Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Short Film: Dementia / Daughter of Horror (USA, 1955)

Dementia — is it art or is it exploitation? Or proof that a film can be both in one? At little less than an hour in length, this short movie is perhaps the longest "short film" we've ever presented — but Dementia / Daughter of Horror is one our favorite films here at a wasted life, and we think it's time to finally give it the honor.


Prior to [Re]Search's seminal book Incredibly Strange Films (1986), this movie, an obvious labor of love by the unknown filmmaker John J. Parker, Jr., was pretty much forgotten by the world. Now, over 30 years later, thanks to the Internet and the plethora of obscure-film lovers with time on their hands, this oft-maligned surreal mini-masterpiece is hardly forgotten and rather well-documented — its reputation is no longer merely that of the film everyone's laughing at when the blob attacks the movie theatre audience in the original version of The Blob (1958).
Wikipedia has the core details: "Dementia is a 1955 American black-and-white experimental horror film produced, written, and directed by John Parker, and starring Adrienne Barrett and Bruno Ve Sota (25 Mar 1922 — 24 Sept 1976, of Attack of the Giant Leeches [1959], The Wasp Woman [1959], A Bucket of Blood [1959] and so much more). The film, which contains no dialogue, follows a young woman's nightmarish experiences during a single night in Los Angeles's skid row. Stylistically, it incorporates elements of horror, film noir, and expressionist film. Dementia was conceived as a short film by writer-director Parker and was based on a dream relayed to him by his secretary, Barrett. He cast Barrett in the film, along with Ve Sota, and ultimately decided to expand it into a longer feature. The film received a troubled release, being banned in 1953 by the New York State Film Board before finally being released in December 1955. It was later acquired by Jack H. Harris (28 Nov 1918 – 14 March 2017) [the producer of The Blob and other fun stuff], who edited it and incorporated voice-over narration by Ed McMahon before re-releasing it in 1957 under the title Daughter of Horror."
Personally, we always found the B&W cinematography of Dementia particularly noteworthy — and a far cry from what one might expect, seeing who held the camera: cinematographer William C. Thompson (30 Mar 1889 – 22 Oct 1963), photo above from Tar & Feather's, a man best remembered — if remembered at all nowadays — as the cinematographer of the Ed Wood Jr disasterpieces Plan 9 (1957 / trailer), Glen or Glenda (1953 / full masterpiece), Bride of the Monster (1955 / trailer), Jail Bait (1954), The Sinister Urge (1960 / trailer) and Night of the Ghouls (1959 / full movie), as well as his short Final Curtain (1957 — our Short Film of the Month for March 2019). Other films of note include Dwain Esper's breathtaking roadshow "horror" film (and imperative viewing) Maniac (1934) and other fun precode independent trash product like Esper's Marihuana (1936 / trailer), Crane Wilbur's Tomorrow's Children (1934 / full film) and High School Girl (1934), and W. Merle Connell's The Devil's Sleep (1949 / trailer). Allegedly either colorblind or missing an eye (the legend varies, or is completely missing, depending on which website you read), Thompson exploitation roots were set with his first film job, the "drama" Absinthe (1914).
For Dementia, for a change Thompson seems to have pulled out the creative stops and gone arty. Much like the music, which was arty from the start, as it is by the influential American avant-garde composer George Antheil (8 July 1900 – 12 Feb 1959), with vocal gymnastics by the great Marni Nixon (22 Feb 1930 – 24 July 2016), whom some might know as the singing voice of Deborah Kerr in The King and I (1956 / trailer), Natalie "Doesn't Float" Wood in West Side Story (1961 / trailer), and Audrey Hepburn in the shitty film that is My Fair Lady (1964 / trailer).
Dementia is a great film, and a mysterious one. Ignoring the questions of interpretation that the surreal narrative opens, the project itself raises many questions. Why did director John J. Parker, Jr., decide to suddenly make a film, this film? And why, after such a unique blast of creativity, did he never again get involved in another film project? Who exactly was John J. Parker, Jr., and whatever happened to him? Ditto with his secretary Adrienne Barrett, for that matter…
Adrienne Barrett will probably remain a mystery, but at least some questions have been answered over the years about John J. Parker, Jr., if sketchily… for example, what the AFI Catalog writes opens as many questions as it answers: "Producer-writer-director John Parker, whose only onscreen credit is 'A John Parker Production,' was the son of prominent film exhibitors, and Dementia was his only feature-length production. Parker made a short film, based on a nightmare experienced by his secretary, Adrienne Barrett, and used it to obtain funding to produce Dementia . Barrett starred in the feature film, which was co-produced by fellow actors Bruno Ve Sota and Ben Roseman. Although Dementia, which was shot partially on location in Venice, CA, was produced in 1953, it encountered serious censorship difficulties and was not released until 1955."
In regard to the censorship problems, DVD Savant explains: "[Parker] did submit the movie over ten times to the New York censors between 1953 and 1955, only to be refused a license for exhibition due to its horror content. Their gripe sheet includes just about every forbidden item in the Code: Although only a fairly grim dismemberment is depicted, the implications of the film cover prostitution, pimping, police corruption, adultery, incest (maybe) and heroin addiction. The censors demanded the deletion of practically every event in the film. Commercially, Dementia went exactly nowhere."
And what did the NY Censors think? Well, according to Thrilling Days of Yesterday — which thinks 'Dementia is not a particularly good movie.  […]  But it's a movie well worth checking out at least once for the simple reason that no movie title better describes its contents than this one.' — one of the board wrote: "This six-reeler is a cinematographic attempt at the pictorial translation of some notions engendered by a sick brain.  The attempt has produced a film which overflows with horror, hopelessness, strong sadism, violent acts of terror, and outbursts of panic.  Its characters, who all move about like the vagrant phantasms of dreams, do not speak.  The sound track is nevertheless alive with a line of musical commentary ranging from sour lyricism to noisy pathos…"
Thrilling Days of Yesterday also mentions that "Dementia sprung from the ambitious mind of John J. Parker, the son of a family who owned a chain of theatres.  Parker had a bit more motivation beyond just distributing other people's movies — he wanted to make them on his own, and one of his first projects was a thirteen-minute short entitled Citizen Clute (1951), devised to be a TV pilot starring legendary character veteran Chester Clute.  […] When you have money, you'd be surprised at how much pull you can exert in any industry — and such was the case with John J.; he was able to secure an office inside Samuel Goldwyn Studios in Hollywood and start what would become his production company (J.J. Parker Productions, Inc.) and his only directorial effort (Dementia)." Citizen Clute (1951), in any event, was screened in Portland by the "pioneer Oregon theatreman" John J. Parker, Jr., in 1951 [Archive.org] and is now, presumably, a lost film.
It seems somehow fitting that one of the few known screenings of Dementia, on a double bill with a documentary on Pablo Picasso, was at New York's legendary 55th Street Playhouse. Among the many films of note that cinema screened before becoming history is nothing less than the legendary (and lost) gay porn film...

