American Tickler (1977)

If you’re going to watch a Chuck Vincent movie, you should really watch Hollywood Hot Tubs or Warrior Queen. Deranged is pretty good, too. Or Bedroom Eyes II.

This is a movie that has a shark movie parody called Jews. That alone should warn you of the heights that this movie will dramatically trip and fail before it even gets close to takeoff. It isn’t helped by another parody called King Dong which is exactly what you think it is. Then there’s The Happy Cooker, a show hosted by Xaviera Collander. That’s a joke only I would find funny, to be honest.

Three people — other than me — have reviewed this on Letterboxd. That should tell you how bad it is. It’s one saving grace is that it’s the first movie that Joe Piscopo ever made.

Imagine all of the worst Saturday Night Live sketches, the ones that seem to go on for on and on and on, with people noticeably silent and every cast member looking uncomfortable. Now make an entire movie of that.

At least the poster is nice.

You can watch this on YouTube:

This Is America (1977)

Also known as Jabberwalk, you have to love any mondo movie that starts with “America the Beautiful” being destroyed by The Dictators and then explains that demolition derbies are the top sport in the U.S.

Drive-in churches. Satanic masses. Mud wrestling. Fast food. If the world of America in this movie was true, I’d feel a lot better about our future.

Writer/producer/director Romano Vanderbes made two of these movies, as well as America Exposed, which I’m certain shocked the hell out of people in Finland.

There’s a scene with a nude competition and adult stars CJ Laing — who was in Barbara Broadcast — and Bree Anthony appear. You can also see the all female band Isis and a young Arnold getting his pump on at Gold’s Gym.

Funeral parlors where you can just drive on in? Dildo factories? Dungeons? This Is America has all that and yes, so much more. It’s exactly the type of mondo you’d hope would be in this kind of sleaze. It lives up to that and way, way more.

REPOST: Satanico Pandemonium (1973)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This movie originally ran on our site on January 27, 2020, back when we were doing two weeks of Satanic films. Seeing as how it was just re-released by Mondo Macabro, we’re bringing it back.

Sister Maria should be living the quiet and chaste convent life, but she has a fantasy world in which she runs free and wild, the servant of Satan. In our world, her acts of violent blasphemy are on the increase as she begins to realize that her job is to lead her sisters in Christ down the left hand path to Hell. The Devil has his hooves into Sister Maria and he isn’t going to let go.

Gilberto Martinez Solares also directed Santo and Blue Demon Against the Monsters, but there’s no way that will prepare you for this movie. I’d compare it — obviously — to Alucarda, a movie that it has similar themes to but less eye popping visuals. That’s not to say that this movie plays it safe, but man, it had a high bar to reach.

Sure, Maria is good with medicine and animals, but once she sees Lucifer — who tells her “Call me Lucifer. If you want me, just think of me, I’m everywhere.” — and eats the apple he offers, all Hell breaks loose. Where she once self-flagellated herself, now our heroine — I guess? — is making love to the other nuns when she’s not watching them hang themselves.

There’s also an interesting subplot about a black nun who is treated badly by everyone, including her Mother Superior, which seems a deep subject to tackle in a Mexican nunsploitation film. Also — lots of stabbing. And obviously, this is where Salma Hayek’s character in From Dusk Till Dawn got her name.

You can get the new blu ray re-release from Mondo Macabro, who were kind enough to send us this movie.

Dangerous Cargo (1977)

Mondo Macabro has been releasing several examples of Greek exploitation cinema lately, which is a genre I have only recently started to dip my toe into. This is directed by Kostas Karagiannis, who directed more than a hundred movies between 1961 and 1990, including Land of the MinotaurThe Wife Killer and Tango of Perversion.

Deborah Shelton, a former Miss USA and star of DallasBody Double and Sins of the Night, plays the captain’s wife. That’s right. That’s the only name she gets. When her husband is killed by pirates, she’s left alone with these rough and brutal men on the roughest of seas. That said, she’s not unafraid to use her body and cunning to stay alive and start to plan her revenge.

Set entirely on a ship carrying an illegal cargo of dangerous nitroglycerin, this film places all the many sides against one another. No one is blameless. No one is safe. Not many people have clothes on, either.

Complicating matters is that one of the film’s stars is named Kostas Karagiorgis, when the director is Kostas Karagiannis. Perhaps these names, in Greece, are as common as John Smith.

The original Greek title, Anomalo Fortio, translates as An Abnormal Load, which makes the 12-year-old in me laugh to no end.

You can get this from the fine folks at Mondo Macabro, who were kind enough to send us a review copy. It’s also available on their new site.

