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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Xmas from Cinema Arcana!

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Apologies for the lack of fresh content lately--I have a half-dozen articles sitting around in various states of completion, not to mention updates on my VHS Archives and Name that Movie Monday series--but the day-job has been kickin' my butt lately, and I've been finding it hard to muster up the energy by the time I make it home. Still, I appreciate everyone stopping by; I've at least been managing regular updates to the Upcoming Releases List! I hope you and yours all have an excellent holiday season. Fingers crossed for a saner 2012!

© 2011 -- Bruce Holecheck. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 10, 2011

It's Name that Movie Monday! Challenge #28!

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Welcome back to Name that Movie Monday!

It's time for Challenge #28 here at the ol' Arcana! Can you identify this week's mystery photo, scanned direct from The Holecheck Archives? If you think you recognize it, post a comment below. As the week goes on, if no one guesses correctly I'll begin adding some pretty useless hints. Easy, right?

Here ya' go -- good luck!


Solved! Update coming soon!

For a look at the still unsolved Challenge #27, click hereDitto for Challenge #24!  We also have quite a few unidentified Grab Bag photos, if you really want to show your stuff. And don't forget, our Upcoming Releases List (the best on the 'net) is updated, um... not as often as it should be the last few weeks, but stop by and preorder some cool stuff anyway!

© 2011 -- Bruce Holecheck. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Return of Grab Bag! Mystery Photos #26-30!

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Welcome back to the ol' Arcana for another round of Grab Bag Goodies!

As outlined in previous installments, I purchased a few hundred promotional stills that have had their title captions trimmed off. Some I recognize, most I don't. It's up to my faithful readership to help me decipher what they're promoting. Hell, solve enough of 'em and maybe I'll send you some of the duplicates I received!

For those not familiar with promo stills, they occasionally carry a helpful hint or two. Some are branded with a cataloging code of letters and numbers which usually signify an abbreviation of the title (sometimes a retitling) and, if you're especially lucky, maybe the year of release (not to be confused with year of production). And that's pretty much all we have to go on...

The sixth batch is below; let's see what you've got!

#26: FSW-9
Thanks to Eric Hoffman for figuring out which Mexploitation monstrosity this photo is from!  According to him, "#26-FSW-9 looks like a shot from the first of the 'Aztec Mummy' films, Rafael Portillo's La momia azteca (1957) with the film's heroine Rosa Arenas on the slab about to be sacrificed by the mummy." The entire trilogy was released to DVD by BCI Eclipse, and even though the set is currently out of print, copies can be found on Amazon pretty cheaply.

#27: OK-3

#28: TDOF-52

#29: ZEX-35
The Hoff-man scores another!  Thanks, Eric!  "#29-ZEX-35, is from what got released here as The Electronic Monster (1958). Its original title in England was Escapement and was based on a novel by Charles Eric Maine. Before its final release, the film was going to be distributed over here as Zex, The Electronic Fiend or Zex, The Electronic Monster by Columbia. Hence the ZEX in the still number."  Directed by Montgomery Tully and David Paltenghi, there's no DVD to my knowledge, but the old VHS from VCI can be found on Amazon.

#30: No Markings!

Like what you see? Be sure and check out our previous Grab Bag Photos, some of which are still unidentified. Speaking of which, Name that Movie Monday Challenges #27 and #24 are still open; I've since added a few worthless hints for frustration's sake.

And don't forget, our Upcoming Releases List (the best on the 'net) is updated, um... not as often as it should be lately (damn you, Amazon vs. CA!), but stop by and pre-order some cool stuff anyway!

© 2011 -- Bruce Holecheck. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The VHS Archives: Massimo Pirri's FATAL FIX (1980)

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FATAL FIX
Massimo Pirri's Eroina (1980)

The VHS Archives Factsheet
Label: Mogul Communications, Inc.
Catalog: MOG1015
Box Type: Clamshell
Year of Release: ?
Runtime: 91:22
Print: 1.33:1 / English / No subs
Extras: None

About the Film
Director: Massimo Pirri
Year of Release: 1980
Country of Origin: Italy
Stars: Helmut Berger, Corinne Clery, Karl Zinny, Roberto Caporali, Franco Citti
AKAs: The Tunnel, Heroin

Verbatim Box Synopsis
A hard hitting shocking story of today, a story which could have happened to anybody anywhere.  A shocking, sensational expose of heroin-addiction in the inner city.  A story of lost people and their struggle for survival in the twilight world of drug-abuse.

U.S. Mogul Communications sleeve!

 Italian VideoService Europa sleeve!

French DEC sleeve!

Danish Video Media sleeve, courtesy of Nucleus Films' Marc Morris!

Dutch Empire Video sleeve, courtesy of Chris Catastrophy!

