Mill Creek Drive-In Classics: Polk County Pot Plane, aka In Hot Pursuit (1977)

Well, after the good ol’ boy rabble rousin’ of Country Blue, how can I pass up another road racin’, red neckin’ romp on the Mill Creek set?

The one and done Jim West and Jim Clarke, in their respective director’s and writer’s chairs (and are probably one and the same), and the leads of Don Watson and Bobby Watson (real life brothers, natch), as our ne’er-do-well anti-Beau and Luke Duke heroes (the bearded longhairs Oosh and Doosh; no, really), smoke up ol’ Hazzard County — with the comedy dispensed for action (but the goofy stock library music cues, in places, are more comedy than action) as we hang from helicopters, demolish motor homes, and drive through houses transported-by-flat beds.

Oosh and Doosh, those dang “Watson boys” — since we’re off the small TV screens of Hazzard and on the big ol’ white screens of the Deep South mosquito emporiums — run pot and coke through the Georgia backwoods for corrupt politicians in the pocket the local Mafia. Of course, the brothers Watson get caught on that backwood, peach tree airfield where all that Cuban and Columbia gold flies in.

Hell, yeah, their employers break them out of prison because Oosh and Doosh are drug-runnin’ cash cows for the criminal cause. But their arrest — and eventual helicopter breakout — cost their bosses a lot of money. Now they’re on the hook to pay it all back. Yep! It’s time for the “biggest heist” of their ersatz pharmaceutical careers: Remember how the Bandit transported Coors from Texarkana to Atlanta? Well, those Watson boys are transporting an 18-wheeler filled with weed (disguised as a bags of potatoes). But the 18-Wheeler was trashed in a dust-up with the cops: now they’re in even deeper to their bosses: it’s time to rob an armored car — an unintentionally kill one of the guards. Once the big chase between the Watson boys’ Camero and a DEA agent’s pursuit Dodge Challenger comes to its eventual conclusion, there is only one thing left to do: the Watson boys steal their bosses’ home safe filled with money, hop the plane, and head for South America.

Get your own copy on Mill Creek’s Drive-In Classics!

Yeah, we know this is all pre-The Dukes of Hazzard and Smokey and the Bandit inspired it all — and this ain’t no Gone In 60 Seconds or even Double Nickles or even Flash and the Firecat — but this sure looks like it was made a lot earlier than 1976 or 1977. But it’s not: it was made post-1975, as we will soon learn.

Sure, the acting is awful, the action (while there’s occasional, momentary flashes of excitement) is inept, the script is beyond flawed-with-no-real-plot (it feels like it was “plotted” as the production plodded along), and the cinematography is a wee-bit muddy. But first-time filmmaker Jim West (we can’t find any background on his film-making past) works the cameras pretty decently. He keeps everything visually engaging with interesting shots and all of the required oners, doubles, reversals, and close-ups are there. West is certainly no Hal Needham, but he’s also not a Larry Buchanan or Bill Rebane, either (compare In Hot Pursuit against their respective films Down on Us and The Alpha Incident and you’ll see what we mean).

Yeah, ol’ Burt, who started it all with the likes of White Lightning and Gator, only to reignite the Hicksploitation genre for the ’80s with Smokey and the Bandit . . . well, the southern drive-in circuit was hungry for those modern-day, good ol’ boy westerns featuring redline revvin’ cars smugglin’ drugs lieu of horses and cattle rustlin’. As I rewatch In Hot Pursuit all these VHS years later, I’m reflecting back on Ulli Lommel’s (BrainWaves, Blank Generation) two-years later Cocaine Cowboys when I watch this. And those Watson brothers sure be do give me a hankerin’ to watch the Young Brothers, Richard and David, flyin’ their pot plane in Stuart Raffill’s High Risk.

Eh, you know what: I love this inept, stupid movie because everyone involved are on the cosine of the Z-List in their professions, but they’re given it their all to make a B-List drive-in flick. In a bonus round: Quentin Tarantino likes this one: he screened it as part of his annual “Grindhouse Film Festival,” so there you go.

And go you shall, to You Tube. Oh, Car Chase Wonderland, what would we do without you to satiate our red neckin’ car chase jonesin’? Ah, but just in case, we have a back-up You Tube copy, here. Meanwhile, the fine folks at the online magazine Condition Critical preserved a copy of the ’80s VHS sleeves, here. So, as you can see, this lone film by Jim West has its fans.

And this tale has a twist. . . .

Polk County Pot Plane is based on a real life incident chronicled on the Tallapoosa Memories Facebook page (the post also offers photos and articles about the 1975 events). The way the Georgia memories of smuggler Marty Raulins reads . . . well, it’s a hell of a lot more interesting than the fictional tale Jim West cooked up.

