Phobia (1980)

Psychiatrist Dr. Peter Ross (Paul Michael Glaser ) is using radical techniques — maybe even abusive — techniques on his patients to cure them of their fears. But then, they start getting killed off one after the other.

The script for this film comes from a story by Dead and Buried team Ronald Shusett* and Gary Sherman that was scripted by Peter Bellwood, Lew Lehman and Hammer veteran Jimmy Sangster.

It also has John Huston, a director of some pedigree, making it. But this feels less like the John Huston who directed The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Asphalt Jungle, The African Queen, The Misfits and Prizzi’s Honor and more like the John Huston who acted in Myra BreckinridgeThe Bermuda Triangle and The Visitor.

But hey — Susan Hogan from The Brood and Lisa Langlois (Class of 1999Happy Birthday to MeDeady Eyes) are in this.

If this sounds like Schizo without Kinski, well…you’re not wrong.

The best thing about this movie is that Marian Waldman, Mrs. Mac from Black Christmas, plays Glaser’s housekeeper.

Seriously, John Huston directed this. And it’s dull. So dull. Nobody seems to care and the premise of making criminals atone for their crimes by taking part in an experimental video therapy and being killed is a good one. This movie does not succeed in telling that story.

*According to Dan O’Bannon, Ronald Shusett was the first to option the script from the original screenwriter. Shusett was in talks to sell the rights further, provided he could fix it, which meant that he restructured it with O’Bannon.

The Jazz Singer (1980)

Man, Richard Fleischer. Your career was all over the place. There are highs such as Soylent GreenFantastic Voyage, See No Evil and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as well as lows like Amityville 3-DDoctor Dolittle and Che! as well as movies that can be described as interesting like Mr. MajestykConan the Destroyer, Red SonjaMandingo and his last film, Million Dollar Mystery, which was a promotional tie-in with Glad-Lock garbage bags that had a million dollar prize for anyone that could guess where the money was.

The idea for this remake of the 1952 movie — which was a remake of the 1927 movie — came from producer Jerry Leider, who believed that star Neil Diamond could be the same kind of star as Elvis. Or at least Barbara Streisand.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer started making this movie but dropped the project when they felt that it was too Jewish, in case you think you know who runs the media. Sometime after, Diamond had back surgery and invoked a clause in his contract that allowed him to finish the original music before filming began, which kept the producers from changing the lead role to Barry Mannilow.

Most importantly at this time, Sir Laurence Olivier was cast as Diamond’s character’s father Cantor Rabinovitch, for a $1 million, ten-week contract. Sidney J. Furie was set to direct — yes, the Iron Eagle director — but he had creative differences and that meant scriptwriting duties shifted from Stephen H. Foreman to Herbert Baker, who rewrote the film and then, well, Furie was fired while the movie was being filmed and Fleisher finished the movie.

Combined with the fact that Neil Diamond could command the stage and reach huge audiences but struggled with acting and you have a movie that was a ticking bomb.

Actually, for everyone who believes that this movie failed, it actually didn’t. It made over $27 million on a budget of $13 million, mostly thanks to being presold to television. The soundtrack, however, was beyond a massive big deal, becoming Neil Diamond’s biggest selling album in the United States by selling more than 5 million copies and reaching #3 on the pop albums chart. The singles “Love on the Rocks,” “Hello Again” and “America” reached #2, #6 and #8 on the charts.

This is not the first time a Neil Diamond soundtrack was a hit and the film failed. The other would be Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

But what of the movie?

Yussel Rabinovitch is a young — Diamond was 39 when this came out — fifth-generation Jewish cantor performing at the synagogue of his father. His life is a mix of trying to sing rock and roll and being tied to the teaching of his faith, as well as his marriage to his childhood friend Rivka (Catlin Adams, who took Nathan Johnson’s innocence in The Jerk). Don’t get attached to her, because once Yussel heads to Hollywood, she’s old news.

Somehow, maybe to tie this into the Al Jolson story that the original was all about, Diamond performs with his friend Bubba (Franklyn Ajaye) and his band the Four Brothers, showing up in blackface which trust me was still wrong in 1980. Someone notices that he has white hands, a brawl happens and Yussel’s father has to bail him out and learns that he’s changed his name to Jess Robin. Father and son have a screaming match and trust me, you would be shocked that this is Sir Laurence Olivier, who should be elevating Diamond and instead is trapped within the black hole that is Neil’s acting.

