WARNING! The following motion pictures depict acts of an offensive and extreme nature. Because of the numerous scenes of unremitting savagery, violence and sexual depravity, absolutely no one under 18 will be permitted to view these pictures!
PREVUES OF COMING ATTRACTIONS!
"They gave him a little power... and he went insane! It could've happened anywhere, but it happened here! A man who should've been a common criminal... became a man with power over millions! He took the power and he went mad! He killed the husbands and he raped the wives. He lived like a king in his own private kingdom... and destroyed those who weren't his own kind! He owned the people... their lives... their bodies... their souls! The story of a madman who killed half a million. AMIN THE RISE AND FALL... he's still free to kill!"--Narration from the original trailer.
This seldom discussed exploitation epic of bloody proportions paints a gruesome, unhinged portrait of one of history's worst dictators. The plot is virtually non-existent aside from showing the insane Amin's rise to power and his eventual dethronement. There's gory shootings, beheadings, misogyny, and cannibalism aplenty.
...AND THIS SECOND BIG HIT!!
"He's a one-man, two-armed, no-legged hit squad! SEE the Amazing Mr. No Legs and his Wheelchair of Death! SEE a paraplegic hitman use his stump and kung fu skills to snuff out double crossin' scum! SEE the sloppiest, the wackiest, laugh riot of a bar fight ever conceived! SEE a man bring a sword to a gunfight, take a bullet, and keep on swingin'! SEE the million selling record group, Mercy singing 'I Still Remember Love', a song nobody on earth has ever heard of! There's racism, transvestites, midget mayhem and a kung fu fightin', wheelchair weapon slingin' man with no legs and murder on his mind! It's the all time politically incorrect event of trash cinema! Richard Jaeckel... Luke Halpin... Rance Howard, yes, Opie Taylor's dad... John Agar... stunt driver Joie Chitwood and the Danger Angels... and introducing the Amazing Mr. No Legs! SEE IT!!--Cool Ass Cinema's trailer.
Richard Jaeckel stars as a detective trying to find the murderer of his sister. Partnered with his sisters hot-headed cop boyfriend, they ultimately run afoul of Lou, alias Mr. No Legs, the ambitious and deadly right hand man of drug dealer,D'Angelo. Insanity ensues with badly choreographed, but energetic fights and an impressive 13 minute car chase finale. Directed by Ricou Browning, the man inside the CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON suit.
COMING SOON ON THIS SCREEN!!
20. I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE 1978
"This woman has just cut, chopped, broken and burned five men beyond recognition... but no jury in America would ever convict her!"
Revenge movies are among the most popular styles of cinema around the world. The primality of vindication and righting an injustice evocates a powerful emotional response in us all, so it's only natural we enjoy seeing the scum of the earth get their just desserts. The rape-revenge style of thriller is arguably the most visceral example of the form. Never was this exemplified in a more disturbingly savage way than in Meir Zarchi's borderline pornography, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE.
The movie was sporadically distributed, by Zarchi himself, under the rather generic sounding title of DAY OF THE WOMAN. It was also said to have been released under the title of I HATE YOUR GUTS, a title that was apparently popular as it adorned at least two other movies (Roger Corman's INTRUDER and FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE). The film finally hit paydirt when Jerry Gross got a hold of it in 1980 and branded it with the now infamous moniker of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, a title that rivals Hooper's THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE as most exploitative film title ever conceived. Zarchi's groundbreakingly offensive picture got one of its "best" notices from Roger Ebert and his late cohort, Gene Siskel. Both uniformly panned the production even going so far as to attempt to have it removed from theatrical exhibition. Ebert further elucidated, with descriptive verbage, his distaste for it in one of his movie review books. He related an almost verbatim sentiment for his review for MOTHER'S DAY (1980), a similar motion picture about an old woman who trains her two demented sons to rape, beat and kill women. This picture, which differentiates itself from other such movies with its socially satirical slant, has its own stigma of controversy attached to it. Needless to say, it's scathing reviews highlighting the unpleasantries in these films that only serves to get more folks intrigued to see them.
