SON OF KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)

The final film in Godzilla’s showa era which lasted from 1952 to 1975 and is made up of fifteen movies. They include the original two films, the revival films that ends with Destroy All Monsters and is followed by the Champion series that starts with All Monsters Attack and ends with this film.

Obviously, this was the least successful of all the films.

Yukiko Takayama wrote this movie after winning Toho’s story contest for the next installment in the Godzilla series. Director Ishiro Honda spoke highly of her work, saying that having a “woman’s perspective was especially fresh.”

It’s also one of only two Japanese Godzilla films with nudity, as Katsura’s breasts are shown when she has an operation to have Mechagodzilla 2’s control device placed inside her body.

The alien Simeons are back and they have a mad scientist who has access to another kaiju, Titanosaurus. His role is to guard the remains of Mechagodzilla long enough for the aliens and their new colleague Dr. Shinzô Mafune to take control of it and destroy the planet.

There’s more spy action than I’d prefer in this movie, but Mechagodzilla looks absolutely awesome. Sadly, he’s so tied to Katsura that the only way she can stop it is to end her own life.

This came out in the U.S. using a Toho-made dub distributed by Bob Conn Enterprises under the title The Terror of Godzilla. Henry G. Saperstein, who kept the TV rights, sold it it to UHF stations as Terror of Mechagodzilla and added a ten-minute opening with stock footage from past films that explained Godzilla’s history.

Meanwhile, in Germany, this was called Konga, Godzilla, King Kong – Die Brut des Teufels (Konga, Godzilla, King Kong – The Brood of the Devil). They were referring to Mechagodzilla as Kong — not in the film itself but in the advertising — and Titanosaurus as Konga. This is the same country that continually tied Dracula into Godzilla movies.

In Italy. this was called Distruggete Kong! la Terra e in Pericolo (Destroy Kong! Earth is in Peril), Titanosaurus was renamed Kong. To further tempt lawsuits, the actual King Kong was is on the poster yet doesn’t appear in the movie. Well, I guess King Kong was in Italian theaters at the time.

This would be the last Godzilla movie until 1985 and the last time he would be seen as a hero until 2004’s Godzilla Final Wars. It would also be the last time that Ishirô Honda would direct a Godzilla movie.

SON OF KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Infra-Man (1975)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Probably one of the greatest movies ever made, we really should have had this as part of the first Kaiju Day. If you love Mystery Science Theater 3000, you can see the influence of this movie on Kinga’s henchmen. We originally ran this movie on April 22, 2019.

Inspired by the huge success of the Japanese superhero versus monster fare such as Ultraman and Kamen Rider in Hong Kong, the Shaw Brothers produced the first Chinese superhero in 1975, which they called Infra-Man. However, they pushed the envelope created by the Japanese even further, inventing a world where a school bus can crash, Hong Kong can be destroyed, an earthquake can happen and monsters appear all within the first minute of the film.

Let me see if I can summarize the blast of pure odd that I just watched at 5 AM: Princess Dragon Mom (known in the original version of this film as Demon Princess Elzebub) is a ten million-year-old mother of monsters who wants to destroy the Earth. She carries around a whip and has a dragon head on her hand, but can also turn into a monster herself. She also has an entire legion of beasts ready to do whatever she asks, like her assistant She-Demon (Witch-Eye in the original), who is an Asian girl with a hand that has an eyeball in the middle of it. Also: both of these ladies wear metallic bikinis with skulls all over them and have several costume changes. They also have an army of cannon fodder dressed in skeletal costumes, which was obviously the influence for the Skeleton Crew in the new episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

They’re battling with Science Headquarters, led by Professor Liu Ying-de. He’s used the BDX Project to transform Lei Ma (Danny Lee, The Killer) into the bionic kung-fu kicking motorcycle riding Infra-Man, who has whatever powers he needs for any situation. He’s also really good at getting tall and stepping on monsters until their green blood pours out. Bruce Lee tribute actor Bruce Le also appears as Lu Xiao-long, another member of the team.

