Film Review: The World, the Flesh, and the Devil (dir by Ranald MacDougall)

The 1959 film, The World, the Flesh, and the Devil, opens with a mine cave-in in Pennsylvania.  Trapped in the cave-in is a mine inspector named Ralph Burton (Harry Belafonte).  Despite being trapped underground, Ralph remains in surprisingly good spirits.  (In fact, as the movie progresses, Ralph’s tendency to joke when faced with bleak reality will become a recurring theme.)  Ralph sings to himself.  Ralph tells jokes.  Ralph listens to the sound of the men who are digging a tunnel to rescue him.  Except, one day, Ralph can no longer hear anyone digging.  Realizing that he’s going to have to save himself, Ralph manages to dig his way out of the cave.  Once again above ground, Ralph discovers that he’s alone.

The world has changed.  Cars and buildings sit deserted.  Everything that was made by mankind is still there but it’s all now empty.  Confused but understanding that something huge has happened, Ralph makes his way from Pennsylvania to New York.  During his journey, he comes across old newspapers and a recording in a radio station and he’s able to piece together what’s happened.  Some country — no one was ever sure which one — released a radioactive isotope into the atmosphere.  For five days, the air was poisoned.  Everyone who didn’t get to shelter died.  The only reason Ralph survived was because he was trapped underground.

At first, New York appears to be as deserted as Pennsylvania.  (The film was shot on location in Manhattan, reportedly in the early morning hours before rush hour, when there was no one on the streets.  The visuals of the empty city are often hauntingly bleak.)  Struggling to maintain his own sanity, Ralph steals two mannequins and spends his days talking to them.  He comes up with projects to pass the time.  He’s able to get the power flowing in Times Square.  And he even meets another survivor!

Sarah Crandall (Inger Stevens) was one of three friends who hid in a bunker when the world started to end.  Sarah’s two friends left the bunker after two days and were killed by the radioactive cloud.  Sarah waited the entire five days and survived.  Though we don’t learn much about her background, it’s heavily suggested that Sarah was rich and didn’t have a care in the world before society collapsed.  Now, she and Ralph are just happy to have found each other.

Sarah and Ralph quickly become friends.  Sarah has obvious romantic feelings towards Ralph but, to her frustration, he keeps his distance.  When Sarah asks why they don’t just live together instead of maintaining separate apartments, Ralph nervously jokes that if they got a place together, people would talk.  Sarah is white and Ralph is black.  When Sarah says that doesn’t matter anymore, Ralph tells her that it does matter and that she has no idea what his life was like before the world ended.  When a frustrated Sarah says that she can move in with Ralph because she’s “free, white, and 21 and I can do whatever I want,” Ralph looks like she’s just slapped him.  Later, Ralph tells her that, because she’s white, she will never be able to understand the pain that her words caused him.  I can only imagine how audiences in 1959 reacted to this scene.

Eventually, Ralph discovers that there are scattered survivors across the world.  One of them, Benson Thacker (Mel Ferrer), even comes to New York and joins Ralph and Sarah.  With the arrival of the white Thacker, Ralph suddenly finds himself being treated like a servant.  Thacker not only attempts to take over the group but he also tells Ralph that Sarah belongs to him.  When Thacker, a self-described “former idealist,” tells Ralph, “I have nothing against Negroes,” Ralph coldly replies, “That’s mighty white of you,” and again, the modern viewer cannot help but wonder how audiences in 1959 reacted to hearing those words uttered on a movie screen.

The World, the Flesh, and the Devil is a frequently fascinating film.  Belafonte brings a lot of charm and wit to the role of Ralph but he also doesn’t shy away from portraying Ralph’s anger at still being limited by the conventions of a society that, for all intents and purposes, has destroyed itself.  Ralph brings New York back to life, just to watch as Thacker moves in and claims it for himself.  Significantly, Thacker doesn’t view himself as being a racist.  Instead, in his mind, he’s simply living the way that he’s always lived.  By treating Ralph like a second class citizen, he’s keeping society alive.  Sarah, meanwhile, is torn between her desire to create a new world and the temptation to return to her spoiled and privileged upbringing.  While the film is dominated by Belafonte’s performance, both Inger Stevens and Mel Ferrer bring some shadings to characters that, in lesser hands, could have been extremely flat and predictable.

