Tuesday, 21 February 2017

A Touch of the Other (1970)

Its Youtube time again as I take a look at Arnold Louis Miller’s 1970 crime/comedy/softcore/Kenneth Cope vehicle ‘A Touch of the Other’ aka House of Hookers.











Monday, 13 February 2017

My Bare Lady (1962)

I’m back on youtube, this time to take a look at the 1962 film ‘My Bare Lady’ the only British nudist camp film to explain what a pasty is and to deal with the touchy subjects of post-traumatic stress disorder and bare assed milkmen.


 









Tuesday, 7 February 2017

The Chimney Sweeps (1963)

I never thought I’d get to see any of The Chimney Sweeps, a rare non-sexploitation vehicle for Harrison Marks and Stuart Samuels, that played for about a week as a second feature in 1963, so was pleasantly surprised to see that a ‘live’ screening of a short version of the film has made it onto Youtube. Sightings of The Chimney Sweeps after its brief theatrical run have been few and far between, although the film appears to have turned up in Turkey at some point as the second feature to an old Laurel and Hardy film (see poster below) and presumably was released onto the 8mm market in a condensed version, which appears to be what has surfaced on Youtube.

The original version of the film ran 43 minutes and included a subplot about ‘two comic burglars’ and a cameo from Pamela Green, nether of which made it into this seven minute version. Still this nevertheless gives you an idea of the favour of this slapstick silent comedy throwback with Marks and Stuart Samuels (looking like he has just come back from an audition for Carnival of Souls) hamming it up as the titular pair of accident prone workmen. So who knows, maybe there still is a chance that Marks' 'lost' 1967 film Pattern of Evil/Fornicon might turn up one day as well.








Wednesday, 25 January 2017

The Master Demon (1991)




Two weeks, and a hundred flubbed takes later, here I am making a meal out of reviewing 1991’s The Master Demon.  In the event that you can’t make out what I am saying, which is highly likely, a transcript follows, and the film itself is up on youtube in its entirety, or as I mention in the video available in all bad branches of C.E.X

 

Imagine Big Trouble in Little China had it been made by Renee Harmon rather than John Carpenter, and that might give you an idea of what to expect from The Master Demon.

While I should perhaps clarify that Ms. Harmon didn’t actually have anything to do with this film, The Master Demon is very reminiscent of her Executioner Part 2/Lady Street Fighter style of a ‘C’ bordering on a ‘D’ level action movie, complete with lead actors who otherwise tended to only get lower down the credits roles in regular movies, a fair amount of walking to and from rundown hotels and around Hollywood Boulevard, giving the film that sleazy low-budget LA feel, as well as action scenes that look as if they were filmed in the producers’ front room.

‘Confused’ might be the kindest way to describe the opening half of the film, and tellingly the filmmakers rely on voiceovers from two different characters, and a narrator, in order to try and make sense of what is going on. Here is what I could decipher… the film begins a few centuries ago, and in the midst of a battle to the death between good guy ‘The White Warrior’ and evil magician The Master Demon, who in a shorthand way of establishing his villainy is wearing red, and has part of his face all scarred and messed up (the make-up here is terrible). Anyway the White Warrior is fatally injured in the fight, but manages to sever the hand of the Master Demon, takes it to a Shaolin temple, where a monk locks the severed hand away in a box and puts a spell on it, a spell that dictates that the Master Demon will remain powerless until the hand is reunited with the rest of him. Cut to present day LA, where the current owner of the box uses magic to summon up one of the Master Demon’s disciples, played by a female bodybuilder. There is an blatant fem dom fetish at work in this film, with lots of scenes taken up by this extensively pumped up woman going around punching and beating up guys, then snapping their necks with her considerable biceps, all done in order to locate the box with the severed hand in it and restore the Master Demon to his former glory. Entering into the proceedings at this point is a wimpy, low-rent private eye called Cameron, who comes into ownership of the box, and as a result finds himself terrorised by both the female bodybuilder and the Master Demon’s severed hand which crawls around like in one of those old Amicus horror films.

Now, I know what you’re thinking “this doesn’t sound too much like Big Trouble in Little China”, and you’d have a point, but it does begin to reveal its John Carpenter influence at this point, as Cameron meets Tong Lee, a descendant of the White Warrior, who is a bit of a chip off the old block in the karate stakes. At which point the film becomes a buddy action movie with an American guy and an Asian guy teaming up to do battle against an evil Chinese magician who can fire lightning bolts from his hands, ah, now where have we seen that before? As with Big Trouble in Little China the film does get some mileage out of playing around with traditional racial roles, Tong Lee emerges as the real action hero of the piece, while Cameron becomes the bumbling, ineffectual comedy relief, who despite his claim to love to “kick back and kick ass”, tends to mainly favour the kicking back part of that claim. At one point the film even satirises Hollywood racism of old, when Cameron runs away from the female bodybuilder whilst wailing “feet don’t fail me now” like the black sidekick in an old Bob Hope film.

