Thursday, June 28, 2012

Short Film: One Got Fat: Bicycle Safety (USA, 1963)

Another fun film found on that fabulous repository of filmic flotsam, the Internet Archives, a website full of surprising finds like this one. A children's safety film that was still shown in schools well into the 70s – we, in any event, are sure we saw it as a prepubescent. And like the best of such school films, One Got Fat: Bicycle Safety is one surreal film – can you think of a better way to communicate bicycle safety than to put monkey masks onto a bunch of kids and then show what might happen if your ride carelessly for as little as ten blocks? Like some surreally childish version of a body-count film, they get eliminated one after the other for doing unsafe maneuvers on their bikes: if making a turn without hand signaling wasn't enough, on the way to having their picnic at the nearby park, the monkey kids face steamrollers, manholes and more. (Of course, not all fall to the wayside, there is a Final Boy – the one that got fat.)
One Got Fat: Bicycle Safety is narrated by Edward Everett Horton Jr. (18 March 1886 – 29 September 1970), seen here to the left, an extremely prolific character actor who started his career in the silents; among his numerous films prior to becoming a television staple are Lonely Wives (1931 / full film), Alice in Wonderland (1933 / trailer), The Gay Divorcee (1934 / trailer), The Devil Is a Woman (1935 / first 10 minutes), Lost Horizon (1937 / boring trailer), The Body Disappears (1941 / trailer), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944 / trailer) and Lady on a Train (1945). When he died at the age of 83, Edward Everett Horton Jr. was survived by his "long-time companion", fellow character actor Gavin Gordon (of The Bat [1959 / trailer / full film], Chicago Confidential [1957 / trailer], I Killed That Man [1941 / full film], Bride of Frankenstein [1935 / trailer], and Mystery of the Wax Museum [1933 / trailer], among others), who died 13 years later on 7 April 1983.
One Got Fat: Bicycle Safety was written and directed by Dale Jennings, a man of greater presence than his slight entry at imdb – which says that he made but this one film – would indicate. A little detective work on the net casts some light upon the man: search for the production company of the film, "Interlude Films", with "Dale Jennings" and you come up with a "William Dale Jennings" who, as you can see by the business card to the left, ran Interlude Films. (The jpg of the business card was taken from We here at A Wasted Life think it safe to assume that the two Dales are one and the same – indeed, in the rather lengthy entry on "William Dale Jennings" at Wikipedia, it is mentioned that Jennings would call himself by his middle name, Dale, so as to differentiate himself from his father, his namesake. Likewise, the entry itself, which never even mentions his involvement with Interlude Films or filmmaking, is headed simply "Dale Jennings". Whatever his name, Jennings was far more of an interesting figure than the "William Dale Jennings" in imdb – which points out that his novel, The Cowboys, became the John Wayne film, The Cowboys (1972 / trailer), which was made into a one-year TV series in 1974 entitled The Cowboys – would imply.
William Dale Jennings, who died in La Mirada, CA, on 11 May 2000, was born on 21 October 1917 in Amarillo, Texas, and raised in Denver, Colorado. (The photo of him to the left was also taken from After graduating from high school, he left for Southern California, where he joined the Lester Horton dance troupe and, eventually, founded his own theater company, Theatre Caravan, for which he wrote and produced around 60 plays. In 1942 he joined the US Army and, prior to his honorable discharge in 1946, was awarded a World War II Victory Medal, an American Campaign Medal, an Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and a Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one bronze star.
Somewhere before the war and in LA, he married one of the actresses from his troupe; after the war and back in LA, they divorced – it was, to tell the truth, a lavender marriage: in November, 1950, he became one of the founding members of the Mattachine Society, one of the first homosexual rights organizations in the United States.
Two years later, in 1952, Jennings pulled a George Michael: he got arrested for allegedly soliciting a police officer in a public toilet in MacArthur Park (then known as Westlake Park). Instead of just ducking and covering or slinking away as well as he could, Jennings fought back: he got a lawyer and became one of the first men to contest such charges. The ten-day trial, beginning on June 23, 1952, ended with an 11 to 1 vote for acquittal – the court case, the outcome and the publicity are now viewed as an early but important event in the gay liberation movement in that it helped inspire others to fight similar cases and, in this sense, was an early step in the eventual decriminalization of "crimes against nature".
Of importance to all people no matter what their preference is Jennings role in the freedom of speech. Following his acquittal for using the rest room at MacArthur Park, Jennings was instrumental in the creation of One Magazine which, to quote Wikipedia, "was the only publication that openly spoke positively of homosexuality and fought for equal legal and social status for homosexuals." Although anything but a sex magazine, in 1954 an entire mailing was confiscated by the LA Postmaster as being obscene; this led to another court case that ended as part of a landmark 1958 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roth vs. United States that "redefined the Constitutional test for determining what constitutes obscene material unprotected by the First Amendment". Thanks to One Magazine, in other words, your Granddaddy could subscribe to Playboy and your Daddy to Hustler and, further along the way, we can get Eros Comix in the mail.
Thank you, Mr Jennings, for fighting back; thank you, for playing a role in making the type of stuff we like to read legal to send in the mail; and thank you for this truly weird educational film, One Got Fat: Bicycle Safety.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Re-Animator (USA, 1985)

