The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle (1980) and The Filth and the Fury (2000)

“The gospel according to the Ayatollah Malcolm.”
— Johnny Rotten

So agent provocateur and clandestine entrepreneur Malcolm McLaren owns a London fashion shop called Sex . . . eh, we don’t need to go that far back. . . . So co-founder/bassist/chief songwriter Glen Matlock is kicked out the Sex Pistols for “liking the Beatles. . . .” No, we don’t need to go that far back. . . .

When it came to the Sex Pistols, it was all about the marketing manipulation and McLaren the Machiavellian squeezed out every last drop of the group’s nihilistic sociopolitical ejaculate from their fourteen-month existence (November 1976 to January 1978). Regardless of their extensive discography that, by 1990, swelled to 20-plus albums, the group recorded only one actual studio album: the high-expectation and commercially-disappointing Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977). (The “flop” in the U.K. and Euro-markets was result of the album’s composition from the band’s already released 45-rpms and a “legal” 1977 bootleg album, Spunk.) And part of McLaren’s high-profile manipulations was to create a punk version of Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night—with Johnny Rotten refusing to have anything to do with the project. The “project” was initially developed by—of all peoples—Russ Meyer, with snobby film critic Roger Ebert as the screenwriter, in tow—both who had a little experience in the rock ‘n’ roll genre with their “epic” about the rise and fall of the Carrie Nations, 1970’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls . . . but Meyer also had lots of experience with large-breasted women (1965’s Motor Psycho and 1966’s Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!).

Yeah, this is going to work just fine. . . .

Well, it didn’t.

So, two-plus years later of false starts and stops with an array of people and footage shot here and there—which produced the Meyer-unfinished Who Killed Bambi?, British music video-artist, filmmaker, and ‘Pistols running mate Julien Temple (1989’s Earth Girls are Easy) got the Alan Sacks job of “doin’ a duBeat-eo” with the hours upon hours of narrative footage and concert clips of the Pistols during their heyday, along with surreal Kentucky Fried Movie-esque skits (that go beyond the funny into the silly . . . and the outright stupid).

Now, for those of you wondering: “What da frack does ‘Doin’ a duBeat-eo’ mean . . . and who is Alan Sacks . . . and what does this all have to do with the friggin’ Sex Pistols?” Well, impatient one, here’s your answer:

Alan Sacks came to fame as the creator of ’70 TV’s Welcome Back, Kotter; you know, that’s the show with the “Ooo! Ooo! Mr. Kotter!” pop culture catch phrase . . . the show that gave John Travolta his start. (He was most recently in the one-two punch bombs The Fanatic and Gotti.) And Alan Sacks got the job of taking the analogously dead pet-project of America’s Malcolm McLaren-doppelganger, record producer-songwriter Svengali Kim Fowley who, ironically ripping off McLaren’s idea, wanted to put his own “female” version of the ‘Pistols, the Runaways, into a “Beatlesesque” movie. (Remember: the ‘Pistols had “Anarchy in the U.K.” while the Runaways had “Cherry Bomb” as their signature tune.) Failed-developed as We’re All Crazy Now, Sacks got the Julien Temple-job of creating coherency out of chaos—and came up with duBeat-e-o, a film that has as much to do with the Runaways as The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle has to do with the Sex Pistols.

So, what did Temple come up with?

Well, he cut Who Killed Bambi? into the film. Sid Vicious—post-Sex Pistols—cut an album, Sid Sings (1979), and cut a video for that album’s centerpiece: a cover Elvis’s and Frank Sinatra’s signature tune, “My Way”—so Temple cut that into the film. (Warning: Sid pulls a gun and shoots into the audience.) And since Johnny Rotten wanted nothing to do with the project from the get-go, Temple opens the film with the snotty lead singer burned in effigy . . . and created an animated sequence that chronicles a beating the vocalist behind “God Save the Queen” took at the hands of Queen Mum-lovin’ thugs. And guitarist Steve Jones’s Rio de Janero visit with infamous British bank robber Ronnie Biggs is cut in. (Jones, ironically, along with Paul Cook and Glen Matlock, worked with Joan Jett on her self-titled solo debut, aka Bad Reputation.) And yeah, and Kurt Cobain Sid Vicious and Courtney Love Nancy Spungen, aka the punk rock John and Yoko, go through their own little psychodrama safety-pin voguing on screen. And, instead of Sex Pistols tunes: you get disco versions of Sex Pistols tunes by a group called the Black Arabs.

You can check out the track listings for each soundtrack on Discogs: Swindle and Fury.

. . . and the ‘swindle’ continues . . .

So Temple decided to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the film with a “sequel”. . . that cut The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle’s footage into the—admittedly—more coherent The Filth and the Fury (1990). And, if you’re keeping track . . . marks the third film chronicling punk’s most notorious band: the second was Alex Cox’s (Repo Man, Tombstone Rashomon) spunky, but not wholly historically accurate, Sid and Nancy (1986)—which Johnny Rotten also hated, natch.

With The Filth and the Fury—and without Malcolm McLaren’s marketing imperialism (. . . did you know he embarked on a “solo” career: with producer Trevor Horn, he assembled (McLaren never creates; he can’t. He thieves.) 1983’s Duck Soup)—Temple secured the full cooperation of Johnny Rotten, along with drummer Paul Cook, guitarist Steve Jones, and ex-bassist Glen Matlock, each who provide a new series of interviews, along with “new” interview footage of the late Sid Vicious not seen in Swindle. The interviews are well-executed: Temple peels Rotten-Lydon’s acidic layers and exposes his emotions over Sid’s decline and death. And there’s plenty of “new” footage, albeit, sometimes (most times) with grainy and out-of-sync sound, but kudos for Temple preserving those decrepit 16 mm and shot-on-videotape analog artifacts for the now, digital generations.

Temple was also able to circumcise McLaren’s cultural plundering of punk’s esthetics by showing us that punk rock wasn’t just about flogging the dead horse of Black Sabbath-inspired progressive rock and replenishing the wheezing lungs of rock ‘n’ roll. Punk was an artistic expression of the frustrations the British working class and unemployed (which include Rotten-Lydon’s contemporaries) against the stodgy and greedy British class system (a country where everyone’s on the dole, in poverty; meanwhile, Princess Di and Prince Charles have a huge matrimonial blowout). To that end, Temple also includes new footage of the protests, riots and unrest of the times (think of today’s Black Lives Matter movement and the upheaval in today’s Portland, Oregeon). So while Swindle was a “Swindle” to a point—which wasn’t Temple’s fault, he did a great job with whom and what he had to work with—Fury gets the facts straight and conveys the spirit of the times. So, as you watch both films as a double feature all these years later: you get Malcolm McLaren’s side . . . and the Sex Pistols side. And the twain shall never meet. Not even in the hands of Alex Cox.