After the movie was finished, Sir Laurence Olivier was overheard at a dinner telling his friends, when asked about this movie, “This piss is shit.” A reporter was nearby and the news was all over the place, leading to the actor writing a ten-page letter  to Fleischer, not only apologizing but also admitting that he was in movies — and so many of them — for the money now. The lawsuits that were being written up were torn up.

Despite disagreements with the singer he’s been hired to write songs for, Yussel wins over his future manager — and wife — Molly Bell (Lucia Arnez, literally the one bright shining light in this entire movie).

Man, this entire movie. I’ve always read how bad it is and I was not prepared for how truly awful it is, which means that I loved every single moment of it. Beyond the shouting matches over Jewish tradition, there’s also the fact that our hero is basically a jerk and that he takes it out on everyone around him but we’re supposed to love him not because of who he is in the movie but more because he’s Neil Diamond.

Roger Ebert summed up why this movie makes no sense so well: “The 1925 play spoke to the generation of immigrant children who wanted to break away from the tradition of their parents. But 55 years later, when America’s ethnic groups are rediscovering their traditions, we don’t accept Jess’ career move as easily. Frankly, we see his religious tradition as having much more value than the plastic Hollywood pop music world he yearns to inhabit.”

Diamond was nominated for both a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor and a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor for this movie. There’s only two other people who’ve done that. That would be James Coco and Pia Zadroa, who won both awards too.

You know how ridiculous it is when Neil breaks into the Pledge of Allegiance during “America,” but you’re like, man that song is so goofy that you have to love it? That’s this whole movie.

Herbie Goes Bananas (1980)

You know, I kinda hate Jim Douglas. After Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, he just gives up on the Love Bug and gives him to his nephew Pete Stancheck, who has to head to Mexico with his buddy D.J. to get the car. On the way to get the car, they get their pockets picked up the loveable — well, that’s debatable — ruffian Paco who also steals from some Incan-ruin robbers, which is a bad idea. Somehow, Paco gets the map to the gold they’ve stashed and also sneaks on to a cruise ship along with our protagonists and Herbie for even more wacky hijinks in Rio de Janeiro, including the Brazil Grand Prêmio race before Captain Blythe (Harvey Korman), the boss of the ship, kicks everyone off and drops Herbie into the ocean where he drives along the ocean floor and survives*.

I mean, how powerful is Herbie? What is he? A demon? A hyperintelligent car? The soul of a child who died inhabiting an indestructible VW bug? Why do I have so many questions?

Look, John Vernon is in this and I give that guy a pass. People have to work. Yet somehow I have made it through four Herbie movies which are the very definition of diminishing returns. I mean, I love every movie in the Police Academy and Vice Academy series and obviously have little to no taste and this movie broke me. It left me crying in the corner.

*The real VW Bug used for this stunt did not. They just left it there. 25 more VW Bugs paid for this film with their lives. Blood for the Love Bug!

The Watcher in the Woods (1980)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sean Collier is a writer and movie critic. Listen to his podcast, The Number One Movie in America, on all major podcast apps. Follow him on Twitter for more reviews: @seancollierpgh

Let’s plan an absurdly specific double feature.

I want a double feature where both films were released in 1980, and take place in a remote, possibly haunted location. Both films must feature a child who receives psychic messages — and that child must write important information backward on or near a reflective surface. When an adult character sees the backwards writing, they must make a shocked face before a crash zoom revealing the true message.

So, yes: The first half of this double feature is The Shining.

The second half, surprisingly, is The Watcher in the Woods a teen-focused but truly unsettling haunting tale distributed by Disney. To be clear, I’m not suggesting any untoward influence between The Shining and The Watcher in the Woods. They’re contemporaries, almost certainly in production at the same time. (A few miles apart, in fact.) It’s a remarkable coincidence, though, and — what with The Shiningstanding as my favorite movie — one that primed me to enjoy the largely forgotten Disney thriller.

Lynn-Holly Johnson, a one-time Bond girl (For Your Eyes Only), stars as Jan, the teen daughter of a family that has moved into a sprawling, creaking British manse. She keeps seeing strange things in the forest that borders the property; meanwhile, her younger sister Ellie — Halloween tyke Kyle Richards — keeps unknowingly delivering psychic messages. (When the family questions why the massive house is so affordable, Ellie opines, “Maybe there’s a ghost,” instantly making her the smartest person in the movie.)

