Monday, December 20, 2021

Let's Go To The Movies # 5 Fri. 28 June 1974

 One week 'till the 4th of July and lots of cool stuff playing around town! 

Playing multiple drive-ins around Detroit (including the inspiration for this blog's title), it doesn't get much better than this double feature of DIRTY O'NEIL THE LOVE LIFE OF A COP ("Women Who Make Him The Kind Of Offer A Cop Can't Refuse!") and the Swedish exploitation classic THEY CALL HER ONE EYE (aka THRILLER- "The Movie That Has No Limits Of Evil!") starring the great Christina Lindberg. 

Kind of like if Joseph Wambaugh had written a drive-in movie, DIRTY O'NEIL is another title that we really need a legit Blu of and the mega-sleazy & nasty THEY CALL HER ONE EYE is getting a spanking new release from Vinegar Syndrome in May of 2022.

Co-starring Sandra Peabody (THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT) and Chris Jordan (A TOUCH OF GENIE) TEENAGE HITCHHIKERS ("Everything You're Looking For...More Than You Bargained For!") is getting its premiere at seven local theaters. Peabody and Jordan had previously co-starred in MASSAGE PARLOR MURDERS! the previous year. 


"In the miracle of Dynarama" here is Ray Harryhausen's THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (complete with a "Flying Homunculus"!) and of course Caroline Munro.

My favorite Blaxploitation film TRUCK TURNER ("Anybody asks you what happened, tell 'em you been hit by a truck- Mac 'Truck' Turner!") is playing a midnight show at the Mercury and Grand Circus

The Ralph Bakshi-less (and not a very good sequel) THE NINE LIVES OF FRITZ THE CAT is opening at numerous theatres including way out in the 'burbs at the Shelby Twin (a "rocking chair theatre") along with Don Siegel's kind-of-forgotten today THE BLACK WINDMILL.


Kung-Fu double features downtown at the Fox and the Adams with BLOOD FINGERS (originally released back in 1972 as BRUTAL BOXER) and starring the great Alan Tang paired with THE GODFATHERS OF HONG KONG at the Fox while at the Adams you got SHANGHAI LIL AND THE SUN LUCK KID (starring one of my favorites Szu Shih) along with the excellent MAN OF IRON which is a great double feature.

It's cool when your scrolling old newspapers and you see large ads for major Hollywood releases that you've never heard of before. Frank Hardy from The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew started in a (surely a sickeningly sweet that ends tragically) movie together?!?

PINK FLOYD AT POMPEII (or simply PINK FLOYD) "An overwhelming full volume Pink Floyd color experience" is in its final weekend - no doubt playing to hordes of stoned patrons

Major release stuff including the great road movie/heist film THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT with Clint Eastwood, Jeff Bridges, George Kennedy, a scene-stealing Geoffrey Lewis, a never-ending stream of 70's character actors, and drive-in favorite Luanne Roberts (THE TALE OF THE DEAN'S WIFE and BONNIES KIDS) as "suburban housewife".

Opening (and closing soon afterward) is Peter Bogdanovich's mega-bomb DAISY CLOVER.

Lots of choices if you're 18 years or older (or if you have an alternate ID) including the incredible MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE from director Gerard Damiano whose THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES is perpetually playing in a sticky-floored Detroit theatre. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021



Hosted by Realweegiemidget Reviews & Pale Writer

Along with UNIVERSAL SOLDIER released in 1971, this was Lazenby's first role after his one-and-done tenure in the Bond series and unlike the role in UNIVERSAL SOLDIER his character in WHO SAW HER DIE? could not be further from the world of 007. Directed by Aldo Lado (in his second directorial effort after the interesting SHORT NIGHT OF THE GLASS DOLLS) it's one of my favorite giallos and features a great performance by Lazenby as a haunted grief-filled father searching for his daughter's killer in an off-the-tourist-track (and seedy) looking Venice. Released at the very height of the genre's popularity it has tended to get lost in the myriad of titles from this period. 