The Great Rock ‘n Roll Music Trivia Swindle (you knew there was going to be a trivia sidebar): Before McLaren sunk his incisors into the Sex Pistols, he managed a down-and-out and ready-to-implode New York Dolls, which culminated with the 1975-recorded live, Euro-only album, Red Patent Leather (1984; which features new tunes not available on their two Mercury studio albums).

Also in Mal’s Svengali-stable was the burgeoning Adam and the Ants, who he subsequently “broke up” to provide musical backing for his own “Runaway” embodied in fifteen-year-old singer Annabella Lwin. Upon the eventual implosion of Bow Wow Wow (You do remember “I Want Candy,” right?)—as McLaren turned his Runaway into a singular-named solo artist, you know, like Madonna (not!)—guitarist Matthew Ashman formed Chiefs of Relief. And that band features another musician from the McLaren stables: Sex Pistols’ drummer Paul Cook (produced one eponymous debut album for Sire in 1988).

Prior to the Chiefs—and post-Sex Pistols (by the end of that band, only Steve Jones and Paul Cook were left to finish off a light smattering of tracks to close out that band’s career)—Jones and Cook formed the Professionals (with guitarist Ray McVeigh and bassist Paul Meyers). And, if you’re keeping track of your rock ‘n’ roll flicks, the “band” appeared—sans McVeigh and Meyers—with Paul Simonon of the Clash and British actor Ray Winston in their places, in Ladies and Gentleman, the Fabulous Stains.

Steve Jones’s solo career culminated with his forming a band around Iggy Pop, which recorded a couple of “comeback” albums for Detroit’s Jim Osterberg in the burgeoning years of the Year of our Lord Kurt Cobain. Johnny Rotten, as you know, reverted to his given name of Lydon and created the band Public Image, Ltd. with ex-Clash guitarist Keith Levene. Ex-Pistols’ bassist Glen Matlock formed the less-punk-more-Knacky new wave the Rich Kids with future Visage and Ultravox members Midge Ure and Rusty Egan, which scored a minor hit single with the title cut song from their lone album, 1983 Ghosts of Princes in Towers. Matlock eventually ended up in Concrete Bulletproof Invisible (an outgrowth of Doll by Doll that recorded one album for MCA Records) which released one pre-grunge album, Big Tears (1988).

Both films and their related soundtracks are easily availble as DVDs and CDs, with the films as VODs and PPVs on multiple, international online platforms.

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

Forbidden Zone (1980)

Somehow, Forbidden Zone was filmed in 1978 and 1979, but could really have come from any time after. It feels like a nuclear bomb that set off waves of influence well beyond and past its origination point. It was created by Danny Elfman and his childhood best friend, Matthew Bright, who would go on to make the two Freeway movies.

Based on the stage performances of the Los Angeles theater troupe The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, this is the kind of movie that everyone believed in, so much so that every SAG actor — including Hervé Villechaize, who even painted sets — gave their money back to keep the movie going (with the exception of Phil Gordon).

This was Elfman’s retirement from popular music to scoring films, as well as Oingo Boingo’s move from cabaret-style music to New Wave. It’s also astoundingly weird, even 40 years or more after it was made.

Richard Elfman, who started the Oingo Boingo troupe, directed this (he also made Shrunken Heads for Full Moon and used the pseudonym Aristide Sumatra to make the martial arts movie Streets of Rage). It’s literally an assault on all that anyone could hold dear, made in a time when rallying against values wasn’t crass or used to shove into people’s faces. It was a different time, I guess. That doesn’t excuse some of the worry that you’ll feel with seeing blackface, one of the few things that Elfman would take back, telling Dread Central, “From today’s perspective, if I could go back forty years, I certainly wouldn’t have included the brief blackface bits in Forbidden Zone. It was just one of hundreds of visual absurdities not at all important to the film and not worth its particular hot-button reaction. Although I have grown up in and around the African-American community (and have a racially diverse family), I don’t claim to know exactly what it is like to stand in a black person’s shoes and feel the effects of their particular oppression over the centuries.”

Man, how do I even explain this movie, one that starts with a Sixth Dimension hole inside a drug dealers’ house that leads to the kingdom of King Fausto (Villechaize) and Queen Doris (Susan Tyrrell)? I mean, for all the mindblowing things about this one, perhaps it isn’t even strange any longer to learn that Villechaize and Tyrrell had dated and warred throughout the making of this movie.

You get Warhol superstar Viva, a human frog, an apperance by Joe Spinell and Danny Elfman himself as Satan, all playing music from four decades or more before this movie was created. Marie-Pascale Elfman, who plays Susan B. “Frenchy” Hercules, also designed all of the sets and helped fund the movie by flipping houses with Richard, who was her husband at the time.

What started as black and white is now a colorized film that you can watch on Tubi. With it’s mixed of animation, song and dance, comedic violence and a willingness to offend in the most fun way possible, this is a movie worth setting aside time to view. Richard Elfman lost his house and all of his money making this happen, but after viewing it, I’m sure ypu’ll agree that it was all worth it.

Drive-In Friday: Pasta Wars with Alfonso Brescia

It all began with the 1964 sand n’ sandal flicks The Revolt of the Pretorians and The Magnificent Gladiator, along with an array of Poliziotteschi flicks. In between was an X-rated romp with 1969’s The Labyrinth of Sex and 1974’s seen-to-be-believed Super Stooges vs the Wonder Women. And it all pretty much ended when Uncle Al decided to take on George Lucas. We never saw him again on U.S. screens—big or small.

So, have you ever met two guys debating the content of Alfonso Brescia’s “Star Wars” rips? Welcome to mine and Sam’s world: a bizarro-universe where he mixes colorful, alcohol concoctions based on movies and we destroy our livers debating superfluous movie facts, much to the chagrin of poor Becca. Not even a Bill Van Ryn smack-on-the-side-of-the-head cures our Bresciamania.

