You don't have to be a cannibal for her to make you hungry.
Sticking with Italy today, the poster above is not one you'll see often. It was made for Emanuelle e gli ultimi cannibali, an entry in star Laura's Gemser's expansive Emanuelle series. In English this was called Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals, and you really don't need to know more to figure out what's in the movie. The shot used by Fulvia Film for this poster is from a scene in which Gemser paints herself with a glyph before pretending to be the reincarnation of a cannibal goddess and attempting to rescue a friend who's slated to become dinner. On the poster her lower regions are covered by a painted-on loincloth, but we don't have to do that here, so you also see two uncensored production photos of her as she actually appeared during the scene. We watched and wrote about the film ten years ago, and it was one wild trip. You can read what we wrote about it here, and see a crazy piece of Japanese promo art for the movie here. It premiered in Italy today in 1977.
Erin Moran and co-stars have some unhappy days in outer space.
Galaxy of Terror, which premiered in the U.S. today in 1981, was produced by New World Pictures and Roger Corman, and you know what that means—no budget. Corman must have really licked his chops when he heard this pitch. In his genius, he probably realized immediately that he could avoid millions of dollars in costs by making his sets extra cheap and simply bathing them in darkness in order to save on production design. He also went cheap on script, direction, sound, music, special effects, and costuming. The result was one of many terrible outer space movies to hit multiplexes in the wake of Star Wars and Alien. This one is distinct in being influenced by both of those classics while sharing none of their advantages.
The plot deals with an intrepid crew of nine who embark on a military style rescue mission, seeking a ship lost in a distant star system on a planet called Organthus. After various travails, they land on the accursed world, find the lost ship, and make the mistake of entering it. Giant leeches, deadly shuriken, and other horrors bloodily whittle the crew down to an unfortunate few, at which point comes the infamous moment—which may be the only reason Galaxy of Terror is remembered—when poor Taaffe O'Connell is raped and killed by a giant maggot. The mission only goes farther downhill from there as Corman digs deep into the New World prop department for a couple of mothballed monsters to terrorize the survivors.
The thing about science fiction movies back then is that it was impossible to have an inkling of what the end result might be. Basically, the producers said, “Trust us, it'll look good.” The cast of Stars Wars took a leap of faith and were rewarded. The casts of imitator movies hoped to capture the same magic and failed over and over. Galaxy of Terror's budget of five million dollars probably sounded okay, considering Stars Wars cost eleven. The heady desire to roll the dice and hope for the best is probably what enticed co-star Erin Moran into taking a little moonlight ride from her hit television show Happy Days to appear in this turkey. Afterward, she may have considered a lobotomy to help her forget the entire ordeal.
There are, however, a few plusses to Galaxy of Terror. First, young production designer James Cameron probably learned that in sci-fi there's a budgetary floor beneath which disaster is assured, and would later make three of the best and most successful science fiction movies of all time (no, we're not counting Avatar). Second, co-star Zalman King probably realized sci-fi was for suckers, went softcore as a producer and director, and churned out such memorable (and now anachronistic) erotica as Red Shoe Diaries, Two Moon Junction, and Wild Orchid. And third, the poster art by Charo (not the singer) is nice. Also, the movie brought our special consulting critic Angela the Sunbear out of her cave. Watching Galaxy of Terror with her was really fun. I think the crew should have stayed in hibernation.
Dick Halloran and his late night guests.
We're revisiting the art of headshop posters with this image of an unidentified afro-topped beauty shot in 1979 by famed German lensman Cheyco Leidmann. This particular piece may look familiar to cinema fans. It's the poster that was over Scatman Crothers' bed in the 1981 scarefest The Shining. His character Dick Halloran was about as single as a man could be in that movie—living alone, hanging in his jammies, watching television late at night, with naked art looking down on him. Getting axed in the sternum was really a case of putting the poor guy out of his misery. Halloran didn't have just one guardian angel on his walls. The reverse shot from that same sequence shows another poster, located over the television. That model we can identify. She's actress and centerfold Azizi Johari, who's made a few appearances here on the website. We even shared the very same poster a couple of years ago. But we decided to bring her back today so our visit to Halloran's bachelor pad would be complete. See more Johari here and here. She's well worth it.
If you were stuck in this movie you'd go mad too.
Today we've uplaoded an uncredited but striking poster—as well as a second one at bottom—for Mania, a low budget Italo horror movie directed by fright specialist Renato Polselli. It starred Eva Spadaro, Brad Euston, and Isarco Ravaioli, with Euston playing the double role of visionary madman Professor Brecht and his (not mad?) identical twin brother Germano. Professor Brecht has developed the ability to control living matter. While he's busy making honeybees stop flying in mid-air, his wife Spadaro is sharing her honey with Brecht 2. The discovery of this affair triggers violence, a murder attempt, and a lab fire that incinerates Brecht and severely burns 2.
Flash forward a year or so and Spadaro is convinced her husband has come back from the grave to haunt her. Her headshrinker recommends that she return to the house where the violence took place as a means of confronting her fears, and she takes this terrible advice and drives out there—harassed and pursued at one point by a driverless car. 2 still lives in the old house with his burns and bitterness, which is surprising considering the place suffers from numerous issues that for sure would kill its value in the Rome real estate market, from weird noises to spectral invaders to eels on the loose.
