Ms .45 (1981)

Thana (Zoë Tamerlis, who also wrote director Abe Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant, is a mute seamstress working in New York City’s Garment District.

After she’s assaulted twice — once at gunpoint in an alley by a masked man and then again in her own apartment by a burglar — Thana lives up to her name, which is inspired by Thanatos the Greek god of death. She attacks the second man with a glass red apple and then beats him to death with an iron and leaves him in her tub. After dealing with her horrible work situation, she cuts her rapist apart and dumps him all over the city.

She keeps the man’s gun and soon uses it on another man who corners her, then runs up her steps and throws up in an echo of Paul Kersey’s first night of vigilantism in Death Wish.

Soon, she’s a literal Angel of Vengeance, which was the film’s other title. She targets a series of men who have treated women wrong and even causes one of them to kill himself when her gun jams. Finally, her vengeance reaches the point where she unleashes her full fury on her horrible boss and every man who attends her party as she whirls around, full action heroine, repeatedly shooting everyone while dressed as a nun.

Ms. 45 is better regarded than I Spit On Your Grave, perhaps because it doesn’t dwell in its rape scenes or have them take up much of the movie’s running time. Or maybe, just maybe, because it’s a much better movie.

Spider-Man: The Dragon’s Challenge (1981)

Released in Europe as a theatrical film, this 1979 TV movie is really episodes 12 and 13 of the show, “The Chinese Web.”

Director Don McDougall had the same experience when episodes of the Planet of the Apes TV series that he directed were re-released as the foreign theatrical films Farewell to the Planet of the Apes and Forgotten City of the Planet of the Apes.

Min Lo Chan, who is the former Chinese Minister of Industrial Development, has defected to the U.S. under suspicion of being a spy. An old friend of J. Jonah Jameson, he is staying with his niece Emily while he tries to prove his innocence. Spider-Man comes in to the story when Jameson asks Peter Parker to help and the journey to save Min Lo Chan will take our friendly neighborhood web swinger all the way to Hong Kong.

While the costume looks great — except for the web shooter — the show as always drags. That said, I would have been excited by the show coming back for more, as Nicholas Hammond claimed that there were plans to do an Amazing Spider-Man/Incredible Hulk TV crossover/comeback movie. Even better — Spidey would have appeared in the new black costume. Supposedly, Universal canceled the film, saying that Lou Ferrigno wasn’t available as he was filming Hercules, a fact that Ferrigno says is not true.

I always felt that this show would have done better if CBS hadn’t aired it as a ratings spoiler throughout 1978 and 1979, programming it against other shows instead of airing it regularly.

This would be the final theatrical film of Spider-Man released until Columbia Pictures acquired the rights in 1999. That said, I would have loved to have seen whatever Cannon would have made.

April Ghouls Drive-In Monster-Rama Primer: Halloween 2 (1981)

April Ghouls Drive-In Monster-Rama is back at The Riverside Drive-In Theatre in Vandergrift, PA on April 29 and 30, 2022.

This Back to the 80s Weekend is going to be amazing!

The features for Friday, April 29 are Halloween 2Terror TrainMidnight and Effects.

Saturday, April 30 has Evil Dead 2Re-AnimatorDr. Butcher MD and Zombie 3.

Admission is still only $10 per person each night (children 12 and under free with adult) and overnight camping is available (breakfast included) for an additional $10 per person.

You can buy tickets at the show or use these links:

There is also a limited edition shirt available at the event.

As slashers increased in ferocity, Halloween 2 matches and exceeds them. It’s a brutal affair where even the good side — Dr. Loomis in particular — are just as crazed as their evil counterparts. It’s also a film that wastes no time. It starts immediately where we left off and The Shape never stops coming and never pauses for remorse. The only downside is that the more you explain his motivations, the less interesting it becomes. But as the series has progressed, this installment has only grown in my eyes.

John Carpenter and Debra Hill co-wrote the screenplay, but he refused to direct, instead selecting Rick Rosenthal. That said, he’d go back and reshoot large chunks of the movie as he was making the TV friendly scenes for the original film. The decision to include more gore and nudity was not Rosenthal’s idea. Carpenter saw the original cut, declared it as scary as an episode of Quincy and went back to directing.

For a movie that no one was all excited about making — except producer Irwin Yablans — I really love this movie and one of the major reasons why I dislike the new generation of sequels is that it no longer exists. It also feels like a giallo in parts, like the basement sequence that echoes moments of The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh.