Sam is of the critics who believe Uncle Al’s “Pasta Wars” is comprised of only four films: Cosmos: War of the Planets (aka Year Zero War in Space), Battle of the Stars, (aka Battle in Interstellar Space), War of the Robots (aka Reactor), and finally, Star Odyssey (aka Seven Gold Men in Space, Space Odyssey, Metallica and Captive Planet).

I’m on the side that there was actually five films in the series, which completed with 1980’s La Bestia nello Spazio, aka The Beast in Space in English venacular, aka “Star Wars V,” aka “Porn Wars,” because, well . . . it’s a porn movie.

Four!

Five!

Four!

Five! Arrrgh! Let’s break ’em down! But first, this 2012 trailer remix for the best known of Uncle Al’s “Pasta Wars” flicks: Star Odyssey.

Movie 1: Cosmos: War of the Planets (1977)

Many sci-fi connoisseurs believe Brescia’s “Star Wars” debut isn’t so much a rip-off of Star Wars: they opine it’s a homage to another Italian space epic, one that was produced amid all of those Antonio Margheriti-spaghetti space operas: Mario’s Bava’s Terrore nello Spazio, aka Terror in Space (known in American theatres as Planet of Vampires; then in its U.S TV syndication as Demon Planet).

On this point, Sam and I concure: Look at the costuming and alien-possession subplots of Bava’s and Brescia’s films for comparison. Adding to the celluloid confusion: Cosmos had similarly-influenced—if not the very same-recycled—costumes and sets as Margheriti’s films. In addition: Cosmos was also distributed as War of the Planets—which was the title of the 1966 second film of Margheriti’s Gamma One series.

Amid Cosmos’ self-recycled stock footage and shot-through-sheets-of-sepia-paper-and-cheese-cloth special effects, Cosmos also ineptly-lifted whole scenes from 2001: A Space Odyssey (an astronaut completes an upside-down communication device repair-in-space) and Barbarella (sex via touching a “blue orb of light” between beds). The “plot” for those who fell asleep: Our heroes journey to a planet where a green-skinned race is subjugated by an evil computer . . . and the Earth’s Italian “Hal 9000,” “The Wiz,” is possessed by the evil alien computer. . . .

Is this plotline picked up in the next movie? Nope. But all the sets, props, and costumes sure do redux.

Believe it or not, with everyone tricked into believing they were seeing another “Star Wars,” Cosmos: War of the Planets turned a profit in theatres (they got my coin at the duplex; the same plex that played Lou Cozzi’s Starcrash). It also aired forever during the ’80s on Friday and Saturday night and Saturday morning UHF-TV.

You can watch one of the many uploads on You Tube.

Movie 2: Battle of the Stars (1978)

. . . And Uncle Al returned with his “Empire Strikes Back” in the form of Battaglie negli spazi stellar (aka Battle in Interstellar Space), but it was given a new U.S. title because it sounds suspiciously like “Battlestar Galactica.” And since that was Glen Larson’s cheap-jack Lucas rip, that makes this a Star Wars rip twice removed.

Alas, Uncle Al’s “Star Wars II” suffered from poor theatrical distribution and a weak reissue via home video and TV syndication. Then, with all the alternate titling that plagues European films as they’re distributed to the international markets, spacesploitation buffs believed the almost-impossible-to-find Battle of the Stars was Cosmos—with a new title. Of course, when the main cast of familiar Italian actors Gianno Garko, Malisa Longo, Antonio Sabato, Yanti Somer, and John Richardson—along with most of their support cast—keep showing up in subsequent films, that only adds to the confusion.

Regardless, it’s not the same film.

Battle of the Stars is an entirely new film that cannibalizes Cosmos for stock footage—and all the costumes and sets return. As is the case with most “sequels” (Alien vs. Aliens and Mad Max vs. The Road Warrior being the exceptions to the rule), Battle is a just remake/reimage of Cosmos—with a little script tweak: Instead of Earthlings traveling to the planet-home of the evil computer, this time the rogue planet without-an-orbit-and-pissed-off-sentient-being comes to Earth, which . . . was the plot of Margheriti’s Battle of the Planets.

Hey?! What happened to the ship with its computer, “The Wiz,” possessed by the alien computer in Cosmos? Is that cleared up in Part III? Nope, that plotline is done and gone. . . .

You can watch a really clean Italian-language rip of Battle of the Stars on You Tube.

The snack bar is open . . . .

Intermission with Jason of Star Command and Space Academy . . .

. . . and back to the show!

Movie 3: War of the Robots (1978)

Yep, all of the one-piece spandex suits and pull-over headpieces were back for a third sequel . . . with a society of gold-painted skin people pinch-hitting for the green folks from Cosmos. Why? On this point Sam and I agree: There’s no “artistic” meaning behind it. Uncle Al simply ran out of the five-gallon buckets of green grease paint and he found some gold paint in the stock room. Ah, but all of the stock SFX footage, costumes, and sets—and whole scenes lifted from the previous two films—are back.

The “plot,” such as it is: Gold Aryan robots with Dutch-boy haircuts are on the brink of extinction. And the solution is to kidnap a couple of Earth scientists to save their planet. So a crack team of space marines (see Aliens; which wasn’t made yet!) are sent in for a rescue.

What makes “Pasta Wars III” so utterly confusing: All of the same actors from the last two films come back—as different characters. So, it’s a “sequel” . . . then it’s not. Will the fourth film tie up the loose end regarding the possessed Wiz from part one. . . .

You can watch this one of the many uploads of War of the Robots on You Tube.

Movie 4: Star Odyssey (1979)

So . . . George Lucas was still in production with the second Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back (1980)—and Brescia is already on his 4th sequel with 1979’s “The Gold Ayran Dutch Boy Robots” (as I like to call it) . . . but they really were back in Sette Uomini d’oro nello Spazi, aka Seven Gold Men in Space which, if you’re able to keep up with the alternate-titling of Italian films, became Star Odyssey for English-speaking audiences.

And you thought Roger Corman was the king of set, prop, and wardrobe recycling? Uncle Al’s recycling makes Glen Larson’s cheap n’ shameless footage, prop, and costume recycling from the Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers franchise-axis seem inspired.

The plot: In the year 2312 the Earth is referred to by evil aliens as “Sol 3.” “Darth Vader” is some guy in a (quite impressive) lizard skin mask (but it’s topped with a Farrah Fawcett-’70s feathered hair cut) that “buys” Earth in some inter-galactic auction to cultivate Earthlings as slaves to sell on the open market. And his army is the gold Dutch Boy robots . . . but didn’t we save them in War of the Robots? Welcome to the Brescia-verse. . . .

