a Mondo Digital subsite

Looking for the Upcoming Releases List? Here it is!

Cinema Arcana presents The VHS Archives!

Looking for Something Else? Check our Table of Contents!

Swing by and "Like" our Facebook Page for even more news & updates!

Follow our movie reviews at Letterboxd!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kickstart My Heart -- The Lost Films of H.G. Lewis!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pay attention, 'cuz this one's important...

Process Blue is a Connecticut-based restoration house, probably most notable to Cinema Arcana readers for the work they've done cleaning up the Radley Metzger flicks for Distribpix. Sure, they look great, but what's that got to do with you, right? Well, it seems that in their sleuthing, they've managed to uncover negatives to three previously lost sexploitation films by Herschell Gordon Lewis! For better or worse, Linda & Abilene, The Ecstasies of Women and Black Love have all been located!

Rather than try to broker these out, Process Blue have embarked on a Side Project initiative, dedicated to preserving fringe titles and restoring their luster. Their plan is to master this trash trifecta for DVD and Blu-Ray sets. Again, what's that got to do with you, right? Well, for titles with such limited appeal, it's a tricky endeavor. That's why they're asking for help. 

The outfit's started a Kickstarter campaign and been doing pretty well with it. They've set a $10,000 goal, and as of this posting raised 81% of it. But things have slowed. There's only ten days left, and still $2,000 to go. If the goal isn't met, these go back on the shelf -- along with some other titles, major titles, that I'd love to see get treated properly. 

So scrounge up some change if you're able. The rewards program is pretty fair; I would recommend at least going the $50 route -- you get a button set, an exclusive shirt and a copy of the finished collection -- but every penny counts. And share the news on Facebook, on Twitter, on your newsgroups and messageboards, whatever. 

Blaxploitation porn and lesbian westerns, by H.G. fucking Lewis. I've already thrown in my $100. 

Click here to donate at the official Process Blue: Side Projects Kickstarter Campaign. Check them out on Facebook, too!

© 2012 -- Bruce Holecheck. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Dawn of the Grab Bag! Mystery Photos #61-65!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

 #61: SR-31
Spaghetti Cinema's William Connolly is no stranger to Luigi Vanzi's The Stranger Returns (1967), the middle entry in Tony Anthony's popular trilogy. This one finds him trying to take down a gang of stagecoach thieves (literally -- the coach is made of gold!) for a hefty bounty. Though there's an old bootleg double-bill out from Alfa Digital, the best option is the brand new remaster (as Western Jack) courtesy of Germany's Colosseo Film. 

 #62: HAR-119

 #63: WPI-7
Turns out this is a still from Veit Harlan's Magdalena (1958), a German import originally titled Liebe kann wie gift sein (Love Can Be Like Poison). Brought to the U.S. in 1960 and "introducing the Sensual Sabrina," the movie follows the titular bad girl from boarding school goody-goody to drug-addled prostitute. I've never even heard of this prior; has anyone seen it? 

 #64: 57-H9
Big Bad Bill Connolly makes it two this batch by placing Helga Line and Tony Russel in Alberto De Martino's The Secret Seven (1963)! It's Peplum Time as only the Italians do it, this time taking a beat from The Magnificent Seven in this story of rebel slaves trying to overthrow a tyrannical king. Though it gained theatrical play worldwide, it's tough to find nowadays and apparently the only English-language game in town is an old Dutch tape titled Invincible Seven?

#65: 7120-29 © Trans American Films, 1971
Temple of Schlock's Chris Poggiali IDs some Swedish sexploitation with Vernon P. Becker's Dagmar's Hot Pants, Inc. (1971). This Copenhagen call girl romp follows a hooker who's closing up shop for good, ready to settle down for the boring housewife life.  Of course, some other folks have some other plans... Not sure if this was ever released to VHS Stateside, but it has been playing cable lately, so check your listings!

Like what you see? Be sure and check out our previous Grab Bag Photos, some of which are still unidentified.  And don't forget, our Upcoming Releases List (the best on the 'net) is constantly updated, so stop by and pre-order some cool stuff!

© 2012 -- Bruce Holecheck. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

It Won't Stay Dead -- Screenwriter Lon Huber on THE CURSE OF THE SCREAMING DEAD (1982)!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The internet's a funny thing. For years I've been a casual acquaintance of a fellow named Lon Huber, mostly on movie-themed messageboards like the Mobius Home Video Forum and The Eurotrash Paradise Yahoo group. A nice enough guy, he runs the UHF Nocturne website and his contributions to a discussion are always worthwhile reading. However, it wasn't until plowing through some old tapes for my ongoing VHS Archives series that I found my history with Lon goes back even further...


