He created KISS to destroy KISS and he lost.

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Quaalude Nights: New Three Disc Special Edition!

“Quaalude Nights… No other film in the history of exploitation cinema has so successfully nailed the late night excesses, sleazy hook-ups and bowel emptying drug consumption of the late 70s disco scene. Take it from someone who was there and can’t remember anything …This film is so dirty and real that watching it could give you Herpes”

(Antonio D’Salvio – DJ at The Caesar’s Ruin Bathhouse 1976-1981)

Cult Heresy Video are proud to present the world’s first digital edition of Chuck B. Lazlow’s 1978 Discoploitation clash Quaalude Nights – a classic slice of late seventies night life trash that was thought lost forever, until a much degraded print was discovered in the basement of a Peruvian masonic hall by noted sexploitation historian Welton Rydell.

“Work all week. Save up for that real Italian Nylon shirt and live for Friday night. On Friday nights you’re the king of the floor at The Neon Sunrise Discotheque. On Friday nights every girls wants to be with you and life is a mirrorball wonderland of possibility. But Friday nights are also the darkest nights, when hedonism and good times go bad and murder dances to a 4/4 beat.” – IMDB

Quaalude Nights features a cast of noted late 70s grindhouse talent, including Red Daggar (Earn It Sister! / Hypnotized Wives / The Meat Tasters) as Johnny Footman – a plucky working class kid with a dream of stardom, some killer moves and wardrobe to match and Janice Earlybird (Hard Nights In The Rubber Room / The Virginity Thieves / Torn Blouse, Broken Heart) in the role of Tipsy McConnors,  a broken girl with a big heart and hungry nostrils.

Featuring a script by stalwart grindhouse hack Buster Ravenweld (The Feral Street Gun Sluts / Chained To A Radiator: The Missy Dupont Story / The Stink of Attraction) and the wandering imagery of cult cinematographer – and FilmHurl.Com’s “worst cameraman of all time” – Braddock K. Kingsmith (The Leper of Lighthouse Lane / The Nineteen Lives of Fraidy Cat / The Bikini Assassins of Dr. Platinum)

Now, see the film that Tittysleaze.com described as “a simultaneously exhilarating and depressing adventure into the spunk splattered underbelly of downtown disco loathing” and “the least appropriate date movie ever produced” by Mick Rouser (The Handjob Reader).

Watch this sleazy, low rent classic for the first time since it dirtied up the dodgy grindhouses of 42nd Street in Cult Heresy Video’s new three disc collectors edition

Special Features:

Disc One: Newly restored anamorphic widescreen version; Special introduction by historian Welton Rydell; Commentary by director Chuck B. Lazlow (Burst Frenzy / High School Juju / I Eat Your Hair) and Ice Dance Co-ordinator Betsy Prowler (Pieces of a Dream: The Blaze Friday Story); Bonus fan commentary by Grant Rialto, author of Night Sleaze: The Exploitation Cinema of Chuck B. Lazlow; TV spots; US Trailer; European video trailer; Rare Japanese trailer; Radio Spots; Easter Egg

Disc Two: Italian Nylon: The Making of Quaalude Nights (Exclusive new, feature length documentary on the making of the movie); B-Roll footage; The Lost Cocaine Dildo Scene; Murder Dance (new 15 minute featurette on the dancers of Quaalude Nights); 25 min Super-8 Version

Disc Three: Naked Ludes (rare XXX cut of Quaalude Nights from 1981, with hardcore porn inserts), The Disco World of Klaus Vonderhutch (New hour long documentary of journeyman soundtrack artist and disco cash-in specialist Klaus Vonderhutch).

Includes exclusive 50 page booklet – “I Feel Loathed: The Discoploitation Cinema Scene” by Rocko DeLacey, editor of Wayward Flicks Magazine.

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C’mon, man! Warren’s freakin’ out at the gallery!


Some frequencies may cause distress to household pets

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It’s just absolutely sick and bizarre, and I’m going to do my upmost best to try and stop it now

“This music… it’s making me feel so… Frisky!”

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Breakdance Apocalypse

Year: 1987

AKA: They Shoot B-Boys Don’t They?

Tagline: Radiation is Fresh!

