Street Fighting Man

blackfist1

Black Fist aka Bogard stars Richard Lawson as Leroy Fisk, a bare-knuckle street fighter working for the mob. At first he’s raking in money hand over fist…until a crooked cop named Heineken (Dabney Coleman) puts the squeeze on him…and Leroy finds himself torn between the mob and dirty cops, fighting to retain his dignity and pride, fighting to keep his hard-earned money…and fighting to stay alive. The fights are great, the soundtrack cool and funky…and Lawson is a smooth, likable hero…

blackfist3

Advertisements

Jumpin’ Jive

jiveturkeyposter

Black gangster Pasha (Paul Harris) and his sidekicks Sweetman (Reginald Farmer) and DuDirty (Ernie Lee Banks) take on the Mafia family led by Big Tony (F-Troop’s Frank DeKova) in 1950’s Chicago. From the title (it’s also known as Baby Needs A New Pair Of Shoes) it sounds like a comedy, but it’s not. Don’t expect high camp from this flick. That’s not to say that it’s not funny in spots…and it’s quite quirky…for one thing the most vicious assassin in the movie is seductive transvestite Serene (Don Edmondson)…but the film is totally straight-faced and not too shabby all around…

jiveturkeyserene 

Tell Automatic Slim

rollingthunder1

Major Charles Rane (William Devine) has just come home after 7 years as a POW in ‘Nam…home to San Antonio Texas…home to his wife and kid…home to a king’s welcome from his hometown…And he’s about to lose it all…a king’s ransom…his family…and his hand…to a band of thieves. Luckily, Rane has a high tolerance for pain…and zero tolerance for bullshit. And it’s time for vengeance…Texas style. From the pen of Paul Schrader, Rolling Thunder is even more of a modernized Western than Taxi Driver, with his trademark psychologically complex characters. Devane, usually typecast in sleazebag roles, gets to play the stoic hero. Tommy Lee Jones is, naturally, great as his war buddy. The real casting surprise is James Best (Dukes Of Hazzard) as the lead villain Fat Ed…He’s got the affable/menacing quality of a Bond villain…and it’s quite a trip to hear “Roscoe P. Coltrane” say the word motherfucker. Twice. And all you Texas Chainsaw Massacre fiends out there might like to know that Tommy Lee Jones’ family members are played by Paul Partain (Franklyn from the original) and the chainsaw store guy from Part 2 who says “Oh, my achin’ banana!” Rolling Thunder is quality grindhouse cinema…

rollingthunder2

Blood On Her Hands…Doom In Her Eyes

dementia1

If you dig David Lynch’s Eraserhead, Luis Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou or German Expressionism you might like this silent, surreal tale of a girl who escapes her horrific childhood home…only to tumble into a world far more nightmarish. Some of the few people who have seen or even heard of Daughter Of Horror aka Dementia (if you’ve seen the original The Blob you’ve seen bits of it…it’s the movie playing in the theater when it gets blobbed) find it far too depressing and grotesque to sit through…but I find a certain beauty in its bleakness…It’s really a shame that this is director John Parker’s only known film. The man had talent and vision and I would like to have seen alot more from him…

dementia2

The Smoke Of Hell

reefermadness1

Reefer Madness aka Doped Youth aka Tell Your Children is the most famous of all the ’30s roadshow dopesploitation films, due to its revival in the ’70s on college campuses and as a midnight movie in theaters, appreciated ironically as a melodramatic laugh-riot and example of antiquated square moral paranoia…And yeah it’s played straight and deadly serious while being completely ridiculous…characters take one puff of marijuana and become hopelessly addicted junkies and violent psychopaths…but if you know anything about roadshow films, you know that such films were only feigning moral outrage and pretending to be educational as a smokescreen that allowed them to show wild partying and debauchery, which is what those in the know really came to see back in the day. Don’t let the fact that the filmmakers were in on the joke keep you from enjoying it though, because it’s wonderfully absurd and funny as hell. Now stop that racket and bring me some reefers! 

reefermadness3

Lost On The Midway

carnival_of_souls

I’ve seen this one many, many times…Because it’s public domain, it shows up in just about every horror movie box set….And because this dirt-cheap little fright flick shot in Lawrence Kansas is worth seeing more than once. It’s about a church organist (Candace Hilligoss) who is the only passenger to emerge from a dragracing accident…

carnivalofsouls3

She dusts herself off and heads straight out of town for a new job. Along the way, she is pursued by a spectral figure (the director Herk Harvey himself) who leers silently at her, popping up at any moment…and only she can see him. Is he a ghost? Death himself? A demon? Satan? Your guess is as good as mine…what I do know is that this movie is effectively creepy…from its eerie carnivalesque organ score, strangely beautiful atmosphere and air of mystery, to its deliriously mad ending…this film is on a relentless mission to get under your skin and stay with you long after the credits roll…

carnival-of-souls2

Ghouls’ Night Out

plannine1

They come from the bowels of Hell…A transformed race of  walking dead! Zombies guided by a master plan…for complete domination of the Earth! This is it, sickies…the granddaddy of all cult classic B-movies…almost universally regarded as the worst movie ever made…mostly by people who have never seen another B-movie. Trust me, there are much worse. Ever sat through Monster A Go-Go? Sure, it’s got dime store special FX, ludicrous dialogue, an incomprehensible plot (aliens reanimating a zombie army in order to stop the nuclear arms race and save us from ourselves…like a pulp mag version of The Day The Earth Stood Still) and acting that would make the cast of a grammar school play cringe…but it’s so perfectly wrong in every aspect that it’s howlingly funny. Plus it’s got Dracula himself, Bela Lugosi…for about two minutes. How can you not love lumbering hulk Tor Johnson (“I’m a big boy now, Johnny.”) and Gothic goddess Vampira zombying around a cardboard graveyard? Or Bunny Breckinridge as the snooty, effete leader of the alien invasion? Or Dudley Manlove valiantly over-enunciating his way through Wood’s dialogue as the speechifying Eros? Or Criswell’s disjointed narration? All of these elements coalesce into one of the most thoroughly enjoyable cinematic sojourns you’ll ever experience. Can you prove that it didn’t happen?

plannine2