All Star Exploitation: MACHETE MAIDENS UNLEASHED (Australian 2010)


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Tonight we celebrate baseball with MLB’s 90th annual All-Star Game, and… what’s that you say, Dear Readers? You don’t LIKE baseball?!? (*sighs, shakes head, mutters “must be some kinda Commies”*) Luckily for you, I’ve got an alternative for your viewing pleasure this evening. It’s an All-Star salute to the halcyon days of low-budget Exploitation filmmaking in the Philippines that lasted roughly from 1959 (Gerry DeLeon’s TERROR IS A MAN, with Francis Lederer and Greta Thyssen) to the early 80’s and the advent both of VHS, which effectively ended the Drive-In/Grindhouse Era, and political upheaval caused in part by Fernando Marcos’s imposition of martial law on the island nation.

1971’s “Beast of the Yellow Night”

This Australian-made documentary by writer/director Mark Hartley covers the wild, wild world of making Exploitation movies in the jungle on a shoestring budget through judicious use of clips, trailers, and interviews with the people who made…

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From the Direct-To-Video Film Vault: Naked Obsession (1990, directed by Dan Golden)


Franklyn Carlysle (William Katt) is a fine, upstanding city councilman, with a rich wife (Wendy MacDonald) and a bright future.  Carlysle wants to be mayor and he’s come up with the perfect scheme.  He’s going to work with a developer to renovate Dante’s Square, the city’s notorious red light district.

One night, while Franklyn is driving through Dante’s Square, he’s carjacked.  Someone knocks him out before stealing both his car and his wallet.  When Franklyn comes to, he discovers that he’s being watched over by Sam Silver (played by Rick Dean).  Sam is apparently a homeless philosopher, who tells Franklyn that he’s been taking life too seriously and that sometimes, you just have to yell, “Fuck this shit!” at the top of your lungs.  When Franklyn asks where he can find a phone so he can call the cops, Sam leads Franklyn to the Yin Yang Club.  It’s there that Franklyn sees Lynne (Maria Ford), a dancer to whom he is immediately attracted.  Suddenly, his missing car and his stolen wallet no longer seem that important.  With his marriage already in trouble, Franklyn returns to the club the next night.

Franklyn soon discovers that Lynne has a thing for being choked during sex.  Even though Sam keeps telling him things like, “Nothing wrong with the dark – you spend half your life in it – trouble is, most people keep their eyes closed,” Franklyn is worried that his affair with Lynne will derail his mayoral ambitions.  However, when Lynne shows up dead, Franklyn finds himself dealing with a much bigger problem.  He’s now the number one suspect in her murder.  Things just get stranger as Franklyn discovers that he wasn’t the only one cheating, meets a masked, gun-wielding stripper, and discovers that Sam might not even be of this world.

William Katt and Rick Dean in Naked Obsession

It can be said, without fear of hyperbole, that Naked Obsession in the Citizen Kane of Roger Corman-Produced Straight-To-Video Maria Ford-Stripper movies.  This is largely due to the performance of the late, great Rick Dean in the role of Sam.  Sam’s not just just a homeless drunk with a motormouth.  As played by Dean, he’s a philosopher king and, the film hints, much more.  He comes across like an angel of the devil and he’s exactly what Franklyn Carlysle needs to liven up his too safe life.  Maria Ford, who specialized in playing troubled strippers in Roger Corman films, gives one of her best performances and, in the role of Franklyn’s secretary, Elena Sahagun, has some great scenes too.  Finally, William Katt classes up the joint, giving a real performance as Franklyn instead of just sleepwalking through the film.  Dan Golden’s direction emphasizes the surreal and, by the time the end credits roll, Naked Obsession will leave you wanting to spend a night or two at Dante’s Square.

Like so many classic films from the golden age of late night Cinemax. Naked Obsession has never been released on DVD or Blu-ray but it can be found on YouTube.

4 Shots From 4 Roger Corman Films: X: The Man With X-Ray Eyes, The Masque of the Red Death, St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, The Trip


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Let us all wish a happy 93rd birthday to the one and only Roger Corman!

As a director and a producer, Roger Corman is one of the towering figures in the history of American cinema.  At a time when the major studios dominated the industry, Roger Corman set off on his own fiercely independent path.  At a time when most filmmakers were either apolitical or predictably middle-of-the-road in their liberalism, Corman was an outspoken progressive.  At a time when mainstream Hollywood refused to give opportunities to new talent, Corman was giving work to people like Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, and Jack Nicholson.

Here are….

4 Shots From 4 Roger Corman Films

X: The Man With X-Ray Eyes (1963, dir by Roger Corman)

The Masque of the Red Death (1964, dir by Roger Corman)

St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967, dir by Roger Corman)

The Trip (1967, dir by Roger Corman)

Film Review: Not Of This Earth (dir by Roger Corman)


Originally released in 1957, Roger Corman’s Not Of This Earth is about a man named Mr. Johnson (played, in a nicely creepy performance, by Paul Birch).

At first glance, Mr. Johnson may look like your typical dark-suited, 1950s businessman but, on closer examination, there’s definitely something off about him.  Why does he always wear those dark sunglasses?  Why is he so sensitive to loud noise?  Why does he move stiffly, as if he’s still getting used to his ody?  And when he speaks, why is his tone always so formal and correct?  Never trust anyone who doesn’t use a contraction or two.  Why is it that Mr. Johnson seems to spend all of his time in his mansion, only venturing outside so that he can visit the local blood banks?

Could it be that Mr. Johnson is …. not of this earth!?

