Intrepidos Punks (1980)

Folks kept making movies over the last 40 some odd years, but after Intrepidos Punks, why did they bother?

Imagine if you will. The best biker movie that you never saw in the late 1960’s, but instead of Bud Cardos or Russ Tamblyn, you have an army of punk rockers and luchadors that look like they emerged straight out of a 1980’s Capcom beat ’em up. Now, give them all the drugs, dress them like nuns while they rob a bank and watch as they play Russian roulette and have rough sex like there’s no tomorrow because there isn’t.

Everything the Satanic Panic feared has become true in this film, as these mowhawked and bemasked biker maniacs swear allegiance to every demon you can imagine when they’re not shooting off weapons, playing surf rock or assaulting the citizens of a small town before you know, setting them on fire.

Let me explain something about this movie. It’s not enough to kidnap the wives of every jail guard and abuse them. No, you have to cut off their hands and send it to their men, letting them know that you’re coming to kill them, too. Beast, the leader of the women, rescues Tarzen (El Fantasma, who was an awesome luchador and whose son is Santos Escobar in NXT now and he has a gang too) and takes off for a cave concert black mass orgy.

It’s that kind of movie.

There are two annoying cops and a mob association that the punks have to deal with, but thanks to their makeup heavy bedazzled forces, blasting around on trikes and dune buggies and predating even The Road Warrior and the post-apocalyptic cinematic magic of Italy and the Philippines, you know that they’ll win eventually.

They made another one of these — La Venganza de Los Punks — that’s just as good. If you ask me, they could keep making them until the world stops rolling around the sun.

Let me translate the lyrics to the theme song for you and explain why you need to watch this movie right now.

“On the roads and cities too / stealing from anyone they always break the law.

On motorcycles with their girls they go / Looking for adventures.

They worship Satan.

Sex, drugs, violence  / they always look for action.

Sex, drugs, violence and a lot of rock & roll.”

Princesa Lea, who plays Beast, was born in Montreal and made her way to Mexico via Miami, soon becoming Majestad de las Vedettes, a queen of cabaret, where she did acrobatic dance and appeared nude in a giant champagne glass. She’s a Russ Meyer-esque dream who isn’t afraid to be the toughest woman you’ve ever witnessed. She also appears in The Infernal RapistMidnight Dolls and 1981’s El Macho Bionico, an erotic film that dares to mix up The Six Million Dollar Man and The Incredible Hulk.

Vinegar Syndrome keeps tickling me with a feather promising this is coming out on blu ray. Until then, huff some paint and watch the scuzzy version of this — maybe that’s the best way to see this — on the Internet Archive.

The Blues Brothers (1980)

Jake and Elwood Blues (John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd) went from a musical comedy sketch on Saturday Night Live to a $30 million budget mission from God as they careers of the Not Ready for Prime Players left New York City and set out for Hollywood.

There was a bidding war for this movie. After all, SNLAnimal House and The Blues Brothers album were all huge. Belushi was suddenly the star of the week’s top-grossing film, top-rated television show and singing on the number-one album all at the same time.

Universal won and what they got was a new writer in Aykroyd who wrote a long script that director John Landis was still writing and didn’t have a final budget until well after shooting started, at which point Belushi was already going wild in Chicago, drinking and drugging up a storm while cars were crashed everywhere and money was pretty much set ablaze.

It doesn’t matter. This movie is still remembered long after its star and all that money have gone away.

Raised in an orphanage and taught the blues by Curtis (Cab Calloway), the brothers became blood when they cut their middle fingers with a guitar string from Elmore James, the King of the Slide Guitar.

The past is important in this film, as Aykroyd demanded Calloway, James Brown, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin to be cast and get musical numbers. Universal wanted younger acts and disco stars. They lost.

The story is simple. The brothers want to raise money to save their orphanage. That’s it. That’s the story. The rest is a road movie full of comedic scenes that you can basically come into any time that you want.

They could have filmed what happened during the making of the film and had just as great of a film. For example, there was an entire bar on set, The Bles Bar, staffed with drug dealers. And on one night shoot, Belushi disappeared. Aykroyd looked around and saw a single house with its lights on. He walked over and the owner of the house said, “You’re here for John Belushi, aren’t you?” He had walked into their home, asked if milk and a sandwich, and went to sleep. This is why he was nicknamed “America’s Guest.” Belushi was also called “The Black Hole” because he would lose his sunglasses after nearly every scene.

