Profumo (1987)

Man, I don’t know if this is strictly a giallo or just plain sleaze. But hey, I watched it, you’re going to read it and then we’ll all go about our way. Seriously, I always thought The Devil’s Honey had the most ridiculous sex scenes in an a quasi-giallo and here we are with Profumo, which has nothing to do with the British sex and politics scandal, and was also known as Bizarre.

Florence Guérin (Top ModelFacelessToo Beautiful to DieThe Black Cat) plays Laurie, a woman who is pretty much haunted by a violent lover named Corbi. No matter how far away from him she gets, he always pulls her back in.

Yet now she’s found a new lover named Edward (Robert Egon, the only actor I can think of who is in a Marvel movie*, My Own Private Idaho and two Fulci films**, Massacro and Sodoma’s Ghost), who she feminizes, sodomizes and pours Coca-Cola all over his pubes and licks it off. Yes, this is that kind of movie.

Corbi is never far behind, sending men to attack Laurie and Edward before she decides to take matters into her own hands. But is she strong enough to leave him? Even sixteen years after The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, giallo heroines are still having trouble leaving the abusive men who give them the kink they need. Oh Laurie. Your vice is a locked door.

Frankly, I’m shocked Severin has put this out yet, but this may be because not that many people know about it. Maybe we can do something about that. I’ve honestly never seen Russian roulette used as foreplay before, so I guess that late model giallo has wonderful things to teach us all.

*To be fair, it’s just the Cannon Captain America.

**You could say three, as he also shows up in the mashup of these movies, Cat in the Brain.

Zegen (1987)

Iheiji Muraoka (Ken Ogata) had plans to be a shopkeeper. However, as he begins to learn that the Japanese armed forces will soon advance across Asia, he instead goes into business as a brothel owner. After all, an army moves on its stomach, but it often stays ready to fight based on its desire.

This is one of Shôhei Imamura’s later movies, but still rich with the black humor and desire to explore the hidden castes and stories of Japan.

Muraoka became Zegen, quite literally the most powerful seller of women in modern Japanese history, known as “The Boss of the South Seas.” Yet beyond the monetary and carnal rewards of this vice, he saw the business of turning out women as an almost patriotic duty.

At the close of this film, as the Japanese forces return to Malaysia, Muraoka rushes to greet them, seeing them as the children of the men that he had worked with to keep Japan strong. He is shoved down by a commanding officer who does not even recognize the old man’s attempts at speaking Japanese. In the end, despite his fanatic devotion and the ruin of so many lives, he himself has been rendered meaningless.

Zegen is one of the three films on Arrow Films’ new Survivor Ballads: Three Films By Shohei Imamura set. I’ve learned something new from each of these movies as we covered them this week and this set has my complete seal of approval. You can get yours from MVD.

Salvation! (1987)

Okay, so we’re cheating with this review. It doesn’t star John Doe, the subject of our week-long film tribute.

This parody on organized religion and the mass communication medium of television directed by New York No Wave artist Beth B stars Doe’s ex-wife Exene Cervenka, who meet her second husband Viggo Mortensen on the set of this, her only acting role. Beth B made her feature film debut with the 16-mm black & white film Vortex (1981) starring Lydia Lunch (Blank Generation, Mondo New York) and a young James Russo (later a go-to heavy in films such as Beverly Hills Cop and Donnie Brasco).

Stepthen McHattie (Theodore Rex) stars in this black comedic statement on the televangelist craze of the ’80s (think Jim and Tammy Bakker) as Reverend Randall, a flock-bilking preacher who likes to compose and rehearse his sermons while watching pornography. His religious empire begins to crumble when the unemployed Jerome Stample (Viggo Mortensen), who grows tired his wife Rhonda (Cervenka) donating to Randall’s church, devises a blackmail plot with his sister-in-law (the singular Dominique) to ensnare the reverend in a sex scandal.