If for no other reason, Italian barrel scraper Andreus Gepetto deserves his place in cinematic history for this brave attempt at genre fusion which, in it’s foolhardy attempt to meld the 80s urban dance flick with the post-apocalyptic action-thriller, spectacularly failed to jump onto two increasingly fading bandwagons. By the late 80s, B-movie producers had rinsed all the dirt they could from tales of scorched earth adventure in movies such as Water Quest 2: Roller Battle and Manhattan Overloads 2038 while kids had eaten their fill of increasingly lame and clueless street dance movies like Body Pop Carwash or Tarpaulin Dreams.

In Breakdance Apocalypse, B-boys battle for turf in an irradiated city in a bleak vision of the 21st century that is uncannily similar to many other 80s movie predictions of the ugly mess we’ll find ourselves in when the air goes bad and the petrol runs dry.

On the mean, fallout dusted streets, dirty squads of head spinning kids battle for status and battered food tins in a world ruled by Headboy (Elk Fitzhandle – Sexy, Sexy Murder / The Eros Pill / Pansy The Fruit Clown), the self appointed Earl of Dead Town. He has decreed that only he can take life and in order to keep some rule of law among the rapidly mutating population, he has created The Arena, where the best dancers face off in a duel to the death. Those who throw down can have their choice of the uninfected women and eat canned peaches. Those who get beat down are thrown into the leech pit to consumed over a course of days or even weeks.

Who can stop this evil sport? Who can battle Headboy for power? Who’ll stand up for the little people? Does anyone care? I’m going to make a cup of tea… No, it’s OK, don’t bother pausing it…

Def Jeff (Alphonso Denari – Hot Car, Hot Lips / Suck My Pleasure / No Money? No Air!) is the only man with the foot skills to stand up to Headboy and, when he refuses murder his defeated opponent in the arena, challenges the despot to a B-Boy battle that will end only when one dancer dies of exhaustion and the scene is set for one of cinema’s most tediously extended finales.

Now, Headboy and Def Jeff must face off in a furious melee of flailing feet and high tempo uprocking. As the breakbeats increase in tempo and dawn arrives, flooding the arena in a sickly purple light, will good prevail?

Alphonso Denari Selected Filmography

1981 Hot Car, Hot Lips

1983 Suck My Pleasure

1984 No Money? No Air!

1985 Sgt. Jesus: NYPD

1985 Taxidermy Academy

1986 Taxidermy Academy 2: Zoo Raid

1987 Breakdance Apocalypse

1988 Borneo Hellride

1989 The Diamond They Kill For

1990 Nano-Force Excaliber

1991 Nano-Force Excaliber 2: Ice Princess

1992 Nano-Force Excaliber 3: Silent Oracle

1993 Crazy Beaver Adventures

1993 Lethal Impediment

1994 Crazy Beaver Easter Jamboree

1994 Bi-Polar X-Men

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Trans-Bots of The Forbidden Sector

Release Date: 1985

AKA: Android Incubus

Tagline: They’re Programmed To Love You… To Death!

Some movies make time stand still… For a few precious moments you stare up at the cinema screen and, transfixed, you lose yourself completely to the void, the images and sound combine to block out the mundane realities of every day life. Other films make you want to punch the stranger in the seat next to you before putting out your own eyes with knitting needles. Trans-Bots of The Forbidden Sector is in the latter camp.

In 1985 Andreus Gepetto’s production line frenzy of straight-to-video shlock was showing no sign of slowing down. Truly loathsome movies such as Teenage Rollerpunx 2: The Muties, Parasite Games and Starwarp Megaspace: Alien Party Guy clogged up rental shelves across the world as lurid trailers promised much about filmed that delivered so very little. Trans-Bots stands head and shoulders above the director’s other films from the 1980s by virtue of it’s unwavering desire to goad a reaction – any kind of reaction – from the unsuspecting viewer. Innocent punters expecting a bargain basement space opera be warned, Gepetto’s delirious mix of 80s New Wave stylings, unruly synth burbles, robotic cheesecake, mutoid biker trash, punk gangs and shape shifting erotobots is so mind searingly awful – so eye scalding and rotten – that it induces a violent sense of injustice. Never again will you witness a film that offers such a bleak sense of time wasted.

It’s the year 2018 and guess what? In a post-apocalyptic city where society has broken down, a violent and Darwinian quest for survival sees rival factions warring for the scraps of a forgotten world. They have motorbikes, leather jackets, skulls painted on battered helmets, metal teeth… and guns.