You get all manner of monsters in this one — the Emperor of Doom, the Giant Beetle Monster, an Octopus Mutant, the Driller Beast, a Laser Horn Monster and the Iron Fist Robots. All of them are given to dramatic pronouncements, overacting and blowing up real good.

Believe it or not, Roger Ebert said, “When they stop making movies like Infra-Man, a little light will go out of the world.” Twenty-two years later, he went even further: “I find to my astonishment that I gave Infra-Man only two and a half stars when I reviewed it. That was 22 years ago, but a fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn’t think he’d remember. I’ll bet a month hasn’t gone by since that I haven’t thought of that film. So, in answer to those correspondents who ask if I have ever changed a rating on a movie: Yes, Infra-Man moves up to three stars.”

He’s right — this movie is completely unhinged, with dragon witch women who threaten to throw little girls down volcanos, blotting out the sun and rocket fists. They should have made five thousand sequels to this.

Switchblade Sisters (1975)

So easy to love. So hard to kill. Man, if there’s such a thing as a perfect movie, put Switchblade Sisters on the list.

Maggie (Joanna Nail, the mother of The Visitor!) has moved to a new high school run by the Silver Daggers and their women, the Dagger Debs. Maggie gets caught up in an arrest and when she’s in hail, she attacks a lesbian warden (Kate Murtagh, The Car) and gets the Dagger Debs on her side.

While Lace, (Robbie Lee, who went on to do voices on cartoons like Rainbow Brite and The Smurfs) the leader of the gang, is in juvenile hall, Maggie runs errands for her. One of them, delivering a love note to Lace’s boyfriend Dominic, leads to that boy assaulting Maggie. And the second-in-command of the gang, Patch (Monica Gayle, the star of Nashville Girl!) already doesn’t trust her. After all, Patch gave her eye to be a Dagger Deb.

Once Lace gets out, she gets back with Dominic. She’s thrilled to tell him that she’s pregnant and he all but drives her to get an abortion. Her payback comes in selling him out to the new gang in town, one run by Crabs. She wants them to hurt Dominic and kill Maggie, but one of the girls gets assaulted and Lace herself gets attacked and loses the baby. Only Patch knows the secret that the gang’s leader went against the gang.

Maggie kicks the boys out, adds in black girls* that she grew up with and deals with Maggie in the only way possible: she stabs her in the throat. The new gang, the Jezebels, are soon arrested by the police, including a maniacal Maggie, face covered in blood and screaming at the cops. It’s an amazing visual and even more striking when every girl yells that they are a Jezebel and that Patch doesn’t belong.

Our heroine screams that the Jezebels will be back, but sadly, there was never a sequel. That’s a shame because I could ten more of these films.

I love every movie that Jack Hill has ever made. From his work with Boris Karloff (House of Evil, Fear ChamberThe Snake PeopleAlien Invasion) to Spider BabyThe Big Doll HouseThe Big Bird CageCoffyFoxy Brown and Sorcess, he’s always someone who can reliably make something entertaining.

The girls in this feel real, even if they have names like Donut (that’s Lenny Bruce’s daughter) and go to school to basically have a place to beat up men. My favorite scene in the movie is when they roundly thrash a guy just so that the teacher can finish teaching a lesson on the meaning of laissez-faire.

This is a movie that has its roots in the teenage girl gang 50’s, but it’s brain and heart in the end of the world 70’s, as these girls have nothing and everything to live for all at the same time. It’s pretty obvious why Quentin Tarantino would choose to champion this movie.

“You can beat us, chain us, lock us up, But we’re gonna be back, understand? And when we do, cop, you better keep your ass off our turf or we’ll blow it off! You dig? We’re Jezebels, cop. Remember that name. We’ll be back.” – Maggie

*Marlene Clark from Ganja & Hess!