Monday, July 20, 2020

The Purge: Anarchy (Non-USA, 2014)

It is easy to see why the sequel to 2013's The Purge enjoys greater popularity than its predecessor. It's not because it's a better film — it's not, if you're looking for a movie with a message — but it is definitely a more traditional action cum horror movie of the hunt-the-human genre begun with, dunno, the first version of The Most Dangerous Game (1932 / complete film). Whereas the first Purge movie, one much more in the tradition of the home-invasion flick, still spent energy on the somewhat didactic exploration of the philosophical question of complacency and compliancy, The Purge: Anarchy, having the advantage of a pre-built context and world, might still offer a few superficial head-nods to one or the other unpunctuated semi-questions regarding guilt and morality, but is really far more interested in simply being a well-made survive-the-night action movie that follows a checklist of scenes. This time around, however, the narrative moves through the lower echelons of a society that is, perhaps, but a few goosesteps away from what America could easily become and, to an extent, already is.
Trailer to
The Purge: Anarchy
In Purge: Anarchy, instead of a well-to-do neoliberal family confronted by a system they make money from, we are given a variety of salt-of-the-earth individuals with just enough generic background story to allow us to find points of identification in them. We have the hardworking, single-mom Eva (Carmen Ejogo of It Comes at Night [2017 / trailer]) and her daughter Cali (Kielo Sanchez), the mom doomed to the minimum wage, ends-never-meet life familiar to so many in the US. First the two are confronted by the an unexpected Purge-related personal tragedy, and then by macho sexual entitlement, before the real reason (i.e., the governmental conspiracy to cull the lower classes) forces them onto the streets on Purge Night. Then we meet Shane (Zach Gilford of The Last Stand [2013 / trailer] and The Last Winter [2006 / trailer]) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez of A Perfect Getaway [2009 / trailer]), a young married couple on the brink of separation who, for some odd reason, are still underway two hours before lockdown and get stuck downtown when their sabotaged car breaks down. And finally, we meet Sergeant (Frank Grillo of Hell on the Border [2019 / trailer] and the Wes Craven car wreck known as My Soul to Take [2010 / trailer]), a former cop and man of some means who functions as movie's unbelievable dues-ex-machina character: he gets distracted from his personal mission of revenge, the killing of the drunk driver who killed his son, and ends up the unwilling leader of the motley group as they make their way through the murderous masses and insanities of the after hours. And as the five do plod onwards, people drop left and right around them, but the quintet proves harder to kill than you or we would probably be.
Good set pieces, horrifically fun costumes, (predictably) unpredictable twists and a lot of shooting propels the movie forward, keeping the viewer tensed and on the edge of the seat despite the occasional unsatisfying turn (like not seeing what happens to the Grand Dame [Judith McConnell of The Doll Squad (1973 / trailer), The Thirsty Dead (1973 / full movie) and The Brotherhood of Satan (1971 / trailer)] that Sergeant lets run). The end result: a tense film, a fun film, a mostly intellectually empty film that jettisons much of the first's message and offers well-made and well-timed entertainment following a familiar pattern… and a groaner of an ending meant to underscore the Sarge's own personal redemption.
If there is a message to the movie, it might be that aside from the upper echelons feeding from the lower, all echelons are capable of being infected by such a moral and social rot that, in the end, the average person has little if any humanity left within them. After all, it is our right to be fuckwads, as per the Constitution. In Purge: Anarchy, it is not just the rich that are out to destroy the lower classes, the poor are cannibalizing themselves as well, with those that simply want to survive, to live, are at victim of both. The America shown in the movie, an America that is oddly familiar in so many ways, is a society and a nation that is too sick to ever be great [again], in part because it's a society and a nation that prefers to ignore its own illness.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Totem (USA, 2017)

Some years ago, director Marcel Sarmiento directed the disturbingly odd and transgressive, blackly humorous horror flick, Deadgirl (2008 / trailer), which, due to its decidedly exploitation-film elements, arguably upset too many people to ever find a mainstream audience or general popularity. Totem, his first feature-length directorial project since then, is far more standard in its supernatural horror narrative than the zombie sexual horror of Deadgirl, but nevertheless also manages, at the end, to suddenly slip in a quick dash of disturbing sexuality that succeeds in putting the viewer uncomfortably on edge — far more than most of the movie's extremely traditional horror elements that precede the unexpected resolution. Despite being far more accessible on the whole than Deadgirl, Totem pretty much tanked when released and quickly slid into oblivion.
Totem opens with a shock and a splash, though the event shown should probably have been more clearly marked as occurring prior to the rest of the movie. But soon enough the viewer realizes that the opening violent death is that of the mother — and thus a tale unfolds that is hardly new: a few years later, just when daddy James (James Tupper of Beneath Us [2019 / trailer]) decides that the time has come for his artist girlfriend Robin (Ahna O'Reilly of Sleepwalker [2017 / trailer]) to move in and join the family, his decidedly non-chill oldest daughter Kellie (Kerris Dorsey), who has pretty much taken over the maternal role within the family, is suddenly confronted by a seemingly evil presence out to harm the family. Thus family drama meets supernatural horror as Kellie tries to discover the what and the why of the dangers her family now faces.
Whether the inter-familial drama and difficulties resulting from daddy moving on or Kellie's realization and exploration of the sudden appearance of the supernatural threat, the elements of the plot are indeed nothing new. What saves the movie is the convincing acting and surprisingly tightly drawn characters — the latter is particularly noteworthy, for none are really fleshed out enough for them to be as convincing and "real" as they are. True, Kellie's high-school sports background is given some focus, but what dad does other than being daddy (e.g., how he puts bacon on the table, for example) is never broached, and while Robin is said to be an artist and even moves her sculptures into the house, she never seems to be actively creative. They, like the youngest daughter Abby (Lia McHugh of The Lodge [2019 / trailer]), all simply agitate within the setting, coming forward as needed, but are also far more present as people than the sketchiness of their respective part should allow. Ditto with, Kellie's boyfriend Todd (Braeden Lemasters of The Stepfather [2009 / trailer]), who is never anything more than an unnaturally understanding and perfect boyfriend, even if he does now and then assist in advancing the plot (e.g., he is the source that explains exactly what a totem is, and how it could be the source of the supernatural threat). Nevertheless, he like every other stock character of the tale is acted with such conviction that he achieves a presence that makes his final fate all the more tragic — although the movie's twist also makes him obvious fodder in retrospect.
It is arguable whether Totem deserves its ignominiously quick fate of total obscurity, for despite its by-the-numbers plot development, Totem manages to be as surprisingly involving as it is well-acted, far more so than many a far more popular horror movie. Likewise, while most of the shocks and special effects do lean towards the cheap and cheesy, the final money shot(s) don't lack in punch and effective realism, not to mention some cringe-inducing ick-factor moments of icky sexuality. Totem is an entirely watchable movie.
In the end, however, the mainstream mediocrity of the first two-thirds of Totem overshadows the final shocks and the sucker-punch of the unexpected socially transgressive twist so important to the movie's resolution. This, in turn, substantially mitigates the movie's overall effectiveness — especially since that once the twist is revealed, certain prior events (like the fate of the cat) no longer make any sense. Totem may never bore, but despite its ability to hold the viewer's interest and the violence and ick-factor arising in its final moments, on the whole Totem feels more like a surprisingly good pay-TV movie than a feature film.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Babes of Yesteryear – Marilyn Joi, Part I: 1972-73