Surprisingly, the film’s soundtrack doesn’t feature the music of Cervenka or director Beth B’s frequent collaborator Lydia Lunch; it instead spins the popular college radio and new wave club hits “Sputnik,” “Touched by the Hand of God,” and “Skullcrusher” by New Order, and “Jesus Saves” and “Twanky Party” by Cabaret Voltaire — along with a few tunes by co-star Dominique (Davalos), who would form the Delphines with former Go-Go Kathy Valentine in the late ’90s.

While it was released on VHS and appeared on HBO, Salvation! has never been released on DVD, while the vinyl-only soundtrack has never been reissued on CD. The film was previously offered as a VOD stream on Amazon Prime, but has since been pulled from release. You can, however, watch the film through a series of clips uploaded to a playlist by a You Tuber known as “McHattie Fan.”

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

Repost: Border Radio (1987)

Editor’s Desk: This review originally ran on September 26, 2020, as part of our “Rock ‘n’ Roll Week II,” and we’ve brought it back for John Doe Week.

Was it worth waiting a few years before finding a copy of this poorly-distributed VHS in a cut-out bin at an old Sound Warehouse?

Oh, yeah.

Fans of the cult film existentialism of Easy Rider, Vanishing Point, and Two-Lane Blacktop — or any art film that finds a reissue on the Criterion Collection — will enjoy this grim, black and white film noir homage (shot on Super 16mm) to the French new-wave films of old; to that end, the film employs a disjointed, non-linear narrative. Do you enjoy the films of Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise (1984), Down by Law (1986), and Mystery Train (1989)? Did you enjoy the later Clerks (1994) by Kevin Smith? Do the “mood pieces” of Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni — such as 1975’s The Passenger — appeal to you?

Then you’ll enjoy Border Radio — although this UCLA student film by Allison Anders and Kurt Voss (Down and Out with the Dolls) doesn’t possess the “slickness” of those films, as you can see from the trailer.

Border Radio is a noirish tale of three southern California punk rockers — two musicians and a roadie (Chris D. and John Doe) — who decided a club stiffed them on a gig, so they rob the club. Chris D. subsequently abandons his rock journalist wife and crosses the border into Mexico with his split of the caper, leaving her holding the bag in repaying the debt of their robbery; she sends John Doe into Mexico to find him.

The caveat of Border Radio: this is not a punk film.

U.S.-issued VHS by Michael Nesmith’s Pacific Arts Video courtesy of 112 Video/Paul Zamarelli of VHS Collector.com.

There are punk rockers cast in the film as actors, but the music and punk aesthetic is void from its frames. The film’s stars, Chris D. of the Flesh Eaters and the Divine Horsemen, and John Doe of X, do not perform any of their music in the film. At the time Allison Anders (1992’s Gas Food Lodging, 1999’s Sugar Town, 2001’s Things Behind the Sun) completed the four-years-shot film begun in 1983, L.A.’s punk scene — with the musicians she cast as actors — was over.

The Flesh Eaters disbanded and the Divine Horsemen (lead singer Julie Christensen stars in the film) were set to release their first recordings; Billy Zoom left X; Phil and Dave Alvin (Dave co-stars in the film) disbanded the Blasters, and Texacala Jones (who also appears in du-Beat-eo) split from Tex and the Horseheads. Green on Red (they appear on stage at the Hong Kong Cafe), who got their start on Slash Records with Gravity Talks (1983) and wrote the soundtrack for Anders’s Gas Food Lodging (1985), also folded up the tents after their three, pre-grunge albums for Mercury: The Killer Inside Me (1987), Here Come the Snakes (1988), and This Time Around (1989) failed to expand beyond college rock airplay and connect with the burgeoning, commercial alternative rock scene. The film’s theme song, “Border Radio,” is performed by The Tonys, aka L.A.’s the Dils, aka Rank n’ File, led by Chip and Tony Kinman; by the time of the film’s release, they formed the synth-based Blackbird project.

You can learn more about the out-of–print Enigma Records soundtrack — never released on compact disc — on Discogs.com. The film is not currently available on PPV and VOD platforms, but DVDs can be purchased direct from Criterion.