The film falls apart a bit during the third act.  The World, the Flesh, and the Devil spends a good deal of time building up to a rather downbeat climax just to suddenly reverse itself.  The film ends on a hopeful note that just doesn’t feel realistic after everything that we’ve just seen.  The film’s conclusion brings a promise of renewal that feels like it was tacked on at the last moment.  Still, up until that moment, it’s a compelling and intelligent film and one that’s feels ever more relevant today than it probably did in 1959.

Film Review: The Fall of the Roman Empire (dir by Anthony Mann)

Why did the Roman Empire fall?

Well, historically, there were several reasons but they can all basically be boiled down to the fact that the Empire got too big to manage and that having two separate capitols certainly didn’t help matters.  The Empire got so large and overextended that the once fabled Roman army was no match for the barbarians.

Of course, if you’ve ever watched a movie about the Roman period, you know exactly why the Empire fell.  It all had to do with decadence, gladiators, human sacrifices, and crazed emperors with unfortunate names like Caligula and Commodus.  The Roman Empire fell because the imperial government descended into soap opera, complete with love triangles, betrayals, and whispered plotting inside the Senate.

Another thing that we’ve learned from the movies is that the fall of the Roman Empire was damn entertaining.  Between the orgies and the men wearing those weird helmets with the brushes on top of them, there’s nothing more fun that watching the Roman Empire fall.

Case in point: the 1964 film, The Fall of the Roman Empire.

This three and a half hour epic begins with the last of the good Roman emperors, Marcus Aurelius (Alec Guiness), battling to keep the Germanic barbarians from invading the empire.  Marcus is a wise man and a great leader but he knows that his time is coming to an end and he needs to name a successor.  His daughter, Lucilla (Sophia Loren), is an intelligent and compassionate philosopher but, on the basis of her sex, is not eligible to succeed him.  His son, Commodus (Christopher Plummer), may be a great and charismatic warrior but he’s also immature and given to instability.  Marcus’s most trusted adviser, Timonides (James Mason), would never be accepted as a successor because of his Greek birth and background as a former slave.  (Add to that, Timonides is secretly a Christian.)

That leaves Livius (Stephen Boyd).  Livius is one of Marcus’s generals, a man who is not only renowned for his honesty and integrity but one who is also close to the royal family.  Not only is he a former lover of Lucilla’s but he’s also been a longtime friend to Commodus.  Unfortunately, before Marcus can officially name Livius as his heir, the emperor is poisoned.  Commodus is named emperor and things quickly go downhill.  Whereas Marcus ruled with wisdom and compassion, Commodus is a tyrant who crushes anyone who he views as being a potential threat.  Lucilla is married off to a distant king (Omar Sharif).  Timonides is declared an enemy after he suggests that the conquered Germans should be allowed to peacefully farm on Italian land.  Rebellion starts to ferment in every corner of the Empire and Livius finds himself trapped in the middle.  Which side will he join?

Despite all the drama, Commodus is not necessarily an unpopular emperor.  One of the more interesting things about The Fall of the Roman Empire is that Commodus’s popularity grows with his insanity.  The crueler that he is, the more the people seem to love him.  Soon, Commodus is fighting as a gladiator and having people burned at the stake.  While some Romans are horrified, many more love their emperor no matter what.  People love power, regardless of what it’s used for.  Perhaps that’s the main lesson and the main warning that the final centuries of the Roman Empire have to give us.

The Fall of the Roman Empire is surprisingly intimate historical epic.  While there’s all the grandeur that one would normally expect to see in a film about the Roman Empire, the film works best when it concentrates on the characters.  While Boyd and Loren do their best with their thinly drawn roles, the film is stolen by great character actors like Alec Guinness, James Mason, and Christopher Plummer.  Plummer, in particular, seems to be having a blast playing the flamboyantly evil yet undeniably charismatic Commodus.  Even with the Empire collapsing around then, both Plummer as an actor and Commodus as a character seems to be having a blast.  Add to that, there’s all of the usual battles and ancient decadence that you would expect to find in a film about the Roman Empire and the end result is a truly enjoyable epic.