“Han Solo” is some guy in a shiny-silver Porsche racing jacket and a funky, disco-inspired spider web tee-shirt contracted for a The Magnificent Seven-inspired recruitment of a rescue team of rogues . . . thus ripping off Roger Corman’s Battle Beyond the Stars. Part of the “seven” are Uncle Al’s R2D2 and C3PO: a bickering male-female robot couple (the female has eyelashes and red lips) dealing with “sexual dysfunction” and “relationship issues.” And there’s a scrawny n’ skinny Han Solo-replicant acrobat who backflips and summersaults into battles—and makes a living fighting in boxing rings with Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots (know your ’70s toys). And what’s up with the “Luke Skywalker” of this space opera: Lt. Oliver ‘Hollywood’ Carrera? What’s with the obviously drawn-on mustache? Why is he hunching his back and arching his shoulders? Is it a parody of some Italian comedy actor we Americans don’t know about?

As result of Star Odyssey never playing in U.S. theatres or airing on U.S. UHF-TV in-syndication (at least not to mine and Sam’s recollections), the only way we watched this fourth “Pasta Wars” sequel was on numerous public domain DVD multi-packs. And regardless of the distributor, the “cut” of the film is always the same: somewhere along the way, the scissors were taken to the film and there’s several scenes out of sequence. Remember in Space Mutiny, when Lt. Lemont is dramatically killed off in a scene . . . and she shows up just fine in the very next scene? It’s like that, only it happens several times in Star Odyssey.

I keep promising myself that I’ll rip Star Odyssey and do a proper “fan cut” and put it back into its proper sequence in homage to Uncle Al. . . . Don’t hold you breath waiting for that You Tube upload.

You can watch Star Odyssey in all its continuity-screwed glory on You Tube.

Movie 5: Beast in Space (1980)

And now for the movie that’s come dangerously close to destroying a friendship. Alfonso Brescia’s oeuvre has that effect on people . . . well, just me and ‘ol Sam.

Anyway . . . remember the infamous, 1972 X-rated Flash Gordon porn-flick, Flesh Gordon? Did you ever wonder if Reece and Ripley (and we know they did, off-script and off camera) “got it on” in Aliens? Ever ponder if Han threw Leia across the Dejarik Chess Table and undid her cinnabons?

Well, welcome to Porn Wars.

There’s George Lucas, killing the box office with The Empire Strikes Back, and Brescia responds with his “Star Wars V”: 1980’s La Bestia nello Spazio, aka The Beast in Space. The interesting twist to this “sequel” is that it not only occurs in the same Brescia Pasta-verse (courtesy of footage, costumes, props, sets, and actors recycling) continued from Star Odyssey, it’s also a “sequel” to an infamously popular, 1975 Italian exploitation movie, The Beast. The “connection” between both films: erotic/exploitation actress Sirpa Lane sporting a pair of Brescia-space tights.

So how did they come up with the title Beast in Space, you ask? As result of her erotic/exotic films—especially The Beast—Sirpa Lane was a major star (and marketed as the “next Brigitte Bardot”) in Europe and christened with the affectionate stage name by the Euro-press: “The Beast.”

Issued in “PG,” “R” and “X”-rated formats, the “plot” concerns the Earth’s search of the cosmos for a rare element: Antallum, the key ingredient for bomb construction to basically kill off everyone in the universe. But wait . . . Earth already possessed that wonder-metal to accomplish space travel in the first film . . . so is this a prequel?

Eh, that’s plot piffle in the Brescia-verse.

The real story: The crew is “horny,” with chauvinistic men and slutty women astronauts seducing each other on their way to the planet Lorigon to plunder the planet of its Antallum honey hole. Well, the planet’s sentient super-computer (not again!) isn’t having any of that nonsense. That’s his Antallum. So “Hal 9000” sidetracks the Earthlings . . . by inciting them to indulge in their deepest, darkest sexual desires. Oh, did we mention the gold Aryan Dutch Boy robots are back as well? And the well-hung minotaur from Lane’s sexual dreams is real and lives on Lorigon?

The English language upload is gone. All we have is this Spanish-language upload on You Tube for you to sample.


So be it Star Odyssey or The Beast in Space—or four or five films—Uncle Al’s “Pasta Wars” was over. After turning out his “Star Wars” films in a short four years, Brescia turned over the keys to the Millennium Falcon. But let’s cut Uncle Al a break: he was saddled with the cheapest budgets and pressure-shoot schedules that no filmmaker should endure in their careers.

Brescia continued to make non-science fiction films for the remainder of his career—14 more films for the next 15 years. At the time of his retirement in 1995, Brescia completed a career total of 51 films.

Most of Brescia’s post-1980 work was primarily restricted to Italy-only distribution. His career took a financially-positive turn in the late-‘80s with the worldwide-distributed Iron Warrior (1987; the third in the hugely successful Italian rip-off series of Conan the Barbarian) and Miami Cops (1989; violent Miami Vice-inspired buddy-cop flick starring Richard Roundtree). Sadly, even with the success of Iron Warrior and Miami Cops, Brescia was unable to secure distribution for his self-financed final film, the 1995 action-comedy, Club Vacanze.

Alfonso Brescia, the king of the Star Wars-inspired spaghetti-space opera died, ironically, in 2001.

And that’s the story behind tonight’s “Drive-In Friday” salute to Uncle Al.

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

The Jayne Mansfield Story (1980)

Dick Lowry has worked in made-for-TV movies for some time, working on many projects with Kenny Rogers (The GamblerThe Coward of the County) and connected movies like In the Line of Duty and Jessie Stone, as well as the Project ALF TV movie reunion and Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again.

Based on the Martha Saxton book Jayne Mansfield and the American Fifties, this is — at best — a fictionalized accounting of her life. John Wilson’s book The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made.

Arnold Schwarzenegger — four years before The Terminator — plays Mansfield’s second husband Mickey Hargitay, who is telling a reporter the story of her life. Mansfield is played by Loni Anderson, who is perhaps the worst person — outside of bust line — to play her. She just seems wrong, from how she approaches the role to look. Maybe she identified with Jayne, seeing as how she started as a sex symbol and struggled to get her intelligence across. I’m not really sure, but it just doesn’t work.