There’s a gang of nicely Hollywood looking movie punks. Baseball bats… Check. Eye make-up round just the one eye… Check. Guy with a tattoo for a face… Check. They fight against the mutated bikers in unholy street battles set to pounding and overly loud 80s synth music whose unrelenting tempo completely kills any sense of drama or suspense. The same ear destroying theme turns up again and again and again.

Into this unholy, anarchic civil war strides Professor Atork (Theo Whist – The Beasts of Staten Island / Shoot The Beaver / Naked Opium), a scientist whose been holed up in an underground government bunker for years. Like the semi-legendary Japanese island hold outs, battling American forces in the Pacific theatre of war – who fought on for years after peace was declared because they were never told to stand down – Atork hasn’t had the memo about the world’s altered circumstances. He’s been underground for thirty years, building an army of pleasure machines that were originally created by a corrupt government as they syphoned public money in order to develop perversion proof sex androids for use in espionage and corporate hospitality.

When Atork finally learns about the state of life up top, he decides to take his elite squad of lust machines to the surface to enslave what’s left of humanity in a tacky orgy of softcore nonsense in which the clearly body painted trans-bots leave a lot of metallic stains on their conquests.

As an exploitation title designed to give young men a healthy dose of mindless violence and infinitely rewinded stroke material, Trans-bots delivers. In true money raking style, the plot seems to have been created in post-production, once the important business of throwing corn syrup and animal entrails about in the gore scenes and smearing the screen with as much back combed, Pat Benatar looking Robot booty bothering action as the censor would allow was in the can.

As the film breaks the one hour mark, it get increasing hard to see how the director will finish the film, as once the fighting and screwing is in full swing, the gossamer thin sub-plots become unshackled and drift into the air, never to be seen again. If you thought The Matrix left unanswered questions then rest assured, the makers of those films were taking notes from Trans-bots. Fans of the film still debate on message boards about what happened to the Skull-Punk Rex Reflex after he runs off with a rogue hotbot who has developed human emotions. Members of the rapidly dwindling Andreus Gepetto fan forum still argue as to the fate of Hacksaw the biker, last seen setting out on a covert mission to shut down the central computer that controls the metal nymphomaniacs that threaten to love his friends into the grave.

Fans of video store nostalgia and masochists with no concept of the brevity of the human life span might want to waste their time trudging through this hollow, lifeless gore ‘n’ grind epic but remember this, one day you’ll be old, sat in a room full of shitty movies on rapidly degrading plastic discs, wishing you’d travelled more.

Theo Whist Selected Filmography

1965 The Scarlet Bikini

1966 Shoot The Beaver

1968 Free Love Expressway

1969 Yawn of The Death Weasel

1970 Asphalt Overdrive

1971 Five Minutes To Outrage

1972 Reverend Nightstick: I Have Sinned

1973 Reverend Nightstick: Say Your Prayers

1973 Dawn of The Weakling

1975 Death Wail of The Omega Hounds

1975 Texas Pantie Raid 2: Hot Rodeo

1976 Red Light Ninja

1976 The Beasts of Staten Island

1977 The Wishing Blade

1978 The Mirrorball of Dorian Gray

1979 Naked Opium

1980 Day of the Gun Priest 2: The Bronx

1981 Teenage Valhalla

1983 There’s a Radio In My Head That Tells Me What To Do

1984 Christmas In Alcatraz

1985 Trans-Bot of The Forbidden Sector

1986 Kid Einstein Meets The Stoopids

1987 Kid Einstein And Jupiter Cat

1988 Kid Einstein Vs Bad Monkey

1989 – 2004 The Smell of Family (recurring role in successful prime time comedy)

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Dig It The Most!

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Nuclear Teens Get Wasted!

Original One-Sheet

Hal leapt athletically onto the Post-Apocalyptic band wagon in the early 80s with his poverty stricken riff on The Warriors, Escape From New York and The Red Hand Gang, Nuclear Teens Get Wasted. It’s a cheap, tatty Motel of a movie, the kind of watch that makes you question your own sanity, then leaves you in need of a long shower and months of intense counseling.

The director had lost big on his previous effort, the clueless and patronizing Teen Beat ’81 and he needed a hit before his backers in the church of Scientology sent in the muscle.