Director Stuart Gordon literally burst onto the scene when he made this campy, gore-drenched modern horror classic, his directorial debut, in 1985. It truly made everyone sit up and take notice, including many who normally wouldn't even sneeze at a low budget slimehouse horror film. For example, although neither Time nor Newsweek reviewed the film, they did notice it, and when Gordon's next splatterpiece, From Beyond (trailer), hit the screen the following year in 1986, both saw fit to review it (and give it praise). At the time, Newsweek praised From Beyond as "a grisly amalgam of sex, shock and satire," while Time saw fit to call it "bloody good entertainment" – descriptions that can just as easily be applied to Re-Animator, a prime piece of sleaziod cinema from the eighties that, now as then, remains essential viewing for anyone that claims to like horror films.

"Who's going to believe a talking head? Get a job in a sideshow."
 Herbert West

The full title of the film is, of course, H. P. Lovecraft's Re-Animator, in reference to the tale by the great writer which inspired the movie, "Herbert West – Re-Animator." Lovecraft himself supposedly had no high opinion of the story, which he wrote as a sort of parody of the classic novel Frankenstein, and S. T. Joshi, a leading specialist in fantasy and horror fiction, says that the original tale is even "universally acknowledged as Lovecraft's poorest work." Whatever the tale's rep might be, and whatever deficits it might have, Gordon took its general concept and updated it to the 80s, and – with the able assistance of producer Brian Yuzna and an extremely game cast – ended up making one of the funniest and bloodiest and most original films of its day.

"I must say, Dr. Hill, I'm very disappointed in you. You steal the secret of life and death, and here you are trysting with a bubble-headed co-ed. You're not even a second-rate scientist!"
Herbert West

Of course, for the full viewing pleasure one must make sure to get the unrated version which, although missing the "never-before-seen dream sequence" supposedly found on the LaserDisc version, does offer many a sight missing in the R-rated version (we're talking a difference of 100 minutes to 86 minutes). The missing minutes include everything from eyeballs popping out of a head in the opening scene to a visually pleasant nude scene of one truly hot-bodied Barbara Crampton (as Megan Halsey) getting dressed after an evening roll in the hay with her boyfriend Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) to extended shots of a fake-looking, revived but vivisected cat hissing and growling to the initial death of Dean Halsey (Robert Sampson) to the infamous cunnilingus scene to the bloody excesses of the big final showdown. Even cut of all this, Re-Animator remains a jaw-dropping experience, but with it, the film achieves a continuity of well-timed outrageous excess that simply leaves the viewer bowled over – and, as the finally scream reverberates over the blackened screen, nevertheless somewhat saddened despite all the adrenaline the movie instigates in its viewers.

"He's dead?"
 (Dan Cain)
"Not anymore."
(Herbert West)

As mentioned somewhere above, Re-Animator is a riff on Mary Shelley's famous story of creating life, but this time around it is not electricity the reanimates but a glowing green fluid. Set to a soundtrack the liberally quotes Bernard Herrmann's classic score to Psycho (1960 / trailer), the film starts off with a bang – as in: an exploding head – that results in  Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs of Sharkman [2005 / Spanish trailer]), a decidedly anal and dedicated student mad scientist, transferring  to Miskatonic University in New England. Before long, with the help of fellow med student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott, ex of Linda Hamilton and current of Kathleen Quinlan, who is also to be found in Bad Dreams [1988 / trailer], Bride of Re-Animator  [1990 / trailer] and The Demolitionist  [1995 / trailer]), he is once again single-mindedly pursuing a way to conquer brain death – and as the title implies, he succeeds. But be it Lady Frankenstein (1970) or Corpses (2004), if there is one lesson that is always conveyed in any and all tale or movie about conquering death, it is that conquering death always has its drawbacks.
Aided by 25 gallons of fake blood and top-notch effects – and, at least when it comes to the dead cat, some hilariously lousy effects – as well as a relatively lean story and witty script that barrels along at good speed without sacrificing characterization of the film's protagonists, Stuart Gordon manages to walk a tight rope between schlock and horror, gore and camp, shock and laughter, often within seconds or at the same time. The able cast does a fine job all around, but special mention must go to both Jeffery Combs (in the role that made every genre fan take notice of him) as well as to the memorable  David Gale  (of Savage Weekend [1979 / trailer / full film], The Brain [1988 / Spanish trailer], The First Power [1990 / trailer] and Syngenor [1990 / German trailer]), who literally drips perversity as the evil and unscrupulous Dr. Carl Hill, a man whose insanely horrible toupee is as obvious as his case of the hots for Dale's gal, Megan, the daughter of the school's Dean Halsey (Robert Sampson of City of the Living Dead [1980] and The Dark Side of the Moon [1990 / trailer]).
Re-Animator stands alongside Hennenlotter's Basket Case (1982) and Rami's The Evil Dead (1981 / trailer) as one of the most unique, over-the-top and truly individual horror films of the 80s. The shared scene of a naked Megan (Crampton) and the undead Dr. Hill (Gale), a perverse and horrific yet hilarious scene that has yet to topped, alone makes this film worth seeing. Luckily, however, there is much more to this film than just that single scene – which is why you should finally go see it if you haven't yet. You won't regret it, and it might well become one of your favourite films.
Re-Animator has been followed by two sequels to date, Bride of Re-Animator (1990 / trailer) and Beyond Re-Animator (2003 / trailer). And while we don't yet know how good Beyond is, we can say Bride is a fun ride, too.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