The film’s imitative qualities do ironically lend it some uniqueness, since the original box office failure of Big Trouble in Little China meant it didn’t spawn a great deal of rip-offs. It should be mentioned that The Master Demon was actually made in 1987, and only released in 1991, and given the production date you can’t help thinking that the makers of The Master Demon were anticipating Big Trouble in Little China to be a bigger success than it actually was. To add to the comparisons between the two films, at least two of the cast members here, Eric Lee and Gerald Okamura, did actually have secondary roles in Big Trouble in Little China. Also in the cast is Ava Cadell, who wasn’t in Big Trouble in Little China, but whose breasts you might recall from such Hollywood fare as Commando and the remake of Not of this Earth, as well as various 1970s British sex comedies and the early days of Page 3 of The Sun. Ava gets a larger than usual role from her Hollywood period here, playing Cameron’s secretary, who is also the love interest of a cop who is on the Master Demon’s tail, and for those reasons finds herself being kidnapped by the Master Demon. Not long after making the film Ava would reinvent herself as sex therapist Dr Ava Cadell, which is somewhat ironic given the utterly unsatisfactory sex life her character here has with her aged cop boyfriend. After their obligatory sex scene, which isn’t all that sexy, she gets woken up by his loud snoring, and you’re left with the impression that if ever there was a couple in dire need of Dr Cadell’s sex therapy and tips for spicing up your love life then it is these two. In keeping with the film’s fem dom theme, Ava’s character isn’t just a lover though, but also a fighter, and towards the end of the film gets to show off some karate moves on the bad guys, her ability to pull off said karate moves being only slightly hindered by her ample bosom. I hadn’t realised till watching this film, and doing some research into it, but it appears that Ava is actually a real life black belt in karate, something you should perhaps keep in mind before making cheap jokes about her ample bosom, or asking any awkward questions about her early appearances in John Lindsay films….nudge, nudge, wink, wink, know what I mean.

The Master Demon is, as I hope I’m conveying here, a whole lot of lively B-movie fun, I have a feeling that I’d have gotten even more out of if I was one of those gentlemen who enjoyed being bounced off the walls, and beaten into submission by female bodybuilders… you know who you are… but taken for what it is, a dopey little direct to video movie from the tail end of the VHS rental period with its opportunistic fingers in the action, horror and erotic thriller genres, The Master Demon is pretty hard to dislike. It’s the kind of film you’d expect to see on sale at CEX for 50p, in fact it is on sale at CEX for 50p. So I doubt you’d feel short changed by it at that price, and in the unlikely event that you do, you can always take it back and exchange it for a CEX voucher for the grand sum of 1p, valid for 100 years….don’t spend it all at once.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Black Sabbath


With Halloween just around the corner it seems appropriate that another horror themed 8mm sex film has resurfaced, courtesy of ‘Sgt. Rock’. Sharing its name with both a Mario Bava film and Ozzy’s old band BLACK SABBATH is yet another effort by the East London company ‘Collector’s Corner’ who were also responsible for Miss Frankenstein (aka Lady Frankenstein) which shares this film’s horror touches and its frequently undressed star Lisa Brent. By day Collector’s Corner’s bread and butter came from supplying the British public with 8mm copies of old movies, and the company was considered a serious rival to the likes of Mountain films and Derann. Presumably seeing the success of glamour and sex films in the 8mm market led Collector’s Corner towards making their own ‘in house’ productions like this and Miss Frankenstein (a third horror themed 8mm sex film of theirs ‘Taste of Dracula’ is proving to be elusive). So while providing the home viewer with 8mm copies of Battleship Potemkin and the works of W.C. Fields, Chaplin and Keaton was what Collector’s Corner did to entertain others, Black Sabbath suggests that filming naked women and dressing up as apes, goats and satan was what Collector’s Corner did to entertain themselves.

The occult theme to Black Sabbath would date the film to about the very late sixties or early seventies. That being the period when witchcraft was the flavour of the month with sexploitation people, and would see Legend of the Witches playing for months and months in the West End, the publication of Witchcraft magazine “the monthly chronicle of horror, Satanism and the occult”, the clandestine release of the blue movie Satan’s Children, and the likes of Virgin Witch and Secret Rites being just around the corner. Black Sabbath further strengthens my belief that Collector’s Corner were cineastes and horror buffs first and foremost who were dabbling in the sexploitation realm for commercial reasons. The Collector’s Corner output tends to play like amateur horror films of the period whose makers decided to hire a nude model and film some full frontal shots in order to give their films wider appeal and exposure outside of amateur filmmaking societies.