Let's hear it for Marilyn Joi. Between 1972 and 1989, this Babe of Yesteryear made indelible as well as blink-and-you-miss-her appearances in a variety of fondly remembered, unjustly forgotten, or gladly overlooked grindhouse products. But fame (and non-fame) is a fickle thing, especially in the nether regions of exploitation movies, and although Ms. Joi always exuded a memorable presence and has some notable films in her resume, she never became a "name" — hell's bells, more people know the name Jean Bell than they do Marilyn Joi,* although Joi arguably displayed far greater thespian talent, far more variety of facial expression, and definitely appeared in a larger number of noteworthy movies. Indeed, "Joi brought variety and a measure of depth to her big and small screen performances. She never walked through a role and she knew the meaning of nuance. She could be a bad girl, a traditional action film heroine, or a light comedienne of considerable charm. [Bob McCann in Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television]"
To that, we might add that she had a killer figure and she was sexy, and she had fabulous eyes.
* Perhaps due in part to Ms. Bell's status of being one of the first Afro-American women to get nekkid in Playboy, while Ms. Joi only did cheesecake for race-specific publications like Players, "the Black Playboy". (Although, according to Ms. Joi, "I did do some [nude] pictures, but they were never published. I'm sure they're floating around somewhere."**) The original photo of the above altered image — found at Pulp International — is actually a cover photo from Players. Players deemed Marilyn "America's Favorite Black Poster Girl" in 1980 and, two years later, voted her one of "America's Ten Sexiest Black Women" — and she was.
** Quote taken from an informative interview published in Shock Cinema #16 in 2000, which can be found at the Internet Archives. We make extensive use of that interview in the following blog entry. For those of you who don't know Shock Cinema, it is one of the best magazines around, particularly for people who waste their lives reading sites like this one. Check it out, buy an issue — you'll love it!
A beautiful and bubbly Marilyn Joi interviewed:
"Marilyn Joi" was born 22 May 1945 in New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, USA. Her full real name is not general knowledge, though her real first name seems to be "Mary"; on screen, she was at times also credited as Tracy King, Tracy Ann King, T.A. King and even Anita King. She is alive and well and (unlike us) on twitter. A true Babe of Yesteryear, her film career was much too short and she is unjustly unknown — which is why we here at a wasted life have decided to take one of our typically meandering and unfocused looks at her filmography. If it's even more meandering and unfocused than usual, well, in this was researched and written while on coronavirus lockdown and we had more time on our hands.
As always, we make no guarantee that anything we write is 100% correct (feel free to tell us where we're wrong — preferably in a non-trolly tone of voice). And if we missed a film, let us know… 


Hammer
(1972, dir. Bruce D. Clark)

"Women are like buses. Miss one, catch another."
Hammer (Fred Williamsom)

Marilyn Joi, credited as "Tracy King", made her film debut in a minuscule but noticeable role in this lesser classic from the early years of the Golden Age of Blaxploitation, a movie that is perhaps most notable now for having truly launched the film career of Fred "The Hammer" Williamson, seen below playing with a pussy (not from the movie).
Joi, seen below from the movie, was working as a dancer when, as she explains it, "[Hammer] just sort of fell on me, really. I was dancing, and someone came into the club and asked me, 'Do you want to be in a movie?' I was like, Yeah, right, sure!' (Laughs) That was Al Adamson, and he wanted me to do a dance [in the movie] with Vonetta McGee. [Shock Cinema #16]" As one might infer by the screenshot below, Joi does an S&M-themed strip show.
With Hammer, Al Adamson (25 July 1929 – 2 Aug 1995) acted only as a producer for a change, which might explain why the film displays somewhat greater directorial skill than most of his productions tend to: the New Zealand-born, now long-inactive director Bruce D. Clark — see: the trash anti-classic Galaxy of Terror (1981 / trailer) and the snoozer The Ski Bum (1971, with Zalman King / trailer) — may not have exactly been directorially talented, but his style definitely displayed greater mundane workmanship than Adamson's ever did. The screenplay is the first credited screenplay of Charles Eric Johnson, who went on to do a variety a blaxploitation films, the most famous being Slaughter's Big Rip-off (1973 / trailer), as well as the psychotronically fun Eddie Romero flick, Beyond Atlantis (1973 / trailer).
Trailer to
Hammer:
The plot to this "pretty decent slice of gritty 70's cinema [but] not something I would classify as an essential piece of blaxploitation cinema": "B.J. Hammer (Williamson) is a past-his-prime former boxer working the warehouse district of L.A. when he is fired after wiping the floor with a racist co-worker. Word of his fighting skills reach the ears of mafia-connected boxing promoter Big Sid (Charles Lampkin [17 Mar 1913 – 17 Apr 1989] of Five [1951 / trailer] and The Black Godfather [1974 / trailer]), who brings Hammer into his corner under the watchful eye of legit trainer the Professor (Mel Stewart [19 Sept 1929 – 24 Feb 2002] of The Bride of Re-Animator [1990 / trailer] and the film version of Iceberg Slim's Trick Baby [1972 / trailer]). Things look great for the boxer as he works his way through a series of victorious fights and he begins a relationship with Sid's secretary Lois (Vonetta McGee [14 Jan 1945 – 9 July 2010] of The Big Silence [1968]), but he begins to get some blow back from the neighborhood, who accuse the fighter of selling out to the Man. Furthermore, local cop Davis (Bernie Hamilton) is after Sid, who is dabbling in the drug trade. While Hammer initially refuses to believe his new employer is corrupt, his attitude changes when Sid demands he take a dive during the next big fight. Crushed by the request, Hammer refuses to take the dive but Sid's right-hand man Brenner, played by 70s baddie William Smith, threatens to kill Lois. [McBastard's Mausoleum]"
The fab soundtrack — is there even a blaxploitation film out there that has a bad soundtrack? — is from Solomon Burke (21 March 1936 or 1940 – 10 Oct 2010).

Solomon Burke's
Hammer:
"There isn't much to Hammer than what you would find in your average blaxploitation. If anything, the film pretty much goes through the motions without too much fuss. There's the obligatory slayings, the soft-focus sex scenes, the kitschy '70s-esque jive-talking, and the good-hearted (sometimes bull-headed) lead. Just about every cliché regarding pimps, street kids, hookers and hitmen is thrown into a cauldron that never really reaches a boiling point. What the film does do successfully is present one of blaxploitation's more charismatic figures. Williamson has charm to spare, and his good-natured humour and easy smiles make it very clear that he wasn't taking himself all too seriously while making this film. [Pop Matters]"
Some people, however, think the film is pure shit. For example, KO Picture, which seethes: "There was a real recklessness about the entire production: Continuity errors (within the first 5 minutes!), unintelligible dialogue, editing-via-hatchet or other blunt objects within reach, obvious non-actors in pivotal roles, plot points dropped and never picked up again, Fred Williamson's visible panty lines (those were some snug slacks!). And the most bizarre part is that there was a definite inkling of 'sequel' at the end of it all, like they felt this Hammer would be an enduring character. One could almost argue that this was all a set-up in order to GET to a sequel. That all the dropped plot points and the absolute refusal to reveal who 'THE MAN' was and why he does what he does was, in fact, intended.* But that would be almost unimaginable. I refuse to give the filmmakers that much credit."
* This statement, needless to say, reveals the writer as a total honky that transcends simple skin color. How the hell can anyone not know who the Man is?