R.I.P.: Richard Hugh Lynch

February 12, 1936 – June 19, 2012

Richard Hugh Lynch
Richard Lynch, an Irish American character actor whose presence was enjoyed in innumerable craptastic films, was found dead on 19 June 2012 on the kitchen floor of his Yucca Valley, California, home by his friend, actress Carol Vogel (of Andy Milligans's Depraved! [1967] and The Ghastly One [1968]), who had gone to check up on him after not hearing from him for a few days. He was 76 years of age.
One of seven children, Lynch was born 12 February 1936 in Brooklyn, New York to Irish parents. (His date of birth is actually disputed: many sources claim he was born 1940.) Following a stint in the United States Marine Corps, he studied acting at Herbert Berghof's HB Studio and the Actors' Studio, becoming a lifetime member of the latter in 1970. Throughout the mid to late sixties he appeared in numerous on and off Broadway productions.
In 1967, while sharing a flat with fellow unknown actor Don Calfa (they appeared together later in the films Necronomicon [1993], Terrified [1995], Corpses Are Forever [2003], and Lewisburg [2009]), Richard suffered a bad acid trip and set himself on fire in Central Park. After recuperating (and, according to The Independent, reconstructive surgery), Lynch returned to acting, first on stage and then film and television. Making his movie debut in the Gene Hackman and Al Pacino vehicle Scarecrow in 1973, he went on to a successful four-decade career of over 150 appearances in film and on TV, usually playing the bad guy – a role he excelled at both due to his acting talent and his fire-scarred face. His numerous appearances in horror, fantasy, science fiction and craptastic films made him a beloved character actor among cult and bad film fans.
A talented hobby musician – he played the saxophone, guitar, piano, and flute – Lynch held both US and Irish citizenship and visited the land of his parents often. Twice married, first to Béatrix Lynch and then to Lily Lynch, to whom he was still married at the time of his death, Lynch is survived by Lily, his less well-known character actor younger brother Barry Lynch, his sisters Carole J. Taylor and Cathy L. Jones, and numerous other relatives. His son from his first marriage, Christopher Lynch, died in 2005 due to "pneumonia-related complications from brain hemorrhage."
Although a good portion of Richard Lynch's performances were for the small screen – he appeared in numerous TV series, including the original Battlestar Galactica and Bionic Woman, Starsky and Hutch, The A-Team, Charlie's Angels, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Charmed and Six Feet Under – here at A Wasted Life we focus for the most part upon his movie career.
Richard Lynch was in many a film that we have enjoyed, some for being good and many for being craptastic, as well as many a film we could only shake our head at. But in all films that he appeared in, he was always a face – and talented actor – we were happy to see. The world of genre films is a poorer one without his presence. 

(1973, dir. Jerry Schatzberg)
Richard Lynch debuted in this film, a road movie starring Gene Hackman (as Max) and Al Pacino (as Lion). Lynch plays, of course, a heavy: "Jack Riley", who befriends Lion in jail and then assaults him, only to be taught a lesson by Max. Lynch ain't in the trailer or on the poster.

2 The Seven-Ups
(1973, dir. Philip D'Antoni)
After producing two crime dramas with groundbreaking car chases – Bullitt (1968 / trailer) and The French Connection (1971 / trailer) – Philip D'Antoni finally directed his own (and only) film with a groundbreaking car chase, The Seven-Ups. Lynch plays the hitman Moon in this film, who makes the mistake of icing a cop. He's in the trailer in a big way.

3 Open Season
(1974, dir. Peter Collinson)
Danish trailer:
Based on the novel The All-Americans by David D. Osborn, the scriptwriter for Murder She Said (1961 / trailer), Deadlier Than the Male (1967 / trailer) and Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1972 / trailer); he also co-wrote the screenplay of Open Season, which was shot in Spain and Michigan. The film is a distant cousin to The Most Dangerous Game (1932 / full film). This time around, instead of a crazed Baron it's three crazed vets – Peter Fonda, John Phillip Law and Richard Lynch – who kidnap, brutalize and then hunt innocent people. Lynch, as one of the main three, is on the poster. The slightly talk-heavy film is undermined by the ending, which involves William Holden as the father of a girl they got away with raping way back in college – see the opening scene below – who finally, decades later, gets revenge by hunting them down and shooting them just like they do their own victims. Director Peter Collinson had an eclectic career that ended of cancer on 16 December 1980; a few of his other films include The Italian Job (1969 / trailer), Fright (1971 / trailer), Straight on Till Morning (1972 / trailer) and Ten Little Indians (1974 / trailer).
First ten minutes:

The Happy Hooker
(1975, dir. Nicholas Sgarro)
From the soundtrack:
This, the only feature film to be directed by TV director Nicholas Sgarro, is, obviously enough, the film based on Xaviera Hollander's famous best seller The Happy Hooker – and as might be expected of a film version of her life story, the film is rated PG (!). Lynn Redgrave plays the title lady in this Horatio Alger tale, a comic take of the biography of Xaviera Hollander, who that very year stared in her own unfunny comedy, Pleasure is My Business (scene). Richard Lynch is the corrupt cop that initially tries to take her money and rape her and then, later in her life, takes her and her business down. Remember, gals: prostitution is a viable career choice.
The documentary The Happy Hooker, Portrait of a Sexual Revolutionary (2008):

5 The Premonition
(1976, dir. Robert Allen Schnitzer)
Made and shot in Mississippi. The plot, according to Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings: "The natural mother (Ellen Barber) of a girl (Danielle Brisebois) given up for adoption plots to kidnap the daughter from her new parents. Helping her is a carnival clown with a psychotic streak (Richard Lynch). Unbeknownst to her, however, the child's adoptive mother (Sharon Farrell) has psychic powers..." According to Eccentric Cinema, The Premonition, "managing to be both ridiculous and boring, [...] is little more than a drive-in second feature that thought it was more. Ponderously produced, with an overcomplicated script, the movie at times feels as if it were two different films welded together on a bet." Perhaps of more interest is Schnitzer's first film, No Place to Hide (1970 / trailer), a thriller that Sylvester Stallone made the same year as the infamous The Party at Kitty and Stud's (trailer); in 1990, David Casci recut and redubbed the film and released it as the comedy A Man Called... Rainbo (trailer).
Scene from The Premonition – in French:

God Told Me To
(1976, written & directed by Larry Cohen)
TV trailer:
Aka Demon, under whatever name it remains another one of Larry Cohen's underappreciated low budget masterpieces, a way-out-there exploitation classic that deserves a larger audience than it has – the scene in which Bernard Phillips (Richard Lynch) shows the lubricating vagina under his armpit (located the same place as Christ's wound that Doubting Thomas penetrated with his finger) and starts talking about mating freaked me out as a kid. The plot, according to TV Guide: "NYC cop Peter Nicholas (Tony Lo Bianco, of that another low budget classic, The Honeymoon Killers [1970 / trailer]) is obsessed with a string of seemingly unrelated mass murders, all perpetrated by nondescript people claiming that God told them to do it. Discovering that each of the murderers apparently knew a Bernard Phillips, he visits Bernard's mother..." With Sandy Dennis and the great Sylvia Sidney.

The Baron
(1977, dir. Phillip Fenty)
Aka Black Baron and Black Cue, The Baron is an obscure and forgotten independent Blaxploitation film, the only directorial project of writer/director Phillip Fenty, the scriptwriter of both the classic Super Fly (1973 / trailer) and the less-classic sequel, Super Fly T.N.T. (1973 / opening credits). The film stars two greats (and hot-looking) stars of the genre and era, Calvin Lockhart (of Wild at Heart (1990), Cotton Comes to Harlem [1970 / trailer] and Let's Do It Again [1975 / trailer]) and, seen here to the left (not from the film), Marlene Clark (of Putney Swope [1969], Night of the Cobra Women [1972 / trailer] and Switchblade Sisters [1975 / trailer]), who had both already appeared together previously in The Beast Must Die [1974 / trailer], and even includes an appearance by Joan Blondel (Nightmare Alley [1947 / trailer]). Richard Lynch plays the mobster out to get the hero when he renegades on the mob loan. 
Marlene Clark bouncing in Putney Swope (1969):
The film, originally shot as Baron Wolfgang von Tripps, hit the theaters for a few days in 1979 before disappearing; it was eventually put out on a now-rare VHS by Paragon Video in 1996. At imdb, one of the few who have ever seen the film, John Seal of Oakland, CA, says: "Calvin Lockhart is The Baron, a struggling African-American filmmaker trying to get his big break. He gets mixed up with some dirty money and ends up confronting the usual mafia guys trying to keep a brutha down. They're a particularly nasty lot in this one, especially the racist, misogynistic, and homophobic Joey, played here flamboyantly by exploitation regular Richard Lynch. The film is a reasonably enjoyable blend of action and social commentary, and features a terrific score by Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson. Joan Blondell, Raymond St. Jacques (of Come Back, Charleston Blue [1972]), and Marlene Clark are all wasted or underutilised, but Lockhart is good (as usual), even when burdened with some truly horrible 70s fashions."
One-minute scene from The Baron:

Roger & Harry: The Mitera Target
(1977, dir. Jack Starrett)
According to the NY Times, this TV movie was "The pilot movie for a series that never materialized, dealing with a pair of free-wheeling investigators (Roger [John Davidson] & Harry [Barry Primus of Mustang Sally (2006)]) who specialize in recovering lost and stolen objects as well as missing or kidnapped persons, and who here are hired by a millionaire businessman whose daughter apparently was spirited out of the country." Lynch plays the bad guy, Curt Blair – the screenshot above comes from the movie. Roger & Harry: The Mitera Target is included here primarily because it stars a cult fav, Richard Lynch, and was directed by a cult fav, Jack Starrett. Starrett was a director/actor whose credits include, as director, Cleopatra Jones (1973) and, as actor, Nightwish (1989).
Lynch kidnaps the daughter:

Good Against Evil
(1977, dir. Paul Wendkos)
The plot, according to Obscure Horror: "Andy (Dack Rambo) and a priest (Dan O'Herlihy) he has come across are looking to battle the devil to save the soul of a child and to find a lady that has gone missing. But what Andy doesn’t know is that there are priests who worship the devil and [will] stop Andy at all costs form ruining their plans. The battle for Earth has begun." Richard Lynch is Mr. Rimmin, the leader of the devil worshipers. A TV movie, Good Against Evil was written by the great Jimmy Sangster, and as such was already covered in his career review (found here), where we wrote the following: 
"Every time I get close to a man, he dies."
Jessica Gordon (Elyssa Davalos)
Wendkos made his directorial debut in 1957 with the excellent low budget crime flick The Burglar before quickly losing his teeth with flicks like Gidget (1959 / trailer) and moving to a long and busy career as a small-screen director. This film was made as the pilot for a series about an author and exorcist who team up to battle evil, but the series never materialized. Weird Wild Realm notes: "[...] Good Against Evil is interesting mainly as part of a clutch of telefilms aired in the late 1960s through the 1970s that dealt with Satanism & other occult matters, a cycle that seems to have begun with a better Paul Wendkos telefilm, the occult detective yarn Fear No Evil (1969 / first 10 minutes), and pretty much came to a close with his Good Against Evil." 
The full film:

(1977, dir. Mark L. Lester)

Cinema Cool on Stunts (1977):
Aka The Stunt and Who Is Killing the Stunt Men? Following his directorial debut in 1971 with a documentary Twilight of the Mayans, which won Best Documentary at the Venice Film Festival, Mark L. Lester quickly moved to Exploitation City where he still lives today in the suburb known as Straight-to-DVD. But before he moved there, Lester wowed grindhouse audiences with fun films like Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991 / trailer), in which Brandon Lee brought down the grindhouse with his jealous statement on the size of Dolf Lundgrun's dick, Class of 1999 (1990 / trailer), Class of 1984 (1982 / trailer), the Linda Blair flick Roller Boogie (1979 / trailer) and Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw (1976 / trailer). Stunts was his first hired job, for New Line Cinema, and though a popular success, it's pretty much forgotten today. (Of the film, Richard Corliss wrote [7/22/77] in New Times: "Stunts is a high-spirited, no-frills action picture... It generates as many thrills as the big-budget movies, but you can enjoy it without feeling afterward that you've been worked over and ripped off by a high-priced Hollywood hooker." At Rotten Tomatoes, Paul Brenner says: "Robert Forster (of Alligator [1980] and Uncle Sam [1997]) is Glen Wilson, an ace stuntman who travels from movie set to movie set, performing dangerous professional work. Fiona Lewis is B.J. Parswell, a journalist whose presence creates dissension within the ranks of this all-male group. She turns into an admirer of Glen's skill and then, later, his lover. Pressure increases when Glen's brother, also a stuntman, is killed on an oceanfront movie set in San Luis Obispo...." Richard Lynch as there in a small role as Pete Lustig, the stunt coordinator and first suspect after the murders begin.
Full film:

(1978, dirs. Allan Arkush & Nicholas Niciphor)
This film is high on our list of movies to see... one day. According to Mondo Digital, "Deathsport may not be the dumbest film ever produced by New World, but it certainly does try." TCM offers the following plot description: "One thousand years after most of civilization has been destroyed by wars, Kaz Oshay (David Carradine of Dead & Breakfast [2004]) is a biker who rides around the range on his bike and on horseback. He wields a saber to protect himself from the marauding hordes of 'Statesmen' who are led by Lord Zirpola (David McLean). When Zirpola eventually imprisons Kaz, he meets a woman named Daneer (Claudia Jennings* of The Single Girls [1974 / full film] and 'Gator Bait [1974 / trailer]) whose daughter has been kidnapped by a group of mutants. The two of them escape with the intent of saving Daneer's daughter, and evade the Statesmen for as long as they can on their motorcycles, but finally Kaz has to participate in the Death Sport in which only one of the players lives." Richard Lynch plays bad guy Ankar Moor – you see him in the trailer. Allan Arkush, who took over the directorial chores after Nicholas Niciphor was fired from what was to be his directorial debut, once said "Sad to say, I couldn't save the picture." Ninja Dixon, who as usual cannot say anything 100% negative about any film, says: "I really can't find words to describe Deathsport – but I guess 'stupid', 'ridiculous' and 'awesome' could be fitting. It's basically a rip-off on Roger Corman's earlier Death Race 2000 (1975 / trailer), but with zero budget and zero script. Not a bad thing really, but don’t expect to see any interesting satire or witty dialogue here, this is just very cheap entertainment!" 
*Playboy's Playmate of the Year 1970, she died in a car accident on October 3, 1979 caused by her falling asleep behind the wheel. 