Lazenby plays Franco Serpieri a sculptor who resides in Venice and who is visited by his daughter Roberta (Nicoletta Elmi from DEEP RED & FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN and a bunch of other Italian genre films). Roberta resides with Franco's estranged wife Elizabeth (Anita Strindberg A LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN). It soon becomes apparent that Roberta is being stalked through the city by a mysterious female (maybe??) figure dressed in black with a black veil. In the film's prelude, we saw this same figure stalk and murder a young girl at a ski resort in France. Franco leaves Roberta to play with some other children while he goes off for a sexual tryst with his mistress Gabriella (Rosemarie Lindt EMANUELLE AND FRANCOISE) with the result of his daughter being abducted and later found dead floating in a canal.

Driven by a profound sense of guilt and much to the concern of his recently arrived wife Franco becomes obsessed with finding his daughter's killer which is driven even more by the fact that the police seem ineffectual and uninterested in discovering the killer's identity. He soon begins to uncover a veritable toxic stew of corruption, perverse sexual "clubs" and cover-ups many of which lead to his own circle of friends and the upper social classes of the city while finding connections to the previous murder in France. 

Classic Giallos have many common tropes including a twisting plot, a mysterious killer in black, a protagonist who often must work on his own to solve the mystery, and a host of red herrings paraded with the viewer often choosing between following every twist and turn of the plot or just sitting back and letting the film flow over one's self. WHO SAW HER DIE? has all these but in addition, brings a very tragic story to its core and has interesting and well-scripted characters. 

Both Lazenby and Strindberg are fantastic in their roles and bring a real sense of a desperate and grieving couple who although separated are still in love. It's a pity this film is never really brought up in the discussion of either actor's career as they seem like they have chemistry and not just two attractive actors have been thrown together in a film. Lazenby is wonderful here and his gaunt appearance (he lost approx. 35 lbs. before taking the role - and it's quite shocking the first time he strips down), along with a shaggy haircut and ill-kept mustache all are a long way from the suave James Bond. In addition, he seems to be dressed "down" as he spends the entire film in an ill-fitting turtleneck and a truly ugly oversized parka. It's to his credit that he obviously just did not look upon this role as a throwaway Italian quickie to make a quick paycheck. It's a shame they didn't let him do his own English dub, but that wasn't uncommon for Italian productions of the period. 

Lado spends a nice amount of time showing Lazenby and Elmi's relationship as father and daughter often focusing on the child's point of view of the proceedings. As an example, when they visit a rich art dealer (played by the great Adolfo Cheli from THUNDERBALL) the camera focuses on the child as she studies the furnishings in the ornate apt. You get a real sense of closeness between them. With her red hair and piercing green eyes, child actor Nicoletta Elmi can be looked upon as a real veteran of Euro-horror/giallo as she appeared in Mario Bava's BAY OF BLOOD and BARON BLOOD, along with FOOTPRINTS ON THE MOON, DEEP RED, FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN, THE NIGHT CHILD, and later in Lamberto Bava's DEMONS.

Because the film follows a murder conspiracy plot there is quite a bit of Lazenby walking about Venice talking to various people (and then they talk to someone else about Lazenby) all of whom are set up as red herrings and/or future murder victims (with his poking about causing other murders). One wonders with his constant probing and questioning the conspirators simply just don't kill him at some point. 

Although Lazenby is cast as a seemingly well-known sculptor he is presented as a working-class type and in common, with other Giallos the film makes much of showing the decadent lifestyle of the upper class with which he must interact with. Literally, every character he comes across (even a priest) is presented as sleazy with leering expressions, questionable motives with most having a habit of indulging in kinky sex.  

When outdoors Lado keeps the film centered in side streets and narrow passages with the cinematographer Damiano Damiani (best known as the director of the bonkers AMITYVILLE II: THE POSSESSION) capturing a creepy and mist-shrouded Venice (reminiscent of Luchino Visconti's DEATH IN VENICE from 1971) that looks far removed from the tourist postcard-friendly city we're used to seeing. This Venice atmosphere along with the plot of two grief-stricken parents dealing with the loss of a child look forward to next year's DON'T LOOK NOW directed by Nicholas Roeg.

