Ngû yaks (1982)

Golden Buddha Against the Snake Phantom AKA King Kong vs. the Snake Phantom is a Thai movie with just this description to go by: “A tribe of snake-men are out to wreak havoc on a Miao minority group. Old Chang is not only the witch-doctor of the Miao people, but he and his two sons also help defend them against the intruders.”

A woman gets impregnated by a snake at one point and Buddha himself strikes her down. There are also fire-breathing snakes that destroy a village. Monks can teleport, bad guys can turn into snakes, Buddha grows gigantic and has a battle with an equally huge snake man.

Director Chih Chen was in Bruce Lee’s The Big Boss and also was an assistant director on that film. I wouldn’t look for anything from that movie to influence this one. What you will notice is a lot of distorted voices and a fuzzed out soundtrack that got me into the movie drugs space that I love so much.

There is no King Kong.

The filmmakers also needed gold snakes so they either have a rubber one painted that color or, as I suspect, they straight up painted some real snakes gold. Also some chickens get killed by snakes, so I should probably warn you about that.

Watch this on YouTube and see if you can understand as much as I did.

CANNON MONTH 2: Superman 3 (1982)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Superman 3 was not produced by Cannon, but they did release it in Germany on the Cannon Screen Entertainment label.

I always wonder, what was the exact moment where people went from thinking The Great Train Robbery was some kind of black magic and the train was going to kill everyone in the theater to watching a movie and saying, “That was boring.”

For ten-year-old Sam, it may have been this movie.

Just four years earlier, I laid on my stomach in the back of my parent’s station wagon and pretended I was flying the whole way home from Superman.

So what happened?

This movie sucks is what happened.

Sure, it’s written again by husband and wife team David and Leslie Newman and Richard Lester, who took over from a movie nearly already shot by Richard Donner in Superman II, directed. But I have no idea why this movie is about what it’s about. I was a hardcore Superman reader as a kid and I kept thinking, “Will Brainiac be in this? The Parasite? The Atomic Skull? Would Dudley Moore play Mister Mxyzptlk?”

How about Richard Pryor?

Gene Hackman and Margot Kidder were said to have been angry with the way the Salkinds treated Donner, with Hackman retaliating by refusing to reprise the role of Lex Luthor. This is a rumor and Hackman has denied it, but he definitely refused to return for the Lester shot scenes in the second film. And when Kidder gave interviews about how the Salkinds treated Donner, she was written out of this movie for the most part — the cover story was that the Lois and Clark relationship had been “played out” in the first two film — and was replaced with Lana Lang (Annette O’Toole).

The other big bad is the rich Ross “Bubba” Webster (Robert Vaughn). He keeps trying to take over the world’s supply of needed elements, like coffee and oil. Superman keeps getting the best of him and he finds that August “Gus” Gorman (Pryor) is good with stealing money through complicated computer systems — Office Space was inspired by his big plan — and uses him to destroy Superman.

Huh?

Superman ends up getting seduced by Lorelei Ambrosia (Pamela Stephenson) who somehow gets him to destroy an oil tanker and then Ross’ sister Vera Webster (Annie Ross) ends up being a cyborg and oh yeah, Superman ends up splitting into two halves after a nervous breakdown with one side being a dark Superman and a good Clark Kent. They fight in a junkyard and Superman comes back, only for a supercomputer to learn how to make kryptonite and man, I hate this movie.

I absolutely hate this movie.

You know when Marvel fans complain about so much comedy and She-Hulk twerking and the Snyder cut? Let them have this movie. Ten-year-old Sam was beyond mad, the kind of mad that doesn’t go away. Ever. In my lifetime. I mean, a rumor that Tony Danza was going to take over shows that this movie could have been even worse.

This is a movie where evil Superman rights the Leaning Tower of Pisa and blows out the Olympic flame.

Oh no, Superman. How will we recover?

Then again, Brad Wilson, the rival of Superman for the affections of Lana, is Gavin O’Herlihy and just three years later, Charles Bronson would shoot him with a rocket launcher.