Looking for Fatal Fix on VHS? It's available on Amazon here.

Investigate more titles with Project: MOGUL!

For a look at other labels, check out The VHS Archives!

© 2011 -- Bruce Holecheck. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, September 19, 2011

It's Name that Movie Monday! Challenge #27!

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Welcome back to Name that Movie Monday!

It's time for Challenge #27 here at the ol' Arcana! Can you identify this week's mystery photo, scanned direct from The Holecheck Archives? If you think you recognize it, post a comment below. As the week goes on, if no one guesses correctly I'll begin adding some pretty useless hints. Easy, right?

Here ya' go -- good luck!


Solved! Update coming soon!

For a look at our last Challenge, click here. While you're at it, Challenge #24 is still unsolved, so click here to try your luck! We also have quite a few unidentified Grab Bag photos, if you really want to show your stuff. And don't forget, our Upcoming Releases List (the best on the 'net) is constantly updated, so stop by and preorder some cool stuff!

© 2011 -- Bruce Holecheck. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The VHS Archives: Bruce Le & Joseph Velasco's THE NINJA STRIKES BACK (1982)

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THE NINJA STRIKES BACKS
Bruce Le & Joseph Velasco's Xiong zhong (1982)

The VHS Archives Factsheet
Label: All American Video
Catalog: AAV103
Box Type: Clamshell
Year of Release: ?
Runtime: 83:55
Print: 1.33:1 / English / No subs
Extras: None

About the Film
Director: Bruce Le, Joseph Velasco
Year of Release: 1982
Country of Origin: France / Hong Kong
Stars: Bruce Le, Jang Lee Hwang, Harold Sakata, Bolo Yeung, Andre Koob, Dick Randall, Jean-Marie Pallardy
AKAs: Eye of the Dragon, Bruce Lee Fights Back

Verbatim Box Synopsis
Ninja... a name that conjures up dread, loathing and gut wrenching fear in all who have ever had the misfortune to cross their path.  With death defying feats, a total disregard for everything human and their own very special brand of vengeance, Ninjas are a force to be reckoned with.  Ninjas deal in DEATH, in any shape or form, be it slow torturous death, letting their victims scream themselves into a state of oblivion, or death can come like a streak of lightning... so fast that the victim's head goes on talking for seconds after being severed by the flashing blade.  So, when the two greatest masters in the art of sudden death collide in combat, it becomes two death-dealing human fighting machines in the battle of the century.

U.S All American Video sleeve! 

Dutch World Home / Centre Video Int. sleeve, originally scanned by "Harm"!

German UFA Video sleeve! 

Italian Avo Film sleeve! 

French Proserpine sleeve, taken from Nanarland

Alternate French Proserpine sleeve, also taken from Nanarland! 

Yet another alternate French Proserpine sleeve! 

French TeleK7 sleeve, originally scanned by "Airbeez"!  This was one popular movie in France!

Bonus ninja fight clip, uploaded by ChanWeiMan1828!

Looking for The Ninja Strikes Back on VHS? It's available on Amazon here. However, a better option is Media Blasters' anamorphic DVD, released in their RareFlix, Vol. 3 box set!

Investigate more titles with Project: MOGUL!

For a look at other labels, check out The VHS Archives!

© 2011 -- Bruce Holecheck. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The VHS Archives: German Lorente's INSANITY! (1976)

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INSANITY!
German Lorente's Striptease (1976)

The VHS Archives Factsheet
Label: Mogul Communications, Inc.
Catalog: MOG1004
Box Type: Clamshell
Year of Release: ?
Runtime: 107:33
Print: 1.55:1 / English / No subs
Extras: None

About the Film
Director: Germain Lorente
Year of Release: 1976
Country of Origin: Spain
Stars: Terence Stamp, Corinne Clery, Pilar Velazquez, Fernando Rey, Veronica Miriel, George Rigaud
AKAs: Striptease

Verbatim Box Synopsis
Film director Alain (TERENCE STAMP) having tasted huge success with his first film is tortured by the pressures of a follow up.  He is fascinated by the beauty of Anna (CORINNE CLEARY), and her life story gives him inspiration for a new film.  His attraction for her turns to love, and from love to obsession -- an obsession that can only end in tragedy.

U.S. Mogul Communications sleeve!

U.S. Mogul Communications sales sheet, courtesy of Bill Knight! Check out his rare VHS auctions!

U.K. VTC sleeve, courtesy of Nucleus Films' Marc Morris!

Looking for Insanity! on VHS? It's available on Amazon here.

Investigate more titles with Project: MOGUL!

For a look at other labels, check out The VHS Archives!





