Night of the Sharks & The Glove

 

 

   Today is a Double Feature disc from Canada- Quality Special Products (no website available- the on-screen name is Quality Video, Inc.) is a typical bargain DVD and CD provider that, for all I know, is still in business. I’ve seen their product in various places, from FYE to CVS (where I picked this DVD up) and they seem to specialize in music compilations mostly (Bob Marley; Jerry Lee Lewis) that are either re-records of original songs or live Greatest Hits discs, but also carry Public Domain (PD) movies, or, in this case, borderline- as I’m not sure that either of these movies ARE in Public Domain. This could be a case of maybe just VERY CHEAP licensed product (the Company seems to be crossing their “T” and dotting their “I”s even when it comes to their packaging; they’ve even given credit to the copyright owners of the photos they used of the stars on their case cover)…

 

 

   The first one- Night of the Sharks (1987) (or, it’s proper title: La Notte Degli Squali) is an Italian (how would you have guessed from its original title?) crime thriller that is SO BORING that I fell asleep in the middle of it. It takes a special movie to have me zone in the middle of it (the last time I did that watching a movie was Pokeman 2000) and this is it. The only reason I woke up was when I nodded off I fell head-first into the keyboard and the constant “DING-DING-DING-DING” of my head resting on the keys shook me awake. Treat Williams (who, God love him, is clearly doing this for the lira), who at one time actually made decent movies (remember Prince of the City?) is a retired fortune hunter who comes out who ends up seeking revenge on the guys that rubbed out his brother (he double-crossed some corporate-types and is carrying an audio CD (!) with incriminating evidence). The other names in the cast, like Christopher Connelly (who also isn’t above working for anyone willing to pay him no matter how bad the script) and Antonio Fargas (HUGGY BEAR- do I need to add to that?) are slumming, but at least enjoying the all-expense paid trip to the Dominican Republic. This is filmed in typical Italian-style; with grainy photography and almost every shot ending in a zoom- and a trick ending that, even if you DO fall asleep, you will see coming from 6 miles away…

 

 

   The Glove (1979) was made by Ross Hagen, a character actor who mostly played baddies and still appears in the occasional Fred Olen Ray flick. He’s made other movies (he was the Producer and actor of Bad Charleston Charlie, which was a favorite tape of mine until my crappy VCR I once owned ate the tape) and still directs, but this one is his crowning achievement. The always great John Saxon stars as a divorced ex-baseball payer-turned bounty hunter who gets 20 grand if he hauls in escaped con Rosey Grier (and does it all while wearing velour jogging suits). Oops, one thing- the con is wearing a specially-designed riot glove that allows the wearer to smash through anything, like doors and cars. Watching Rosey (playing a con with heart- even though he smashes the shit out of prison guards) in full riot gear beat up a car is so cool that the DVD producers use it as a blurb before the menu. Now THIS is what an exploitation flick is supposed to be! It’s all over the place- its got action, comedy (like gay bail jumpers) action, heart-warming scenes of Dad and daughter, meat-cutting footage, and gratuitous poker playing . It also has an all-star character actor cast, including Keenan Wynn, Nicholas Worth, Joan Blondell (in her second-to-last roll), Aldo Ray, Jack Carter, Hoke Howell and Michael Pataki. Why this movie isn’t more famous (or being remade like other less-worthy movies nowadays) I don’t know, but it needs to be. I think that it’s got the type of tone that movies made in the “Blaxploitation” era had, which may make it seem slightly dated, but it really suits it. I caught this late night on HBO in the early 80’s and was pleasantly surprised that it was as good as I remembered it. And don’t forget the song- you will try but you won’t be able to: “You can’t escape, the kiss and rape, of the GLOOOOVVVVeeeee”…

 

 