CANNON MONTH 2: Amityville II: The Possession (1982)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Amityville II: The Possession was not produced by Cannon but was released on VHS in Germany by Cannon Screen Entertainment. Want to know more about every Amityville sequel? Click here for that exploration into the possessed world of 112 Ocean Avenue.

It doesn’t matter to me whether or not The Amityville Horror is truth or fiction. The truth is that the original film isn’t all that exciting. But the sequel? Holy shit — the sequel is pretty much everything you want in a movie — if you love movies filled with horrifyingly sick moments of glee.

Damiano Damiani, whose 1960’s and 1970’s western and crime output were marked by a streak of social criticism, directed this film from a screenplay by Tommy Lee Wallace (who not only played Michael Myers in the original Halloween, but would go on to direct Halloween III: Season of the Witch and the original version of It).

The film is actually a prequel, telling the story of the Montellis, who are based upon the DeFeo family. Anthony (Burt Young from Rocky) is the father of this brood. He’s rude, ill-tempered and ready to abuse everyone at a moment’s notice. If you’re looking for any family values — in fact, any values at all — you’re watching the wrong film.

He’s married to Dolores (Rutanya Alda, Carol Ann from Mommie Dearest), his long-suffering and very Catholic wife. They have four kids — Sonny, Patricia (Diane Franklin, Monique from Better Off Dead, as well as TerrorVision and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure), Mark and Jan. Even from the very beginning of the film, the family is on edge. Every single interaction between them is marked by weirdness before we even get into the occult portion of this film.

Things get worse — much worse — after a tunnel is found in the basement. This leads to doors knocking all night long and demonic messages showing up in the youngest kids’ room. Turning to the Church, Dolores tries to have Father Frank Adamsky bless the house. That lasts for all of ten seconds before Anthony flips out and throws the priest out.

When he gets to his car, the door is open and his Bible is torn apart. Clearly — all is not well. Again — the family is a mess before the Devil even gets involved. Dad is overly strict and abuse, mom clings to the Church and Sonny and Patricia yearn to have sex with one another (seriously, their first interactions define the word creeptastic).

While everyone else goes to church, Sonny stays behind and is taken over by a demonic force. The film nearly descends into body horror as we see the creature take root inside him. Soon, he’s playing fashion photographer with his sister, a game that quickly turns into sex. Instead of her being upset, Patricia instead tells him that she loved it. Keep in mind these are pretty much the two main protagonists of the story, so the tale takes a very Flowers in the Attic turn.

As Sonny becomes more demonic, Patricia decides to confess to Father Adamsky, but breaks down before she can. At Sonny’s birthday party — a scene where this film layers on the insanity — he goes full demon as she freely tries to give herself to him. She decides to call the priest and confess everything, but Father Tom (Simon himself from Simon, King of the Witchesas well as the original version of The Town that Dreaded Sundown) takes the phone off the hook so the priests can go skiing (!!!).

That night, Sonny fully becomes possessed and murders his entire family with shotgun blasts as a voice tells him to “kill them all.” Father Adamsky blames himself and even after the church refuses to allow him to exorcise the demon, he still makes an attempt. The demon goes from Sonny into his soul and the Amityville House is put up for sale…setting up part one.

If you think this is a rough little movie — and trust me, it is — it was even worse in its original cut. Test audiences were assaulted by scenes where Anthony anally rapes his wife Dolores and where the incest is on graphic display (versus being hinted at with an “after the loving” quick cut). Damiano stated that he wanted to really upset viewers. Well, he succeeded, with those scenes going the way of the dodo. A very depraved dodo.

Originally, this film was to be based on John G. Jones’ book The Amityville Horror Part II, but producer Dino De Laurentiis, in conjunction with American International Pictures, decided to be inspired Hans Holzer’s book Murder in Amityville. George Lutz, whose family’s 28-day residency at the haunted house led to the original film, sued and got a disclaimer on the posters for the film stating “This film has no affiliation with George and Kathy Lutz”.”

Even better — Ed and Lorraine Warren, the demonologists who are the basis for The Conjuring series of films — served as the demonology advisors. One only wonders how they felt about the tremendous amount of blasphemy on display here.