A number of other films followed in SPITS footsteps, the most polished of which is likely Abel Ferrara's brutally artistic MS. 45 (1980); essentially DEATH WISH (1974) and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978) all rolled up into one. This time, the malicious act or rape takes place in the city as opposed to the backwoods primeval. SAVAGE STREETS (1984) starring Linda Blair is one of the most violent and sleazy of the form and in 1985, Cirio H. Santiago delivered what amounted to a remake of Zarchi's original with NAKED VENGEANCE. Santiago's version lacked the primitive look and emotional gut-punch of the '78 film. I SPIT got its own official remake in 2010. Aside from looking far too polished and clean, the new film managed to replicate the originals geekshow mentality.
While his film is easily the slimiest of a grubby lot, Zarchi wasn't the first to do a rape-revenge movie. The wholly overrated Swedish mishmash THRILLER-A CRUEL PICTURE (1974) starred international exploitation starlet Christina Lindberg as a kidnapped girl who's raped and maimed till she learns Karate, gets some guns, and blows her captors away in what amounts to an extremely boring finale filmed in excruciatingly snail-paced slow motion. I remember fast forwarding a lot of it and it was still in slow motion! It was released here in a cut version under the more marketable title, THEY CALL HER ONE EYE and the trashier sounding HOOKER'S REVENGE.
In 1974, an American film bearing the wholesome appellation of THE RAPE SQUAD aka ACT OF VENGEANCE assaulted movie screens across the nation. In this one, you had a group of five women who band together to take down their attacker who's named Jingle Bells of all things. It's nowhere near the level of sadism and humiliation of Meir Zarchi's movie, but it's definitely the sort of film the title evokes.
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is the signature sleazeball movie of this genre style and the one film people have heard of whether they've seen it, or not. It also attracted a lot of attention upon its first release to videocassette in 1984 under the Wizard Video banner. The attention came from the MPAA when it was discovered the print on VHS was the uncut version despite the box bearing an 'R' rating.
Meir Zarchi's unremittingly nasty little movie has remained visible in the public eye for over 30 years now with multiple videotape, DVD and now Bluray releases. It's one of a handful of 70s trash epics whose title and heritage matches what transpires onscreen. Its hype is justified and whatever you've heard about it is assuredly true.
I remember seeing the film on two different occasions with a group of people and couldn't help but feel uncomfortable both times; one was with a friend whose parents had rented it having eagerly awaited its re-release on tape. That made for an awkward evening--a double feature of I SPIT and the new to video HUNTER'S BLOOD (1986).
The other time was really uncomfortable; it was with a group of Chinese friends whom I was working with at the time. When work finished, we went to Action Video next door. One of the cooks, for whatever reason, had decided it looked like something they all could watch. I assume he was bewitched by the bare-backed woman with the plump ass brandishing a knife. Needless to say, the room was quiet during the first hour. During the scene where Keaton's character is raped the second time, the tape was shut off and everybody just looked around in stunned silence; some of them couldn't speak English, anyways. The young chef then put on a non-English subbed tape of SHAOLIN INVINCIBLES (1977) instead as if that was much of an improvement. The extended, over long rape-torture sequence that takes up nearly an hour of the films running time is a true endurance test for even the sturdiest trash fans cast iron constitution.
21. FACES OF DEATH 1978
"For the first time in cinema history, the greatest fear of all mankind will be graphically exposed!"
This Japanese financed shockumentary redefined the mondo film towards the tail end of the cycle. With MONDO CANE cementing the popularization of society's fascination with world weird morbidity, it was only a matter of time before the form mutated into crass exploitation. You'd be hard pressed to find a person who hasn't heard of it, or seen one of the films out of some need to satisfy sepulchral curiosity.
Touted as being a catalog of real death footage, it was later exposed to be primarily staged. Even with this knowledge, for a number of years, a great many people still considered it to be all too real, regardless of the fact that some of the scenes reveal just how fake they really are. The FACES OF DEATH series was truly a phenomenon. While it was popular theatrically, the film and its subsequent sequels and innumerable clones exploded on the home video market. FACES OF DEATH was everywhere. Everybody was talking about it.