Turns out that the building’s caretaker, Mrs. Aylwood (Bette Davis, who is as fantastic as you’d expect), has a long-lost daughter who disappeared after a lightning strike at a nearby chapel. Jan starts seeing a blindfolded vision of the lost girl in mirrors and ponds; if you can guess where the mystery is headed, congratulations, you’ve heard a British ghost story before.

Fortunately, “The Watcher in the Woods” keeps things lively with a series of unexpected action sequences. I did not expect a kinetically shot dirtbike sequence in this film, but it’s there, complete with a near-fatal accident. Director John Hough had a background in horror (Twins of Evil, The Legend of Hell House) before taking Disney gigs like this and Escape to Witch Mountain, so he knew how to make a memorable set piece. The gem of the bunch is a terrifying house-of-mirrors setup that likely traumatized thousands of late-Boomer teens.

The Watcher in the Woods was pulled from release almost immediately, as critics and audiences rejected a truly wild conclusion. Thanks to a fan edit you can find on YouTube, you can watch a reasonably convincing cut of the original version — that’s the one I saw — and judge for yourself if it was too out there for early-’80s teens. After a more streamlined (and less stunning) ending was re-shot, the new version was released in 1981 to mild success; it last received a DVD release in 2004 and is not yet on the Disney+ lineup.

While it lacks some drive — the middle stretch can get a bit sleepy — it’s a good time, and an interesting companion piece for Shining fans. If you have a friend who likes a mild thrill but doesn’t have the stomach for gore, this is a good choice.

They’ll have nightmares about screaming, blindfolded mirror ghosts, but that’s kind of the point.

The Ghosts of Buxley Hall (1980)

Bruce Bilson also directed the Disney movie The North Avenue Irregulars, which I certainly saw at some point at the drive-in, possibly with The Love Bug or The Apple Dumpling Gang.

When the century old Buxley Military Academy falls on hard times, it has to merge with a school for girls, which angers the ghosts who haunte the academy, General Eulace C. Buxley (Dick O’Neill), Bettina Buxley (Louise Latham) and Sergeant Major Chester B. Sweet (Victor French). As the boys learn to live with the girls, the ghosts declare war on everyone — but in a totally fun and non-frightening way.

I kind of love Posie, who shows up in female empowerment t-shirts and tells the adults how dumb they are for most of the movie. The ghosts come around — even if seeing a black cadet blows their minds — and all ends well. It’s a non-threatening, not all that interesting Disney for kids ghost movie, but if thats your thing, well — here it is.

Sultan and the Rock Star (1980)

Based on the novel Sandy and the Rock Star, this episode of Disney’s Wonderful World aired on April 20, 1980 and treated us all to the tale of Paul Winters (Timothy Hutton), a teen idol who escapes from the cruel world of being famous on Sportsman’s Island, becoming friends with a bengal tiger named Sultan who also was once in the business of show.

The only problem is that the owner of the island is planning on killing the tiger in a hunt. So Paul has to somehow save his friend. Crispin Glover’s dad Bruce is also involved.

This was written by Steve Hayes, who also wrote Time After Time, and directed by Ed Abroms, who was the man behind plenty of episodic TV shows as well as the editor of Street Fighter and Cherry 2000.

Sometimes when you watch a Disney live action movie, they change your life. Other times, you watch a tiger make friends with Timothy Hutton, who would win an Oscar for his very next role in Ordinary People.

 

The Godsend (1980)

Based on the 1976 novel of the same name by Bernard Taylor, this film pulls no punches if you’re thinking that children are safe in a movie.

Alan and Kate Marlowe are walking with their four children — Davy, Lucy, Sam and Matthew — when a pregnant stranger (Angela Pleasence  — yes, Donald’s daughter) follows them home, staring oddly and doing strange things like cutting their telephone line before giving birth in their home. The next day she disappears — I guess hospitals weren;t around in 1980 England — and keep her child, who they name Bonnie. I also figure that the adoption system wasn’t a thing either.

Within days, Matthew is dead while lying in the same playpen as the mysterious baby. The Davy drowns in a creek, supposedly saving Bonnie’s life, which makes sense, until then Sam dies in a barn and Bonnie’s ribbon is nearby. Suddenly people are calling the Marlowes child killers. Then, Bonnie gets the mumps and kisses him, giving him the illness as well as a dream where he realizes she has killed all of his children other than Lucy.