   The disc is a flipper (one movie on both sides) and the box art is pretty cheesy (the spine doesn’t even list the movies, only the names of Treat and John, so if someone is perusing your DVD collection looking for one of these movies, they’re going to have to know who starred in them). The quality of the prints is VHS transfer but fairly clean- late-night UHF-quality (though The Glove is the better-looking of the two and might be from a film print). Sharks runs 87 minutes and is PG-13 (blood); The Glove clocks in at 92 minutes and is definitely an “R” because of its heavy violence. One thing unusual that you’ll find when you pop this puppy into your player is some voice-over narration- “Welcome to this Interactive versatile disc… Blah Blah Blah”… instructing you on how to actually WORK a DVD by using your remote to select your Option (in case you never have used basically any kind of electronics before) -VERY annoying. The jazzy saxophone and flute music at the menu is a particularly dumb choice- its very out of place. Extras include Chapter Selection; short Biographies; a Movie Review (naturally they select a good one for each film) and a Trivia Quiz (you WERE paying attention, right?). I would pick this up just for The Glove, but its your money so spend it as you’d like…

 

 

  

   Night of the Sharks– 1* out of 5

 

   The Glove– 3-1/2* out of 5

 

 

 

 

The Pom Pom Girls & The Van

 

  

   Okay you horn-dog perverts; I’ve been looking at the Stats from the blog and I see that the most-viewed review was for Cheerleaders Beach Party and CB Hustlers, so that tells me one thing- that you guys dig the boobies (*TSK TSK*). Well, as the cordial host that I would like to think that I am, I’m going to go ahead and (as the President says in Death Race 2000) give the people what you want- in this case two T & A flicks from the 70’s…

 

   The late 70-‘s/ early 80’s drive-in scene was in the tail-end of it’s heyday; it was a place that you could bring a carload of friends to a movie for 5 bucks (and, since I was driving a 1972 Cadillac Fleetwood at the time we ended up taking my car because it had enough room for a baseball team, their dates, and a case or two of beer) and have a great night’s entertainment. I know in my case we’d show up and hour or so before the first feature so we could get the best spot established- namely dead-center and a few rows back, so there would be plenty of Frisbee and football-throwing room and we’d be close enough to the Snack Bar when the inevitable munchies would hit. The drive-in where I grew up in nearby Casselberry usually tied the features to a common theme (three horror flicks, or sex comedies, or what have you), with the main feature being of newer vintage while the co-features would be making the rounds again (sometimes for the 10th or 12th time- I must have seen Horror High four or five times in as many different pairings), but if we were going to go in a larger group, the T & A flicks were the ones that were our favorites to see…

 

   Both of these movies I caught as tacked-on second features at the drive-in growing up; in fact I couldn’t tell you what the main feature was that was paired with wither of these, but both of these I sure remembered and was looking forward to seeing them again. The first one on the disc is The Pom Pom Girls; a classic example of the mid seventies cheerleader flick that I talked about in the Cheerleaders Beach Party review with one difference; everything Beach Party did wrong Pom Pom gets right…

 

   Actually it’s pretty much the same story- what can the girls do to get the football players up for the big game? What player is going to pair up with what cheerleader? And who is going to win this vicious prank war between two rival schools? The difference is it’s made with more true-to-life actors as the kids who ACT and TALK like High-Schoolers of the time. They’ve also including a more appealing bunch, including Robert Carradine (who also appeared in Massacre at Central High a few months later with his co-star here Rainbeaux Smith) as the arrogant and bravado lead- of course you know he went on to other drive-in flicks like Cannonball! and Joyride (as well as previously having a small part in Revenge of the Cheerleaders (also featuring Rainbeaux) before moving on to bigger movies like Orca; TAG- The Assasination Game and Wavelength and the jackpot that was Revenge of the Nerds (and the 3 so- far sequels). A brunette foil is played by Jennifer Ashley, who was usually playing toughs but who had a sexy streak bubbling up to the surface. She was previously seen quickly as a groupie in the failed but very entertaining Phantom of the Paradise (and again another common thread-  Rainbeaux is in THAT ONE!), before going on to more serious and more exploitatively tacky fodder like Tintorera! (a bloody AWFUL Mexican Jaws rip-off); Guyana- Cult Of The Damned (you’ll need to bathe in Lysol after watching THAT one) and two notorious sleaze-fests that have a devoted cult-like crowd– Inseminoid and Limda Blair’s Chained Heat. And I’d like to put in a quick mention about Rainbeaux (Cheryl) Smith, who was in tons of these kinds of movies, and who died of hepatits (suspected from her years of heroin use) at a far-too-young age of 47; penniless and living on the streets. Her waif-like appearance and her eager acting style (she carried a hippie-like heir about her) was in more kinds of exploitation product than just about any actress you could name, from horror (Lemora- The Lady Dracula; The Incredible Melting Man); Sci-Fi (Laserblast) and musicals (the above-mentioned Phantom of the Paradise– blink and you’ll miss her), to sleazy blaxploitation (Drum); Women’s Prision movies (Caged Heat– one of the best of the genre)  silly sex comedies (Slumber Party ’57) and even X-Rated flicks (like Cinderella (1977) and Video Vixens). She was always a welcomed sight and it’s a shame that she will not be around when appreciation for her will continue to grow…

