Ninja In the Claws of the CIA (1983)

Also known as Kung Fu Rivals and the incredible title Kung Fu EmanuelleNinja In the Claws of the CIA was directed by John Liu, its star and the creator of the martial art Zen Kwun Do. In this film, that’s the fighting power that America’s CIA wants John, playing himself, to teach to their agents. Russia has already invented a strong fight skill and the Western powers believe that only Zen Kwun Do is strong enough to fight back. But that style means that its fighters must self-hypnotize themselves to forget lust and pain, something that Liu believes Americans can never do. But then they trick him into doing exactly that.

Once Liu — again, playing himself in a role where hushed world leaders stare at his karate magazine covers, which are as fake inside as pro wrestling magazines — is assigned to a base for training, he learns Pascho (Roger Paschy) is already teaching the men an art that makes them go insane. He saves one such fighter, Ho Wong (Casanova Wong) by giving him a rabbit in a box. It gets ripped to pieces and it seems that Ho Wong is unsaveable.

Yes, this movie is really weird and wonderful because of it.

It gets weirder.

Pascho doesn’t believe that Zen Kwun Do fighters can forget about sex. So he hires Gisete (Jolanda Egger, Playboy Playmate of the month for June 1983) to try and get him hard, all while Ho Wong keeps kicking him. He has to keep horse riding stance — used for practicing punches or to strengthen the legs and back — while she basically goes down on him. He stays soft because that’s how much of a man he is.

This all happens before Liu and CIA analyst Caroline (Mirta Miller, BlindmanBolero, Santo vs. Dr. DeathThe Shark Hunter, Eyeball; has anyone had a stranger and more amazing body of work?) go on the run. Or maybe he’s dating single mother Raquel Evans (Emmanuelle y Carol). Or perhaps he’s starting a martial arts school. But he’s totally fighting people inside a ceramic shop, which is an excuse to destroy pottery on the level that Hong Kong stunt teams would go on to smash glass in the 1980s.

None of this adds up, as scenes neither begin or end. They just appear. Cities are mentioned, locations are suggested, but this movie has a lack of logic that even Godfrey Ho wouldn’t be able to achieve. Liu is, as you may already know, the original director of New York Ninja, another movie that baffles the mind. He also made two other films, Dragon Blood and Zen Kwan Do Strikes Paris.

Oh yeah. John also has an identical twin brother who was in Vietnam but is now in a wheelchair. This is presented as a major story element and never really referred to again. Also: every woman who gets close to John dies. Don’t have sex with this man. Or try and blow him in the woods while he does martial arts moves.

That being mentioned, this movie does shine a light on the strange techniques the CIA tried to teach its agents. Of course, it’s hidden within a rambling martial arts movie that maybe ten people other than me are into, so while the truth is out there, the truth is hidden in a martial arts movie from 1983 that looks like it is a seventh generation VHS dub just placed into the wilds of the internet.

It also has a scene of John Liu doing martial arts in front of the Eiffel Tower just so you know that he really filmed some of this movie in Paris.

You can watch this on Tubi.

The Challenge of the Lady Ninja (1983)

During the Japanese occupation of Shanghai — this is a Taiwanese film directed by Tso Nam Lee by the way — Wu Siu-Wai (Elsa Yeung) has just come back, having been studying to be a ninja for most of her adult life. We see her final graduation battle, in which she uses ninja magic to appear as a dancing woman, confusing all the fire shield-carrying ninjas, and also has something like the ear that sees. Yet as she becomes a ninja, she is told her father is dead at the hands of the man she loves, Lee Tung. Or he’s her brother. I mean, if this was Italian, he could be both.

Let’s just say he’s her fiancee.

He’s also so evil that he gets “The Imperial March” from Empire Strikes Back for his theme song.

To get her revenge, she begins to train a team of women in the deadly arts of the ninja. What took her nearly twenty years to learn, she will teach to a kung fu fighter, an acrobat and a sex worker in just a few montages. Within those, you will see upskirt shorts, the camera at crotch level and mud wrestling. I always wonder about movies that are about female empowerment and then show us non-stop male gaze, but this movie gets fun when we learn that the former prostitute — her name is Chi Chi — can seduce men, then teleport behind them and kill them with a shuriken.

