featurette on the legendary Sonny Chiba, featuring Grady Hendrix, Tom Mes, Chris Poggiali, Marco Joachim and Seiji Anno from the band Guitar Wolf; trailers; image galleries; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Lucas Peverill and an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films by Mark Schilling. You can get it from MVD.

You can also stream this movie on the Arrow player. Visit 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

JESS FRANCO MONTH: House of Cruel Dolls (1974)

Directed by Pierre Chevalier (using the name Peter Knight, the same he’d use for Panther Squad) who co-wrote this with A.L. Mariaux — but come on, we all know that that’s Jess Franco — this Eurocine film is a cut and paste marvel that uses footage from a movie made seven years before, Agente Sigma 3 – Missione Goldwather, so that explains why this starts as a sleaze film all about a house of, well, cruel dolls, and ends up a spy movie. Eurocine did it one better by taking these leftovers, warming them up and re-releasing them eight years later as Police Destination Oasis, also adding in some of Agente Sigma 3 – Missione Goldwather and a pinch of Franco’s Two Female Spies In Flowered Panties.

In those first few moments, a regular customer falls in love with cruel doll Yvette (Magda Mundari) and helps her escape. They go to the police and…cue the Jack Taylor Eurospy footage.

Speaking of cobbling together multiple movies to make a new narrative, this was released on blu ray in the U.S. by Full Moon, the same company who often edits shortened narrative destroyed versions of their films into make no sense anthologies and had the absolute gall to rip off Bruno Mattei’s Hell of the Living Dead and turn it into Corona Zombies. Yes, Full Moon ripped off a movie that ripped off Zombie which was ripping off Dawn of the Dead and also stole footage from Yeti Giant of the 20th Century and the mondo films Des morts and Nuova Guinea, l’isola dei cannibali while also ripping off music from Buio Omega and Blood and Diamonds.

Notice how my morals are: I am perfectly fine with Franco and Mattei robbing other movies but I draw the line at Charles Band.


EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve talked about Death Wish so many times on the site, but this is all about the excitement of Kino Lorber’s UHD release. It has both a UHD HDR/Dolby Vision master from a 4k scan of the 35mm original camera negative and a blu ray HD master from a 4k scan of the 35mm original camera negative. Plus, there’s also a commentary on the film by the best person to record one, Paul Talbot, the author of Bronson’s Loose! You can get it from Kino Lorber.

New York City in 1974 must have felt like the end of the world. Based on the 1972 novel by Brian Garfield, Death Wish was the answer. In fact, in many theaters, the audience stood up and cheered as Paul Kersey got his bloody revenge for the crims visited upon him and his family.

The film we’re about to discuss went through many twists and turns as it made its way to the screen. Originally, it ended with the vigilante hero confronting the thugs who attacked his family and them killing him, police detective Ochoa discovering his weapon and deciding to follow in his footsteps. And get this — the first choice to play the lead was Jack Lemmon, with Henry Fonda as Ochoa and Sidney Lumet directing.

Finally, United Artists picked the gritty action veteran Michael Winner to direct. Several studios rejected the film due to its subject matter and the difficulty of casting the lead. Winner wanted Bronson, who he’d worked with in the past, but the actor’s agent hated the message of the film and Bronson felt that the book was about a weak man, someone he would not be playing on film.

Death Wish turned Bronson, who was 53 at the time of its release, into a major star known worldwide. It’s a movie made exactly for its time. Despite its lurid subject matter and dangerous acceptance of its hero’s actions, it’s still a great exploitation film that actually explores the why behind its hero’s actions instead of just setting him loose upon people.

Paul Kersey (Bronson) starts the movie in Hawaii with his wife Joanna. When they return home to the squalid streets of New York City, it’s only days before three thugs — including Jeff Goldblum! — invade their apartment, raping their daughter Carol and beating Joanna so badly that she dies.  Beyond Goldblum in this early role, keep an eye open for Christopher Guest and Olympia Dukakis as cops, as well as Sonia Manzano (Maria from Sesame Street, who was dating director Winner at the time and suggested that Herbie Hancock do the score) and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs (Freddie “Boom Boom” Washington from TV’s Welcome Back, Kotter) in supporting roles.

As he recovers from his wife’s death, Paul is mugged. He fights back and chases off his attacker and finds new strength from the battle. An architect by trade, Paul heads to Tucson where he helps Ames Jainchill with his residential development project. After work one night, he goes to a gun club with Ames, where we learn how good of a shot Paul is. Turns out he was a conscientious objector and combat medic who was taught marksmanship by his father, but promised his mother he’d never pick up another gun after his dad was killed in a hunting accident. On the way back home, Paul discovers that Ames has given him a gun as a gift.

Now back home, Paul learns from his son-in-law that his daughter is still catatonic and would be better off in a mental hospital. That night, when walking, Paul is mugged again but he has the gun with him. He fights back and kills the mugger, but even that action causes him to grow physically sick. But soon, he’s prowling the mean streets and looking for a fight.

Before long, NYPD detective Lt. Frank Ochoa (Vincent Gardenia) begins investigating the vigilante killings and quickly narrows down his suspect list to Paul. As the manhunt gets closer and closer, Paul finally is caught after passing out from blood loss after a shootout. Instead of arresting him, the NYPD wants the case quietly solved, so they send him off to Chicago. The minute he arrives, he helps a woman who was almost mugged and stares at the criminals with a smile, his fingers in the shape of a gun.

There’s a story which may be apocryphal, but when Michael Winner told Bronson what this film would be about — a man who goes out and shoots muggers — Bronson replied, “I’d like to do that.” Winner said, “The film?” And Bronson replied, “No. Shoot muggers.”

After viewing the film, author Brian Garfield hated how the film advocated vigilantism, so he wrote a sequel called Death Sentence that was made into a movie in 2007 starring Kevin Bacon. No word on whether or not he hated that movie too, as it only keeps a little of the book.

Compared to the heights of mayhem that this series will descend to, this is a retrained meditation of a man facing an increasingly violent world. Stay tuned. Paul Kersey is just getting started.

JEAN ROLLIN-UARY: The Demoniacs (1974)

There’s a gnag of wreckers who lure ships to the rocks on a foggy shore that destroys them, led by The Captain (John Rico), and including Le Bosco (Willy Braque), Paul (Paul Bisciglia) and Tina (Joëlle Coeur). The latest ship they’ve smashed has two survivors — played by Lieva Lone and Patricia Hermenier — who are dazed and damaged as they struggle down the beach and into the arms of the crew that’s already taken so much from them. They’re assaulted and left for dead as the pirates drink away their cares, but The Captain keeps seeing the girls, so they go back and trap them in a shhip and set it on fire.

Yet that’s still not enough to put them away. They run to some ruins where a clown (Mireille Dargent) takes them deeper into the grounds where a demon (Miletic Zivomir)  is imprisoned and if they allow him into their bodies, he will give them a limited time to have his power and gain the revenge they desire.

Jean Rollin is the only director who I could say was inspired by his childhood to make suce a strange and upsetting movie. Yes, it’s another return to the beach but there are no vampires, instead the ghostly hauntings of victims and the sheer insanity of Tina. Seriously, Coeur is an absolute force in this movie, as seductive as she is frightening, demanding more carnage and becoming sexually aroused by the death and horror that she helps create.

This is at once a film filled with sex and one desperate to destroy your desire. Rollin was challenged by how big this production was and yes, there are some pacing issues, but it’s another journey through bleak unending sadness on a beach and my feet are soaked and the sand is in every pore.

You can watch this on Kino Cult.