Beyond Paul Reuebens, Steven Spielberg and Carrie Fischer, there’s a secret Colleen Camp cameo. Look for her Colleen Camp’s Playboy poster on Ellwood’s hanging up in a scene.

I remember this movie running so many times on HBO in my youth and watching it nearly every time. I could watch it right now, even after watching it to write this.

The Babysitter (1980)

The ABC Friday Night Movie for November 28, 1980, The Babysitter was directed by Peter Medak, who was also in the chair for movies like The ChangelingCry for the StrangersZorro the Gay Blade, Romeo Is BleedingSpecies II and The Ruling Class. What an amazing lineup of films to have on your resume and such a disparate list of movies.

Dr. Jeff Benedict and his wife Liz (TV movie supercouple William Shatner and Patty Duke) have moved from Seattle to Chicago. Between their daughter Tara (Quinn Cummings, The Goodbye Girl) and the demands of housework, Liz isn’t doing so well. That means they bring in a live-in nanny named Joanna Redwine (Stephanie Zimbalist, before Remington Steele) and that’s when things go to seed.

Before you can say movie of the week, Joanna has Liz drinking again and convinced that Jeff has a mistress. While that game is afoot, she’s also trying to convince Jeff that loading his clown into her cannon while wifey is passed out is beyond a good idea

This is when you fire the babysitter. That said — if they did, we would not have the next hour and change of this movie.

Before it’s over, the bodies of the last family Joanna killed — wrapped in plastic a half decade before Laura Palmer — have showed up, she’s wearing Patty Duke’s lingerie and served up a dinner of raw beef tongue. The family is lucky that they know John Houseman, who saves them all.

I have a weakness for both made for TV movies and ones where babysitters slowly drive a family insane. This movie is at the center of this magnificent cycle and must be experienced. These TV movies are exploitation films, with small budgets and insane stories, that scream at you the entire time they are on the screen.

You can watch this on YouTube:

The Nude Bomb (1980)

Sylvia Kristel — yes, she who was Mata Hari, Emmanuelle and Young Lady Chatterley — shows up in this movie as Agent 34. She had tried over and over to be in a Bond movie and it sadly never happened. That’s better than Barbara Felton got. She wasn’t even told they were making the movie.

So yeah. The Nude Bomb is somehow a PG movie, despite the promise of the title.

Agent Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) is called back into service in order to stop KAOS from firing off the bomb that knocks off clothing. Now, instead of CONTROL, he works for PITS, or Provisional Intelligence Tactical Service.

The main villain is Norman Saint-Sauvage, a KAOS fashion designer, who can also clone people. There are some new agents to help Smart, like Agent 36 (Pamela Hensley, Buck Rogers in the 25th CenturyMatt Houston), Agent 22 and Agent 13.

When this finally aired on TV, it had the title The Return of Maxwell Smart. While it was retconned out of existence by 1989’s Get Smart, Again! and Fox series — which did have Agent 99 — this is still fondly remembered by me. It was directed by Clive Donner, who also made Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen.

Don Adams pretty much hated this film and admitted he only did the movie for the money, because his wife was pregnant.

You can get this from Kino Lorber.

S*H*E* Security Hazards Expert (1980)

Lavinia Kean is S*H*E*, a secret agent in the early 80’s. Director Robert Lewis did the film because it let him spend three months in Rome on someone’s else’s money. He also claimed that Anita Ekberg was difficult with and he fired her, but brought her back when she told him that she would behave. He also had issues with Omar Sharif and lead actress Cornelia Sharp.

But hey! Fabio Testi (What Have You Done to Solange?Four of the Apocalypse and Contraband) is in this!

I really wanted to love this — the poster is great — but it really drags. There’s a reason why some lost movies remain lost, I guess.

Writer Richard Maibaum was the screenwriter for so many Bond films, from 1962’s Dr. No to 1989’s Licence to Kill. Thirteen in all — he missed a few, like Moonraker, but you’d think that experience would make for a better film. Ah well — you gotta watch everything to see if you can find something.

Gamera Super Monster (1980)

The first Gamera film in nine years — following Gamera vs. Zigra — this is somehow the strangest of all the movies. That’s an accomplishment.

This entire movie is made up of recycled footage from the entire Gamera film series, as well as Space Battleship Yamato and Galaxy Express 999. This was an attempt to help Daiei get out of financial trouble. Bad news: the film failed to succeed at the box office and Daiei still had to file for bankruptcy six months later.

So they did what the Japanese do best. They kill off Gamera at the end.

