Master of the Flying Guillotine (1976)

You may wonder why this movie is also called One-Armed Boxer 2 and The One Armed Boxer vs. the Flying Guillotine. That’s because it’s pretty much a sequel to One-Armed Boxer, but man, the name Master of the Flying Guillotine was just too awesome not to use.

It’s also one of the few martial arts movies that for some reason has a nearly all Krautrock soundtrack, with “Super” and “Super 16” from Neu!’s second studio album, Neu! 2 played as the opening theme and Master Fung’s theme; “Rubycon, Part One” from Tangerine Dream’s sixth studio album Rubycon used as The One-Armed Boxer’s theme; and three songs from Kraftwerk’s fourth album Autobahn — “Mitternacht,” “Morgenspaziergang” and “Kometenmelodie 2” — appearing.

If you can’t guess already, this movie is straight-out incredible.

Yu Tien Lung, the One-Armed Boxer, is stalked by the blind Fung Sheng Wu Chui who was the master of the two Tibetan lama he killed in the first movie. Unlike those men, this villain has the flying guillotine, a bladed hat on a chain that can take its victim’s head completely off their body.

Before the battle you’ve been waiting for, our protagonist must battle a Thai boxer, a yoga master and a kobojutsu — the martial arts of Okinawa — master. And yes, you get a satisfying battle between the enemies by the end.

With a tagline that claimed, “It’s A Mean Machine – Cuts Your Head Off Clean!” this film lives up to everything you dreamed that it would be. Jimmy Wang Wu wrote, directed and stars in this. He made The Chinese Boxer, a movie that moved martial arts away from weapons and into the bare-handed combat that Bruce Lee and so many others would make into a worldwide phenomenon.

Obviously, so much of Kill Bill — and even the video game Street Fighter — owe a debt to this movie. You should check it out.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Heartworn Highways (1976)

Screenwriter, cinematographer, producer, and director James Szalapski may be best known for the Alien teaser trailer, but this nearly lost country music documentary should be what people remember him for.

Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, David Allan Coe, Rodney Crowell, Gamble Rogers, Steve Young and The Charlie Daniels Band are the subjects of this piece, young men who looked to the past of country rather than what was popular at the time.

This film takes a sprawling narrative flow, basically following them as they record, drink, play shows and party some more. There are tons of astounding performances, but perhaps none better than Van Zandt singing “Waitin’ Around to Die” in his kitchen.

Kino Lorber has been releasing so many blu rays this year that are must owns. Consider this one of them. You can get it directly from them.

Time Travelers (1976)

Time Travelers was scripted by Jackson Gillis (whose career stretched back to radio) from a story by Rod Serling (which led to a lawsuit, as Charles Willard Byrd claimed that this movie was taken from an unpublished 1959 book A Time To Live. Byrd and the producers reached a monetary settlement that allowed Byrd to claim the original story as his work). It was developed by Irwin Allen in the hopes that he could relaunch his series The Time Tunnel, but the litigation kept the show from being bought and it ended up running as an ABC Movie of the Week on March 19, 1976.

Dr. Clint Earnshaw (Sam Groom, Deadly Eyes) and Jeff Adams are trying to cure the XD virus that has been slowly wiping out humanity. When they discover that a similar disease had been seemingly cured around the time of the Chicago fire, they head back in time to see if they can learn anything from Dr. Joshua Henderson (Richard Basehart!) Jeff ends up falling for Henderson’s niece Jane (Trish Stewart, who played Basehart’s daughter in Mansion of the Doomed) and nearly stays behind. However, the timeline must be protected and our heroes end up saving the day, if not every person.

Director Alex Singer went to the Bronx’s William Howard Taft High School with Stanley Kubrick and one of his first jobs was as the cinematographer on Kubrick’s short Day of the Fight. He also made the films A Cold Wind in AugustGlass Houses and Captain Apache*, but the majority of his credits were in television.