Ray Buktenica plays her manager Bob Garrett. Buktenica was best known as Benny Goodwin, the rollerskateing toll-booth working boyfriend of Brenda Morgenstern on Rhoda. Also in the cast are Kathleen Lloyd (who memorbaly is killed by The Car as it flies through her kitched window) as Carol Sue Peters and G. D. Spradlin, who mostly plays cops in movies, as Gerald Conway.

Jayne Marie Mansfield is played by Laura Jacoby, who beyond being in Rad is also Scott Jacoby’s sister. The younger version of the character was played by Deirdre Hoffman, Anderson’s daughter.

If you look close enough, Lewis Arquette — the man whose loins gave the world Rosanna, Patricia, Alexis, Richmond and David — shows up as a publicity man.

There were no fact checkers in 1980. After all, how can you explain a movie that purports to tell the life story of Mansfield report that she was 36 when she died when the truth is that she was 34? Or that Jayne is shown making Las Vegas Hillbillys which is supposed to be a Western, which it is not, much less the fact that it was made two years after she and Mickey were actually divorced, yet they are married here? Shouldn’t that be The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw? And while we’re on the matter of facts, how great is it when Jayne is getting a new convertible sometime in the mid-1950’s, you can clearly see a 1980 Honda Civic roll by?

Much like how Jayne is dying to play the lead in The Jean Harlow Story, Valerie Perraine wanted this role. Surely she would have done better than imitating the worst vocal tics of Mansfield and none of the brains behind the glamour. Also, of all people to narrate this movie, Arnold in 1980 would not be the person I’d pick.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Smokey and the Judge (1980)

“Okay. Hold on just a minute, you smarmy, know-it-all pseudo movie critic. This is a ’70s hicksploitation Smokey and the Bandit ripoff has nothing to do with The Fast and the Furious and is definitely not a precursor. And, for god’s sake, don’t tie this back into Seinfeld, as that shite is getting on my nerves.”

“Hey, man. Don’t blame me. Blame Mason Heidger and Grant Pichla.”

“Who the frack are they?”

“The actor and director of the just-released indie time travel flick Making Time.”

“Oh, shite. This is another one of those off-the-rails, twisted non sequiturs and tangent-strewn reviews where you squeeze yourself over obscure actors and directors and you lose yourself in a morass of Six-Degrees babbling where you never tell us the plot of the movie.”

“Yeah, this is one of those “better go take a piss movies and make yourself a sandwich” reviews, bro.”

“Yeah, I’ll see you later. And find yourself an editor and a brevity-in-chief, bro.”

So . . . what am I rambling about with this escapee from the film vaults?

Like I said . . . I wrote up a review for Making Time, which stars Tori Titmas, and she wrote and stars in The Girls of Summer. And the director of Tori’s screenwriting debut is John D. Hancock, he of the ’70s drive-in “vampire” classic Let’s Scare Jessica to Death and the most unconventional Christmas movie you’ll ever see, Prancer. And Hancock’s cinematographer on Prancer and The Girls of Summer is . . . Misha Suslov, who lensed the cameras on Truckin’ Buddy McCoy, John Carpenter’s Black Moon Rising, and Mark L. Lester’s Public Enemies. And Suslov also eyepieced this redneck romp starring a cadaverous Rory Calhoun (who starred in Motel Hell that same year) in the Sheriff Buford T. Justice role.

So, you see. This review isn’t my fault. Send your complaints to Tori Titmas for hiring team Hancock-Suslov. For she is the one who unleashed this obscurity from the dust-bunnied, VHS shelves into the digital dustbins of B&S About Movies for you to enjoy. (And, of course, Mason and Grant are complicit in the film canister of worms thou opened.)

Courtesy of Paul Zamarelli of VHS Collector.com. Visit his DVD and Blu reviews on You Tube at The Analog Archivist.

Hey, you may not care. But I do. And our Master of the Movie Themed Vodka-based Drinks, Sam, cares (last week’s movie drinks!). And not only do we get to talk about John D. Hancock and pay tribute to Misha Suslov in this review . . . but we can get our freak on over producer-director Harry Hope.

Oh, my Harry Hope! For only you could possibly think melding the waning disco-era with the CB radio-reinvented hicksploitation-era would make for a good movie. But what else would we expect from the man who unleashed the never-should-have-been-finished-or-released Doomsday Machine, you know, that 1971 sci-fi ditty that featured motorcycle helmet-clad astronauts blasting-off in cushy Lazy-Boy recliners? What else would you expect from the man who backed Al Adamson’s T&A romp Sunset Cove and his Jim Kelly-starring karate joint, Death Dimension. (See, there’s never a loss of movie obscurities to review! Sam, pencil them in.)

So, anywhoo . . . back in the days of polyester and mirror balls, ’60s R&B singer Gwen Owens reinvented herself as the front-woman of the Los Angeles-based disco band Hot with Cathy Carson and Juanita Curiel (the “gimmick” was that the band was multi-racial; Owens was African-American, Carson white, and Curiel hispanic) and scored a 1977 U.S Top 40 radio hit with “Angel in Your Arms.” (Learn more about Hot at souldisco.de).

Of course, in the mind of Harry Hope . . . a down-and-out one-hit wonder disco group is perfect fodder for a Harry Hope production. And the best part: this wasn’t intended as a parody of Smokey and the Bandit. (In fact, we think the redneck sheriff and judge buffoonery wasn’t a part of the original “script” and grafted in after-the-fact. “Hey, Smokies and CBs are hot right now, let’s make one of those movies,” decided the ever-mind changing producer.)

After the release of Hot’s self-titled breakthrough debut — and the then novelty of the group’s multi-racial make-up — expectations were high for their sophomore album, If That’s the Way You Want It . . . You Got It (1978). So their management decided a Beatlesesque movie would be a great way to promote the album. And they entrusted the project to Harry Hope. Obviously, no one on the Hot management team or in the Big Tree Records’ offices did their due diligence. Did anyone not see Doomsday Machine?

When first produced, the film was completed as We Can Be Stronger Together, so as to tie into the band’s upcoming third album. When the title of the album was shortened to Stronger Together (1980), so was the film’s title (the album sleeve features film promotional blurbs in its liner notes). And that 1980 album sold less than the second album. So title changes — to distance the film from the flop album — were afoot, with a reimaging as Running Hot and Making It! (which carried over for its VHS shelf live).