By the end of the film, Bonnie has claimed the Marlowes’ unborn child when she trips Kate, broken up their marriage and used mind control — wow, where did that come from? — to make Lucy walk out a window. This ending is nothing like the book, so I’ve heard. I do like the close where Alan sees the woman in the park who started all this insanity, but nobody will listen to his prophecy of doom.

This was directed by Gabrielle Beaumont, working from a script by her husband Olaf Pooley. She was the first woman to direct an episode of Star Trek and also made Death of a CenterfoldHe’s My Girl and Beastmaster III: The Eye of Braxus.

The Second Coming (1980)

Editor’s Note: On June 26, 2021, we had a “Ron Ormond Day” in tribute to his films. You’ll find the links to the reviews from that day of films — and others — within this review.


This is the one Ron Ormond film that eludes the staff of B&S About Movies. Sure, Sam and I are familiar with the film, as our religious schooling and church youth group years exposed us to all of Ron Ormond’s films — including this lost, final film of the Ormond’s from, as we like to call it, their “Damascus Years.”

Out of the Ormond’s six Fundamentalist films — seven, if one includes their also-lost, hour-long “travelogue/documentary” feature, The Land Where Jesus Walked (1975) — this is the one film (two, including Land) that is not available as a vintage-resale VHS or reissues DVD. As with all of Ron Ormond’s post-salvation catalogue, The Second Coming did not play in rural Drive-Ins or indoor theaters: it was “rented out” (in this case: $100 a showing, as per the one-sheet) as a “roadshow feature” in churches and tent revivals.

Courtesy of Letterboxd; the only online copy.

The Second Coming served as the directing debut of Ron’s son, Tim. Starting out as an actor in his father’s films: he starred in the family’s secular works Girl from Tobacco Row, White Lightin’ Road, and The Exotic Ones, then the Christian films If Footmen Tire You, The Burning Hell, The Grim Reaper, The Believer’s Heaven, and 39 Stripes. Tim matured to serve as an editor, cinematographer, writer (39 Stripes, The Second Coming), and director (the lost The Second Coming) on several Ormond family productions, which also included wife and mom, June Carr, on the production staff. Tim came to his directing debut through sadness: Ron Ormond died during the pre-production of The Second Coming — in 1981 at the age of 70s — leaving Tim and Ron’s widow to finish the film. June’s other films — under her maiden, professional name in the producer’s chair and as a Second Unit or Assistant Director include not only the above films, but Forty Acre Feud, The Monster and the Stripper, Please Don’t Touch Me, and the lost “jukebox musicals” Square Dance Jubilee and Kentucky Jubilee.

During our analog excavations to find an online stream or trailer to share (we were unsuccessful), we discovered an extensive, November 2007 interview with Tim Ormond, courtesy of Mondo Stumpo: an interview that assisted us in our additional documentation of The Second Coming. (We enjoyed the staff of Mondo Stumpo referring to the genre as “Christian Gore”; if you’re familiar with the Ormond’s “Pirkle” years, you know that’s a perfect analysis.)

We’d also extend our thanks to B. Earl Sink, Jr. — the son of Earl “Snake” Richards — in assisting us in our preserving of The Second Coming. As we’ve discussed in our previous reviews, Richards starred in two of Ron Ormond’s secular films: Girl From Tobacco Row (1966) and White Lightin’ Road (1967). Richards also starred in the non-Ormond “Jukebox Musical,” That Tennessee Beat (1966), by way of producer Robert L. Lippert, who produced many of the Ormond family’s works. It was during the course of that third film review, in which we came to speak with Earl Jr., who tipped us that he (regardless of the IMBb’s incomplete credits; they also have his mother’s credits split as “Carr” and “Ormond”) also acted in The Second Coming. And, as you read on, you’ll come to learn that four generations of the Sinks appeared in or crewed on Ormond productions.

If you’re familiar with the contemporary, Christian-apocalyptic oeuvre of Cloud Ten Pictures, with their B-star-studded Apocalypse series and their better known Left Behind series, as well as the films of David A.R. White’s PureFlix shingle (Jerusalem Countdown), or the ’70s Bible-apoc progenitors of Donald W. Thompson (A Thief in the Night), then you’re up-to-speed on the end-times tale in the frames of The Second Coming. But this is an Ormond film. And it is so much better for it: for Christian-based Ormond films come from the heart and, ironically, none are the least bit exploitative, although they appear on critical lists, i.e., “Christploitation,” as such.