This is a film where no traditional structure can save anyone. The family unit is a joke. The Catholic Church does not care. And the police only exist to pick up the pieces at the end. It’s a grimy, gory, gross little film that has more in common with the grindhouse than its major studio origins would suggest.

Long story made short: I love this fucking movie.

CANNON MONTH 2: Frances (1982)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Frances was not produced by Cannon. It was, however, released on video in Germany by Cannon Screen Entertainment.

“In her false witnessI hope you’re still with usTo see if they float or drownOur favorite patientDisplay of patienceDisease-covered Puget SoundShe’ll come back as fireTo burn all the liarsLeave a blanket of ash on the ground”

Nirvana biographer Michael Azerrad wrote that Francis Farmer was the “patron martyr” of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, as they saw parallels between her mistreatment by the media and their own struggles with the press. Cobain told the writer of the song, “I guess that’s my way of letting the world know that bureaucracy is everywhere and it can happen to anybody and it’s a really evil thing. The story of Frances Farmer is so sad and it can happen to anybody and it almost felt at a time that it was happening to us…but it’s mainly just exposing the Frances Farmer story to people.”

In her book Will There Really Be a Morning?, Farmer said that while being keptin Western State Hospital she “was raped by orderlies, gnawed on by rats and poisoned by tainted food. I was chained in padded cells, strapped into strait-jackets and half-drowned in ice baths.”

Directed by Graeme Clifford (Gleaming the CubeRuby Cairo) and written by the team who wrote The Elephant Man Eric Bergren and Christopher De Vore as well as Nicholas Kazan (Patty Hearst), Frances stars Jessica Lange as Farmer, who from a young age was defiant and the world felt the need to make her behave. Harry York (Sam Shepherd) tells most of the story for her, as she moves from acting on Broadway to a career in Hollywood to being institutionalized and finally appearing on This Is Your Life. The character is not a real person and was invented by the screenwriters to prove that they came up with the story. That’s because a lot of this movie came from William Arnold’s book Shadowland, which fictionalized a lot of Farmer’s life. Arnold sued for copyright infringement, claiming the film’s screenplay stole those fake parts that he came up with. He lost.

From 1958 to 1964, Farmer hosted Francis Farmer Presents on WFBM in Indianapolis, interviewing celebrities and showing old movies. That kind of makes me happy instead of sad. She refers to herself as a faceless sinner at the end of this movie and looks forward to life slowing down. I’d like to think she found some peace.

The film closes with this in the credits: “In exchange for the use of certain facilities and per agreement with the California Department of Mental Health, the producers have agreed to the following disclaimer: Since the 1940s there have been major advances in the care and treatment of the mentally ill. The reprehensible conditions experienced by Frances Farmer are not typical of mental health treatment today.” Supposedly, medical professionals from Western State Hospital at the time Frances Farmer was there denied that she was ever lobotomized or operated on.

To achieve that effect, director of photography László Kovács shot that scene with no eyelights.

What gets to me is that the scene where Farmer is arrested in the nude only lasts three minutes but took four days to shoot due to the door not working properly, believe it or not. Supposedly, Lange began to feel as abused as Farmer by the end of the scene.

CANNON MONTH 2: Fake-Out (1982)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Fake-Out was not produced by Cannon. It was, however, released on video in Germany by Cannon Screen Entertainment.

Did Matt Cimber make this movie just for me?

First off, Cimber has led a crazy life. He went from doing plays in Vermont to Broadway, where he directed the revival of Bus Stop and met his future wife, Jayne Mansfield, who he made Single Room Furnished with. Under the names Gary Harper and Rinehart Segway he directed Man and Wife, Sex and Astrology and The Sexually Liberated Female then made The Black SixLady CocoaThe Candy Tangerine Man and The Witch Who Came from the Sea.

Cimber also teamed with actress Laurene Landon to make Hundra and Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold. He also was one of the co-creators behind the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, serving as executive producer and director of the syndicated television program — Mark Maron played him on the Netflix series — and his career is often a mix of exploitation and female empowerment, but it can get kind of murky. Seventies murky, you know? It has to be sexy, but women are still dangerous but yet need to be naked a lot of the time.

