REPOST: The Dragon Lives Again (1977)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I just had to include this movie in James Bond month, because it’s the only film I’ve seen where Bruce Lee fights 007 in Hell. It originally appeared on our site in April of 2019.

You’ve got to love the balls of the people who made this movie, starting it with the words, “This film is dedicated to millions who love Bruce Lee.” Then, they have a fake Bruce Lee literally go to Hell.

Bruce (Bruce Leung Siu-lung, The Beast from a movie that’s just as crazy as this, Kung-Fu Hustle) wakes up from being dead and faces the lord of the underworld, who threatens him with an earthquake. Then, Bruce goes to a restaurant where he meets three new friends: Caine from TV’s Kung Fu, Fang Kang the One-Armed Swordsman and of all people, Popeye. Yes, really.

To Bruce’s surprise, there’s been a gang terrorizing hell, made up of Dracula, James Bond (yes, in this universe, Bond is a villain), Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman and Clint Eastwood. Our hero does what you or I would do were we in hell: he starts a martial arts school.

Meanwhile, the Godfather Vito Corleone, Regan from The Exorcist and Emmanuelle (played by Jenny, Emmanuelle of N. Europe, blowing my mind that if there can be a Black Emmanuelle and an Emanuelle with only one m, there can be honorary Emmanuelles from different regions of the globe) decide to take over the King of the Underworld’s throne.

Bruce ends up becoming the King’s bodyguard before he finally battles the leader of the Underworld, wins and goes back to Earth. So is Bruce alive again? The mind boggles.

THere’s also an extended part of the film where the “third leg of Bruce” is discussed. Yes, his real power is in his penis. I can’t believe that this movie exists and that it’s taken me so long to find it.

You should just watch this whole movie. It’s on Amazon Prime. Or watch the link below.

No. 1 of the Secret Service (1977)

In 1977, there hadn’t been a James Bond film since 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun. After the film’s release, producers Saltzman and Broccoli dissolved their relationship, with Saltzman selling his stake in Eon Productions’s parent company, Danjaq, LLC, to United Artists.

There was also the possibility that there would be two different Bond franchises, with Broccoli’s 1977 effort being The Spy Who Loved Me and Kevin McClory using his lawsuit to perhaps make James Bond of the Secret Service.

Lindsay Shonteff decided to fill the void.

Sure, he’d made The 2nd Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide WorldThe Million Eyes of Sumuru and Spy Story, but now he was going to make his very own Bold movie.

Instead of James Bond, Charles Bind (Nickey Henson, Psychomania) has the license to kill.

He’s up against K.R.A.S.H. (Killing Rape Arson Slaughter and Hit), their leader and a weirdo named Arthur Loveday (Richard Todd, Asylum) who is killing off rich financiers.

If you think the Roger Moore-era films are too silly, you’d best avoid this movie. I mean, what did you expect? The name Charles Bind comes from Carry On Spying, after all.

This was followed by two sequels that had different actors play 008: Licensed to Love and Kill with Gareth Hunt and Number One Gun, which has Michael Howe in the lead role.

If the theme song “Givin’ It Plenty” is familiar, well, you may have seen Tintorera as many times as I have. It’s in that movie too.

People to keep an eye out for include former Dr. Who Jon Pertwee, Katya Wyeth (Hands of the Ripper), Geoffrey Keen (Minister of Defence Frederick Gray in six Bond films), former pro wrestler Milton Reed (who is in all manner of spy films, from Dr. No and Casino Royale to The Spy Who Loved Me and Deadlier Than the Male) and Oliver MacGreevy (The Ipcress File).

Bond never would use a .357 Magnum Smith & Wesson Model 66 revolver, much less the 50 calibre Browning machine gun.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime.

Planet of Dinosaurs (1977)

Most of the budget of this movie went toward special effects, with stop motion dinosaurs that pay homage to the work of Ray Harryhausen. Hardly any of the budget went to the actors or the props, including the Kool-Aid that was used for the film’s berry juice. That said — the locations look great. The Vasquez Rocks area of California’s desert have been used in several other films and TV shows. You’ll recognize them mostly from Star Trek and as a result, the primary rock formation has been named Kirk’s Rock.

The spaceship Odyssey crashes on a planet that seems much like Earth but is many light years away. Within moments, the ship has sunk, the communications offer has been eaten by an undersea dinosaur and the radio is gone. Captain Lee Norsythe (Louie Lawless, who under the pseudonym Leo Rivers was the cinematographer and associate producer of the 1973 documentary Manson; of note is that due to his thick Canadian accent, director James K. Shea dubbed all of his dialogue, which is mixed much higher than anyone else’s) is in charge, but the remaining crew soon realize that they’re up against some pretty tough odds.