I remember being in school around '84 or '85 and we would talk about it before, during and after class when we normally discussed the kung fu movie we had seen on 'Black Belt Feature' over the weekend. At the time, there was little in the way of stringent rules against kids under 17 renting movies with unsavory subject matter, so it wasn't difficult to be able to see something like this especially if your parents weren't paying attention, or didn't seem to care so long as you knew the difference between fantasy and reality, and FACES OF DEATH definitely blurred those lines.
FACES OF DEATH was a lot like Pro Wrestling back in the day. It was faked brutality, but was real all at the same time. While matches were "scripted" (save for occasions where wrestlers sometimes disapproved of an outcome and did their own thing), many of these guys would really beat the hell out of each other. A lot of folks knew it wasn't real, many of us thought it ALL was real. Even when it finally came out that there was some creative license going on behind the scenes, many fans faithfully, if blindingly held on to the notion that what they were seeing was definitely the real deal. FACES OF DEATH falls into this same category.
Gory newsreel footage of plane crashes and car accidents sit uncomfortably alongside scenes of staged alligator and bear attacks on man. These scenes are always crudely accentuated with the use of some shaky cam ingenuity immediately when something harrowing begins to take place. This was a staple of Mondo cinema and would be adopted by the current crop of "reality", or "found footage" movies that crop up every few minutes these days. The wildly popular series also found itself in the news during the late 1980s when a murderers statement revealed that his favorite movie was the notorious FACES OF DEATH.
"Banned in 46 countries!"
Just to give you an idea of how this morally reprehensible series had lingered, penetrated and gripped our society, in 1990, FACES OF DEATH 4 was released on tape. Not long after, somebody got the idea to take the film on the road for a theatrical release! I remember it played in my small town and there were even radio spots! Yet again, FACES OF DEATH was a major topic of discussion.
On another occasion, when I was an assistant manager at Taco Bell in 1994, one of the other managers had rented one of the FOD knock-offs and was watching it in the office! These clone shockumentaries were legion and so many of them were real death footage from start to finish. By this time, the Mondo connection had been abandoned and all that remained was a nauseating stream of uncensored (and likely leaked in some cases) film footage that you'd figure may only be of interest to coroners or crime busters in training. Now you can see footage of the Manson massacre aftermath, or even the horrifying helicopter accident that took the life of Vic Morrow and two children during the making of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983). There are even websites that are devoted to real death photographs and any other revolting imagery imaginable.
While this shocking film begat a home video phenomenon, the year prior saw the release of a very similar production from West Germany entitled JOURNEY INTO THE BEYOND (1977). Narrated by John Carradine, this movie was something of a bridge between MONDO CANE (1962) and the road traveled by the FACES OF DEATH hucksters. It never gets quite as grotesque as the FACES films, but comes off as a more adult version of the popular RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT series; a mass franchise that's been around for nearly a century and consists of the strange and the unusual. It was eventually turned into a television series premiering on the ABC network in 1982 and hosted by Jack Palance.
FACES OF DEATH is still in the public eye what with all the original films released on DVD and the first film on Bluray, amazingly enough. A remake was announced back in 2006, but has yet to be realized, if it were ever anything more than a hoax, itself. This series remains a peculiar anomaly in the history of exploitation cinema. It's lost much of its popularity and audience interest since at least the mid to late 90s since the dozens of "documentary" style gore movies have desensitized what allure these up-chuck inducing, geekshow epics had to offer.
PREVUES OF COMING ATTRACTIONS!
"It's just a farmhouse that looks pretty innocent from the road, but once you're inside, you'll see what really happens on a terror farm... INVASION OF THE BLOOD FARMERS! Coming in the dead of night! Coming to plant the living and harvest the dead! INVASION OF THE BLOOD FARMERS! Are you strong enough? More raw terror, more stomach turning shock than you can take! Therefore, we warn you... don't eat before you see... INVASION OF THE BLOOD FARMERS and you'll have nothing to lose! They plant the living and harvest the dead! INVASION OF THE BLOOD FARMERS! Released by NMD Films. In color. Rated PG. Parental Guidance suggested."--Narration from original trailer.