 

In an about turn from playing the titular villainess in Miss Frankenstein, Lisa Brent here plays victim to a cult of sinister robed figures. One member of this coven resembles an Ape, another a Goat (its up for debate whether we’re meant to take these character as simply men with animal masks on or actual man/animal creatures). Amidst bongo music playing by another member of the coven, the Ape and the Goat torment Brent by ermm spinning around in circles (presumably making themselves quite dizzy in the process) in what seem less like a black mass and more like the type of horror themed dance routine that TOTP might have asked Pan’s People to perform. This is enough however to conjure up Satan who arrives in a puff of smoke and really gets the kinky party started by whipping Brent, forcing her to drink his blood and violating her with a dildo.

Severe as it sounds Black Sabbath tends to shy away from the explicitness of the slightly similar Satan’s Children (and if you’ve ever suffered through the limp dicked antics of that film you’ll be grateful we don’t get a retread of that here) and the ludicrousness of the ape and goat costumes, plus their dance routine and Brent’s very hammy acting do lighten the mood a tiny bit. Overall Black Sabbath has the feel of a mischief making lark designed to wind up and put the frighteners on squares who ‘d have read about ‘this sort of thing happening’ in the News of the World, but strikes up a sufficiently nightmarish atmosphere to warrant to attention of British horror film aficionados .




Above: Black Sabbath on Youtube

Sgt. Rock has kindly uploaded Black Sabbath in its entirely to Youtube as an example of his 8mm film to DVD transferring service. After an unfortunate career setback, Sgt. Rock is now offering to transfer to DVD (for free) any of your old 8mm sex or glamour films that take his fancy, in the hope that this might motivate others to search their dusty attics and basements for long forgotten 8mm erotica that Sgt. Rock can breathe second life into by transferring to DVD. Who knows maybe ‘Taste of Dracula’ might even resurface. Anyone interested in taking the Sarge up on his offer can
(contact details removed: see follow on comment)



Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Battle of the Beasts: UK Vs France


Escaped gorillas running amok and terrorising naked ladies was the theme of at least two competitive 8mm glamour films from the late 1950s/early 1960s. The first, homegrown affair ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was the work of Stanley Long and Arnold Louis Miller. Long apparently didn’t think much of this early effort of his when he was reunited with it a couple of years before his death, and therefore may have regretted sending me a tenner for my 8mm copy of it. The second gorilla themed 8mm glamour film ‘Visite Impromptu’ was French made, and released on 8mm in the UK under the title ‘Beauties and the Beast’. The largely undocumented nature of the 8mm glamour film market of this era makes it difficult to say which film was released first or whether one stole the other’s idea (the sound-alike titles and similar themes do point to a degree of plagiarism here).

As to which film is the better of the two, the cineaste in me is leaning towards Visite Impromptu, it benefits from outdoor location work, the luxury of a French chateau setting and a more elaborate plot. The fact that Visite Impromptu also has more nudity and female cast members than Beauty and the Beast were likely plus points for the 1960s 8mm glamour film audience as well. Still I have to admit if this were simply about gorilla costumes then the Long film would be the clear winner here, the one in Visite Impromptu is an absolute shocker.



Thursday, 25 August 2016

Soho , early 2000s


On a rainy, dull day I found myself with a few hours to kill, and since I was in a preservationist mind-set decided to spend it scanning a couple of the photos I took of London during the late 1990s and early 2000s. As we’re talking about pre-digital camera photos here, these now only exist as physical copies which are prone to wear and tear and so perhaps the quicker I get these scanned the better. I was commuting from Manchester to London fairly regularly back then and as these trips tended to be of the 24 hour variety (setting off at some ungodly hour in the morning and riding home on the midnight train) I had to cram in a hell of a lot during a brief amount of time, meaning that my trips to London were never anything but action packed.