Then one of them drops the laser gun in the swamp.

Then one of them drops all their food off a mountain.

Then one of them tries to steal dinosaur eggs.

Then they all fight about whether or not they should establish a new civilization instead of doing something about it.

Yes, welcome to a movie with heroes so idiotic that you’ll boo when they finally kill the Tyrannosaurus Rex and win the day.

The only actors other than Lawless that had any previous experience were Max Thayer, who played Mike and his previous experience was Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks; James Whitworth, who was Jim, was in The Hills Have Eyes as Jupiter, The Candy Snatchers and Bury Me an Angel; and Harvey Shain had been in some softcore movies like 2069 A.D.Office Love-In and The Secret Sex Lives of Romeo and Juliet under the name Forman Shane.

Derna Wylde, who played Derna Lee, the crew member who dumped the laser blaster, went on to be a researcher on Chained Heat. Charlotte Speer, who was smart enough to discover what plants were poisonous, was in one other film, the 1985 slasher oddity Appointment with Fear. And Pamela Bottaro, who was Nyla, who lost all of the food, shows up in Al Adamson’s Death Dimension, which has Jim Kelly, Harold Sakata, George Lazenby, Terry Moore from Mighty Joe Young and Aldo Ray. That movie, I gotta see!

Here’s another weird fact. Writer Ralph Lucas also was behind the screenplay of The Child! And James Aupperle, who co-wrote the story, also wrote Flesh Gordon and would go on to be the lighting technical director for the Twilight films, as well as the digital effects artist for the first Hellboy movie and various effects work for The Gate II: The TrespassersRoboCop2 and many more movies.

The best actor in this movie? The Rhedosaurus, which was The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. Harryhausen himself visited the studio and gave his consent for his creature’s cameo appearance.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime. It’s also available with commentary by Rifftrax on Amazon Prime and Tubi.

Cozzilla (1977)

All the way back in 1979, the first issue of Fangoria came out with a psychedelic cover of Godzilla. I always wondered where this image came from and now I know — the strange and alluring 1977 Luigi Cozzi led version of the original film.

Yes, Italian filmmaker Luigi Cozzi (StarcrashContaminationPaganini Horror) created this colorized version of the original Godzilla, complete with a soundtrack that used a magnetic tape process similar to Sensurround.

Due to the success of the 1976 remake of King Kong, Cozzi attempted to cash in on the film’s success by re-releasing Gorgo, but it costs too much. Toho gave him a good price, but were only able to provide negatives for the 1956 American version of the film. Cozzi’s distributors refused to release the film, after discovering it in black-and-white.

At this point, Cozzi got the approval from Toho to colorize the film, provided they get the new negative when he was done. He had final approval over the stock footage, music, and choice of coloring.

To pad the film’s running time to 90 minutes, Cozzi added stock footage, saying “The decision to insert extra footage was because the original picture was 1 hour and 20 minutes. This was normal length in the fifties but in the mid seventies a picture to be shown theatrically had to be at least 1 hour and 30 minutes long. So we were forced to add material to it in order to reach that length. Its final length was 1 hour and 45 minutes.”

Cozzi wanted to give an old film an “up-to-date and more violent look,” so the director added real footage of death and destruction from war-time and Hiroshima  stock footage, as well as scenes from The Train, The Day the Earth Caught Fire, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and Godzilla Raids Again

To make the movie even bigger, Cozzi added Sensurround effects that would be blasted from giant loudspeakers specially placed in each theater. Composer Vince Tempera wrote the film’s additional score on electric piano, with synth music being used to give the film a more modern feel.

Image from SciFi Japan

Then, the film was colorized by Armando Valcauda frame-by-frame using stop motion gel photography, a process that took three months. The effect isn’t really seeing the movie in color, as later colorization efforts would accomplish, but pretty much providing a tripped out version of the film that is constantly being splashed with neon colors.

So what was Spectrorama ’70? Cozzi told SciFi Japan, “Spectrorama 70” is just a name I did invent to help advertising. It refers to colorization but also gives a feeling of 70mm which at that time was typical of every big budget Hollywood blockbuster. This invented name, in the style of William Castle, helped to give a “bigger” look at my Godzilla theatrical re-release advertising materials.”