Hal, aware of the then current trend for Post-Atomic Urban Thrilllers quickly drafted a script with long time collaborator ‘Legs’ Ankle (Street Grime / Street Grime 2: Extreme Justice / Roller Zombie) that would satisfy an audience primed for mutated punks, gang rumbles and muscle cars with gun mounts.

Forge Gridiron (Vampire Airline / Crash Danger Strikes Back / Crash Danger In Africa) is Dale Atmos, leader of the Nuclear Teens, a gang of street wise, irradiated hoodlums with hearts of gold, who decide to take back the night from the hordes of white eyed Muties that infest the bleak, bombed out neighbourhoods of New York AD 2248.

After the great Water Wars of 2056, the population dwindled, leaving only pockets of humanity left among the charred ruins of civilization. The few humans unaffected by fall out are prey to marauding tribes of hideous mutants, more animal than man, and they fall under the leadership of The Questioner (Grill Orson – Planet of the Nympho Beasts / Blood Monks From Beyond Time / Slay Me Again For Old Times Sake), an Android built by the United Federation of Surviving Nations three decades after the war.

The Questioner was constructed deep underground and designed to bring a permanent peace to the Earth, to aid man in rebuilding. Instead, The Questioner’s cold logic dictated that the Mutants were better adapted to survive the Post-Nuclear world and it set about raising an army against it’s creators.

After the movie finishes narrating the back story, as filming any of the above would have been a budgetary impossibility, we meet the Nuclear Teens for the first time, crashing through the Bronx streets in a self-armoured Ambulance with a Gattling Gun affixed to the roof.

Gail Loveless - Press Photo from 80s Comedy Ski School Academy 2: Loose Powder

In the drivers seat is Fix (Gail Loveless – Lowdown Bums Go to Pleasure Town / Forget it Joe! / Firin’ Blanks), a 6’2” Punkette warrior bitch with a claw for a hand. Her biggest kick is hearing a goddamn Muties skull crack under the wheels as she barrels into them at 70 mph.

Shooting down mutated scum on the roof is Greek (Ramp Stickler – Why Does it Sting? / Where Does it Sting? / Quicksand Corridor), a man mountain with a metal plate where half of his face should be. Devoid of speech he can only grunt his hatred for the scorched earth he calls home.

Finally, there’s Kudos (Plate Richards – William Shakespere P.I. / Werewolf Cop / No Sex Please, We’re Amish), the half-mutant Psychic who had to prove his loyalty to his new friends by gunning down his parents. They still don’t trust him…

Together, they rally the human population of New York, bringing every body together to fight the Mutant menace before finally confronting The Questioner himself in a epic mind battle between Kudos, who finally proves his worth, and the rogue machine.

Is Nuclear Teens… a good movie? No. Is Nuclear Teens an entertaining movie? ten times yes! Hal decided to up the gore quota on this gem to cover up the clear lack of money. Mutants get run over, eyes are gouged left right and centre and polystyrene heads explode with alarming regularity.

Add to this the cod-mysticism of Dale Atmos. He’s a classic Post-Apocalyptic movie leader, who delivers speech after straight faced speech about mans inherent insanity and his desire for just a small piece of green land to raise cattle on.

Soundtracked by noted Italian Prog-Jazz group Weevil and featuring tracks from the US punk underground (Including music by Erect Youth, Drug Muscle and Radio F**k You), the film manages to wring some atmosphere when the jarring mix of electronic soundscapes and fast, thrashing hardcore accompanies the bleak, graffiti strewn images.

Hal shot this one, as ever, at a headspinning clip leaving no time for niceties. Well known as an ogre, he surpassed himself on set in the second week by inducing the premature birth of a script girls baby when he fired his guns in the air over a luke warm Latte.

Law suits from disgruntled employees and their accelerated offspring were the least of the filmmakers problems though, as his still had Scientologist Assassins lurking around his home and office, waiting to see if the film stiffed.

Luckily, Hal’s hunch about making a film in the genre paid off and he had one of the best paydays of his career. He even got a semi-decent review in the New York Alarmer when noted critic Henry Render said “I didn’t leave”. Hal had the review framed on his living room wall until the day he died.