"Ah, Bruce, Bruce, Bruce...

I knew it would come to this, sooner or later.

I confess. I wrote Curse of the Screaming Dead.

Tony "Skip" Malanowski's accounts of it [as remembered in Stephen Thrower's Nightmare USA] pretty much tell the tale, but here are a few details from my perspective.

I grew up in Marin County, California, and Skip was part of the Baltimore horror community. We met in 1974 when I went East for the Famous Monsters Convention, and we stayed in touch through letters, fanzines, and drunk/stoned cassette recordings.

In 1977 I got the urge to travel. Skip flew out to California and we drove cross country to Baltimore together in a Ford Galaxy 500 I'd bought for $600, which lost its transmission just as we were parking it in his parents' yard. I spent '77 - '78 in Baltimore, but had been back in Marin County a couple of years when Skip decided to make a movie.

Skip had just cut his regional indie teeth crewing on Don Dohler's The Alien Factor and Fiend, after which he wanted to have the full auteur experience for himself. Being a jump-in-with-both-feet kinda guy, he decided to learn how to make a feature film by just making a feature film.

That was the whole point for everyone concerned: make a feature film with whatever resources we had. Good or bad, no matter what, it would be a feature film!


Skip was working at a local film lab, which gave him access to roll ends of 16mm stock. Total budget, if memory serves, reached a whopping $7000. (Some of the $7000 may or may not have been for the roll ends, or maybe the processing, I was never clear on that.)

I had written two porn novels for Greenleaf Classics, and I liked zombies. So, naturally, I was at the top of the "A" list of potential screenwriters for the production.

Skip told me what settings he could probably get, what kinds of effects he thought he might be able to do, and the number and genders of the performers he'd rounded up. I thought up characters to fit the cast, and situations to fit the locations and available effects. I knocked it out eight or ten pages at a time, mailing xeroxes to Skip as I went. It was all first draft. No revisions, aside from cuts when my imagination exceeded the effects budget.

At one point Skip thought he'd figured out a way to blow up a car without a permit. That plan was abandoned, but the scene was left in... hence the burning plastic Revell (or Aurora or AMC) model car! That is my favorite scene in the film!

My extended lesbian sex scene was never shot.

I was not present for any of the shooting. I had no sense of how to write for actors, and never heard my dialogue read until I saw the movie on VHS several years later. Also, I had no idea at all how to time or pace a story for narrative film. Which was terrific, because Skip had no idea how to block a shot or shoot for continuity! Also, he was shooting on stray weekends over MONTHS, one or two days at a time, sometimes shooting one actor's dialogue and another actor's response weeks or months apart, sometimes on different film stocks, with different lighting, in a different location, and then hoping he could cut it all together months later into one seamless scene! Ah, the enthusiasm of youth!


Curse of the Screaming Dead was like the films most kids made in their backyards on two rolls of Super 8 when they were 13, but we were absent from self-taught film class that decade, and so made ours when we were 25 on feature length amounts of scrounged 16mm film.

Curse of the Screaming Dead would never have been seen by anyone but we makers and our friends, but for the fact that little home video companies were springing up all over who would buy anything with a marketable title that could be transferred to VHS. The Alien Factor had actually turned a tidy if not monumental profit with video, TV, and foreign rights sales. I'm pretty sure Skip used the Dohler example when he pitched Screaming Dead to various startup VHS outfits.

Skip and the rest of the crew had been burned by Don Dohler on points for The Alien Factor - it actually went to court. Skip was therefore incredibly meticulous about the budget. Honestly, whatever else can be said about Curse of the Screaming Dead, every last nickel was accounted for. It may have been the most honest and above-board feature film accounting in film history. There was simply no creative accounting. The end result was that when Mogul bought Screaming Dead, not only was the entire $7000 returned to the friends-and-family investors, but there was a miniscule but real profit for everyone. I got $400 out of the deal, which is exactly what Greenleaf Classics was paying at the time for a 30,000 word strokebook.

I have a Mogul VHS of the film, and a color tear sheet which was probably a handout at whatever film market event Mogul hawked it at. (A cat I used to have chewed on the tear sheet, so it's somewhat mangled.) I also have a binder somewhere with my original manuscript of the screenplay, pounded out on a manual typewriter which has long since become landfill.