There are a lot of sub-bosses in this and that’s where I fall in love, as there’s a samurai with a big scorpion tattoo on his face, a guy with a whip, a sword fighter who throws webs and a female fighter who has to be mad that she can’t be part of this cool girl ninja gang. There’s also a battle in a water-logged wrestling ring that seemingly comes out of nowhere.

For some reason, this is set in the time of World War 2, yet everything including the cars and the clothes looks like 1983. There’s also a ninja helping Wu Siu-Wai with a skull mask and he can shoot fire out of his hands and man, this movie.

At the end of the movie, the true final boss is revealed and he’s able to tunnel into the Earth and fight underground. However, Wu Siu-Wai has the ninja magic of splitting into three people, so you can probably guess who wins.

This is also known as Chinese Super Ninja 2 but it is not a sequel to Chinese Super Ninja, which is the American title for Chang Cheh’s Five Element Ninjas. This is not as awesome as that movie, but man, between the anachronism, sleaze factor and fun villains, there’s still a lot to enjoy.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Kabamaru the Ninja (1983)

Igano Kabamaru is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Yū Azuki. It’s hero is a young ninja whose real name is Kagemaru, which means absolute shadow. However, every calls him Kabamaru — hippo’s mouth — because all he wants to do is eat.

After the death of his ninja teacher grandfather, he moves to Tokyo and must adjust to living in the urban landscape of Tokyo after a life spent in Iga Province, a more rural area of Japan where the actual ninja that exist in our world first came from.

It’s an intriguing idea, having this country boy in the big city. As of 2017, eleven million people live in the countryside areas of Japan while one hundred seventeen million live in the cities. My Japanese accent — ugh, my Japanese is horrible! — sounds like I come from the areas outside Osaka. I was excited to learn this, as that was the first city I spent time in.

I was told, “No, you sound like how people in America think people from West Virginia sound.”

Igano Kabamaru is to stay with Ran Ookubo, who always loved his grandfather, and attend her Kin’gyoku  ninja school. As an orphan, he bonds with Mai Ookubo, Ran’s granddaughter and also someone who has lost her parents, but she sees him as a rude person and has no interest.

The main thrust of the story is the rivalry between Kin’gyoku School and Ōgyoku School, which is, well, kind of like Meatballs in a super generalized way. I mean, it’s the poor kids versus the rich ones, slobs versus snobs. But with ninja magic, which makes it better. The Ōgyoku have also recruited the orphan that Igano Kabamaru spent most of his young life training alongside, Hayate Kirino, which adds plenty of drama.

The original manga was published from 1979 to 1981, with total 12 volumes of books released, and a sequel began in 2015. The anime aired from October 20, 1983, and March 29, 1984, around the same time that this movie was released.

The movie concentrates on the five-part competition between the schools, with such events of falling off of balloons, swimming, horseriding throwing star target practice, an eating contest that somehow Kabamaru loses and staying on a car while an enemy from the other school drives it.

Made by Toei and the Japan Action Club a group founded by Sonny Chiba — who is in this! — to bring elite stuntmen to Japanese film and TV.

This movie is frequently ridiculous but that’s what I was looking for.

VIDEO ARCHIVES WEEK: Better Late Than Never (1983)

VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the February 21, 2023 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

I have to tell you, the hunt for this movie felt like the old days of trying to find a movie and for the return of that feeling, something that’s hard to come by in the days of streaming and instant gratification.

Bridget (Kimberley Partridge) is all that’s left of the romance that her grandmother had between Nick (David Niven) or Charley (Art Carney). Yes, even all those years ago, people didn’t know who the father was. Her daughter died, she adopted Bridget but now that she’s gone, the executor of her estate finds both men and they lived much richer lives when she loved them.

Nick is struggling through the twilight of a never was entertainment career and Charley is a photographer who never had the success that he felt he was owed. Into these two flawed old men comes a young girl who must choose which one is her grandfather and which will get the fortune in her grandmother’s will.

Maggie Smith is quite good in this as the girl’s governess Miss Anderson and Catherine Hicks (Child’s Play) is also fun as Sable, a way too young for the older boys girl.

Directed by Bryan Forbes (he also directed The Naked Face for Cannon and, of course, The Stepford Wives), who co-wrote it with Pittsburgh native Gwen Davis, this movie paid off my weeks of looking for it with the kind of charm you expect from a Saturday late afternoon basic cable watch in the winter, the kind where you have the blankets just so and don’t feel like getting off the couch just yet. Credit for that goes to Niven and Carney, two masters of comedic timing who fit together perfectly.

What’s amazing is that this is a Golden Harvest production. Yes, the same people who made One Armed BoxerEnter the DragonThe Man from Hong KongGame of DeathMegaforceDeadly Eyes, Mr. Vampire and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as well as hundreds of other great films.

This was made in Monte Carlo, not far from Niven’s house La Fleur du Cap Mansion. Due to his failing health — he had just started to show the first signs of Motor Neuron Disease — it was best they stayed near his home.

Better Late Than Never has always been hard to see. It had difficulty getting a theatrical release and never played theaters in Britain. It eventually aired on TV on Christmas Day 1983.

Junesploitation: Mission Thunderbolt (1983)

June 24: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie— is 80s Action! We’re excited to tackle a different genre every day, so check back and see what’s next.

A cut and paste — I mean, Godfrey Ho’s name is all over his — of new footage with the movie Don’t Love Any Stranger, this starts with a couple making love before she slices his throat with a razor. Then, two women are sight-seeing before a gang attacks them.

There are two gangs in Hong Kong, the Serpents and the Scorpions. Interpol is on the case, sending an agent who targets a boss and pitting gang against gang.

We then go to a karaoke bar where Allison sings “Mickey.” The Mickey you’re so fine song, copyright be damned, this is, again, Godfrey Ho. She’s really there to find out who killed her friend Rosie, which means working in a hostess club owned by Scorpions leader Phoenix. A fight breaks out and the once cheerful singer shreds a man’s face before bonding with Phoenix, who decides to tell her how she got to her position, which mostly involved killing every man that wronged her. Now, she’s at war with the Serpents and their boss Hercules.

There’s also The White Tycoon, who has hired three secret agents — including the aforementioned blonde woman, who is the best part of this, killing numerous marks every time she appears on screen — to sow dissension between the gangs. He also likes to sacrifice chickens to increase his power before he fights the secret agent, who finds him by torturing the blonde woman by placing her face first in an oil drum, adding a rat and then throwing in a cat. And he’s the good guy, but as I’ve learned from Godfrey Ho movies, the good guys are allowed to torture people.

You know, these movies are all flowing together in my brain and now I have so many Thunderbolt-named movies: Majestic ThunderboltScorpion Thunderbolt, Ninja Thunderbolt, Ninja Operation 4:Thunderbolt AngelsInferno Thunderbolt and Mission Thunderbolt. I plan on watching them all, but there are times that between the fact that they are two movies at the same time and that they all flow together, they put me into a near-murderdrone drug state.

Which is why I am watching them.

I honestly have no idea what is happening in this movie for a lot of the time, but of all the Godfrey Ho movies that I have seen, this one looks the best quality wise.

You can watch this on Tubi.


VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the November 8, 2022 and November 15, 2022 episodes of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

Paddy Chayefsky, who died two years before this movie was released and also who it is dedicated to, recommended an article to director Bob Fosse in The Village Voice. “Death of a Playmate” by Teresa Carpenter told the story of Dorothy Stratton, the Playboy Playmate of the Month for August 1979 and Playmate of the Year in 1980 who was dead by August 14, 1980.

Despite her short career — five movies* (AmericathonSkatetown, U.S.A.They All LaughedAutumn Born and Galaxina) and four TV appearances (Playboy’s Roller-Disco & Pajama PartyThe Tonight ShowFantasy Island and showing up as Miss Cosmos on an episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century) — Stratton went from working in a Dairy Queen to the start of a successful life as a model and actress.

Or so it seemed. She had married the man who got her nude photos to Playboy in the first place, Paul Snider. She’d gone from his manipulations into the world of the Playboy Mansion, where women were prizes for Hollywood stars in Hugh Hefner’s good graces. Meanwhile, her husband acted as her driver, manager and acting coach. You know, a suitcase pimp. He never left her alone and this often meant daily fights and constant criticism.

She alternately was trying to escape the marriage by moving in with Peter Bogdonovich — the director of her last film, They All Laughed — and also telling Snider that they should give this all up and move back home to Canada. He was insanely jealous, despite his own affairs, and was using her for money, even selling the Jaguar she’d been awarded for Playmate of the Year.

Left alone and increasingly unhinged, Snider told friends he was taking up hunting along with having a strange conversation with them about the tragic death of Claudia Jennings, an actress and former Playmate of the Year who had been killed in a car accident. The loss of Jennings, the star of Unholy Rollers and Moonshine County Express, made problems for the editors, as they had to remove her photos — or so Snider remarked — after her death.

Days later, both he and Stratten were dead.

There had already been one movie made about this story — Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story which starred Jamie Lee Curtis as Stratton and Bruce Weitz as Snider — but Fosse wanted to make this into a theatrical movie.

Mariel Hemingway believed she was perfect for the part of Stratton and didn’t just send letters to Fosse. She called and visited his home and did four readings. And she also had breast surgery, though she claimed that she did it for her and not just the movie.

Eric Roberts was harder to convince, but he came on board as Snider. Cliff Robertson would be Hefner and Carroll Baker would make this her first Hollywood movie since her 1967 return from Europe, playing Dorothy’s mother.

The movie was a fight in public. Bogdanovich, Stratten’s boyfriend at the time of her death, said that Fosse “didn’t know the true story.” That was true. But Fosse claimed his movie was about Snider. That meant that Bogdanovich refused to allow his name to be used in the film — the character played by Roger Rees who is supposed to be him is named Aram Nicholas — and threatened a lawsuit.

Real Playmates are in the mansion scenes, but Hefner refused to allow the movie to be shot in his home.

What emerged was a movie that was challenging. And Roberts was amazing in it. Roger Ebert explained that Star 80 syndrome is when Hollywood will not nominate an actor for portraying a creep, no matter how good the performance is.

While Hefner said that Roberts was perfect, William Sachs — who directed her in Galaxina — said that Snider never spoke to anyone but Stratton and would just have a death stare.

This is a rough watch, as you know throughout that Stratton — who you barely get to know, she’s a gorgeous and naive blank slate — is going to die at the hands of the manipulative man who thinks he’s made her. It’s maybe even rougher knowing that her death scene was shot where she really died.

In the aftermath of her death, Bogdonovich would go through his own tragedies. He buried her with a tombstone that featured a line from Ernest Hemingway’s — the grandfather of this movie’ star — A Farewell to Arms. “If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, of course it kills them…” He also wrote The Killing of the Unicorn: Dorothy Stratten (1960-1980), a rebuttal to the story this movie is based on, one that claimed that Bogdonovich and Hefner were just as bad as Snider. Bogdonovich doesn’t pull any punches on Hefner in his book. It doesn’t just attack him, it goes after his mansion, his magazine and the Playboy way of life. He also claimed that Hefner assaulted Stratton; he originally used the word raped before lawyers made him change it to seduced.

Hefner fought back by accusing Bogdanovich of seducing Stratten’s younger sister — thirteen at the time of her sister’s death — Louise. He denied this, but then again, the two married in 1988 when he was 49 and she was 20.

A year after the tragic murder-suicide of Stratton and Snider, They All Laughed came out. It wasn’t in theaters all that long, playing a few dates regionally. Wanting his dead lover’s last screen performance to have a chance to be seen by a broader audience, Bogdanovich bought the theatrical rights to the picture and bankrupted himself.