SST Death Flight (1977)

David Lowell Rich directed Eye of the Cat and Satan’s School for Girls before this made-for-TV movie, which originally aired February 25, 1977 on ABC. He also directed The Horror at 37,000 Feet, which probably is why he was selected to make the final movie in the Airport series, the absolutely insane The Concorde … Airport ’79.

There’s also a European version of this called Death Flight that has nudity in it, if you want some more death in the sky with breasts action. You’ll get that but no realism, as the plane model used for the film is actually American SST as the first of its kind. The aviation sequences utilized a Concorde with Boeing 747 turbofan engines attached in some scenes and a Lockheed L-2000 in others. Neither of these planes ever flew at these speeds.

On the maiden flight of Maiden 1, Captain Jim Walsh (Robert Reed, The Brady Bunch), Flight Engineer Roy Nakamura (Robert Ito, Quincy M.D.), stewardess Mae (Tina Louise, Gilligan’s Island) and steward David (Billy Crystal, City Slickers) are preparing for the first supersonic flight from New York City to Paris. Joining them are plenty of guest stars, like the designer of the ship (Burgess Meredith, Rocky), the head of PR (Bert Convy!) and the supermodel who he’s sleeping with (Misty Rowe, Hee-HawMeatballs Part 2) and a former pilot (Doug McClure, Firebird 2015 A.D.).

There are so many people in this and you know that I love movies like that. Peter Graves, John de Lancie (the Q!), Season Hubly (Hardcore), Susan Strasberg, Regis Philbin, George Maharis, Martin Millner, Brock Peters…1977 was such a great time for TV movies like this.

There’s also a virus unleashed on the plane beyond all the mechanical failures that you’d expect. Man, disaster films — on a budget! — are where it’s at.

Somehow, despite both being on Route 66, Milner and Maharis don’t appear in a single scene together.

This was one of the first movies that Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffed back when they were KTMA. Here it is on YouTube so you can watch the unadulterated movie all on its own:

ABC Afterschool Special: Hewitt’s Just Different (1977)

Before NBC and CBS eschewed adult soap opera programming and started programming divisions concentrating on weekday, young adult programming, ABC-TV blazed the trail with their Afterschool Special that ran for 25 years from October 1972 to January 1997. The series topics, which touched on illiteracy, drug abuse, bullying, spousal abuse, and teen pregnancy, earned a record-breaking 51 Daytime Emmys.

The series has far too many standout episodes to mention, but here’s just a few of them, starring actors you know all too well.

Santiago’s Ark (1972), about a 14-year-old Puerto Rican boy who builds a boat to sail around Central Park, co-starred Bill Duke (Predator, Commando; recently in American Satan and Mandy). Child actor René Enríquez would go onto star for several seasons as Lt. Ray Calletano on NBC-TV’s Hill Street Blues.

Other standouts include Me and My Dad’s Wife (1976; Kristie McNichol), Schoolboy Father (1980; Rob Lowe), Stoned (1980; Scott Baio), and Dinky Hocker (1979, the late Wendie Jo Sperber from Back to the Future). Then there’s Rookie of the Year (1973), which starred Jodie Foster (Silence of the Lambs, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane) as an 11-year-old girl who joins her brother’s Little League Team.

Image courtesy of randy rodman/eBay/MeTV

But it’s this first episode of the sixth season that aired on October 12, 1977, that we loved the most. You’ll recognized Russell “The Professor” Johnson from Gilligan’s Island and a then 16-year-old Perry Lang, later of Alligator, Spring Break, Eight Men Out, and 1941.

Lang is Hewitt Calder, a mentally-challenged teen cared for by his father (Johnson). Hewitt comes to make friends with Willie Arthur (Moosie Drier, later of American Hot Wax, Hollywood Nights). Together, they overcome the school bully, Nully (played by Tom Gulager, the son of Clu, the star of Return of the Living Dead and Hunter’s Blood), and teach the neighborhood kids that “Everybody Matters.”

Image courtesy of coolcanoga/eBay

Sadly—even with all of the uploads of Afterschool Special episodes—this one’s missing. And that’s a damn shame, because Perry is incredible in his acting debut. He’s long since moved into directing, with credits across all three major TV networks, along with the 2018 Christian-based film, Interview with God.

You can watch the episodes mentioned in this review—and more—on a pretty nifty catch-all playlist we found on You Tube.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

The Death of Richie (1977)

We’ve talked a lot about the prolific career of director Paul Wendkos at B&S About Movies. While Wendkos got his start directing Jayne Mansfield in the since forgotten rom-com The Burglar (1957) and directed a lot of Gidget movies, he built up pretty cool horror movie oeuvre with the theatrical feature The Mephisto Waltz, and the TV movies Good Against Evil, Haunts of the Very Rich, the 1985 remake of TV remake of The Bad Seed, and the legendary 1975 TV movie The Legend of Lizzie Borden.