(1979, dir. Steve Carver)
From the director of The Arena [1974 / trailer], Big Bad Mama (1974 / trailer) and Drum (1976 / trailer / full film), a movie about Lee Majors trying to overcome his erectile dysfunction (he's a former construction worker who developed a fear of heights). TV Guide explains the plot: "Steel concerns a construction crew fighting to finish nine floors of a skyscraper before the bank interferes. The construction company's owner, Big Lew Cassidy (George Kennedy), pitches in to help, but he's killed in a fall from the structure. His daughter, Cass Cassidy (Jennifer O'Neill of The Psychic [1977 / trailer]), takes over, hiring Mike Catton (Lee Majors) and his hand-picked crew of ace workers to try to finish the nearly impossible task. The dangers presented on-screen were tragically duplicated in real life when stuntman A.J. Bakunis fell to his death during production in Lexington, Kentucky. Attempting to regain his status as the record-holder for the longest stunt fall, Bakunis was killed when he broke through the 12-foot airbag upon which he was to soft-land [while doing Big Lew's death scene]." As the credit sequence says: "Also starring" Richard Lynch [as Dancer]. 
First ten minutes:

(1979, dir. E.W. Swackhamer)
Richard Lynch plays the title character, Prince Anton Voytek, in this pilot for a never-developed TV series that aired on ABC on October 7, 1979. Supposedly this was one of Lynch's favorite acting roles. The blog Taliesin meets the Vampire only rates it a "3 out of 10," but most others who have seen this TV movie seem to like it. At Rotten Tomatoes, Cavett Binion says "This remarkably chilling made-for-TV horror film plays as equal parts old-fashioned supernatural tale and 1970s-style detective thriller. After the groundbreaking of a San Francisco cathedral disturbs the resting place of an ancient European bloodsucker (professional creeper Richard Lynch), an architect (Jason Miller) joins forces with a retired gumshoe (E.G. Marshall) to hunt down and destroy the undead menace before he claims Miller's girlfriend as his nocturnal mate. Gothic trappings, slick production values, and some creepy night photography lend an effective edge to this modest production... Lynch, whose gravelly voice and sinister looks have typecast him for life, thankfully avoids lapsing into camp, exuding instead a powerful air of controlled sexual menace." The cast also includes Jessica Walter from Play Misty for Me (1971 / trailer). Jason Miller played the priest in The Exorcist (1973 / trailer) for which he was nominated for best supporting actor." 
First 47 minutes:

Delta Fox
(1979, written & directed by Beverly & Ferd Sebastian)

Ferd Sebastian, who has since found God, began his career with the obscure I Need a Man (1967) and the equally obscure X-rated white-coater Marital Fulfillment (1970), but by the interesting and similarly X-rated 1971 documentary Red, White and Blue – in which scenes of David F. Friedman talking of his court cases are interspersed between hairy hardcore scenes – he was, with his wife Beverly, part of a filmmaking duo that did some ten films together by their last film, Running Cool, in 1993, including The Single Girls (1974 / full film), the great 'Gator Bait (1974 / trailer), Rocktober Blood (1984 / opening credits) and this film, Delta Fox. Richard Lynch stars as the title character. At imdb, rm91945 of Washington, DC says: "[...] This film was quite enjoyable. It had everything needed for a taut, action-packed thriller/mystery. Richard Lynch, Hollywood's number one bad-boy, plays David "Delta" Fox, former bagman for the mob who's released from prison to work for the Justice Department. His assignment is to set up his former boss, crooked tax lawyer Harold Arnold, played by Stuart Whitman, by transporting one million dollars of dirty mob money from Miami to San Francisco where the Feds will be waiting to bust Arnold. But the tables are turned on Fox when it's clear someone is out to kill him before he delivers the money to Arnold. Along to way Fox kidnaps Karen, played by Priscilla Barnes, to help him get out of Florida. The plot then shifts to Fox trying to figure out who is out to kill him, as well as who killed his brother Mike. Are they one in the same?"
9-minute shoot out scene:

The Ninth Configuration
(1980, dir. William Peter Blatty)
The directorial debut of William Peter Blatty, who wrote the original novel to The Exorcist (1973 / trailer) and, in 1990, went on to write and direct The Exorcist III (1990 / trailer). The Ninth Configuration is also based on a Blatty novel, Twinkle, Twinkle, "Killer" Kane. Richard Lynch pops up amongst all the familiar faces briefly as a biker. TV Guide says "Stacy Keach, an Army psychiatrist assigned to a remote castle-cum-military asylum in the Pacific Northwest, encourages his patients to enact their fantasies as part of their therapy, but he has his own reasons for telling them to do so. The dialog is weird and often incomprehensible in this very strange, personal film, but Blatty has a good sense of the absurd and handles the direction well, making sure things are never quite what they seem to be." Going by online reviews, the film seems to be a love it or hate it experience.
Barroom brawl with Richard Lynch:

Alcatraz: The Whole Shocking Story
(1980, dir. Paul Krasny)
A year after Clint Eastwood's hit Escape from Alcatraz (1979 / trailer), Paul Krasny directed this 2-part TV docudrama on the prison life of Clarence Carnes, a Choctaw Indian who had the honor of being both the youngest man ever imprisoned on the Rock as well as the man who served the longest stretch there (18 years). Carnes (played by Michael Beck of The Warriors [1979 / trailer] and Chiller [1985]) was an active participant in the May 2, 1946 failed escape attempt that turned into the Battle of Alcatraz which resulted in five deaths (three inmates and two guards). Richard Lynch plays Sam Shockley, one of the two inmates that were later found guilty and executed for the murder of the guards (the other inmate was Miran Edgar Thompson [Robert F. Hoy]); Carnes, who served as a consultant for the film, was sentenced to an additional 99 years instead of execution (he died of AIDS on October 3, 1988). The name star of the flick is of course Telly Savalas; he plays Cretzer, one of the inmates that die in the uprising. The docudrama also covers the Choctaw Kid's later years, including his involvement in the "successful" escape that was the topic of Eastwood's film, but by then Lynch's character, like Savalas's, is long dead. 
6.5 minutes of the film; Lynch goes stir crazy 3 minutes in:

The Formula
(1980, dir. John G. Avildsen)

To quote the BFI: "A policeman follows a murder trail to West Germany and finds that it hinges on a secret formula for synthetic fuel" – in truth, however, once could just as easily say the trail of murder follows the policeman. The Formula is a thriller famous for being a dreary, confusing mess and, to a lesser extent, for being the only film in which George C. Scott and Marlon Brando, the only two actors to ever refuse the Oscars awarded them, appear together. Marlon Brando went on record that he only took the part because he was broke and needed the dough (roughly around 3 million dollars). Richard Lynch is in the opening scenes, playing the Nazi General Helmut Kladen who, as the Russian descend upon Berlin at the end of WWII, leaves for the Swiss border with top secret papers that he has been ordered to keep hidden from the Allies. At the First Golden Raspberry Awards, the movie was nominated for Worst Picture, director John G. Avildsen for Worst Director, Marlon Brando for Worst Supporting Actor and Steve Shagan for Worst Screenplay – just nominations, one and all. The major flaw of the plot is that the logical event – an early and efficient killing of Scott's character instead of the people he talks with – would have left the film with no story.

(1981, dir. Don Medford)

ABC Sunday Night Movie Promo – Loni kisses Lynch
A TV movie produced by Aaron Spelling and directed by Don Medford, the director of The Hunting Party (1971 / trailer), a legendarily violent cult western. As to be expected of a Spelling production, however, Sizzle is extremely inoffensive. Set in the prohibition years of Chicago, gangster Mike Callahan (John Forsythe of The Trouble with Harry [1955 / trailer]) falls for the two big and bouncy charms of small town gal Julie Davis (Loni Anderson), who wants to revenge the death of her boyfriend. Leslie Uggams (of Poor Pretty Eddie [1975 / trailer]) is Vonda, who befriends Julie, and Richard Lynch is Callahan's right-hand man, Johnny O'Brien. The flick is pure TV pap, though it does have an occassionally entertaining show number.
Lynch is in the audience watching Leslie Uggams sing:

The Sword and the Sorcerer
(1982, dir. Albert Pyun)
The directorial debut of the prolific trash filmmaker Albert Pyun, The Sword and the Sorcerer also remains one of his best. A hit when it came out, it remains a cult fav today – rightly so, for it is a damn fun film, though the special effects don't really carry the same punch they did back when the film first came out. The plot, according to Foster on Film: "King Titus Cromwell (Richard Lynch) summons a demonic sorcerer (Richard Moll of Night Train to Terror [1985] and The Survivor [1998]) to aid him in conquering a neighboring kingdom, then betrays the sorcerer, but fails in his attempt to kill him. Years later, Prince Mikah (Simon MacCorkindale of Jaws 3-D [1983 / trailer]), the closest thing anyone can find to an heir to the slain king, and his sister Alana (Kathleen Beller), are leading a small revolution to oust Cromwell. They are secretly aided my Cromwell's Chancellor, Machelli (George Maharis of The Happening [1967 / trailer] and The Satan Bug [1965 / trailer]). When Mikah is captured, Alana turns to Talon (Lee Horsley), a soldier of fortune who has just entered the kingdom and is, unbeknownst to all, the real heir to the throne. While Talon attempts to free Mikah, for a price, Cromwell seeks out the sorcerer, who he is sure is the real force behind the insurrection." The Sword and the Sorcerer is a great film, with an excellent Lynch – though he is almost upstaged by George Maharis's wig. Stuntman Jack Tyree was killed during filming when he jumped off a cliff and missed his airbags.