The story goes: Jim West was involved in all of the real life pot shenanigans of the federal government-confiscated DC-4 and buying the land where the airstrip was located . . . and the opening scene of the film of the plane being flown off the airstrip, and the third-act’s scenes of the heavy-equipment clearing of the airstrip . . . well, that’s the same government confiscated plane, and Jim’s clearing the airstrip to move the plane of its mountain perch. Turns out (and as a radio broadcast in the film tells us), the government made the bust and seized the plane . . . then had “no idea” how to get it off the mountain nor wanted to “pay for the cost” of moving it. So they auctioned the land and the plane to the highest bidder: Jim West won — then made his movie about Georgia’s infamous Polk County Pot Plane of 1975.

Courtesy of Wikimapia.org, who truncated the true story that led to the film:

Drug smugglers flying a Douglas DC-4 (N67038) landed at a 1000 foot airstrip which had been bulldozed out of the forest only hours beforehand. The DC-4, designed for runways of 3000 feet or longer, managed to stop in less than 500. Numerous bales of marijuana were unloaded from the aircraft, which was then abandoned. As one might expect, a large four engine piston aircraft roaring about the countryside at low level in the dead of night attracted considerable attention from the locals, and law enforcement in particular. Numerous suspects were quickly apprehended in the following days. Charges were dropped against many, including the owner of the DC-4, as it could not be conclusively proven that he was the pilot at the time it landed in Polk County.

The DC-4 had been seized by authorities as evidence. Various schemes for disposing of the aircraft were proposed. One involved using helicopters to airlift the ship out of the woods to the nearest proper airport. Another was to turn the site into a local tourist attraction. At length though, the aircraft was auctioned off to the highest bidder on the courthouse steps. The new owner lengthened the airstrip out to roughly 3500 feet and flew the aircraft out shortly thereafter [which is our filmmaker: Jim West!].”

You can also read another take of the tale in the August 2019 digital pages of the Rome News-Tribune by Kevin Myrick. The New York Times has also digitized their August 1975 coverage of the bust, “Plane on Mountaintop Perplexes Sheriff.” Do you want a commemorative tee-shirt? Polk Today, through the Poke History Society Museum, has ’em!

Just, wow. This one of the best backstories to a movie, ever. It even out-metas H. B. “Toby” Halicki’s Gone in 60 Seconds trilogy, with his movie-within-movie-within-movie shenanigans of The Junkman and Deadline Auto Theft! A producer needs to read up on this and do a meta-movie about the making of Polk County Pot Plane! I’d pay to see that movie. (And give me a role, will ya’? Even an under-five will do. I sure do need an acting gig.)

Be sure to check out our rundown of hicksploitation and redneck cinema delights from the ’70s and ’80s with our “Top 70 Good Ol’ Boys Film List.”

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

88 FILMS BLU RAY RELEASE: The Gestapo’s Last Orgy (1977)

R.D reviewed this one back on September 21, 2021, but now that 88 Films has released it, it’s my turn. Yes, this is one of the first releases from this label in the U.S.

“For the last decade 88 Films has been one of the leading physical media collector’s labels in the UK specializing in cult film releases packed with bonus features in beautiful packaging,” said Eric D. Wilkinson, Director of Home Video Sales and Acquisitions for MVD Entertainment Group. “For years, consumers here in North America had to import these releases if they wanted to add them to their collections, but all of that is about to change. MVD is the leading independent distribution partner of physical media collector’s labels, and we not only proudly welcome 88 Films to our family but are thrilled to help introduce 88 Films to American consumers.”

Richard Elliott, Managing Director of 88 Films, commented, “We are enormously excited to bring our 88 Films brand to the United States and in MVD we have found the perfect distribution partners. We will be releasing our usual fare of Slasher classics, Italian Genre titles and Martial Arts Cinema and we are so pleased to be joining the pantheon of amazing American indie blu-ray labels.”

Well, they started off strong!

Still banned in the UK as one of the infamous Video Nasties —Section 1 — this might be the roughest of all Nazisploitation movies and that’s saying something. I mean, they don’t call it Last Orgy Of The Third Reich and Caligula Reincarnated As Hitler because it’s a family movie.

Cesare Canevari made nine movies, from giallo (A Hyena in the Safe and Killing of the Flesh) to westerns (Matalo!) and erotic films (A Man for EmmanuelleThe Nude Princess). None of these will prepare you for this film.

Conrad von Starke (Marc Loud, who is really Adriano Micantoni) has agreed to meet in the ruins of an old death camp with Lise Cohen (Daniela Poggi, the only actress that I know who went from Nazi movie star to UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador), whose testimony may have saved his life at a war crimes trial. They make love inside the walls of the decimated camp as Lise remembers when this place was a soul destroying machine. I mean, where else would they line up an army of SS troopers and make them watch videos so disgusting that even I was taken aback and then unleashed upon unsuspecting women?

Between the idea taking directly from The Night Porter and this scene being Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom on a small scale, this movie obviously does not care at all about your sensibiities.