In 1976 Wendkos was hired by NBC-TV to direct this, the second of two U.S. TV movies Robby Benson shot at the height of his teen idoldom, just before experiencing his first taste of international fame with his back-to-back theatrical hits of Ode to Billy Joe (1976) and One on One (1977). Benson’s first TV movie was ABC-TV’s Death Be Not Proud (1975).

Here, Benson stars in this true story based on the grim article and non-fiction book by Thomas Thompson regarding a father forced to kill his drug-crazed teenage son who came at him with an ice pick after one of their arguments about his litany of drug-induced troubles and his less-than-desirable friends (Charles Fleischer of A Nightmare on Elm Street and the voice of Roger Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Clint Howard of Ice Cream Man and Tango & Cash fame).

Keen eyes of ‘70s TV will notice “Capt. Nicole Davidoff,” Susan Pratt from the Saturday Morning “Star Wars,” Jason of Star Command, (one of my favorite ‘70s actors) John Friedrich (Thank God It’s Friday, Almost Summer, The Wanderers, and The Final Terror), and Cindy Eilbacher (TV movie Bad Ronald and Slumber Party Massacre II) as Richie’s friends. Lance Kerwin (of the TV movies The Loneliest Runner and James at 15; “Wooster” in Enemy Mine), Ben Gazzara (The Neptune Factor and Inchon; “Brad Wesley” in Roadhouse), and Eileen Brennan (FM) star as Richie’s put-upon family.

Critics have written this off as an Afterschool Special (we’re reviewing a few of those this week) with violence added. I disagree. This is an intense, emotionally sad story; one that, unlike most book-to-film transitions, is very faithful to the book. And even though you know the outcome, you remain gripped to the screen because you wonder just how much worse things will digress.

Since this was a ratings juggernaut that everyone in middle school watched, most of us went out and bought the book ($1.25 new!). Our school’s library even carried it. And we watched the film in civics class more than once. The subsequent VHS release dropped “The Death of” prefix and released this under the book’s original title of Richie—even toning down some of the violence from the original TV print, which is forever lost. Beware of the DVDs marketed as “digitally remastered”; there’s no official DVDs and all are grey market rips of varying quality.

This spins frequency as part of EPIX’s cable catalog (their print is rife with sound and visual issues). While you can also stream it on Amazon Prime, we found two free rips on You Tube HERE and HERE—and those same prints air on EPIX. You can read the scans of Thompson’s Life Magazine article HERE and HERE.

Join us tomorrow—Wednesday, and Thursday at 9 PM—as we take a look at two more “ripped from the headlines” troubled-teen TV movies with The Killing of Randy Webster and Angel Dusted.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

The Spell (1977)

Originally airing on February 20, 1977 on NBC, this Brian Taggert (Visiting Hours, Poltergeist III and Omen IV: The Awakening) film was supposedly written before Stephen King’s Carrie. It was supposed to be a theatrical film, but thanks to De Palma’s filmed version getting on screen first, this was relegated to a movie of the week.

Rita Matchett is a shy and overweight 15-year-old girl who gets picked on just like, well, Carrie. Except her powers happen way quicker, because as one of the mean girls climbs the rope in gym class, Jackie uses her powers to make her fall to her death.

While Rita comes from a rich family, she isn’t close with her sister (Helen Hunt) or her father (James Olson, Father Adamsky from Amityville II: The Possession). Her mother (Lee Grant, who reviews said deserved better than this movie, but I love this kind of ridiculous TV movie occult magic, so screw those people) tries to understand her, but once she starts speaking in tongues, all bets are off.

This is the kind of movie where an old woman spontaneously combusts, where the gym teacher  (Lelia Goldoni, who if I was artistic I’d tell you that she was in Cassavetes’ Shadows, but we all know that she was in the 70’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Unseen) teaches sad teens how to find Satan and the mom ends up having powers too, throwing knives at her daughter in a scene that again has nothing to do with Carrie at all.

Jack Colvin, who plagued David Bruce Banner on the TV version of The Incredible Hulk, and Wright King (Invasion of the Bee Girls) show up. So do some audio cues from the classic Star Trek.

Lee Phillips, who directed The Girl Most Likely to…, is behind this. Sure, it’s insanely derivative, but it’s plenty of fun.

This is one of the few made for TV movies that have come out on DVD. Thank Shout! Factory for that and beg them to release more! You can also watch this on Amazon Prime.