While the movie also veers into absolute insanity with the death of Ben Tramer — that fireball! — I adore that part of it. This is a crowd-pleasing movie perfect for the drive-in, one that people should be loudly cheering and yelling during the stalk and slash moments. It also has characters that are endlessly quotable, like Budd Scarlotti (Leo Rossi) and a nice dynamic between Jimmy (Lance Guest) and Laurie (the returning Jamie Lee Curtis).

I understand the issues many have with this movie. It places Laurie out of the action for most of the story. But for sheer slasher magic, for the incredible image of The Shape with blood pouring down his face, for more of the music and Dean Cundy’s cinematography and just the chance to live in Haddonfield for another few moments, it’s a gift.

MILL CREEK BLU RAY RELEASE: Magnum PI (1980-1988)

Magnum P.I. was a constant in my life through a tumultuous time, starting when I was just 8 and ending when I was 16, seeing me through the most chaotic years of young life. Thomas Sullivan Magnum IV’s (Tom Selleck) adventures in Hawaii were a center, a Thursday night oasis — Wednesday from series 7 onward — that always knew would be there.

Magnum lives in the guest house of an opulent 200-acre beachfront estate known as Robin’s Nest. At some point, he provided services for its owner, world-famous novelist Robin Masters (voiced by Orson Welles for all but the final time when Red Crandell spoke for the character) and he’s been allowed full run of the estate and use of the author’s Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS in exchange for some nebulous security detail. In between, he takes on cases that rarely pay and often put his life in danger.

His archnemisis is Jonathan Quayle Higgins III (John Hillerman). Like Magnum, he’s also ex-army, but he’s by the book while our hero is laid back. He’s in charge of Robin’s estate, patrolling it with his twin Doberman, Zeus and Apollo. The relationship grows and changes as the series progresses, going from antagonistic to near friendship by the close, as well as the suspicion that Higgins is Robin Masters.

Magnum has a near-perfect storytelling engine as it has the perfect setting (all manner of people come to Hawaii for vacation or to escape), the perfect characters (Magnum can be just as much a film noir hero as he can be a military man or a romantic leading man; he’s a comedic figure without losing his coolness) and the perfect job (being a detective is a reliable TV profession for this reason). Add in his friends Theodore “T.C.” Calvin (Roger E. Mosley) — whose Island Hoppers helicopter can take Magnum anywhere — and Orville Wilbur Richard “Rick” Wright (Larry Manetti), whose King Kamehameha Club can be the origin for all manner of intrigue — and you can see why this series ran for so many years.

While T.C. and Rick are former Marines and Magnum is a former Navy SEAL — all served in Vietnam — none of them are shell-shocked zombies. They’re normal human beings who deal with their war experiences in their own way, which was a refreshing change for audiences — especially veterans — when the show started.

Magnum was such a big show that even other big shows crossed over with it, establishing a CBS detective show universe. In the episode “Ki’is Don’t Lie,” Magnum works with Simon & Simon to recover a cursed artifact, a mystery which had its conclusion in their show with the episode “Emeralds Are Not a Girl’s Best Friend.” Yet most famously, in “Novel Connection,” novelist Jessica Fletcher came to Hawaii — along with Jessica Walter and Dorothy Loudon — and then solved the case on her show, Murder, She Wrote, in the episode “Magnum on Ice.”

Speaking of guest stars, all manner of genre favorites appeared on this show, including Jenny Agutter, Talia Balsam, Ernest Borgnine, Candy Clark, Samantha Eggar, Robert Forster, Pat Hingle, Mako, Patrick Macness, Cameron Mitchell, Vic Morrow, John Saxon and many more.

Another reason why this show is so beloved is due to Selleck. He told producers, “I’m tired of playing what I look like.” His suggestion? He remembered having fun with James Garner on The Rockford Files and suggested making Magnum more of blue collar guy. This made him more identifiable with men, not just women.

One of the things that struck me as I caught up on the series was that the theme is different at the start! The original theme was written by Ian Freebairn-Smith and only lasted eleven episodes before being replaced with the iconic Mike Post and Pete Carpenter song that I hum all of the time.

At the end of the seventh season, Magnum died in a shoot out. I can’t even explain how upset everyone was. The letters page in TV Guide was aghast. Imagine if Twitter existed in the late 80s! Luckily, he came back for one shorter season.