Now, something I've never seen Skip mention online is that we planned a followup. In a cardboard box in my hall closet resides a finished screenplay entitled Zombies for Dollars which I wrote in 1981 while Skip was editing Curse of the Screaming Dead and shopping it around to video companies.  Zombies for Dollars was a comedy in which a post-Dawn of the Dead America addresses its zombie problem with a Death Race 2000-style zombie hunting game show in which the entire city of Baltimore is the playing field. In my mind it was SCTV's production of Last Man on Earth. We had visions of shooting guerilla-style in downtown Baltimore on Sunday afternoons.

The screenplay to Zombies for Dollars is a full 5% better than Curse of the Screaming Dead. If we had made it, it almost certainly would have ended up on video, and we would almost certainly have made another, and my writing and Skip's directing may have improved bit by bit and who knows...?

Zombies for Dollars never happened. Skip moved to L.A. to work for Dave DeCoteau and Fred Olen Ray. He's still an editor and producing value added content for DVDs, and doing really well last time we spoke. I freelance doing IT for small businesses who use Macintosh computers. Neither of us expected Curse of the Screaming Dead to do anything more than rot on video store shelves, but it won't stay dead!"

****************
Thanks a million, Lon!  For more on Curse of the Screaming Dead, be sure to check out our VHS Archives entry, complete with memories from actor / make-up artist / 2nd-unit director Mark Redfield, the trailer, various video scans, and additional photos I couldn't fit on this page!  Extra special thanks to Chris MacGibbon of Creep Show Radio for providing all the behind-the-scenes photos.


© 2012 -- Lon Huber / Bruce Holecheck. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The VHS Archives: Gianni Manera's FEAR IN THE CITY (1981)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

FEAR IN THE CITY
Gianni Manera's Il cappotto di legno (1981)

The VHS Archives Factsheet
Label: Mogul Communications, Inc.
Catalog: MOG1022
Box Type: Clamshell
Year of Release: 1987
Runtime: 101:57
Print: 1.33:1 / English / No subs
Extras: None

About the Film
Director: Gianni Manera
Year of Release: 1981
Country of Origin: Italy
Stars: Michel Constantin, Gianni Manera, Joseph Logan, Fred Williamson, Raffaele Di Mario
AKAs: Wooden Coat, The Wooden Overcoat

Verbatim Box Synopsis
New York is held in the tight grip of a new wave of terror and violence. Rival gangs are on the warpath and gangsters murder each other in broad daylight while the law turns a blind eye.

Don Talascio, a powerful Mafia godfather, is old and tired and wants to retire; before he can leave the other family bosses ask him to eliminate John Dickinson (Fred Williamson), a powerful Black Mafia leader who is building up too much power on the streets of New York.

... Explosive action-filled ... violent and loaded with suspense.

U.S. Mogul Communications sleeve! 

 German Arrow Video sleeve!

Greek NK Video sleeve!

Looking for Fear in the City 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!

© 2012 -- Bruce Holecheck. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Have Grab Bag, Will Travel! Mystery Photos #56-60!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

 #56: CTC-10
Thanks to Temple of Schlock's Chris Poggiali for identifying Will Zens' Capture that Capsule! (1961), a cheapo piece of crackpot Cold War propaganda detailing the efforts of the Russkies to retrieve a fallen satellite nose-cone that contains, um... important information. However, the whole thing's a sham, as our homeland Spy Squad (the flick's aka) have dropped a decoy in a ploy to flush the Commies out! Good thinkin', boys. As expected, Something Weird Video are the source for this one, as part of their Johnny Legend's Untamed Video series. (See also: #67.)

 #57: 6666-12

 #58: ST-19
Another score by Chris Poggiali! It's tent revival time for Joseph P. Mawra's (Prieto's?) Shanty Tramp (1967), a sweaty and sleazy slice of '60s Florida sexploitation. Titular tramp Emily has no issues with rollin' around for a few bucks, be it with preacher, biker, or even her old man, but when Pops catches her having some private time with a black dude, good ol' fashioned American racism rears its head. Something Weird Video are probably the best source, though the cheapest and easiest way to check it out is Alpha's DVD double-bill with Larry Buchanan's Common Law Wife (1963).

 #59: 6702-6 © 1976 American International Television, Inc.
Hat trick! The Po-Man's on a roll! This photo belongs to Stephanie Rothman's feature-length debut, It's a Bikini World (1967). A late attempt to cash in on AIP's Beach Party series, this one focuses on self-centered womanizer Tommy Kirk whose determination to hook up with local feminist Deborah Walley compels a not-particularly-clever ruse: he pretends he's his own, imaginary nerdy brother. Of course, this can only last so long, and before you know it it's a full blown Battle of the Sexes. Particularly notable for its showcase of music acts like The Animals, The Toys, The Castaways, etc. along with its supporting cast like Bobby "Boris" Pickett and Sid Haig, Bikini has inexplicably remained MIA on home video, though a nice print has luckily turned up on cable and Netflix streaming.   