Gorehouse Greats: Trip with the Teacher (1975)

“That right! You’re just a horny, little bitch!”
— Let the desert hair-pullin’ chick fight games begin

Now, unlike The Young Graduates, which is included on Mill Creek’s B-Movie Blast 50-Film Pack (which we also unpacked this month), this entry on their Gorehouse Greats 12-Film Pack may sound like a softcore T&A romp, but it really is a sexploitation frolic (that’s also out in the wilds of the public domain as Deadly Field Trip). And if that title doesn’t clue you in: this is more horror than sexploitation (thus the reason for it being packed under a “Gorehouse” moniker by Mill Creek). But, knowing Mill Creek, this will eventually pop up on a “Biker Flick” set, as we have psycho bikers in our midst. And truth be told: there’s more bikers than blood here, more hippie than horror.

Your caveat has been served.

In the end, this is just another sleazy, ’70s drive-in take-a-shower-after flick (that reminds of 1973’s The Candy Snatchers, less that film’s ultra-violence) with more slobbering idiots livin’ it up by kidnapping, raping, and terrorizing (four) teenage girls. (One of the bad-girl students — in yummy, yellow shorty-shorts and matching halter top, natch — is Dina Ousley, later of the mainstream sex romp Shampoo with Warren Beatty and American Hot Wax; you’ve seen her spray-painted go-go girls make-up work in the Austin Powers movies.)

As usual, the girl’s bus driven by their teacher, Miss Tenny (Brenda Fogarty), breaks down in the desert on their way to Los Angeles; a trio of bikers (lead by B-Movie stalwart Zalman King of Galaxy of Terror fame) decides to harass them. Of course, these bikers are like the hear-see-speak-no-evil monkeys: one good, one bad, and one that is a confused mess of good and bad, because of his bad, bullying brother (King).

There’s a reason why this sleaze bag of a Russ Meyer-wannabe celluloid programmer was choreographer Earl Barton’s only directing effort — and ended up in public domain. Barton also acted in the requisite, ’50s rock ‘n’ roll flick, Rock Around the Clock, with Bill Haley and the Comets, a film which he also choreographed. Star Fogarty’s biggest claim to fame was starring in the sex comedy Chesty Anderson: U.S. Navy — and that’s a movie that must be seen to be believed.

Again, you can watch this as part of Mill Creek’s Gorehouse Greats Collection 12-Pack. But, if you’re a connoisseur of all things T&A Drive-In ’70s, Vinegar Syndrome offers a restored DVD-Blu combo.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

B-Movie Blast: The Specialist (1975)

Oh, you better watch out
With Mill Creek sets
And those fan-lists

Of said Mill Creek sets
Because those multiple film titles

And plurals
Are coming to town

Yeah, when you’re making a Mill Creek list, you’ve always got to check those lists twice to find out which film is the naughty B-Movie or the nice A-List movie.

Mill Creek fans have listed Sly Stallone’s The Specialist from 1994 directed by Luis Llosa (of Crime Zone and Anaconda fame) on their lists for Mill Creek’s B-Movie Blast 50-Film pack. Others noted on their lists — uh, oh, there’s that friggin’ plural “S” again, the same “S” that bit me in the arse during out big, British-produced Satan’s Slave (1976) vs. the Indonesian-produced Satan’s Slaves (1982) snafu with our Mill Creek Pure Terror Month review back in November 2019 — that the film included on the B-Movie Blast set is Sergio Corbucci’s The Specialists (1969; starring French rock singer Johnny Hallyday (French rock singer; later of 1987s Terminus) — a film that we didn’t get around to during our “Spaghetti Western Week”* of reviews.

So, plural “S,” damn you, for ye almost deprived us of an Adam West . . . yes, THE ADAM WEST . . . spy thriller directed by Howard Avedis, he who gave us the epics of Connie Stevens as a rogue cop in Scorchy and ex-Waltons frolicking through the supernatural in Mortuary. Yeah, you know us all too well: we feel a “Howard Avedis Week” coming on, too. I mean, with film titles like The Stepmother and The Teacher (sexploitation time!!!!), and movies starring the B-Movie elite of Sybil Danning, Karen Black, Bo Hopkins, Patrick Wayne, Edy Williams (Dr. Minx!!!), and Angel Hopkins (!) with Jay “Dennis the Menace” North — how can we NOT have a “Howard Avedis Week” of reviews?

But. let’s get back to Adam’s West’s B-Movie milieu (Omega Cop, One Dark Night) in the Avedis schlock oeuvre.

