JEAN ROLLIN-UARY: Suce-moi Vampire (1976)

The themes of childhood memories and wanting the world of fairy tales over real life empowers Lips of Blood and it was disconcerting to see so many of those scenes remixed and placed into and around clinical pornography in this movie, which was forced upon creator Jean Rollin, who used the name Michel Gand to make this.

Instead of an image of the past reminding Frédéric of a lost past, here he reads through a book and explains how vampirism is just another perversion. I realize that Rollin had to make this to make back the money that Lips of Blood lost at theaters, but it had to be just pain upon pain for him to prostitute his memories and his beloved vampires for just a simple suck and fuck.

Where in the last movie Claudine was taking photos of a nude model, here she’s filming a couple that has nothing to do with the first film as they make boring love. That same Asian woman ends the film going down on our hero and maybe he should watch out for her fangs.

I guess you could see that this fits within the first movie but I really feel sad about all of this. And it’s not for some puritanical reason. If someone like D’Amato or Franco did the same — hell Franco did the same — I would understand and realize that those guys moved past the question of art and commerce and decided mostly on the latter. I feel empathy that Rollin had to answer that as well.

I guess we all have our Lisa and the Devil, huh?

JEAN ROLLIN-UARY: Douces pénétrations (1976)

Jean Rollin is Michel Gentil, this film’s director and writer (he also appears for a few moments) and this was one of the many periods in his life where he found himself making adult films and not for the love of it like Jess Franco or the understanding that he was a capitalist like Joe D’Amato but because he wanted to survive when the films he really loved making just didn’t make him enough money.

Martine (Tania Busselier, who was also in Franco’s Ilsa the Wicked Warden and Countess Perverse) is a  writer of erotic novels who can’t find peace, quiet or inspiration until she stays at a hotel and the guests give her more than enough to write down.

Those guests include Eva Khris, Eva Kwang (who is in several of Rollin’s adult films and shows up uncredited in Madame Claude), Martine Grimaud (the doomed photographer from Lips of Blood) and the Castel twins, Catherine and Marie-Pierre. Yes, this is an adult film with them, yet their participation isn’t as full as others.

Jean-Pierre Bouyxou, who wrote the narration for this, would play Orloff in Franco’s Female Vampire and also shows up in Killing CarThe DemoniacsThe Living Dead Girl and The Grapes of Death.

It’s not really all that erotic or well-made, but it is another Rollin film to watch and explore. If anything, it seems like when women have their clothes on, he’s more interested and therefore, their scenes actually live up to being arousing. But once it gets down to the basic push and pull, he checks out and starts thinking of beaches, always beaches, and his beloved vampires and asks if they’re done yet.

A CHRISTMAS STORY: The Phantom of the Open Hearth (1976)

I saw someone whining that the new A Christmas Story Christmas recast the mother and was a sequel to a movie that didn’t need a sequel. Little did they know that it was the ninth — if you count the A Christmas Story Live! TV movie — story of the Parker family, a series of films that began seven years before its best-remembered installment.

All of these stories are based on the writing of Jean Shepherd, who often told stories of his childhood in the fictional town of Hohman, Indiana (he grew up in Hammond) on the radio. After publishing those stories in Playboy, but he never intended to be a writer.

Hugh Hefner claimed that The Giving Tree author Shel Silverstein asked Shepherd to write down his radio stories, but he never saw himself being a writer. So Silverstein recorded the shows off the radio, transcribed them and worked with Shepherd to turn them into written works.

His first book, In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, contains many of the stories of the Parker family, stories that despite having the names of real people and real places, are all from Shepherd’s imagination. These memories come in the form of Ralph, who has returned to his home town as an adult, telling these stories to his friend, Flick, who now runs the bar where their fathers used to drink.

Four of the stories in the book — “Duel in the Snow, or Red Ryder Nails the Cleveland Street Kid,” “The Counterfeit Secret Circle Member Gets the Message, or The Asp Strikes Again,” “My Old Man and the Lascivious Special Award That Heralded the Birth of Pop Art” and “Grover Dill and the Tasmanian Devil,” as well as “The Grandstand Passion Play of Delbert and the Bumpus Hounds” from Shepherd’s second book Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories make up A Christmas Story.