Forge Gridiron relaxes on the set of Nuclear Teens. Truck Gun Mount just out of shot

Forge Gridiron – Selected Filmography

1978 Vampire Airline

1978 Funky Brown Sugar

1978 Death to the Roller Teens

1979 Silk Nights

1979 New York City Cannibal

1980 Greasy Truck Takedown

1981 The Deadly Dead

1981 Crash Danger Strikes Back

1982 Nuclear Teens Get Wasted

1982 Crash Danger In Africa

1983 Red Raw Rock Cops (“The World’s First 100% All-Gay Police-Procedural Rock Opera!”)

1984 Breakdance Orgy

1984 Welch Tremor – Chopper Patrol

1985 Priest Academy 2: Back in Cassocks

1985 Robo-Nurse

1986 Priest Academy 3: Cardinals on Patrol

1987 Robo-Nurse 2: The Quickening

1988 Ain’t No Thang!

1989 Satan’s Christmas

1990 The Cradle Killers

Weevil's eponymous debut album

A few Words about Weevil…

Legendary Italio-Prog-Jazz luminaries Weevil deserve their own post but for now here’s a brief introduction.

Formed in Milan in 1969 as the cities experimental music underground exploded, Weevil was the brain child of one man, Synth wizard Umberto Spinelli, who has led the group through myriad line up changes over the course of a 40 year career. A full family tree of the band would encompass over 200 players. The group have recorded 75 film soundtracks including music for such classic of horror and fantasy as The Crystal Swordmaster, Murder Contaminate, Seven Blades in Maria and Finishing School of Satan.

Despite the death in 2004 of long term collaborator Elmer Foost following Tinnitus complications, Umberto continues to record and perform as Weevil to this day.

NUCLEAR TEENS GET WASTED MAIN THEME


DAWN OVER THE BROOKLYN RUINS


RUMBLE IN MUTIEVILLE


These MP3s are ripped from my hard fought for and hen’s teeth rare soundtrack LP, briefly released to coincide with the films launch by the tiny Unicorn Industries record label. Expect a little crackle and pop.

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The Gortard Movies

Original One-Sheet

Surely everyone with a video recorder and time to waste must have rented at least one Gortard movie in their misspent youth. These poverty stricken Sword ‘n’ Sandal movies hit the video shops up to four times a year during their peak period of production (1984-1986) and title were still emerging from the undergrowth as late as 1999.

The first of the seemingly endless series, Gortard The Untamed (1981) was a relatively audacious affair from mid-table production house Unicron Industies, which made a passable profit when it hit inner city screens in the US in the early 80s.

When the producers sold the rights for the franchise to Producer Floyd Entish (the man who brought the world the Hot Polynesian Wax series of tropical erotica flicks in the mid to late 70s), they couldn’t have possibly predicted how enduring the character would become, thanks to the movies heady blend of sub-Tolkien fantasy, cheesecake valkyries, splashy gore and a can-do attitude to special effects. The tragic curse that saw every leading man die in mysterious circumstances days before each title hit the stores hasn’t done the movies cult status any harm either.

In Gortard The Untamed, former Mr. Universe champion Puck Dogford (This Stinks! – 1980 / Atomic Muscle 1980 / Sgt. Hercules 1981) essays a pitch perfect performance as the grunting, near mute hulk of fur-clad wandering warrior Gortard, portraying movies most stoic hero with an almost comical commitment.

After an extended narration about the balance between good and evil falling out of sync, which could plunge the world into 1000 years of darkness if a cookie cutter dark overlord can find four pieces of an amulet and bring them together when some stars align or something, we cut to a village, where an older hunter has just returned with a baby he found in a reed basket on a nearby river.

The baby has a birthmark in the shape of wolf-headed eagle.

The aging man, named Argo, raises the child as his own, teaching him in the ways of the sword and the bow. Cue montage to show the pupil becoming the master and then… Disaster! Along maraud some barbarians under the control of Kraaarg, a dark sorcerer with a heart made of ice.

Atop of a mist blurred mountain, Gortard, blind with grief meets a wizened oracle with no eyes and three breasts who tells him that his destiny is to restore the delicate balance of the Arrhn, the mystic force that bind all living creatures together in harmony. If Gortard cannot defeat the Sorcerer Kraaag, that the Arrhn will become corrupted and completely overwhelmed by evil, and the dark age of the Urtch will prevail.

A standard issue episodic quest ensues, in which Gortard teams up with a conjurer thief, a beautiful elfin beauty with power over beasts and a disgruntled dwarf before wandering through dank forests, icy wastes, stinking marshes and fiery caverns. In each location he dispatches a motley selection of goblin-type things and other indistinct fiends. Plenty of blood is spilled and a topless band of female bandits in the Forest of Urk’Urrl provides some much needed relief from the array of lumpy, ‘Rice Krispies on the face’ Trolls and Ice Imps in earlier scenes.