© 2011 -- Bruce Holecheck. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cannibalism Hinted! The Americanization of Rene Cardona's SURVIVE! (1975)

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In 1972 a plane full of passengers, including a college rugby team from Uruguay, crashes into the snowy mountains of the Andes. Many passengers are dead, others are bloody and wounded. One player steps out onto the soft snow and sinks into oblivion. Another guy’s guts are spilling out, so med student Raul (Pablo Ferrel) pushes them back in. The survivors line up the many dead bodies in the snow. They frequently pray the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary,” and make the “sign of the cross.” There’s very little food. They burn their cash for warmth. The injured moan constantly and keep the others awake. After a few weeks, Raul says, "We each must decide if we live or die.  The bodies in the snow can provide us with enough protein for a month."  Another player: "We must do what we must do."  Raul goes out to the bodies and tearfully slices off some fatty flesh from a dead guy. The survivors say the Rosary and line up to eat the gooey strips. One guy gags. Some gobble it. A guy forces it down his reluctant wife’s throat. One player refuses. ("I'd rather die!") Morale and strength pick up until an avalanche floods the plane and kills more people. The married guy makes the others promise that they won’t eat his now-dead wife. Some guy’s leg is black and infected so he slices into it with a razor and drains grey pus. Finally, the coach (Tintorera's Hugo Stiglitz) and two of the players stuff bags with shredded flesh and set out with makeshift goggles and boots to find help.


During Christmastime of 1975, the ambitious marketing genius Allan Carr was in Mexico promoting the movie Tommy for film producer/rock mogul Robert Stigwood. At a theater next to Carr’s hotel was a long line of people waiting to see something called Supervivientes de los Andes. Carr didn’t speak Spanish, but he was able to figure out that the crowd was buying tickets for a movie about a notorious 1972 plane crash that resulted in the snowbound survivors being forced to eat their dead fellow passengers.

Supervivientes de los Andes was a then-new epic directed by the tireless, 69-year-old Mexican exploitation legend Rene Cardona -- creator of bizarre worldwide hits like Santa Claus, Night of the Bloody Apes, and the “Santo” masked-wrestler movies. Rene Cardona, Jr. had produced the picture (entirely indoors) at the Churubusco studio in South America in early 1975. Second-unit long shots were filmed in the Colorado mountains. Despite the cheap production values and the laughably-fake snow, Supervivientes de los Andes turned out to be an efficient programmer with grisly images of spilling intestines, pus-oozing legs, and gooey human flesh getting sliced and gobbled.  (A shaved pig was used for some scenes.)

Carr watched the film and thought it was terrible but he felt that a dubbed version would work in America. He convinced Stigwood to put up $500,000 to license worldwide, non-Spanish rights. Stigwood invested another $350,000 in Carr’s post-production. An English adaptation was written by acclaimed playwright Martin Sherman (Bent). Marshall M. Borden cut the new version. Many scenes (mostly those involving a search party) were dropped, others were tightened. The entire soundtrack was recreated from scratch. Veteran TV character actor Rudy Solari directed the new voices. Carr liked that the actors often had scarves over their mouths, which made the lip-syncing easier. Monotone narration was added. The sparse original score by Raul Lavista was replaced with one by Gerald Fried and recorded with a 50-piece orchestra. Footage from Disney’s In Search of the Castaways was licensed to enhance the lame avalanche sequence. Optical “haze” and “fog” were superimposed over the studio-shot sequences in an attempt to make the snow look more believable. Montages of black & white stills were placed at the film’s beginning and end. The new version ran 90 minutes. (The original was 112.) To mask the film’s pedigree, most of the Mexican cast and crew members’ names were buried at the end of the new closing crawl. (Only five of the over two-dozen actors were billed in this version.)

Stigwood saw the final result, now called Survive!, and hated it but he shared Carr’s box office enthusiasm until the film was turned down by every studio and distributor except American-International Pictures, who offered a weak deal. Executives from Paramount Pictures were the last to look at the film. They thought it was an embarrassment but they were desperate for something for their August 1976 slot. They offered Stigwood forty-percent of the profits and agreed to spend $850,000 on prints and ads.

Carr personally supervised the aggressive, in-your-face marketing campaign. Stigwood and Carr took a prominent “presentation” billing on the credits and ads. Some flesh-slicing and pus-draining was trimmed for an R rating. The lobby cards and promo stills included shots of the survivors drying the meat and eating it. The trailer ended with a freeze-frame of a knife cutting into flesh. All print and TV ads ended with: “CAUTION: The re-creation of the 1972 Andes plane crash and THE SURVIVAL SCENES may be too intense for young teenagers.Carr told the press: It’s the ultimate disaster picture. I hate to make a pun but the cannibalism is tastefully handled, almost as though it were a Catholic ritual…The audience for Survive! is the boys who want to have the girls grab them because they‘re so revolted by it all…The only thing that most people know about Mexican movies is Bunuel and Tijuana porno. This is something in between.

Paramount opened Survive! on August 4 in 26 theaters. (The studio had originally planned to open Drum on that date until they dropped that Mandingo sequel.) Variety:To say that Survive! is a disaster movie is not to categorize it but to describe it.Roger Ebert: “Survive! is a fairly awful movie, but the essential heroism of its subject matter somehow emerges intact. That makes it a difficult movie to review you can’t just dismiss it with cheap shots, you have to deal with the fact that it does have an emotional impact. It’s not a good movie or even a very professional one, but it does respect its subject matter and so we have to also.Frank Rich, New York Post:a patently false snuff film that simulated the disembowelment of a woman for the audience’s erotic pleasure…The experience of sitting through it is so degrading it makes you want to rush home and take a shower.” (Carr sent roses to Rich after reading that review.)


Survive! grossed $250,000 the first week and was #13 on Variety’s chart. By the end of the month, it had grossed $3.5 million and was #2 on the chart. Paramount ultimately had 400 prints in circulation and the film was #1 for one week in September and in the top 10 throughout that month.

United Artists wasn’t happy about the attention that Survive! was getting. Carr: “They’re very upset with me, they’re real mad.” In 1974 UA had paid a hefty sum for the rights to the bestseller Alive, which told the same story (with the participation of the survivors), and had planned a big-budget movie. William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) wrote a treatment and fellow Oscar-winner John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy) was attached to direct, but the studio put their version on hold. (Paramount later teamed with Disney to finally make an Alive movie in 1993.)

Stigwood alone invested the entire capital needed to license and revamp Survive! but Carr was his 50% partner for discovering the movie and for supervising the re-editing and promotion. Carr’s final cut came to over $1 million. He used part of his new-found cash to purchase the movie rights to Grease and used his new-found clout with Paramount to set that musical up at the studio.

Although it was a major studio summer hit, Survive! almost immediately sank into obscurity. Today, it’s a mostly forgotten curio and probably not fondly remembered by most who were duped into seeing it in the summer of ‘76.

The ABC network broadcast a heavily-censored version in primetime in 1977. Thorn-EMI released the uncut Survive! on North American home video in 1982 and those tapes are now extremely scarce. Urban Vision released the uncut, original, Spanish-language Supervivientes de los Andes on region 1 DVD in 2003. Carr and Stigwood’s license on Survive! expired in 1996 and worldwide rights reverted back to the Cardona family. Paramount still has the elements for the American version in its vault. On October 11, 2011, VCI Entertainment will be releasing a DVD containing both the original Mexican version and the Allan Carr cut.


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© 2011 -- Paul Talbot / Bruce Holecheck. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The VHS Archives: Jose Maria Elorrieta's FEAST FOR THE DEVIL (1971)

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FEAST FOR THE DEVIL
Jose Maria Elorrieta's Las amantes del diablo (1971)

The VHS Archives Factsheet
Label: Mogul Communications, Inc.
Catalog: MOG1032
Box Type: Clamshell
Year of Release: 1987
Runtime: 88:47
Print: 1.33:1 / English / No subs
Extras: None

About the Film
Director: Jose Maria Elorrieta
Year of Release: 1971
Country of Origin: Spain / Italy
Stars: Krista Nell, Teresa Gimpera, Espartaco Santoni, Veronica Lujan, Ennio Girolami, Julio Pena, Carla Conti
AKAs: Feast of Satan, The Devil's Lovers

Verbatim Box Synopsis
A terrifying story of black magic, sorcery, devil worship, and the practise of evil satanic rites in a small coastal fishing village.

Maria, a nurse goes missing while on vacation and her sister Hilda sets out to unravel the strange mystery of her disappearance.

Hilda meets a strange character called Dr Nescu and falls in love -- Nescu always surrounds himself with beautiful young women and they all appear to be under the influence of a spell -- a strange and eerie cult force.

What evil lurks behind the huge castle gates?  -- the home of strange Dr Nescu ... A movie that will shock you as it races to its deathly, demonic climax.

 U.S. Mogul Communications sleeve!

U.S. Mogul Communications sales sheet, courtesy of Bill Knight! Check out his rare VHS auctions!

Greek Video Cronos sleeve, originally scanned by "Cinehound"!  Be sure to visit his Cinehound Forums

 Italian Cinevideo Sleeve!

Argentinean Condor Video Home slipcover, courtesy of Marito Almada!

Never ones to let good art go to waste, Mogul used the same design for their 1987 U.K. release of Lamberto Bava's Macabre (1980). Thanks to Diary of a Genre Addict's Andrew Hawnt for the scan!

Investigate more titles with Project: MOGUL!

For a look at other labels, check out The VHS Archives!

© 2011 -- Bruce Holecheck. All Rights Reserved.