Mediatrocities Morsel: Director John Rangel on Hollywood’s Fantastical Working Class Characters

Legendary Lew (l) and director John Rangel

Legendary Lew (l) and director John Rangel

by Legendary Lew

TUGM will soon have a complete podcast of my interview with filmmaker John Rangel, director of The Girls on Liberty Street. He’s raising funds for a new independent feature called Remember Our Days set to be filmed in Aurora, IL. In this snippet from the interview, John and I discuss why it is that Hollywood characters can live way beyond their means and why audiences passively allow this ruse.

As with all Mediatrocities podcasts, this audio exchange is NSFW.

Head on over to Seed and Spark and support John’s quest for a workable budget. There’s 11 days left, so please spread the word! Support indie cinema!

“Zebra Killer” Who Inspired One of the Most Racist Exploitation Movies Ever Made Dies

zebrakillerby Legendary Lew

J.C.X. Simon, one of the men convicted of murder in San Francisco’s infamous “Zebra Killer” crimes of the 1970’s, was found dead in his prison cell. The cause of death is unknown pending an autopsy.  Along with Larry Green, Manuel Moore and Jessie Lee Cooks, Simon contributed in killing random victims between 1973 and 1976.

The sensation of this crime meant that, of course, low-budget exploitation filmmakers with moneybags in their eyes took notice. Enter William Girdler, director of such amazing 70s films as Sheba, BabyAbby and The Manitou.  While the murder cases were still open, Girdler went to work filling grindhouse movie seats with one of the most outrageous urban crime dramas ever made.

Known primarily as The Zebra Killer (although it’s also been released under the titles The Get-Man and Combat Cops), this movie starred Girdler regular James Pickett as an insane killer committing his crimes in blackface!

This causes confusion with the police, who have a tough time determining the race of the perp, even though it’s quite apparent the killer looks like he just walked off a minstrel show. To make matters worse, the black cop leading this investigation, Lt. Frank Savage (played by Austin Stoker), really should be investigated by internal affairs. He gets drunk on duty, has suspects written up on false charges and spends his time on the clock knocking back a few at the bar or at home doing a horizontal wiggle with his old lady.  In an attempt to make Savage look like a badass, Girdler succeeds in only making him bad, thus making the movie more racist than was probably intended.

Still, this is a film that’s worth watching as a mid-70’s action curio. It’s really too bad that Girdler died in a helicopter accident at age 44,  a victim of the wild and woolly era of 1970’s Filipino exploitation moviemaking. He held the promise of creating even more unbelievable grindhouse fare.

Here’s the trailer for the movie under the title Combat Cops. Notice how the race factor of the film is deemphasized in favor of ballistics:

South African Penis Transplant Predicted by Director Doris Wishman

amazingtransplantby Legendary Lew

The most titillating surgical news today was the story of an unidentified man who was given a transplanted member by a team of South African surgeons. This was apparently the first successful transplant of its kind ever.

But will it remain without complications? The great sexploitation movie director Doris Wishman explored that dilemma with her classic grindhouse film, The Amazing Transplant.  In that film, a nice guy named Arthur has an affinity for certain ladies.

Unfortunately for these women, the one common factor among them is a set of glistening earrings that drives Arthur insane during lovemaking. The result is a string of serial killings and rapes that baffle the cops.

Set on stopping the crimes,  a police detective learns why Arthur is choking chicks and not choking his own chicken–a penis transplant! You see, Arthur had a new bishop sewn onto him by a surgeon who didn’t realize the donated dong belonged to a previous sex offender with a fetish for golden earrings.

Oh Doris, how the film world was blessed by your presence!

I’m certain the South African surgical will keep an eye on any further developments. Here’s hoping the patient will live a full and happy life without the complications expressed in Doris Wishman’s great sleazer, The Amazing Transplant.

Mediatrocities #16: Criterion Requests and Remembering Leonard Nimoy

RIP Leonard Nimoy

RIP Leonard Nimoy

by Legendary Lew

TyPi joins me in the latest installment of “Mediatrocities,” the podcast of unusual media.  In this episode, we make an open request to Criterion DVD, asking them to take on our choices of films deserving top notch releases. The second segment is our tribute to the late great Leonard Nimoy, centering on his media work that was not Star Trek.

Give a listen and as always, this podcast is NSFW.