Series creator Donald P. Bellisario — who created this show with Glen A. Larson — was born in North Charleroi, PA. I can probably see his house from mine. After fifteen years in advertising, he went to Hollywood, where he worked on the series Black Sheep Squadron and Battlestar Galactica before creating series like Tales of the Golden MonkeyAirwolfQuantum LeapJAG and NCIS. He was joined by writers like Richard Yalem (who made Delirium), Reuben A. Leder (A*P*E*Badlands 2005), Jay Huguely (Jason Goes to Hell), Andrew Schneider (the “Stop Susan Williams” and “Ther Secret Empire” chapters of Cliffhangers!), Stephen A. Miller (My Bloody Valentine), J. Miyoko Hensley (who wrote the Remo Williams: The Prophecy pilot) and even notorious celebrity fixer and detective Anthony Pellicano, as well as directors like David Hemmings (yes, from Deep Red), John Llewellyn Moxey, Jackie Cooper and Robert Loggia, amongst so many others.

The Mill Creek blu ray box set of Magnum P.I. has all 158 episodes of the show, as well as new interviews with composer Mike Post, writer/producer Chris Abbott, author C. Courtney Joyner on the sixty year career of director Virgil Vogel and actress/writer Deborah Pratt (who was the voice of the narrator and Ziggy on Quantum Leap). Plus, you also get two Tom Selleck guest star roles on The Rockford Files, featurettes on The Great 80’s TV Flashback and Inside the Ultimate Crime Crossover (Magnum P.I. and Murder, She Wrote) and audio commentary on three season 8 episodes.

Much like how Magnum was a calming part of my young life, having this set on my shelf during these turbulent times is just as warm of a feeling. Get this set and let the 80s wash over you like the beaches of Waikiki.

You can get this set from Deep Discount.

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 3: Tarzan the Ape Man (1981)

Oh no, more Bo.

Marketed with the tagline “Unlike any other Tarzan you’ve ever seen!,” this was written by Tom Rowe and Gary Goddard, who would go on to direct Masters of the Universe. Goddard had originally been hired to write a screenplay based upon the Marvel Comics character Dazzler for Bo.

And of course, this being a John and Bo Derek movie, there were issues.

As soon as MGM announced the studio was making a Tarzan film with them, Warner Bros. complained, as they were developing a Tarzan film with Robert Towne called Greystoke. Maybe they had a point, as they had the rights to the character from the Burroughs estate. MGM argued that the Dereks would be remaking 1932’s Tarzan the Ape Man, which they had the right to do, as they had released another remake in 1959. The Burroughs estate responde by suing MGM before a single frame was shot.

The original actor cast in the Tarzan role, Lee Canalito, had injured his knee, making him need a stuntman. That stuntman had to undergo an emergency appendectomy, so Canalito quit or was fired five weeks into shooting and the second stunt double, Miles O’Keeffe, debuted in the title role. You may know him as Ator or the Green Knight in Cannon’s astounding Sword of the Valiant.

Somehow, Richard Harris was in this, playing James Parker, the hunter father of Jane (Bo), who gets lost in Africa searching for a mythical white ape. James wants to capture this ape — who is Tarzan — dead or alive. Hey look! John Phillip Law is in this!

Anyways…

The natives, led by Ivory King (Steve Strong, the former tag team partner of Jesse “The Body” Ventura), kidnap Jane and tie her up nude, which is pretty much John Derek’s id on full display. They also kill her dad.

So Tarzan saves her then they make sweet, sweet jungle love. And a chimpanzee — played by CJ, who was Clyde in Any Which Way You Can — sucks on Jane’s nipple because hey, John Derek.

The most beautiful woman of our time in the most erotic adventure of all time.

See why Playboy calls Bo Derek the sexiest Jane in Tarzan history!

The Lord of the Apes goes ape for Bo Derek!

Yeah, OK.

Anyways, here’s the William Castle-level BS. Maybe.

During a scene involving Jane attempting to get away from Tarzan, Miles O’Keeffe found himself face-to-face with Neal, a full grown African lion, who protected Derek. In fact, Nea was a method actor and nearly went after O’Keeffe for real.

Now, I am not sure I believe this, except that Neal was also in Roar and everyone involved is lucky that they weren’t mauled.

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 3: The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981)

Klinton Spilsbury came from Mormon settlers in Mexico and spent much of his childhood in Arizona, before his family moved back to Mexico, settling in Colonia Juárez. He briefly attended Brigham Young University before trying to break into Hollywood as Max Keller.