*Written by Night Train to Terror impressario Philip Yordan!

You can watch this on YouTube.

Nightmare in Badham County (1976)

This was a made-for-TV movie but was released in theaters internationally with extended footage and nudity. It was so popular in China that actress Deborah Raffin became the first Western actress to make a promotional tour of the country and became an unofficial ambassador helping China make deals with Hollywood.

Raffin plays Cathy Phillips, who is driving across the country with her friend Diane Emery (Lynne Moody), ends up on the wrong end of the law after turning down the intentions of Sheriff Slim Danen (Chuck Connors), who puts them in jail and assaults Diane. This being a small Southern town, our heroines get sent to a work camp run by Superintendant Dancer (Robert Reed) and his guards, Dulcie, Smitty (Lana Wood) and Greer (Tina Louise).

Not everyone is going to make it out alive in this John Llewellyn Moxey — the man who made just about every great TV movie — film. Its writer, Jo Helms, also wrote the scripts for Play Misty for Me and The Girl in Lovers Lane.

This is another movie that reminds me I don’t go on vacation and talk to police officers too long. The saddest thing about this movie is that for all the attention it paid to having the women be in segregated jails, the actors all had to stay in segregated hotels while making this movie.

Riding With Death (1976)

My record collection as a kid was made up of stuff found in the cut-out bin. Albums were expensive and my family didn’t have much money, so much of what we got was stuff that no one else ever wanted, kind of like the Power! Records album for Gemini Man.

Yeah, I was kind of obsessed with that Neal Adams — well, his Continuity Studios at the very least — cover art. The Gemini Man TV show only played from May to October of 1976, with only the pilot and five episodes airing. It was made to be a cheaper version of David McCallum-starring The Invisible Man series, but with Canadian tuxedo-wearing, motorcycle-riding secret agent Sam Casey (Ben Murphy, Alias Smith and Jones) working for a government agency called Intersect (International Security Techniques), using the powers of radioactivity-given invisibility for fifteen minutes a day. Why fifteen minutes? Well, if he uses his powers any longer, he dies.

While the show died a quiet death over here in the colonies, the UK loved it, hence the album that I received — for some reason, discount chains in Western Pennsylvania got weird stuff from England, which would explain all the Letraset transfer sets I had as a nine-year-old — and a hardcover annual comic book.

Power! probably got the rights to this because it was made by Harve Bennett and they thought it would be the next Six Million Dollar Man (and hey, we just did an entire week of Lee Majors movies).

This film was assembled from two episodes — “Smithereens” and “Buffalo Bill Rides Again” — and sold to overseas markets, which was common practice with TV movies and even episodic TV in the 70s. They also took some footage from the pilot to explain our hero’s powers as well as footage and sound effects from Colossus: The Forbin Project. Oh yeah! Andrew Prine and Richard Dysart are in this!

This film has two fathers. No, not Greg Evigan and Paul Reiser, but two directors. They would be Alan J. Levi (who made The Return of Sam McCloudKnight Rider 2000The Stepford Children and the insane Blood Song) and Don McDougall (speaking of movies made from TV shows, he directed Farewell to the Planet of the Apes and Forgotten City of the Planet of the Apes, as well as Spider-Man: The Dragon’s Challenge, which was “The Chinese Web” episodes of that series). It was written by Leslie Stevens, who directed Incubus, a movie that finds William Shatner speaking in the universal Esperanto language. He also directed the aforementioned The Invisible Man series, as well as creating The Outer Limits, developing the 70s Buck Rogers revival and writing the TV movie Probe. Oh man, he was also behind the Sheena movie and Return to the Blue Lagoon. What a career!

You can watch the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version on YouTube.