As if the movie heard you wonder, “Can it get any worse?” then the officers eat a stew made out of babies before roasting a woman by coating her in brandy, throwing her in an open coffin and setting her ablaze before eating her. I mean, this movie has enough to offend you in two of ots minutes more than just about everything that will come out in the next five years.

Why is Lise so strong in the face of torture, unlike everyone else? Because she gave her family over to the SS and wants to die to atone for her sins. When a camp doctor tells her that this was not her fault, she finds that she wants to live by any means she can, so she becomes Starke’s woman. After  his jealous German girlfriend assaults him with his own whip, he strangles her and proclaims his love for Lise, who shows hers by wearing a belt made of the scalps of her fellow prisoners. Yet when she has his child, a half-Jewish infant has no place in the Fatherland.

This wakes her from her memories and after they finish making love, she murders him.

Man, this movie!

Seriously, this is not for everyone. But there’s definitely some class here. I mean, there’s also a scene where a woman eats her own waste and poses with it, so there’s that. But this has a production budget, great costumes and an attempt at telling an actual story when it’s not doing all it can to either make you run screaming or desensitize you for life.

Somehow, you may wonder, just how gorgeous can a 1977 Italian Nazi movie look? Funny story — it looks great thanks to a brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negatives. It’s raw and completely uncut with new subtitles and two audio commentaries one by critic and author Samm Deighan and the other by Italian movie specialists Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thomson. The package with slipcover is beautiful, along with a book and double sided poster. You can get this from MVD or Diabolik DVD. Seriously, if you have the stomach for it, 88 Films knocked this release out of the park.

MILL CREEK DRIVE-IN CLASSICS MONTH: Snowbeast (1977)

EDITOR’S NOTE: We did a Chilling Classics Mill Creek month three years ago and Bill Van Ryn wrote this on November 7, 2018. He loves this movie so much that we watched it on our live show and had a drink to celebrate it! For more of Bill’s writing, check out Groovy Doom and Drive-In Asylum

A popular vacation spot, desperate for tourist dollars, is suddenly beset by a beast that kills people. This coincides with the big breadwinning season of the vacation spot, leading the people in charge to hush up the deaths and avoid spooking the tourists into bolting. In the post-Jaws 1970s, there was no limit to the number of movies that came along with this exact same plot. One of the most successful imitators was William Girdler’s 1976 flick Grizzly, which placed the action in a park and substituted a bear for a shark. 1977 TV movies Snowbeast distills this formula even further, making the park a Colorado ski resort and changing the grizzly to a bigfoot monster.

Robert Logan and Sylvia Sidney play a grandson and grandmother who find their winter carnival interrupted by a monster that starts attacking and eating isolated people on the slopes — at one point, Logan says he can identify a victim’s body by looking at her face, and another character says “She doesn’t have it anymore.”  Sidney, of course, doesn’t want to admit that there is a problem at all, and advises Logan to keep it a secret. Bo Svenson is a former Olympic ski champion who has fallen on hard times and picks the wrong time to come to his old friend Logan for a job; I’m pretty sure entering into combat with a murderous bigfoot was not what he signed on for. Svenson’s wife, played by Yvette Mimieux, happens to be a former flame of Logan’s adding a love triangle to the story. Anyone who read the novel Jaws knows there was a love triangle in that story too, although it was not retained for the film version, so maybe nobody realized at the time just how deeply the screenwriter Joseph Stefano plunder the depths of Peter Benchley’s story.

Although the violence is subdued enough for a TV movie, there are some moments of dread to be found here, like when one character is trapped in a wrecked RV and can’t escape the oncoming monster, which just comes right for him and slaughters him immediately. There’s also a very silly moment when the creature shows up to interrupt a rehearsal for a pageant. It smashes a window, causes a little hysterical panic (including a hilarious reaction shot from Sylvia Sidney), and then proceeds back to where it came, stopping along the way to kill a helpless parent who was just waiting to pick up her daughter from the rehearsal.

Ultimately, camp is king in Snowbeast, and there is enough of that on hand to entertain this jaded viewer. Also, I enjoyed the outdoor photography, including some impressive tracking shots of characters skiing.

BONUS: Here’s the drink to go with it!

Snowballbeast

  • .25 oz. blue curaçao
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 2 oz. vanilla rum
  • 2 oz. cream of coconut
  1. Shake with ice in your shaker, then pour into a chilled glass. Enjoy!

Mill Creek Drive-In Classics: That Guy from Harlem (1977)

Tell Big Daddy that nobody fools with The Guy from Harlem, you dig?”
— Let than be a warning to anyone who decides to mess with John Shaft, er, we mean, Al Conners

I’m just talkin’ about . . . Al Connors?