Once he took on the name Klinton Spilsbury — he was born Glenn Klinton Spilsbury — and he was picked for the major role of the Lone Ranger in a time when superhero and movies of past culture seemed like sure bets. To get there, they often erased the past when now the stars we love at least get cameos.

For example, Clayton Moore, star of the popular 1950s Lone Ranger TV series, was a beloved pop culture icon who had been allowed to wear a mask for personal appearances. Jack Wrather, who owned the Lone Ranger character, obtained a court order prohibiting the 65-year-old actor from making future appearances as the Lone Ranger, as believed Moore’s public appearances in character would undercut the value of the movie.

Moore often was quoted as saying he had “fallen in love with the Lone Ranger character” and strove in his personal life to take the Lone Ranger Creed to heart. Which is:

  • That to have a friend, a man must be one.
  • That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
  • That God put the firewood there but that every man must gather and light it himself.
  • In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.
  • That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
  • That “This government, of the people, by the people and for the people” shall live always.
  • That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
  • That sooner or later…somewhere…somehow…we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
  • That all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever.
  • In my Creator, my country, my fellow man.

Moore was so identified with the role he played that he is the only person on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to have his character’s name along with his on the star.

Wrather’s lawsuit wasn’t just bad PR. It killed this movie.

Moore responded by filing a countersuit and then slightly changed his costume, replacing the domino mask with a pair of Foster Grant wraparound sunglasses as part of that company’s “Who’s that behind those Foster Grants?” ad campaign.

Christopher Lloyd, whose role of Butch Cavendish is one of the few bright spots in this movie, said: “I thought that was really kind of nasty and unnecessary. Nothing Moore was doing was really interfering with the film. I thought that was kind of terrible.”

Meanwhile, Andy Warhol interviewed Spilsbury during the promotion for the movie, during which the actor went off the rails claiming that before making the movie, he had been an art student married to a rich woman and that they had a baby together. He went on to state she had left him because he needed too much time with his own thoughts, as well as the fact that he had fallen in love with actors Dennis Christopher and Bud Cort. Warhol described Spilsbury as “very drunk” and that post-interview, “he’d been picked up by Halston and woke up in bed with Halston.”

Spilsbury demanded script changes as he had trouble delivering his lines, which ended up being dubbed by James Keach. He also demanded that this movie be shot in sequential order so that he could better portray his character’s dramatic arc.

He hasn’t acted in a movie since.

Speaking of Butch, the movie begins with his gang of outlaws are chasing two young boys, one a Comanche and another white, who narrowly miss their villages being attacked. The Comanche grows up to be Tonto (Michael Horse, Deputy Tommy “Hawk” Hill from Twin Peaks) and the white boy is, of course, John Reid (Spilsbury). Later, the same gang kills several Texas rangers, which include Ranger Captain Dan Reid (Matt Perry’s dad John Bennett Perry) before Tonto again saves him. Cavendish then abducts President Ulysses S. Grant(Jason Robards) and tries to start his own country.

With Richard Farnsworth as Wild Bill Hickok, Ted Flicker as Buffalo Bill Cody, Lincoln Tate as General Custer and an appearance by Billy Jack himself, Tom Laughlin, this movie was trying to get audiences to care about westerns in 1981.

They didn’t.

As for Grade, this was just one of his many film failures, including Saturn 3 and Raise the Titanic.

Two of the movie’s four screenwriters, Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts, had previously created the hit TV series Charlie’s Angels. That didn’t help the film, nor did the direction by William Fraker, who was the cinematographer on two other huge bombs that I love, 1941 and Exorcist II: The Heretic.

Nor does Merle Haggard’s Dukes of Hazzard-style narration.

In his 1992 autobiography Still Dancing: My Story, Grade said he thought that the problem was that it took an hour and ten minutes before the Ranger first pulled on his mask.

There were a ton of problems beyond that.

That said, the movie gave us a great toy line by Gabriel and a newspaper strip that had gorgeous Russ Heath art. I was so excited for this movie as a nine-year-old geek and I remember asking my dad, “Why is this so boring?”

PS: Gavan O’Herlihy auditioned and almost got the role of the Lone Ranger. Although he lost out to Klinton Spilsbury, O’Herlihy made a great impression on director William Fraker and the two remained good friends. When O’Herlihy was cast in Death Wish 3, he had his character renamed after Fraker.

You can watch this on Tubi.