Another actor that Cimber teamed with twice was Pia Zadora. Have I not revealed how much I love Ms. Zadora in these digital pages? Well, Cimber made Butterfly and this movie with her. Financed by Pia’s then-husband Meshulam Riklis — he also paid for The Lonely Lady and perhaps her Golden Globe Award as New Star of the Year — it’s the tale Bobbie Warren (Zadora), a gangster’s moll who everyone thinks is going to snitch, so they plan her demise.

Written by John F. Goff (Drive-In MassacreC.B. HustlersThe Capture of Bigfoot) and Cimber, this movie was also called Nevada Heat and places Pia into the Lola Falana role from Cimber’s Lady Cocoa. She’s been arrested and doesn’t want to deal with jail — I mean, she does teach an aerobics class but then she has to deal with a sapphic shower assault — so she turns state’s evidence and is protected by a cop named Clint Morgan (Desi Arnaz, Jr., who once teamed with four of horror’s greatest stars in Cannon’s House of Long Shadows) and Lt. Thurston (Telly Savalas), a boss officer with a gambling habit and the need to end every sentence with the word baby.

I honestly believe that Telly is playing himself.

My favorite Telly story: He lived for twenty years in the Sheraton-Universal Hotel and would just come down to the hotel bar — which was renamed Telly’s — in his slippers and watch games and shoot pool with normal non-celebrity folk. One of his friends said, “He could be eating a sandwich, you know, putting something in his mouth and someone would come over and slap him on the back and say, “How ya doin?” He’d say, “Delightful.””

Delightful.

Man, I love Telly. I love that he’s in this movie.

This whole thing is set at the Riveria Hotel in Vegas, which Riklis owned at the time and one imagines that he forgave Telly’s debts if he just showed up for a few minutes in his wife’s movie. It even ends with an ad for the casino, saying “The production is indebted to the Riviera Hotel for its many considerations and extends you a cordial invitation to visit and enjoy its newly remodeled facilities.”

How’s the movie? Pia once said, “I threatened to commit suicide if Fake-Out was released.”

But it’s not horrible as long as you’re the kind of person who loves to see Larry Storch and George “Buck” Flower — who made Takin’ It Off Out West with screenwriter Goff, Taylor St. Clair and Julie Strain — show up in films.

You will also love it if you’re also like me and give Pia a pass no matter what she does. You can also enjoy her work in Santa Claus Conquers the MartiansVoyage of the Rock AliensHairspray Troop Beverly HillsNaked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult and of course Butterfly and the The Lonely Lady.

CANNON MONTH 2: Evil Under the Sun (1982)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Evil Under the Sun was not produced by Cannon but was sold on videotape by HBO/Cannon Video. 

Guy Hamilton is probably best known for directing four Bond movies — Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun — but he also directed two Agatha Christie adaptions (this one and The Mirror Crack’d) and Remo Williams.

Screenwriter Anthony Shaffer worked on most of the 70s and 80s Christie adaptions like Murder on the Orient ExpressDeath On the Nile and Appointment with Death, as well as Hitchcock’s FrenzyAbsolution and The Wicker Man.

Peter Ustinov would become the defining Hercule Poirot and this was the second time he’d play the role.

A dead woman strangled on the moors, a missing diamond ring and a trip to the summer palace of the King of Tyrania to confront the woman that may have stolen it — Arlena Stuart Marshall (Diana Rigg) — start the mystery.

That’s where Arlena is on holiday with her husband Kenneth (Denis Quilley) and her daughter Linda (Emily Hone). But they aren’t alone. She’s been flirting with Patrick Redfern (Nicholas Clay) to the displeasure of his wife Christine (Jane Birkin). Her husband is sick of her as well and has been confiding in the owner of the palace, Daphne Castle (Maggie Smith). If that’s not bad enough, the villainess has ruined the financial affairs of Odell and Myra Gardener (James Mason and Sylvia Miles) by walking out of the play they produced. And speaking of plays, playwright Rex Brewster (Roddy McDowall) had been hired to also write a tell-all on Arelena’s life, but she refuses to allow him to use the interview she gave him. Then there’s the man whose heart she broke — and potentially stole his diamond — Sir Horace Blatt (Colin Blakely).

Is it any wonder when she ends up strangled on a beach?

“The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and yet you forget that everywhere, there is evil under the sun.” I love movies that have a scene that reveals the title. And I have found that I am pretty into these Christie films. While this one doesn’t boast the big celebrity cast as others, it’s still entertaining and who doesn’t enjoy seeing Poirot gather everyone to work out the solution?

CANNON MONTH 2: First Blood (1982)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally on the site on August 16, 2019First Blood was not produced by Cannon but was released on video by HBO/Cannon Video.

The first of the Rambo films has an interesting pedigree. It comes from director Ted Kotcheff (the original Fun With Dick and JaneNorth Dallas FortyUncommon ValorWeekend at Bernie’s) and was based on a downbeat 1972 book by David Morrell. When Stephen King taught creative writing at the University of Maine, he used First Blood as a textbook. Ten years, eighteen screenplays and three studios later, the film finally got made.

Back in 1982 when the film rights were first sold, producers considered Steve McQueen for the lead. Sheriff Teasle was offered to both Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall, but they turned the part down. Lee Marvin turned down playing Colonel Trautman, but Kirk Douglas eventually took the role. He quit just before shooting began, as he wanted the movie to end like the book, where Rambo and the sheriff fatally would one another, Trautman kills Rambo and sits with the dying lawman. Rock Hudson also signed up to be in the film, but he had to undergo heart surgery, leaving Brian Dennehy to play Sheriff William Teasle and Richard Crenna to play Colonel Samuel Trautman in what would become the character actor’s most iconic role.

Seven years after his discharge, he left Vietnam, John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is wandering America. A visit to Hope, Washington to see an old friend is cut short when he learns that his former military brother has died from cancer that was caused by Agent Orange.

As he wanders the highway, Sheriff Teasle begins to harass him, finally driving him to the outskirts of town and telling him not to come back. When he does, he’s arrested for vagrancy, resisting arrest and possession of a knife. The police are brutal to the former war hero, as Deputy Art Galt (Jack Starrett, Nam’s Angels, Race with the Devil) and the other cops spray him down with a hose and even attempt to dry shave his face. Rambo snaps and decimates the outmatched lawmen; he;s a former Green Beret who won the Medal of Honor.

Galt chases him from a helicopter, taking shots at him even though he’s been warned not to, which leads to his death. Rambo informs the police that the man’s death was his own fault, but the rest of the police come in shooting. Our hero, such as it is, dispatches each of them with non-lethal traps until only Teasle remains.

Even more officials — state police and national guard — come in, along with Rambo’s mentor and former commanding officer Colonel Sam Trautman, who advises that Rambo just be allowed to leave town. All hell breaks loose with Rambo nearly killed in an abandoned mine before escaping and destroying much of the small town. As he prepares to kill the sheriff, Trautman convinces him to surrender and Rambo collapses in tears, screaming “Nothing is over! Nothing! You just don’t turn it off! It wasn’t my war! You asked me, I didn’t ask you! And I did what I had to do to win! But somebody wouldn’t let us win!”

The first rough cut of this movie lasted three and a half hours long and was so bad that Stallone wanted to buy it and destroy it before it ruined his career. After heavy re-editing and a second ending, where Rambo doesn’t commit suicide, the film became a great success. The character itself would change as America moved from a country unsure of how to deal with the war in Vietnam to one that embraced its status as the world’s policeman; the next Rambo film would present the character in a completely new way.

CANNON MONTH 2: Xtro (1982)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was on the site for the first time on June 30, 2017. Xtro was not produced by Cannon but was released on video by HBO/Cannon Video.

Alien is a haunted house movie in space that has begat a slew of imitators, copycats and outright rip-offs. 1982’s Xtro, on the other hand, is truly a movie that has something for everyone, if everyone includes folks who want to see movie about a father reconnecting with his son, as well as a film where Maryam d’Abo is repeatedly naked, a kid discovers his psychic powers with a weird clown, an Alien-style birth scene of a fully-grown man being born out of a pregnant woman (“What is it with all the alien rape and birth scenes in these movies? What is wrong with people?” asked my wife), toys coming to life, a child hunting down people like The Omen…truly Xtro is about ten movies worth of ideas in one scuzzy, scummy exploitation fever dream.