Rene Martinez, Jr. only made three blaxsploitation films, but wow, what a VHS-rental trio they were: his debut, the bike-slanted Road of Death (1973; okay, so that’s not exactly blaxploiting), and his final effort, The Six Thousand Dollar Ni**er (1978) — which aka’d as the less offensive, Super Soul Brother, and even Black Superman. Each are equally inept in all of their flubbed lines, mumbled to staccato-SHOUTED thepsin’, bad sound, exposed mic booms, clumsy soft-core sex, and Rudy Ray Moore-styled fighting awfulness: which is just how we like our blaxploitation romps to roll. You dig?

If an ex-Deep Throat actress . . . and a guy trying to pull a Rudy Ray Moore film and album combo doesn’t inspire you. . . .

In between, Martinez made this Shaft ripoff penned by his wife, Gardenia, concerned with the adventures of a rough n’ tumble, streetwise private eye named Al Connors (Loye Hawkins). Working a case in Miami, Florida, Connors is called back up to Harlem by the CIA to protect an African princess from a kidnapping plot. His assignment leads to the kidnapping of a drug kingpin’s daughter by a rival gang who wants the princess. . . .

At least I think that’s how the two stories intertwined. Yeah, we’ll go with that plot. Sorry, I was blinded by the plaid and pastel-colored suits. Those white patent leather shoes aren’t helping, either. I mean, we are dealing with a story where the CIA can’t handle the protection of a government dignitary — their job description — and contract a fourth-rate private eye. So, forget “logic,” okay?

Eh, Martinez and Loye Hawkins — like Rudy Ray Moore (Petey Wheatstraw) before them — couldn’t write, act, or direct, but they gave it a shot — with whom I think are moonlighting porn actors (especially that curly-haired blonde white guy for the “big fight” finish). Sadly, the excitement of the blaxploitation-era was over and done by the time this Martinez opus hit the drive-ins . . . to later be discovered by an April Wine tee-shirt wearing lad obsessed with ’60s biker flicks and ’70s blaxsploitation films populating the “Action” shelves of his local video emporium. Sure, you have it easier with these Mill Creek sets, but, well . . . I guess you just had to be there . . . for the days when you had to physically leave your house to rent a movie and there were no bargain box sets.

Boris Karloff and Loye Hawkins one-stop shopping!

There’s two ways to enjoy The Guy From Harlem on Tubi: the original version or its Rifftrax version. There’s no freebie streams of Road of Death, but we found a trailer on You Tube — which is all you really need, trust us. There is, however, to our celluloid chagrin, a copy of The Six Thousand Dollar Ni**er on You Tube to torture one’s self by.

More karate-inspired blaxploitation!

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

Mill Creek Drive-In Classics: Prime Time (1977), aka American Raspberry (1979)

NBC’s Saturday Night Live, initially known as NBC’s Saturday Night, premiered with its debut host, George Carlin, on October 11, 1975. The show’s taboo, National Lampoon-inspired comedy sketches that parodied contemporary culture and politics, was a late-night ratings blockbuster. So it was inevitable it would inspire a series of low-budget, “sketch anthology” drive-in knock offs.

The best known — and box office successful — of the faux-Not Ready for Prime Time Players ensembles was the The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977) directed by John Landis and written by the ZAZ team of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker (later of Airplane! and The Naked Gun). Prior to SNL making it to air was the equally successful, X-rated The Groove Tube (1974). The writing and directing debut by Ken Shapiro, he would later do the same for the early, Chevy Chase comedy bomb, Modern Problems. You may also remember the better, late-to-the-game Amazon Women on the Moon (1987) featuring segments directed by Joe Dante.

Lost in between the success of those comedic omnibuses are Herschell Gordon Lewis’s trailblazer Miss Nymphet’s Zap-In (1970), The Boob Tube (1975), American Tickler (1978), Coming Attractions, aka Loose Shoes (1978; starring experienced improv-comics Bill Murray and Howard Hesseman), and National Lampoon’s hour-long cable special Disco Beaver from Outer Space (1979).

Join B&S guest writer Robert Freese — also of Videoscope Magazine and Drive-in Asylum — for his “Exploring ’80s Comedies” blowout.

Then there’s this forgotten knockoff directed by Bradley R. Swirnoff and written by the BFS team of John Baskin, Stephen Feinberg, and Roger Shulman. Another similar, forgotten project from the comedic think tank was Tunnel Vision (1976).

As with their previous Tunnel Vision, Prime Time also deals with the nation’s first uncensored television network. This time — instead of the new network being part of a legitimate business venture in the future year of 1985 — all world television transmissions have been interrupted by an “unknown source” broadcasting a lineup of tasteless programs and commercials. Warner Bros. — who got involved hoping to appeal to the “hep” National Lampoon-reading college crowd weened on SNL — bankrolled the film for a mere $30,000 and intended to release it. When they saw the end product and deemed it “unreleasable,” they sold it to Cannon Films, which released it as American Raspberry in 1979. In fact, MGM was also burned (to the tune of $3 million) by Not Ready for Prime Time Players-connected material: the studio pulled SNL’s short film auteur Tom Schiller’s science fiction comedy (also working as a pseudo-anthology comedy), Nothing Last Forever (1984), from release and never screened it, anywhere (it’s now in the copyright vaults of Warners and part of the TCM library; Warners owns the pre-1986 MGM library).