But before that, on December 23, 1976, The Phantom of the Open Hearth aired as an episode of PBS’s anthological television series Visions. It features Shepherd as the adult Ralphie and David Elliot as the teen version in a story of Ralphie trying to decide between taking Daphne Bigelow (Tobi Pilavin) or Wanda Hickey (Roberta Wallach) to the school dance, all while his father (James Broderick) anticipates winning a major award that this film explains is a leg lamp because the contest was sponsored by Ne-Hi Soda and that was their logo. While all thatis going on, Randy (Adam Goodman) annoys Ralphie and mom (Barbara Bolton) is obsessed with getting free fine china from the movie theater.

Directed by Fred Barzyk (Jean Shepherd’s AmericaThe Lathe of Heaven) and David Loxton (Countdown to Looking Glass) from a script by Shepherd, this led to another PBS movie, The Great American Fourth Of July and was almost a TV series in 1978. The pilot was directed by John Rich and written by Shepherd and was also called The Phantom of the Open Hearth. That’s where the line “Oh, fudge (but I didn’t say fudge)!” comes from.

Its a little jarring to see the adult adventures of Ralphie while still interesting to get a different perspective.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Survive! (1976)

I had a priest as a kid who would start a sermon every month or two with, “The story is told…” and then would recount the story of this movie. Why a priest loved a Rene Cardona grindhouse movie about cannibalism enough to tell a small congregation the grisly details of it is still beyond me, but it’s a more fun church than you usually get.

Based on the 1973 book Survive! by Clay Blair, which is based on the true story of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, this movie was somehow number one at the U.S. box office for one week, which blows my mind even further. Yes, people showed up to watch Rene and his son Rene make a movie about soccer players trying to decide between eating their dead teammates or starving to death and being eaten by their alive teammates.

Roger Ebert said, “Survive! is a fairly awful movie, but the essential heroism of its subject matter somehow emerges intact. That makes it a difficult movie to review — you can’t just dismiss it with cheap shots, you have to deal with the fact that it does have an emotional impact. It’s not a good movie or even a very professional one, but it does respect its subject matter and so we have to also.”

That’s why I loved Ebert, because even if he disliked a movie, he’d approach it as one to investigate.

The Cardona family never ran from crazy movies — showing real surgery in Night of the Bloody Apes, confronting terrorism and the CIA in Carlos the Terrorist, throwing celebrities into the meat grinders that were Cyclone and Bermuda Triangle and making Guyana: Cult of the Damned months after Jonestown — taking their movies to an international audience who was hungry for, well, pure insanity usually.

All hail Hugo Stiglitz! All hail Norma Lazareno, once the luchadora heroine of Night of the Bloody Apes! All hail José Elías Moreno, who is in this and was Santa in Rene’s berserk Santa Claus! All hail Father Joe, who could barely out ashes on your forehead without making you look like you should be in Immortal!

You can watch this on Tubi.

PITTSBURGH MADE: The Song Remains the Same (1976)

Can you even imagine what it was like to be in Led Zeppelin in 1973? This movie gets you as close as you’ll probably ever get, seeing as how the band was one of the last of the mysterious rock stars that kept most fans at arm’s length instead of constantly giving away their own stories. This movie was described as “the band’s special way of giving their millions of friends what they had been clamoring for – a personal and private tour of Led Zeppelin. For the first time the world has a front row seat on Led Zeppelin.”

The Pittsburgh part of the movie comes in as the band arrives in America at the old county airport in their private jet The Starship and travel by motorcade to their concert at Three Rivers Stadium on July 24, 1973.

With parts directed by Joe Massot (Wonderwall) and others by Peter Clifton, who was brought in when Zeppelin manager Peter Grant was unhappy with the progress of the film. When asked to leave, Massot was offered a few thousand pounds in compensation and Grant sent someone to Massot’s house to collect the film. Massot had hidden the film elsewhere and so Grant’s employee stole an expensive editing machine owned to use as collateral. It all worked out, but Massot wasn’t invited to attend the premiere of the film at New York. He came anyway and bought a ticket from a scalper to get in.

Beyond the Madison Square Garden shows that were shot, any holes in the performance were filled by a stage show shot with no audience at Shepperton Studios. Jones is wearing a noticeable wig in the new footage and Plant’s teeth are fixed.