As in the Ormond’s previous Estus Pirkle production, The Burning Hell: we have a similar, wayward youth in love with the world coming to find salvation through dreams, i.e., visions. This time, our scoffing youth, who dismisses his God-fearing mother and the family’s pastor, dreams of missing out on The Rapture. As with any Fundamentalist Ormond production — even the ones void of the crazed “Christian Gore” tutelage of Estus Pirkle — the imaginative creativity of the images presented in the frames is the always thing: God smites a Babylonian statue with a mighty rock (in repetitive, slow motion), dead saints of the past rise up out of their earthen graves, and new saints — the proclaimed 144,000 — vanish on the spot in an eye’s twinkle; then, in a grand, stunning piece of against-the-budget filmmaking (which we’ll get into detail, later): Jesus Christ returns with a phalanx of saints on white horses in the clouds.

Of course, our wayward lad returns to Jesus. As he should: Remember, Estus Pirkle warned us that communist invaders from Cuba would ram sharpened bamboo shoots through our brains via the ear canal, then dump our bodies in freshly bulldozed mass graves. Why would anyone want to stick around for those horrors?

As with the Pirkle trilogy — and the non-Pirkle The Grim Reaper — pastors show up, of course — six, in fact — amid the narrative with words of wisdom. Of course, while guys like Jack Van Impe and Jerry Falwell are committed and honorable in the word, it’s just not the same as having Estus ranting with his statistical analysis on the exact percentages of how many people end up in Hell, daily.

Hey, we can joke about the Pirkle trilogy, but the pastor, however off-putting he may be to secularists, he was committed to the cause. The Ormond family, on the other hand, created honorable, truthful films with a lighter touch. Fans of the Ormond’s Pirkle years may miss the “craze” of those films, here, and dismiss The Second Coming as less effective. We, the cubicle warriors of the B&S About Movies digital divide, do not: we adore all of Ron Ormond’s films.

Tim Ormond with mother June at a post-2000 convention signing/image courtesy of Dennis Dermody of Original Cinemanaic.

The Insights of Tim Ormond on the Making of The Second Coming

“After my dad died, I came to the final scene, which was the — and the way we got around things in general — was, someone would say, ‘That’s not the way it’s gonna be,’ and I’d say, ‘Well, this happened as kind of the way this person imagined it or dreamed it: like Daniel would have this dream.’ So that’s the way we would alibi things, [just] in case a theologian would say ‘Well that’s not the way it’s supposed to happen.’

“Anyway, this particular character in The Second Coming was visualizing Christ returning on white horses; wielding the sword, His face aglow. Well, I had to stage this scene. This was, of course, before computer graphics were like they are today. And even so, the cost would be prohibitive. So, I went to Hollywood, along with my Mom, and we looked up old friends; we found the wrangler who did Little House on the Prairie [for NBC-TV], as well as some old friends of my dad who’d worked on the Westerns [with Lash LaRue and Tex Ritter]. And I began to put together a crew and a shoot in Hollywood for staging this last [Christ in the clouds] scene.

“[While this was going on], I made a phone call to my friend in Nashville, Eddie King, who had played my brother in The Grim Reaper, and asked him if he could try to put together the same shoot in Nashville, because it would be much less expensive. So, I guess, just a few days before we were ready to go into production in Hollywood — and I’m just talking about on that one scene — I talked to Eddie, and he had put it together in Nashville. So we came back to Nashville to shoot it, merely from a cost standpoint.

“So, on that particular night, we gathered at the Riverwood Riding Academy, which was a great big field out near a park, not too far from my house, and people began to gather with the horses. We had a searchlight come in from Huntsville, which could basically shine this very bright, illuminating beam of light on Christ’s face: He was wearing a reflective surface so it would reflect the light back as bright as possible. He was dressed in the red robe, all the horses were white and groomed, all of his angels were riding alongside of him wearing white robes, we had fog on the ground, we had lights, we had big blowers running to move the fog. . . .