The beautiful (and Giallo familiar face) Dominique Boschero (THE IGUANA WITH THE TONGUE OF FIRE and ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK) is wasted in a small role and Ennio Morricone contributes a superb and haunting score that features a female children's chorus. 

Monday, December 13, 2021

Let's Go To The Movies # 4 Fri. 12 Oct 1973

 Crisp Midwest fall Oct. evening with only a couple of weeks 'till Halloween ! Lots of re-releases this week as the drive-in season winds down in Detroit, Michigan. 

The magnificent Tamera Dobson in CLEOPATRA JONES ("She's 6 feet 2" of Dynamite!") is getting a re-release with COME BACK, CHARLESTON BLUE (the sequel to COTTON COMES TO HARLEM) as the second feature at The Plaza downtown on Woodward Ave. and three drive-ins. 

"2 Houses of Hell-together for a night of HORROR!" Hallmark Releasing has a re-release double feature of S.F. Brownrigg's DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT (originally released as THE FORGOTTEN but retitled for the "Don't" marketing craze) and Wes Craven's LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT from 1972 which is still out there on the grindhouse circuit (and would continue to be for years). 

Released back in Aug. GORDON"S WAR starring Paul Winfield and directed by Ossie Davis. "They said it would take an army to get the mob out of Harlem. This is the army! This is Gordon's war!" is on a late show at the Palms downtown and the Mercury out on the west side. 

Ossie Davis discovered that he could not competently film the action sequences in the film so Bruce Kessler (SIMON, KING OF WITCHES and ANGELS FROM HELL) was brought in and directed all the violence and action. 

From earlier in 1973 is WALKING TALL ("the "in" movie of 1973") starring Joe Don Baker and his big whup-ass stick. Oddly they seem to be trying to sell it as a love story and/or family drama this time around. 

Russ Meyer's BLACK SNAKE (here re-titled SWEET SUZY) is playing with Paul Rapp's THE CURIOUS FEMALE which was originally going to be titled LOVE COMPUTER STYLE and had its world premiere in Detroit back in 1970.

BLACK SNAKE was Russ Meyer's return to self-financed film production and attempt at the Blaxploitation market after his stint at 20th Century which had resulted in BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLL and THE SEVEN MINUTES. BLACK SNAKE had a troubled production including the last minute drop out of it lead actress and was a box office failure which led it to being released under several different titles. 

Here we got the horrifically bad ARNOLD'S WRECKING COMPANY which was filmed in 1971 but not released until 1973 and is a "comedy" about a nerdy high school student who starts dealing pot and runs afoul of police and gangsters. 

The mondo film AFRICA UNCENSORED from 1972 is running downtown with the much more watchable and entertaining BLACULA (also from 1972). AFRICA UNCENSORED was directed by Alfredo and Angelo Castiglioni and Guido Guerrasio who did a whole series of African mondo films that mostly focused (as to be expected) on sexual fertility rites along with animal killings. 

Some major studio releases include a sneak preview of THE WAY WE WERE at the Americana and Eastland, the kind-of-forgotten today OKLAHOMA CRUDE w/ George C. Scott and Faye Dunaway and a western I've never heard of with Glenn Ford. 

Terrific double feature of ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE ("He's a good cop..on a big bike...on a bad road") and the great THE OUTSIDE MAN (which is way overdue for a Blu-ray release) is playing multiple theatres around the Motor City. 

At the Grand Circus downtown is some King-Fu action with FEARLESS FIGHTERS (aka NINJA KILLERS) from 1971 and going way back to 1967 (!!) is KISS AND KILL on the bottom half of the bill which is a Hong Kong remake of the Euro-spy PASSPORT TO HELL: SECRET AGENT 3S3.

Lots of XXX around including a nice big ad for the Krim I and II showing THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES and BEHIND THE BREEN DOOR and SPIKEY'S MAGIC WAND at the 6 Mile and Art I which is hawking stars Harry Reems and Georgina Spelvin from the classics (and perpetually running) THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES and DEEP THROAT.