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

Slam Dance (1987)

John Doe made his first big screen appearances in the 1981 music documentaries The Decline of Western Civilization and Urgh! A Music War. While he made his big screen debut as an actor in Oliver Stone’s Salvador (1986; reviewed this week), he actually made his first foray into acting with Allison Anders’s Border Radio (1987), which began shooting in 1983. After scoring his first mainstream acting gig in Salvador, Doe found himself on another hot ticket, this time with much-ballyhooed Chinese director Wayne Wang.

Ah, the VHS sleeve we remember/courtesy of rtsrarities/eBay via pinterest

Born in British Hong Kong and trained at California College of the Arts, Wang made his debut with the 1972-shot — for $16,000 — and released in 1975 gangster drama A Man, A Woman, and a Killer. The film was poorly reviewed and it wasn’t until his next film, Chan is Missing (1982), that Hollywood stood up and took notice; the film is recognized as the first Asian-American feature film to gain theatrical distribution and acclaim outside of the Asian marketplace place. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert of PBS-TV’s Sneak Previews loved him. Courtesy of Wang’s choice to shoot in black & white to carry through the film’s mystery-noir narrative, he was hailed as the next “John Cassavetes.” Wang’s next feature, another Asian-centric narrative cast with Asian actors, Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart, repeated the box office and critical acclaim of Chan is Missing.

And, with that, Hollywood was ready for Wang to take on an American feature film. Island Pictures, a subsidiary of Island Music, fronted Wang the $4.5 million to shoot the Don Opper-penned (Android and City Limits; rewrites on Critters) film noir Slam Dance. The film was a critical and box office bomb that cleared less than a half million in American box office receipts. Wang himself was so displeased with the end product — which he blamed on producer interference — he tried to have his name removed from the film.

And since it was the first “mainstream movie” for both Opper and Wang, it killed off their mainstream hopes in Hollywood. Opper didn’t write another movie until the Hallmark Channel (!?) disaster film Supernova (2005), an Australian-produced feature film that starred Luke Perry, Peter Fonda, and Tia Carrere. While Wang directed three more indie, low-budget films, he returned to mainstream critical good graces with The Joy Luck Club (1993) and Miramax-distributed Smoke (1995).

Tom Hulce, who was never able to consolidate his Oscar tour de force in Amadeus (1984) into a leading-man career of distinction, stars as C.C. Drood. Drood is a married cartoonist involved noirish intrigue after his lover, Yolanda (a very hot Virginia Madsen), who makes her living as a call girl, is found murdered. In addition to having John Gilbert (John Doe), a corrupt cop looking to pin the murder on Drood, Yolanda’s lesbian lover, Bobby, has hired a hit man (Don Opper) to kill Drood. Of course, Gilbert and Bobby, were in on the murder all along. Another wrench in the noir works is new wave star Adam Ant as Drood’s agent. And the musician connections of the film carries through with keyboardist Mitchell Froom, who got his start with the bands Montrose and Gamma led by Ronnie Montrose, composing the film score.

As for the actor that led to us reviewing this film: John Doe followed up his smaller support role in Salvador with class and style; he should have made a much greater leap into feature films after turning in equally stellar (in larger roles) performances in the much-aired cable cult favorites of Road House (1989) and Great Balls of Fire (1989) (reviews for both this week!). Unfortunately, Doe’s next two films, Liquid Dreams and A Matter of Degrees (both 1991) failed at the box office. Doe fared better with his next work — going thes-for-thesp — as professional gambler Tommy “Behind-the-Deuce” O’Rourke in the Kevin Costner and Dennis Quaid-starring Wyatt Earp (1994; reviewed this week, look for it).

While it’s available as a rental on Vudu, we found a free-with-ads steam on TubiTV — denied! — it’s been pulled. But you can stream it over on Amazon Prime. Oh, and regardless of the presense of Doe and Ant — and its title — this is not a “punk film.” You’ve been caveated.