The Last Ninja 
(1983, dir. William A. Graham)
Another TV movie meant as a series pilot that didn't get picked up, this time directed by the man who brought you such notable non-classics as Milla Jovovich's debut feature-length film Return to the Blue Lagoon (1991 / trailer), the TV exploitation flick Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones (1980 / scene) and the bi-racial love story Honky (1971 / trailer). Richard Lynch plays – surprise! – the bad guy, Dr. Gustav Norden, while the eternal has-been Michael Beck plays the art dealer cum last ninja.
ABC Promo for The Last Ninja:

Cut and Run / Inferno in diretta
(1985, dir. Ruggero Deodato)
The first of two movies that Lynch was to make with the great Ruggero Deodato, the director of Last Cannibal World (1977 / trailer), the classic Cannibal Holocaust (1980 / trailer) and Dial: Help (1988), among other titles. Lynch plays bad guy Colonel Brian Horne in culty cast that includes Lisa Blount (of Prince of Darkness [1987]), Michael Berryman, Karen Black, and the unjustly forgotten Leonard Mann. Cut and Run, mildly inspired by Apocalypse Now (1979 / trailer), is to date the last of Deodato's exploiters set in the wilds of the savage-filled Amazon. Wildside Cinema which says that the film "is no walk in the park" and that "there are scenes in this movie that will definitely have some viewers squirming in their seats," explains the plot as follows: "No cannibals this time though, but some of the characters are just as savage. The story is set around a reporter (Blount) and cameraman (Mann) that are investigating the murder of several drug dealers. [...] Upon discovering one such scene they find a photograph that shows a young lad that just so happens to be the son of the reporter's boss. He is in the photograph with a former soldier, turned druglord (Lynch) that was thought to be dead. Needless to say they soon make their way down south in an attempt to find the boy, and also to try and get an interview with the druglord. [...] They soon find that whoever is killing the drug dealers is also killing people in the jungle. And if they aren't careful they will be next."

Invasion U.S.A.
(1985, dir. Joseph Zito)
The second Chuck Norris film directed by Zito, the man who brought you Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984 / trailer) and The Prowler (1981 / trailer). It seems impossible for a B-movie character actor to get through life without doing a film with Chuck Norris, and this is the one Lynch did with him. Lynch plays the main bad guy, the Russian Mikhail Rostov, in a film that Cinema de Merde says "gets really boring going into the second hour." The plot, according to Comeuppance Reviews: "Former CIA agent Matt Hunter (The Chuckster) just wants to be left alone to live in his shack on the Florida bayou. But there's a major wrinkle in his peaceful plan: the diabolical Rostov (Richard Lynch) is planning a full-scale Invasion of... you guessed it... the U.S.A!* But before Rostov can achieve his evil ends, he must get one thing out of the way – Matt Hunter of course." Forgotten Junk is of the opinion that "Invasion U.S.A. is the film that beer and pizza was made for. Don't listen to critics, this film is a bonafide trash masterpiece." Here at A Wasted Life, we have to admit, we've never seen a Chuck Norris film that we liked.
*And to do so, he invades Florida.

Savage Dawn
(1985, dir. Simon Nuchtern)

Savage Dawn was the last movie directed by the unknown Simon Nuchtern, who went on to help write Rejuvenatrix (1988 / foreign trailer) before falling off the face of the earth. Nuchtern also made the mildly interesting Robert Altman inspired sex film New York Nights (1984 / cat fight) and the horror cheapie Silent Madness (1984 / Japanes trailer), but he probably experienced his career zenith with his (uncredited) direction of the new scenes for The Findleys' infamous film, Snuff (1976 / trailer). 
Savage Dawn is a typically 80s cheapie inspired by The Road Warrior (1981 / trailer), or, to use the description of the website Then Fuck You, Jack: The Life and Art of Vern, it's a kind of "post-apocalyptic-town-harassed-by-bikers movie" – it's "kind of" like that 'cause it is never actually made clear in the film whether or not the timeframe is contemporary post-apocalyptic. The plot, according to "The normally quiet streets of a small desert town are transformed into a bloody battlefield when a Green Beret veteran takes on a horde of motorcycle thugs." Lance Henrikson is Stryker, the Green Beret; George Kennedy is his wheelchair-bound friend Tick; William Forsythe (of Larva [2005] and Sharkman [2005]) is the bad guy Pigiron; Karen Black is the town slut Rachel and Lynch is the town pastor, Rev. Romano, who dies for his sins (he wets his wick with the wrong gal). 

For Part II of Richard Lynch's career review, go here.

For Part III of Richard Lynch's career review, go here.