Tag Archives: exploitation

“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.

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”:

If You Want to Know What The Underground Multiplex is All About, Come to Our Series on Friday Nights in January

by Legendary Lew

Earlier Effort by Joe

Starting tomorrow night at Chicago Filmmakers, The Underground Multiplex will be presenting what will be, in fact, perhaps the most comprehensive overview of what we’ve been up to since our inception in November 2010.

Back then, director Joseph R. Lewis and I had this crazy notion that perhaps we should begin an internet media co-operative that focused on the greatness of independent underground entertainment. We further emphasized that Chicago had to be the main focus of our attention, as we believe (and still do) that the decentralization of entertainment, with the advent of the internet, can help bolster each different region’s importance in the arts. Spreading this idea could keep very talented Chicago artists home, instead of fleeing to NYC or LA for the temporary fix of finding work that immediately pays something.

Film genius Ernie Tarte will be there for Strike That Line! 1/24

Film genius Ernie Tarte will be there for Strike That Line! 1/24

Joe had already made a number of films for over a decade. One of those films, The Adventures of Miss Girl, gets its world premiere tomorrow night along with Sci Fi Sol, which makes its return to Chicago screens this year.

However, this Friday series–dubbed “Friday Night VOLUME“–will present a fuller menu of what TUGM has to offer. As we progressed over the years, we’ve learnedQUEEN B XOX to perfect (out of necessity) presenting a variety of experiences for little money. As will be the case with VOLUME, we’ll have films, vaudeville-type entertainment, a varied music soundtrack, live Q&A and live performances (including Dr. Dredd’s Wagon of Wonders and the first-ever live presentation of the radio comedy Strike That Line!

Please join us! Check this link for the entire line-up. Head over to Chicago Filmmakers to purchase pre-show tickets.

 

The Philosophy Behind My Approach to Facets Night School

FNS1This weekend marks the final shows of Night School presented at Facets Multimedia, which has served as the home of the most inventive midnight movie presentations in Chicago for 4.5 years. It’s been my pleasure to host a dozen film screenings during that time, including a feature-length film–Sisters of No Mercy— inspired by Night School.

Joe Lewis and Michael Smith have both written wonderful blog pieces about the demise of Night School at Facets. I’ve also read great comments from presenters Dominick Mayer and Joel Wicklund.

When Night School founder Phil Morehart brought forth the idea of having midnight movies at Facets, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. In the past, I had enjoyed thoughtful reviews of unusual rare films in such great magazines as Shock Cinema (to which I once contributed) and Psychotronic Magazine. I knew there was a great well of strange movie from which to draw.

The emergence of Night School came at a perfect time for FacetsNS2experimentation of how screenings could be formatted for independent theaters. Studios were changing to digital projection exclusively, leaving many theaters holding the bag with now outdated 35MM equipment and expensive digital changeovers. Netflix went through a nasty PR period of growing pains with the perception of unlimited streaming and the roll out, and then roll back, of Quixster, the video world’s version of New Coke. Blockbuster was evaporating from its video (and retail) dominance of the late 1980s and 1990s. All this was compounded by The Bush Depression of 2008, which threw hundreds of thousands of people out of work monthly.

From the outset, I knew that Night School had to be different from other movie series. Studios and movie chains could use their large wallets to entice viewers to theaters with larger spectacles, more advanced 3D capabilities, table-side food service and movie discount specials.

Courtesy Time Out Chicago

Courtesy: Time Out Chicago

This all seems fine for the bottom line, but the major point being missed by the chains and the studios was that they are not suited to cater to the needs of movie viewers at the community level. Sure, you can have chats online with people via Netflix about movies, but there’s also the probability you’ll never meet them in person. I used to joke about having film appreciation groups meet up at a local Redbox in the pouring rain.  And I’m very doubtful the studios will have cast members of new movies make dozens of public appearances across the country without them being paid lots of money for the trouble.