My cineaste and sleaze tendencies inevitably drew me towards the West End, and Soho in particular. It was a great place for a spending spree and various misadventures, usually starting with a trip to Tower Records in Piccadilly Circus before escaping the hustle and bustle of Piccadilly Circus in favour of the sights and sounds of Soho. There are inevitably many wild tales to accompany the photos I took of that place, from encountering a man with a python around his neck who was casually strolling around with said animal and doing a brisk trade in taking photos of it with tourists, to shops with crude, hand written signs offering the leaked sex tape of flavour of the month Abi Titmuss (“Abi Titmuss discreetly filmed, on sale here”), to seeing a squad of armed policemen bursting out of the back of a van and raiding a sex shop for selling Viagra (this was during a brief period in time when the blue pills had initially been banned by the government, only to see the country being flooded by counterfeit Viagra as a result). It seemed like there was rarely a dull moment in this place, wherever you looked there seemed to be subjects worthy of their own mondo movie segment, and I wanted to document as much of it as I could.

Decades on, the exact dates I took these photos has begun to escape me, I do remember one of my trips to London taking place on the same day that Spike Milligan died (and being driven nuts on the trip to London by hearing the ‘ying tong song’ played constantly on the radio by way of a tribute) meaning that I must have been there on the 27th February 2002. Some of the other photos date from 2004 as they document what would turn out to be the final days of the Raymond Revue Bar, which at the time just looked as if it was being renovated what with all that scaffolding out front, but was in fact in the process of closing. I seem to remember the sign on the door warning workmen that ‘hardhats must be worn at all times’ was causing multiple giggles from passers-by and jokes about the audience now needing protection from all the bouncing boobs being flung about in that place. In fact the guts of the Revue Bar were being unceremoniously flung into black bags by the workforce and left outside the place for the garbage men in collect. In retrospect I should have tried to salvage a few mementos. A swivel chair with Paul Raymond’s initials embossed on it was particularly tempting, who knows maybe PR had once fucked Fiona Richmond on that chair, or done a line of coke with his daughter Debbie off it, sadly the impracticality of wheeling a swivel chair around the streets of London and sneaking it onto a late night train meant that this was one piece of British sex history that not even I could save from the rubbish tip.

Merely attempting to document this place meant you were taking your life in your hands, people, you’ll be unsurprised to learn, don’t really like the idea of being filmed or photographed in the context of a red light district. I remember once arriving there to find the place unusually deserted and quickly discovering that the reason for this being that the BBC were there filming ‘Crimewatch’, and the idea of being captured on film as an extra in a Crimewatch reconstruction was keeping many off the streets (if you are curious about the Crimewatch piece, it involved a punter who’d been shaken down for cash by a strip club’s heavies then dumped back onto the streets, only to return in full on vengeful Cover Girl Killer mode and murder one of the strippers right outside the club). I’d get my own taste of the violent side of Soho when, after taking one of these photos, I was approached by a rather menacing individual who confronted me with “hey mate, did you just take a photo of me, I’ll thump your face in if you did”. Naturally I denied everything and seem to recall making some bullshit claim about there being no film in the camera, and I was ‘just testing’ to see if the camera worked. Did he buy my story? Probably not, but I ran off before he could reply anyway.

Now, I confess, it has been years if not over a decade since I’ve been to Soho. Word through the grapevine would suggest that photos like these are museum pieces these days, and I’ve heard all the horror stories about the place being gentrified, sterilised and generally having the naughty soul ripped out of it by a new generation of entrepreneurs. Will I ever go back there? Probably not, and why would I, far better to remember the place as it was, rather than risk sullying those memories by setting eyes on it as it is now. Maybe being out of the loop for so long has numbed me to the crushing blow that the death of the old Soho should perhaps be to me, but every story has to have an ending, and I just think that the older you get the more you become resigned to the fact that places, like people, change, sometimes they change beyond all recognition, sometimes they turn into things that you don’t like, and sometimes they disappear altogether.

Lets not look back at old Soho through rose tinted spectacles though, no one ever opened a sex shop, strip club or near beer joint solely for the benefit of all mankind, they were all in it for lust and profit as well. Time marches on and the West End Jungle has always been adept at finding new ways to drag punters in off the street and lighten their wallets, whether it be through the wine bars and blowdrys of today’s Soho, or the strip clubs and blowjobs of yesterday’s Soho. Still I’m glad to have been an extra in the Soho story and to have witnessed the tail end of that dirty, neon lit carnival, and yes, I do think it is sad that future generations will never get to experience the Soho that I knew. Maybe in the future some sleaze hungry kid will look upon these photos with a mixture of wonder and envy, much as my generation did over the membership only cinemas and dirty book shops of the 1970s that we’d been born too late to experience first-hand, as well as of course the idea of sexploitation films as a communal, big screen experience rather than a home video one. So sit back, listen to ‘Welcome to Sleazy Town’ by The Kinks (cause R. D. Davies can sum up this subject matter far better than mere mortals like you and I), and enjoy this blast from the past, I promise no one will come round and threaten to thump you in the face for looking….