As I watched The Fall of the Roman Empire, it was hard for me not to compare the film to Ridley Scott’s Gladiator.  That’s because they’re both basically the same damn movie.  The main difference is that The Fall of the Roman Empire is far more entertaining.  The Fall of the Roman Empire, made in the days before CGI and featuring real people in the streets of Rome as opposed to animated cells, feels real in a way that Gladiator never does.  If Gladiator felt like a big-budget video game, The Fall of the Roman Empire feels like a trip in a time machine.  If I ever do go back to 180 A.D., I fully expect to discover James Mason giving a speech to the Roman Senate while Christopher Plummer struts his way through the gladiatorial arena.

Finally, to answer the question that started this review, why did the Roman Empire fall?

It was all Christopher Plummer’s fault, but at least he had a good time.

Lisa Reviews An Oscar Nominee: The Longest Day (dir by Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki, Gerd Oswald, and Darryl F. Zanuck)

As my sister has already pointed out, today is the 73rd anniversary of D-Day.  With that in mind, and as a part of my ongoing mission to see and review every single film ever nominated for best picture, I decided to watch the 1962 film, The Longest Day!

The Longest Day is a pain-staking and meticulous recreation of invasion of Normandy, much of it filmed on location.  It was reportedly something of a dream project for the head of the 20th Century Fox, Darryl F. Zanuck.  Zanuck set out to make both the ultimate tribute to the Allied forces and the greatest war movie ever.  Based on a best seller, The Longest Day has five credited screenwriters and three credited directors.  (Ken Annakin was credited with “British and French exteriors,” Andrew Marton did “American exteriors,” and the German scenes were credited to Bernhard Wicki.  Oddly, Gerd Oswald was not credited for his work on the parachuting scenes, even though those were some of the strongest scenes in the film.)  Even though he was not credited as either a screenwriter or a director, it is generally agreed that the film ultimately reflected the vision of Darryl F. Zanuck.  Zanuck not only rewrote the script but he also directed a few scenes as well.  The film had a budget of 7.75 million dollars, which was a huge amount in 1962.  (Until Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, The Longest Day was the most expensive black-and-white film ever made.)  Not only did the film tell an epic story, but it also had an epic length.  Clocking in at 3 hours, The Longest Day was also one of the longest movies to ever be nominated for best picture.

The Longest Day also had an epic cast.  Zanuck assembled an all-star cast for his recreation of D-Day.  If you’re like me and you love watching old movies on TCM, you’ll see a lot of familiar faces go rushing by during the course of The Longest Day.  American generals were played by actors like Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan, Henry Fonda, and John Wayne.  Peter Lawford, then the brother-in-law of the President of the United States, had a memorable role as the Scottish Lord Lovat, who marched through D-Day to the sounds of bagpipes.  When the Allied troops storm the beach, everyone from Roddy McDowall to Sal Mineo to Robert Wagner to singer Paul Anka can be seen dodging bullets.  Sean Connery pops up, speaking in his Scottish accent and providing comic relief.  When a group of paratroopers parachute into an occupied village, comedian Red Buttons ends up hanging from the steeple of a church.  When Richard Beymer (who is currently playing Ben Horne on Twin Peaks) gets separated from his squad, he stumbles across Richard Burton.  Among those representing the French are Arletty and Christian Marquand.  (Ironically, after World War II, Arletty was convicted of collaborating with the Germans and spent 18 months under house arrest.  Her crime was having a romantic relationship with a German soldier.  It is said that, in response to the charges, Arletty said, “My heart is French but my ass is international.”)  Meanwhile, among the Germans, one can find three future Bond villains: Gert Frobe, Curt Jurgens, and Walter Gotell.

It’s a big film and, to be honest, it’s too big.  It’s hard to keep track of everyone and, even though the battle scenes are probably about an intense as one could get away with in 1962 (though it’s nowhere near as effective as the famous opening of Saving Private Ryan, I still felt bad when Jeffrey Hunter and Eddie Albert were gunned down), their effectiveness is compromised by the film’s all-star approach.  Often times, the action threatens to come to a halt so that everyone can get their close-up.  Unfortunately, most of those famous faces don’t really get much of a chance to make an impression.  Even as the battle rages, you keep getting distracted by questions like, “Was that guy famous or was he just an extra?”

Among the big stars, most of them play to their personas.  John Wayne, for instance, may have been cast as General Benjamin Vandervoort but there’s never any doubt that he’s playing John Wayne.  When he tells his troops to “send them to Hell,” it’s not Vandervoort giving orders.  It’s John Wayne representing America.  Henry Fonda may be identified as being General Theodore Roosevelt II but, ultimately, you react to him because he’s Henry Fonda, a symbol of middle-American decency.  Neither Wayne nor Fonda gives a bad performance but you never forget that you’re watching Fonda and Wayne.