Amazingly trashy title for so bad it's good movie about crazed druidic farmers draining the blood from their victims to resurrect their long dead queen.
STICK AROUND FOR THIS SECOND HIT!
"In 1976 the Unified People's Army of Watts was organized to rid the community of drugs, prostitution and crime! The project was a total wipe-out! They had to become... THE BLACK GESTAPO! The new master race! THE BLACK GESTAPO... when they declare war, it's all out... all the way out! And if they touch a brotha's woman, that really cuts it! THE BLACK GESTAPO! Victory through violence and vengeance for the new master race!"--narration from original trailer.
Funded by the Governor of LA, the People's Army is formed to help the poor and destitute of Watts. When a gangster syndicate sets up shop in Watts, both groups collide ending in an all out race war.
22. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST 1980
"The most brutal and savage film in modern history. The cameramen who shot this film were later devoured alive by cannibals."
The cruddy, porn-like excess of trash such as SNUFF (1976) had acquired a great deal of attention for its proposed real kill finale. Later revealed to be a staged death scene, the trouble that found Italian director, Ruggero Deodato went a few steps beyond.
Passed off in some territories as a one of a kind snuff movie, the director found himself facing a prison sentence for multiple counts of murder! Once some of the cast members were located, it was soon realized that it was all just a movie and promotional ballyhoo to sell tickets. Unfortunately, all the negative publicity surrounding the film worked against the picture instead of in its favor. That the public and the court thought Deodato had killed his cast was a frightening possibility that crossed the mind of some of the cast as well.
According to actor, Gabriel York, he took the job without a script and when he got one, it wasn't in English. Some of the businessmen he was in contact with likewise couldn't speak the language. Prior to meeting with Deodato, York saw some things that honestly caused him to worry for his safety. Porn star, Robert Kerman, was also among the cast taking the lead as Professor Monroe. Casting a porn star in such a movie only adds to the seedy atmosphere contributing to the exploitational aura of this endurance test of a film packed with violence, rape, cannibalism, animal violence and other savage acts of brutality.
Deodato had helped immensely in making cannibalistic jungle horror a viable exploitation commodity for thrill seekers living on the outskirts of good taste. MAN FROM DEEP RIVER laid the tracks, but LAST CANNIBAL WORLD got the train rolling.
"The law of the jungle... EAT, OR BE EATEN!"
Other films followed including Sergio Martino's sprawling action-gore epic MOUNTAIN OF THE CANNIBAL GOD (1978), a film that went out under a few different monikers including SLAVE OF THE CANNIBAL GOD and PRISONER OF THE CANNIBAL GOD. The theatrical version eliminates much of the unsavories, but the full strength cut contains the requisite animal cruelty (some of the most squirm inducing of the entire cycle), sex, decapitations, castrations and even some bestiality is thrown into the morbid mix.
CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST has become the best example of this much vilified style of cinema. Since its legit North American release on DVD in recent years, the film has garnered a great deal of exposure since its original theatrical release went virtually unnoticed. Incidentally, MGM was originally in line to distribute the film, but catching wind of all the international controversy the movie was attracting, the studio passed on it. Where CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST has been an innovative force is the documentary style incorporated during the latter portions of the movie.
Deodato attacks both the media and Italian filmmaking duo, Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi here all the while inadvertently giving birth to the "Found Footage" style of horror film that has risen in popularity at an alarming rate all around the world ever since THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999) used Deodato's devices to convince audiences that three people actually died onscreen. Alternatively, when CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST was re-released on the midnight circuit nationwide over the course of the last ten years, the distributors utilized the same viral promotional tools the makers of BLAIR WITCH had used to get potential patrons interested who may not know just what the film was. It's exploitational significance took longer to take hold considering how difficult it was to see the film back in the day. Now, it's a vitally important horror film that every serious student of the genre should see. It's just as socially relevant today, maybe even more so, than it was upon its original release.
