Drive-in Cult Classics, Vol. 3

 

 

   (A little sidebar here- originally I had planned to write nothing during October (I felt that writing about Horror movies in October felt a little clichéd, and writing about NON-Horror flicks just didn’t fit. About the middle of the month I felt kinda bad about the decision, but laziness prevailed. Anyway, I have a whole stack of $1 DVDs that I could write years worth of reviews; I’ll probably end up rolling them out during the year and maybe saving some of the juicier ones for NEXT October)

 

 

   Today’s review is for a 4-disc, eight movie set called “Drive-in Cult Classics Vol. 3” released by BCI/Eclipse. It includes:

 

 

   * The Babysitter

   * Weekend with the Babysitter

   * The Pink Angels

   * Blood Mania

   * Single Room Furnished

   * Van Nuys Blvd.

   * The Pom Pom Girls

   * Malibu Beach

 

 

   Yeah, the whole set can be had for under $10 at your local Best Buy along with the first two Volumes (which means that they come in at something like a buck and change per flick- keeping in-line with the spirit of this blog), and, like the other sets, are a decidedly mixed bag. All the flicks included were made by Crown International– the “mini” independent that actually still maintains a web page (http://www.crownintlpictures.com/), but I don’t think that they’ve released a new picture in years. They’ve been busy supplying the budget DVD pipeline, however, as most of these have been released previously on disc in one form or another- either paired off with other flicks (Pom Pom Girls was on a double feature with The Van; Van Nuys was paired with the totally unrelated (and TOTALLY bad) Little Laura and Big John; Blood Mania was (some internet rumors complain) wholesale bootlegged on the “Horrible Horrors- Volume 2” 8 movie set released by Rhino). All but two were unleashed to drive-ins in the 70’s (The Babysitter was a 1969 release and Single Room Furnished was made in 1968). The other 2 sets were loosely-themed- Volume 1 was basically T & A flicks that would all fit in as first or second features at your local drive-in in the 1970’s; Volume 2 are all horror (well, in the case of They Saved Hitler’s Brain, ATTEMPTED horror); Volume 3 has no real theme and is all over the place. I’m just going to give brief overviews to save time…

 

 

   The Babysitter (1969) and Weekend with the Babysitter (1971) are both directed by Tom Laughlin in-between him kickin’ the crap out of people in Billy Jack flicks (he also starred as the pacifist butt-kicker), and have the same preachy, melodramatic patchwork style of pretty much everything he directs. Both are long on bad acting and short of real sleaze, I would give the nod to Weekend as a better flick only marginally, as it’s in color & anamorphic widescreen, and the first one is in a very weak full-frame transfer from a British PAL videotape (nice touch by the DVD Company though- they apologize for the less-than-stellar transfer right on the package, explaining that the original materials are in real poor shape and the tape was the best Master available)…

 

 

   Disc 2 leads with The Pink Angels (1971), a jokey motorcycle gang flick made at the very end of the Hogs-on-hogs craze. The big joke is the motley group is gay, but they’ll still come into your town to kick your ass and steal your makeup. If you ever catch the trailer (or the blurb written about it in The Golden Turkey Awards book) that should be enough to whet your appetite; as someone who sat through this slight and offensive mess I know that the joke goes on about 70 minutes too long. The Director (Robert Vincent O’Neil– who also helmed the other flick on this disc) went on to one of the most famous drive-in movies of the 80’s- Angel, starring the perky Donna Wilkes. The second side has Blood Mania (1970), a slow moving, talky drama that barely skirts the Horror tag with a seducer and a user who’s after a family inheritance. Junk, and not very good junk- but the transfer is much nicer than Rhino’s…

 

 

   On Disc 3 you have Single Room Furnished (1968), a sad coda to the movie career of Jayne Mansfield who died in a bloody car wreck prior to its release. Someone thought that it was a good idea for her to play three different gals (including, suspend disbelief here, a TEENAGER) in a melodrama about love and loneliness. Its stagey and static-y (it almost looks like a filmed play) and is almost coma-inducing when Jayne isn’t on- its not like she was in very good form in this, but did have an unmistakeable charm that occasionally flashes here. Her corpse-picking husband at the time (Matt Cimber) was the Director of this headache, and assembled it to push product through the Jayne pipeline. On the second side is Van Nuys Blvd (1979)., a late- 70’s T & A romp that follows a hayseed from the sticks to check out the lights and excitement of SoCal. It’s watchable and fun, with the right mix of topless gals and guy-jinx (and as a bonus, there’s a Director’s Commentary, which I have yet to listen to, but it’s a nice addition to a set this cheap)…

 

 

   The Last disc has probably the 2 most fun movies on the set- The Pom Pom Girls and Malibu Beach. I’ve reviewed Pom Pom (1976) in a previous blog- needless to say my opinion hasn’t changed; this version is an ever-so slightly cleaner transfer (and full-frame; but from what I gathered it wasn’t shot in widescreen). Malibu Beach (NOT to be confused with Malibu High, which is on the first Volume of these sets) was made in 1978 and is basically about a new lifeguard on the beach and the gals trying to vie for his attention. It’s cheap in appearance, but is pretty well acted (Kim Lankford, for example, went on to appear in the likes of Knots Landing) and a fun way to burn 90 minutes…