 

Lee Majors Week: The True Story of the U-2 Spy Incident (1976)

Many tried to bring this tale of American Airforce pilot and CIA operative Francis Gary Powers to the big screen — an incident that occurred on May 1, 1960. The single-jet engine plane of the title, the U-2, was nicknamed “Dragon Lady” by its maker, Lockheed Aircraft, to work as a high-altitude reconnaissance craft for all-weather intelligence gathering. Flown successfully throughout the late ’50s over China, Cuba, the Soviet Union, and Vietnam, the plane was actually shot down twice: the second time, which resulted in the dealt of pilot Major Rudolf Anderson, Jr., was during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

Image of ’80s home video VHS repack courtesy of Paul Zamarelli/VHS Collector.com.

In fact, back in 1962, Roger Corman hired Robert Towne (later of Chinatown fame) to whip up a script, I Flew a Spy Plane Over Russia that, thankfully, was never filmed. It took prolific TV producer Charles Fries — who not only brought us the first live-action adaptation of Spiderman (the recut TV pilot became an overseas theatrical hit, reaching #1 in Japan) but also gave us the Star Wars-infused The Martian Chronicles and the witch romp The Initiation of Sarah — to get it on the air on September 29, 1976, for NBC-TV. Fries’s other films? Well, there Cocaine: One Man’s Seduction, Are You In the House Alone?, and Secret Night Caller, just to name a few. He even went theatrical with Amicus’ Tales from the Crypt. Just look at that IMDb page! We could do a month-long tribute on his films alone. And while we haven’t delved deeply into the resume of his Academy Award-winning director (1955’s Marty), Delbert Mann, Mann’s extensive TV resume includes one of the movies we really love around here, the early ’70s possession flick, She Waits.

Lee Majors — Powers’s preferred choice was Martin Sheen! (and Powers had some pull, since this was based on his best-selling paperback, but he lost out to the network) — shot this, his seventh TV movie (including his three, pre-series Steve Austin movies), while working on The Six Million Dollar Man. And while Sheen would be have been wonderful, Lee shines in his role as Powers. Keen eyes of all things ’70s and ’80s TV will notice Noah Berry, Jr. (from TV’s The Rockford Files) as his dad, along with a cast rounded out by Lew Ayers, William Daniels, Nehemiah Persoff, and James Gregory (who worked with Lee on The Big Valley and came to be know for his work on TV’s Barney Miller, but we love him around here for his work as Ursus in Beneath the Planet of the Apes).

You can watch a truncated, 45-minute clip on You Tube.

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

Microworld (1976)

Mircoworld is the perfect film to wrap up our “Ancient Future Week” that you’ve enjoyed from April 11 to April 17.

Do you want to know how microprocessors were developed? Do you want to know why those curious # and * buttons were designed for the telephone? Courtesy of this AT&T short film production — and a little narration from Captain Kirk — we learned about our now “Ancient Future” during our middle and high school science classes about the computers that came to amaze us in the ’80s and steal our quarters, then wholly encompass our lives in the ’90s . . . and turned us into social media morons in the 21st century.

Thank you, microprocessor, for ye unleashed the Kardashians and their ilk upon the world and allowed for the coordination of destructive social protests raging across the U.S. in 2020 and 2021.

And it all began 1904, when British engineer John Ambrose Fleming invented the thermionic valve, the first vacuum tube, which made wireless radio technology a reality. Then, in 1971 — a mere 67 years later — Busicom logic architects and silicon engineers Federico Faggin, Ted Hoff, Stanley Mazor, and Masatoshi Shima developed a 4-bit micro-programmable CPU. By 1976, microprocessors developed by Bell Laboratories expanded to a maximum of 8.5K transistors and 64-bits of memory. The Tandy Corporation sold the TRS-80 Model 1 through Radio Shack in 1977. The first emails were sent. Steve Wozniak designed the Apple I. Bill Gates’s Microsoft Corporation introduced an MS-DOS GUI personal computer to the mass market (pirated from Xerox, but that’s another story).

And our lives would never be the same, again.

You can watch this educational short in its entirety on You Tube.