As you can see from the theatrical one-sheet, this is all about Budapest, Hungary-imported bombshell Ahna Carpi, who blazed through 70-plus U.S. TV credits (The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is my fondest Carpi-ory) before retiring from the business. But you know her film work in . . . YES . . The Brotherhood of Satan and Piranha (oops, the 1972 one that Joe Dante didn’t direct — damn you, multiple titles) and . . . YES . . . as Tania in Enter the Dragon. And, would you believe she was a child actor in two episodes of the now Antenna oft-run ’60s series Leave It to Beaver (I just got done watching “Beaver’s Sweater” a few days ago!), but, back then, she was “Anna Capri” and not the more porny-reading Ahna, which is the proper, Euro-ethnic spelling of her first name. Oh, and to continue that Brotherhood of Satan degree of separation: Alvy “Hank Kimbel” Moore is in The Specialist (as blackmailing court bailiff) as well, and Avedis’s Mortuary (and a few others) . . . and Cotton Candy (but no Avedis or Capri on that one).

So, there’s your movie trivia for today: What two movies starred a Hungarian child actor and a Green Acres cast member?

See? Reposting that old Sly Stallone review, in error, would have robbed us of all this fun! But, alas . . . I know, I know . . . get to the friggin’ movie, already, R.D. Hey, I’ve haven’t seen this one either, so, let’s go, Adam West fans! Hit the play button!

Now, based on this still from the film (or promo pack from the film) posted by the Digital Content Management Team at the IMDb, you’d think you’re getting a spy thriller with Adam West as a B-Movie James Bond or as an ex-war vet now a kick ass private eye. Oh, ye Mill Creek grazer of the digital divide, how wrong are ye. For this is a Crown International Pictures — serious — court room drama. I know. I never thought I’d type that sentence in a review either. This from a studio that gives us a steady stream of boobs, vans, cheerleaders, female basketball coaches who have sex with male students, and any -sploitation variant you can imagine.

But this ain’t your granddad’s or great grandad’s Perry Mason, Owen Marshall: Attorney at Law, or Matlock (especially not with Nancy Stafford in the cast). This court room caper, again, looking at the rendering of Ahna in that dress, is an R-rated potboiler. But a Joe Eszterhas Jagged Edge neo-noir legal thriller this is not, Motion Picture Association Ratings to protect us youngins, be damned.

West is “The Specialist,” aka defense attorney Jerry Bounds, who’s in a court battle against fellow attorney Pike Smith (western actor John Anderson), an attorney who wants his job back on the board of a (corrupt) water company. So, to assure he wins the case, Pike recruits a sleazy P.I. (is there any other kind), Alec Sharkey (aka Howard Avedis aka’in as actor Russell Schmidt), who, in turn, recruits Londa Weyth (Ahna Carpi), his blonde-n’-hot operative serving as a juror-ringer on the trial, to seduce Bounds and get a mistrial declared.

So, in case you haven’t figure it out: The “Specialist” isn’t West as a cool-as-steel spy or ex-Special Forces-now-an-Attorney (or P.I.) bad-ass; the well-endowed Londa is the special forces sex kitten in these proceedings. Another sultry kitten in our midst is Playboy and Max Factor model Christiane Schmidtmer, you remember her as the hot stewardess from Boeing Boeing (1965) that got Jerry Lewis and Tony Curtis all hot-n-bothered.

I am sure West, looking to be taken seriously as an actor (and deserved to me), was hoping this adaptation of the best-selling novel Come Now the Lawyers, would become a box office hit and thrust him into a legit theatrical career with the bigger studios. As did author Ralph Bushnell Potts, himself a Seattle-based Attorney-at-Law (learn more about Potts’s interesting life with his 1991 obituary in the Seattle Times). But, alas . . . Potts serious book about Washington State’s early courts system was turned into a Crown International exploitation fest that is not the least bit titillating and fails on the salacious scale that Crown in known for via these Mill Creek box sets. In the annals of Crown International public domaindom, The Specialist is a truly odd duck in the Crown celluloid pond.