“And the funniest thing is, right exactly next door — I’m talking about a hundred yards away, but across a fence — was the park patrol. Just sitting there in the dark watching what was going on. And we didn’t know this. They didn’t bother us, but they were talking on their scanner. And one of my crew — actually the wife of the director of photography — was listening to them, and one guy said, ‘Come on, you’ve got to come over and see this! They’re doing a commercial for the Ku Klux Klan!’ So that was kind of a funny incident. But when it was done, it turned out very well. Of course, the ground was fairly dark on purpose, and there was a layer of fog. We superimposed that over the clouds, and it does appear like Christ returning triumphantly in the clouds. Which is a pretty graphical representation of the way it reads in the Bible. So that’s that one little scene.”

Earl and Rita Faye Sinks/courtesy of B. Earl Sinks, Jr. Facebook.

The Insights of B. Earl Sinks, Jr. on the Making of The Second Coming

“Ron [Ormond] wanted me to be in the film, as he wanted a 4th generation of our family to be in the film. Of course, my mother and grandparents were in Ormond films from back in California during the Lash LaRue days, as well as Square Dance Jubilee. My mom and grandparents also appeared in Girl From Tobacco Row, while my mom also did makeups for a few of the movies, like Burning Hell, and so on.

“So, Ron had my part written for me prior to his passing. Then Tim took over [as director]. I remember staying with Tim and June, his mom, rehearsing for the role along with Rev. Martin; he was in the movie 39 Stripes, which, as you know, was the story of his life. The reverend was such a Christ-like man that, to this day, I still think of him as such a sweet soul. When we finally got to the day of shooting, I recall when a cloud would pass over, or something wasn’t right, I would hear Tim call ‘CUT’ to end the scene. So, when we were shooting another scene, and I saw a cloud passing, I shouted, ‘CUT!’ like he did. Tim was tickled by that and let me know, jokingly, that he was the only one to say ‘CUT’ to end a scene. We all laughed.

“At the debut of the opening of the film, there was a man who thought my role, my acting, was good enough, so he asked me to read for a stage [production] of On Golden Pond. However, since it conflicted with school, my parents said ‘no’ to my audition. I also has a walk-on part in Tim’s Blood, Friends and Money with Jim Varney [but not as his character Ernest P. Worrell]; as I recall, my scene ended up on the cutting room floor.”

Bottom Right: Earl Sinks — aka Earl “Snake” Richards, the star of the Ormond’s Girl from Tobacco Row and White Lightin’ Road, as well as That Tennessee Beat — with the Crickets.

When you follow the links to our other Ron and Tim Ormond film reviews, you’ll understand the staff of B&S About Movies are fans, not only of the Ormond’s secular films, but their Christian films, as well — and we are doing our part to expose their films to our readers and preserve the Ormond’s films for others to discover and enjoy — many for the first time.

To that end, we extend our thanks to Letterbox’d — and the anonymous uploader — who discovered a copy of the theatrical one-sheet (the only copy of the theatrical one-sheet online), as well as the film journalism efforts of Mondo Stumpo (still active, but ceased publishing in June 2012) and Original Cinemaniac for their previous efforts in preserving this lost Ron Ormond film.

And a special thanks to B. Earl Sinks, Jr. for taking the time to speak with B&S About Movies.

The Ormond’s Christian Films

If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? (1971)
The Burning Hell (1974)
The Land Where Jesus Walked (1975)
The Grim Reaper (1976)
The Believer’s Heaven (1977)
39 Stripes (1979)
The Second Coming (1980)

Learn more about the Ormonds in the pages of Filmfax, Issue 27 (1991), preserved on The Internet Archive. (The extensive article begins on Page 40.)

Update: July 14. 2021: Courtesy of film documentarian Brian Rosenquist — who’s currently working on a feature documentary concerning the joint exploitation films of Ron Ormond and Estus Pirkle, and who was involved in securing the original camera elements for Estus Pirkle’s three films, for Nicolas Winding Refn (Only God Forgives, The Neon Demon) to complete restorations — we’ve since learned The Second Coming was, in fact, released to DVD ten years ago on a double-DVD with The Grim Reaper. You can watch an online streaming version of The Second Coming on a Ron Ormond tribute page located at the Internet Archive.

In addition to streaming the only online copy of The Second Coming, the page also offers a copy of The Burning Hell, as well as the once lost “Jukebox Musical” Kentucky Jubilee, and Ormond’s pre-Christian film, Mesa of Lost Women.

You can learn more about the restorations of the Ormond-Pirkle trilogy with the Radio NWR podcast Estus Pirkle: A Celebration.