Okay, back to the movie. . . .

As the President of the United States tries to get to bottom of who is responsible the tasteless transmissions, we’re subjected to a series of programs and commercials, aka skits, for 75-minutes of politically incorrect spoofs that would give today’s hashtag warriors a brain aneurysms as set they off on a quest to cancel-culture everyone connected to the project from existence.

There’s abortions and gynecologists. Catholic and midgets. Tampons and (fat) Charlie’s Angels (the series “Manny’s Nymphs”). There’s commercials calling out the tobacco industry and non-profit organizations like Save the Children. There’s spoofs on the then popular, yet annoying, commercials for car batteries (for an Execution organization promoting their “Die Tough Batteries”) and credit cards (“American Excess”). The capper is a commercial — that plays during the sitcom The Shitheads — for Trans Puerto Rico Airlines: its plane filled with goats and chickens as flies buzz around a pot of chili. Oh, wait: that’s topped by “sports coverage” of the Charles Whitman Invitational — as hunters sniper people and animals from a tower perch. And it goes on with a telethon raising funds for transvestites. Adolf Hitler pitching audio cassettes. Erection prevention sprays. Dog food commercials spoofing that funny topic of cannibalism.

And none of it is funny. None.

Well, at least not to me. Eh, the road to Judd Apatow had to start, somewhere. But why here? Oy, this was a chore to sit though. And to think my kid and teen self coveted these “adult comedies” back in the day. Yeah, sure . . . The Kentucky Fried Movie and The Groove Tube are okay, but this is, well, Plfffffffft!

Learn how National Lampoon got its start — in the frames of A Futile and Stupid Gesture.

The B&S About Movies crowd will notice the familiar character actors of Harris Yulin and Royce D. Applegate, along with Harry Shearer (This Is Spinal Tap), Warren Oates (Two-Lane Blacktop), Stephen Furst (Animal House), and an early Joanne Cassidy. And yes, that is Twink Caplan (Bloodspell), who became a successful producer in her own right with the ’90s comedies Curly Sue and Clueless. So, if you’re curious in seeing where those actors of VHS yore got their start, there’s something here to see. All others: hit that button and skip to the next Mill Creek selection.

It’s hard to believe the brains behind it all moved onto bigger and bigger things. But they did.

While Swirnoff and Freinberg left film and returned to the stage work from the improv lands which they came, we were unknowingly entertained by John Baskin and Stephen Feinberg into the late ’80s. The duo became a sought-after writing team for television, with multiple episodes of the hit series Love, American Style, All in the Family, Good Times, The Jeffersons, and Three’s Company, as well as developing the Jack Warden-starring series Crazy Like a Fox.

You can watch the trailer and full film on You Tube . . . or just watch the commercials.

Vampires! Comedies! Rutger Hauer action! Shannon Tweed’s breasts!

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

ARROW UHD RELEASE: The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

EDITOR’S NOTE: We first wrote about this movie on November 24, 2018, but as Arrow is releasing a UHD of this film, we thought it’d be a great time to remind you about it and let you know that you can now add a near-perfect version of this film to your collection.

Wes Craven’s second full-length film — if we don’t include the porn film The Fireworks Woman that he directed as Abe Snake — is a trip through the Nevada desert that he wrote, produced and directed. You can see it as straight-forward narrative or you can choose to see it as a parable on how man will always be inhuman to other men.

The Carter family really gets it in this one. After being targeted by a family of cannibal savages in the Nevada desert, the family’s leader Big Bob is crucified to a tree, the daughter Brenda is raped, numerous members are shot and stabbed and also killed, one of the family dogs is killed and even the baby is threatened with being a meal.

But they retaliate with just as much inhumanity as they battle back against the desert clan of Papa Jupiter, Pluto (Michael Berryman!) and Jupiter. Even the second family dog joins in and takes out his rage on the mutant clan.

The idea of an irradiated gang in the desert is intriguing and was inspired by the Sawney Bean clan in 1600’s Scotland, which claimed the lives of nearly 1,000 people.

Additionally, Craven was inspired by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and ended up making a film that — in my opinion — lives in its shadow. Interestingly enough, the films share product design from Robert Burns, as well as some of the exact same animal parts that decorate the homes of each film’s cannibal lairs.

There’s a sequel, a remake and a sequel to that as well. In the late 1980’s, Craven even debated a third movie that was to be set in space, while his 1995 film produced for HBO, Mind Ripper, was originally intended as the third film in the series.