Yes, the alien Zanon has come to enslave Earth and even the three Spacewomen, Earth’s defenders, can’t stop him. You know who can? A little kid. As always.

By the way — Mach Fumiake, who portrays the Spacewoman Kilara, was a pro wrestler.

That kid has a connection to Gamera, so he takes us back in time through all the films, as Gamera battles Gyaos, Zigra, Viras, Jiger, Guiron and Barugon before sacrificing himself to save the Earth from Zanon.

Depressing? Yeah. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched a Japanese film that ends this way and I end up thinking about it for years.

There is a funny scene where Gamera smashes up a Godzilla billboard. But this is the end of the so-called Showa Gamera era and there would not be another film with the giant turtle for fourteen more years until Gamera: Guardian of the Universe was made.

It’s sad. There’s no Gamera theme song. Only two minutes of new Gamera footage. And yeah — Gamera dying. You don’t need to be depressed. But I still found the YouTube link for you.

Times Square (1980)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: An American living in London, Jennifer Upton is a freelance writer for International publishers Story Terrace and others. In addition, she has a blog where she frequently writes about horror and sci-fi called Womanycom.

A cult classic about teenage rebellion, the medium of radio (and the importance of rock music) features throughout Times Square (1980.) In the plot, it’s the vehicle through which the two protagonists connect. Initially, to each other and eventually to the greater adolescent female population of 1980 New York City. 

Two girls, Nicky Marotta (Robin Johnson) and Pamela Pearl (Trini Alvarado) come from divergent backgrounds. One is a street kid with no family bounced from home to home and the other the motherless daughter of a wealthy politician gaining notoriety for cleaning up the area where Nicky lives. Times Square. The two meet in the hospital where each is being examined for perceived mental illness.  

Despite their apparent differences, both are misunderstood by the adult establishment.  The girls connect through their love of music their shared fandom of an all-night radio show hosted by Johnny LaGuardia played by the velvety-voiced Tim Curry, who is excellent as always. Pam admires Nicky’s free spirit, and Nicky admires Pam’s intellect. The casting of the two leads is perfect. 

Following her discharge, Nicky goes back to break Pam out, wandering the hospital corridors, blasting The Ramones’ classic “I Wanna Be Sedated” on her boombox to entice her new friend to defiance. Together, they escape in a stolen ambulance and hole up in an abandoned warehouse by the east river. 

DJ Johnny picks up on the story and uses it to start a movement against Pam’s father, whom he despises for trying to gentrify his neighborhood. He puts the girls on the air and makes them famous. They become Icons for other disaffected young ladies itching to rebel against the “banality” and “boredom” of their everyday lives. They start a band called The Sleeze Sisters and begin spreading their message through their music all over the airwaves in graffiti throughout the city. Even when the girls engage in potentially dangerous hijinks–they throw televisions off of high-rise buildings onto busy sidewalks as a symbolic gesture against societal brainwashing–Johnny supports and protects them. 

 

Eventually Pam, who has been building up her self-confidence working as a stripper who “won’t dance nude” tires of Nicky’s high jinx and develops a crush on Johnny. Although it never explicitly says the two are lovers, their sleeping arrangements and Nicky’s jealous reaction to Pam’s wandering eye says it all. Nicky sets up an interview situation designed to prove to Pamela that Johnny is only in it for himself. He’s tired of his job on the night shift and sees this movement to boost his own brand and his show’s ratings. She suffers a mental breakdown and throws herself into the East River only to climb out asking herself, “What the fuck am I doing?” Johnny calls a doctor, who sedates her. Upon seeing this, Pam confronts Johnny angrily. She hates seeing her friend devoid of her usual fighting energy and inspires her to perform one last act of ultimate provocation. An illegal concert in Times Square. 

Full soundtrack recreated on You Tube.

Pam calls all the news outlets and announces the free gig to take place on top of a theatre marquee smack in the middle of Times Square. Johnny’s message on the radio brings girls from all over the five boroughs to see their hero perform, dressed for the occasion with their eyes blacked out “like a criminal.” The cops show up to shut them down, leaving Nicky one last chance to grand stand “about life” and to thank Pam for changing hers for the better. She knows Pam must go home. Her Dad is watching from below. As a duo, the girls have taken things as far as they can and now it’s time for them to walk their own individual paths, each armed with the determination and confidence inspired by the other. 