Throughout this huge film, there are bits and pieces that work so well that you wish the film had just concentrated on them as opposed to trying to tell every single story that occurred during D-Day.  I liked Robert Mitchum as a tough but caring general who, in the midst of battle, gives a speech that inspires his troops to keep fighting.  The scenes of Peter Lawford marching with a bagpiper at his side were nicely surreal.  Finally, there’s Richard Beymer, wandering around the French countryside and going through the entire day without firing his gun once.  Beymer gets the best line of the film when he says, “I wonder if we won.”  It’s such a modest line but it’s probably the most powerful line in the film.  I wish The Longest Day had more scenes like that.

The Longest Day was nominated for best picture of 1962 but it lost to an even longer film, Lawrence of Arabia.

The TSL’s Daily Horror Grindhouse: Nightmare City (dir by Umberto Lenzi)


Since Case just reviewed 28 Days Later, this seems like the perfect time to say a few words about the 1980 Italian horror film, Nightmare City!  Though Nightmare City has never been as critically acclaimed or as popular with audiences, it is regularly cited as probably being one of the main inspirations for 28 Days Later.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I can’t say for sure whether it was an influence or not.  I listened to the entire Danny Boyle/Alex Garland commentary track on my DVD of 28 Days Later and neither of them ever mentioned Nightmare City.  As well, there are some pretty big differences between Nightmare City and 28 Days Later.  For one thing, 28 Days Later is a hyperkinetic Danny Boyle film whereas Nightmare City is obviously an Umberto Lenzi film, filled with over the top gore, gratuitous nudity, and nonstop violence.  For that matter, the Infected in 28 Days Later still look human whereas all of the infected humans in Nightmare City are covered with what appears to be burned oatmeal.  (I’m going to guess that it’s meant to be radiation scarring.)

And yet, despite all of that, it’s impossible to watch Nightmare City without thinking about 28 Days Later and vice versa.  Both Nightmare City and 28 Days Later are commonly mislabeled as being zombie films, despite the fact that both of them are about people who have been driven mad by a military accident/experiment.  Where you really see the influence that Nightmare City had on 28 Days Later is in the scenes in which various “infected” humans run through the streets, savagely attacking and killing anyone that they come across.  For all the attention that was given to 28 Days Later‘s “fast zombies,” Nightmare City got there first.  Call them human, call them infected, or call them zombies, the monsters in Nightmare City are relentless, unstoppable, and blood thirsty.  Whatever flaws the movie may have, Nightmare City‘s zombies truly do belong in a nightmare.

(Except for that one scene in which a zombie extra is seen to be kicking a soccer ball while a dog chases after him but you have to look closely to notice…)

But before I say too much more about Nightmare City, I’m going to ask you to watch this tribute to the hero of Nightmare City, journalist Dean Miller:

Dean Miller was played by Spanish actor Hugo Stiglitz.  (If that name sounds familiar, it may be because Quentin Tarantino named a character after him in Inglourious Basterds.)  To be honest, the first time I ever saw Nightmare City, I thought that Stiglitz’s performance was one of the worst in the history of horror cinema.  No matter how violent or bloody the film gets, Stiglitz rarely seems to react.  He might occasionally arch an eyebrow.  But, for the most part, he doesn’t seem to care.  But, after subsequent viewings, I’ve come to respect the fact that, while everyone else in the film was overacting, Siglitz distinguished himself by refusing to act at all.

Nightmare City is a relentless and nonstop film.  It starts out with Dean Miller being sent down to the local airport.  His job is to cover the arrival of a scientist who has been assigned to investigate a recent nuclear accident.  From the minute that the plane lands and a horde of hatchet-wielding zombies stream out onto the tarmac, Nightmare City is nonstop mayhem.

And, quite frankly, a lot of it doesn’t make much sense.  At one point, the zombies enter a television studio and attack what appears to be the most boring dance show in the world and, as bloody and borderline disgusting as the action got, I still couldn’t get over how boring the dance show was before the zombies showed up.  The other thing that struck me about that scene was that nobody at the television studio seemed to be that upset about a bunch of radiation-scarred zombies literally massacring hundreds of people on camera.  Dean may have arched an eyebrow but even he didn’t seem that concerned.