The Arrow UHD release of this movie offers a brand new 4K restoration of the film, viewable with both original and alternate endings. It also comes with six postcards, a reversible fold-out poster and a limited edition 40-page booklet featuring writing on the film by critic Brad Stevens and a consideration of the Hills franchise by Arrow producer Ewan Cant, illustrated with original archive stills and posters. Plus, there’s three different audio commentary tracks: actors Michael Berryman, Janus Blythe, Susan Lanier and Martin Speer; academic Mikel J. Koven; and Wes Craven and Peter Locke. Plus, there are interviews, a making-of documentary, outtakes, trailers, TV spots, the original script and so much more, all inside beautiful packaging featuring both the original and newly commissioned artwork by Paul Shipper.

You can get The Hills Have Eyes UHD from MVD and Diabolik DVD.

MILL CREEK DRIVE-IN MOVIE CLASSICS: Beast with a Gun (1977)

Released in the U.S. as Beast with a Gun, The Human Beast and Mad Dog Killer, this movie probably had more people see it when it was the film that Louis Gara (Robert De Niro) and Melanie (Bridget Fonda) watch in Jackie Brown.

Nanni Vitali is a maniac. Played by Helmut Berger (The DamnedSalon Kitty), he’s set his sights on horrifying revenge, escaping jail and killing the man who set him up,  raping his woman Giuliana (Marisa Mell, who pretty much will do anything in any poliziotteschi movie, as well as being the female patron saint of these Mill Creek sets) and then going after everyone and anyone.

Richard Harrison is the only man that can stop him, as he tries to kill Giuliana, as well as Harrison’s father and aunt. Man, you’d really have to convince me that Mell wasn’t shot for real, because her dedication in these movies is near-death match wrestler in its intensity.

Somehow, of all the Italian police movies filled with mayhem, this is the only one that made it to the video nasty list. It’s listed as Street Killers on the Section 3 chapter of that infamous list.

You can watch this on Tubi.

MILL CREEK DRIVE-IN MOVIE CLASSICS: Rituals (1977)

EDITOR’S NOTE: We originally had this movie on the site on October 26, 2019. As we review the Mill Creek set, this was part of it. Its very worthy of your time, so read up and get it yourself. Then maybe you’d like to share your feelings on this one!

After seeing Joe Bob Briggs “How Rednecks Saved Hollywood,” the entire B&S About Movies team mobilize and celebrated these films, from a Letterboxd list to making our own picks for top 70’s good ol’ boys movies. But to be honest, we watched so many of these movies, where would we find something new to answer the Scarecrow Challenge for one more day?

Canada, with your tax shelters and movies that are far north of odd, remains our constant bastion and perhaps place to run to after next November.

Director Peter Carter also made a movie called High-Ballin’ and it wasn’t a porno, instead a trucking film, so we need to respect the artist coming in.

Five doctors go on vacation deep in the Northern Ontario wilderness. Every year, one of them gets to pick where they go and this time, it’s D.J. who gets to be travel agent. He takes the guys to the Cauldron of the Moon, which was a practical location that had been created by a fire a few years earlier.

According to the natives, this is where the earth collided with the moon and it hsould be a place of magic, but it’s really just a place for the doctors to get drunk and argue about their lives, their ethics and, well, just argue.

As our guys wake up for another day of cutting up, they end up getting cut up in a much different way. That’s because everyone’s boots have been stolen. I guess these guys never listened to Iron Maiden or cowboy lore.

D.J. had said, time and again, being a backup pair of boots, and he ended up being the only one that did so. That means he has to go back alone through he dangerous woods and bring back four pairs of boots. As the guys wait for their friend, they’re soon confronted by the carcass of a dead deer before they also discover a severed head. That’s a real dead deer, by the way, in case you think the Italians are the only ones willing to sicken you with autentic snuffed out animals on celluloid.

Harry (Hal Holbrook) takes charge, but it seems as if the past — and all the mistakes with it — have come back to haunt the rest of the group.

While this movie was obviously inspired by Deliverance, it’s also a proto-slasher, with a killer setting traps in the woods that predates the work of Cropsey, Madman Marz and Pamela Vorhees’ little man.

You have a lot of options if you want to see this movie. You can watch this on the Internet Archive for free. Or you can allow our friends at Mill Creek to help with either their Drive-In Movie Classics: 50 Movie Pack or Horror Classics: 100 Movie Pack. However, the best version is available from Ronin Flix, who have the Scorpion Releasing blu ray re-release of this.

2021 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 10: The Inquisition, aka Inquisición (1977)

DAY 10 — RITUALS: It’s good to have a routine, even if it’s evil.

It’s an “Antichrist” movie because I say so!