There’s no freebie rips online to share, but you can check out the trailer and a scene clip on You Tube. Of course, you can enjoy The Specialist as part of Mill Creek’s B-Movie Blast 50-Film Pack.

* You can visit with our “Drive-In Friday: Klaus Kinski Spagetti Western Nite” to get started on your Italian Western travels, pardner.

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.

B-MOVIE BLAST: Las Vegas Lady (1975)

Crown International Pictures serving up that sweet, sweet movie sugar that I love so much, with Stella Stevens (The Silencers) and Stuart Whitman (Demonoid) as a Vegas couple looking to get out by pulling a scam.

Stevens is Lucky, who is being ordered by a man in the shadows to use two of her friends, Carol (Lynne Moody, Nightmare in Badham County), who is in debt, and Lisa (Linda Scruggs), a trapeze artist with vertigo, to rob Circus Circus of $500,000.

Frank Bonner (Herb Tarlek!) is in this, as is George DiCenzo, who was the voice of Hordak.

You know who else got a role? Stella’s son* Andrew, who may have failed to win the role of Luke Skywalker, but got to simulate arrdvarking Shannon Tweed in four movies. Of course, those would be the seminal Night Eyes II, Night Eyes Three, Scorned and Illicit Dreams.

This was directed by Noel Nosseck and is not the first movie I’ve watched from him. Yes, he also directed Best Friends and No One Would Tell — where Candance Cameron is trying to love a steroid addicted Fred Savage! — amongst many more efforts.

My favorite part of this movie is when Stella’s character sings “Happy Birthday” — did they pay for the rights? — to Whitman’s and he answers, “Is it February 1st?” That’s his real birthday. Obviously — as you can tell by reading the above deep dive into all things Las Vegas Lady — I know way too much about these movies.

*Stella and Andrew also appeared together in Down the DrainThe Terror Within II and Illicit Dreams.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Black Moon (1975)

Louis Malle’s Black Moon is one of those movies that I’ll be watching and Becca comes in and gets mad about.

“What the hell is that unicorn in this movie for?” she asked.

“It’s art” is always my answer. She doesn’t care that Malle made stuff like Pretty Baby, Atlantic City and My Dinner with André. No, she just sees someone breast feeding a goat.

Lily (Cathryn Harrison, ImagesEat the Rich) escapes a gender on gender civil war*, barely avoiding getting murdered by a firing squad, as well as encountering a flock of sheep standing around their lynched shepherd, militarized women torturing a boy and falling asleep on flowers that scream out in pain.

She then finds a château that is filled with animals and a strange woman who lies in bed, yelling at her pet rat Humphrey. She then begins making fun of Lily to someone on the other side of the shortwave radio before trying to strangle our heroine, who promptly slaps her so hard that she dies.

Then, she meets Lily (Warhol superstar Joe Dallesandro) and Lily (Alexandra Stewart, The Uncanny), who breast feeds the old woman back to life. For some reason, they all share names and communicate telepathically. Then, a bunch of nude children run into the house and the unicorn tells her that the old woman is not real.

This is also a movie that goes on to feature male Lily beheading a hawk, a chorus of naked kids singing Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde and a woman attempting to give a unicorn her mother’s milk.

Black Moon was shot in Malle’s own 200-year-old manor house and considered it a sexual awakening inspired by Alice In Wonderland. He called it his “mythological fairy tale taking place in the near future.” It failed at the box office and went unseen for many years.

*Malle referred to this battle as “the ultimate civil war…the war between men and women…the climax and great moment of women’s liberation.”

You can get this as part of the Criterion Collection.

La Polizia Brancola Nel Buio (1975)

A young nude-model is stabbed to death with a pair of scissors, the third in a series of victims who had all had their photos taken by Parisi, a potentially mentally unhinged individual who claims that his camera can photograph people’s thoughts.

Director and writer Helia Colombo made one giallo and here it is, rarely seen outside of Italy until today. It really has the best title — The Police Are Blundering In the Dark — because if you think about it, the police never do a great job in these films.