Hit Man
(1972, writ. & dir. George Armitage)
Another blaxploitation film written and directed by a white man, although Armitage has gone on record as having wanted Bernie Casey (8 June 1939 – 19 Sept 2017, of Cleopatra Jones [1973] and Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde [1976 / trailer]), the film's star,* to direct and only remained on the job when it looked like the producer, Gene Corman, would pull the plug on the project before giving it to a first-time [Afro-American] director. Like many blaxpoitation films of the time, Hit Man is a retooled version of a former lily-white hit film, in this case the British movie Get Carter (1971 / trailer)** — so both flicks, basically, are based on the Ted Lewis crime novel, Jack's Return Home. Marilyn Joi, now credited as "Tracy Ann-King", is there to play Rita Biggs According to Joi, "When I auditioned for Corman, I showed up in a mink coat with just a bikini under it! (Laughs) When I dropped the mink coat, that was it!"
* Another former football player who, if you like 'em big, was a total hunk in his prime.
** Remade in 2000 as a Sylvester Stallone movie (trailer).
"Actually, Corman's trend-setting with black-oriented films goes back over ten years. At that time he produced a motion picture called The Intruder, which dealt with racial intolerance and injustice in the South. 'It exposed the doctrine of hate and prejudice,' Corman says, 'but it turned out that the film was far ahead of its time.' The then-explosive nature of the film kept The Intruder from receiving the exposure it rightfully deserved. With the excellent response to his Cool Breeze* this year, Corman felt encouraged to produce another film in the now totally accepted field of black action dramas of today. Hit Man he feels comes into the marketplace at just exactly the right time for all audiences. [Press Release @ One-Sheet Index]"
* Cool Breeze (1972/ trailer), like Hit Man, is a blaxploitation version of an older lily-white classic; in the case of Cool Breeze, Gene Corman retooled the 1950 classic Asphalt Jungle (trailer) into something arguably less interesting.
The plot of Hit Man, as found at Blaxploitation.com: "Petty crook Tyrone Tackett (Bernie Casey) attends his brother's funeral in LA to discover that the death was suspicious. Rather than returning to his native Oakland he starts to make his own investigations into the murder. Tackett discovers that his niece (Candy All) had been making adult movies and begins to follow the trail through LA's porn underworld from motel to campus to Watts Towers and back. He encounters starlet Gozelda (Pam Grier), porn star Julius and others before arriving at crime lord Zito (Don Diamond [4 June 1921 – 19 June 2011] of the original version of The Toolbox Murders [1978 / trailer]) and henchman Shag (Bob Harris of The Student Teachers [1973, see further below]). Always alert and ready for action, he's apparently as merciless and uncaring as those he meets. Only his lover Laural (Lisa Moore [12 Sept 1940 – 10 Apr 1989] of Rape Squad [1974 / trailer]) sees the real Tackett..." 

Trailer to
Hit Man:
"Hit Man is George (Miami Blues [1990 / trailer]*) Armitage's blaxploitation remake of Mike Hodges' Get Carter. While it lacks the punch of the original, […] it's a solidly entertaining revenge picture. It also happens to be a great vehicle for the late Bernie Casey. […] It contains more than its fair share of sex, violence, and exploitation goodness. It takes its time unfurling its premise, maybe a bit too much. Once it gets going, it's a rather satisfying thriller. Casey is front and center in nearly every scene. Even though the pacing gets a little pokey in places, his performance is so strong that you are with him every step of the way. The supporting performances are uniformly fine. […] Pam Grier and Marilyn Joi [below, from the film] are around as the eye candy, although you'll wish they had more to do. Still… if you ever wanted to see Pam Grier get eaten by a lion… [Video Vacuum]"
* Speaking of the excellent but totally overlooked and forgotten film Miami Blues, over at Pink Smoke, John Cribs ponders things we here at a wasted life have, too: "There's nothing mysterious about George Armitage, but his complete lack of prestige has always perplexed me. I spent a better part of the 90s wondering how the hell Miami Blues didn't open to the same kind of enthusiastic reception or at least develop the same reverential reputation as, say, Pulp Fiction. When his follow-up film Grosse Pointe Blank (1997 / trailer) was released seven years later, it drew mixed reactions from critics and fell into the iniquitous late 90s pit of 'Tarantino imitations' just because it featured comedic hit men and a soundtrack made up of popular songs. And after 2004's depressing flop The Big Bounce (2004 / trailer), […] I couldn't quite figure out why Armitage's track record had faltered so abruptly […]." Armitage is a much better filmmaker, in other words, than his obscurity and lack of film credits would indicate.
H.B. Barnum's title track to
Hit Man:

In any event: "Bernie Casey strides purposefully through Hit Man, his flamboyant hat tilted at a rakish angle over a graying Afro, his ex-professional-football player frame squeezed into a series of tight trousers. If he emerges as Hit Man's hero, it's only because his brutally efficient enforcer qualifies as marginally less evil than the human parasites around him. […] [George Armitage] strands Casey's grittily charismatic protagonist in some of the seamiest corners of a Los Angeles rotting from the inside out, then watches in admiration as Casey leaves behind a trail of bullet-riddled corpses and sexually satisfied women. […] Armitage's thriller inhabits a shadowy realm of porn theaters and brothels, mob palaces and dogfights. It's a hard-boiled world devoid of sentimentality or good intentions, where everyone is motivated by the ugliest and least egalitarian instincts. In this poisonous context, Casey's hunger for revenge almost qualifies as noble, though his means of accomplishing his goals are anything but. Casey gives his character a powerful internal calm and casual authority. He's a bad man in a wicked world, but at least he has style, and in the funky world of blaxploitation, that counts for an awful lot. […] Armitage's tight, minimalist, thoroughly badass fusion of blaxploitation and film noir proves that greed, lust, and the quest for revenge remain depressingly universal. [AV Club]"
Over at Expelled Grey Matter, they grapple with the philosophical question of whether a single but probably real scene can keep a movie from being "one of those forgotten films that needs to be reconsidered": "This is largely a decent action film once you get past the beginning, which involves […] a trip to a dog fighting ring — in which, it appears, we get to see a real dog fight, including one [dog] getting killed and its final death throes. This movie, I take it, is not famous enough to have sparked real outrage about that scene — or, maybe (hopefully) it was not real. Very few times am I sickened by violence in movies, since I know it is pretend. […] Whatever fun may be had watching a bunch of red paint splash around the screen later on is almost completely ruined by that one scene. This is a shame because, without it, I would be praising this movie up and down as one of those forgotten films that needs to be reconsidered […]."