The 1970s were a time of “witchhunting,” with such film as Michael Reeves’s The Conqueror Worm (1968), Michael Armstrong’s Mark of the Devil (1970), Ken Russell’s The Devils (1971), and Otakar Vavra’s Witchhammer (1970). So Paul Naschy answered call — to the exploitative extreme — with his Spanish-Italian produced directorial debut (very loosely) based on Spain’s Grand Inquisitor Toma de Torquemada — who advocated burning the guilty at the stake. Naschy — again, in his debut behind the camera — does a solid job in scripting the serious-classic side of the subject matter from the British-made Witchfinder General (aka The Conqueror Worm) with the sleazy-trash side of the German-made Mark of the Devil — without delving into the Ken Russell arty or Vavra exactness — with a nudity and gore-filled romp rife with solid, period-correct set design.

As plague and pestilence ravages 16th century France, Paul Naschy’s sexually depraved and spiritually corrupt Bernard de Fossey (who can teach a lesson or two in the depraved shenanigans department to Vincent Price, Herbert Lom, and Oliver Reed in their respective films) leads a trio of witch hunters who strike fear in the countryside as they judge, torture and condemn those they suspect of witchery. While staying at the home of the local magistrate, de Fossey falls in love with his host’s daughter, Catherine, who, in turn, is in love with another. When her lover is murdered by thieves (paid for by de Fossey), she makes a pact with The Devil (Paul Naschy, in a dual role, as our resurrected faux-Antichrist; he appears in a third role as The Grim Reaper) to extract revenge.

What’s great about Naschy’s scripting, here, is the ambiguity.

Sure, de Fossey is a sadist out to satiate his fleshly desires, but he believes what he does is truly called on by the Lord. (Remember: Adolf Hitler, while inherently evil, neither saw himself as such, but a just man in a cause for the common good of Germany’s citizens.) Then there’s Catherine, who, so as to deal with her depression and nightmares over her lover’s death, allows herself to be doped up by Mabille, the local witch-alchemist — who may or may not be a witch (with lesbian tendencies) — using Catherine as a vessel to kill de Fossey. So, is Catherine really possessed by The Devil and did she really conjure-resurrect Him, or is she simply psychotic? Then there is Renover, the local town (one-eyed) rapist. His rejection-fueled misogyny, which rather see those he lusts after burn at the stake than to be with anyone else, fills up the dungeons with plenty of (fully) naked women — their bare breasts ready for (nasty) torture, as well as rack stretchings and charcoal burnings.

Naschy’s scripting, albeit more graphically than it should be (be prepared to close your eyes for the rotating gear/breast-clipping device), balances the perverted dichotomy practiced in the name of Catholic Church (again, back to the sick bastard that was Torquemada) with the ongoing quest of female liberation — who still need to sell their souls to men (or The Devil, in this case), to be “liberated.”

To say I love the pseudo-Hammer and Amicus Brit-vibes of Inquisition is an understatement. It’s a well-researched, well-made, historically accurate and intelligent film that ranks alongside Naschy’s interpretations of the atrocities of Gilles de Rais in two of my personal, Naschy favorites: Horror Rises from the Tomb (1973) and Panic Beats (1983) — with an honorable mention to his zombie-apoc’er, The People Who Own the Dark (1975). Otakar Vavra’s previously mentioned Witchhammer chronicles the real life exploits of serial killer, uh, Witchfinder Inquisitor Boblig von Edelstat, who cut a horrific swatch across 1600’s Czechoslovakia.

The trailers are age-restricted, so you can watch them as account log-ins on You Tube HERE and HERE.


The Mondo Macabro Blu-ray on Inquisition— as is the case with all of their Naschy reissues — is excellent, with its features of an introduction by Paul Naschy, an interview with star Daniela Giordano (as Catherine), an audio commentary by Rod Barnett and Troy Guinn from The Naschycast, and the inclusion of Blood and Sand, a mini-documentary on Spanish horror films.

For the true Paul Naschy fan in you — oh, it’s in each and every B&S About Movies reader, admit to it — pick up the two-box Shout Factory! The Paul Naschy Collection. (One day, we’ll crack these open and review them, in full.)

The five discs of set one features:

VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES
HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB
BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL
NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF
HUMAN BEASTS

The five discs of set two features:

HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE
THE DEVIL’S POSSESSED
THE WEREWOLF AND THE YETI
EXORCISM
A DRAGONFLY FOR EACH CORPSE

In addition to an upload of Blood and Sand on You Tube, there’s also an upload of the feature-length documentary on Paul Naschy’s career, The Man Who Saw Frankenstein Cry, which we reviewed, HERE. Also be sure to check out our “Exploring: Paul Naschy and El Hombre Lobo” chronicle on Naschy’s love of portraying The Wolfman.

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

Achtung! The Desert Tigers (1977)

Okay, we are cheating with this review.

This Nazisploitation entry isn’t — officially — on the U.K.’s “Video Nasties” list that we’ve been reviewing all this week, but after showing the B&S love for expatriate American actors Richard Harrison and Gordon Mitchell in our review of Three Men on Fire (1986) — along with this theme week’s “official nasties” reviews of Lee Frost’s Love Camp 7 (1969), Sergio Garrone’s SS Experiment Camp (1976; whose artwork this film pinches in its VHS reissues), and Cesare Canevari’s Gestapo’s Last Orgy (1977) — you can’t overlook this Luigi Batzella warm up for his notable nazisploitation’er The Beast in Heat, aka SS Hell Camp, aka S.S. Experiment Camp 2 (1977).