But with Smokey and the Bandit igniting its own cottage industry, the girls from Hot — who agreed to a movie tie-in to promote their album — found themselves in a CB-Smokey romp, Smokey and the Judge, to, you know, make you think Jerry Reed is going to show up singing “Eastbound and Down” — instead of a hot pants n’ hip swingin’ disco trio cooing in three-part harmonies. Truth is, for all its ripoffness, the two films that don’t get named-dropped when drive-in and home video aficionados revisit this this discoploitation romp are the two movies it’s really ripping off: the Saturday Night Fever-inspired, disco-musical comedy Thank God It’s Friday (1978) and the Earth, Wind & Fire-starring disco-musical That’s the Way of the World (1975; aka, Shining Star).

And why title the film Making It? Who knows. Perhaps the distributor decided to confuse us into thinking the film was based on David “American Werewolf In London” Naughton’s then pop hit, “Making It” — which was actually featured in Meatballs.

Courtesy of Amazon

“Okay, Harry. You got us into this mess. How are we going to graft a female disco group into a hicksplotation movie?”

“We’re going to rip off Roger Corman’s old women-in-prison flicks.”

“Are you sure? I mean, we’ve already ripped off so many other films already.”

For reals. Harry even took the kitchen sinks as musicians Gwen Owens and Cathy Carson meet while doing time in a women’s penitentiary and decided to form a singing group. Of course, as is the case with any women-in-prison flick, the girls are innocent, with Cathy set-up to take the fall for a jewel heist gone wrong (in a flashback sequence that looks like stock footage from another movie).

When the duo makes parole, they meet Morris Levy (Darrow Igus from Car Wash, The Fog, and lots of ’80s TV), a managerial bottom feeder who’s going to “make them stars.” And he gets them a talent show gig at an out-of-the-way Urban Cowboy-styled (another film pinched for inspiration) roadhouse in the hick town of Pitts. (The “pitts,” yuk yuk. That’s sum mighty fern movie sypherin’ there, Harry.) Of course, after singing their five songs in the film (i.e., the initial purpose of the film: to promote their music . . . and pad out the film’s short running time), they run afoul of the local Barney Fife-dufus in the form of Sheriff Cutler (Gene Price, an old Jim Nabors sidekick), he the lone minion of the always sex-starved, fatass Judge Maddox (Joe Marmo from Rappin’ and American Drive-In), who has his own honry-machinations for the girls. Car chases and crashes (i.e., the “Fast and (not so) Furious” part), ensues, which, because of all the singing, hardly happens.

Now, you noticed that we didn’t mention Rory Calhoun in that stellar synopsis. That’s because you’ve been theatrical one-sheet duped: Rory-boy isn’t the Sheriff like we’ve been led to believe; he shows up for a cameo as a record executive who judges the contest in Pitts(ville), U.S.A.

Yeah. Use the F’in-word as a prefix to the word “mess” on this one. How much so? Hy Pyke (the creepy bus driver in Lemora, Mayor Daley in Dolemite, and Hack-O-Lantern) shemps-in-comic relief (see Sam Raimi’s films for what “shempin’” means) as the roadhouse’s bartender and a cheesy used car salesman. But you know what? You give me a movie with Rory, Hy, and Darrow, along with “Harry Hope” on the box, and I am renting the movie. You dig? (A dunny to subsequently dump it in.)

And so closes another off-the-rails rant at B&S About Movies, where we coddle the forgotten and obscure films of our drive-in, UHF, and VHS yesteryears — and the latest indie films. And to Misha Suslov: we tip our hats to you. Thanks for the VHS memories.

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

Drive In . . . Saturday?! Punk Night II

Rock ‘n’ Roll Week at B&S About Movies was a smashing success . . . one that can’t be contained in just one Drive In Friday* featurette! So, for this week only, we’ve opened up the Drive In for a special Saturday edition for you old punk codgers n’ sods. You know who you are . . . you were in middle school or high school during the advent of the cable TV boom and a fan of the USA Network’s “Night Flight” Friday night video programming block, channel surfing HBO and, later on, haunting the shelves of your local video store . . . so you’ll remember seeing these four punkumentaries. It’s been years since I’ve watched these gems myself, so this’ll be a fun night for all.

Oi! Hey, ho! Let’s go! All Aboard for Punk Night!

1. Punk In London (1977)

Director Wolfgang Büld bounced around the Germany film and TV industry since the early ’70s and made his English language debut with this German-produced documentary that accompanied the release of a coffee table book of the same name. The film features live performances — some of the footage and sound is of questionable quality — from some of the scene’s top bands, such as the Adverts, the Boomtown Rats, the Clash, the Lurkers, the Jam, Killjoys, the Sex Pistols, Sham 69, the Stranglers, and X-Ray Spex.

Büld followed up this document on the rise of punk rock with a sequel on “the fall” of punk rock, 1980’s Punk and Its Aftershocks, which featured the rise of the new, more commercial crop of ska, new wave, and mod bands that pushed out the punks, such as Madness, Secret Affair, Selector, and the Specials. As with any old VHS reissued to DVD, the reissues company had to tinker with the sequel and give it a new title (the lame “British Rock”) and edit out some footage from the original cut. Ugh!

The restored DVD digital rip of Punk in London currently streams on a variety of VOD platforms, but you can watch it for free on Flick Vaults’ You Tube channel. You can view a complete track listing of the bands and songs that appear in the film on Discogs.

Büld’s other punk documents include the hour-long 1980 TV document Women in Rock (leftovers not used in Punk In London), which centers on the German tours of British metalers Girlschool, along with Brit punkers the Slits, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Nina Hagen (Cha Cha), along 1978’s with Reggae in Babylon centered on the career of English reggae pioneers Steel Pulse. Büld made his narrative, dramatic debut with the German language (dubbed into English) film debut of Nena (of “99 Luftballoons” fame) in Gib Gas – Ich will Spaß! (Hangin’ Out).

2. The Punk Rock Movie (1978)

And you thought the footage featured in Punk In London was rough . . . the grainy, shaky images and muddy sound of this debut film by British punk scenester and club DJ Don Letts makes Büld’s works look like award winners . . . but we thank Letts for gearing up that Super-8 camera to chronicle those 100 glorious days in 1977 when Neal Street’s fashionable disco The Roxy booked punk bands in the venue where Letts spun records.

The live acts and backstage interviews include Alternative TV, the Clash, Generation X (Billy Idol), Eater, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, the Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Slaughter and the Dogs, the Slits, Subway Sect, and X-Ray Spex. So, regardless of its home movie quality, the film serves as a vital document of London’s then burgeoning punk rock scene.