Whenever a pair of twins occur in an Italian giallo or horror movie, you can confidently assume there's a switcheroo involved, and that's the case here, as it was not Brecht who died in the fire, but 2. Spoiler alert. Damn—we keep reminding ourselves to put the warning before the spoiler but we screw it up every time. Anyway, we learn that Brecht is trying to drive Spadaro mad for cheating on him. You won't care, because the movie is a blisteringly bad, dirt cheap assault against all that is good and admirable about filmmaking.
The only real thrill in this rickety scaffolding of a movie is a nude wrestling match between Mirella Rossi and Ivana Giordan, followed by further gratuities, including multiple scenes of them both running around in only men's dress shirts. We understand that these days we aren't supposed to say nudity is the highlight of a film, but it's the gospel truth, because this shock-horror failure has virtually nothing else to offer—except laughs if you can get past the ineptitude on display. We absolutely, positively, can't recommend a disaster of this magnitude, but we do recommend Rossi and Giordan. Mania premiered today in 1974.
I decided to change my look with this blonde wig. Really brings out the claylike undertones in my skin, don't you think? I dream of having a claylike complexion. Instead I have this terribly painful infected burn. And this crunchy hand! Look at it! Just look!
Mmph... Gasp... Bacony... Mmph...
Aaaaand... casually exit stage right while this lunatic is losing his shit like a howler monkey.
I'm healing nicely, don't you think? Yeah. You look... uh... those skin creams have made you smooth as a baby's bottom. I have a sinking feeling this will be my only film role.
Wait, don't kill me! I can be useful! I can teach you this lindy hop I learned in my dance class!
We said last week we'd get back to British actress Susan George. Above you see her on a poster for Die Screaming Marianne, along with the claim that the movie is the ultimate in suspense. Well, if that's the case, how could we say no? George plays a nightclub dancer hiding out from her father, a former judge who took bribes during his long career. He lives in a villa in Portugal with George's half sister. When George turns twenty-one she'll receive her mother's inheritance, which is in a Swiss bank account along with papers proving her father was a crook. Her half sister wants the money, which amounts to $700,000, and her father wants the documents. Both decide that killing George is the only way to achieve their goals.
The filmmakers, including cult horror director Pete Walker, primarily come at all this via a somewhat elliptical route that brings to mind giallo cinema, where you aren't sure what's significant, or really what's even going on at first. But by halfway through, it all begins to make sense and the story boils down to the very conventional question of whether George's father and half sister can get away with murder. We won't answer that, but we'll tell you we can't fully recommend the movie because of its obtrusively oddball style. George definitely made better films, a few of which we mentioned in our previous post on her. That being the case, we'll see her again. Die Screaming Marianne premiered today in 1971.
Don't lose hope. If we survive this we'll probably both get a chance to act in better movies.
This poster was made for the horror movie The Terror, and we're showing you the Japanese promo art because—as is often the case—it's nicer than the U.S. promo. Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson star, actors passing in the night, Karloff aged seventy-six and on the downward slope of a legendary film career, Nicholson aged twenty-six on the upslope. The latter plays a French army lieutenant named Andre Duvalier who becomes stranded circa 1806 in ye olde creepy-ass castle on the hill, which is occupied by Karloff's rickety Baron Victor von Leppe. Jack sees a mysterious woman wandering around. Karloff explains that she's the ghost of his wife, the Baronness Ilsa von Leppe, who died twenty years ago. Nosy Nicholson doesn't believe that for a millisecond, but the Baron sticks to his story, even admitting he killed the Baronness with his bare hands for the crime of adultery. Nice confession, but the Baron is lying or being duped, as far as Nicholson is concerned. In either case, the question is why?
Director Roger Corman was working from an Edgar Allen Poe template here, and in fact he shot on castle sets originally used for The Raven, which had wrapped earlier in the year. It's always good to save a buck where you can, but any advantage was lost due to Corman working from an unfinished script, which led to reshoots by Francis Ford Coppola, Dennis Jakob, Monte Hellman, and Jack Hill. All that talent wasn't enough to put together a film befitting Nicholson and Karloff, but the two leads do their damndest, and the result, though not good, isn't an embarrassment. Afterward, Karloff continued coasting into the twilight, Nicholson and Coppola moved on to widespread acclaim, Hill helped launch the blaxploitation cycle and make a star of Pam Grier, and Hellman directed the cult masterpiece Two-Lane Blacktop. It's a miracle they all contributed something lasting to cinema, because you'd never suspect it watching The Terror. It premiered in the U.S. in 1963 and reached Japan today in 1964.
Wake-up calls at the Hiltons' are murder.
We were drawn to Il sesso della strega, aka Sex of the Witch, because of its excellent posters painted by Lamberto Forni, an artist whose work you've seen here before. But as often happens, the movie didn't live up to the promo imagery. The strange tale begins with Sir Thomas Hilton, a wealthy wine grower, who dies of old age. His family gets a surprise when the will is read: all those closest to Hilton, including his secretary, benefit from the profits of his holdings, but nothing can be broken up or sold, his sister gets nothing, some heirs don't benefit immediately, and if anyone dies their share is distributed among the others. Basically, the will is a blueprint for the Hiltons to start murdering each other. When that happens, the spurned sister is suspected of being a witch. But is she?