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As a final farewell, Nicky salutes the police and Pam and jumps into the crowd. They catch her and disappears into a sea of look-alikes. Pamela reunites with her Dad and the credits roll. Over a Bee Gee’s song. An odd, preternatural choice made by producer Robert Stigwood, who managed them at the time. They have no business being on a soundtrack with Patti Smith, The Ruts, David Johansen, Lou Reed,  XTC, and the Ramones. Moyle and star Johnson discuss this at length on the commentary track for Anchor Bay’s 2000 release. 

Along with being a fun ride, the film is also a beautiful snapshot of what Times Square was like in 1980. The real one. Before it became boring and banal. It’s magnificent in its corruption. You can almost smell the dried semen in the 42nd Street porn theatre the girls run through dodging law enforcement in the second act. It might be odd to say that I miss that time in New York’s history. As Nicky says in the film, “No sense makes sense.” 

RADIO WEEK REWIND: Don’t Answer the Phone (1980)

If any movie has earned being on the video nasty list — this one is on the Section 3 group of films, which couldn’t be prosecuted for obscenity but were liable to be seized and confiscated under a less obscene charge — it’s this movie.

This is the scummiest movie I’ve ever seen outside of films like Waterpower and Bloodsucking Freaks. Every single character is a horrible person, even the protagonists. It feels like you could take a Silkwood shower after this and it wouldn’t be enough. You’d still feel dirty.

Former paratrooper and powerlifter — who would later become a born-again Christian — Nicholas Worth plays Kirk Smith, who is also a veteran and bodybuilder. He has talent — well, when it comes to the lighting and composition of his pornographic photos, which have the ability to offend everyone, even scumbags like, well, everyone else in this movie. When he’s not grunting and lifting weights, he’s calling the talk show of Dr. Lindsay Gale (Flo Lawrence, who is also in SchizoidOver the Top and The Lords of Salem). When he gets on the air, he speaks in fake accents and complains that he has migraines and blackouts.

Dr. Gale on the air. While there is no radio station thanked in the end credits, it’s obvious this isn’t a set build and the film was shot in an unused production studio inside a real Los Angeles radio station. Bonus.

All of that would be fine if he wasn’t stalking and killing women right and left, not unlike the Hillside Stranglers of real life. That makes sense, as this movie was shot under the working title of The Hollywood Strangler. None of this was shot with permits, either.

It gets worse. He not only kills women, he has, well, intimate relations with their dead bodies before conducting religious ceremonies, trying to talk with his dead father and crying

Two detectives — Hatcher (Ben Frank, Death Wish 2) and McCabe (James Westmoreland, who was in Stacey and was married to Kim Darby; also in The Undertaker and His Pals) — are on the case, but it feels like they’re just as horrible as anyone else in this movie, overworked and on the edge.

There’s also a porn dealer named Sam Gluckman, played by Chuck Mitchell, who would one day be Porky himself from Porky’s, a role that is packed with more class than this movie. The sheer amount of salaciousness and scum in his scenes nearly fills the scene with bile.

Dr. Gale and McCabe quickly go from love to hate. Neither actor liked one another much, so Lawrence — who played Gale — ate a bunch of onions and Westmoreland — who was McCabe — didn’t shave on the day that their tender and romantic scene was shot.

Of course, it ends with Smith attacking Dr. Gale and McCabe saving her, shooting the strangler many, many times before he falls into a swimming pool, upon which the hero — such as this movie is — says, “Adios, creep!”

Director Robert Hammer is a one and done wonder. Sure, he made documentaries on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and The Steve Miller Band, but that’s it. Otherwise, he became a CFO for several companies.

It was written by Michael Castle, who acted in films like Galaxina and Gas! -Or- It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It. It’s the only movie he ever wrote, working from the novel Nightline by Michael Curtis.

Keep an eye out for April 1978 Playboy Playmate of the Month Pamela Jean Bryant as Sue Ellen. She’s also in all manner of late 70’s and early 80’s films that probably only I care about like H.O.T.S. and Lunch Wagon. Dale Kalberg, who was in scumtastic flicks like Mistress of the Apes and SexWorld, is another victim. And Susanne Severeid, who was a former model, plays yet another prostitute who ends up in Kirk Smith’s list of crimes. Interestingly enough, her husband was a WWII Dutch resistance fighter who was hired by the Simon Weisenthal Center to hunt Dr. Josef Mengele in real life.

Gail Jensen is another victim in this movie. She also performed the song “Sweater Girl” from the movie of the same name, as well as two songs on the Maniac Cop soundtrack. It gets crazier — she wrote “The Unknown Stuntman,” the theme from Lee Majors’ TV series The Fall Guy, along with being married to David Carradine, who she starred alingside in Future Zone.