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

Death Has Blue Eyes (1976)

Nico Mastorakis may have released Island of Death first, but he made this before that film.

So first off, wow. This movie that defies categorization. Is it a giallo? A science fiction movie? A sleazy caper about two guys who really should just have sex with one another and instead have threeways because they’re all weird about coming out to one another? Who can say?

This just came out from Arrow, presented for the very first time in a new HD master in both widescreen and full-frame versions, and I have to say, “Where has this movie been all my life?” I say this and by all my life, I mean after puberty, because wow. This film is not shy at all about its love scenes.

Ches (Chris Nomikos, The Ceremony) is a hustling gigolo who picks up Bob Kovalski (Peter Winter) at the Athens airport, immediately hooks him up with a girl he’s sleeping with and then they all get kicked out of a place that doesn’t belong to him.

After some hijinks — which lead into the story instead of the story being the reason for said hijinks, an inversion of my typical explanation of “This happens and hijinks ensure” — the two meet the wealthy Geraldine Steinwetz (Jessica Dublin, who was in everything from The Toxic Avenger movies to Trinity Is Still My NameSex of the Witch and Troma’s War) and her psychic daughter Christine (Maria Aliferi).

The whole thing is yet another scam, but this time on the two leads, and numerous people want Christine dead and our heroes go from guys out to get laid — probably by one another — to being caught in the middle of an international incident. That’s because Geraldine is really a medium herself as well as an East-German agent who is using the young girl to try to kill a Russian leader.

Also known as The Para Psychics, this is without a doubt the only movie I’ve ever seen where psychic abilities are used to stop an erection.

This movie is really unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, a mix of Confessions of a Window Cleaner with early 70’s dark conspiracy thriller and a little bit of occult/psychic action to spice things up. It’s a cocktail that should not by any rights taste as good as it does, but it’s refreshingly delectable.

The Arrow release also has exclusive new interviews with Mastorakis and Aliferi. You can get this from MVD, who were kind enough to send us a review copy.

KAIJU DAY MARATHON: King Kong (1976)

Movies get hyped today, but no movie in my experience has ever been hyped like King Kong. I was four years when it came out, a total monster kid, and it arrived at the most perfect time ever in my life, a time when I had no school, no work and only limitless time to obsess over the modern version of King Kong climbing the World Trade Center towers instead of the Empire State Building.

Produced by Dino De Laurentiis and directed by John Guillermin (The Towering InfernoKing Kong Lives) with effects by Carlo Rambaldi (E.T.A Lizard in a Woman’s SkinPlanet of the VampiresA Bay of Blood and many more), this movie was on everything — glasses from Burger Chef, clothing, even a Jim Beam cocktail!

Written by Lorenzo Semple, Jr., the man whose words brought Batman to the small screen and Flash Gordon to the big one, this movie was born in controversy.

That’s because the idea to remake King Kong — not the biggest idea in the world, it was the original blockbuster — was ABC executive Michael Eisner, who pitched the idea to Universal Pictures CEO Sidney Sheinberg and Paramount Pictures CEO Barry Diller.

Dino De Laurentiis heard this, got the rights from RKO — to be fair, parts of the story were public domain — and hired Semple and Guillermin* to get the movie done fast.

Before the movie was released, Universal sued De Laurentiis and RKO for breach of contract and started making their own remake that they were calling The Legend of King Kong, which would have been directed by Joseph Sargent (Jaws: The Revenge). More lawsuits flew and everything was settled by January of 1976 so that the movie could finally be released.

To take Dino’s side, he always claimed that he always wanted to make Kong because his daughter had a poster up in her room that he saw every morning. When Diller asked him to make a monster movie, he went right to remaking the 1933 classic.

With a cast that included Jeff Bridges as hero Jack Prescott, Jessica Lange as the heroine Dwan and Charles Grodin as Petrox Oil Company executive Fred Wilson, this was a movie inside the 70’s and the worries of the fuel crisis.