After the audience has been made to feel that they too have been on an eternal quest into the dark heart of monotony the brave band of allies finally enter the Obsidian Temple of Vrrrrk and face the malevolent Kraaag in a final showdown that rewards the patient viewer with plenty of hacked limbs, beheadings, gut spills and eye gouges; Fair reward for the somewhat meandering build up. Trivia fans will be interested to know that the finale is in the Guinness Book of Records for the most uses of the Wilhelm Scream in a single movie scene.

With a game cast of journeymen and women well versed in low budget genre acting, Gortard The Untamed is one of the better movies from the early 80s fantasy boom. Unfortunately, star Puck Dogford wasn’t around to pick up his royalty check after the film did good box office. He was crushed into the tarmac so thoroughly while running the bulls in Pamplona that it took officials hours to extract him from the road.

And then it went straight-to-video…

After superstitious executives at Unicorn passed on the film rights for a song to Floyd Entish, the former high class pornographer and life long high stakes gambler set about turning Gortard in a single character mini-industry, cranking out twenty movies before the 80s gasped their last. With each film came further infamy as some of worlds most well developed men met their deaths days, sometimes hours after the director yelled cut for the last time. Noted Texan Wrestler Drake “The Ripplator” Kendricks was torn in two by Sea Lions at a water park in Florida, two days after finishing Gortard Slays in 1982. Canadian logging champion Ruck Stonehouse fared little better. He finished work on Gortard & The Slave Whores Of Hades and thought nothing more… The talk of curses having not yet seeped into the popular imagination. Struck by lightening three times while playing mini-golf , he met his untimely end six days later.

And so it went on. Film after increasingly amateur film. The beefcake death toll began to resemble a Rambo sequel. But still you kept renting them? Why? Aside from the fact that they made Erick Strim’s (Undead Biceps -1987) women’s body building zombie movies look competent, it’s worth remembering that each time you paid your money, you condemned another ‘roid addled man mountain to a grisly death. You Jerks.

Original One-Sheet

The Complete Saga of Gortard

1981 Gortard The Untamed
1982 Gortard Slays!
1983 Gortard & The Slave Whores Of Hades
1984 Gortard & The Cave Of The Underdead
1984 Gortard In The Crypt of the Dog-Witch
1984 Gortard In The Ice-Wastes of Time
1985 Gortard The God
1985 Gortard & The Jupitar Virus
1985 Gortard Vs Gortard
1985 Gortard: Galaxy Warrior
1986 Gortard & The Wheel of Death
1986 The Ten Trials of Gortard
1986 The Unborn Sword of Gortard
1986 Maximum Gortard!
1987 Gortard The Invisible
1987 The Crystal Shield of Gortard
1987 The Rampant Fist of Gortard
1988 Gortard Vs The Time-Ninjas
1988 A Gortard Family Christmas (TV Special)
1989 Gortard In The Vortex of Deception
1989 Son of Gortard
1990 Gortard & The Third Eye
1992 Gortard On Campus
1995 Gortard Reborn
1999 The Nine Deaths of Gortard

Unofficial Gay Porn Gortardo (sic) movies

1983 Gortardo & The Man Slaves of Hades
1985 Gortardo & The Love-Demons of Fire Island

CINE-APOCALYPSE

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The Planet Thrusters

The Planet Thrusters One Sheet

Release Date: 28.09.1977

Tagline: Untamed, Uncaged, Unleashed In Space

On May 25th 1977, cinema changed forever and Hollywood turned it’s back on the auteurs that took over in the late 60s, embracing spectacle and fantasy. Star Wars had arrived.

In Ostend, Z-grade Italian schlockmeister Andreus Gepetto was at a low ebb.

After redefining the sexy thriller in 1969 with his early Giallo masterpiece Ten Tears On A Bloodstained Lawn, he went on to score a run of hits in a variety of genres with the Spaghetti Western success Forgive Me If I Shoot (1969), the controversial maverick cop action movie Tough Shit! You’re Dead! (1971) and the psychedelic, drug drenched nude horror of  The Schoolgirl Blasphemers (1973).

Then things started to turn sour.