ARROW VIDEO UHD RELEASE: An American Werewolf In London (1981)

EDITOR’S NOTE: We originally shared this review back on October 10, 2019 when Arrow Video released this movie on blu ray. Now there’s a new version on UHD with literally tons of extras. 

It starts with a brand new 4K restoration by Arrow Video from the original camera negative which has two audio commentary tracks, one by Beware the Moon filmmaker Paul Davis and the second by David Naughton and Griffin Dunne. There’s also Mark of The Beast: The Legacy of the Universal Werewolf, a feature-length documentary by filmmaker Daniel Griffith, featuring interviews with John Landis, David Naughton, Joe Dante and more; An American Filmmaker in London, an interview with John Landis in which he reflects on British cinema and his time working in Britain; I Think He’s a Jew: The Werewolf’s Secret, a video essay by filmmaker Jon Spira (Elstree 1976) about how Landis’ film explores Jewish identity; The Werewolf’s Call, in which Corin Hardy, director of The Hallow and The Nun, chats with writer Simon Ward about their formative experiences with Landis’ film; Wares of the Wolf, a featurette in which SFX artist Dan Martin and Tim Lawes of Prop Store look at some of the original costumes and special effects artifacts from the film; Beware the Moon, Paul Davis’ acclaimed, feature-length exploration of Landis’ film which boasts extensive cast and crew interviews; two 2008 features by Paul Davis (An American Werewolf in Bob’s Basement and Causing a Disturbance: Piccadilly Revisited); Making An American Werewolf in London; interviews with Rick Baker, John Landis, footage of Baker’s workshop, outtakes, storyboards, trailers, TV ads, radio ads, a huge image gallery, a double-sided poster, a reversible sleeve featuring original poster art and artwork by Graham Humphreys; six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproductions and a limited edition 60-page, a perfect-bound book featuring new writing by Craig Ian Mann and Simon Ward, archival articles and original reviews.

It comes out on March 15, 2022 and you can order it directly from Arrow Video.

There must have been something in the waters of the Los Angeles River in 1981, as The HowlingWolfenFull Moon High and this film all came out in those same twelve months. While all three are interesting films for different reasons, An American Werewolf In London astounded audiences with its special effects.

Rick Baker’s vision was to have the main transformation — set to Sam Cookie’s “Blue Moon” — happen in real-time, with no cutaways or dissolves. Director John Landis compounded the difficulty of this sequence by insisting that it be shot in bright light. This all led to six ten-hour days of prosthetic make-up, but the results were an Oscar — the first of its kind — for special effects make-up and Baker became a household name. Well, in the house of kids who subscribed to Fangoria.

While he was a production assistant in Yugoslavia on the film Kelly’s Heroes, he witnessed an elaborate gypsy funeral where a criminal was wrapped in garlic and buried feet first in the middle of a crossroads so that he would never rise again. This moment of real-life horror stayed with him for over a decade as he built his career in Hollywood.

The money people thought that this movie was too funny to be scary and too frightening to be hilarious. Time has proven them wrong.

David Kessler and Jack Goodman (David Naughton from March Madness and Griffin Dunne from After Hours) are backpacking through Europe. As they make their way across the moors, they stop at a local club called the Slaughtered Lamb. In the midst of all the fun they’re having, they innocently inquire about the star on the wall and are asked to leave. Seriously — the bar just shuts down and forces them into the night, knowing that they’ll die out there.

Look for Rik Mayall in this scene, playing chess with former pro wrestler Brian Glover. Adrian Edmonson had been invited to be at the shoot but blew it off.

As they walk into the night, the pub owners can only say, “Keep to the road, stay clear of the moors and beware of the full moon.” Of course, that means that our heroes wander off the path and are surrounded by a creature that howls at the full moon. Jack is milled and David barely survives when the pub’s patrons come out to save him. As he passes out, he sees that it wasn’t an animal that attacked, but a nude man.

Three weeks later, David wakes up in a hospital where Inspector Villiers tells him that he and his friend were attacked by a lunatic, while our hero insists that it was a wolf. That’s when things get even weirder — Jack appears, even though he’s dead, and demands that David kill himself before the next full moon. As long as the bloodline of the werewolf continues, Jack will be undead, forced to haunt the world.

As David heals up, he moves in with Alex Price (Jenny Agutter, Logan’s Run), a nurse who helped him get back on his feet. Instead of being able to celebrate young love, Jack’s warnings — and decay — grow more insistent as we get closer to that epic transformation scene.