This is one of the hardest kaiju films to find and one that’s probably one of the weirdest and most interesting. There’s really nothing like this movie and you can say that about just about every film that Cozzi created.

You can download this on the Internet Archive.

The Haunting of Julia (1977)

Plenty of people know the Mia Farrow movie Rosemary’s Baby, but few know this film, which was based on the book Julia by Peter Straub. It was originally released in the UK as Full Circle, where it bombed before doing poorly in the U.S.

It was directed by Richard Loncraine, who helped make Band of Brothers on HBO and the incredible music film — and another bomb that has been recognized as a great movie years later — Slade In Flame.

Julia Lofting’s (Farrow) life changes in a second: her daughter chokes on breakfast and an emergnecy tracheotomy causes her to bleed to death. This causes her to leave her husband (Keir Dullea) and move into a flat that’s filled with toys which once belonged to a girl named Olivia, a young woman with such a power over the other children that she could make them kill one another.

The movie sat unreleased in the United States until it was discovered, along with the Richard Burton movie Absolution, by a movie fan who worked to get both movies into theaters.

This was on Shudder for a few weeks, but is no longer on the service. It’s not a great film, but it’s interesting. I got my copy at a convention years ago and don’t regret the purchase.

Watch Me When I Kill (1977)

Antonio Bido also directed the giallo The Blood Stained Shadow, which I tend to enjoy more than this one. However, how great is the title of this film?

A pharmacist is murdered and Mara, the woman who saw the killer leave the scene, is now being stalked. Her boyfriend Lukas, being protective, decides to figure out who the killer is and soon learns that it’s anything but a normal crime.

Originally known as Il Giatto Dagli occhi Di Giada, or Cat with the Jade Eyes, as well as The Cat’s Victims, Terror in the Lagoon and The Vote of Death, this film has some unique murder scenes from its killer who has a cat-like mask.

An escaped murderer named Pasquale Ferrante seems the most likely suspect. He’s played by Paolo Tedesco, who was Calo in The Godfather, the bodyguard in Italy who said, “In Sicily, women are more dangerous than shotguns.”

Most of the victims were at his murder trial, but the clues go the whole way back to Axis collaborators during World War II. Giuseppe Addobbati (Nightmare Castle) also appears as a judge.

This movie feels much like a pre-Suspiria Argento giallo, which is not a bad thing.

You can watch this on Tubi. You can also get it on blu ray from Synapse.

Ruby (1977)

Curtis Harrington had the thread of magic running through all of his films. One of the leaders of New Queer Cinema, he also directed Queen of Blood, Voyage to the Prehistoric PlanetWhat’s the Matter with Helen?Who Slew Auntie Roo?, the Sylvia Kristel-starring Mata Hari, tons of episodic television shows and the TV movies Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell, The Dead Don’t DieKiller BeesThe Cat Creature and How Awful About Allen.

His links to the occult, include the study of Thelema with his close associates Kenneth Anger (he played Cesare, the somnambulist in the magician/filmmaker/author’s movie Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome), Marjorie Cameron — who is pretty much the nexus point of twentieth-century occult doings and appears in his film Night Tide — and avant-garde film pioneer Maya Deren, an initiated voodoo priestess.

Harrington was also the driving force in rediscovering the original James Whale production of The Old Dark House and — as a friend of Whale near the end of his life — advised the making of the movie Gods and Monsters.

His final film was Usher, based on a high school film he made of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the Hosue of Usher. He cast Nikolas and Zeena Schreck — the daughter of Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey — who financed the movie by brokering the sale of Harrington’s signed copy of Crowley’s The Book of Thoth. Perhaps even more interesting is the theory that singer Taylor Swift is a clone of Zeena. No, really.

But hey — we’re here today to discuss 1977’s Ruby, a movie that brings Piper Laurie from Carrie into a story about possession and flashbacks.

In 1935, a lowlife mobster named Nicky Rocco is betrayed and executed in the swamps as his pregnant girl Ruby (Laurie) watches. The moment he dies, she goes into labor. Fast-forward sixteen years and she’s living with a mute daughter named Leslie (Janit Baldwin, GatorbaitPhantom of the ParadiseBorn InnocentHumongous) and running a drive-in with several ex-mobsters like Ruby’s lover Vince (Stuart Whitman!) and Jake (Western actor Fred Kohler Jr.), a wheelchair-ridden man whose eyes were once cut out.