 

   Pom Pom was filmed in coastal California in the Los Angeles area; competently shot by Steven Katz, who went to bigger things like The Blues Brothers and who continues to work today. The Director (Joseph Rubin) also ended up moving on to more legitimate films, like the Dennis Quaid vehicle Dreamscape & The Forgotten. The print is very clean for a low-budget drive-in oddity; apparently Crown takes very good care of their archived masters- and it appears to be the full 90 minute version…

 

   The second flick here is The Van, a slice of the custom van-culture craze that hit its stride when this was released in 1977. It’s about Bobby (Stuart Goetz– who is now a Music Editor for television shows), a red-headed dork who decides that getting the girl of his dreams is more important than going to college so he spends his cash on a tricked-out van (with such “with-it” accessories like tuck-and roll liner; a waterbed with a mirrored ceiling, an 8-Track player and even drink holders!). It doesn’t really change his luck (a dork with a shiny paint job is still a dork), but when he gets hung up on one particular girl (Deborah White) he decides that maybe his trying to be slick isn’t the way. On the way to his life lesson though he ends up: playing dumb tricks on his car wash co-workers (putting castor oil in their beer then locking the bathroom); hooking up with an aggressive homely diner girl for a quicky (as well as a MILF with a jealous husband); gets involved in a police chase, and, once he finally gets the girl and needs to help his boss repay a loan, decides that the hunk of metal just ain’t worth it (well, that is, after flipping it in a drag race)…

 

   This one wasn’t as good as I remembered, but wasn’t too bad. The acting was uniformly decent and it was filmed competently, but the script was a bit weak with not all that much really happening. The main cast bounced around to other things but, except for Danny DeVito in an early part, didn’t go on to much more movie-wise. Some of the co-stars like Bill Adler (who is also in Pom Pom Girls) went on to other things besides acting (he now designs leather goods for major companies) and the very cute Marcie Barkin (who played a real bitch in one of my all-time favorite movies- Fade To Black, but I still dug her) is now the President of a successful software development company in Colorado, which is great to see. Behind the camera, the Director (Sam Grossman) went on to make only one more movie (Static) which was completed just after his death in 1999 from cancer, and Irv Goodnoff, the Cinematographer, is still working in movies. The thing that you’re going to remember most about this movie though is the theme song- “Chevy Van” by Sammy Johns; a staple on Top 40 radio when I was growing up, and a song that, no matter how hard you try, WILL NOT GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD. No matter how hard you try, I guarantee that sometime today, you will catch yourself whistling a line or two- I always end up getting hung up on this part:

   “I put her out in a town that was so small- You could throw a rock from end to end- A dirt road Main Street; she walked off in bare feet- It’s a shame I won’t be passin’ thru again”…

 

    (Click below to hear the song)

 

