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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Farewell, Mighty Monarch: David F. Friedman (1923 - 2011)


The Mighty Monarch of Exploitation has made his way to that great carnival in the sky, and there will never be another like him.

"Let me tell you something.  I have written pictures, I have produced pictures, I've even acted in pictures.  I've owned and operated theaters.  I've written books.  Do you know what the greatest thrill in the world for me was?  To stand in front of a theater and watch those people come in and put their money down."  -- David F. Friedman

There are a handful of people around in the b-movie world that you feel smarter coming out of a conversation with than you were going in.  Sam Sherman.  Fred Olen Ray.  And especially Dave Friedman.  I only met Dave a couple of times over the years, and never on a truly personal level, but he was always more than willing to answer whatever questions you wanted to ask; his memory was borderline uncanny and his wonderful stories of times gone by were never less than enthralling.

As they should be.  His accomplishments in the exploitation film industry were numerous, almost too many for just one being.  The titles themselves are the stuff of legend:  Blood FeastIlsa, She-Wolf of the SSA Smell of Honey, a Swallow of BrineGoldilocks and the Three BaresThe Erotic Adventures of ZorroShe FreakThe Brick DollhouseThe Adult Version of Jekyll and HideThe Acid EatersScum of the Earth.

Thankfully, he was around long enough to preserve his legacy in a number of ways.  His autobiography, A Youth in Babylon: Confessions of a Trash-Film King, belongs on everyone's bookshelf.  Something Weird Video tapped him for audio commentaries on everything from his groundbreakingly gore-soaked Blood Trilogy to the anti-pot scare-film classic Marihuana to the birth-of-a-baby roadshow jaw-dropper Street Corner.  It's damn near impossible to find a documentary about exploitation film history that didn't have Friedman involved in some way; my highest recommendations go to Ted Bonnitt's excellent Mau Mau Sex Sex and Jimmy Maslon and Frank Henenlotter's upcoming Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore.  The latter's same team are now working on a follow-up dedicated to the man himself, currently titled David F. Friedman's That's Sexploitation

I can hardly wait.

For affectionate tributes from those who knew him well, be sure and read Mike Vraney's eulogy at Something Weird's website and H.G. Lewis' loving memories over at Fangoria.

© 2011 -- Bruce Holecheck. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Son of Grab Bag! Mystery Photos #6-10!


Welcome back to the ol' Arcana for another round of Grab Bag Goodies!
As outlined in our first installment, I recently 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 second batch is below; let's see what you've got!

#6: 6438-1 
Thanks to William Connolly for identifying Ib Melchior's appropriately-named sci-fi romp, The Time Travelers (1964)!  I've never seen it, but it allegedly contains the world's first Forry Ackerman cameo.  Not on DVD to my knowledge, but the original Thorn/EMI VHS tape can be had for a price.

#7: C-6
Thanks to Neil Vokes for identifying Riccardo Freda's blobtastic classic Caltiki the Immortal Monster (1959). Credited with launching the directorial career of Mario Bava (who reportedly helmed much of the picture), it remains inexplicably unavailable on legit DVD Stateside.  There was a really nice edition issued overseas by the Italian arm of NoShame, but it's currently out of print and goes for a pretty penny.

#8: 6408-3
A big thanks to the Waldmeister for finally freeing the Women of Devil's Island (1962)! An Italian import directed by Domenico Paolella originally titled Le prigioniere dell'isola del diavolo (The Prisoners of Devil's Island), the film follows a group of sexy, sassy female prisoners (including French beauty Michele Mercier) on their way to the titular penal colony. Once there, they're exploited and abused; trading favors with the guards becomes a way of life. American star Guy Madison shows up as the new "warden" and tries to change things for the better -- but is he really just interested in the gold rumored to be hidden there? Without surprise, Something Weird Video issued it on VHS as part of their Historical Hellraisers series. A cheapo DVD from Synergy is also available. 

#9: No markings! 

#10: BAB-13
Like what you see?  Be sure and check out Grab Bag Photos 1-5, some of which are still unidentified.  Speaking of which, Name that Movie Monday Challenge #20 is 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 constantly updated, so stop by and preorder some cool stuff!  That's all for now, see ya' soon with our next In Search Of profile and the Mondo Digital Top Ten of '10 write-up!
© 2011 -- Bruce Holecheck. All Rights Reserved.