Letts went onto form Big Audio Dynamite with Mick Jones (after his firing from the Clash) and directed a number of short-form music videos (the Clash’s “Rock the Casbah”) and long-form TV and DVD documentaries, such as 2005’s Punk: Attitude (Euro TV/U.S. DVD) and Westway to the World, his 2003 Grammy Award-winning documentary on the Clash.

The Punk Rock Movie is available on a few VOD streaming platforms, such as Amazon Prime (region dependent), but there’s a VHS rip available on You Tube. You can review the film’s full track listing on Discogs.

Intermission: Punktoons!

. . . And Back to the Show!

3. D.O.A (1980)

London-born Polish documentarian Lech Kowalski’s feature film debut (he made a few shorts and TV films) centers around the 16-mm footage he shot during the Sex Pistols’ 1978 seven-city club ‘n’ bars tour of the United States — their only U.S tour — that ended with the band’s demise. The behind-the-scenes interview footage features the now infamous “John and Yoko” bed-inspired interview of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen (You Tube). To fill out the short running time, Kowalski cut in performances and interviews with Iggy Pop, along with the Clash, the Dead Boys, Generation X, the Rich Kids (featuring ex-Pistols bassist Glen Matlock), Sham 69, and X-Ray Spex.

Lech’s other rock documents are 2002’s Hey! Is Dee Dee Home, about the life and times of Ramones bassist Dee Dee Ramone (1952-2002), and 1999’s Born to Loose: The Last Rock ‘n Roll Movie, concerned with the life and career of Johnny Thunders (1952-1991) of the New York Dolls and the Heartbreakers (the second, at one time featured, Richard Hell from Blank Generation). Meanwhile, footage from D.O.A appeared in Julien Temple’s 2000 Sex Pistols document The Filth and the Fury (which I went to see in a U.S art house theatre setting).

This one’s not streaming as VOD, but we found two VHS rips on You Tube HERE and HERE to enjoy. You can view the full track listing of the film on Discogs.

4. Urgh! A Music War (1981)

. . . And we saved the best-produced documentary for last: this one dispenses with the backstage tomfoolery and goes right to the stage with professionally-shot footage compiled from a variety of 1980-era shows held in England, France, and the United States. And there’s a couple of reasons why the Police spearhead Urgh! A Music War: Not only were they the most commercially radio-successful “new wave” band of the groups featured; Derek Burbidge, the director, helmed several videos (the famous “Roxanne”) for the Police (he also did Gary Numan’s “Cars”), while Miles Copeland, the brother of the Police’s drummer, Stewart Copeland, managed the Police and operated IRS Records, which produced the film. The film briefly appeared in U.S. theatres via Filmways Pictures (seen it in an art house theatre, natch), but gained its cult status due to its frequent airings on HBO and the USA Network’s “Night Flight” video block.

Beginning in 2009, Warner Archive (the successor-in-interest to Lorimar Pictures, who co-produced with IRS) released an official DVD-R of the movie — burned on a made-to-order basis. As result, this one’s not available as a cable PPV or VOD online stream and the freebie You Tube and Vimeo rips don’t last long. However, searching “Urgh! A Music War” on You Tube populates numerous concert clips from the film. The bands you know in those clips are the mainstream MTV video bands the Police, Devo, Echo & the Bunnymen, the Go-Go’s, Joan Jett, Gary Numan, Oingo Boingo, Wall of Voodoo, X, and XTC. The lesser known bands featured — that some know and most don’t — include L.A.’s the Alley Cats, the Dead Kennedys (Terminal City Ricochet), Magazine (off-shoot of the Buzzcocks), the Fleshtones (Peter Zaremba hosted IRS: The Cutting Edge for MTV), Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, 999, Pere Ubu, the Surf Punks, and Toyah Wilcox (Breaking Glass).

You can view the film’s full track listing on Discogs while you listen to the soundtrack in its entirety on You Tube: Side A/B and Side C/D.

All images of the ’80s original issue VHS covers — the cover arts I remember when I rented them — are courtesy of Discogs.

* Be sure to join us for Sam’s “Drive-In Friday: Movie Punks” featurette.

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

Blank Generation (1980)

Your willingness to slog through this punk-inspired drama — that is admittedly artsy and boring, rife with a lack of narrative clarity, bad acting, and an overall production incoherency courtesy of its failed Fellini-esque noodling (Warhol’s a great artist, but considered terrible at filmmaking in most quarters) — hinges on your fandom of Richard Hell, the music of the Voidoids, and nostalgia for the ’70s New York East Village punk scene spearheaded by the Bowery-based club CBGB’s.

Or perhaps that willingness hinges on your tolerance for the serial killer-obsessed oeuvre of direct-to-video German horror schlockmeister Ulli Lommel (Tenderness of the Wolves, The Boogey Man, BrainWaves, The Devonsville Terror) and, for the film buffs, Lommel’s connections to the works of Russ Meyer and Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

But as a piece of cultural history for music buffs (especially of punk music), while amateurish in places, this Ulli Lommel and Andy Warhol co-production (they previous worked together on 1979’s Cocaine Cowboys; a tale about a rock band subsidizing their lifestyle via drug running) won’t disappoint.

Now, before we get started . . .

Let’s clear up the fact that there are two films carrying the title of the influential Richard Hell and the Voidoids’ tune (that inspired the Sex Pistols to write “Pretty Vacant”). The First: we picked up as a VHS bootleg tape set inside a black hard-clamshell case with a Xerox’d cover on the shelf of our local indie punk record store (tucked between a Hallmark gift n’ card store and a falafel joint). The Second: most of us watched it for the first time during an early ’80s late night viewing on the USA Network’s Friday night “Night Flight” music video programming block (alongside Hell’s other starring role in Susan Seidelman’s 1982 punk chronicle, Smithereens).

That first film, 1976’s The Blank Generation (carrying the grammatical article prefix), is a 16-mm black & white DIY documentary co-directed by Lydia Lunch and Patti Smith Group guitarist Ivan Kral and “No Wave” director Amos Poe (who went mainstream with 1984’s Alphabet City; starred Vincent Spano of Over the Edge, Matt Dillon’s first film). That film features grainy, live performances by Patti Smith, Blondie, Television, the Ramones, Talking Heads, the Heartbreakers, the Shirts (fronted by Annie Golden, later of Susan Seidelman’s 1985 Madonna-starring, Desperately Seeking Susan), Wayne County, and the Tuff Darts (featuring soon-gone original lead singer Robert Gordon) on the stage of CBGBs.