   “Chevy Van” by Sammy Johns

     Both movies appear in the “Starlight Drive-In Theater” 4 disc boxed set. Each movie is on a separate disc side and are cased as double-features (the other discs in the box are Hustler Squad & The Wild Riders; Van Nuys Blvd. and Little Laura and Big John, and Madman of Mandoras and The Devil’s Hand (which, technically, makes this disc a Triple Feature as the reworked version of Madman (They Saved Hitler’s Brain– a perennial “Golden Turkey” award winner) is also included on this disc). The company that produced all of these movies during their initial run, Crown International, was a major supplier of these kind of drive-in movies of the 60’s and seventies, and have recently come out of hiding to supply budget DVD lines of produce (the box set is BCI/ Brentwood, who use to put out dollar discs and now have gone semi-legitimate). If you don’t like the other movies in this set, don’t worry- they’ve included both Pom Pom and The Van in ANOTHER boxed set called “School Dazed” (*groan*) that has some more recent Crown International fare, including Tomboy; Hunk; Weekend Pass; Jocks; My Chauffer and My Tutor (the last one is the only one of these worth a damn). Extras on any of the discs, except for the “you are there” perspective DVD are about 6 minutes of trailers (from other movies in the boxed set) and snack-bar clips. If you look hard enough (hint- try certain Best Buys) you can find each boxed set at around nine bucks, giving you 8 flicks to take home for the cost of one movie ticket now- and that doesn’t even include Rainbeaux in the mix. Both are rater “R” for nudity, language and drug and alcohol use…

   The Pom Pom Girls– 3* out of 5

   The Van– 2-1/2* out of 5

 

 

   

Batclips!

 

 

   I LOVE getting stuff like this! This is pretty old, but there’s no date on this. It’s from a company called Treasure Box Collections that seems to have fallen by the wayside (their website no longer exists); they provided cheap DVDs for flea markets and dollar stores wanting to jump on the DVD bandwagon early in its life form. Treasure Box put out all kinds of cartoons and old flicks that have fallen into Public Domain; this seems to be something outside of their wheelhouse- it’s simply someone at a tape machine playing random clips of the old “Batman” 60’s TV shows and commercial spots, along with some (what seems to be) home-made tapes of Adam West appearances at a car show and filming PSAs (this also has Yvonne Craig (Batgirl); Burt Ward (robin) and Julie Newmar (Catwoman)…

 

   The box art is simplistic; a cartoon “Batman” running toward the camera, which belies the comtents. I guess it has a campy feel to it, but from the art and description blurb on the back (with quotes like “”An inside look at a Superhero phenomenon?” (THEIR question mark- not mine!); and “Batclips is a must for Batman fans of all ages”) I’m not exactly sure of who the company was aiming this to. As with most Treasure Box Collection DVDs, the cover has a grey band at the top (that states “Platinum Collection”- a nonsensical blurb) and at the bottom (that says “Digitally Remastered”- HA!) and is packed in a full-size case and the disc itself is screen-printed full color. The total running time of the “Documentary” (again- HA!) is almost 30 minutes and, of course, there are no extras (there aren’t even credits). It’s clearly from a VHS tape dupe, complete with rolling and video ‘gurgling’ between clips…

 

 

   I have absolutely no justification for it, but I’m giving Batclips 3-1/2* out of 5

 

  

 

Another Big Lots deal…

 

 

 

   It seems like the MGM buyout by Warners has now trickled down to boxed sets. The following were spotted at a recent visit to Big Lots (your mileage may vary):

 

   5 bucks-

   * Silence of the Lambs/ Hannibal two-pack boxed set (these are Special Editions discs with some nice features)- the funky red foil packaging is pretty cool as well. Currently going for $31 on Amazon…

 

   * Thunderbirds 2 disc set- I bought both the movies for $3 each when Big Lots had their previous sale. This set includes Thunderbirds Are Go (1966), and Thunderbird 6 (1968) (both marked “International Rescue Edition”- whatever THAT means) and are full-length widescreen movies of the Supermarionation (puppet) television show. The Extras on the discs include their respective Trailers; a Quiz; Audio Commentary & 3 Making-of Featurettes (each disc has different ones). The boxed set itself also includes magnets and stickers and the box itself is nice. It’s currently on Amazon for around $27- scoop ‘em up while you can…

 

   7 bucks-

   * Species 4-disc set (trilogy)- Pretty nice set; this is the first 3 Species flicks (there is a recently-released Species 4 not included) all in their Special Edition form (lots of extras including Making-Ofs; Trailers; Audio Commentaries; etc.). The 4th disc  (which I just bought separately at a used DVD/Bookstore, dammit!) had seven additional featurettes not included on the other discs as well as a special Alternate Ending to the first Species. This is going online for $36 bucks…

 