Code Name: Diamond Head (1977)

Quinn Martin (The FugitiveThe Streets of San FranciscoBarnaby Jones) produced this failed pilot, which stars Roy Thinnes (The Invaders, The Norliss Tapes) as Diamond Head, a secret agent who must stop double agent from stealing a chemical weapon.

He also goes by Johnny Paul, with his cover of being a gambler and ladies’ man living in Hawaii. The double agent, known only as Tree, ends up being Ian McShane.

France Nuyen (Alma from Battle for the Planet of the Apes) is in this, which is ironic, as she was also in the 1963 Charlton Heston movie Diamond Head. She’s joined by Zulu (Kono Kalakaua from Hawaii Five-O), Ward Costello (Bloody Birthday), Eric Braden (Victor from The Young and the Restless) and Eric Christmas (The Changeling).

It was directed by Jeannot Szwarc, whose strange resume saw him making all manner of movies from The Devil’s DaughterBug and Jaws 2 to Somewhere In TimeSupergirl and Santa Claus The Movie.

You can watch the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of this movie on Amazon Prime and Tubi. It’s also on YouTube.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

There had not been a James Bond movie for three years.

Seeing as how The Man with the Golden Gun did so poorly with audiences and critics, this movie would be very important to the franchise.

After all, it would be the first since the departure of producer Harry Saltzman, who was sold his half of the franchise in 1975, as the result of some bad investments, the loss of his wife and his own clinical depression.

One of the first issues the film faced was its director. Steven Spielberg wanted to make it, but was still in post-production on Jaws. Guy Hamilton, who had directed the past three films, decided to direct Superman instead (he was eventually replaced by Richard Donner). Lewis Gilbert ended up being the director, as thanks to You Only Live Twice, he had experience in the world of Bond.

The next issue? Who would be the villain? It couldn’t be Ernst Stavro Blofeld, as Kevin McClory, who owned the film rights to Thunderball, had a legal order that kept the producers from using Blofeld. To make things even more difficult, Fleming had requested that no elements from his original book be used and only the name of the novel could be used. This is why this is the first film that doesn’t have the author’s possessive name before the title.

Writer Christopher Wood was brought in by Gilbert to fix what he saw as a major issue with the Roger Moore Bond films. The writers were forcing the actor to be Sean Connery instead of being himself. He also added a henchman who would capture the attention of the fanbase, Jaws, who would be one of the few villains to return for another film and to redeem himself.

The result of all this work? Probably one of the best-regarded Bond movies ever, definitely the greatest of the Moore era. I probably watched this one more than any other as a kid, thanks to HBO, where it ran in heavy rotation. The Lotus Espirit sub scene, Jaws, Barbara Bach, the Carly Simon theme song — it is all things Bond.

Eon executive Charles Juroe said during a premiere screening — attended by Prince Charles — that when the Union Jack-parachute scene happened, “I have never seen a reaction in the cinema as there was that night. You couldn’t help it. You could not help but stand up. Even Prince Charles stood up.”

This scene, originally suggested by George Lazenby, changed the way that England felt about Bond. He went from just being a character who happened to be British to an iconic hero like King Arthur, Sherlock Holmes or Robin Hood.

The idea of two countries missiles being used against one another is recycled from You Only Live Twice, but that’s the only downside I can think of in this film.

Curd Jurgens (The Mephisto WaltzOSS 117 – Double Agent) plays Karl Stromberg, a grand villain who wants to destroy the world with nukes and then begin a new civilization underwater. Richard Kiel plays his henchman, the aforementioned Jaws, who has metal teeth and superhuman strength. Playing his personal pilot? Only one of the most attractive people to ever live, Caroline Munro.

So who is the spy who loved Bond? Anya Amasova, who is KGB Agent Triple X. Played by Barbara Bach (Black Belly of the TarantulaShort Night of Glass DollsScreamersThe Unseen), she’s no shrinking violet. She’s as capable and deadly as 007 and ready to kill our hero after she learns that he’s the man who assassinated her lover Sergei Barsov.

Here’s a great secret in this spy film: Stanely Kubrick worked on it. As the eyesight of cinematographer Claude Renoir was failing, he was having trouble finishing the film. Ken Adam turned to his friend Kubrick, who asked for complete secrecy if he would help with the lighting, using floodlights to make the supertanker scene more dramatic. His stepdaughter Katharina also worked on the movie, making the dentures that Richard Kiel used to become Jaws.

This is also the first film in which Bond kills a female henchperson, as he takes care of Naomi. Wondering why Caroline Munro looks so angry in all her scenes? She sat on a bee right before some of them and that’s her actually in pain and using it for the role. Also: Sylvia Kristel auditioned for this role. Can you imagine that horrible choice between picking Munro or Kristel?