You know who else was hurt by her death? Bryan Adams. The Canadian rocker didn’t just write one song about her — “The Best Was Yet to Come,” the last track on Cuts Like a Knife — but also the song “Cover Girl” with the band Prism. Statton didn’t grow up all that far from where the singer and his co-writer for “The Best Was Yet to Come,” Jim Vallance, grew up. When Bogdonovich died last year, Adams wrote on Twitter: “RIP Peter Bogdanovich. When Jim Vallance and I wrote “Best Was Yet To Come” for Dorothy Stratten after she had been murdered, he sent us a note of appreciation for the song.”

With all his direct to streaming movie, it’s easy to forget what a shark a young Eric Roberts was. This movie was a revelation for me, yet ultimately one that still upsets me. I think all great art should, on some level, do that.

*The movies are renamed in Star 80: Autumn Born is called Wednesday’s Child, Skatetown, U.S.A. is Ball Bearings, Galaxina is just “a sci-fi film, she plays a robot,” They All Laughed is Tinsel Time. There are also some characters in the film who are real people. Playmate Bobo Weller is Terri Welles, Peggy Johnson is Colleen Camp, Billy Joe Batten is Fred Dryer and Vince Roberts is Robert Blake.


VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the August 16, 2022 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

Based on the novel by F. Paul Wilson* — which was the first of a seven book series called The Adversary Cycle — The Keep is the movie you find on Wikipedia when you look up troubled production. Starting with a rough thirteen week shoot that went all the way to twenty two weeks with reshoots and a supernatural creature that kept changing because director Michael Mann couldn’t decide how he wanted it to look, the fact that this movie was ever released is pretty amazing.

Making things even more challenging was the sad fact that visual effects supervisor Wally Veevers died while the film was still being made and nobody knew how he planned to finish the visual effects scenes in the movie. Mann had to finish 260 shots of special effects himself after Veever’s death.

This is a movie with so many different endings that it’s hard to keep track. The original end was close to the effects Veevers did for 2001: A Space Odyssey with a dimensional wormhole tearing through The Keep and time and space itself. Paramount refused to pay for the filming of the additional footage needed for this finale, so Mann had to compromise.

Mann’s original cut was 210 minute long and we may never see that version of this movie. It was taken out of his hands and cut down to 96 minutes and the result was utter hackwork. Huge chunks of the story are missing, continuity is all over the place and there are obvious mistakes in the sound design, soundtrack and editing. And that’s what played in theaters!

There was a Laurie Anderson score for this — it ended up becoming her album United States Live — but this film wouldn’t be as successful as it is without the Tangerine Dream score that plays throughout.

Somehow, it took until 2020 for this to come out on DVD and that was only in Australia. It looks like this will never get a big release, but hey — we’ve been surprised before. When asked if it would ever be released in 2016, Mann said, “No. we were never able to figure out how we were to combine all these components that were shot (pre blue and green screen). That one’s going to stay in its…” before he just stopped talking.

A German unit of soldiers have occupied an uninhabited citadel n Romania in an attempt to control the Dinu Mountain Pass. Two soldiers attempt to steal a religious icon before releasing Radu Molasar, a monster that kills several soldiers as it becomes more physically real. And as the soldiers struggle to keep their ownership of The Keep, even more sadistic troops come to town, killing the local villagers.

There’s also a Jewish historian named Prof. Theodore Cuza (Ian McKellen) who the Molasar is using to escape the confines of this building, another mysterious named Glaeken Trismegestus (Scott Glenn) and yeah — just listen to the cool music and watch the pretty lights and let this movie wash over you. I mean, German soldiers and Jewish people joining together to stop a golem? Is that a good explanation? Who knows!

There’s a great cast game for whatever happens, like Gabriel Byrne, Robert Prosky, Jürgen Prochnow and Alberta Watson. As for Mann, he left the movies behind for a while. But he did just fine, creating Miami Vice and making films like the fascinating ManhunterHeat and The Insider.

Somehow, Mayfair Games was able to take the movie and make a board game and a Dungeons & Dragons module in its RoleAids line.