The band wasn’t happy with the movie, with Page saying “The Song Remains The Same is not a great film, but there’s no point in making excuses. It’s just a reasonably honest statement of where we were at that particular time. It’s very difficult for me to watch it now, but I’d like to see it in a year’s time just to see how it stands up,” John Paul Jones stating it was “a massive compromise” and Robert Plant calling it “a load of bullocks.” The Jimmy Page fantasy sequence outside his home Boleskine — once owned by Aleister Crowley — was laughed at by John Bonham.

PITTSBURGH MADE: The Booby Hatch (1976)

Rudy Ricci was a zombie in Night of the Living Dead, as well as one of the motorcycle gang members in Dawn of the Dead. Beyond that, he also wrote the story for There’s Always Vanilla and his writing is credited in Return of the Living Dead and The Devil and Sam Silverstein.

John Russo wrote the screenplay for Night of the Living Dead and also wrote some of The Devil and Sam Silverstein, which came out the same year as this. He’d go on to write and direct plenty more films, most notably MidnightThe MajorettesSanta ClawsMy Uncle John Is a Zombie! and many more.

In 1976, the idea that the Living Dead films would continue were way in the future. So if these guys were going to make another movie, why not a sex comedy? Russell Streiner also came on board to produce — and show up as a masked rapist — so this is definitely of interest for those who watch everything connected with Pittsburgh film.

You know. Like me.

Ricci also plays the lead, Marcello Fettucini, a sex machine who works for Joyful Novelties Inc., a company run by Thelonious Suck (N. Detroit, actually Sam Schwartz) that creates the dildos, blow up dolls, French ticklers, lubes, sex dolls and anything it takes to keep America balling. Cherry Jankowski (Sharon Joy Miller) also works there — the alternate title of this is The Liberation of Cherry Jankowski — and she’s also a tester of their equipment. She’s dealing with some rough times as she keeps getting prank calls, getting assaulted by her next door neighbor and has a boyfriend named Herman Longfellow (Doug Sortino) who prefers to dress as a woman and is really into religion.

Marcello isn’t doing all that great. He’s lost his ability to get it up, his father has disowned him and his brother (Dawn of the Dead actor David Emge) laughs at him. Of course these two are goingn to wind up together and then I realized there was ten minutes left, so there’s a whole bunch of sexual hijinks with an industrial film feel. You never see any male nudity, in case you wondered, but according to Russo, some actresses would show their butt, some would only go topless and there’s one brave actress that in no way cares near the end and goes full 70s full frontal.

Keep an eye open for George Kosana as a cop. Seeing as how he was best known for playing Sheriff McClelland in Night that seems right. One of the reporters, Raymond Laine, is another local who was in nearly everything shot in here: Night of the Living DeadSeason of the WitchLady BewareAlone In the Neon JungleDominick and Eugene, Sudden Death and many more. He also did the casting for The Majorettes and Midnight as well as a contributor to The Devil and Sam Silverstein. Paul McCollough, who did the lighting and edited this, wrote The Crazies and composed the music for the 1990 Night of the Living DeadHeartstopperSanta Claws and The Majorettes. Oh man! He also edited Midnight, FleshEaterThe MajorettesHeartstopper and Horror Rock!

There’s a rapist too dumb to be able to take his pants off, worries of erectile disfunction in the days pre-Viagra and when Marcello gets sad, he goes to the lagoon at Kennywood. Russo also had sticker shock when he tried to buy all the marital aids and decided to just make them himself. That explains why a real woman plays the blowup doll and somehow looks as unsexy as possible despite being sold as the pinnacle of sex.

How wild is it that Gray Morrow did the poster for this?

PITTSBURGH MADE: The Devil and Sam Silverstein (1976)

In The Jew In American Cinema, Patricia Erens calls out this made in Pittsburgh low budget film as one with “perhaps the oldest Jewish husband in crisis” and says, “Despite the amateur acting and a rather unsavory depiction of contemporary Jewish life, The Devil and Sam Silverstein delivers one overriding message. Unlike their Christian neighbors, the Jews are incorruptible and unconvertible. Thus, despite the temptation, the Jew manages to beat the devil — no easy task.”