Seeing it as a kid, I realized the first time that I’d been overwhelmed by hype that could never be lived up to. That said, subsequent rewatches have been more enjoyable.

I kind of wish Hammer had made their version. Some of the footage shows up in a Volkswagen** commercial with animation by Ray Harryhausen (O’Brien’s assistant)  Jim Danforth and David Allen (the men who made Equinox!). It also features Fay Wray’s daughter as Anne Darrow! Supposedly, RKO never wanted to remake King Kong when Hammer approached them.

Yet as I get older, I have to shout “Che palle!” to Dino, who told Time, “No one cried when Jaws died, but when the monkey dies, people are gonna cry. Intellectuals are gonna love Kong. Even film buffs who love the first Kong are gonna love ours. Why? Because, I don’t give a crap.”

*He originally wanted Roman Polanski. Michael Winner and Sam Peckinpah were also asked and man, I want to see the King Kong they would have made.

KAIJU DAY MARATHON: A*P*E* (1976)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This King Kong ripoff originally was on our site on June 29, 2017. It was originally made in 3D, which probably makes it a better movie. So would a lot of whiskey.

I’ve always seen the 1976 Dino De Laurentiis produced King Kong as a big budget rip-off of the original instead of a remake. Therefore, that makes South Korea’s The Great Counterattack of King Kong an inferior copy of a poor copy. Released in the United States as A*P*E*Attack of the Giant Horny Gorilla and Hideous Mutant, this is one schlocky piece of business.

An American/South Korean co-production, this film was intended for a 3D release, as is quite evident when you see the flaming arrows shot at the camera that the big ape cannily dodges against a blue screen. It was released just before the much buzzed about and aforementioned Kong, complete with a poster that trumpeted that this Kong would fight a great white shark, going blockbuster to blockbuster against Jaws. This battle would be foreshadowed (and was probably ripped off from) a 1976 Famous Monsters of Filmland cover.

Honestly, what does Christopher Lee have to say about Star Wars? That seems pretty interesting.

They even teased this movie as being called The New King Kong, which is — to be incredibly colloquial — a true balls move. It’s also legally inadvisable, as RKO sued them into the ground, forcing a name change to Super Ape and finally A*P*E* Attacking Primate MonstEr. Why the acronym? As they were shooting in Korea and M*A*S*H* took place there (and was such a big deal at the time), it just seemed like a funny pun. Yes, a funny pun whose punchline is lost in the mist of time, but a pun nonetheless.

In fact, the lawsuit also forced the producers of this film to state that this movie “was not to be confused with King Kong.” That’s right, please don’t confuse this movie about a giant monkey kidnapping an actress and fighting planes with any other film.

Starring Joanna Kerns, who you may know as Maggie Seaver — mom to the Growing Pains TV family — as Marilyn Baker, A*P*E* wastes no time getting started. An overdubbed ship crew discusses Kong’s attack in Harlem, making it seem that this film is a sequel to either the original or the upcoming remake (legally we must inform you again that this film is not to be confused with King Kong), which makes sense in the former and none at all in the latter. But what do you expect for a film that took two weeks to shoot and had a budget of $23,000?

Here are ten facts that — when essayed in full — point to the ineptitude of this production:

1.Kong changes size and shape throughout the film and never break the illusion that he is but a man in a suit. Where in a great kaiju film you can get past the rubber suit effect, here, they nearly push it into your face like a James Cagney held Public Enemy grapefruit. And seeing as how only $1,200 of the budget was used on the miniature sets, you’ve seen more realistic cityscapes in your average child’s toy room.

2. Kong — almost exclusively — appears in front of a blue screen, often gesturing wildly to the camera. Any time this happened, I would start to yell, “GO GO GO GO GO” like some mid 1980s KLF loving dance troupe. This pro tip — along with a generous amount of the mind altering substance of your choice — will greatly increase your enjoyment of this film.