   10 bucks-

   * A bunch of Manga sets- I’m not much for Manga (Japanese animation) so I didn’t get the titles but there were 4 or 5 different ones. Some were just a large-size box with one disc in them (with the idea that you have a place to put additional discs when they come out as part of the set) and one even came with a T-shirt; while others had a bust of a character included with them- these were pretty sweet; a nicely crafted 6 inch model. I know that I’ve seen these go for a bunch of money in comic book stores, so for all of you collectors out there, scoop them up…

 

   *The Pam Grier Collection (Fox In A Box)– I was THRILLED when I bought this last year for $20 at Circuit City and now you can have ‘em for half that- three of Pam Grier’s best (on the MGMSoul Cinema” imprint): Coffy; Foxy Brown and Sheba Baby and a 4th disc  presented by Vibe Magazine that has Trailers for the above three movies (which are also on the individual discs) and 2 pretty nice mini-documentaries: “Pam Grier: Super Fox” which is an overview of her career and what she meant to movies of the 70’s told by fans of hers in the media (about 17 minutes); and “Blaxploitation to Hip-Hop” (18 minutes) that talks about the culture and influence of those past movies on today’s black youth (using the same people and much of the same footage from the previous documentary). The most disappointing thing with the featurettes is that Pam isn’t interviewed in either, but they are nice overviews of the lady and her legend (one note- lots of nudity and scenes of violence, but I guess if you are watching this anyway I wouldn’t think you would knowingly have the kiddies around). Currently going for $27 on Amazon…

 

   13 bucks-

   * The Rocky 5-disc boxed set- This is probably the least real ‘deal’ of the bunch; the first 5 Rocky movies (this was issued before the late-arriving Rocky Balboa came out) but none of these are very ‘special’ editions; only two of them even come with Trailers, and the packaging is very flimsy thick paper over full-size cases. If you want bare-bones versions of these just to have the movies then pick a set up; if not there are better choices. This set is no longer being offered new on Amazon; it can be purchased used for around $14…

 

   So get out there and add to your collection!

 

  

Dragon (2006)

   Usually when you get these “Dollar DVDs” they are of older vintage- 60’s or 70’s public domain movies that have been deteriorating on a shelf somewhere, so when you get one (from our friends at Digiview Entertainment, who do a nice job with their case graphics at least) that is relatively new AND includes features like Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, a Trailer (though not a trailer for the movie that you’re actually watching) and even Behind the Scenes footage- well, something is amiss. You might be surprised with this one…

 

   Dragon (the box art actually says “Leigh Scott’s Dragon”, like the name recognition- if it actually existed- of Leigh Scott would draw you in and make you say to yourself, “Wow- I’d lay down 100 pennies for a LEIGH SCOTT movie!”) is a fantasy adventure that promises (quoting the case blurb) “The Action of REIGN OF FIRE, the Adventure of LORD OF THE RINGS”. What it actually DELIVERS, however, is a movie that seems to be make in the backyards woods (with the end credits bragging about being “Filmed in Milwaukee”- which made me laugh) of some RPG geeks who have a modicum of talent and not a lot of money…

 

   The premise is a kingdom is being taken over by an evil force and it is up to the good Princess Vanir and her small band of hanger-ons to defeat the dark forces and get help from the neighboring kingdom. In order to fulfill her quest however, she’ll need to travel through the worst part of the woods to enlist her help, and that will mean doing battle with (dun-dun-DUUUUU) The Dragon…

  

   The Good: Well, it’s filmed very nicely; widescreen and clear and clean. The special effects are obviously effects, but they at least have a grand scale to them. It’s amazing what some dorks and enough computer power can do. They’ve also intercut some sweeping footage of mountain vistas to good use- trying to give you the epic feel of “The Rings Trilogy” or other medieval epics. I guess their hearts are in the right place- too bad the BAD outweighs the good. Also, as I pointed out before, the Extra are a nice touch on a budget release- the Behind the Scenes making-of is a concise (17 minute) overview of the low-budget filmmaking process that will probably be all you ever need to know about Dragon, but at least it shows some effort…

 