"Bernie Casey exercises his right to bear a chrome plated Colt Super .38 automatic in this cool promo photo made for his 1972 blaxploitation flick Hit Man. We love Casey. He died [...] pretty much unheralded [19 Sept 2017], but he appeared in a lot of fun movies [...]. He also had the good fortune to get naked with both Pam Grier and Claudia Jennings. The Jennings scene is flat amazing, but the Grier scene, which is actually from Hit Man, is hilarious. As Grier climbs atop him and presses her naked body full length onto his the expression on his face reads something like: 'Oh. My. Freaking. God.' That's probably the only time in his life he wasn't 100% cool. [Pulp International]"


Wonder Women
(1973, dir. Robert Vincent O'Neil)

A.k.a. The Deadly and the Beautiful.
"There have been several great baseball movies and a handful of memorable football films over the years. Even track and field has inspired pictures like Personal Best and Chariots of Fire. But one sport above all is indisputably made for the big screen: Jai alai. Just imagine the thrill of plunking down $8.50 to watch two guys play catch with raisin scoops, and you can understand the excitement with which we viewed The Deadly and the Beautiful. Alas, the jai alai match that opens this film is a classic piece of bait-and-switch, and before long we find ourselves knee-deep in a Ross Hagen movie. [Scott Clevenger & Sheri Zollinger in Better Living through Bad Movies]"
Trailer to
Wonder Women:
Aside from the fact that we here at a wasted life have never understood what everyone has against Ross Hagen movies — who doesn't enjoy disasterpieces like The Mini-Skirt Mob (1968 / trailer) or Merchants of Death (1989 / full movie) or all his Fred Olan Ray flicks? — or how anyone can even like sports films, Clevenger & Zollinger can't see the forest for the trees: "Wonder Women is a rollicking B-movie and a perfect example of 1970s grindhouse cinema. [Criminal Element]" Indeed, the movie is some fabulous trash and finely aged kitsch, truly of the memorable kind that simply don't get made anymore. (Instead, nowadays we're stuck with Michael Bay movies — a sad culturally state, to say the least, fitting to the sad state of the so-called American democracy.)
Director Robert Vincent O'Neil adapted the script to this fun slice of Philippine-shot grindhouse trash from a screenplay written by Lou Whitehill, probably the very Whitehill script that was used more or less at the same time for the oddly better-known (?) slice of Philippine-shot grindhouse trash, The Thirsty Dead (1974 / full movie), which replaces jai-alai players with women. O'Neil, who (sadly) has remained inactive for decades now, had a brief productive flurry of about 15 years during which he wrote and/or directed some fun trash, most famously The Psycho Lover (1970 / trailer), Blood Mania (1970 / trailer), Angel (1984) & Angel 2 (1985) — the latter two both with Susan Tyrrell — and Don Sharp's What Waits Below (1984). (Oh, where did you go, Joe?)
Though an American production, most of Wonder Women was shot in the Philippines — but not the scenes of the uncredited Marilyn Joi [seen above from the movie], who revealed "My scenes were shot in an Asian restaurant here in L.A. Those were just some pick-ups they had to do — I don't know if they forgot to do them in the Philippines or what, but they asked me to do them and I said, 'OK!' It was just a tiny thing."
Tiny thing is right: basically, they dressed Joi in similar outfits to the only Afro American of the film's gang of "wonder women", Maggie (Shirley Washington of Dead End Dolls [1972] and Darktown Strutters [1975 / see Dick Miller, Part IV]), seen above from the movie, and then dropped Joi into the movie. (You see both Marilyn and Shirley in the trailer, by the way — but more of Marilyn.)
Title track to Wonder Women,
sung by Annette Thomas:  
 "[...] Wonder Women is essentially a sixties Eurospy movie transplanted to another continent and another decade, the 1970s. It has all the usual sixties Eurospy hallmarks: evil Oriental villain with an island full of beautiful, deadly, scantily-clad babes (why is it always a babe army?), weird science (unusual organ transplants), cool chases in exotic but low-budget locations, an 'escape from the island as the base blows up' finale and, most importantly, a supremely obnoxious hero. [Double O Section]"
The "loopy" plot, as found at criminal element: "Fourteen prized athletes from around the world suddenly disappear over a short span of time. […] It turns out the guys have been put into comatose states and shipped to an island retreat in the Philippines […] run by a Dr. Tsu: a disgraced lady physician turned mad scientist ('100 years ahead of her time'), played by exotic beauty Nancy Kwan (of The Wrecking Crew [1968 / trailer], The McMasters [1970 / credit sequence] and Walking the Edge [1985 / trailer]). What Tsu's up to at her freaky complex is — with the help of a bevy of go-go boots-wearing, machine gun-toting honeys — managing an organ transplant clinic. […] Sometimes she executes these operations just as experimental play, to see what will happen if you, say, swap brains between two people. But mostly she's after money. She lures in rich clients who will pay to trade vital parts with more fit persons; thus, the need for super-bodied athletes. So, for instance, there's one wealthy old geezer who's going to pay Tsu mad bucks to have his brain inserted into the body of a jai alai player Tsu and her girls have captured. Lloyd's of London, who has a financial interest in the jai alai star, starts to get some clues about where he's been taken. They hire the services of virile, square-jawed former CIA agent Mike Harber (played by Ross Hagen [21 May 1938 – 7 May 2011]), who happens to be in Manila […]. It doesn't take Harber long to zero in on Tsu's institute, and likewise the mad lady doctor and her henchwomen are fully aware of Harber and his investigations into their sinister doings. […]"
The film ends in a manner that indicates a planned sequel never happened.
Regarding this slice of "Filipino exploitation trash, boasting some nice 70s T&A and some crazy stuntwork", Alex in-Wonderland raves: "It's delightfully tacky, and quite harmless by today's standards. The women are moderately attractive and it's fun seeing them in such strong and physically demanding roles. Nancy Kwan is gorgeous, and plays her role as a megalomaniacal Bond villain to sweet perfection. Her refined manners and delicate poise belie her cold and wicked nature, and she's more than a match for the brutish Harber. While it's full of amusing bits, the funniest moment has to be when Harber is being chased through a cemetery and he pulls a double-barreled sawed-off shotgun out of his shirt. Where the hell did that come from?!? Talk about a master of concealment! The film's big set piece is a foot chase through a crowded marketplace, followed by a dangerous Jeepney chase. The most chilling and astonishing scene is when a speeding car accidentally hits a security guard — for real. It's a fantastic shot, but very unsettling. There's also some local flavor thrown in with an extended cock-fight sequence that's difficult to watch. Overall, it's a fun little female action romp for anyone who enjoys watching women in power roles. The only disappointment is when the action shifts to Harber, and the once powerful female assassins become meek and helpless in his presence."
Over at Letterboxed, Evan might add: "Kinda like a Ted V. Mikels (29 Apr 1929 – 16 Oct 2016) movie where things actually happen, this takes an already irresistible premise and keeps piling on the PG-rated sleaze for the entire duration of its 80-minute runtime. A decidedly capitalist take on Sumuru [see Maria Rohm Part I & Part II] quickly zigs and zags through cosmically soundtracked slow-motion cockfights, elektro brain sex, erotic chess games, and an entire room of fifth-reel Dr. Moreau freaks with the crazed abandon of Franco at his most feverishly pulp. Reading that this was shot on short ends and with a cast of Americans already in the Philippines doesn't surprise me in the least. Outlaw filmmaking at its most impulsive and fun […]".