The rest of the film is a rollercoaster of werewolf attacks and David trying to reason with Jack, who is joined by all of David’s victims inside an adult movie theater. Finally, the police — and Alex — close in.

Today, Landis regrets some of his choices as he made the film, such as cutting certain sequences to earn an R rating. For example, the sex scene when Alex and David finally consummate their relationship was a lot more explicit and there was an action sequence where David as a werewolf would wipe out the homeless along the Thames.  The director also felt that he spent too much time on the transformation scene sequence because he was so fascinated by Baker’s effects.

That said, Landis and Baker were never on the same terms after this film. It took eight years to make the movie and Baker decided to use all of the work he’d created so far for The Howling. Right around the same time, Landis finally got the movie greenlit and called Baker, who had to tell him he was already lining up a werewolf project. After getting screamed at over the phone, Baker left the project in the hands of his assistant Rob Bottin and only consulted on that film.

Special effects would never be the same after this film. Today, the entire transformation would be computer rendered, with those amazing monsters only truly existing on the screen. This film’s effects were so upsetting to even the actors that it caused depression when they first saw how damaged their faces were.

PS — Please, by all means, avoid An American Werewolf In Paris (starring Tom Everett Scott of Tom Hank’s That Thing You Do!), a movie made by none of these people that has extreme bungie jumping in it. That’s probably the only reason to watch it, actually.

CANNON MONTH: Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1981)

“We are not making an X-rated picture,” said executive producer and Cannon co-master of madness Yoram Globus. “This will be a cult film. Nudity depends on how you shoot it.”

Star Sylvia Kristel said, “Just Jaeckin and I have been persecuted by this sort porn criticism. I don’t want to go through the same nightmare as I did after Emmanuelle.”

And yeah. Why else would you make Lady Chatterley’s Lover?

Sure, this bombed in theaters, but it would go on to a video and cable life that didn’t seem like it would ever end. I can remember all through school, the whisper of Lady Chatterley’s Lover inspired nervous laughter and knowing glances and blushing. It was literally shorthand for sex.

And Kristel became important for young boys who weren’t interested in the teen stars we were told to like. Or am I just talking about me?

As for the movie, look, it’s a mannered book and a somewhat mannered take on the material and it’s nowhere near what we thought it was going to be. That would be Young Lady Chatterley 2.

Sir Clifford Chatterley (Shane Briant, who was in Hammer’s Demons of the Mind, Straight on Till Morning, Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell) has been injured in the war to end all wars, leaving him crippled and — even worse — unable to perform for his wife. He permits her — and maybe even encourages her — to have numerous affairs to produce him an heir. Yet he has an issue when the man she falls for is their groundskeeper Oliver Mellors (Nicholas Clay from Excalibur), a commoner, and that’s when this situation goes wrong due to classism.

With production design by Anton Furst (the man who designed Gotham for Tim Burton); a script by Jaeckin, Marc Behm (who somehow wrote both Help! and Hospital Massacre) and Christopher Wicking (who was behind Scream and Scream AgainCry of the Banshee and Dream Demon) and the strange idea that this was almost directed by Ken Russell and this is a Cinemax After Dark movie that you can return to and still see something of value in it.

Who am I kidding? I love everything that ever aired after 1:05 AM on Cinemax.

Also: people have sex in a filthy chicken coop that had to have smelled bad, but I guess if you get a shot at Sylvia Kristel, you don’t worry about catching bird flu.

CANNON MONTH: Death Wish 2 (1981)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Death Wish 2 is when Cannon seemed to finally start figuring it out. The public still wanted Bronson, they loved the original film and the Reagan 80s demanded blood for blood. Here’s how the sequel to a movie that probably didn’t need a sequel turned out.

Paul Kersey can’t catch a break. Seriously, in this sequel, he goes through the Trials of Job all over again. You think he went through some bad stuff in the first movie? Michael Winner is just getting started putting our vigilante hero through hell on earth.

Paul has taken his daughter Jordan and moved to Los Angeles, where he’s found love again with radio reporter Geri Nichols (Bronson’s wife, Jill Ireland). However, horror and pain is never far from Kersey, so one day at a fair, some punks steal his wallet. He chases one of them down named Jiver down and teaches him a lesson. The gang — Nirvana, Punkcut, Stomper and Cutter (Laurence Fishburne) — find his address in his wallet and pay a visit to his house. They rape his housekeeper Rosario, beat Paul into la la land and steal his daughter (this time played by Robin Sherwood from Tourist Trap). After raping her, she goes even deeper into her depression and jumps out a window, falling to her death and getting impaled like she’s Nikos Karamanlis or Niko Tanopoulos.