   The Bad: This is SO damn boring! Countless tight shots of the characters standing around babbling on and on about absolutely NOTHING. The acting varies WILDLY, from some passable European accents (some of the actors are actually British) to ones that waver in and out all over the place; sometimes within the same line of dialogue. Also, the sound is problematic- some of it sounds muddled and tinny and some of the audio effects are very mis-matched, with leaf-crunching underfoot sounding 5 times louder that (supposed) metal swords clanking in battle. I can’t recall a recent movie where I have been consciously aware of how distracting the poor sound has been; in this case it’s disturbingly weak…

 

   The Company that put this out (Asylum Home Entertainment) specializes in direct-to-DVD rip-off of major films currently in theaters- though not usually on a dollar DVD line (I’m guessing because they think that people are stupid and if they see their knock-off art on the shelf of a video store the customer is going to confuse their low-budget property with the real thing). Some examples of their look-alikes are: Hillside Cannibals (their version of The Hills Have Eyes); Transmorphers (their take of Transformers); Snakes on a Train (see if you can guess what THAT is a knock-off of!), etc. The director is nothing if not proficient- he has 12 Directing credits in a span of three years according to IMDB, which means that he must be incredibly busy; even if they are similar in scope to Dragon that would be a lot of work. Here’s hoping he’s getting some cash for his efforts…

   The movie is not rated, but would probably be PG-13 if it were, due to some blood and a bit of tension. The running time of 84 minutes isn’t short enough. Oh, and the box promises this as the beginning of a TRILOGY, which, to date, hasn’t been completed. They’re probably better off just forgetting to keep THAT promise. You should be able to find this one at any “Wal-Mart” across the country for $1.00- just look near the register and weed through the piles of Betty Boop cartoons and WWII documentary DVDs and it’ll be there…

 

  

   Dragon– 1-1/2* of 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manson (1973)

 

 

 

   Serious time- Charles Manson was a sick and sadistic SOB; human flotsam that, because of beaurocracy and ill-timed changes in death penalties, still lives. He collected a group of cast-offs that were too stupid, scared or pathetic to stand up for themselves and, to please a man who offered them a modicum of attention and ‘love’, stole and even killed for his affections and attention. The deaths of the innocent victims were a gruesome coda to an end of a decade that pushed “peace, love and understanding”, and probably was the start of the media’s obsession with the bizarre and twisted, and how they could out-do themselves to get it to the TVs and newspapaers of Mr. and Mrs. American. At the time of the trials and afterwards, there was a call for any bit of info about Manson and family, which included numerous books (including one written by the Prosecuting Attorney- “Helter Skelter”; that was made into a stark and nervy TV movie in 1975- which was remade in 2004) and this documentary that actually won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and was summarily banned from showings soon after its release (it was argued that it could be considered  “impressionable” by the defending Attorney to prospective jurors of the on-going “Family” trials). Since then it was basically abandoned and, well, left for dead…

 

   The Documentary itself is built around footage obtained by the director Robert Hendrickson and Laurence Merrick (Merrick, mysteriously, was shot and killed in 1977 by an assailant who was never caught) that shows “The Family” prior and during their sprees; hanging around “The Ranch” (the makeshift commune where they lived”) and interviewed by an off-screen crew. Adding interviews and narration by the Prosecuting Attorney Vincent Bugliosi (and ‘faked’ Manson narration; even though the beginning of the movie has an on-screen placard that says “There are no Actors in this film. What you will see and hear is real.”); still photos; newsreel footage and effects like split-screen and solarization, they put together a snap shot of the 70’s that is very dated but still packs a punch (one more note- the music soundtrack was also provide by members of “The Family”, which, knowing that, gives what you watch an added Creep Factor)…

 

   But this is a DVD Review page- one that talks about not only the movies themselves but the companies involved. The Distributor of this disc is probably one of the sleaziest talked about yet- Beverly Wilshire Filmworks, based in New York and one that disappeared just as quickly as they cropped up. All of the boxes I’ve seen of the flicks they’ve put out are dated 1999 and 2000, and are easily recognizable by their tacky graphics, blurry photography and box-art and lurid descriptions of the enclosed flicks. All have a “Telefilms International” logo somewhere on the box; a small Chinese logo at the bottom of the back of the cases label; and multiple credits for a “John Matarazzo” who, if internet legend is to be believed, was a Mafia “made man” who had his hands in all kinds of grey-area business ventures and has recently died. Beverly Wilshire didn’t bother putting out Public Domain flicks for their product; they seemed to go after titles that (I would guess) they felt that no one would go after; stuff like the trainload of bad Mexican horror movies of the 60’s (like Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Mummy and Black Samson); early 70’s forgotten Drive-In fodder (Like Flesh Feast) and karate imports (Jackie Chan’s New Fists of Fury & Snake Eagle’s Shadow)…