It was directed and written — from a story by Sanford Robinson and Stan Cohen — by Russell Streiner, who most know best as Johnny in Night of the Living Dead. Maniacs like me also recognize him as the assistant director of the beer commercial in There’s Always Vanilla and the preacher in The Majorettes.

The Devil (Owen Hollander, who was in The Happy Hooker and Christmas Evil)  is upset that his son — Devil Jr. (Robert Trow, who was a DJ in town, as well as Ralph in There’s Always Vanilla, Detective Mills in Season of the Witch and was probably best known outside of Pittsburgh for playing Bob Dog on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) — might never be good enough to take over the family business. If the Devil Sr. sounds like Brando in The Godfather, well, at least you recognize the impression.

The Lord of Lies wants his boy to corrupt Sam Silverstein (Allan Pinsker, who like many a Yinzer actor is also in Sudden Death), a senior citizen Jewish husband who says — to quote this film’s other title — My Wife Cut Me Off Forty Years Ago. First, El Hijo del Diablo wants him to embrace Christianity, then sell his soul for some young lust. Every time he’s close, things blow up, even when he’s picked to be in an adult film or is stuck washing off blackface next to a gorgeous dancer, one assumes at the old Edison.

Other actors who show up before Sam goes back to his wife Bessie include prank artist Alan Abel (who once got Buck Henry on TV as the president of the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals and also the PR for this movie; he promoted the film by persuading Allan Pinsker to become a candidate for president under the name Sam Silverstein and getting him on the news with Walter Cronkite),David Emge (Stephen from Dawn of the Dead) and George Kosana (Sheriff McClelland from Night of the Living Dead and My Uncle John Is a Zombie, who famously says, “Yeah, they’re dead. They’re all messed up,” “Boy, somebody had a cookout here” and “Put that thing all the way on the fire.”).

I’m always interested in the non-zombie films of the Night of the Living Dead crew. This may be PG but feels a lot like the early 60s nudie cuties that were once so scandalous and now seem so chaste.

SYNAPSE BLU RAY RELEASE: Creature from Black Lake (1976)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was first on the site on September 22, 2018. It’s back as Synapse is releasing it on both DVD and blu ray, which you can get from MVD by clicking on each link. Both options have a brand-new 4K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative, audio commentary with author/filmmaker Michael Gingold and film historian Chris Poggiali, a featurette with Director of Photography Dean Cundey, the original theatrical trailer and a radio spot.

If I’ve learned anything from my week of watching Bigfoot movies, it’s that Yankees aren’t wanted in the places where Bigfoot resides. You can also rewrite that sentence to cover city folks aren’t wanted when Bigfoot decides to walk on through Western Pennsylvania or Southeastern Ohio.

This one is all about two dudes: Rives (John David Carson, Empire of the Ants) and Pahoo (Dennis Fimple, House of 1000 Corpses). That’s right, Pahoo. Dennis Fimple was 36 when he played this young twenty-something just back from ‘Nam and looking for something, anything, maybe even Bigfoot. Rives is more concerned with hamburgers, fries and Cokes. And oh yeah, redhead goddesses. Well, everyone gets what they want in Black Lake.

You get a lot of character actors in here, like Western star Dub Taylor as Grandpa Bridges, Bill Thurman whose career stretches from The Last Picture Show to Mountaintop Motel Massacre, and Jack Elam, who is the best part of this film as the tracker Joe Canton.

Elam lost an eye to a sharpened pencil at a Boy Scout meeting as a child (he also literally grew up picking cotton) before serving in WW II, becoming a studio accountant and even managing the Bel Air Hotel in Los Angeles. A character actor in numerous gangster and Western films, as well as TV, Elam came up with a quote that many have stolen over the years in relation to how Hollywood sees people. He said that casting directors would say this about him:

  • Stage 1: “Who is Jack Elam?”
  • Stage 2: “Get me Jack Elam.”
  • Stage 3: “I want a Jack Elam type.”
  • Stage 4: “I want a younger Jack Elam.”
  • Stage 5: “Who is Jack Elam?”

He shows up in some crazy roles, such as Doctor Nikolas Van Helsing in the Cannonball Run films and in The Norseman, Charles B. Pierce’s bonkers ode to Vikings that stars Lee Majors.