Of course, Paul doesn’t need help from the cops. He only needs one thing: to give in to the rage within, to become the vigilante once more. Det. Frank Ochoa is back to chase him one more time, as he’s the only one who can track him.

Soon, Paul is wiping out the gang one by one, his own personal safety and relationship with Geri be damned. This is the first time we discover that Kersey is able to do magical things like make fake IDs with just a Xerox machine and talk his way into anywhere and out of anything. By the end of this film, he’s gone from a man whose life has been destroyed to a walking angel of death willing to do whatever it takes to kill everyone that’s crossed him.

To be as authentic as possible, this movie was shot in the sleaziest parts of Los Angeles, such as the abandoned and crumbling Hollywood Hotel location. Many of the film’s extras were local color who were either hired to play a bit part or just walked over to the set, such as drug addicts, drag queens, Hare Krishnas and bikers. Even crazier, Bronson’s alcoholic brother was a frequent set visitor, constantly asking for money. Bronson wanted to be careful not to give him too much cash so that he wouldn’t be mugged, but that brother was soon found dead, stabbed in the ass.

My favorite part of this was the score, composed by Jimmy Page in his first post-Led Zeppelin musical appearance here by creating the film’s soundtrack. It’s almost surreal to hear his signature guitar tone over Bronson killing rapists.

CANNON MONTH: Body and Soul (1981)

All the way back in his teens, Leon Issac Kennedy was a DJ in Cleveland, a job that took him to Los Angeles and finally into two films with Fred Williamson, Hammer and Mean Johnny Barrows. By this point in his career, he’d already become a star as Martel “Too Sweet” Gordone in Jamaa Fanaka’s Penitentiary and had married Jayne Kennedy, the former Miss Ohio USA and NFL broadcaster. Sadly, they’d break up just as this movie was being released and as part of their divorce case, a sex tape — decades before this became something that anyone knew of — that EBONY Magazine claimed that Kennedy had released. He later sued for a million dollars.

But back before all that ugliness, the Kennedys appeared in this remake* of Robert Rossen’s 1947 boxing move of the same name. Supposedly, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus – those who are all things Cannon — studied marketing research and discovered that Americans wanted to see one thing more than anything else: Leon Isaac Kennedy beating people up.

Leon is Leon “The Lover” Johnson, a boxer who we first meet dancing around an opponent and then getting a few more rounds in with a woman who caught his eye in the crowd. In a public bathroom, no less.

Despite the unclean nature of where Leon chooses to do his loving, he’s actually a somewhat decent man who only became a boxer because it can pay for the medical care of his sister Kelly (Nikki Swasey Seaton). To get to the top, he has to deal with a fight promoter named Big Man (Peter Lawford) and get trained by Muhammed Ali, which seems to be the right person to train you and wow, seeing The Greatest up close in the ring sparring reminds you of just how amazing he was, even this late in his career.

He also falls for Julie Winters (Mrs. Kennedy, of course) who ends up leaving him after all his groupie-loving shenanigans, telling him “I just wish you were double-jointed so you could turn around and kiss your own ass.”

Can he get it all together, get the girl, win the big fight and keep his sister as healthy as possible? I mean, have you ever seen a boxing movie before?

That said, this is like no other boxing movie you’ve seen, as Kennedy does near pro wrestling moves as he boxes, like windmill punches, multiple punches to the face piston style and even runs up the ropes to deliver a big punch near the end. Plus, his nemesis has a very pro wrestling name — the St. Louis Assassin — and is played by former WBC Light Heavyweight Champion J. B. Williamson in a role that demands that he grimace, destroy people and throw babies. Yes, he really tosses a baby in one scene.

Body and Soul was directed by My Tutor and Private Resort’s George Bowers, who edited GalaxinaThe StepfatherThe Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th DimensionSleeping with the Enemy and A League of Their Own.

This is pretty much a perfect cable Sunday do-nothing movie. You know the kind — it comes on WTBS and you have no plans other than getting over that hangover and just watch how it all comes out. That’s high praise for a film, actually, as movies can be the balm that soothes your soul.

*Maybe I should say loose remake.

You can watch this on Tubi.