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

Devil’s Dynamite (1987)

Look, there’s no such person as Joe Livingstone, the director of this movie. Or William Palmer, its writer. They’re both Godfrey Ho, the Hong Kong Ed Wood who made at least eighty movies from 1980 to 1990 and may have used over forty screen names, making him the Asian Aristide Massaccesi.

Ho is the master of a cut and paste style of filmmaking that challenges the notions of art and copyright clearances — or he’s a hack out to make a quick buck. He’s also famous for dropping footage of ninjas into movies even if the plot doesn’t call for it. I take issue with this: movies always call for more ninjas.

His love of the word ninjas also led to making movies that have titles like The Ninja Force, Ninja The Protector, Full Metal NinjaThe Ninja SquadThunder Ninja Kids: The Hunt for the Devil BoxerNinja Terminator, Zombie vs. Ninja, Thunder Ninja Kids in the Golden AdventureNinja Force of AssassinsNinja Knight Brothers of Blood, Ninja of the Magnificence, Ninja Powerforce, Ninja Strike ForceThe Ninja ShowdownPower of NinjitsuNinja’s Extreme WeaponsNinja’s Demon MassacreCobra vs. NinjaDeath Code: NinjaGolden Ninja InvasionRage of NinjaNinja: The BattalionEmpire of the Spiritual NinjaNinja Operation 7: Royal WarriorsNinja CommandmentsNinja In ActionNinja: American WarriorNinja Operation: Licensed to Terminate, Ninja Operation 6: Champion on Fire, Ninja Phantom Heroes, Bionic NinjaTough Ninja the Shadow WarriorTwinkle Ninja Fantasy (that’s one I gotta track down), The Blazing Ninja and probably ten movie ninja movies. Seriously, those guys are like cockroaches.

He would film footage for one movie, then re-use those shots over and over, which kind of makes him the Asian Roger Corman, but then he’d also find obscure Thai, Filipino and other Asian films, then graft them onto his movies — making him the Asian Bruno Mattei? — and then have several movies made with the budget of one, except no one can even tell where his footage begins and where the other films end.

Ho didn’t stop with stealing footage. He has no idea that music is a copyrightable thing either, so his movies are filled with all manner of sonic thievery, including songs from Miami Vice, Star TrekStar Wars, anime and even music from Wendy Carlos, Chris & Cosey, Tangerine Dream, Clan of Xymox, Vangelis and Pink Floyd.

Other than some rich musicians and the gullible film public, who gets hurt, right? Well, Richard Harrison, for one. He’d worked with Ho in the past at Shaw Brothers and made a deal to be in a few of his films. A few movies ended up being, well, a veritable onslaught of low-level ninjas films with his name above the title, which did damage to his career. Harrison was the unwilling feature actor in almost a dozen different movies, which sent him back to the United States. Yes, a guy who worked for everyone from Alfonso Brescia, Antonio Margheriti and Alberto De Martino to appearing in Bruce Lee ripoffs and Eurospy films had finally had enough.

And then, out of nowhere, Ho was making mainstream movies. Well, as mainstream as a Cynthia Rothrock film would be. After directing her in Honor and Glory and Undefeatable, he also made Laboratory of the Devil, a remake/remix/ripoff/ unauthorized sequel of The Man Behind the Sun. And then, he went back to his old tricks and used all the same footage to make a sequel to that movie, Maruta 3 … Destroy all Evidence. And then…

Somehow, this movie is 81 minutes and feels like nine hours. It’s all about Alex, who we also find out is the Shadow Warrior*, and now, he has to fight a smuggling ring who are all vampires, which as we all know, hop in China. No one at all is surprised that vampires exist. It is just matter of fact. There’s also a gambler looking to get even with the mob boss who sent him to jail, in case you get bored.

This is also somehow a sequel to Robo Vampire. Trust me, you have no reason to watch that. Or this. I mean, this movie has a silver lame suited superhero moonwalking against vampires, so really you can do whatever you want. Also, this movie makes so little sense that Robo Vampire could very well be the sequel, for all we know.