 

   This copy of Manson is a VHS dupe; blurry and a bit ‘strobe-y’ but not the worse that I’ve seen. It seems that whoever duped this though had an issue with tracking; during the whole length of the movie there’s a ‘bent’ part of the picture at the top, which is mildly distracting but again, it doesn’t fully distract from the movie. It appears to be a complete copy; this is not one for kids as there are multiple shots of female (and male) nudity and vulgar language. This copy runs 84 minutes, and has no Extras other than a DVD Credits List, which is pretty ballsy considering these guys basically stole this movie and put it out on their own…

 

   One more point that I’d like to make- the surviving Director has re-released this movie on DVD (and a follow-up entitled Inside the Manson Gang, which seems to be a recent release; however there is no information on IMDB for dates and credits and if you go to the filmmaker’s page (http://www.exclusivefilms.com/Manson-Banned.htm) he rants on and on about the suppression of his films). I think that if you DO want to see this movie then the money might as well go to him- I just think that what he’s charging ($70 for both films on DVD- autographed to you by him) is pretty steep and a bit self-aggrandizing of his importance and that of the flick (his only screen credit, by the way)…

 

 

   Manson– 3-1/2* of 5

 

Graduation Day

 

 

   Legacy Entertainment (no web page- you’ll see why as you read on) is a budget outfit that popped up years ago as one of the early budget providers. Their specialty, it seems, is out-and-out thievery of other peoples’ titles. Sure, they release some of the same PD flicks everyone else puts out (hyping stars in early works like Robert DeNiro on Swap Meet and Sarah Jessica Parker in My Body, My Child to name two), but they also sell licensed works like the first 3 Sleepaway Camp movies and this one- Graduation Day (1981). The trouble is- they ain’t paying for their use, so this is some ol’ fashion bootleggin’…

 

   So the movie starts off at a High School track meet, where a girl just after winning a race drops dead from a heart attack. I guess this pissed SOMEONE off, because now a killer is on the loose, offing the track team one by one. Who would due such a dastardly deed- the Principal (genre stalwart Michael Pataki)? The Coach (the late Christopher George– who will appear in anything that pays him a check… remember 1980’s Pieces)? Or is it the sister who’s come back from the Navy; weirded out by the creepy step-father and who is constantly snooping around and jumping out of bushes? Maybe it’s someone else? Or maybe you’ll just give up twenty minutes or so into the movie because you don’t give a damn? Well, maybe- but you’ll miss out on routine throat slashings, impalings, beheadings, and death-by-football; Vanna White desperately trying to act; a sprinkle of nudity (including some early chest-baring by Linnea Quigley); and worst of all, gratuitous leg-shaving (well, maybe Pataki’s slacks-bulge is ACTUALLY worst of all). This is an oh-so typical 80’s Friday the 13th rip-off, with the Ten Little Indians-style set-‘em-up-for-the-slaughter pace, but not any worse than the 500 other ones that came out around that time. Not as bloody as Maniac or as funny as Prom Night– very average but competent (oh, and don’t miss the accidental joke when a character opens a door to the class shop labeled “George Michaels- Woodworking”- spooky foreshadowing, huh?). By the way- the director (Herb Freed) is an old pro at this kind of flick; he made others like Haunts and Beyond Evil as well, and helped this one make a TON at the box office …

 

   Legacy has the gall to issue to wholesale thieve this from a Troma VHS copy, complete with TROMA’S OPENING TITLES! The release is full screen and slightly muddy, but watchable. In the vein of Digiview or East West, their so-called ‘Trailer’ is actually just a list of other titles Legacy sells; 97 minutes. The DVD comes with 12 chapter stops; you’ll never know what you’ll miss so I recommend the fast-forward button instead. I got this at FYE for $2.99…

 

 

   Graduation Day– 2* out of 5