23. SHOGUN ASSASSIN 1980
"This is a story of honor, disgrace, vengeance... MASSACRE! And a man who became a demon! SHOGUN ASSASSIN!"
New World Pictures committed a crime in 1980 by butchering the first two of the fabled LONE WOLF & CUB movies from the early 70s, then cramming the leftovers into a single entity. Considering the popularity of the result, fans have been only too eager to acquit them.
Bathed in majestic fountains of spraying blood and gore, SHOGUN ASSASSIN is something of a cultural conundrum. It's both a blessing and a bane to Chambara movies in that those who have seen it are literally blown away by the shocking amount of outrageously bloody violence and they end up wanting more of the same. The problem is that there aren't a great many movies like the LONE WOLF & CUB films, so those casual fans won over by the crimson exuberance are usually disappointed to find that most samurai pictures aren't as gracious with the severed limbs. It's safe to say that SHOGUN ASSASSIN is the ultimate introduction to casual fans who may have but a passing interest in foreign action movies of this sort.
With its even more streamlined plot, new synth score and remarkably respectable dub job, SHOGUN ASSASSIN cut a bloody swath on the exploitation circuit accruing nearly 2 million in four weeks on $350,000 spent to rework the Japanese original.
Critics mostly tore it up (Gene Siskel walked out a showing early) and audiences ate it up till the MPAA discovered the version making theatrical rounds was not the one they gave the 'R' rating to. Demanding all prints be removed from circulation, distributor Roger Corman decided to pull the film as opposed to trying to put it back out there unrated since most theaters refuse to carry a film without a rating. The movie got even wider recognition when MCA/Universal released the film to videotape not long after.
Bizarrely enough, the third film in the series, BABY CART TO HADES (1972), was released through Columbia Pictures in 1974 with a trailer that seemed to challenge the moneymaking propensity of the Hong Kong martial arts films that were all the rage at the time. Closing out the trailer, a narrator says, "Raise a kung fu fist against Ogami and he'll chop it off!"
SHOGUN ASSASSIN was banned for a time in the United Kingdom which also added to its gruesome mystique. Since its theatrical and home video days, the cult following of this infamous film has allowed the six original films to be released on DVD in subtitled editions. The SHOGUN ASSASSIN cut has also been released on Bluray. An American remake is in the works, unfortunately.
PREVUES OF COMING ATTRACTIONS!
"KUNG FU MAMA, she's the QUEEN OF FISTS! Crown International Pictures brings you the colossal kung fu event of the year! Don't mess with the KUNG FU MAMA! This wall climbin' granny's got skills, get in her way, you'll be the first she kills! Big or small, KUNG FU MAMA crushes them all! The QUEEN OF FISTS! She took on an army of kung fu killers and dished out discipline the only way she can! KUNG FU MAMA! Rated R!"--Cool Ass Cinema's trailer.
Virtually plot free kung phooey stars the plumpy, elderly bad ass from Wang Yu's KNIGHT ERRANT (1973) in her own movie. My aunt and uncles first and last kung fu film they saw back during the pictures original release. As usual with so many kung fu releases back in the day, the lead actor/actress is either missing from the credits, or given a made up name. Wang Yu is not in this film, although this US poster would have you believe he was.
...AND THIS CO-FEATURE SPECTACULAR!
"PASSION PLANTATION... where love, death, lust and hate meet in a whirlwind of violence! You were shocked by MANDINGO, now prepare yourself for the perversity of the PASSION PLANTATION! See the evil of Emanuelle as she uses her body to tease, torture and titillate her captive slaves! See the love of this powerful woman scorned culminating in a vicious and deadly act of revenge! PASSION PLANTATION... with all the grandeur of MANDINGO comes this savage tale of lust, love and revenge! PASSION PLANTATION! A Howard Mahler release! Rated R!"--Cool Ass Cinema's trailer.
This cheap Italian clone of MANDINGO (1975) stars Malisa Longo as Emanuelle, the daughter of a plantation owner who gets her kicks abusing slaves. When her fiance falls in love with her black maid, Emanuelle plots a cruel revenge. There was also another Italian MANDINGO clone from this time period from the same director entitled MANDINGA (1976).