#60: 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 Challenge #24 is still open; I've since added a few worthless hints for frustration's sake. (Challenges #27 & #28 have been solved, but real life keeps interfering with real blog updates! Damn the Man!)

And don't forget, our Upcoming Releases List (the best on the 'net) is constantly updated, so stop by and pre-order some cool stuff!

© 2012 -- Bruce Holecheck. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The VHS Archives: Alfonso Brescia's CAPTIVE PLANET (1979)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

CAPTIVE PLANET
Alfonso Brescia's Sette uomini d'oro nello spazio (1979)

The VHS Archives Factsheet
Label: Mogul Communications, Inc.
Catalog: MOG1002
Box Type: Clamshell
Year of Release: ?
Runtime: 99:05
Print: 1.33:1 / English / No subs
Extras: None

About the Film
Director: Alfonso Brescia
Year of Release: 1979
Country of Origin: Italy
Stars: Gianni Garko, Malisa Longo, Yanti Somer, Chris Avram
AKAs: Star Odyssey, Metallica, Seven Golden Spacemen

Verbatim Box Synopsis
The World is at war with Aldebrand, a plent in the Astes Galaxy. Kess with his gigantic spaceship proceeds towards Earth. Thanks to the special metal from which the ship is made he breaks through Earth's safety shield. The special metal (Indrium) must be neutralised to end this nightmare of terror.
A spectacular large-scale battle between the star fighters of Earth and the spaceships of Aldebrand commanded by the sadistic Kess follows.
Can the Earthlings survive this massive alien onslaught and send the invaders home?

 U.S Mogul Communications sleeve!

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

 For more info on this release, check out our Metallica listing!

 Japanese Funai sleeve, courtesy of Japanese VHS Hell!

Danish Dana Sound Video sleeve, courtesy of Hans-Jorn Reimer and his Danish Ex-Rental VHS Appreciation Group

Danish Silwa Video sleeve, again courtesy of Hans-Jorn Reimer and the DEVAG!

 French VF sleeve, courtesy of Nanarland!

 French CK Video sleeve, also courtesy of Nanarland!

 German Geiselgasteig Video sleeve!

Mogul's VHS art can actually be traced back to the 1983 release of their Commodore 64 videogame, Super Trek. Most of their games were rip-offs of popular arcade hits, but this one appears to ape a text-based Star Trek game. Alterations look to include changing Lt. Uhura to Nubian... 


Some favorite moments, compiled by "Vonyco"! Of special note are the depressed, suicidal robots. They seriously steal the show any time they're on screen! It's eventually revealed that they want to die because they don't have the proper parts needed to "go all the way" and prove their love to each other! Amazing...

Looking for Captive Planet on VHS? It's available on Amazon here. You can also find a budget DVD double-bill from Alpha, paired with Terry Marcel's Prisoners of the Lost Universe (1983).

Investigate more titles with Project: MOGUL!

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

© 2012 -- Bruce Holecheck. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The VHS Archives: Raphael Nussbaum's PETS (1974)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

PETS
Raphael Nussbaum's Pets (1974)


The VHS Archives Factsheet
Label: Imperial Video Corp.
Catalog: IVC102
Box Type: Clamshell
Year of Release: 1983
Runtime: 101:23
Print: 1.33:1 / English / No subs
Extras: None

About the Film
Director: Raphael Nussbaum
Year of Release: 1974
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Stars: Ed Bishop, Candice Rialson, Joan Blackman, Teri Guzman
AKAs: Submission, Animal Woman

Verbatim Box Synopsis
Pets is the story of three women, one weak and yielding; the second, black and hostile; the third, strong and unbending ... and a man, charismatic, yet frightening. What sinister attraction does the eccentric Vincent have for these women? Why are his girlfriends never seen again?

Once a visitor gets trapped in his castle, she soon learns the secret of his "zoo." Vincent keeps his women in cages to tame them and do his evil bidding.

 U.S. Imperial Video Corp. sleeve!

U.S. BRB Home Video slipcover, courtesy of
Massacre Video's Louis Justin!

German USA Video sleeve!

Danish Panorama / Irish sleeve, courtesy of Hans-Jorn Reimer
and his Danish Ex-Rental VHS Appreciation Group!

U.S. promotional still from the Arcana Archives!

Looking for Pets on VHS? It's available on Amazon here. Code Red also issued it on DVD, but it's out of print and getting a little pricey.

Investigate more titles with Project: IVC!

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

© 2012 -- Bruce Holecheck. All Rights Reserved.