Included in the podcast is the audio for a Priceline commercial, the video of which is here:

Ted V. Mikels, One of the Last Great Exploitation Pioneers, Seeks Contributions to Produce the Sequel to His Cult Classic, “Ten Violent Women”

10violentwomenby Legendary Lew

I don’t normally dedicate a TUGM blog post to campaign for a filmmaker’s crowdfunder, but in the case of veteran exploitation great Ted V. Mikels, I’m willing to make an exception.

Mikels is currently trying to raise money through Indie GoGo for the new movie, Ten Violent Women Part 2, the sequel to his 1982 cult classic, Ten Violent Women.

I’ve been a fan of Mikels’ distinct and strange exploitation movies for years now. He’s the mastermind behind such classics as The Astro-Zombies, The Corpse Grinders, the wonderful Girl in Gold Boots and The Doll Squad which was

Lady charmer Ted V. Mikels

Lady charmer Ted V. Mikels

stolen by Aaron Spelling to create” Charlie’s Angels.”  Like Russ Meyer, Mikels likes his screen women domineering and kinky, as evidenced by his own death scene via spiked heel in Ten Violent Women.

Check out his Indie GoGo page for Ten Violent Women Part 2 and contribute if you can. Share it as well. After 60+ years in the movie business, it’s great to see one of the kings of sleaze still at it.

 

Remembering Leonard Nimoy’s Other Great TV Series

isonimoy1by Legendary Lew

When you bring to life one of the most indelible characters in the history of television, it’s tough to come up with an encore.  Leonard Nimoy, who will forever be known for his portrayal of Mr. Spock in the original “Star Trek” series and franchise, had a decent follow-up for two years on “Mission: Impossible” after the sci-fi series was cancelled. He even had a fine memorable role in a very good remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers in 1978.

But the befitting subsequent TV series for the man with the great authoritative baritone was “In Search of,” the syndicated hit TV series which had its primary run from 1976-1982.  As the narrator, Nimoy presented examinations into strange occurrences and phenomena, such as The Bermuda Triangle disappearances or the discovery of Atlantis. It was a conspiracy theorist’s wet dream.

What I loved about “In Search of” was that all the topics were given equal weight, regardless of perceived veracity, whether it was climate change (mentioned in those terms back in 1978!) or Bigfoot. One of my favorites was the search into The Amityville Horror, the story of which was discovered to be completely bogus.

That particular episode began (as all of them did) with the famed intro:

“This series presents information based in part on theory and conjecture. The producer’s purpose is to suggest some possible explanations, but not necessarily the only ones, to the mysteries we will examine.”

With scenes of the recent hit horror film, The Amityville Horror, playing as background, Nimoy states seriously:

Most people think The Amityville Horror is a good, scary ghost story…what is not commonly known is that the film is actually based on fact. It is a true story.

I love me some good hucksterism and this particular episode, as some others, were hearty entertaining laughs. I just about lost it when the great Nimoy, describing the weirdness of the house, delivers the following solemn line:

“then they puzzled over a toilet that, when flushed…”

The sentence is unfinished. Instead, on the screen we see an opaque liquid make a flooded mess of the bathroom floor.

This series was a sort of continuation of the conspiracy exploitation genre, which pumped out popular 1970s movies like Beyond and Back and The Lincoln Conspiracy.  “In Search Of” was like a mini-version of those movies made better by editing out the fat that the feature films would leave in.

Leonard Nimoy’s performance as Spock was so transformative for him as a performer that he could record several albums of badly sung music and narrate an exploitative TV series without ever doing damage to his career. In fact, they simply added to his legend.

Watch the unintentionally hilarious “In Search of” episode, “The Amityville Horror”:

Mediatrocities #15: The Yearly Post-Razzie Award Show with Guest Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

Dominick Suzanne-Mayer of Consequence of Sound and The Kelly Affair

Dominick Suzanne-Mayer of Consequence of Sound and The Kelly Affair

by Legendary Lew

This week’s episode of Mediatrocities marks our 4th (and perhaps our last?) look at the Razzie Award winners! TyPi is on hand for commentaries, as is our very special guest, film analyst & writer Dominick Suzanne-Mayer, contributor to Consequence of Sound and The Kelly Affair.

Among the topics: What’s the deal with Saving Christmas, its unnecessary continued exposure for Kirk Cameron and the general inept storytelling of modern Christian-themed movies? Can Michael Bay get anything cinematic right? What was Lew’s choice of worst 2014 film. What’s the lasting effect of the Sony Hacks and is it affecting Hollywood and even Razzie voting?

Give a listen and share, but mind you, it’s NSFW: