ARROW BLU RAY BOX SET: The Game Trilogy (1978, 1978, 1979)

At the end of the 1970s, Toru Murakawa’s Game Trilogy launched actor Yusaku Matsuda as the Toei tough guy for a new generation. Sadly, he would die from cancer at the way too early age of 40 after appearing in Black Rain.

As Shohei Narumi, he’s a killing machine who speaks little, shoots often and never falls for anything. The new Arrow Video set of these films is the first time these movies have been released outside of Japan and man, I loved every minute of these movies.

The Most Dangerous Game (1978): You first meet Shohei Narumi when he’s being roughed up after he contests a game of mah-jong. mah-jong game. He recovers from that in time to find and rescue a kidnapped businessman, at least for a few minutes before that guy is killed in the middle of a gun battle. Narumi is saved by Kyoko (Keiko Tasaka), the mistress of one of the men he’s trying to stop. He gets another job once he’s back on his feet: kill the boss of the kidnappers, which he does. Twice.

How twice? The guy has a public double, so they both have to go. But even the cops are on the take, setting an ambush, but he escapes and, well, kills everyone except one car of criminals who kidnap Kyoko and drive her across Tokyo while somehow, incredibly, Narumi keeps up while wearing cowboy boots. Look, I’ve been on Japanese streets and even though they are clogged with traffic, there’s no way you can chase a car on foot.

The one issue I have with the movie is that it’s kind of hard to like the hero. I mean, he isn’t even a hero, for one. He wins over Kyoko by assaulting her. But then, the film almost demands that you become a fan of him, what with the cool as cool gets clothes, him drinking gin when shot in the stomach instead fo going to the hospital and just being an all around amoral killing machine. Because you never see anything the bad guys do or plan because the movie moves from action moment to action moment like an ADHD kid playing with his toys, you eventually have to concede that he is the protagonist that you must be in favor of.

Directed by Tôru Murakawa and written by Hideichi Nagahara, this film has literally a slam bam pace that never slows down. Ever.

The Killing Game (1978): Shohei Narumi has been in hiding for five years after a major assassination assignment. He’s poor, no longer able to afford his fancy lifestyle. He can’t even get a drink at the hostess bar he gets pulled into.

We don’t have anything like a hostess bar in America. They aren’t places of prostitution but instead a modern version of geishas, providing entertainment and flirtation to lonely salarymen.

While there, Shohei Narumi runs into two women from his past. A hostress named Akiko (Kaori Takeda) was the daughter of the man our protagonist killed five years ago. Yet she doesn’t hate him for it. The other is the mama-san — the boss of the place — named Misako (Yutaka Nakajima). As he shot everyone he could five years ago, she is the one person he let live. Now she’s dating another boss, Katsuda (Kei Sato), and he wants Shohei Narumi to start killing for him. So does another boss. That means that everybody is going to die, many of them from bullets that Shohei Narumi shoots.

What comes across at the end of this film is the fact that without someone to kill, his existence is pointless. He’s like an unfired gun. All he knows in this life is how to end others.

The Execution Game (1979): Shohei Narumi wakes up alone in a filthy room. All he can remember is a girl, a car and a hit to the head, but now he’s hanging from a ceiling and finds out that this is all a trial to test his skills for a new client. They want him to kill their current hitman, who has started acting strangely, but that’s just the start of his new work.

He also has a relationship in this movie, even if she betrays him, and tells a young woman to avoid shady men at one point. This is in contrast to how he acted in the first film, so is this growth? I believe so, as is the idea that he sees the ocean as where he wants to return, growing up close to it and its ebbs and flows symbolize the way his life goes: bloody bursts of ultraviolence mixed with solitude, sometimes for years.

The past films have seen him exhausted and nearly passed out as women strip around him or frantically trying to pay for everyone in a hostess club, knowing that he has nearly nothing. Here, he’s a man that knows his job and what he has to do. That means always being ready to be sold out, always prepared to be in the sights of someone’s weapon and constantly willing to kill someone, anyone, at any time.

The limited edition Arrow blu ray box set of The Game Trilogy has a high definition blu ray version of each movie with new English subtitles. You get a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella, a double-sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella and an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films by Hayley Scanlon and Dimitri Ianni.

The Most Dangerous Game has new audio commentary by Chris Poggiali and Marc Walkow, a 30-minute interview with director Toru Murakawa, the original Japanese theatrical trailer and an image gallery.

The Killing Game has commentary by Earl Jackson and Jasper Sharp. The Execution Game has new commentary by Tom Mes. Extras include an interview with Yutaka Oki, film critic and personal friend of Yusaku Matsuda; an interview with screenwriter Shoichi Maruyama, the original Japanese theatrical trailers and image galleries for both films.

You can get the set from MVD.

VIDEO ARCHIVES WEEK: American Nitro (1979)

VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the January 17, 2023 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

I have no idea how this site has had a recap of drag race docs and a week of drag race movies and this doc never made it in. How many drag racing movies did the 70s have? How many did it need?

Directed by Bill Kimberlin, an Industrial Light and Magic visual effects editor, this was shot at Fremont Raceway and really has a lot of great footage of that era’s racers, as well as an interview with Ed Pink about the oil fire incident that claimed the life of John “the Zookeeper” Mulligan at the U.S. Nationals in 1969.

Drag racing used to be such a big thing in the 70s. I remember commercials for it and getting beyond excited. There was even a 1977 arcade game called Drag Race and the Activision game for the Atari 2600 Dragster. That’s how much people loved it. Just look at all the films on our list above. While I’m not a fan of the sport, it was fun to take a spin through its past.

I always think of the term “nitro burning funny cars” and hear the screaming voice of the monster truck ads of my youth. These guys literally strapped themselves to a Korean War-era jet engine and spat in death’s literal skull face.

This also has Jungle Jim and Jungle Pam in it. Russell James Liberman took on the Jungle Jim name after starting drag racing right out of high school. He and Pam Hardy came from West Chester, Pennsylvania — the hometown of Suburban Sasquatch — and after he took her away from college and small town life, she made sure his car was lined up, that his parachute was packed and his oil was all topped off.

Sadly, all that fast racing didn’t end well. Jim took a curve too fast and hit a bus head on in his Corvette back home in West Chester and it took two hours to cut him out of the car. He didn’t make it. Jungle Pam was never part of the sport again.

But here, in American Nitro, we can see them as flies in amber, as Jim waits for the tree to count down, to go faster than any human being can or should, all while Pam rocks out her knee high boots, young and alive and free forever in the drag strips of our minds.


VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the April 15, 2023 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here. There’s another take on this movie here.

I seem to really enjoy the movies of Steve Carver, which are all over the place when it comes to genre, like the peplum The Arena, the gangster films Big Bad Mama and Capone, his two Chuck Norris movies An Eye for an Eye and Lone Wolf McQuade and most definitely this movie. He knows how to make a movie that entertains.

Steel starts off by introducing us to Lew “Big Lew” Cassidy (Goerge Kennedy), a real man’s man, the kind of business owner that goes up on the skyscraper when it’s being built just like his men. What’s shocking is that he’s dead five minutes into the movie, falling when things go wrong thanks to substandard equipment. The rest of the film is literally an attempt to live up to the standards that he set.

Sadly, on September 21, 1978, stuntman A.J. Bakunas died in this scene. Not only does it set up the danger of these heights in the movie, it also set them for the creation of Steel. The saddest thing about that is that the scene had already been shot safely. Then Dar Robinson beat the record for highest fall that Bakunas set on the movie Hooper, so the stuntman asked to reshoot the fall. He fell perfectly on to the airbag. The airbag split and that cost him his life. That’s why the credits say “This film is dedicated to A. J. Bakunis, a man whose zest for life was admired by all who knew him.”

That fall is the one in the movie. A.J.’s dad, who was with him on set, told them to use it.

His daughter Cass (Jennifer O’Neill, the best dressed woman in genre cinema) decides she’s going to do thingsher fatther’s way, no matter what her uncle Eddie (Harris Yulin) has to say about it. But to live up to the deal her father made, she’s going to need the kind of leader that can get men to do impossible things. That would be Mike Catton (Lee Majors), a guy who lost his nerve on his last job and has taken to being a trucker. She meets him on the road and convinces him that he needs to get back up in the sky.

It’s impossible to explain just what a big deal Lee Majors was in the mid 70s. Sadly, by 1978, the show that made him a success — to be fair, he was already a star from The Big Valley — The Six Million Dollar Man was cancelled. In the three years between that show and finding another hit in 1981 with The Fall Guy, Majors made a few movies like The NorsemanAgency and Killer Fish. And yes, this movie, which puts him in the lead of the Dirty Dozen of steel. His crew is made up of Pignose Morgan (Art Carney), Valentino (Terry Kiser, not yet dead), Lionel (Roger E. Mosley, not yet TC ), Surfer (Hunter von Leer, not yet a Haddonfield cop), Tank (Albert Salmi, not yet a cop investigating ghosts), The Kid (Ben Marley, not yet battling Jaws), Cherokee (Robert Tessier, not chasing Charles Bronson in this movie) and Dancer (Richard Lynch, not a villain in this, amazingly). Oh yeah — this also has great parts for R.G. Armstrong and Redmond Gleeson.

This might be the most manly movie that I’ve ever had on this site, a film that starts with Kennedy saying,   “The sight of a tall building still gives me a hard-on” and ends up with an American flag being lifted high above the streets below. You’ll want to celebrate with the rest of the crew, feeling like you’re part of them. This movie is a success for me and it’s just as much the guys on screen as it is the script by Leigh Chapman (Truck Turner, Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry) from a story by Peter S. Davis, Rob Ewing and William N. Panzer.


VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the December 13, 2022 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

Directed by Arthur Hiller (Silver StreakLove StoryThe Out-of-TownersNightwing and See No Evil, Hear No Evil amongst many others) and written by Andrew Bergman (Blazing SaddlesBig TroubleThe Freshman), The In-Laws puts together dentist Sheldon Kornpett (Alan Arkin) and businessman Vince Ricardo (Peter Falk). Kornpett instantly distrusts Ricardo and warns his daughter Barbara (Penny Peyser) not to marry Tommy (Michael Lembeck) as a result.

He was probably right, because Vince is a rogue government agent who sees no problems in getting Sheldon mixed up in a plot to steal printing plates from the U.S. Mint. Before you know it, a trip to Scranton to set things straight ends up in Tijata, where the in-laws are shot at by snipers and almost end up in front of a firing squad thanks to General Garcia (Richard Libertini) and his hand puppet.

This was remade in 2013 with Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks, who are fine, but come on. Are they Arkin and Falk? After that movie came out, Arkin called Falk to congratulate him on all the bad reviews the remake got, as each poison pen diatribe recognized how great they were.

This movie gets a lot right, including the idea that the action has to be action and the comedy has to be comedy. If you’ve seen modern action comedies, you may know what I mean. Also: James Hong should randomly show up in every movie.

Marlon Brando was a huge fan of this movie, able to recall and imitate most of Arkin’s dialogue. That’s one of the reasons why Bergman was able to get him to be in The Freshman.

VIDEO ARCHIVES WEEK: The Visitor (1979)

VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the April 4, 2023 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

In 2013, when the Alamo Drafthouse presented the uncut version of this film for the first time in the United States, they referred to it as an “unforgettable assault on reality.” Those words best describe what is otherwise an indescribable film.

But I’m going to try.

Maybe a recipe will help.

Take Chariots of the Gods, and some of Rosemary’s Mary, then a little bit of The Omen, throw it in a blender and then pour the whole thing down the sink.

No? Maybe a synopsis.

We start in Heaven, or somewhere very much like it, where Franco Nero (the original Django) is one of those space gods that Erich von Däniken wrote about. He tells the bald children who surround him that there was once a war between two aliens, one good and one bad. The bad one — who is either called Sateen or Zathaar — was defeated, but not before he slept with a whole bunch of Earthwomen. Cue the Book of Enoch in the Lost Books of the Bible. Or cue the Scientology myth of Lord Xenu. Or Xemu, because he has two different spellings, too.