The poster is pretty awesome, though. And to be perfectly honest, I love these movies.

If you decide you can handle a director who makes Jess Franco look like Fellini, this is on Tubi.

*Shadow Warrior has the kind of costume that’s so horrible, Rat Fink A Boo Boo are both laughing at him.

Summer Camp Nightmare (1987)

Based on the novel The Butterfly Revolution by William Butler, Summer Camp Massacre is not the slasher that you’d be led to believe it is from the title and poster. It is, however, one of the few movies that’s never even come out on DVD.

Donald Poultry is a sensitive young man given to writing a diary in his tape recorder. A summer at camp is supposed to make him come out of his shell, but the arrival of Mr. Warren (Chuck Connors) means that this summer will not be like any he’s ever had before.

That’s where the story seems to be going until the kids go all Lord of the Flies and take the camp over themselves, getting single digit kids drunk and watching satellite TV all night. Honestly, it sounds like a dream summer, but so does smoking a whole pack of cigarettes until you’re actually forced to do it.

Penelope Spheeris was one of the writers of this and it has themes from her film Suburbia throughout. It was directed by Bert L. Dragin, who also wrote and directed Twice Dead.

Funland (1987)

Filmed at Six Flags Over Georgia in Austell, Georgia, this is the kind of movie that I can’t really figure out. Who is it for? What is it really all about? Is it a slasher, which it seems like from that poster? Is it a comedy? Is it even funny? It’s a complete mess. But yet, I’ve watched it more than once.

It was written by Bonnie and Terry Turner, who would write for Saturday Night Live for six years before creating 3rd Rock from the Sun and That ’70s Show, as well as the scripts for Coneheads, the two Wayne’s World movies, Tommy Boy and The Brady Bunch Movie. We can forgive them for the Whoopi show, That ’80s Show and this movie, right?

For this, they were joined by Michael A. Simpson. Who? Oh, you know, the guy who made the two Sleepaway Camp sequels, Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers and Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland.

I mean, this is the kind of movie where the line, “I’m a graduate of State University. I also attended the David Lee Roth University where I studied rear projection,” is the highlight. So just know what you’re getting into.

So what is Funland? Well, it’s a theme park owned by Angus Perry (William Windom, Dr. Seth Hazlitt on Murder, She Wrote) that used to be owned by its clown mascot Bruce Burger, who is really former accountant Niel Stickney (David Lander, Squiggy from Laverne and Shirley). And now that the mob has rubbed out Angus and taken over, Niel has gone completely out to lunch, seeing hallucinations of his dead boss and trying to kill the new owners.

There are a lot of comedy names in this, like Bruce Mahler, Robert Sacchi (yes, the Bogart cop from one of the strangest giallo you’ll see, The French Sex Murders), Clark Brandon from Fast Food and Mr. Merlin, Michael McManus (who, like Mahler, did time in a Police Academy film), Mary Beth McDonough (one of the Waltons) and a very young Jan Hooks, who had worked with the Turners in Atlanta comedy (and got them on to SNL).

If you’re looking for a movie where a demented clown slashes his way through a theme park, well, this is not it. But it’s…something.

You can watch this on Tubi.

No Man’s Land (1987)

<In a deep “movie trailer” announcer’s voice>: Starring D.B Sweeney as Paul Walker and Charlie Sheen as Vin Diesel in an explosive tale about a cop infiltrating a street-racing car theft ring . . . in No Man’s Land . . . a tale about a rookie patrolman (that “doesn’t act like a cop”) assigned to an undercover job that utilizes his car skills. Also starring Randy Quaid as Ted Levine and Lara Harris as Jordana Brewster. Playing now on HBO and Showtime. Also available at your local mom n’ pop video store.