Ruby misses her days as a lounge singer, but the present has some nasty surprises. A poltergeist begins killing people at the theater, including the projectionist and a creepy guy who runs the concession stand (Paul Kent, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream WarriorsPray for the Wildcats and the founder of the Melrose Theater). Before long, our heroine — such as it is — believes that Nicky’s spirit has returned and believes that she caused his death.

Vince is visited by Dr. Keller (Roger Davis, Dark ShadowsNashville Girl and the first husband of Jaclyn Smith), who helped him get out of jail early. He’s a clairvoyant who believes that there’s something in the drive-in, which is true, because Nicky starts speaking Ruby’s name over the speakers at the drive-in. Before long, Ruby’s daughter is speaking with the voice of her dead father and showing the wounds he endured before his death.

The producer chose to change the ending, and both Curtis Harrington and Piper Laurie refused to be involved in the re-shoot. It was allegedly shot by Stephanie Rothman (the director of The Student Nurses and the writer of Starhops). This ending, where Nicky comes back from the grave and drags Ruby into the swamp, was part of the TV commercials for the film.

Keep an eye out for Len Lesser in this — he was Uncle Leo on Seinfeld — as well as Crystin Sinclaire, who appeared in Eaten Alive and Caged Heat.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime. There’s also a Rifftrax version on Tubi.

Hitchhike to Hell (1977)

Somewhat inspired by the “Co-ed Killer” Edmund Kemper — who shows up on Netflix’s Mindhunter and now reads books on tape — Hitchhike to Hell is all about Howard (Robert Gribbon, Trip with the Teacher), a mild-mannered momma’s boy whose delivery job gives him plenty of time to pick up runaways and punish them for their transgressions. Can the cops stop him before he kills again?

Irv Berwick also directed Malibu High and The Monster of Piedras Blancas, so you know he’s coming from a place of pure sleaze. This movie comes from the vaults of the legendary — or infamous — Harry Novak and is one of the last movies that his Boxoffice International Pictures released. You may know them from other films like Axe (AKA Lisa Lisa or California Axe Massacre), The ChildRattlersWham! Bam! Thank You, Spaceman!The Sinful DwarfDr. Frankenstein’s Castle of FreaksToys Are Not for Children and so many more fine efforts.

At one point, Captain J.W. Shaw (Russell Johnson, the Professor from Gilligan’s Island and Dr. Steve Carlson from This Island Earth) mentions several real serial killers, like the Zodiac Killer, the Skid Row Slasher and “that nut down in Houston,” which refers to Dean Corll, who abducted, assaulted, tortured, and murdered at least 28 teenage boys and young men between 1970 and 1973 in Houston, Texas.

Why is Howard so nutty? Is it because of his way too close relationship with his mama? Or because his older sister ran away from home as a teenager and was never heard of again? Did his sister really have it coming, like his mother mutters to herself? Your guess is as good as mine, because this movie never reveals the answers. It does, however, have teenage runaways killed with coathangers, so there’s that.

Basically, don’t hitchhike. You kids don’t have to worry about that. You’ve got Uber now.

The Arrow Video blu ray of this movie features a brand new 2K restoration from original film elements, as well as a newly-filmed appreciation by Nightmare USA author Stephen Thrower, a video essay by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas exploring the dark side of hitch-hiking in the real world and on the screen and the original trailers for the movie. You can get it from Arrow here.

DISCLAIMER: We were sent this movie by Arrow Video.

Holocaust 2000 (1977)

Of all the things the devil’s done, I wonder exactly how he was able to get Kirk Douglas — KIRK DOUGLAS! — to be in an Alberto De Martino ripoff of The Omen? I mean, this is the same director who made The Antichrist and Miami Golem! What horrifying secrets does the First of the Fallen have to make one of the lead actors of Hollywood’s Golden Age appear in this burst of Satanic majesty?

Holocaust 2000 (AKA the Chosen and Rain of Fire) was written by De Martino, Michael Robson and Sergio Donati, who wrote some of the script for Once Upon a Time In the West and Duck, You Sucker! as well as Orca, early Arnold vehicle Raw Deal and the original version of Man On Fire.

You gotta hand it to Robert Caine (Douglas). No matter how many people protest, no matter the fact that his wife was stabbed in front of him at a party or the killer went nuts in a mental institution and sliced his own wrists in front of him, he’s not giving up his plan to build a nuclear power plant near a sacred cave in the Middle East.