Batzella’s resume is a slight one: Out of the 15 films he wrote, he directed 10 — sometimes under the celluloid de plume of Yvan, aka Ivan, Kathansky. Of those — most of which are stock footage mash-ups — we care about two: the Gothic horror Nude for Satan (1974) (that, for my money, screams “Bill Van Ryn must review this for the site!”) and the aforementioned The Beast in Heat. (Okay, three: The Devil’s Wedding Night, his 1973 Gothic take on the Lady Dracula legend.) And as for Richard Harrison: I’m just happy to see him in a film without “Ninja” in the title (he did 19 of them, thanks to the Philippines film industry, if you’re counting).

The movie isn’t as shocking as the theatrical one-sheet

So, if you’re a fan of The Beast in Heat — and expecting your rocket to leave the pocket, stow that flesh torpedo, my friend. For the caveat emptor, here, is that Batzella pulls back the reins on this Nazi warm-up, loosening ever so slightly to see just how far he can push the bad taste. (Then, if you know his next Nazi ditty, he lets the reins go for full-on sleaze.) So, this time, don’t be duped by the “shocking” theatrical one-sheet or the “Nazisplotation” genre description, for this is just another World War II flick, one that’s heavily influenced by John Sturges’s The Great Escape (1963) — via about 20 minutes of (well-shot, well, sort of) stock footage (from who knows where) of a North Africa war campaign on a German Tank division and the sabotage of a desert fuel depot.

Then the proceedings take a hard left turn into the “women in prison” genre, because well, by this cinematic point: when we see Nazis, we’re home video-conditioned to expect sexploitation — with heaping helpings of gratuitous nudity (breasts and triangles of death), brutal whippings, and yes, as always, at least one castration (after the fact) and the old urine-is-whiskey gag.

While you wouldn’t know it from the stock footage, Richard Harrison’s U.S. Major Lexman was in charge of that desert raid of blazing flame throwers. Now Lexman’s thrust into the middle of a coed POW camp run by Gordon Mitchell’s Kommandant von Stolzen. Of course, any good camp commandant must have a lesbian sidekick with a medical degree . . . and Dr. Lessing, of course (Lea Lander, of Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace and Rabid Dogs, the Italian Exorcist rip The Tempter), loves her leather strips to whip out the pain upon Jewish and Arab women with sadistic equality. Oh, and Lesser enjoys a bit of the ol’ whip across her own flesh from time to time by way of her sexy, Jewish nurse. Oh, and we can’t forget about Lessing’s obsessions with the “hygiene” of her charges via a nice, hard scrubbing on what is best described as a “shower stockade,” or something. And yada, yada, yada . . . Major Lexman teams up with the camp’s Brits to take Lessing as their hostage and make their “Great Escape,” with the German’s hot on their trail.

Oh, do we care about the romantic subplot of Lessing’s nurse cheating on her with an American G.I. (expatriate American actor Mike Monty of my beloved Philippines junk flicks!) in on the escape . . . that gets Lessing hot and bothered in a tongue-wagging and breast fondling delight?

Nope. I’m bored.

So, amid the 80-minutes stock and dubbing and mismatched scenes, we get about 20 minutes of the sleazy Nazizploitation we came for vs. the 60 minutes of World War II war beeboppin’ and scattin’ that we didn’t come for — perhaps if it was original footage shot for the film and not by stock footage . . . nah, this is a Luigi Batzella production and he is Italy’s “Godfrey Ho” in my cinematic eyeball; he’d never pull off any original war footage.

And the music . . . well, I’ll be 12-barred déjà vu’d . . . this movie is now truly complete, as that’s Marcello Giombini’s soundtrack from my ol’ Uncle Alfonzo Brescia’s Star Odyssey!

One of the most infamous Nazi baddies!

So, you need to complete your Richard Harrison and Gordon Mitchell two-fer fix? In addition to Three Men on Fire and Achtung! The Desert Tigers, look for the Turkish-made (back by Italian money) Four for All (1974), the German-made Natascha: Death Greetings from Moscow (1977), and again with Luigi Batzella in Strategy for the Death Mission, aka Black Gold (1979). And for you Fred Olen Ray fans — and aren’t we all — the duo cameos in Evil Spawn (1987). Yes, Olen Ray with Harrison and Gordon. And the brain whirling dervishes in a junk cinema delight.

You can watch Achtung! The Desert Tigers as an age-restricted freebie on You Tube (whateva . . . it’s not that “nasty,” kiddies). Don’t forget that there’s more Nazisploitation to be had with the genre documentary Fascism on a Thread: The Strange Story of Nazisploitation Cinema (2020).

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