The best we got for a freebie online stream is a 12-part upload on You Tube, as it was pulled from TubiTV — and it is no longer offered as a free-with-ads stream on Vudu, either. The good news is that MGM has made this readily available as a DVD and VOD across multiple platforms. As they should: this is a classic. Seriously, this is an enjoyable Sheen-starrer from his Wall Street heydays. Watch it and enjoy its King of the Mountain (1981; yep, also reviewed this week week, look for it) vibes.

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

The Barbarians (1987)

EDITOR’S NOTE: We originally wrote about this movie on January 30, 2019. However, with a new blu ray coming from Kino Lorber, we felt it’d be a good idea to bring this movie back to our readers’ attention.

Ruggero Deodato has been celebrated on this site, not just for Cannibal Holocaust, but for movies like Live Like a Cop, Die Like a ManConcorde Affaire ’79House On the End of the ParkRaiders of AtlantisCut and RunBody CountThe Washing Machine and Dial Help. From those movies, you can tell that Deodato has hit nearly every genre. Now, with this one, he returns to his peblum roots — Hercules, Prisoner of Evil was the first movie he directed — and enters the post-Arnold Italian barbarian boom with not one but two American swordsmen who look like living and breathing He-Man toys, David and Peter Paul, better known as The Barbarian Brothers.

I honestly can’t be impartial about this movie, as it’s packed with so much that I love. I mean, just from the voiced over credits, when the names Golan, Globus and Deodato come up, I can’t help but cheer. This is the kind of feel good junk food movie that I love, a film that completely rips off Conan the Barbarian in all the best of ways — times two.

Instead of reciting the script over again — the old review does a decent enough job of that — let me extol the reasons why I love this movie so much.

It’s got an amazing cast. And the Barbarian Brothers. Perhaps realizing that the Brothers may look like a 1983 first wave Masters of the Universe figure but have the acting skills of, well, a 1983 first wave Masters of the Universe figure, Deodato wisely fills the film with all manner of amazing people. There’s Michael Berryman as the Dirtmaster, the henchman tasked with running The Pit, or the place where slaves do manual labor. George Eastman shows up for a few seconds to arm wrestle in a cantina scene. Eva LaRue — who somehow is both of the third installments of RoboCop and Ghoulies — as the long-lost adopted sister of the brothers. And perhaps, most importantly, Richard Lynch, who as always turns in a game performance despite the absolute silliness of the proceedings. I mean, the dude has hair extensions and fake fingers after the young brothers bite his fingers off.

It’s got the Barbarian Brothers. For two guys who look like they should be serious warriors — or barbarians, if the title has anything to say about it — they spend much of the movie making fun of one another. They seem to screw up everything they touch and mostly only escape from situations by being bulls in a proverbial China shop. You have to love that despite the movie being set in what seems to be the distant past — unless Deodato is pulling a Yor Hunter from the Future fakeout on us — they speak as if it were 1987, calling one another bonehead repeatedly.

It’s got a great score. Pino Donaggio has written music for everything from Don’t Look Now and Tourist Trap to Dressed to KillThe Howling and Body Double (and yes, Giallo In Venice and Gor II), so you know that when you hear his music, it’s going to elevate anything it plays behind.

It’s got fun effects and sets. One of the craziest thing about the new blu ray of this is that it’s so crystal clear that you can see the strings moving a dragon’s mouth up and down, which is rather disconcerting. That said, the swamp set — where most of the film takes place — looks awesome otherwise. This is also a movie with magical belly button jewelry, which is a sentence I’ve never written before.

It’s got Mad Max wrapped up in its sword and sorcery. Despite — again — being set in the past, most of Kadar’s warriors look like they should be in the employ of Immorten Joe. Also, Kutchek and Gore — our heroes — live with a band of traveling circus performers who use their skills to throw knives and blow fire at their attackers. It’s like the hard-driving armanda of — again! — Immorten Joe, but only 28 years earlier.

If you ever want to sit down and have me talk over a movie and extol its virtues — of which many would say there are none — then let it be this movie. I even have the great new blu ray from Kino Lorber, so it looks fabulous!

You can get a copy of your own right here. This has my highest recommendation.