(Fortunately, Dean manages to escape by grabbing a TV and throwing it at the zombies.  Apparently, televisions explode if you throw them, even if they’re not plugged in at the time.)

Then the zombies attack a hospital and it’s the hospital attack that always disturbs me.  There’s a scene where a nurse comes across a zombie raiding a blood bank and he shakes his head almost apologetically.  Oddly, almost all of the doctors turn out to be self-defense experts.  One elderly doctor even throws a scalpel at a zombie with all the skill of an Agent of SHIELD (or perhaps even …. HYDRA!)

Meanwhile, the military is supposed to be doing something but I’m not sure what.  We get a lot of scenes of a general (played by Lenzi regular Mel Ferrer) staring down at a model of the city but he doesn’t ever actually seem to do anything.  His assistant, meanwhile, is worried about his sculptor girlfriend being at home alone.  He should be since there are two zombies in the basement, though we’re never quite sure how they got there without anyone else in the house noticing.

And the mayhem continues.  There’s a zombie priest.  There’s a zombie attack at an amusement park.  There’s many scenes of Hugh Stiglitz staring off in the distance.  At one point, his girlfriend falls off a roller coaster and we are briefly amazed at the sight of an obviously fake dummy crashing to the pavement below.  But fear not because … it’s all a dream!

That’s right, Dean Miller wakes up in bed!


No, I didn’t.  Believe it or not, the movie’s nowhere close to being over yet…..

Nightmare City is a hard film to review because, while it might not be good in any traditional sense, it’s also very much a one-of-a-kind movie.  This is one of those relentless and shameless exploitation films that works despite itself.  It’s preposterous, it’s silly, it’s often offensive, and yet it’s never less than watchable.  If you’re into Italian horror, you have to see this film.  If you’re into zombie cinema, you have to see this film.  (If you’re not into either, you probably stopped reading this review a while ago.)

And, while you watch it, I dare you not think about 28 Days Later

(This trailer is NSFW so watch at your own risk…)

Horror Film Review: The Visitor (dir by Giulio Paradisi)


Do you want to see a strange horror film?

Just check out The Visitor, a 1979 Italian film that has recently been re-released by Drafthouse Films and occasionally shows up on TCM.  In many ways, The Visitor is a total and complete mess.  But, as is so often the case with Italian horror films, that very messiness — combined with some genuinely imaginative narrative and directorial choices — serves to make The Visitor into one of the most memorable films that you (possibly) have never heard of.

Like many of the Italian exploitation films released in the 70s and 80s, The Visitor is a rather blatant rip-off of a successful American film.  What makes The Visitor unique is the amount of different movies that it rips off.  The Visitor takes films that you would assume had no connection and mixes them together to create something wonderfully odd.

Franco Nero as Jesus in The Visitor

Franco Nero as Jesus in The Visitor

Much like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Visitor opens with the idea that intergalactic beings have been visiting Earth for centuries and are subtly influencing the development of humanity.  The Visitor literally opens with Jesus Christ (played by Franco Nero!) sitting on a satellite and telling a version of the creation story to a bunch of bald children.  He explains that, long ago, he battled an evil intergalactic demon known as Sateen.  Sateen (who, the film implies, is better known on Earth as Satan) was eventually blown up but his genes were spread throughout humanity.  The bald children surrounding him are the descendants of Sateen.  Whenever one of them is born, Jesus sends an old man named Jerzy Colsowicz (played by director John Huston) to Earth so that Jerzy can bring the child to the satellite.  Of course, whenever Jerzy isn’t kidnapping kids for Jesus, he spends his time hanging out in a psychedelic dimension.

Yes, you did read that correctly.

This is where Jerzy lives.

This is where Jerzy lives.

Once you get past the intergalactic part of the story, The Visitor is a pretty obvious rip-off of both The Omen and Damien: Omen II, with the main difference being that the demon child here is not a cherubic little boy but instead is a rather bratty 8 year-old little girl named Katy (Paige Collins).  However, Katy is not the Antichrist.  Instead, her job is to mate with a male child who also has Sateen’s genes and then her baby will be the Antichrist.  In order to get this male child, Katy is pressuring her mother (Joanne Nail) to have sex with businessman Raymond Armstead (Lance Henriksen, who was also in Damien II: The Omen) so that Katy can have a half-brother to mate with.  (Ewwwwwwww!)  Raymond is a follower of Sateen and, adding to the film’s already odd feel, he also happens to own a basketball team.