Original theatrical one-sheet
The long since deleted ’80s VHS — copies are out there, if you want them, but run at $150.00

As for the narrative, dramatic version of the second film: Hell stars as Billy, an ascending musician and poet on New York’s local art scene that’s experiencing his first taste of fame across the pond; so Nada (Carole Bouquet, who starred as a “Bond Girl” in 1981’s For Your Eyes Only), a French filmmaker and journalist, comes to the States to interview him. Their journalist-subject relationship quickly progresses into a romantic triangle when Nada’s other lover, Hoffritz (Lommel), comes to New York to interview Andy Warhol (who cameos) — and Billy must choose between his career and love for Nada.

Uh, yeah. It’s a punk-tinged love story that’s more A Star is Born (1976) than a punk-rise-and-fall tale of the Breaking Glass variety. But what other film gives you the Voidoids (Robert Quine, Ivan Julian and Mark “Marky Ramone” Bell; later of Rock ‘n’ Roll High School) at the top of their game searing through “Liars Beware” and their punk anthems “Love Comes in Spurts” (featured in Christian Slater’s Pump Up the Volume) and “Blank Generation” from the stage of CBGBs?

None.

You can stream Blank Generation (1980) for the low, low price of $.99 on Amazon Prime Video, but guess what? We found a free stream over on You Tube, Midnight Pulp, and YuYu TV. As for The Blank Generation (1976): there’s no online streams or DVD reissues (official or grey market) in the online marketplace, but we found a free streaming copy on You Tube to enjoy.

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

Breaking Glass (1980)

If you grew up in middle school or high school during the advent of a new cable TV channel called HBO in the early ’80s, chances are you caught at least one of the incessant airings (we watched it multiple times, of course!) of this British rock film — alongside the likes of the juvenile delinquency classic Over the Edge (starring Matt Dillon in his film debut) and Ladies and Gentleman: The Fabulous Stains. (Meanwhile, over on the USA Network’s “Night Flight” programming block, we watched Social Distortion in the punkumentary Another State of Mind and the Ramones in Rock ‘n’ Roll High School. Ah, those were the days. . . .)

O’Connor got her start as an actress, with support roles in the British films Girls Come First (1975) and Double Exposure (1977). To launch her music career (with financial assistance by Princess Diana’s then lover, Dodi Fayed), O’Connor was teamed with Marc Bolan’s (T.Rex) and David Bowie’s longtime producer Tony Vinconti (he also worked with Iggy Pop and Thin Lizzy) to craft the songs for the film; Brian Gibson (later of several Styx videos, as well as the Tina Turner bioflick What’s Love Got to Do With It and the 1998 Brit rock flick Still Crazy) was hired to craft a film around the songs.

Fans of ’70s British new wave music and of Toyah, know that the unknown O’Connor beat out Toyah Willcox for the role. At the time, Willcox was high on the British charts with her debut album, 1979’s Sheep Farming in Barnet, which featured the hit singles “Neon Womb” and “Victims of the Riddle,” and “Leya” from 1980’s The Blue Meaning. (If you’re a fan of the image and music of Lene Lovich and Nena Hagan — from our previously reviewed Cha Cha — or Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex and Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie and the Banshees, then you’ll enjoy the music of Toyah.)

As with the plot of most rock flicks, Gibson devised a story about the ubiquitous, meteoric rise and even quicker fall of Kate, a young and angry rock star lost in a world of drugs that’s compounded by managerial, record company, and media manipulation that leads to her eventual nervous breakdown. It’s a tale not far removed from the career trajectory of the faux bands chronicled in Slades In Flame, the 1982 Australian new wave comedy-drama Starstruck, 1980’s Times Square, and the aforementioned Ladies and Gentleman: The Fabluous Stains.

Astute British music fans will notice Phil Daniels from his starring role in Quadrophenia (brilliant as O’Connor’s talentless, bottom feeding street hustler-cum-manager), along with bassist Gary Tibbs from Adam and the Ants and Roxy Music as a band member (with equally decent acting chops). And keep your eyes open for ex-Animals keyboardist Zoot Money (You Tube) and Gary Holton of the Heavy Metal Kids (You Tube) in support roles. And yes, that is Jonathan Price as Ken, the band’s deaf and heroin-addicted saxophone player — on his way to his breakout roles in Something Wicked This Way Comes and Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

Image courtesy of Good Reads. You can find used copies of the novelization on Amazon U.S.

Caveat Emptor #1: Sure, you can stream Breaking Glass on You Tube Movies and Amazon Prime U.S. But those are the American edits of the film that run at one hour thirty four minutes (94 minutes) with the film’s ending and other scenes (about 10 minutes) excised — you want to watch the original British version distributed in Europe that runs at 100 minutes. Alas, due to the usual legalese, that British version is not available on Amazon Prime in the U.K. — but the intrepid staff of B&S About Movies found the lone online copy of the British cut of the film on Vimeo (it’s been there for three years, but watch it while you can).

Caveat Emptor #2: The film was out-of-print for years and the recently released, mass marketed Blus and DVDs — which come from the choppy American print — have received poor reviews. The U.S online streams come from those un-restored Blus and DVD impresses. The way the reviews read, it seems we’d be better off with a grainy, taped-off-cable or VHS online rip of the film. The Blus and DVDs offer no menus or extras, booklets or the usual commentary tracks you’d expect from the re-release of such a classic, coveted film.

And just how influencial is this film?

Well, we all know about the debated relationship between Jack Wood’s Equinox and Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, right? Well, check out this shot of Hazel O’Connor’s “robot” from the “Eighth Day” segment of Breaking Glass against an image of 1982’s TRON.

Then, there’s the striking similarities between the hair and makeup of O’Connor and Daryl Hannah’s Pris from Bladerunner.

You can listen to the full soundtrack — which hit # 5 on the British charts and earned a gold album status — on You Tube. You can also watch two scenes/songs/rock videos cut from the film of the soundtrack’s two Top Ten British singles, “Will You?” and “Eighth Day,” also on You Tube. “Give Me an Inch” became somewhat of new wave “hit” on U.S college radio stations at the time.

You are a programme! Programme! Programme!

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

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.