He soon learns that he has bigger problems. His son Angel (Simon Ward, The Monster Club) is the Antichrist and the plant he wants to build looks just like the evil beast that the Whore of Babylon will ride at the end of the world.

Seriously, after a bit of crumpet, Caine falls asleep next to his way too young new girlfriend (Agostina Belliand, who was in the original Scent of a Woman) watches the nuclear plant rise from the sea, with multiple heads rising from the currents.

An Italian and UK co-production, this movie also features Ivo Garrani (Bava’s Black Sabbath) as The Prime Minister, Alexander Knox (who nearly won an Oscar for 1944’s Wilson before his liberal views got him chased out of Hollywood during the McCarthy era), Adolfo Celi (who wasn’t just Emilio Largo in Thunderball, he was also the Captain in Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man and the villainous Ralph Valmount in Danger: Diabolik), Geoffrey Keen (Minister of Defence Frederick Gray in six James Bond movies and one of the three noblemen using Dracula in Taste the Blood of Dracula), Peter Cellier (Sir Frank Gordon from yes, Prime Minister), Denis Lawson (Wedge Antilles!) and Tony Clarkin, who played a stormtrooper in the second and sixth Star Wars movies, as well as appearances in The Monster Club as a vampire and Outland.

In Europe, this movie ends with Caine living in exile with his newborn child, as Angel begins developing the plant intended to cause Armageddon. But in the U.S., Douglas returns to his company and blows everybody up real good.

I’ve wanted to see this movie since I saw its trailer on Trailer Trauma. You can still get that collection from Diabolik DVD and get fired up about finding some strange movies yourself.

You can get this on blu ray from Shout! Factory.

The Uncanny (1977)

In 1977, legendary Amicus co-founder Milton Subotsky joined with  Canadian producer Claude Héroux (Scanners, Videodrome) to create a portmanteau movie in the grand Amicus style. The uniting story for this concerns a paranoid writer played by Peter Cushing who is trying to convince a publisher (Ray Milland) that cats are evil and that his book is the only way to save the human race.

Directed by Denis Héroux (Naked MassacreValerie) from a screenplay by Michel Parry (Xtro), this is a film that I’ve neglected over the past few years and can happily say lived up to my hopes for a fun anthology film.

The film begins the Montreal of 1977, as writer Wilbur Gray (Cushing) visits publisher Frank Richards(Milland) to discuss his new book. The writer is convinced that cats are actually Satanic creatures here to destroy humanity. He tells three stories to explain:

r believes that felines are supernatural creatures, and that they are the devil in disguise. Wilbur tells three tales to illustrate his thoughts:

London 1912: Miss Malkin rewrtes her will, leaving everything to her cats instead of her ne’er do well nephew Michael. The maid Janet, who is in love with Michael, tries to steal the will, but Miss Malkin catches her. Janet kills her, but the cats avenge her death.

Quebec 1975: Lucy (Katrina Holden Bronson, the adopted daughter of Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland) is an orphan who now lives with her aunt Mrs. Blake (Alexandra Stewart, who is also in Because of the Cats, which is appropriate). Her parents have died in a plane crash so she is allowed to keep her cat Wellington, who is an awesome fat black cat. However, her cousin covets the cat and any attention she can get. She’s played by Chloe Franks, who was the go to young girl in horror for this era, with appearances in Trog, The House That Dripped Blood (she’s Christoper Lee’s daughter), Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? and Tales from the Crypt (she’s Joan Crawford’s daughter). This section combines two of my horror loves — evil kids and Satanic hijinks.

Hollywood 1936: Actor Valentine De’ath (Donald Pleasence) replaces the blade of a fake pendulum to kill his actress wife, which gives him the opening he needs to give his young mistress a chance at acting. He didn’t count on her cat avenging her. This chapter features Samantha Eggar (DemonoidWelcome to Blood City), Sean McCann (Starship Invasions) and the always awesome John Vernon (CurtainsNational Lampoon’s Animal House).

This story has one of my favorite movie tropes, as when Cushing discusses Pleasence’s character, he holds up a photo that is in truth a publicity still of the actor as Blofeld and his cat Tiddes from You Only Live Twice.

For all the cat love in this, cinematographer Harry Waxman (The Wicker ManThe Beast In the Cellar) threatened to leave the film when he felt that the production was abusing cats.

That said — this is pretty much everything you want from an anthology. Modern filmmakers littering on demand services with their short films all assembled into one movie should take a moment and watch this to see how it’s done.

You can get this from Severin or watch it on Amazon Prime.