 

 

   So I would advise that, if you don’t own at least ½ of these already, to pick up this set. For the cost of one trip to the movies you get an authentic slice of the tacky drive-in experience to view anytime you’d like. And when someone points to the wide case on your shelf with the rear-view of the hippy chick on the spine and says “What the Hell is THAT”, give ‘em a taste of the way they USE to make movies…

 

 

 

   The Babysitter- 1-1/2* of 5

   Weekend with the Babysitter- 2* of 5

   The Pink Angels- 2* of 5

   Blood Mania- 1-1/2* of 5

   Single Room Furnished- 2* of 5

   Van Nuys Blvd.- 2-1/2* of 5

   The Pom Pom Girls- 3* of 5

   Malibu Beach- 3* of 5

 

 

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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

 

 

   

Review: CB Hustlers/Cheerleader Beach Party

 

 

   The first look here at product from “East West Entertainment LLC”; a Hollywood-based budget line Company (http://www.eastwestdvd.com – however at the time of this writing the site was “Under Construction” which is usually the sign of death for these companies. The good thing is it’ll take years before the supply line will dry up so for awhile this and their other titles should be readily available- check your Swap Meets and crappy Dollar stores). One of my favorite genres from the 70’s drive-in era are the Cheerleader/Nurse/WIP (Women in Prison)/Chicks-on-the-Run flicks. These are probably the most formulaic of all genre movies except for “Stalk and Slash” movies but are a Hell of a lot more fun. The formula is pretty simple- a group of gals have some sort of minor issue that takes all of the girls banding together (and in various parts of undress) to resolve at the end. Even the cheapest of these usually have at least ONE interesting or attractive actress, and for some of the studios that made multiple ones (Roger Corman’s New World Pictures; Crown International) they managed to give their movies a professional, glossy sheen. The two that I’m about to talk about, however, are FAR on the other end of the spectrum…

 

   CB Hustlers (‘1978’) is about just that- ‘Truck Stop Annies’ (hookers hitting up truckers) from their rolling van whorehouse and the law and local newspaper trying to root them out. That’s pretty much it. Except for the occasional topless sheet-rolling there is not all that much to recommend; the humor is incredibly feeble and the country music soundtrack is especially lame. The “CB” angle is shoe-horned in to capitalize on the then-current craze; the topless women are a craze that’s ALWAYS current and the gals are attractive enough but not to sustain the relatively short running time. The most notable actors in the cast are the, uh, GIANT-chested Uschi Digard, who was STILL making soft and hardcore porn up until a few years ago (and since she was born in 1948, I think I may have to consciously avoid some of her newer work as I would have to think that nature would have taken its course by now and I don’t really need to see THAT); John Goff (a B-actor who’s been in such drive-in schlock as Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS; Gas Pump Girls and Alligator– he also has small parts in higher-profile fare like The Buddy Holly Story and TV’s L.A. Law.) The Director (Stu Segall) previously helmed the notorious (in name-only; the title is catchy as Hell) Drive-In Massacre and went on to producing the TV shows Hunter; Silk Stalkings and Fashion House. This one is pretty bad (correctly Rated “R” for nudity and language)…

 

   From bad to oh-so worse: Cheerleader Beach Party (aka California Cheerleaders on some drive-in double bills) (also 1978). It starts with some dubbed-over small-college football footage and then follows the cheerleading squad (all FOUR of them- some squad!) of the Rambling U. Rams. The theme song “Stand up and Cheer” (“Stand up and cheer- we’re Number One, lalalala) will get in your head and stay there for the first ½ of the movie and will be that much more distracting when you’re trying to concentrate on the complicated plot. Just kidding- the girls take on the mission of getting new players to play for their small college. With tons of shots of people going through doors, vans driving, and some of the dumbest dialog put on film (“Oh, DOUBLE RATS!”). Compare this to the first one and EVERYTHING is worse; bad acting by an unattractive cast (who break out in song at a beach party- “House of the Rising Sun” has never sounded worse); even lamer humor than the co-feature, and filmed on stock that looks to be WWII surplus and you have, quite possibly, the worst Cheerleader movie ever made. H.O.T.S. and The Pom-Pom Girls this AIN’T. No one really went on to much of anything; the Director (and some of the cast) had made Cherry Hill High the year before, which is slightly better (but not much); Beach Party effectively killed their careers (Rated ‘R’ for mild nudity- would probably be PG-13 now)Holl

 

 

   The DVD is a one-sider (Screen-printed full color art) packed in a slim hard-side case. Both sides have a reproduction of each movies’ poster art. The only so-called “Extras” are under the “Bonus Material” section of the main screen and it consists of a list of some of the titles East West produces only- no trailers. The running times listed for both are 85 minutes which is (surprise) incorrect; CB is 75 minutes and Cheerleader is 84; both are full-screen and look to be 16mm dubs. You can purchase for $1- purchased at inner-city Dollar store in Atlanta…

 

   CB Hustlers: 1-1/2 * of 5

   Cheerleader Beach Party: 1* of 5