I’ll do my best to summarize the plot, but at any point, you may declare, “You’re just making this shit up now,” I assure you that what follows is as close to the filmed truth as possible. It truly is such a weird film that it surprised even a jaded viewer such as myself.

Tony and his dad Sam (Phillip Sayer, The Hunger) are playing fetch with their dog. On the last stick though, much like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Sam tossed the stick high into the air and the screen goes white as he gets abducted.

Three years later, the light appears in the sky again and an alien creature scurries across a British countryside road. It gets hit by a car, yet survives to kill the driver and his passenger, then find his way to a cottage where it impregnates the lady who resides there. Moments later, Sam is reborn, clawing his way out of the woman, even biting into a bloody umbilical cord before he leaves. This is ten minutes into the movie. And if you think this is the end of the craziness, read on….

Sam wants to find his son, who lives with his mother Rachel (Bernice Stegers, Macabre), her new boyfriend Joe (Sinon Nash, Brazil) and a French babysitter named Analise (the aforementioned d’Abo, The Living Daylights) whose sole job seems to be getting naked every time she is on screen. Sam has nightmares about his dad every single night, waking up soaked in blood. Oddly, it turns out that the blood isn’t his.

Sam finds Tony’s school and follows him home, where he ends up moving in. He can’t remember anything of the last three years. Joe hates this, as he’s due to marry Rachel and doesn’t want her ex around. It’d all be weird enough if Sam wasn’t eating Tony’s snake’s eggs and drinking his son’s blood — an act that teaches him how to use his alien powers, which include the ability to grow his toys and send them to kill people, like a human-sized Action Man soldier and a teddy bear clown that becomes a horrifying little person clown.

Joe and Rachel continue to grow apart as she takes old husband Sam to see their old house. Meanwhile, Analise should be watching Tony, but she’s naked. Again. And having sex. Again. Tony retaliates by getting the clown to knock her out and impregnates her with eggs, sealing her in a nest of spiderwebs. As her boyfriend comes in searching for her, he’s chased by a toy tank and then killed by a leaping black panther! No — really, this actually happens in the film, like they just had a black panther lying about and figured, well, why not? Tony then kills the building supervisor with a spinning toy, which elicits a shower of blood.

So where’s mom and now alien dad? Reconnecting, horizontally, at the bar. They make the alien/human love until Sam’s skin starts to come off, but he literally stays on top of her as his face decomposes. Good news — this is when her new boyfriend shows up! Sam reacts by screaming until the boyfriend’s ears explode and taking Tony to, well, somewhere, as they disappear in a flash of light.

Whew — got all that? Well, it gets crazier. The entire apartment is cast in white light as Rachel finds the eggs in a cooler. The black panther shows up again and if I’d have seen this in a theater, this would be the exact moment when I would stand up and cheer. Rachel lovingly holds the eggs and plays with it until the alien from the beginning kills her.

But that’s not the original ending! Director Harry Bromley Davenport wanted the film to end with Rachel coming back to a home filled with clones of Tony, but the effects didn’t look all that great. Too bad — that’s a much better ending than what we got!

Xtro is truly something else, filled with a lunatic synth score by Tok and Tok, made up of nightmare images and is a film that doesn’t seem to make any narrative sense, much like Phantasm. It also inverts Alien’s radical attack on men, having them be the ones impregnated, and having women be the target. Where Sam has gone to is up for interpretation — is it a Lovecraftian dimension above interests such as human morality or simply a trip to an alien world? Life in Xtro is cheap — merely a tool for Sam to be reborn and spread his seed. Future sequels did nothing to explain, as they have nothing to do with this film.

Roger Ebert referred to the film as “a completely depressing, nihilistic film, an exercise in sadness” and “it’s movies like this that give movies a bad name.” I didn’t see that at all — I see a film pushing itself to new limits of weirdness. There’s certainly no other film like Xtro and it slimily climbs, gnaws and bites its way out of the ripoff framework that inspired it, becoming a whole new form of film life.