No matter how disjointed or poorly editing this movie is, I keep watching it. Maybe someday, the film I get to see will be the one that Mann actually wanted audiences to see.

*Wilso disliked this movie so much that he wrote a short story called “Cuts” in which a writer puts a voodoo curse on a director who has ruined one of his books.

APRIL MOVIE THON 2: Dogs of Hell (1983)

April 23: Regional Horror — A regional horror movie. Here’s a list if you need an idea.

I’m so obsessed and delighted by the movies of Earl Owensby, who produced 18 movies with his own studio, including the Elvis death cash-in starring his last girlfriend Ginger Alden Living Legend: The King of Rock and Roll, Christian slasher — yes, really — Day of Judgement, the anthology with a doubled up title Tales of the Third Dimension in 3-D and religious retribution movie Dark Sunday. Man, he even made Lady Gray, a movie with David Allen Coe as the star. He even loaned out his studio to other films, like The Order of the Black Eagle and The Abyss. He also had that Cannon idea down before they did: his E.O. Studios’ success was due to never spending more than a million dollars on a movie and never signing a distribution deal that made him less than eight million in profit.

Owensby made movies in Shelby, North Carolina and they played drive-ins in towns just like it. He knew his audience and what they wanted. And for this, well, they wanted 3-D dogs.

Also known as Rottweiler 3-D, this was the first of six movies from E.O. Studios that required special glasses to watch. The others — in case you’re like me and want to watch all of them — are Hot Heir, Chain GangHyperspaceHit the Road Running and Tales of the Third Dimension in 3-D.

Director Worth Keeter also made several movies for Owensby — how many times can I say Tales of the Third Dimension in 3-D in this — and went on to direct episodes of Power Rangers and Silk Stalkings. And the aforementioned The Order of the Black Eagle plus Sybil Danning in L.A. Bounty. Writer Thom McIntyre directed, well, you guessed it, Tales of the Third Dimension in 3-D, and wrote several of Owensby’s other movies under names like Lynelle Grey and Grey Lynellee.

Up at Fort Bragg, the military is trying to replace soldiers with dogs. As you can imagine, things get out of control. This is a welcome event, as the town of Lake Lure isn’t the most exciting place to be. Owensby plays the sheriff; the town has a vibrant mud wrestling scene; somehow fashion models show up there and get torn to pieces in the woods in 3-D by the dogs.

Released months after Cujo — that’s how you do it! — this has a dog’s head blow up real good, an effect created by Fred Olen Ray. I mean, the dogs are driven insane by the military-industrial complex, but I do hate to see dogs be the victims in movies.

I have no idea why Earl Owensby’s movies aren’t more available. Let’s make that happen, boutique labels.

You can download this from the Internet Archive.


Chu Liuxiang icomes from a series of novels by Taiwanese writer Gu Long and hiname literally means lingering fragrance. He steals from the rich, gives to the poor and serves justice as a bandit. A master of vertical surface running and leaping — Qinggong — and the metal hand fan, he has never taken the life of another, instead he relies on his intelligence to help others.

He’s been played by Ti Lung (Shaw Brothers’ Clans of Intrigue and Legend of the Bat), ichael Miu (The New Adventures of Chor Lau-heung TV series), Richie Ren (The New Adventures of Chor Lau-heung TV series), Ken Chu (a 2005 TV series) and Ken Chang (a 2012 TV series), Aaron Kwok (Legend of the Liquid Sword), Meng Fei (Everlasting ChivalryThe Sun Moon LegendMiddle Kingdom’s Mark of Blood), Liu Dekai (Chu Liu Xiang Chuan QiChu Liu Hsiang and Hu Tieh Hua) and Tien Peng (Legend of the Broken Sword). If you ever played the NES game Master Chu and the Drunkard Hu, well, you were playing as Chu Liuxiang.

In this film — based on the book Wuye Lanhua (Midnight Orchid) in which the titular menance is told that Chu Liuxiang is dead, so he invents a trap to lure the martial arts master out of hiding — Chu Liuxiang is played by Adam Cheng. He also played the role in The Denouncement of Chu Liu Hsiang and TV serieses in 1979, 1985 and 1995.