The Student Teachers
(1973, dir. Jonathan Kaplan)

Marilyn Joi, credited as Tracy Ann King, has a tiny role in this film doing her specialty at the time: topless dancing. As The Student Teachers also features the dearly departed cult character actor Dick Miller playing Coach Harris, we took a look at the film in R.I.P.: Dick Miller, Part III (1968-74), where we never made mention of Joi. We wrote:
A.k.a. College Coeds and Self-Service Schoolgirls (the poster below might be to the movie; neither name on it seem to be real — or at least neither "star" ever made another movie).*
* Since we wrote the original entry in May 2019, we've come to believe that Self-Service Schoolgirls might actually be another title for Erwin C. Dietrich's German exploiter Mädchen, die sich selbst bedienen (1975), a.k.a. Self-Service Girls (full NSFW film). Of course, there's no saying that the two different movies might simply share a same a.k.a. title.
Kaplan's second directorial project, once again a Corman production — a Julie Corman production, that is. It would seem that after nurse T&A, the time seemed right for teacher T&A. Dick Miller has a relatively major/important part as "the penultimate dumb" and chauvinist Coach Harris. (Major spoiler: He turns out to be the rapist!)
As Kaplan explains in Chris Nashawaty's Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses: Roger Corman: King of the B Movies "After Night Call Nurses was done, I didn't talk to him [Corman] again for a while. Then Julie [Corman] called me and said, 'We're a big hit in Tallahassee! Roger wants you to come out and make the same movie, but with teachers instead of nurses.' That's how I got The Student Teachers." 
The Student Teachers:
As an exploitation franchise, teacherploitation didn't last all that long: the Corman Mafia only made one unofficial "sequel", Summer School Teachers (1974 / trailer), and aside from the later cheapie The Teacher (1974 / trailer) and the far cheaper and more violent exploiter Trip with the Teacher (1975 / trailer, with Zalman King) — the latter a semi-remake of the even cheaper and sleazier Harry Novak production, Convicts Women a.k.a. Bust Out (1970, with Candy Samples) that was later semi-remade as Delinquent School Girls (1975 / trailer, with Roberta Pedon) — and the Italo sex farces Substitute Teacher aka La supplente (1975, poster below) and School Days a.k.a. La professoressa di scienze naturali (1976 / full movie in Italian), we can't really remember that many female teacher-centric sexploiters out there.
The screenplay was by Danny Opatoshu, one of the less prolific screenwriters of the Corman factory of the 70s. Plot and opinion from B&S About Movie: "Rachel (Susan Damante of Blood Sabbath [1972, with an uncredited Uschi Digard] and The Photographer [1974 / trailer]) who wants to teach the good parts of sex education after school (that is, birth control and that sex isn't this alien, frightening thing); Tracey (Brooke Mills of The Big Doll House [1971 / trailer]) dates an art teacher who cheats on her [and gets involved in nude photography]; and Jody (Brenda Sutton of the WTF biker flick J.C. [1972 / WTF?]) works with an inner-city education effort but also gets involved in selling drugs. [...] To say this movie is dated is an understatement. That said, it's packed with the earnestness of the end of the 1970s and the feeling that young people would change the world. They all ended up repeating the same cycle as their parents by the early 80s. But for now, they would be the student teachers."
"An early film [...] from the days when New World Pictures was Hollywood's hottest training ground for new talent (1973). The plot, a rape mystery, is an ugly, exploitative downer, but Kaplan puts some infectious high spirits into the incidental action. Everyone is having so much fun that it seems a shame when the film is forced to stop every 10 or 15 minutes so the three lead actresses can take off their shirts. [The Chicago Reader]"
Chuck Norris has no lines in his first [short] appearance in a US movie in The Student Teachers as a karate instructor. And as one sees by the advert below, at least at the Grand Island Drive-in Theatre, The Student Teachers was once on a double bill with the WIP/nursesploitation Corman production, The Hot Box (1972).
Trailer to
The Hot Box:

In any event, the shot of Marilyn Joi below — found obviously enough at Mr. Skin — is of her stripping in the background of The Student Teachers.


(1973, dir. Jack Hill)
 
Truth be told, you can't call yourself a true fan of blaxploitation — no, of exploitation film in general — if you have not yet gotten around to screening this fabulous trash masterpiece. Hit the title above to go to our extremely verbose and long-winded "review" (Spoilers!) of Jack Hill's classic, which we wrote way back in 2008. 
Trailer to
 Coffy:

In our review of Coffy we mention Marilyn Joi not even once — though she is found in an image we used for the blog entry (the three-gal stable photo seen further below) and does indeed stand out amidst the rather generic white babes in her brief, un-credited appearance* — we just could never take our eyes off the Queen of Blaxploitation, Pam Grier, in her first starring role, who just walks away with this perfectly tailored slice of grindhouse fabulousness, a film that fails in being 100% perfect only due to its final scenes, which reduces the righteous, revenge-driven, ass-kicking Amazon to a pissed-off cuckqueen. 
* And also loses her top in the catfight, revealing a typically 70s distaste for wearing a bra.
But to return to Marilyn Joi [above]: Pulp International writes, "[…] Here she is again, chilled out, sporting an afro, and looking like she has something naughty on her mind. The shot was made in 1973 as a promo for the blaxploitation flick Coffy. The fact that the photo exists is a bit is unusual due to the fact her role in the film was so brief she never got screen credit. She was one of the prosties in the pimp King George's stable, competition for an infiltrating Pam Grier, who was on a revenge mission. Joi probably got fifteen seconds of screen time, which may be why this photo is often misattributed. It's Joi, though." As proof of her presence, below you find a photo of King George's stable, she being the only non-honky of the bunch.
Oh, yeah — the plot of Coffy, in short, as found in Clive Davies' Spinegrinder: The Movies Most Critics Won't Write About: "[Pam Grier] is Coffy, a nurse who takes the law into her own hands when her younger sister becomes hooked on drugs. The opening scene when she seduces a pimp/pusher before offing him is a perfect example of how films should begin. Sig Haig (14 July 1939 – 21 Sept 2019) works as a henchman for a crime kingpin (Allan Arbus* [15 Feb 1918 – 19 Apr 2013]) who likes to humiliate women. The outrageously dressed pimp King George (Robert Do Qui [20Apr 1934 – 9 Feb 2008]) has the best death scene. With Bob Minor and Marilyn Joi." 
* The first (and only) husband of everyone's favorite photographer, Diane Arbus. (Fur, anyone?)