3. Large numbers of Korean folks are used for the crowd scenes. These big crowds were never instructed as to how they should be feeling, so instead of being frightened, they run with wild abandon, faces full of pure joy.

4. At about an hour into the film, there came a moment where this reviewer lost his mind, laughing until tears came to his eyes. The American leads enjoy what can only be described as a kissing barrage — not even a montage — that challenges all rules of editing, including the 180-degree rules, the axis, when to use a reverse cut and when to use a jump cut. In another film, we could see this as challenging the viewer. Here, let’s call it what it is: an editor with simply no idea what he or she was doing, randomly lying cuts over top of one another, leading to a jarring sense of repetition. It’s as if cut and paste technique master William S. Burroughs was playing his William Tell routine with a pair of scissors here. This is followed with a rotund man luring a nubile Korean lass into his room and rushing here to get naked. She takes off layer after layer of clothing, up until Kong appears in the window, leering as she screams. The effect is not terrifying, particularly if one screams, “WHAT’S UP?” every time Kong appears. Or, “OH, HELLO” ala  Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland.

5. The music consists of one 16 bar section repeated ad nauseum throughout the film. There is no changing in tone or intensity. Just the same music notes, Manos: The Hands of Fate-style, intercut with DA-NA noises and the screams of children. If a hipster anointed artiste made this music, we’d praise it for it’s sparseness and ability to incite ennui. Luckily, we can recognize it here and now for what it is — pure pain. The audio is also so poorly cut that music changes with each visual cut, leading to a jarring back and forth of music cues and dialogue that mysteriously cuts into silence and a mystifying lack of music where they should surely be tones.

6. Do you like watching two men in a fake military office (replete with wood paneling) swear and yell on the telephone? Then you’re gonna love this! “The Korean government gave the order…TO KILL THAT HAIRY SON OF A BITCH!” leads to a new patriotic theme being played over and over and yes, over while we see B roll footage of tanks rolling out from every angle and era of tankery. If you start to feel like they’ve repeated shots here, let me reassure you: several of these shots repeat themselves several times. We cut back to the swearing military man and his way too polite manservant, as they decide to go watch not to be confused with King Kong get killed. Which, of course, leads to another two-minute long montage of tanks and the same shot of a helicopter being shown more than three times.

7. As the military attack continues, the big ape faces the scream and flips them off. But honestly, that just has to be the contempt this entire movie has for you, the audience.

8. This is followed by what can only be described as a metric fuckton of bullets being fired off, each of them loudly played over the same patriotic theme we’ve heard on repeat for the last few minutes. Slowly, proudly, South Korean army men walk to the center of frame, fire their rifle, then are followed by another soldier, then another, as we intercut Ape (yes, that’s his name) swatting away bullets. The same bullet sound effect repeats and repeats and repeats, which had to have been the music inside Charlton Heston’s senile brain by the end of his life.

9. Ape tosses a rock 3D style at the camera not once, not twice, but four times. If you think the filmmakers won’t repeat the exact same shot — as soldiers again slowly make their way toward center frame — you haven’t been paying attention.

10. It all ends with the fakest tank in the history of cinema shooting Ape in the heart, leading to him spitting a comical geister of blood, as if he were a cowhand in a Peckinpah flick, as the swearing General screams, “Let’s see him dance for his organ grinder now!” Ape slowly falls, slowly dying, quite slowly, as the music slows and life slowly leaves his body. Slowly.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t watch this movie. I am saying that if you do make that life choice, you should do it alone, you should do it in the middle of the night and you should in no way be sober. You know how in a cowboy movie they take a swig of booze before a painful surgery? You would do well to take several swigs before indulging in the cinematic morass that is A*P*E*.

This originally appeared at That’s Not Current. See the original article at http://www.thatsnotcurrent.com/monkey-madness-look-back-ape/