COMING SOON! WATCH FOR IT!!
24. MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY 1982
"The following feature is one of the most violent films ever made. There are at least two dozen scenes of barbaric torture and sadistic cruelty graphically shown. If the presentation of disgusting and repulsive subject matter upsets you, please do not view this film."
Deodato's CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST may be the definitive example of the much castigated cannibal movie sub genre, but Lenzi's unapologetic jungle opus had the widest overall exposure and launched just as many lunches. It's also one of the nastiest foreign exploitation movies ever made.
During the home video invasion, MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY aka CANNIBAL FEROX was acquired by Thriller Video, a company that had specialized in a long string of releases hosted by the Mistress of the Dark herself, Elvira. This particular release was unique in that Elvira decided against hosting this and a few other Thriller Video tapes because of the tasteless presentation.
Lenzi loved New York City and many of his films have location shooting there. MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY has quite a lot of footage of the City That Never Sleeps, cutting back and forth between it and the jungle hell of the Amazon. As overbearingly sleazy as the whole thing is, this jumping back and forth between civilization and an untamed Thirld World land gives this trashy exploitation classick an epic feel punctuated by Lenzi's signature touch.
"Humiliation and mutilation were just the appetizers at this blood feast...castration and decapitation ... the main course!"
The director kicked off the man-eats-man movies with the violent jungle adventure drama MAN FROM DEEP RIVER (1972), a film that took a cue or two from the Richard Harris vehicle A MAN CALLED HORSE (1970). It wasn't a cannibal movie, but its one graphic sequence of flesh eating laid the groundwork for what would come in addition to a cavalcade of animal cruelty scenes.
The film was profitable and it wouldn't be long before the cannibal sub genre would subjugate the Mondo movie grossing out trash palace followers looking for all new sick kicks in the process.
A few years later, Ruggero Deodato would be approached to do what Lenzi reportedly didn't want to do and that was another similar film set in the jungle. With the success of THE LAST CANNIBAL WORLD in 1976, Lenzi went to war and returned from the New Guinea jungle armed with a new movie headlined by a porn star and a wealth of stock footage from other cannibal movies.
"MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY... the most violent film ever made! Too disgusting to watch... too bizarre to resist!"
EATEN ALIVE! (1980) is arguably the trashiest of all the cannibal movies, not just because of the large number of scenes borrowed from other productions, but its plot combines the then shocking Jonestown Massacre with intestine noshing, limb ripping natives. It's a veritable cannibal cocktail topped off with a sprinkling of nauseating animal deaths.
After Deodato topped them all with his soul shredding HOLOCAUST, Lenzi returned fire with a sadistic, arguably more offensive film, MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY. Lenzi's movie is also one of the chosen few whose title and trailer accurately convey what sort of cinematic experience you're in for. It truly delivers. It's also probably the only time in history an Italian cannibal movie will make American prime time television.
"Now it's their turn to suffer... but they made one mistake... they got caught and when you get caught in this jungle, there's no bail and no jail. There's just punishment... and pain! Cruel, barbaric, primitive... for what they've done... MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY!"
In the late 80s, the ABC series 20/20 ran an episode where they attacked the horror genre claiming these movies were turning the nations children into potential killers. One scene in particular had several suburban mothers sitting around watching a movie that one of their children had seen. That film happened to be Umberto Lenzi's MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY! The narrator of the news program details what the film is about while we get to see these Desperate Housewives shake their heads in disgust while refraining from regurgitating.
MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY was the last "great" cannibal movie before the sub genre went vegetarian in terms of believability and production quality. Prior to the digital age, this picture was more widely known than Deodato's "classier" cannibal culinary classick. The exposure on 20/20 no doubt accepted a number of new inductees into Lenzi's cannibal club. Predominantly panned for its perceived politically racist stance, animal violence and graphic gore, it's required viewing for all those interested in exploitation films and the 42nd Street experience.