Well, yes, of coursem he’s an alien.  I mean, it says so right in the title of the movie!  It turns out that Mr. Johnson comes from a planet called Davanna.  The inhabitants of Davanna are dying of a mysterious blood disease so he’s been sent to Earth so that he can run tests on human blood.  Needless to say, Mr. Johnson is under constant pressure from his bosses back home.  They expect Johnson to find a cure but there’s only one problem.  Human blood is sometimes hard to come by.

Oh sure.  Johnson can always go to the local doctor (William Roerick) and get a transfusion.  But, unfortunately, Johnson is often forced to deal with his need for blood by murdering anyone who happens to be near the house, whether it be a teenager or a vacuum cleaner salesman.  Like a vampire, Johnson drains them of their blood before retreating to the safety of his mansion.

Paul Birch gives a wonderfully odd performance in the role of Mr. Johnson, playing him in such a way that suggests that Mr. Johnson is still not quite comfortable with his human disguise.  When he starts speaking with his stilted and awkward syntax, he’s like a man who has just learned how to speak another language.  On the one hand, it’s tempting to feel sorry for Mr. Johnson because he’s desperately trying to save his people.  On the other hand, he does end up killing a lot of people.

Beverly Garland and Morgan Jones play Nadine and Harry, a nurse and a policeman who stumble across the truth of Mr. Johnson’s origins.  Beverly Garland was one of those confident, no-one-is-going-to-conquer-my-planet actresses who could elevate any film by her presence alone and, as this film shows, if you’re trying to stop the aliens from stealing all of Earth’s blood, Beverly Garland was someone who you would want on your side.

With the exception of a scene featuring Dick Miller as a slick salesman, director Roger Corman plays the material straight and the end result is a quickly paced and, at times, genuinely creepy little sci-fi/horror hybrid.  Corman makes good use of his low-budget and even the film’s cheap look ultimately works to its advantage.  The stark black-and-white cinematography perfectly captures the harshness of Mr. Johnson’s mission.  This an effective and enjoyable B-movie.

Finally, since this is a Roger Corman production, be sure to look for all of the usual suspects.  As mentioned above, Dick Miller plays a salesman.  (Before becoming an actor, Miller actually did work as a door-to-door salesman and he ad libbed the majority of his dialogue.)  Jonathan Haze appears as one of Mr. Johnson’s servants.  And, of course, the film was written by Corman’s longtime collaborator, Charles B. Griffith.  Three years after making Not Of This Earth, Corman, Haze, Miller, and Griffith would collaborate on the somewhat more light-hearted Little Shop of Horrors.

(I’m A) King “B”: RIP Dick Miller


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Dick Miller in ‘Rock All Night’

If you’re a Roger Corman fan, you know Dick Miller . If you enjoy the films of Joe Dante, you know Dick Miller. Hell, if you’ve watched movies for the past sixty years, you know Dick Miller, maybe not by name, but certainly by sight. Dick Miller, who passed away yesterday at the age of 90, was one of those character actors who elevated everything he did, even the schlockiest of schlock. He’s in some of my favorite films, never a big star but always a welcome presence, and the ultimate Familiar Face.

Miller was born in the Bronx on Christmas Day 1928 and caught the show biz bug early. By age 8 he was working as a “boy singer” in the Catskills, and as a teen he worked in various stock companies, doing everything from acting to painting scenery. After a hitch in…

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4 Shots From 4 Boris Karloff Films: The Black Cat, The Walking Dead, The Terror, The Sorcerers


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

For our final 4 Shots From 4 Films of this October season, we pay tribute to William Henry Pratt, the patron saint of horror cinema, with….

4 Shots From 4 Boris Karloff Films

The Black Cat (1934, dir by Edgar G. Ulmer)

The Walking Dead (1936, dir by Michael Curtiz)

The Terror (1963, dir by Roger Corman, et al)

The Sorcerers (1967, dir by Michael Reeves)

Horror on the Lens: The Little Shop of Horrors (dir by Roger Corman)


(It’s tradition here at the Lens that, every October, we watch the original Little Shop of Horrors.  And always, I start things off by telling this story…)

Enter singing.

Little Shop…Little Shop of Horrors…Little Shop…Little Shop of Terrors…

Hi!  Good morning and Happy October the 30th!  For today’s plunge into the world of public domain horror films, I’d like to present you with a true classic.  From 1960, it’s the original Little Shop of Horrors!

When I was 19 years old, I was in a community theater production of the musical Little Shop of Horrors.  Though I think I would have made the perfect Audrey, everybody always snickered whenever I sang so I ended up as a part of “the ensemble.”  Being in the ensemble basically meant that I spent a lot of time dancing and showing off lots of cleavage.  And you know what?  The girl who did play Audrey was screechy, off-key, and annoying and after every show, all the old people in the audience always came back stage and ignored her and went straight over to me.  So there.

Anyway, during rehearsals, our director thought it would be so funny if we all watched the original film.  Now, I’m sorry to say, much like just about everyone else in the cast, this was my first exposure to the original and I even had to be told that the masochistic dentist patient was being played by Jack Nicholson.  However, I’m also very proud to say that — out of that entire cast — I’m the only one who understood that the zero-budget film I was watching was actually better than the big spectacle we were attempting to perform on stage.  Certainly, I understood the film better than that screechy little thing that was playing Audrey.

The first Little Shop of Horrors certainly isn’t scary and there’s nobody singing about somewhere that’s green (I always tear up when I hear that song, by the way).  However, it is a very, very funny film with the just the right amount of a dark streak to make it perfect Halloween viewing.

So, if you have 72 minutes to kill, check out the original and the best Little Shop of Horrors