Originally posted at http://www.thatsnotcurrent.com/xeroxenomorphs-xtro-1982/

CANNON MONTH 2: Fast Lane Fever (1982)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Fast Lane Fever was not produced by Cannon but was theatrically distributed by Cannon Releasing Corporation.

Also known as Running On Empty, this Australian film is all about two steelworkers named Mike (Terry Serio, who was in the band The Elks) and Tony (John Agius) who dream of racing and the Ford Falcon GT-HO Phase III they drive and keep in one piece.

Fox (Richard Moir) is a street racer with his own gang and a problem: no one wants to race him after the last challenge ended up with his opponent dead by car-assisted rage suicide. But Fox is smart; he knows that he can get Mike to race by telling him he can have his girl Julie (Deborah Conway, singer for the band Do Re Mi) and maybe even his Dodge Challenger if he wins.

Director John Clark came up with the idea for this movie and even wrote its songs. He didn’t make anything else until 1992’s Kideo. Scriptwriter Barry Tomblin helped him get the story on screen.

Somehow, this Ozploitation film combines a new wave look with the 50s racing movies of the past — I do so love a good car gang — and it’s a lot of fun. Here’s to Cannon for bringing to America.

CANNON MONTH 2: The Sword of the Barbarians (1982)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was on the site for the first time on December 3, 2020Sword of the Barbarians was not produced by Cannon but was theatrically distributed by Cannon Releasing Corporation.

Known in Italy as Sangraal, la spada di fuoco (Sangraal, the Sword of Fire), this is the first of two barbarian movies that Michele Massimo Tarantini made. For a director better known for his commedia sexy all’italiana films, this is pretty decent. By that, I mean that you have to have an affinity for Italian sword and sorcery. If you haven’t figured out that I do, well, now you do.

This also has the alternate name, Barbarian Master, which is a very metal movie name.

Sangraal (Pietro Torrisi, who started his career in peblum movies like The Ten Gladiators and ended it in sword and sorcery movies like Gunan, King of the Barbarians) is Sangraal, whose father’s kingdom has been decimated by the evil warlord Nantuk (Mario Novelli, Warriors of the Year 2072Amok TrainEyes Behind the Stars). He leads his people to a new land which is ruled by Belem (Luciano Rossi, whose career hits all of the Italian trends, from westerns like Django to the Eurospy Killer 77, Alive or Dead to giallo sich as Death Carries a Cane and Death Smiles at a Murderer and poliziotteschi, war films and exploitation in Salon Kitty).

Nantuk has become a king, yet the Goddess of Fire and Death* (Xiomara Rodriguez) demands more. Sangraal must die or Nantuk will lose everything. So he does what any madman usually does and crucifies our hero — hello, Conan the Barbarian — and forcing him to watch everyone in the village be killed**, including the Goddess personally murdering his wife. He’s saved by the archer Li Wo Twan (Haruhiko Yamanouchi, the only actor I know who has been in both Joe D’Amato and Wes Anderson movies) and Belem’s daughter Ati (Yvonne Fraschetti, Demons 2).

This movie actually has something to say about love, loss and grief, as a wizard tells Sangraal that he must give up on the memory of his dead wife and keep on living if he wants to defeat Nantuk, who is devoted to killing him. Then again, as you deal with these issues in your life, I doubt you will ever battle an evil king. That said, perhaps you’ll find something in this to help you.

You have to give it to the servants of Nantuk. When Sangraal challenges our antagonist to a duel to the death by the traditional rules — with no interference — they refuse to help, even when their leader demands they kill our hero. And then, they just let Ati go at the end.

This movie has taught me that goddesses can be killed, if you have a magic crystal crossbow.

Also — and perhaps most importantly — Sabrina Siani (who is pretty much the queen of these movies, thanks to appearances in The Throne of Fire, Ator the Fighting Eagle and, most importantly, her turn as Ocron in Conquest) is in this as the Goddess of Gold and Life.

This is why I watch movies, to be battered into happiness by Italian barbarians battling half-naked and fully naked evil beings.

You can get this from Revok.

*If you’re watching this and wonder, “Have I seen this village get destroyed before?” You’re right. It’s the exact same footage that is in The Throne of Fire.