A Movie A Day #319: Northville Cemetery Massacre (1976, directed by Thomas L. Dyke and William Dear)

You can’t always tell a book by its cover and that is the case with the Spirits, the nicest motorcycle gang to ever roll across America’s highways.  When they come across an old couple on the side of the road with a flat tire, they don’t rob the couple.  Instead, they change the tire.  When they come across a young man named Chris (David Hyrly, who is overdubbed by a young Nick Nolte), they invite him to join them on their journey.  When they are arrested, they sit in jail and roll a joint.  The Spirits are solid dudes.  But because they are rebels who live outside of straight society, they will always be picked on by the Man.  After a redneck deputy rapes the Chris’s girlfriend, the deputy blames the Spirits.  Soon, the Spirits find themselves under attack and are violently picked off one by one.  In self-defense, the Spirits start to arm themselves.  It all comes to a head in a violent confrontation in Northville Cemetery.

Made for a miniscule budget. featuring a largely amateur cast, and graphically violent, Northville Cemetery Massacre is an overlooked masterpiece, the type of movie that Sam Peckinpah would have made if he had worked on AIP biker movies instead of westerns.  The Spirits are innocent and, as long as no one hassles them, peaceful but the rest of the world only sees their motorcycles and their leather jackets.  The rapist deputy is one of the most evil lawmen in film history but because he wears a uniform and know the right people, he knows that he will never have to face justice.  The ambiguous ending proves that the filmmaker’s had more on their mind than just cashing in one the tail end of the biker genre’s popularity.  Adding to the film’s strength is a country-rock score from former Monkee Mike Nesmith and the casting of members of a real-life motorcycle club, the Scorpions.  What the Scorpions may have lacked in acting ability, they made up for in authenticity.

Northville Cemetery Massacre was made in the early 70s but it wasn’t released by Cannon Films until 1976, at which point the biker genre was close to dead.  Northville Cemetery Massacre provided audiences with one last chance to get their motor running, head out on the highway, and look for adventure with smoke and lightning and heavy metal thunder.

One Hit Wonders #9: “In the Year 2525” by Zager & Evans (RCA 1969)

cracked rear viewer

A futuristic ballad about the danger of technological advancement and dehumanization spent 6 weeks at the top of the Billboard charts in 1969. Properly titled “In the Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus)”, this was the first and only hit for folk-rock duo Denny Zager and Rick Evans:

1969 had been a banner year for science fiction themes, with the films PLANET OF THE APES and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY becoming box office hits a year earlier, popular novels from Kurt Vonnegut (SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE), Michael Crichton (THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN), and Ursula K. LeGuin (LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS) being published, and a young Brit named David Bowie releasing his LP “Space Oddity”. Of course, that was also the year Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon, and the possibilities for space exploration seemed endless. But some doomsayers warned of the impending takeover by machines, where mankind would become a slave…

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Artwork of the Day: 101 Acts of Love

The hour is late so I won’t say too much about this poster for this 1971 film.  According to the Grindhouse Database, this movie only has a 46 minute running time so it must have been 101 very quick acts of love.

I like the fact that the quote from “Dr. Ann Foster” doesn’t actually say anything about the movie, just the subject matter.  Why, it’s almost as if Dr Foster was just some randomly quoted person who, in all probability, never actually saw the movie!

Music Video Of The Day: Inner Smile by Texas (2001, directed by Vaughan Arnell)

Happy birthday, Erin Nicole!

That’s right!  Today is Dazzling Erin’s birthday!  One of the reasons why I love working on this site is because I get to work with my sister.  Not only has she always been there for me (which is not as easy as you might think) but she’s always willing to listen to my ideas, no matter how crazy they are, and I know I can always depend on her to either help me make those dreams come true or to patiently explain to me why it might not be a great idea to try to schedule a new film review to post every minute over a 24 hour time period.  (That was originally my plan for Halloween until I was gently reminded that would amount to 1440 posts in one day.)

Along with doing artist profiles, Erin is also usually the person who picks our artwork of the day.  (Val Troutman was inspired by Erin’s artwork of the day to start our music video of the day feature.)  She’s also an excellent photographer in her own right, as you can find out by cliking on this link!

I picked today’s music video because it’s for a song that’s prominently featured in a film that Erin and I absolutely love, 2002’s Bend it Like Beckham.  The video for Inner Smile features Sharleen Spiteri, the lead singer of Texas, doing her best Elvis Presley impersonation.  The video itself is disguised to look like one of those Elvis documentaries that occasionally pop up on PBS but, if you watch it carefully, there are hints that we’re not actually seeing Elvis.  (Keep an eye on the belt that Sharleen holds up at one point.)

This video was directed by Vaughan Arnell, who has been directing videos since 1984!  (On the imvdb, he’s credited with 49 videos in total.)

As is noted at the end of the video, this video was actually filmed in front of a live audience with Sharleen in full Elvis costume.

Also, I know someone’s going to say that the main reason that I like this song is because the group is named Texas.  Well, sure, that’s definitely not a bad thing.  However, the band itself is Scottish.