Only one child is left — a young girl — and a vast conspiracy wants her mother to have another child — a brother this time — so they can mate. The Christ figure sends John Huston — yes, the director of The Maltese Falcon and The African Queen — and the bald children to a rooftop somewhere in Atlanta to stop this plot. To do that, the children become adult bad men and dance around a lot while Huston walks up and down the stairs to triumphant music. If you think I’m making that last sentence up, you’ve never been blessed with this movie.

Meanwhile, Lance Henriksen (Near DarkAliens) is Ted Turner, pretty much. His name is Raymond Armstead and he owns the Atlanta Rebels basketball team that plays at the Omni and is dating Barbara (Joanne Nail, Switchblade Sisters), who of course is the woman who has the seed of the gods inside her. Her daughter Katy is 8 years old and already using her powers to help the Rebels win their games. But that isn’t all the help Raymond is getting. The rich, powerful and ultra-secretive Zathaar cult control the world and are helping his team become winners. All he has to do is marry Barbara, knock her up and let their kids fuck. Hopefully, they have a boy, or Raymond is gonna have to get in the saddle all over again.

Raymond can’t even do that right and the leader of the bad guys, Mel Ferrer(The Antichrist and Eaten Alive!) is upset and ready to quit on Raymond. Barbara doesn’t want more kids and certainly doesn’t want another child. But who can blame her? Her daughter is one creepy little girl. Her daughter knows all about the conspiracy and begs her mom to get married so she can have a brother (and this is where, in person, I’d throw in “…to have sex with” but I’d use the f word). How creepy is Katy? Well, she kills a bunch of boys with her mental powers because they make fun of her while she ice skates. And then she accidentally shoots her mother at a birthday party. Yep, it’s as if The Bad Seed met Carrie!

Then, as all 70’s occult movies must, the stars of Hollywood’s golden age make appearances!

Glenn Ford, the actor, plays a cop that Katy curses out and uses hawks to make wreck his car!

Shelley Winters plays Barbara’s nurse who once had one of the space babies and killed it, but can’t bring herself to kill Katy! According to interviews, Winters really smacked around Paige Conner, the actress who played Katy!

Sam Peckinpah, the director (!), plays an abortionist who removes one of the space babies from Barbara after the conspiracy pays a bunch of things to artificially inseminate her. Turns out Peckinpah had trouble remembering his lines, which is why we never learn that he’s Barabara’s ex-husband! Then is he Katy’s dad? Who knows! His voice is even Peckinpah’s! They had to ADR all of his dialogue.

In response to the abortion, Katy shoves her mom through a fish tank. She also decides to throw her down the stairs, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?-style. And by throw her down the steps, I mean do it over and over and over again.

Meanwhile, John Huston is still going up and down the stairs. Finally, they HAVE HAD ENOUGH (I like to emphasize that so you get the gist) and sent their John Woo-ian flock of doves to fight the hawks. And meanwhile, Mel Ferrer and all his men show up dead with black marks on their bodies.

And Katy? Well, as Huston tells us, kids can never be evil. She gets her head shaved and goes to space to meet Instellar Jesus Christ. The title comes up as insane music blares.

Writer/director/insane man Michael J. Paradise (Giulio Paradisi) also was in Fellini’s 8 1/2 and La Dolce Vita. What inspired him to this level of cinematic goofiness? He was helped along by Ovidio G. Assonitis, whose resume includes writing Beyond the DoorMadhouse and Forever Emmanuelle before becoming the major stockholder and CEO of Cannon Pictures in 1990. That may explain some. But not all.

I know I often write things like “I don’t have the words to describe this” when I do these reviews — especially after I write a few hundred words all about said subject. But this is one time that that statement is not pure hyperbole. Just watch the trailer and be prepared to lose your grasp on normalcy!

The Visitor defies the logic of good and bad film. It can only be graded on the is it an absolute film, ala Fulci or Jodorowsky. It is something to be experienced.

You can watch this movie on Tubi.


VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the September 27, 2022 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

Piranha almost never made it to the theater. Universal Studios had considered obtaining an injunction to prevent it from being released, particularly as they had Jaws 2 out that year, but the lawsuit was called off after Steven Spielberg himself gave the film a positive comment (he also called the film the “best of the Jaws ripoffs”).

Joe Dante is my favorite type of filmmaker. Even when you think you know what to expect, he zigs and zags, giving you genuine surprises and fun at every turn.

The action starts with two teens swimming in the waters of an abandoned military base — as you do. Of course, they’re instantly obliterated by an unseen creature.

Skiptracer Maggie McKeown (Heather Menzies, who beyond being the wife of Robert Urich was Louisa Con Trapp in The Sound of Music and even appeared in an August 1973 Playboy pictorial entitled “Tender Trapp”) is looking for those missing teens and she’s hired Paul Grogran (Bradford Dillman, who battled many an ecological horror in BugThe Swarm and Lords of the Deep) for help. He’s a drunk and surly mountain man, which in the 1970s makes you a sex symbol.

Why is Grogan so multi-layered? It turns out that Bradford Dillman wasn’t pleased with how flat his character originally was, so he asked writer John Sayles why. The response was that producer Roger Corman never hired good actors, so he rarely wrote nuanced characters. However, Dillman offered Sayles the opportunity to do something deeper, if you’ll pardon the pun.

They discover the abandoned compound where the teens died and discover that it’s a militarized fish hatchery. Maggie drains the outside pool and discovers too late that she’s released Operation: Razorteeth, a strain of piranha made to survive the cold North Vietnamese rivers and win the war in Southeast Asia.

That’s when Grogan realizes that if the local dam is somehow opened, the piranha will attack the Lost River water park and the camp where his daughter is spending the summer. Everybody pays the price for the piranha, like their now crazed creator Dr. Robert Hoak (Kevin McCarthy from Invasion of the Body Snatchers). Soon, the military is involved and our heroes are on the run, trying to warn the media and anyone that will listen that these killer fish are on their way. Nothing will stop them, not even the poison that Colonel Waxman and Dr. Mengers (Barbara Steele!) think will do the job.

Of course, the fish survive and attack the summer camp, wiping out nearly everyone but Suzie thanks to her fear of water. Now, they’re on their way to Buck Gordon’s (Dick Miller, perfect as always) waterpark, where they end up killing Waxman.

Grogan and Maggie come up with a totally ridiculous plan: to use the hazardous waste from the smelting plant to kill off the fish before they spread into the ocean. Our hero, such as he is, must go deep underwater to make this happen and he barely survives, left in a catatonic state at the end of the film.

Dr. Mengers gives the government’s side of the story, downplaying the danger of the piranha and saying there’s nothing left to fear, but as we see another beach, we now hear the sound of the deadly school of fish.

Beyond Dick Miller, this film features plenty of actors that Dante would work with again and again, like Belinda Balaski, the film’s writer John Sayles and the always welcome Paul Bartel. Plus, Francis Xavier Aloysius James Jeremiah Keenan Wynn shows up, but we all know him better as his stage name, Keenan Wynn. And another Invasion of the Body Snatchers alum, Richard Deacon, is here as well.

Piranha is the rarest of films — one that rises above being a simple ripoff and comes close to eclipsing the source material. It’s quick, bloody and fun as hell, with awesome effects from Phil Tippett and the debuting Rob Bottin, who was only 17 at the time.

You can watch this on Tubi.

VIDEO ARCHIVES WEEK: Delirium (1979)

VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the August 2, 2023 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To see the review that Severin quoted on the back cover of this release, click here.

Delirium is kind of about Vietnam vet Charlie Gunther (Nick Panouzis).

It’s also kind of about a secret society of vets bringing together other vets — kind of like my VFW, but with less drinking and amazing barbecue on Fridays and Saturdays, shout out to Terry and his amazing chops — to murder those that they think deserve it. Led by Eric Stern (Barron Winchester), they’re remaking St. Louis in the image of cleanliness and order, one gory murder at a time.

Those two stories come together as Stern hires Charlie, trying to bond with him. They’re both Vietnam vets, right? Well, where Stern gets rid of his trauma through doing what the cops can’t, Charlie gets rid of his PTSD by killing women.

Sterns’s group feels a lot like the people that hired The Punisher in his first mini-series. Or The Star Chamber. Both of those came long after this.

You know what didn’t? Magnum Force.

While Charlie is murdering young ladies and Stern and his men kill anyone who could turn them in, cops Paul Dollinger (Turk Cekovsky) and Larry Mead (Terry TenBroek) are on the case, wondering who could have killed so many people on the streets of St. Louis.

This movie was stitched together, starting with an “an unfinished urban conspiracy thriller” and then adding on slasher story beats, because, well, John Carpenter happened to make a movie in 1978 that a lot of people seemed to enjoy.

What emerges is a movie that honestly makes no sense and every time you’re about to point out a lapse in logic, the movie responds to you by showing bare breasts or having someone get violently chopped up with a meatcleaver or shot, stabbed or impaled in the most messy way possible. That’s how you make movies: throw everything at the wall and what doesn’t stick, well, cover it with squibs and spray everyone with red food coloring and Karo syrup.

Director Peter Maris also made Alien Species and Land of Doom, two movies that did not end up as memorable as this. Nor did they end up on the Section 2 Video Nasty list. This movie has an alternate title that makes no sense — which makes it great. That title? Psycho Puppet.

It also has a conspiracy group of Vietnam vets who kidnap criminals who got away with it, kill them and then stage suicide scenes. That’s planning. You have to respect that level of thought.

VIDEO ARCHIVES WEEK: Moonraker (1979)

VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the August 9, 2022 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

Could James Bond be relevant in a post-Star Wars world? If Moonraker had anything to say about it, yes. Up until GoldenEye, it was the highest-grossing of the series, making $230 million worldwide.

But wait — didn’t the end credits of the last film promise James Bond will return in For Your Eyes Only? Sure they did. However, the producers chose the novel Moonraker because of the aforementioned Jedi-starring George Lucas film.

One could also argue that Hugo Drax’s plan is exactly the same plan as Karl Stromberg’s in The Spy Who Loved Me: blow up the world and go away to build your own civilization. This time, it’s in space versus underwater.

Here’s the weird thing: for such an iconic British character, this movie’s shooting was moved from the tax heavy UK to France. This is also why Michael Lonsdale was cast as Drax instead of James Mason and Corinne Clery was cast instead of Corinne Dufour. Ah, the 1965–79 film treaty in action. Well, I have no complaints about Clery, who is also in Yor Hunter from the Future and Fulci’s The Devil’s Honey.

Lois Chiles (Creepshow 2) had originally been offered the role of Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me, but was in temporary retirement. In actuality, bad reviews had sent her back to acting school and she ended up getting the role of Holly Goodhead when she was seated next to director Lewis Gilbert on a flight. Jaclyn Smith had almost signed for the part but had to turn it down due to scheduling conflicts with Charlie’s Angels.

This is perhaps the silliest of the Moore movies — well, there’s also him bedding Grace Jones in A View to a Kill — and it’s nearly overflowing with effects and gadgets. But hey — Jaws turns good, gets a girlfriend and opens a bottle of champagne by biting into it. So there’s that.

There remains an urban legend that Orson Welles was making his own version of this movie, as Fleming intended it to be filmed as early as 1955. The rumor is that 40 minutes of raw footage exists with Dirk Bogarde as Bond, Welles as Drax and Peter Lorre as Drax’s henchman.

VIDEO ARCHIVES WEEK: Cocaine Cowboys (1979)

VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the July 19, 2022 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

Filmed at Andy Warhol’s summer home in Montauk — he also shows up as himself — Cocaine Cowboys is the story of Dustin (Tom Sullivan), who starts the movie being interviewed by Warhol, who acts like he doesn’t know the tale we’re about to hear even if he’s the one that saves the day.

In his November 1, 1978 diary, Warhol said, “Tom Sullivan came by to show Cocaine Cowboys to us on a Betamax. He was smoking marijuana, and it was funny to smell it at the office. Paul Morrissey watched a little of it and said it was too slow, and Brigid was in and out and thought so, too, but I liked it. And I decided I’m not so bad in it. They only let me do one take and I think if I’d been able to do more I would have gotten better. But I was better than in my first film, The Driver’s Seat.”

Sullivan had come into the orbit of the Warhol Factory during the days of Studio 54. The story of his life in this movie is, well, pretty much the story of his life. He was described as having a “pirate-king image” and having “pockets overflowing with wads of cash and a black-leather-gloved hand disfigured in a fiery plane crash.” He was sleeping with both Warhol’s personal assistant Catherine Guiness and former First Lady of Canada, Margaret Trudeau.

He also brought “two German geeks” with him: producer Christopher Gierke and actor turned director Ulli Lommel, who would use the Warhol connection in his resume for the rest of his life, endlessly remaking and remixing The Boogeyman and making serial killer movies. Ah, maybe I’m being disingenous. He did work with Fassbinder and again with Warhol for the film Blank Generation.

Writer Victor Bockris said, “Sullivan and Lommel cooked up a story about a drug smuggler who tries to get out of the business by turning himself into a rock star. A band was rounded up and, in imitation of the Rolling Stones, Montauk was used as a base for their rehearsals. The veteran actor Jack Palance was made a cash-in-advance offer he could not refuse to star as the band’s manager and shooting commenced in June.”

During the filming, the police busted the movie for weapons possession and took $25,000. The night before, Albert Goldman claimed that “the Colombians had shown up and threatened to kill him (Sullivan) and he gave them a million in cash.”

The movie is an attempt to tell the real story of Sullivan’s life. His band is ready to make the big time, but their manager (Palance) makes them move cocaine to make extra money. One day, while traveling by plane, they notice a cop car at the airport just as they’re about to land with enough powder — more on powder in a minute — to go to jail beyond the end of time. They toss it near an estate and head out on horses to get it back.

They don’t try all that hard. They just hang out, play music, convince a maid to have a baby powder-aided makeout session and then Andy solves the case like an animated cartoon dog.

So yeah: a marijuana dealer’s vanity project that has the man who gave Indiana Jones his hat (Richard Young), Lacey from The Boogeyman (and Olivia, too), Palance proving he didn’t know the meaning of the word no and Warhol getting paid four grand to use his house and show up and take Polaroids of people while playing himself.

Sullivan died two years later at the age of 26. Needless to say, it was sudden and mysterious.

You can watch this on Tubi.


Warhol Stars. Cocaine Cowboys. Accessed May 11, 2023.

SALEM HORROR FEST: The Ninth Heart (1979)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This movie was watched as part of Salem Horror Fest. You can still get a weekend pass for weekend two. Single tickets are also available. Here’s the program of what’s playing.

Deváté srdce is about a student named Martin who has volunteered to seek out the cure for Princess Adriana, who has been knocked down and out by a mysterious illness. But the truth is that it’s no sickness. Instead, the magician Andlobrandini has enchanted her as part of his plan which involves creating a magic potion to return his youth from the blood of nine children’s hearts.

Directed by Juraj Herz, who wrote the story with Josef Hanzlík, everything in this feels handmade, down to the poster by surrealist painter, writer and ceramicist Eva Švankmajerová. This was shot at the same time as Herz’s Beauty and the Beast in an attempt to save on costs and is a fairy tale created in modern times that in no way feels unlike the tales we were told at bedtime.

By literally capturing the young hearts of the young men who have come to save Adrianna, Andlobrandini  seeks to take their vitality and become hale and hearty anew. Unlike them, Martin has no love for the princess. Instead, the Grand Duke (Premysi Koci) allows him to take on this mission instead of sending him and the street circus people he has fallen in with to jail, most especially Toncka (Anna Malova), the daughter of a puppeteer.

Joined by the Grand Duke’s jester (František Filipovský) and wearing a cloak of invisibility, the two men go across the River Styx to the Grand Duke’s former alchemist’s — yes, Andlobrandini — dark and foreboding castle, a place filled with corpses, innumerable candles, a swinging sun and danger around every turn. It’s gorgeous and perhaps the greatest love within this film is for the art of moviemaking itself.