He directed a string of huge flops that ruined his reputation to such an extent that by 1977 it was unlikely that the director, living in a fleapit hotel in an unsavory district of the city, would ever make anything but the increasingly seedy skin flicks he’d started producing under the alias Huck Duncan (Funky Shakedown – 1975 / The Cincinnati Fuck Squad 1976 / Naked Django 1977) ever again.

He first misfired in spectacular fashion with an ambitious historical epic - Joan Of Arc In Africa (1974), a movie so vastly inaccurate that the director was banned from stepping foot in France for five years. He followed that with an even bigger failure with 1975′s rampaging bee disaster movie The Deafening Buzz. The films costly Hexaphonic Sound process was only available in a tiny handful of cinemas, rendering the film useless in conventional movie houses.

Righteous Brotherhood (1976) – an ill conceived vigilante monk movie – was the final straw, losing his backers so much money in law suits that the director fled Italy, washed up, near penniless and alone.

When George Lucas’ Space Opera exploded worldwide, Gepetto was one of the first directors to see the potential for a cheap cash-in. Calling in what remaining favours he could and doing the kind of ready cash deals that sometimes end with broken fingers, he scraped together enough money to hire a non-union crew and set about making an audacious softcore retread of Star Wars so shameless that many of the cast had to go into temporary hiding as Lucas sent operatives from the espionage wing of Industrial Light & Magic to exact revenge. Those in the know say that Mossad had nothing on them.

Noted Greek adult performer Adelphos (The Sins That Whisper Shame – 1973 / Hercules In Lesbos - 1974), aging British thesp Douglas Hearthburn (The Draconian Basket – 1950 / Mr. Chips Has Risen From The Grave - 1952 ) and the quirkily beautiful, noted Scientologist Margo Vonderhoff (Slippery Velvet 1972 / Womb of the Antichrist 1973 / The Withering 2: Skin Grafts 1984) turn in functional performances in a bizarre and extremely cheap parody of the Sci Fi classic that basically serves as a way for seedier elements of the film going public to satisfy their fantasies about Princess Leia doing the whole cast.

Although the film never strays into hardcore territory (as usual, there are porno-insert versions floating around under more explicit titles) the echos of bestiality involved in certain human-alien couplings meant that most of the scenes involving a Chewbacca stand-up in a moth-eaten ape suit were cut in the USA, Britain and France.

With S&M obsessed dark lords, comedy robots with a neat line in bawdy humour and rude electronic noises, some of the worst model work and make up ever seen in a professional production and a general feeling of galactic inappropriateness, The Planet Thrusters is a unique entry in the annals of the low rent Star Wars rip off. Relentlessly slowed down by the casts constant need to dry hump each other, the film never blasts off in the way the director intended but despite its many flaws, it still did good business in cinemas willing to risk the wrath of George Lucas’ infamous arson squads.

The Planet Thrusters helped to revitalize Gepetto’s career and although he’d never return to the classic form of his early movies (seek out his 1972 study in creeping insanity and incestuous desire – The Devil’s Sister for proof), he went on to exploit the slasher boom, emigrating to Los Angeles to stay two steps ahead of his debts where he established a production line approach to such slasher timewasters as Lady Kill (1980) Slay Lady Slay (1980), Kill Me Twice… Please (1981) and much the banned and vilified Blades In The Honeytrap (1983). A relentless hack, he spent the 80s churning out straight-to-video Sci-Fi, Horror, Action and Sword ‘n’ Sandal cheapies that could be turned over quickly.

No 80s video store was complete with at least a few of the following bottom shelf classics…

Road Rash Rebels (1983), Rampant Steel: The Gun Lord (1983), Amazon Ninja Girls (1983), Teenage Rollerpunx (1983), Nightmares Can’t Kill You… Can They? (1984), Gortard & The Cave of the Underdead (1984), Gortard in The Crypt of the Dog-Witch (1984), Gortard in The Ice-Wastes of Time (1984), Teenage Rollerpunx 2: The Muties (1985), Parasite Games (1985), Starwarp Megaspace: Alien Party Guy (1985), Trans-Bots of The Forbidden Sector (1985), The Creeping Malaise (1985), Night of the Janitor (1986), Night of The Janitor 2: Bleach Burns (1986), Breakdance Apocalypse (1987).

The Planet Thrusters is no classic but the very fact that George Lucas hates it is reason enough to seek it out.

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