This was re-released theatrically in 1982 as part of a multi-film package called “5 Deranged Features”. Also on the bill were Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971) (under the title They’re Coming to Get You so perhaps people went thinking they were about to see the American cut of All the Colors of the Dark), The Wizard of Gore under the name House of Torture, Shriek of the Mutilated and The Corpse Grinders under the title Night of the Howling Beast.

If you’re up for seeing college students try and get laid while eating burgers and hunting Bigfoot, then this is probably the exact movie you’re looking for.

What this movie really has going for it is cinematography by Dean Cundey (HalloweenThe FogWho Framed Roger Rabbit?, Rock ‘n Roll High School and many, many more great movies). There are some interesting shots and it’s not your typical dark swampy seventies affair.


Directed by Ralph Nelson (Charly) and written by Anita Doohan and Jack W. Thomas — who had stopped screenwriting for more than a decade to become a Los Angeles County deputy probation officer and write a series of books on troubled youth — Embryo finds Dr. Paul Holliston (Rock Hudson) living a life of solitude after losing his wife in a car accident, a fact that his sister-in-law/assistant Martha Douglas (Diane Ladd) reminds him of near daily.

One night, he runs over a dog — maybe he should stop driving — and ends up taking that dog’s unborn child and bringing it to healthy — if murderous — life in his lab. If he can play God like that, well, why not bring the unborn child of a suicide victim to life and have her become just about instantly 22 years old and named Victoria (Barbara Carrera)?

Despite how smart Victoria is, she’s also quickly dying as her body is addicted to the immune suppressant drug methotrexate and has no issue killing Martha to keep her origins a secret. And oh yeah — making sweet love to the much older doctor.

The end of this movie is ridiculous and I love it. I mean, rapidly aging clones drinking dead fetus fluids, the doctor watching her kill his son and chasing after her only to learn that she’s having his baby? 70s science fiction carny BS at its finest.

It goes without saying: Barbara Carrera really must have been grown in a lab. I don’t know if that kind of perfection can come from the coupling of a man and woman. It must have some kind of science added to it.

This also has a party scene with Roddy McDowell and Joyce Brothers during which chess is the main source of fun, not drinking. Sure.

Somehow, due to Cine Artists Pictures going out of business this movie is in the public domain.


EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally on the site on September 21, 2021.

A section 3 video nasty, this movie was made by Rino Di Silvestro, who claimed that he wanted to make a serious werewolf movie. We should take the director of Deported Women of the SS Special Section at his word, I guess.

Daniella Neseri (Annik Borel, Weekend with the Babysitter, Truck TurnerBlood Orgy of the She-Devils) was assaulted when she was just a child, which has made her emotionally and sexually stunted and unable to have any relationships with men. Then she learns that she comes from a lineage of werewolf women, at which point she begins to have very involved dreams about being a wolf woman that manifest themselves when she gets all bothered watching her sister Elena (Dagmar Lassander, The House by the CemeteryHatchet for the Honeymoon) making sweet love to her man, so she responds by killing the dude, then throwing his body off a cliff because that’s how they did therapy in 1976.

Found near the body, Daniella is institutionalized before breaking away and continuing her murder spree before she finds love and respect — after killing a potential rapist — in the arms of Luca (Howard Ross, whose real name is Renato Rossini, and whose career stretched through nearly every genre of Italian exploitation, from Hercules Against the Mongols and The Man Called Noon to MartaNaked Girl Killed in the Park and The Pyjama Girl Case to The New York Ripper and Warriors of the Year 2072).

Of course, this is an Italian horror movie and there’s no way that Luca and the werewolf woman can be happy just making love on the beach. Three men break in and assault her before killing him, so she hunts them all down before the cops arrest her. To ensure that no one learns any lessons, she’s institutionalized and dies, then her dad kills herself, then her sister, who has lost everything, just lives whatever life is left after all this.

Man, I don’t know if they knew what they had with this movie, a film that shows the institutions of men failing women on every level, including the male-directed movie that tells this story. That said, a movie where a woman equates sexual desire to being a werewolf and also she maybe is a werewolf and the knowledge that I’ve spent more time considering the psychosexual implications of this movie than the people who made it? That’s why I keep writing about films like this.

Also known as Daughter of a Werewolf, Naked Werewolf Woman, She-Wolf, Terror of the She-Wolf and Legend of the Wolf Woman, this film is something else.