Now, reporter Giorgio D’Amato meets his friend Enrichetta at the photographer’s villa, but when he arrives, he learns that she’s the model we watched die at the beginning of the movie.

She’d been begged by Parisi — who is in a wheelchair and looks quite frail — to come to speak to him about his magical camera. And just like Clue — you know, but with plenty of graphic murder and no short supply of nudity — we meet the suspects, ranging from Alberto the butler to the photographer’s lesbian wife Eleonora, his niece Sara and the sexed-up maid Lucia, who is the next to be killed.

I have no idea why that camera figures in, but maybe the filmmakers thought that Four Flies On Grey Velvet was going to force everyone to have science fiction photography as part of their plot, so they ripped it off. There’s also little police involvement, but it’s not like there’s an actual rule that giallo titles have to make sense. I prefer when they don’t.

You can get this as part of the Vinegar Syndrome Forgotten Gialli Volume 1 set.

La Pelle Sotto Gli Artigli (1975)

A series of murders are happening — it’s a giallo, so go figure, right? — but in each case, there is decomposed flesh under the victims. There’s also a genius named Professor Helmut (Gordon Mitchell!) who is doing brain transplants from human to baboon and he thinks that could be the secret to cheating death.

That’s why this movie is really known as The Skin Under the Claws, but it’s more romantic comedy with a giallo just begging to break though. Helmut dies early on and his organs disappear and the cops think the killer is a walking corpse, so there’s at least some horror in this one, but it takes forever to get there, what with Dr. Silivia and Dr. Gianni going to dinner, out sightseeing and anything and everything but solving the crimes that we came here for.

Alessandro Santini only directed three other movies — Beyond the Frontiers of HateUna Forca per 3 Vigliacchi (A Gallow for 3 Cowards) and Questa Libertà di Avere… le Ali Bagnate (The Freedom of Having…Wet Wings). He’s not shy with the nudity or the blood. And at least the ending is somewhat original and unexpected. Otherwise, as they say, for giallo lovers only.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Last Stop on the Night Train (1975)

As of December 20, 2020, if you can believe it, I’ve never seen Last House on the Left. But I have seen nearly every ripoff of it and movie that stole its ad campaign or title. I have no idea why. It just worked out that way.

This Aldo Lado-directed piece of Italian grime also went by the names Night Train Murders, The New House on The Left, Second House on The Left, Don’t Ride on Late Night Trains, Late Night Trains, Last House Part II and Xmas Massacre, depending on the whims of fate (and Hallmark Releasing).

Margaret (Irene Miracle, who was also in Midnight ExpressInferno and Puppet Master) and Lisa are set to taking the night train from Germany to Italy, but the train is full and they have to sit in a long corridor. They help Blackie (Flavio Bucci, Suspiria) and Curly (Gianfranco De Grassi, The Church) hide from the ticket taker as they board the train and hide from the cops. Of course, instead of saying thanks, they end up decimating the two girls, along with the help of an upper class blonde (Macha Méril, Deep Red) who has already turned the tables on Blackie’s attempts at assaulting her by seducing him. The two thugs really have no idea what they’re in for, because this mysterious blonde is more dangerous than both of them put together.

The whole time the girls are being victimized, murdered and forced into suicide, Lisa’s parents are hosting a Christmas dinner party where her doctor father speaks on the ills of a more violent society.

Later, when they arrive at the station to get the girls, they are worried when they don’t arrive. If you wonder, “Will they end up taking the people that killed them home?” then yes, you have seen your share of revenge movies. The most shocking thing is that the blonde may be the only survivor of the evil trio, as her fate is left open.

This video nasty is the kind of movie that I don’t put on when people come to visit.

While some decry the bumbling cop comedy in Craven’s film, this one jettisons any attempt at levity, adds some 1975 Italian style, gets a soundtrack from Morricone and gets way, way dark.

Lado also made Short Night of Glass Dolls and Who Saw Her Die?, two of the more original and downbeat giallo to follow in the wake of Argento. Even when he’s ripping someone off — not that Craven didn’t also rip off The Virgin Spring, so there are no innocents here — he can’t help outdoing his competition.