What Night School proved was that poverty-stricken creative folks can436 come up with a truly forward-thinking solution: engage with fans on a collective idea. Bring back variety with each show. Give viewers a spectacle without having to break a budget. Indeed, with a budget of exactly $0, you can actually accomplish a great deal. You can still jump out of a cake (Eat the Rich); have an interview with the mother of The Terminator and Lady Terminator (Lady Terminator); have Yor the Hunter from the Future show up for Q&A (Yor, The Hunter from the Future); have zombie whores dance and hand puppets sing (Sisters of No Mercy); uncover a lost Idi Amin toothpaste radio ad (Amin: The Rise and Fall); perform a live interactive radio skit (Wonder Women); have spectacular live music performances to such films as Haxan, The Fall of the House of Usher and A Page of Madness and more.

You can also meet and form a production partnership with an incredible talent named Joseph R. Lewis. Night School gave birth to The Underground Multiplex and the notion that you can rely on the genius of others here in Chicago to do great things. We have, thanks to the incredible presenters we’ve had over the years, the forethought of overseers Phil Morehart and Susan Doll and the hands-off policy of Facets Multimedia, which allowed the inmates to run the asylum one night per week. I’m grateful to Facets for allowing me the chance to change the way viewers experience movies.  Major unending thank yous to all the presenters, volunteers, projectionists and everyone who’s ever come out to see some craziness in action.

As our award-winning program moves on to different venues, The Underground Multiplex will continue its commitment to presenting great forgotten and underappreciated films with the ballyhoo, fun and zaniness the great city of Chicago deserves.

Lew Ojeda

RIP 2009-2013

RIP 2009-2013

TUGM Proudly Presents the World Premiere Online Release of “Sisters of No Mercy”!

It’s finally here! After nearly three years and two hundred dollars, The Underground Multiplex presents the wild, avant-garde nunsploitation comedy Sisters of No Mercy: The Real 3D Midnight Movie Xperience. Combining exploitation, comedy, classic roadshow reels, politics, music and live performance, SONM is the completion of the first collaboration between Joseph R. Lewis and me.

This came about first as a 4-minute parody trailer for a then fake nunsploitation feature. With the help of some great talented friends, we408 were able to pull off this bit in three weeks, just before I was to give a lecture on nunsploitation at Facets Night School.

The trailer debuted on YouTube in October 2010 and gained an unexpected positive response in February 2011 from the French version of  Slate Magazine, which hyperlinked the short and called it a successful parody (if the Google translation is correct). Emboldened by the responses, I casually mentioned to Joe that perhaps the nuns should go to Madison, WI during the height of protests against Governor Scott Walker and exorcise the Koch-funded “demon” from the state capitol.

The resulting short film was The Wisconsin Exorsisters, which brought back Sisters Amy and Angela, Mother Superior and the evil Father Neal from first trailer. That short went public in March 2011.

409When June rolled around, we had decided to extended Sisters of No Mercy into a feature. To accomplish this, the film needed extra footage, which was provided by recording the third portion of the film live before a midnight movie audience attending each screening of Session 8 of Facets Night School. Each chapter was filmed in 5 minute pieces before that evening’s lecture and screening. The resulting portions were then uploaded weekly online.

On September 30, 2011, TUGM debuted Sisters of No Mercy 3D at Facets Night School in an edited version that included a live interactive experience with the audience. They were treated to live music, a theatrical performance, juggling and dancing for a unique approach in film entertainment. This version has not been duplicated since.

Which brings us finally to today– almost three years since the inception of the nunsploitation parody. The final product we hope you’ll find funny, informative and entertaining. It could not be done without the help of the following wonderful people:

Amy J. Boyd, Angela Yonke, Adrianna Montiel, Kenzie Kl, Bruce Neal, Joe Rubin, Jason Coffman, Jason Loeffler, Jonathan Leaf, Douglas Grew, Brian Kirst, Lielie Kaehn-Jarvis, Brian Jarvis, Chris Brake, Christa Koch, Nathan Boecker, Susan Doll, Phil Morehart, all the presenters of Facets Night School and, of course, the twisted genius of Joe Lewis.

Legendary Lew Ojeda