If you don’t have the Pure Terror box set, you can get this from Vinegar Syndrome.

Despite my warnings of the sleaze quotient of this movie, you should know that I loved early single moment of it. I’m ashamed, but isn’t that part of the fun of lurid movies like this? If you’re of a similar mind — let’s say you’re a maniac — you will probably feel the same way.

* This review originally ran on November 27 as part of our Mill Creek Pure Terror box set of reviews. If you missed any of those 50 films, you can catch up with our Pure Terror Recap.

The Pumaman (1980)

After Superman, the Italian film industry did what it always does best: figure out how to make their own versions of a film. However, the danger of making superhero movies is that. the special effects — particularly after Star Wars and Superman, which was sold on the idea of believing that a man can fly — had to be perfect.

Alberto De Martino knew that Italian trend quite well. When sword and sandal movies were big, he directed The Triumph of Hercules. He made Ringo and Django clones in the spaghetti western craze. And when James Bond got hot, he made several Special Agent 077 movies. Giallo? De Martino turned out the New Mexico-shot The Man with the Icy Eyes, the Telly Savalas-starring The Killer Is On the Phone and the Dirty Harry meets Italian psychosexual horror in Canada romp Strange Shadows In an Empty Room. As The Exorcist and The Omen got hot, the director answered with The Antichrist and Holocaust 2000.

But superheroes? Superheroes nearly broke the man.

In Roberto Curti’s book Diabolika: Supercriminals, Superheroes and the Comic Book Universe in Italian Cinema, De Martino was quite candid about the failure of this movie. The Pumaman “was a production based on the trend of the moment. I had always done it that way and always done well. But regarding this genre of film, there was the audience’s diffidence toward Italian movies featuring special effects. They knew we were not up to the task, and didn’t take us seriously.”

He’d go on to say that it was “the only pic I did wrong in my whole career. When I saw it was a flop, I started asking myself questions. I had made a film I shouldn’t have. However it did well abroad and managed to get the guaranteed minimum back, otherwise I’d have had to sell my house. It did not even gross half a billion lire in Italy.”

Pumaman was played by Walter George Alton, his only film role before he became a medical malpractice attorney in New York City. He’s the ancestor of ancient aliens that gave birth to the Aztecs and entrusted a guardian armed with a golden mask. Ah — superheroes, Erich Von Daniken and Italian cinema? Bellisimo!

The mask is discovered by archaeologist — and the daughter of a Dutch ambassador — named Jane Dobson (Sydne Rome, who grew up near Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio before heading out to Italy to make movies like Man Called Amen and Sergio Martino’s Sex With a Smile). She learns that it can control minds, which pleases her boss Dr. Kobras (Donald Pleasence!) who takes over her brains instantly and then decides to start a Herrod-like campaign to kill Pumaman before the reincarnated hero becomes a threat.

Pumaman ends up being American paleontologist Tony Farms, who learns of his powers after the Native American named Vadinho throws him out a window and he survives the experience. How many people did Vandinho toss before he met the real Pumaman?

Of course, Tony and Jane are destined to fall in love and make the Pumababy, as foretold when the aliens visit Stonehenge and take the golden mask back. Of course.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime and Tubi with riffing from Mystery Science Theater 3000. You’re going to need it, because the man who never said no to a role, Donald Pleasence, stated that this was the worst movie he did in his entire career. Just imagine the depths of that statement.

Trhauma (1980)

Back when he was a child, The Being — the bad guy in this movie who has that name because there’s no way the creators of this film didn’t see Halloween and say, we need The Shape — was made fun of for his white eyeball-less eye and then fell out of a tree. That’s the kind of traumatic — trhaumatic? — adolescent experience that makes you strangle dogs and make love to corpses. Such is life in Italian slasher scum movies.

Yes, it’s another in the long series of films where my wife wanders in just as a nude woman is being photographed in a park, only to be mercilessly dispatched by a killer. She looks at me in disgust and says, “Your movies…”

Director Gianni Martucci was also behind 1988’s The Red Monks. Here he’s basically making an American slasher, complete with characters you learn nothing about other than the fact that you can’t wait to watch them die.

That said, the killer plays with Duplo blocks when he isn’t popping the heads off of obviously stuffed cats. And the film is quite literally packed with disco music. I think that more slashers could use some disco, but that may just be the result of me loving Prom Night so much.

This isn’t available in the U.S., so let me save you some time and attach the YouTube link below. It’s not exactly great, but it’s certainly not boring.