Detroit 9000
(1973, dir. Arthur Marks)
"In the underrated style of so many so-called grindhouse and exploitation films, Detroit 9000 has a lot more on its mind than most mainstream film. Even today, I think you'd have a hard time finding a big-budget, studio production that would be willing to take as honest a view of race relations as Detroit 9000 does. Beneath all of the exploitation trapping, there lies a film that was actually saying something about the way life was being lived in 1973 and which still has a lot to say about how life is being lived today in 2015. [Lisa Marie Bowman @ Through A Shattered Lens]"
 
Marilyn Joi, once again un-credited, shakes her booty as a "dancing hooker in whorehouse", assumedly the house-that-isn't-a-home in which Vonetta McGee's character, Roby Harris, works. Shot on location, Detroit 9000 has gained some attention in recent years as one of the Tarantino's favorite films and can even be seen briefly on a TV running on the background in Jackie Brown (1997 / trailer), a film from the days when the director didn't pointlessly rewrite history in his movies. The title comes, supposedly, from a since phased-out Detroit police radio code, "9000", for "officer down".
Trailer to
Detroit 9000:
In her book If You Like Quentin Tarantino…, Katherine Rife takes a look at this flick, yet another of the many exploitation flicks of yore that the Great T helped rediscover (he re-released it on VHS/DVD via Rolling Thunder Pictures, his short-lived film distribution company) and writes: "Detroit 9000 […] is a scrappy cop movie full of naïve charm and funky blaxploitation attitude, and baby, there ain't nothing wrong with that. […] It's the spirit of the thing that counts, and the spirit of Detroit 9000 is the kind of thing that makes you happy to be alive. The crème de la crème of Detroit's black elite has come to fete congressman Aubrey Hale Clayton (Rudy Challenger of Sheba, Baby [1975 / trailer]), but before the ink on the checks can dry, the party is interrupted by stick-up men in black ski masks. […] As you might expect, the wealthy and influential people are quite upset about the incident, so the cops put two detectives on the case: world-weary white detective Danny Bassett (Alex Roco [29 Feb 1936 – 18 July 2015], who later costarred in The Godfather [1972 / trailer, not to mention Return to Horror High (1987)]) and suave, intelligent black cop* Sergeant Jesse Williams (Hari Rhodes [10 Apr 1932 – 15 Jan 1992]). They're polar opposites: Danny has been ground down into a cynical, hunched-over little man by years of watching his peers get promoted while he's busting skulls on the streets, and Jesse is not only a perfect physical specimen ("whoever doesn't believe black is beautiful never saw my big hunk's man meat," as his girlfriend puts it), he's well educated, charismatic, honorable and clean cut — he was an all-American jock in high school, for Christ's sake. It's kinda like Lethal Weapon (1987 / trailer) with more loaded racial rhetoric, and the racial element is loaded with rocket fuel in this movie. Detroit 9000 goes there, over and over again, from throwaway lines such as "No wonder the honkies think we're oversexed" to vicious, bigoted rant from a feeble old lady in a wheelchair, but it saves special vitriol for its portrayal of the deeply hypocritical nature of institutional racism. […]"
* "Intelligent", like, needs to be pointed out 'cause you just can't assume a suave black cop also has brains, can you? Like, because the world-weary Danny Bassett isn't described as "intelligent", we automatically assume/know the white guy is an idiot, right?
From Luchi De Jesus's soundtrack to
Detroit 9000Newness in Rhythm [Throw A Punch At Me]:
Director Arthur Marks (2 Aug 1927 – 13 Nov 2019) is a man that needs some long overdue appreciation, if you ask us. True, he is remembered by some as yet another white man who made some (superior but underappreciated) blaxploitation flicks — aside from this one he did Bucktown (1975 / trailer), Friday Foster (1975 / trailer), J.D.'s Revenge (1976 / trailer) and The Monkey Hustle (1976 / trailer) — but he also made fun trash like The Roommates (1973, with the Great Uschi) and Bonnie's Kids (1972 / trailer). Cutting his teeth doing un-credited reshoots for the masterpiece that is Orson Welles's Lady from Shanghai (1947 / trailer), Marks went on to supply the story to one of the nastiest exploitation films out there, The Centerfold Girls (1974 / trailer, starring Andrew "Horse" Prine, seen below not from the movie), producing or distributing fun trash as Linda Lovelace for President (1975 / trailer), William Girdler's The Zebra Killer (1974 / trailer), and even acted in an Italo soft-core porn musical version of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Eros Perversion (1979 / some music) — and more! The guy was talented!
Of course, Orville H. Hampton (21 May 1917 – 8 Aug, 1997), the guy who supplied the screenplay for Detroit 9000, was also no slouch. He received an Academy Award nomination with co-writer Raphael Hayes (2 Mar 1915 – 14 Aug 2010) for his story and screenplay to One Potato, Two Potato (1964 / final scene), based on the true story leading up to the Loving vs. Virginia case, but prior and after he lent his writing talents to such fondly remembered fodder as The Alligator People (1959 / trailer), The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1959 / trailer), Riot on Sunset Strip (1967 / trailer) and The Snake Woman (1961 / trailer).
Trash Film Guru also thinks that Arthur Marks and the film, which he calls "the real deal", needs more respect: "Recently I more or less politely begged for a long-overdue reappraisal of [Marks's] fine Pam Grier flick Friday Foster, and today I'm here to spread the good word about what is undoubtedly his absolute masterwork (a term regular readers of this site will know I don't toss around loosely), 1973's Detroit 9000. […] What sets Detroit 9000 apart from much of the other blaxploitation fare of the time (a category which this flick may or may not actually fall into — it's certainly debatable) is the intelligence and extra level of humanity and characterization that Marks, his fine cast, and screenwriter Orville H. Hampton inject into the proceedings. […] Both leads are deeply flawed, all-too-human individuals, and Rocco and Rhodes turn in superb performances that bring out all the nuances in the script. This is an intelligent story delivered by intelligent performers with a firm grasp on the surprising subtlety inherent in the material. […] Marks, absolute master of pacing that he is, keeps things moving along at a very nice clip here, and there's never a dull moment — the action scenes are explosive and fraught with drama and tension, but even the quieter moments aren't so quiet as every word in every off-handed exchange does at least something to propel the main narrative forward. This is a very economical film (both metaphorically and, I'm sure, literally), and the always-resourceful Arthur doesn't waste a frame. […] Buckle up, folks — the road starts out bumpy and it only gets bumpier. All of which is fun, of course, but it means you've gotta keep your wits about you, as well — and trust me, when the shit hits the fan at the end, you'll be glad you did. […] This flick is a terrific piece of crime drama from start to finish, but it demands — and takes — its pound of flesh along the way. Get your ass off my blog and watch it right now." 
Three minutes of Marks talking:
After all the praise above, a word to the contrary from Every 70s Movie: "Rhodes […] was a man of letters off-screen and, accordingly, brought eloquence and poise to his acting. Therefore, it's a shame that Detroit 9000 give Rhodes one of his only leading roles, since he's got nothing to do here but strive to retain his dignity while running through gutted urban locations and/or spewing bland dialogue. Rocco, a versatile character actor […], provides a totally different flavor of authenticity, although he, too, is handicapped by an underwritten characterization. Among the supporting cast, Scatman Crothers does some energetic speechifying as a preacher; Vonetta McGee classes up a trite hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold role; and Herbert Jefferson Jr., later a regular on the original Battlestar Galactica (1978-79 / movie trailer) series, shows up in full pimp regalia. The problem is that everyone involved in Detroit 9000, including second-rate blaxploitation director Arthur Marks, did better work elsewhere — so why this mediocre flick lingered in Tarantino's memory is a mystery."
Also used in the movie —
Honey Cone singing Sunday Morning People:
More addendum stuff: [Spoilers.] Prior to Tarantino 's re-release of the flick, oddly enough Detroit 9000 was also released by that cheap purveyor of public domain movies and stuff no one else would ever dream of releasing, EastwestDVD. Their website is currently offline, so perhaps they were a bit lax on the definition of public domain. Vonetta's character gets shot in the back by the bad guys and dies, as do most hookers with hearts of gold. Somewhere along the way, probably in Great Britain, Detroit 9000 got released on a double bill with the second-rate French film Popsy Pop (1971), also known as The 21 Carat Snatch, a movie noted primarily for having been scripted by Henri "Papillon" Charrière, which is why the movie is also aka The Butterfly Affair. It's a movie that "will probably only appeal to a small audience of movie lovers […] who enjoy unusual caper films shot in exotic locations with great soundtracks. If you’re looking for a solid well acted film with a coherent script, you should probably look elsewhere since Popsy Pop has very little to hold it together besides Claudia Cardinale's fabulous wardrobe and wacky wigs. [Cinebeats]"