(So, along with everything else going on, The Visitor also features a lot of basketball footage, which I guess would be exciting if I knew anything about basketball.)

Despite being a pretty powerful figure in the Sateenist hierarchy Raymond is not the head Sateenist.  No, the head Sateenist is played by Mel Ferrer, an actor who was once married to Audrey Hepburn and who will be familiar to anyone who has ever watched an Italian horror film.  (You can spot Ferrer in Zombie Holocaust, for example.)  Ferrer and the other Sateenists are all old, distinguished looking white men who spend all of their time meeting in an ornate corporate boardroom.

So, Jerzy comes down to Earth  to, with the help of a nanny played Shelley Winters, try to kidnap Katy but, for some reason, he doesn’t just do that.  Instead, he spends most of his time just watching Katy do destructive things.

Much as in The Omen, anyone who gets too close to discovering the truth about Katy ends up dying an elaborate and bloody way.  Often times, their death involves black crows, who the film suggests might actually be all of those little bald kids in animal disguise. So is Jesus sending those crows to kill people?  Seriously, this movie is weird.

Beware the Crows

Beware the Crows

Meanwhile, Katy’s mom is having doubts about both Raymond and her daughter.  She even goes and talks to her ex-husband, an abortionist who is played by yet another film director, in this case Sam Peckinpah.  Katy gets annoyed with her mom and, after happening to come across a gun hidden away inside of a birthday presents, shoots her in the back and leaves her paralyzed.

And did I mention that Katy is telekinetic, much like Carrie?  That’s right!  During my favorite scene, Katy goes skating at the local mall’s ice rink and, after a group of boys bully her, she uses her powers to send those bullies flying all over the mall.  Oddly enough, nobody seems to notice this chaos.  Except, of course, for Jerzy who just stands off in the corner and watches without doing anything…

Seriously, I love The Visitor.  Along with being surprisingly well-acted and visually inventive, the film is just so weird!  In many ways, it epitomizes everything that I love about the old Italian exploitation films.  While it is rather shameless about ripping off other movies, the film still brings its own unique spin to everything.

Normally, I’d say that The Visitor is a good film for Halloween but you know what?  Anytime is a good time for an Italian horror film!




Big Floating Heads, Rampaging Norsemen, and Sister Street Fighters: It’s Time for 6 More Trailers.

I am happy to say that it’s a beautiful day today.  After dealing with a record number of 100 degree days that slowly plodded along without so much as a breeze or a cloud in the sky, I am happy to say that, as I type this, the temperature outside is 84 degrees, the sky is gray with storm clouds, and, here at Le manoir d’Bowman, we’ve got the windows open and we’re loving the breeze.  To me, it seems like a perfect time for 6 more of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Trailers.

1) Zardoz (1974)

From acclaimed director John Boorman comes … whatever this is.  For the longest time, I assumed that this film starred Sean Connery as someone named Zardoz but having watched the trailer, I now see that Connery played Zed.  That makes sense.  With that pony tail and red diaper, Connery looks more like a Zed than a Zardoz here.  I like the flying head, just because I keep imagining that after the head dropped off all those guns, Connery shouted, “Give me more, Head!”

2) The Norseman (1978)

Now, this is a trailer that could have used a big floating head.  The Norseman appears to be yet another oddly ambitious, very low-budget film from the John Boorman of Texarkana, Charles B. Pierce.

3) The Evictors (1979)

Pierce was also responsible for The Evictors.  “It’s happening again…”  Much as the trailer for the Norseman featured the co-star of Eaten Alive, Mel Ferrer, the trailer features the star of Suspiria, Jessica Harper.

4) Tick…Tick…Tick (1970)

Grindhouse and exploitation films loved to exploit Yankee paranoia, which helps to explain films like Tick…Tick…Tick.  (It also helps to explain — but throughly fails to justify — the latest remake of Straw Dogs.)

5) The Flesh and Blood Show (1974)

This film is from one of the few British directors to actually be worth the trouble, the criminally underappreciated Pete Walker.

6) Sister Street Fighter (1974)

This film co-stars the legendary Sonny Chiba.  I can’t watch this trailer too many times because I know it’ll inspire me to show off my karate moves.  Last time I did that, I ended up with a sprained ankle.