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

Pinball Summer (1980)

Also known as Pick-Up Summer and Flipper Girls in Germany, this Canadian film comes after the Crown International beach movies and before Porky’s. Most of the action revolves around a place called Pete’s, an arcade that is hosting a pinball competition, which also has a Miss Pinball pageant, which I really hope was a thing at some point.

Speaking of movies leading to something more, director George Mihalka and cinematographer Rodney Gibbons would make My Bloody Valentine* after this, a movie that is much better remembered than this teen summer comedy that revolves around disco, burger joints, amusement parks and hijinks between a biker gang and our heroes over the pinball trophy.

Film Ventures International bought this for America and changed the name, thinking pinball was dead. It did pretty well and people didn’t even notice that it was made in Quebec and not California. It’s a pretty innocent movie when it comes to teen comedies.

*Helene Udy, who played Sylvia in that classic slasher, Thomas Kovacs, who played Mike, and Carl Malotte, who played Dave, are all in Pinball Summer as well.

Foxes (1980)

Gerald Ayers had a vision: What would happen if you dropped Louisa May Alcott into the San Fernando Valley today? She would have a different story to tell.” I doubt the author of Little Women would write about the glam band Angel, who figues prominently in this movie.

Nonetheless, Foxes is really the story of four girls:

Deirdre (Kandice Stroh, who didn’t act against for 21 years after this movie) is discovering her sexuality and the issues that brings with boys. Madge (Marilyn Kagan), on the other hand, is a virgin and hates her body as well as her younger sister Anne (Cherie Currie in her acting debut), who uses drink and drugs to escape their abusive home life. And the motherly friend who takes care of all of them is Jeanie (Jodie Foster), who is also raising her mother (Sally Kellerman) while yearning for a closer bond with her father, the tour manager for Angel.

Alright, let’s talk Angel.

Formed in mid-1970s Washington, DC by Punky Meadows and Mickie Jones (who rumor has it were asked to join the New York Dolls), Angel was signed to Casablanca Records by Gene Simmons and presented at the anti-KISS, as they wore all white to the all black Knights In Satan’s Service. Their classic line-up — Meadows, Jones, Frank DiMino, Gregg Giuffria and Barry Brandt — recorded the albums Helluva Band and On Earth as It Is in Heaven before Jones left and was replaced by Felix Robinson.

By 1981, DiMino and Meadows left and now the band had Fergie Frederiksen (Toto) and Ricky Phillips (The Babys, Bad English, Styx) before they broke up for good.

Over the next few years, Frank DiMino joined UFO guitarist Paul Raymond in the Paul Raymond Project; Felix Robinson played with White Lion; and Gregg Giuffria started the band Giuffria and recorded with House of Lords.

Like most rock and roll bands, Angel got back together. The 90s saw a new Angel made up of DiMino, Barry Brandt, Randy Gregg, Steve Blaze from Lillian Axe and Gordon G.G. Gebert, who was replaced by Michael T. Ross. Punky played on their album In the Beginning and there was a greatest hits release Angel: The Collection.

Mickie Jones died in 2009. Meadows and Dimino toured together as Punky Meadows and Frank Dimino of Angel, performing a set of classic Angel songs and solo cuts before just deciding to call themselves Angel.

Now, back to the movie.

By the end of the film, the girl’s life — which was once drinking, drugs and disco, has changed. Annie is dead and buried. Madge marries the guy who takes her virginity (Randy Quaid). Deidre is over boys. Jeanie is leaving for college. It’s a sobering realitization that the four friends may not see one another or be as close as they once were.

Foxes was the first film that Adrian Lynn would direct. The dude pretty much ran the 80s and 90s with movies like  Flashdance, 9½ WeeksJacob’s Ladder and Indecent Proposal.

Speaking of the 80s, the soundtrack to this movie is pretty great. Other than two songs by Angel, it was entirely produced and composed by Moroder and recorded by the same musicians — Keith Forsey and Harold Faltermeyer — that he worked with on songs by Donna Summer, the Three Degrees and Sparks. “On the Radio” by Summer is probably the bets-known song on from Foxes. It was the second movie Moroder scored in 1980 after American Gigolo.

Supposedly, Foster and co-star Scott Baio dated during the this time. That may or may not be true, as Foster came out right around this time. Maybe this is where Baio got his right wing rage from. Whatever the story is, this is my second favorite movie that they’re in together.