The queen of sexual torture takes her talents to the Middle East.
Today is the day we finally complete the trifecta of Ilsa movies with Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks, for which you see two Japanese posters above. The movie premiered in the U.S. in March 1976, and opened in Japan today that same year. The Japanese titles of Western movies are sometimes like lists of ingredients. The translation of アラブ女地獄 悪魔のハーレム is “Arab hell devil harem.” Even with that clear warning, Japanese audiences—who aren't fazed by much—must have said, “These Yank filmmakers are fucking crazy.” Which is to say that the Ilsa trilogy is among the most irredeemable sexploitation cinema ever produced, the type of stuff that will never, ever be made again, at least not in the U.S., where every instance of cinematic nudity is a political event. Generally, we decry that, but only when it keeps realistic and healthy sexual interactions from being shown onscreen. Harem Keeper is not healthy. Not on any level.
But we digress. This was the second installment of the Ilsa trio, and all starred Dyanne Thorne. She reprises her role as the cruel dominatrix Ilsa, and this time she's in charge of a sheik's harem. She rules this desert roost with utter cruelty, indulging in random acts of corporal punishment, and assisting her boss as he derives both income and pleasure from auctioning kidnapped women to wealthy pervs. Ilsa and the sheik discover that their little set-up has been infiltrated when they catch a spy sent by the granite-jawed Max Thayer, who later himself arrives on the scene and is quickly a prized guest in Ilsa's bed. We could get into the major subplot involving war with a rival sheik, but suffice it to say that the entire plot is just an excuse to string together set pieces featuring vile faux-violence and silly faux-sex. How low does the movie sink? At one point Ilsa uses her incomparable creativity to implant a harem girl with an explosive diaphragm that will detonate during intercourse. It's no electrified dildo (see installment one), but it's close. Yes, Ilsa is cruel as hell, but it's nothing excellent sex won't cure. That's right up Thayer the Layer's alley. He works his way to Ilsa's creamy center, at which point she decides to switch allegiances and betray her sheik. Will she get away with this outrage? Well, we've already mentioned there were three Ilsa movies and this was the second, so theoretically, she gets away with it. On the other hand, she died at the end of the first movie, so you never know. Regardless, without putting too fine a point on it, this is a terrible movie. But the participation of porn actress Colleen Brennan, nudie model Uschi Digard, and blaxploitation beauties Tanya Boyd and Marilyn Joi as Ilsa's usually-topless enforcers, make this worth a guilty watch. Just don't let anyone know you did it, or you might lose your job, your friends, your family, and even your cat—and cats generally don't give a fuck. But that's how bad this flick is. We have a ton of promo images below. Some came from an interesting French-Canadian website called Cinepix. You can check it out here.
Digard and friend discover they're a wrestling match.
This curious photo shows Swedish softcore actress Uschi Digard (sometimes referred to as Uschi DIgart) and American porn actress Candy Samples posing for a photo with a wrestling theme, which was a strange little niche of the nudie market. In fact, it was a niche of the Super 8 home movie market too, which is why you can find loops of these staged clashes for sale even today. We don't particularly dig wresting pix or movies, but to each their own, right? Another niche Digard and Samples filled was the titanic boob market, as both were famous for their endowments. Digard became a star in sexploitation movies, working with directors such as Ed Wood and Russ Meyer. You don't have to pay auction prices for vintage loops of these two squirming and wrasslin' with each other. If you look you can find some online, uploaded to YouTube et al. We have seven more shots from this session below. These date from 1971.
Edit: we got an email from our friend Herman: "Sorry, but I've got to call an audible on this one. Uschi, yes, Candy, no! I don't know who she is but she is not Candy Samples. I've looked and don't find her with any of Russ Meyer's groupies. Uschi & Candy were among his favorites to hang with Kitten Natividad, his companion during the 80s and early 90s."
Thanks for writing in, H. As you probably already know, we call these mistakes, when they happen, internet replication errors, and you can't spell irritated without i-r-e. Basically, how IREs work is one website gets something wrong, so everyone else does too because nobody bothers to confirm the info. If enough sites repeat the mistake, error literally becomes fact. We've caught numerous IREs and thus avoided adding to the chain of incorrect info, but sometimes one slips through. Now we think this blonde wrestler could be Kyra Dyba Young, and she's about as obscure as it gets. But we can't say 100% it's her. For now, wrestler 2 goes in the unidentified bin.
Sex Stars System uncovers erotic cinema around the world.
Here's a little treat for Monday, because Mondays are universally acknowledged to suck. Above is the cover and below are a ton of scans from the cutting edge cinema magazine Sex Stars System, which billed itself as “Le Magazine du Cinema Erotique.” It was published out of 55 Passage Jouffroy, in Paris, France, and for a while it was the top magazine with reviews and features on the new, sexually liberated mainstream cinema of the early 1970s, and the new pornography of the same era. Because porn was taken seriously as an art form back then (hard to imagine, we know) certain magazines discussed and critiqued the films and regarded the performers as equal with those in mainstream cinema. We talked about this phenomenon with Cine-Revue a few years ago. Sex Stars System was similar, but much edgier, as you'll see.