None of it matters. The movie is an merely excuse for a lot of overlong softcore sex scenes of the worst kind. You know the ones we mean—interminable slow wriggling devoid of even a hint of erotic heat. You have to really drop the ball to make naked people boring—especially naked Italian women from the ’70s, with their enormous bushes*—but director Angelo Pannacciò, aka Elo Pannacciò, accomplishes that here, in his debut. It's impossible to care about the movie's central mystery, and despite Pannacciò somewhat giallo visual stylings there's just nothing to get enthusiastic about. Except those posters. Nice work, Forni. Il sesso della strega premiered in Italy today in 1974.
*We love enormous Italian bushes, both tactilely and visually. This one is large, but not stupendous. You know when a bush is really big? When the moment it's revealed you think there's suddenly been a citywide blackout.
Classic horror feature still shocks and thrills.
It was inevitable that we'd get around to this movie. It was only a question of which poster we'd choose. Above you see a bizarre Japanese promo for Stuart Gordon's cult horror epic Re-Animator. In Japan it was titled Zombio – 死霊のしたたり, and the Japanese means “dripping of the dead,” which is pretty weird. But then so is the movie. It's an at times darkly comic splatterfest about a medical student obsessed with life after death, and it starts gory and quickly goes places you can't possibly expect. The source material is H.P. Lovecraft's tale, “Herbert West—Re-Animator,” first published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales in 1922.
The plot is only loosely based on what Lovecraft wrote. The movie follows a medical student played by Jeffrey Combs as he tries to defeat death by using a phosphorescent green re-animating agent of his own creation, and in so doing manages to drag promising fellow student Bruce Abbott and his girlfriend Barbara Crampton into a downward spiral of lies, illicit research, corpse abuse, and worse. It's even more catastrophic than it sounds. Meanwhile, a pompous and established physician-instructor played by David Gale becomes simultaneously jealous of Combs and lustful for Crampton, with results that are—in a word—totally insane. Well, two words.
We suspect that Re-Animator is one of those movies many have heard of, but not many have seen. There's more than just gore and that infamous sequence where Crampton is molested by a decapitated head. There are also cross-currents of blind ambition, skewed medical ethics, middle-aged lust for the young, and parental love, as well as overarching questions about human consciousness. It's a movie about obsession, but on multiple levels. Of course, it's also a movie done on the cheap, which leads to a few amusing efx, but overall it transcends its limitations, and for horror fans it's an absolute must. Re-Animator premiered in the U.S. in 1985 and crept into Japan today in 1987.
The artist is actually the one who's out of this world.
Above is the Italian poster for the sci-fi/horror movie La cosa da un altro mondo, which opened in Italy today in 1952 but originally premiered in the U.S. in 1951 as The Thing from Another World. We talked about it several years ago while sharing its Belgian promo. Today's effort is the work of Italian illustrator Sandro Symeoni, a genius who painted in so many modes he can be unrecognizable from piece to piece. See some of his best work here, here, and here.
They're a sight to behold.
This is a cool little item that's been making the rounds on Twitter lately. It's the VHS box cover art for the horror flick Videodrome, directed by David Cronenberg and starring Debbie Harry and James Woods. As you know, we rarely post box art, but this one needed to be seen. The movie needs to be seen too—to be believed. It deals with a Toronto television producer who stumbles upon an illicit snuff channel, but finds that what's going on behind the broadcasts is even worse. It's Cronenberg at his weirdest. The movie premiered today in 1983.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1989—Anti-Feminist Gunman Kills 14
In Montreal, Canada, at the École Polytechnique, a gunman shoots twenty-eight young women with a semi-automatic rifle, killing fourteen. The gunman claimed to be fighting feminism, which he believed had ruined his life. After the killings he turns the gun on himself and commits suicide.
1933—Prohibition Ends in United States
Utah becomes the 36th U.S. state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution, thus establishing the required 75% of states needed to overturn the 18th Amendment which had made the sale of alcohol illegal. But the criminal gangs that had gained power during Prohibition are now firmly established, and maintain an influence that continues unabated for decades.
1945—Flight 19 Vanishes without a Trace
During an overwater navigation training flight from Fort Lauderdale, five U.S. Navy TBM Avenger torpedo-bombers lose radio contact with their base and vanish. The disappearance takes place in what is popularly known as the Bermuda Triangle.
1918—Wilson Goes to Europe
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson sails to Europe for the World War I peace talks in Versailles, France, becoming the first U.S. president to travel to Europe while in office.
1921—Arbuckle Manslaughter Trial Ends
In the U.S., a manslaughter trial against actor/director Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle ends with the jury deadlocked as to whether he had killed aspiring actress Virginia Rappe during rape and sodomy. Arbuckle was finally cleared of all wrongdoing after two more trials, but the scandal ruined his career and personal life.
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