Also known as Orchids of Midnight, Thirteen Moon Sword, Demon Fighter and Faster Blade Poisonous Darts, this was directed by Peng-Yi Chang and written by Lung Ku.

Chu has been in hiding since the death of his friend Su Rong-rong, which comes up as some criminals are seeking the jade horse she gave him. This is not important. What is is that Prince Lang Lai (Don Wong) and Princess Lang Ge-si (Lu Yi-chan) are the villains who want to either find, destroy or seduce our hero, who is protecting Su-su (Brigitte Lin) along with his drunken friend Hu Tie-hua (Lu Yi-lung).

This entire movie is astounding even before you get to the bad guy’s base, which looks like Legends of the Hidden Temple and yet is filled with cat people, ninjas that can emerge from women’s bodies Xtro style and one ninja who can literally make himself flat and go under doors and into cracks.

This movie took my brain out of my skull and caressed it. How many films do you know that are willing to do that, much less put your cereberum back into your head and clean it up for you? This is can’t miss magic.

Want to see it for yourself?

You can watch the U.S. 2K premiere of Night Orchid on Sunday, April 30 at 7:15 PM in Theater 2 at Metrograph and Subway Cinema in New York City. It’s part of the 10th Old School Kung Fu Fest: Sword Fighting Heroes Edition from April 21-30, 2023!

Tickets are on sale right here!

APRIL MOVIE THON 2: Angel of H.E.A.T. (1983)

April 16: Shaken, Stirred, Whatever — Write about a Eurospy movie that’s kind of like Bond but not Bond.

At the beginning of this movie, Angel Harmony (Marilyn Chambers) is given a Doc Savage-like origin and you know, I was super into this movie, hoping that it would be a comedy version of pulp and Eurospy film cliches.

Sadly, this was not the case.

As computers are being taken, secret agents Samantha Vitesse (Mary Woronov, this movie is not all bad),  Mark Wisdom (Stephen Johnson) and Harry Covert (Milt Kogan) are assigned to solve the crime. There’s another group called The Protectors, who Angel works for, that wants to destroy the computers as they believe they are too powerful for anyone to possess.

Wait — if this is about The Protectors, who is H.E.A.T.? And what does it stand for? Well, Angel runs the group, because it means Harmony’s Elite Assault Team. Yes, I am also confused.  They are able to — according to this film — act “unhindered by bureaucratic lethargy and political corruption were able to strike fast and efficiently at the soft underbelly of Satan’s horde!” Yes, a they is missing there. The other members of her team include the Japanese Mean Wong (Andy Adams, you aren’t fooling anyone, that’s Randy West, who is not Japanese and was born in New York City) and German Hans Zeisel (Gerald Okamura, not German and born in Hawaii).

Somehow, this involves a disco named The Faux Pax and a small man named Randy Small (Jerry Rilley) rides Angel around. There’s also a scientist who makes New Wave music and has an army of sex slave killer androids.

It’s also filled with Bond jokes, Chambers saying “So that’s what’s behind the green door,” West speaking with subtitles and a movie that feels like it wants to be what Andy Sidaris would later perfect but never gets close to it.

That’s a shame, as Chambers was pretty good in this. Even her martial arts — clothed and unclothed — look pretty legitimate. Angel of H.E.A.T. is one of the few mainstream films she made after going from Ivory Snow model to Behind the Green Door, one of the biggest adult films of the porn chic era. Rabid is the only other major mainstream role that she had, but she also sang the song “Benihana” and kept coming back to adult and was always in demand. Sadly, she died at 56 of a cerebral hemorrhage caused by an aneurysm related to heart disease.

This was directed by Myrl A. Schreibman, who also made The Girl, The Gold Watch and Everything and Parts: The Clonus Horror. Oh yeah, he also made Liberty and Bash, which teams up Miles O’Keefe and Lou Ferrigno and why am I not watching Ator and Hercules in a buddy cop movie right now?