On the cover and in the centerfold you see Croatian born star Sylva Koscina (a mainstream actress), and elsewhere you get Emmanuelle Parèze (porn), Dany Carrel (mainstream), Valérie Bosigel (mainstream), Karin Schubert (both), Catherine Spaak (mainstream), Ornella Muti (mainstream), Chesty Morgan (porn, obviously), Marilyn Monroe (mainstream, though some scam artists claim she was the other too), et al. They don't make magazines like this anymore, because they don't make cinema like this anymore. Sex in U.S. movies is strictly taboo, unless, generally speaking, the actors keep their clothes on. You do see it on cable television, however, though such shows generate reams of online criticism about how terribly wrong it is (we agree, however, that more sex and nude scenes need to be filmed from the vantage point of the female gaze). In Europe, as always, things are a bit more liberated.
We aren't sure how long Sex Stars System published. It debuted in 1975. Also in 1975, or possibly 1976, a magazine called simply Stars System appeared. Stars System had a softer editorial approach and featured solidly mainstream cover celebs such as Jane Fonda and Romy Schneider. At some point it changed its name slightly to Star System and, thus rebranded, published at least as late as 1982, which seems to be longer than Sex Stars System was on the scene. The information online about these magazines is, as you can probably guess, a jumble, but we'll keep looking into it and maybe have something more concrete to report later. There's also a Star System celeb magazine around today, but it's Canadian and presumably unrelated. Many scans below, and we have a few more issues we'll post later.
He only seems mean until you get to know him.
When we first saw this poster for 1971’s The Godson, we were of course struck by its brutal nature. Then our realty filter kicked in and we realized that, though the art is a photo-illustration, an actress (Orita de Chadwick) probably wouldn’t sign up for that kind of abuse. Thankfully, our assumption was confirmed. The film frame used on the poster has been slightly but crucially altered to achieve a more violent effect. The reasons why an instance of sexual violence would be made to look even worse on a promo poster raises some disturbing marketing-related questions, but we’ll leave those for another time.
Moving on to the actual film, The Godson is just a sexploitation flick with bad direction (William Rotsler), bad scripting (William Rotsler), bad editing (William Rotsler), and astoundingly bad acting (everyone). It’s the story of an ambitious mafia thug trying to succeed in his godfather’s organization, and it all goes wrong in the end and everyone dies. Is that giving away too much? Well, at least we saved you 90 minutes. We'll say this much for Rotsler, though—he did nothing halfway, as a visit to his website will illustrate.
Perhaps we should note that Uschi Digart and the awesomely beautiful Lois Mitchell appear in this film, super hot Debbie McGuire from Black Starlet and Supervixens gets a bit of screen time, and legendary sci-fi writer and firebrand Harlan Ellison pops up briefly (copping a feel of Mitchell, just below). Also, some of the film was shot at Ellison's bachelor pad. Does any of that make it worth watching? No. Besides, why bother when we've uploaded all the best parts for you? The Godson premiered in Japan today in 1972.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1933—King Kong Opens
The first version of King Kong
, starring Bruce Cabot, Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray, and with the giant ape Kong brought to life with stop-action photography, opens at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The film goes on to play worldwide to good reviews and huge crowds, and spawns numerous sequels and reworkings over the next eighty years.
1949—James Gallagher Completes Round-the-World Flight
Captain James Gallagher and a crew of fourteen land their B-50 Superfortress named Lucky Lady II in Fort Worth, Texas, thus completing the first non-stop around-the-world airplane flight. The entire trip from takeoff to touchdown took ninety-four hours and one minute.
1953—Oscars Are Shown on Television
The 26th Academy Awards are broadcast on television by NBC, the first time the awards have been shown on television. Audiences watch live as From Here to Eternity wins for Best Picture, and William Holden and Audrey Hepburn earn statues in the best acting categories for Stalag 17 and Roman Holiday.
1912—First Parachute Jump Takes Place
Albert Berry jumps from a biplane traveling at 1,500 feet and lands by parachute at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. The 36 foot diameter chute was contained in a metal canister attached to the underside of the plane, and when Berry dropped from the plane his weight pulled the canopy from the canister. Rather than being secured into the chute by a harness, Berry was seated on a trapeze bar. It's possible he was only the second man to accomplish a parachute landing, as there are some accounts of someone accomplishing the feat in California several months earlier.
1932—Lindbergh Baby Is Kidnapped
The twenty-month-old son of aviator Charles Lindbergh, Charles Augustus Lindbergh III, is kidnapped from the family home in East Amwell, New Jersey. Over two months later the toddler's body is discovered in woods a short distance from the home. A medical examination determines that he had died of a massive skull fracture. A German carpenter named Bruno Hauptmann is arrested, tried, and convicted for the crime. He is sentenced to death and executed in April 1936.
1953—Watson and Crick Unravel DNA
American biologists James D. Watson and Francis Crick tell their friends that they have determined the chemical structure of DNA. The formal announcement takes place in April following publication in Nature magazine. In 1968, Watson writes The Double Helix, a non-fiction account of not only the discovery of the structure of DNA, but the personalities, conflicts and controversy surrounding the work.
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