Tender Loving Care
(1973, writ. & dir. Don Edmonds)

As might possibly be expected with a blog focusing on the kind of films we do, the name of Don Edmonds pops up again and again and again — for example, in our Babes of Yesteryear look at Uschi Part V-Pt. II, Part VI and Part XVIII, our Haji and Charles Napier RIP career reviews, Part II of our Dick Miller tribute, and Part IX of our look at Harry Novak's career… and, who knows, maybe elsewhere as well. In Uschi, Part V-Pt. II, we mentioned the following about him when writing of his sex flick, Wild Honey: "Wild Honey is the directorial début of Don Edmonds (1 Sept 1937 – 30 May 2009), former and occasional actor (for example: Beach Ball [1965 / trailer] and Wild Wild Winter [1966]) who, after this film, still did an occasional acting job (Home Sweet Home [1981 / trailer], for example) but concentrated mostly on writing, producing and directing — including some true sleaze classics: Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (1975 / trailer) & Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks (1976 / trailer). Other films we find of note that he touched: Skeeter (1993 / trailer, with Charles Napier), True Romance (1993 / trailer), Beyond Evil (1980 / trailer), Saddle Tramp Women (1972), […] the Charles Napier vehicle, The Night Stalker (1987)."

Although Tender Loving Care is not generally lumped together with Roger Corman's other nurse movies — The Student Nurses (1970 / trailer), Private Duty Nurses (1971, see Dick Miller Part III), Night Call Nurses (1973, see Dick Miller, Part III), The Young Nurses (1973, see Dick Miller, Part III) and Candy Stripe Nurses (1974, see Dick Miller, Part IV) — it was coproduced by Corman (though he probably got the credit only 'cause he took over the movie's distribution). But instead of the normal Corman-factory format of four females (including one minority female), Edmonds concentrates his films on a female triad (including one minority female). Here, in what is Marilyn Joi's first major role outside of an Al Adamson flick, she fills the role of the mandatory minority female character. As one of the three main babes, she even makes onto the poster, credited as "Anita King". That's her, of course, in the photo below at the right.

The American Film Institute has an extremely detailed synopsis about a film in which "nurses dole out more care than called for in their job descriptions [Kristie Hassen@ All Movie]", of which we present only the first couple of lines: "Nurse Karen Jordan (Donna Young) arrives at an airport in Los Angeles, CA, to take her new job at West Ridge Hospital. Meanwhile, African American boxer Jackie Carter (John Daniels of Flesh-Eating Mothers [1988]) goes into cardiac arrest after being punched in the chest, and is rushed into West Ridge's emergency room. Dr. Ben Traynor (Michael Asher), assisted by intern Dr. David Aaron (Tony Mumolo) and African American nurse Lynn Pierce (Joi), revive him. Afterward, Lynn meets Karen and agrees to let her move into the apartment she shares with Tracy Dean (Lauren Simon), another nurse. Later, at the instigation of her boyfriend David, Tracy steals a bottle containing a stimulant at the nurses' station pharmacy. An orderly, William Simpson (George 'Buck' Flower), sees the theft, but says nothing. […]" What then follows is a T&A tale of sex and drugs and pimps and gangsters and motocross racing and romance and dune buggies and group sex and blackmail and murder and both happy and tragic endings — more or less everything one expects and wants in an exploitation movie.

Over at Cult Collectables, they ask Don Edmunds about the movie, and he says: "[…] That was back in the day when there weren't a lot of Blacks in pictures, and you didn't refer to them as Blacks. And if you saw Tender Loving Care, there's no reference to him being Black. $25,000 in eight days, we made that picture for. We didn't have nothing. We didn't have any permits on that film. We would just steal anything. When you're making a picture in eight days, you don't have time to breathe. You don't have time to sit down at dinner. You don't have to sleep. You just make a picture. You drive down sleeping in cars, you're driving to the next set. I don't care who you talk to, if they can tell you they had this leisurely time making an eight-day picture, I'm telling you, they're liars. They don't. I couldn't take time to take a piss. Corman picked up Tender Loving Care, and he was making other movies in the nurse genre. Again, I was out of work, standing around writing scripts, and it was one I had in my trunk. I'd written the picture, and nobody was making it. So I ran into this woman named Chako van Leeuwen, who went on to do Piranha (1978), and I got a call one day from her and she says she'll meet me at this drive-in restaurant, not even an office, and I said, 'Yeah, right.' I had been eating Top Ramen, so I thought, at least I'll get a chicken sandwich out of this thing. So I went down to this restaurant, and I met this lady, and she said that she wanted to make a movie. I pulled out a bunch of scripts that I had written that nobody had ever made, and I said 'Here, read these.' She picked out Tender Loving Care, and she said, 'I've got thirty-five thousand dollars.' I said that's not quite enough, but took it. I'm just a kid around Hollywood, and I haven't got gas for the car and I thought hey, it's another movie, let's go make that. That's the way my whole career's been. I've never had that luxury of going oh, I'll only make this or I'll only make that. I look back on it and maybe wish I had, but it's a waste of time. I made what I made, and there it is."

The dude at Toxic Fletch is currently the only person who's seen the flick and thought it worth writing about: "[…] Tender Loving Care is a short movie at 72 minutes,* and despite that it does have an occasional drag, but not too many and the skin content is much better than the more successful nurses drive-in movies of the 70s that Julie Corman produced. Of what I have seen of the Corman-produced nurses movies, Tender Loving Care has a stronger story that moves along with few glitches. What glitches there are is in the department of acting capability and silliness in some characters. Of the three primary actresses, of course that would be the nurses, Donna Young's performance, even though she is the top billed of this movie (as Donna Desmond), is the weakest. […] Marilyn Joi […] gives an expected good performance that is above the means of this film. Lauren Simon also turns in a good performance as the put-upon girlfriend of a drug-addicted doctor […]. And of course George Buck Flower delivers a good performance as a lecherous hospital orderly, as does John Daniels as a troubled young man facing the end of his boxing career."
* Depending on which source you look at, it would mean the movie has been cut of about 6 minutes.
Used in the movie —
Maxayn's Trying for Days:

Go here for Marilyn Joi, Part II: 1974.
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